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Posts Tagged ‘okra’

An abundance of okra

It seems like each year there is one crop in our small garden which outdoes itself. This year we have three things in abundance: okra, eggplant, and green beans. I'm already burned out on the eggplants and we have been trying to give them away. I've been freezing the green beans and trying some new okra recipes. Here is one of the new recipes which we have really enjoyed:

picture of Harvest Gumbo

Harvest Gumbo

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
black pepper to taste
4-5 cups water
1 1/2 tsps. chicken soup base or 2-3 cubes
1 cup diced tomatoes (I usually use jarred spaghetti sauce)
1/2 lb. sliced kielbasa
2 cups sliced okra
1 1 /2 cups baby lima beans
1 1/2 cups corn
1 1/2 cups sliced green beans

In a large soup kettle heat the oil and then saute the onions, celery, and red pepper. Add the water, tomatoes, kielbasa, and seasonings. Simmer about 15 mins. Add the vegetables and simmer about 15 more minutes or until tender. This makes 6-8 servings and is very colorful and tasty.

And now, a word about the bread in the picture:

A former co-worker of mine has started a bakery here in the area called Simple Gifts Artisan Breads. He has built a wood burning oven in which to bake his delicious breads which he sells at local Farmer's Markets and to some restaurants. A Lebanese man who lives nearby gave him a special seasoning blend and asked David if he would make him some Lebanese bread. David agreed and the man was quite pleased. One week the Lebanese guy didn't come to the Farmer's Market to get his bread and David gave me a loaf of it. The bread was thin and dimpled like Foccacia but had a very interesting flavor which we really enjoyed. Shortly after that first exposure I saw some of the bread at the Pita House (a middle eastern restaurant and grocery here in the area.) I asked the owner Ziad about it and he showed me the seasoning blend and told me it contains sumac (not the poisonous kind), thyme, and sesame seeds, among other ingredients. I bought a small container of the blend and have made the bread a couple of times. I even found a recipe for it in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I just use pizza dough which I brush liberally with olive oil and then sprinkle on some of the "mixed zaattar". I then bake it right on the pizza stone. It is delicious for sandwiches or with soup and freezes well. So, if you like middle eastern flavors you might want to try this one.


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A podcast

Today's topic is okra. Do you like it?

I think the only way I ever saw or ate okra until I was an adult was in Campbell's Vegetable Soup, which was often served in our home when I was growing up.

After I moved south I discovered possibly the most delicious form of okra -- fried with a cornmeal breading.

A few years ago Rob tried growing some and we discovered that it grows very well here in our climate and apparently doesn't have a lot of pests or blights that attack it. This year he tried a new (to us) variety called Burmese Okra. The plants themselves are rather pretty and the flowers look like yellow holly hocks.

picture of Okra Flowers

We enjoy eating okra fixed a variety of ways, including in gumbo-like dishes with chicken, tomatoes, etc. or in vegetable mixes with onion, bacon, and corn. Last year I saw a cooking show from here in South Carolina where a chef prepared the okra by sauteing it whole in just a trace of olive oil. You cut off the ends of each pod being careful not to cut into the seed part.

picture of Okra Cut

This way there is absolutely no sliminess at all. The oozing develops when you cut into the seed part of the pod and is similar to when you cut or break off a leaf from an aloe plant. You can also prepare it in a similar manner on the grill by brushing it with oil. I just cook it until you can easily pierce it with a fork. We really enjoy it and it's a quick and easy way to prepare the okra.

picture of Okra Cooked

How about it -- any okra lovers out there?


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