Here you see my okra plants. I counted twenty of them this morning; I could easily get all the harvest I want from ten. Perhaps I will remember that next year. These plants are now taller than I am, and by the time the season is over, I'll almost need a ladder to pick them.
Last year a strange thing happened, at least locally: the plants never got tall. They produced a crop just fine, but everybody around had short okra plants. Perhaps it had something to do with the drought.
Okra demands nothing of me. Once it has germinated and gotten a good start, it doesn't need to be watered, no matter how bad the drought gets. The plant originally comes from Africa, and seems to thrive in the heat.
I love fried okra, especially since I found this recipe.
Southern Fried Okra
1 pound fresh okra
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash and slice okra; pat dry with paper towels.
Combine eggs and buttermilk; add okra, and let stand for 10 minutes.
Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Drain okra, small portions at a time, using a slotted spoon.
Dredge okra, small portions at a time, in flour mixture.
Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3-inches in a Dutch oven of deep-fat fryer and heat to 375*F (190*C). Fry okra until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
I cook mine in a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. This year I'm experimenting with coating it, spreading the pieces on a cookie sheet so they don't touch, freezing it, and pouring it into a freezer bag. Here's hoping we can enjoy fried okra a few times this winter.
I enjoy smothered okra, too. For use in this type of recipe and for the gumbo below, I simply slice the pods and freeze them. I don't thaw before using, just measure the frozen, sliced okra and add it right to the pot.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 cups cut okra
2 cups chopped, peeled tomato
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon (or more if you like things hot) cayenne pepper
Cook and stir onion, garlic, and sweet pepper over medium heat for five minutes or until tender. Add other ingredients, cover, and simmer twenty minutes, or until okra is very tender.
1 Tablespoon margarine, butter, or olive oil
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small green pepper, chopped
1 med. Stalk celery, chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
1 15 oz can tomatoes
1 c chicken broth
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce or cayenne
2 cups s sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1 ½ cups cooked chicken or turkey
melt margarine and add onion, garlic, pepper and celery. Cook till veggies are soft. Blend in flour and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth, and hot sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, till mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 3-5 minutes. Add okra, bring to a boil, and cook 6-8 minutes. Add chicken and heat through.
I also like to toss a handful of frozen slices into any vegetable soup or stew I make in the winter. How much okra you use depends on how much you like the "slime" it creates.