Tuesday, August 17, 2010


One plant that never seems to have a problem in my garden is okra.  If it's too wet, the okra thrives; if it's dry as the Sahara, the okra flourishes.  It seems to have no natural enemies:  bugs leave it alone, and it doesn't have any form of blight or pestilence that kills it, like so many of my favorite garden vegetables do.  
It's easy to freeze, no mess, no fuss:  Just slice it and put it in a freezer bag, and it's ready to be used in winter soups and stews.  
The trouble is that there's only so much you can do with okra, so far as I know:  fry it or use it in soups and stews.  Oh yes, and okra and tomatoes.  Which to me is just chicken gumbo without the chicken.  
Cliff and I absolutely love southern-fried okra, and we've had far more than we should have had this year.  The granddaughters spent this past weekend with us and I fixed fried okra for them twice in two days' time.    They would have eaten more, had I offered.   
As I type this, the low-fat, healthy version of chicken gumbo is simmering on the stove, so dinner will be ready whenever we're ready to eat, which will probably be shortly after 10 o'clock when Cliff gets out of bed.   
I enjoy cooking, baking, and trying new foods.  All I require of a recipe is that the ingredients can be found in a normal grocery store and that it doesn't require my purchasing a special bowl, pot, or pan in order to make it.  

I've made baking powder biscuits ever since I took Home Economics that one year, and I've never had any complaints.  I've tasted better biscuits, though.  The better ones were always made by ladies raised in the south; and in the back of my mind I couldn't help wondering what a person could do to improve a recipe that's so simple and basic.  What could you change to get that subtle difference?  
Now don't tell me to go buy those frozen biscuits; yes, they are as good as home-made.  But where's the fun in that?  
The book I'm reading aloud in the car as we travel, The Bridge, takes place in the south and has as one of its main characters an elderly woman who makes biscuits often.  For some reason, this stirred up in me, once more, the desire to improve my already-pretty-darned-good biscuits.  
I don't watch cooking shows; I haven't since the Frugal Gourmet turned out to be a molester of little boys.  My son has one TV cook he likes, though, and mentions often... the guy on "Good Eats".   
Well, I thought, if he's good enough for my son, he's good enough for me.  So I googled up his recipe for biscuits, only to find it's pretty much like the recipe I've used all my life.  Beneath that recipe, though, was this comment from his grandmother: 

  • Advice courtesy Mae Skelton
    I don't have much use for recipes but the one you get on a bag of White Lily self-rising flour is hard to beat. And it's a lot easier than the one my crazy grandson dreamed up.  
So I finally found the two secret ingredients:  self-rising flour and buttermilk.  Cliff and I don't have biscuits often, but from now on when we do, they will be the biscuits I've always wanted to be able to make.   
How's this for a rambling post?


Lindie said...

Never will forget the first time I picked okra. We lived in Texas and shared a garden with some real Texans. She had planted 2 rows of okra and I walked between them picking. The leaves affected me like Nettles! I rushed into her house and had to take a cold bath! I love Okra but will never plant a double row of okra! And will wear long sleeves while picking it!

Anonymous said...

Donna, I like Alton Brown recipes. He explains things in a scientific way. Especially baking recipes. Is that the good eats guy? Karen

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Two things I've never had much experience with at all - Okra and self-rising flour. Now I may have to try some...I think whatever you fix at your house is always good eating!

Donna said...

Yes, Karen, that's him; If you click on "good eats" in this post, it will take you to Alton Brown's website.

PFL0W said...

as for me, it's pickled okra.

dang, I love the stuff.

Mo Rage

Leilani Lee said...

The best pie crust I ever made was when I used home-rendered lard. It would not surprise me if nasty white lard didn't figure in there somewhere with good biscuits too.

madcobug said...

I love fried Okra. I always make my biscuits with White Lily self rising flour with buttermilk and a little Crisco. More trouble than frozen ones but tasts better. Helen

Lori said...

I made darn good home made biscuits, the way my Momma taught me. lol And I use self-rising flour, and prefer using buttermilk, but can make pretty good ones with regular milk. I think the key is the amount of oil (or grease) you add in. And the only way you can get that down pat is by trial and error. I don't use a recipe. I just do it from experience, and I rarely have a bad batch. (Frozen or pilsbury or mixes or whatever aren't the same as home made, as far as I'm concerned.)