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“WHEN YOU HAVE FRIED OKRA, YOU DON’T NEED MEAT”

My Mom said that her whole life, but we always had some kind of meat with our fried okra. My wife says she has fried enough okra to fill our whole house. The wonderful smell does at times.

I have grown okra for over 35 years. My favorite varieties are Cow Horn, Star of David, and any of the red okras. Grown with organically fertilizers including both dried molasses turned into the soil and liquid molasses drench to feed the microbes, plus the Spray-N-Grow Combo, I have had the green okra grow to over 16’ where I had to walk the stalk down to cut off the pods. Leaf Cutting Ants like the red okra and Root Knot Nematodes will eventually stop pod production and kill the plant. The molasses repels the nematodes. The 15” rain from Hurricane Harvey and again the 15” of rain this past month have probably drowned some of the Root Knot Nematodes. My okra stalks this year are some of the bushiest and most productive I have ever grown. The red okras produce the first pods and out produce the green okra, but they don’t live as long.

Okra was first grown in Ethiopia, West Africa, or South Asia. It is from the Mallows Family of plants that include cotton, hibiscus, and hollyhock. It was brought to this country by the African slaves. It can be boiled, fried, made into gumbo, pickled, dried, roasted, microwaved, steamed or used raw in a salad. Be sure to add salt, pepper and various seasoning to bring out its delicious flavor. Look up the recipes on the internet. The seed can be dried, roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute.

My wife cuts the okra into quarter inch slices, puts them into a plastic bag of flour and corn meal mixture with salt, pepper and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasonings. She shakes the bag well to cover all the slices and absorb the okra mucilaginous “goo”. She then heats a skillet with about a quarter inch of corn oil, adds the okra when it is sizzling hot and turns it with a spatula after it starts to brown on each side. She take it up into a bowl or platter with a paper towel in it to absorb the oil. Yes, I nearly always add extra salt.

Microwave okra uses small pods on a plate placed in a circle with the points of the pods turned inward. Butter or olive oil is sprinkled on the okra along with small onion slices, salt, pepper, and other seasoning. They are microwaved for about two minutes or until they are your kind of done. Eat the ends not the top of the pod.

Okra is very nutritious. It is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The truth is, with a plate full of fried okra, I don’t need much meat. We have okra in some form probably 4 times a week while it is productive. I would like it every night for supper, but I am not sure how well it would go with Mexican tacos and enchiladas. I also became addicted to Mexican food while living in El Paso, TX.

-Herman Green

7/18/2018    Garden Journals