Monday, October 4, 2010
An ode to okra.
After growing vegetables this summer (modest effort thought it was), I have a big statement to make: Okra is the best vegetable to grow in the Mid-South. Okra
thrives, despite heat and no rain. It's also healthy (can you say vitamin C, A, B complex, and fiber?) and the blossoms that foretell the pods are luscious and beautiful.
Despite my love for okra, I didn't know much about it, so I did a little research, and this is what I found: Okra dates back to Ethiopia in the 12 century BC. It arrived in the U.S. with the slaves in the late 1700's, who eventually taught the Creoles in Louisiana how to use the pods to thicken gumbo. The plant is a member of the mallow family, which I didn't realize even though I've admired the hibiscus-like blossoms all summer. Guess what else is a member of the mallow family? Cotton!
Fast forward to the summer of 2010, when for me, okra has been an inspiring experiment in how to grow vegetables from seed. I have six plants. Each is at least six feet high and still producing vegetables in early October.
Unfortunately, cooking with okra can be a bit of a challenge, because it takes time to accumulate enough pods for a pot of gumbo. So I've started slicing up the pods seven or eight at a time for a saute with a little garlic, onion, and a 14-ounce can of roasted, diced tomatoes. The other day, I used my sauteed okra as a topping for greens, finished with a few shakes of cider vinegar. Delicious!