There is something cilantro and okra have in common - you either like it or you don't.
We are always amazed that some folks just don't "get it” when it comes to okra - especially fried like we prefer - but then we all have different tastes.
The Benbrook Farmer's Market, right in front of the German restaurant Edelweiss, is now open on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. Get there early for the best selection of the produce all grown by the farmers who bring in their harvests. We were there Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and got beautiful bags of black-eyed peas, last of the onions, huge Beef Steak tomatoes, assorted squashes, fresh lima beans and cucumbers. The okra is coming in slowly because of the weather and perhaps when the farmer planted his okra crop. We'll be back very soon to bring home and freeze these wonderful pods.
We were able to get more peaches from our friends in Peaster, and what a time we're having: freezing many pounds for a later time and maybe a few peach pies or cobblers when the weather cools. I am shelling out the peas and freezing them so New Year’s Eve will definitely be covered for good luck in 2015.
What I have learned about studying okra:
When selecting okra I try to look for pods that appear fresh, bright colored green and under 4 inches long. Although there are okra types that can grow long and still be tender (ask the farmer).
Before you cook okra, be sure and rinse them and trim off the ends. It can be boiled, used in soups or stews and will act as a thickener. It's actually a vegetable that consists of numerous unripe seed capsules and has a very high carbohydrate food that is high in fiber and starch and contains a good amount of pectin and gums. Okra loves hot weather and will rarely start growing until the heat and soil are very warm. Seeds are thick, so when I grow okra I soak the seeds in room temperature water for about 24 hours. I waited late this year to plant okra so now I have only one mature bush. Watch everyday for pods to pick because they grow very fast!
Thompson's Fried Okra
• 1 pound fresh okra-rinsed with tips and stems removed
• 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
• 1/2 cup self-rising flour
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• salt to taste
1. Rinse the okra, trim and dry with paper towels.
2. Cut the pods into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. In a bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour and salt.
4. Add the okra pieces to the bowl, stirring to coat with the cornmeal mixture. And then let set for a few minutes. Stir again.
5. When the breading clings to the okra, shake the bowl and the excess breading will go to the bottom.
6. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a frying pan large enough to allow the okra room enough to cook evenly.
7. Spoon the okra out of the bowl and fry in the hot oil until browned all over, about 10-15 minutes.
8. Drain the okra on paper towels before serving.
I really like frying this on a gas propane burner next to our grill.
This serves about 6.
Christopher's Grilled Okra
Our youngest son creates the most delicious grilled okra by leaving the pods intact, rinsing them and patting them dry, followed by coating the pods with olive oil (he places the okra in a plastic food storage or freezer bag, then drizzles in the olive oil and gently shakes until the oil coats the okra). He grills the pods turning them about every 30 seconds and finishes grilling them in about 2-3 minutes or until they are dark colored and getting tender. He seasons them with salt right before serving. I really like the flavor, and it's a new way to enjoy okra! Way to go, Chris!
Thompson's Shortbread Cookies
These are really good!
• 1 and 1/2 cups butter
• 1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 and 1/2 cups flour
• 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup oats (I use regular, not fast cooking)
• 1/3 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly.
4. Combine flour, salt and oats, and gradually add to creamed mixture.
5. Stir in pecans and form into balls using about 1 Tablespoon batter each.
6. Flatten ball with your hand and bake on ungreased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes.
7. Bake these in the MIDDLE of the oven.
This makes about 3 dozen cookies.
It's time to get out in the yard and water and water some more, to keep things alive this month.
Be sure and support our farmers as they tirelessly work their large gardens and deliver the produce so fresh to our farmers markets. Have another great week in Parker County.