Posted in Delicious Joy

Okra! Okra! Gimme Mo Okra!

okra2

Okra is BY FAR my favorite summer vegetable.  I grew up in north Georgia having to take a knife out to the garden nearly every evening, wearing a long-sleeved shirt in the summer heat, and cut the star-shaped veggie off its itchy stalks.  But, oh my goodness!  The taste!  After my fried okra plateful, and then the gumbo, I was life-long-hooked.

Okra:  Herbaceous, hairy, annual plant of the mallow family (Malvaceae). It is native to the tropics of the Eastern Hemisphere and is widely cultivated or for its edible fruit. The leaves are heart-shaped and three- to five-lobed; the flowers are yellow with a crimson centre. The fruit or pod, hairy at the base, is a tapering, 10-angled capsule, 10–25 cm (4–10 inches) in length (except in the dwarf varieties), that contains numerous oval, dark-coloured seeds. It may be prepared like asparagus, sauteed, or pickled, and it is also an ingredient in various stews and in the gumbos of the southern United States; the large amount of mucilage (gelatinous substance) it contains makes it useful as a thickener for broths and soups. In some countries the seeds are used as a substitute for coffee. The leaves and immature fruit long have been popular in the East for use in poultices to relieve pain.

Jw1S0FY8BS6rErgg.jpg

faVQ4pd4uOzFvjF4.jpg

— Encyclopedia Britannica  (Well, not the pictures.)

************

I LOVE chopping okra–the smell, the texture, the soul involved.

Just finished chopping this mess:

rtzJAm5yM2TDqUGi.jpg

DEMtPjgHPupliXe7.jpg

And my gumbo from the other night:

3P5ATYS8Z6bPKOYu.jpg

YzYFbJq7GIqNm8Uy.jpg

jEwlNvMyAlyeesV1.jpg

Just look at a few of the Health Benefits of MOKRA (my okra):

  • The pods are among the very low calorie vegetables. They provide just 30 calories per 100 g, besides containing no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins; often recommended by nutritionists in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • The pods are one of the rich sources of mucilage substance that help in smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut and ease constipation condition.
  • The pods contain healthy amounts of vitamin A, and flavonoid anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. It is one of the vegetables with highest levels of these anti-oxidants. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Fresh pods are the good source of folates; provide about 22% of RDA per 100 g. Consumption of foods rich in folates, especially during the pre-conception period helps decrease the incidence of neural tube defects in the offspring.
  • The gumbo pods are also an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C, providing about 36% of daily-recommended levels. Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop immunity against infectious agents, reduce episodes of cold and cough and protect the body from harmful free radicals.
  • The veggies are rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. The pods also contain good amounts of vitamin K.  Vitamin K is a co-factor for blood clotting enzymes and is required for strengthening of bones.
  • The pods are an also good source of many important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium.

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/okra.html

okra4

okra1

Good Saturday Evening to All!  Eat MOKRA!

Neal’s Ridiculously Simple Okra Gumbo:

One medium onion, a few cloves of garlic, some okra, a few vine-ripe tomatoes (emphasis: vine ripe)

Sautee your chopped onion in a tad of olive oil.  Add the chopped tomatoes and either a couple cups of vegetable broth (I make mine when I’m boiling corn or other vegs–don’t throw that nectar away!) or water.  Simmer a few minutes.  Then add the sliced-pretty okra.  But not too long.  You don’t want it all mushy.  10 mins is great.  Don’t add much salt-you want to taste the okra!

Savor.

 

 

Posted in Delicious Joy

Tomato Joy

To me, the perfect picture of summer happiness is this …

TJ2

TJ1

… vine-ripened tomatoes.  The color, the smell, the taste and the memories of tomato summers gone by.

The above beauties went into my okra-tomato gumbo.

TJ3

Come on over!

Posted in Delicious Joy

Pot Pie Smiles

One of my earliest joyful memories as a kid finds me meandering off, on warm summer mornings, to the community playground near my house in Cochran Field, near Macon, Georgia.  My best friend Billy and I would play until our mothers brought us chicken pot pies and sweet tea.  Sitting at the weathered, wooden picnic tables, we would  gobble down our pot pies in their little aluminum containers (which we repurposed as treasure collectors).

I have always loved the creamy texture, the flaky crusts, the green peas and carrots, and the homey, Mama-ish warmth of chicken pot pies (or turkey pot pies but NOT cheesy or veggie pot pies).  Of course, they were FROZEN SOLID forty-five minutes before I had all those lovey feelings as a child.  And back then, I didn’t realize that our mothers were watching The Price Is Right or Queen for a Day instead of preparing fresh, homemade lunches for us boys.

So after buying organic vegetables from the local farm-to-table community market (doesn’t that make me sound health-oriented and grounded yet hip and on-target?), I decided to make a homemade chicken pot pie.  HOMEMADE

First of all, do you have ANY clue how long it takes to chop carrots, celery, peppers and potatoes?  Boil the corn and then scrape it off the cob?  Grate the rosemary?  Roll out the dough?  (Okay, okay, all I did was roll it out of the carton, but still.)

But, oh my goodness, what fun!  I may become a famous TV chef or something!

wpid-Photo-Jul-10-2013-706-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Jul-10-2013-707-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Jul-10-2013-739-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Jul-10-2013-738-PM.jpg

Delicious!

potpie1

potpie4

potpie3

potpie2

wpid-Photo-Jul-10-2013-825-PM.jpg

Swanson’s may do it faster, but not better!