Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CSA Pickups -- Week 14 -- Okra

Roots Farm CSA Week 14: August 2 & 5

This Week:
-Corn!! Augusta (Sweet White)
-Figs!: Brown Turkey & Kadota or Calimyrna
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Okra: Burgundy, Clemson Spineless, Burmese, Star of David
-Melons: Diplomat, Sun Jewel, Hannah’s Choice, Jenny Lind, Eden’s Gem, Edisto 47, Mainstream
-Watermelons: New Orchid, Sorbet Swirl, Sugar Baby
-Tomatoes!: SunGold Cherry, Juliet Roma, Arkansas Traveller, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Whopper, Big Beef
-Eggplant!: Nadia, Nubia, Pingtung Long
-Peppers: Carmen (Sweet Red Bullhorn)

On the Farm . . .
Hot hot hot. Too hot to be out beyond noon. Totally sweaty by 9am. Yikes. But it looks like the veggies are holding up under the strain, and that’s about all I can ask for at this time of year. Finally, our tomatoes are coming in. Lovely pink, yellow, and red ones. Arkansas Traveller, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Whopper & Big Beef--let the flood begin! The peppers are beginning to ripen and Carmen corno di toro, or bull’s horn, sweet peppers are out this week. The second round of CORN is in, big and beautiful. Melons are finishing up. Figs continue. Arugula is still growing, though we’re finding it spicy even small, so I recommend a saute to kill the bite. The red noodle beans still flow, and one of our members was telling us that, really, these are frying beans; they don’t hold up well to boiling water, so a light blanch is all they can take. I think blanch ‘em and fry ‘em after that. With garlic. Yum. Unlike most beans, they stay reddish-purple when cooked. Neat. And eggplant, we’ve got lots of it. As well as okra. Okra is the featured veggie this week, so look below for okra cooking ideas.

Saturday Workday -- August 13 -- 8am-11am
Our August weekend workday is coming up not this week, but next weekend. Yep, we’ll be out here pulling out old plantings, deconstructing trellises, preparing beds, weeding, and planting new Fall stuff. Already? Yep. Come join us for an end of summer morning on the farm. As always, followed by BRUNCH compliments of us, you local friendly farmers.

Beloved by some, despised by others, okra is now in abundance. Originally from Africa, okra is a member of the mallow family, which also includes hibiscus, cotton, jute, and cacao. The flowers are where you see the relation. The plant itself grows pretty stately and tall on our farm, but man it sure does give me the itches. Long sleeves and gloves are a requirement for picking for me. Not sure why. Anyway, many folks are shy about okra because it can be slimy. Mucilaginous foods don’t tend to garner many friends, but there are some ways to handle this veggie that can offset that property. The slime is set in motion when you cut the pods, so you can either cook the pods whole, slice them and bake or fry them dry, bread and fry them, or add vinegar or lemon juice to your dish. The vinegar and lemon juice have an acidic property that counteracts the slipperiness. So. Don’t be afraid and enjoy your okra.

Storage: keep your okra in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to a week. Like any veggie, it’s best fresh. You can also blanch and freeze it, and someone was just telling me about breading, baking, and freezing their okra for fried okra later . . . hmmm. Preparation: Being from the Southeast, I grew up with plentiful amounts of fried okra, which even appeared on our school lunch plates. Really, I thought it was the only way okra could be prepared. In actuality, there are many ways. Okra grows in many tropical and subtropical climates and is also popular in India. Some toasted cumin seeds and pan-fried okra is not to be missed. One of my real favorites is Gumbo, and I’ve got a recipe for you below. Ummm . . . gumbo. Okra can also be eaten raw, as can the flowers before they turn into pods.


Grilled Okra
Vegetable oil

Deborah Madison claims that grilling is one of the best things a person can do with okra. For ease of handling, skewer four or five pods onto two parallel skewers, like a ladder. Brush with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill on both sides until lightly marked. Eat hot off the grill with a squeeze of lemon, or add it to a saute of corn and tomatoes, or use it to garnish a plate of black-eyed peas and rice. Makes any quantity.

Curried Okra
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb okra, trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick (4cups)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup seeded and diced tomatoes
2 tsp garam masala
salt & fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for about 10 seconds. Add the onions, garlic, and curry powder and saute slowly until the onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, and garam masala. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until the okra is tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings. Look for garam masala wherever Indian foods or gourmet spices are sold. (In Athens, the Taj Mahal off Baxter St. sells Indian foods/groceries—check it out)

Easy Indian Style Okra
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound sliced fresh okra
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until tender. Stir in the okra, and season with cumin, ginger, coriander, pepper and salt. Cook and stir for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover the pan. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is tender. Makes 4 servings. From

Okra Gumbo Soup
1 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 cup chopped potatoes
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup fresh corn
1 cup sliced fresh okra
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
salt & ground black pepper to taste
Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce

Saute the onions in the vegetable oil until just translucent. Add the herbs, celery, bell pepper, carrot, and potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn, okra, and vinegar and simmer until the okra is tender. Remove the bay leaves. Add the remaining seasonings to taste. Makes 4-6 servings.

From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook, I think.

Steamed Okra with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 lb okra
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, finely diced
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or to taste

Rinse the okra, leave them whole, and steam them for 4-6 minutes. Arrange on a plate and let cool while making the lemon vinaigrette. Combine the lemon juice, zest, 1/4 tsp salt, and shallot in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes, then whisk in the oil and season with a little pepper to taste. Taste and correct the balance, adding more oil if necessary. Pour the vinaigrette over the okra and serve cold. Makes 4-6 servings. From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

No comments: