Monday, July 14, 2008

There's A First Time for Everything

Oh yes. You know I am not a southern cook - I had never prepared okra before and didn't have the first clue about where to start. I was given some locally grown okra last week and David likes it so I decided to give it a try. With guidance from my friend, Melissa, I had a plan to make fried okra.

I took it out of the fridge and thought, "I don't know if I should peel this? Can you eat the seeds? I guess I could start by washing it." Now, if you are in the know about okra, you can just go ahead and laugh at me in all my ignorance!

Well, I washed it. Sliced it and started following the directions Melissa gave me. Beat an egg, add some salt, pepper and garlic. Add the okra and let it sit about five minutes. Heat 1 T. oil in a skillet and then shakey shakey the okra in some cornmeal and add to the oil. All was going well at this point.

I gently stirred the uncovered okra for a few minutes until the cornmeal was starting to brown and then I served it. It was crunchy. It's not supposed to be crunchy I'm told. So, back in the pan. And, it never really did get non-crunchy. Better, but not mushy.

Sorry people, but Colorado girls are not raised knowing how to fix okra. This is up there with fried chicken, I can say I've tried making it and I am ok with the fact that it just isn't in me to do it successfully.

How about you? Is there something that is normal to everyone where you live that you have never tried fixing or tried and it didn't work - are you willing to share?! Please tell me I'm not the only one with no clue about okra!

39 comments:

Katy said...

LOL....I have never tasted Okra before. Nor have i cooked it! LOL So I am right there with you on that!

Mary Ann said...

Okra is a weird little vegetable.:-) My husband likes it too so I try to cook it occasionally. I fried some last year(like you did) and it turned out pretty good. He liked it a lot. We have it in the garden now so I fixed some more in a skillet dish with sausage, tomatoes and zucchini last week and the okra did not turn out at all. I must've picked it too late as it did not soften and was really yucky. Neither one of us is picky but we both took the okra out, it was that nasty.:-)

This Oregonian never heard of okra before she moved to the South!

ginger said...

MOnica, I'm from SC, don't like it, and don't know how to prepare it. See, I thought it was supposed to be crunchy.

Melissa said...

At least the picture of the okra is pretty... :)

Melissa

Mrs. Sheila said...

I am from Texas, and yes my dh loves okra too. I ... do NOT like it! I don't like the slimyness of it, and ugh! I can eat a few peices of fried okra, and it is tasty, but once I hit that slime ~ it is OVER!!

I, however, have never made couscous, or even gumbo! My dh loves gumbo! I need to work on that for him soon! That would be a good thing to make for him during football season! Thanks for this post!

mom said...

Dear Monica, I laughed at this description of cooking okra! :) I tried cooking it a few times years ago because Dad likes it -- but apparently it was so long ago you were too little to remember! Now he eats it at places like Golden Corral. (I agree that it is slimy!)
Love, Mom

Edi said...

The only way I have eaten okra is pickled. It's not all that bad but yeah you have to get used to the sliminess. Actually I did try it in a veggie stir fry I bought at Aldi and you know it was pretty much disgusting...I didn't even use the second bag I purchased.

I grew up in Canada and live in the midwest USA...guess I'm not sure of any thing I ought to know how to prepare but can't (not b/c I'm so skilled but rather b/c I don't know what regional item I should be trying).

angela said...

This PA girl doesn't even know what Okra looks like, let alone know a thing about cooking it.
Angela

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

Funny! I have never made Okra, my hubby has. As soon as he got to the discription of it being slimy I had heard enough.

My mom and grandmother are fabulous southern cooks (mom is originally from Virgina). This midwest girl is trying to master southern fried chicken. I am getting closer, but hubby still tells me it is not my mom's chicken. (Of course this is said with kindness and I am begging him to be totally honest!)

Crystal said...

Monica,
Don't feel bad. I was born and raised in Alabama and have never been able to fry chicken. I've tried but I've since then resorted to KFC. Luckily, my DH doesn't like okra.

thehomespunheart said...

Ok, I'm soooo glad David did not use the word slimy - my okra days are over! :)

Grace said...

Haha! While I do LOVE me some good Okra I or should I say we since Bill is the main cook, have never tried to cook fresh okra. we always do the frozen and it turns out ok. Now fied chicken I have never tried but Bill is in the process of mastering it and did really well last time he made it. He soked it in Buttermilk all night and we use a frier. I am pretty sure he turned the heat down below what the frier suggests. And he used an awesome coating that he bought.

Opal said...

I've never cooked Okra... My husband hates it. I think up here in NH, if I were to ask for it at the grocery store they'd think I was insane.

I can, however, fry a mean chicken, which I'd rather do than Okra.

Elise said...

I love fried okra!! Now that being said(and I am a Southern girl) I have never made it, nor fried chicken. The time I tried to make cornbread, it flopped. I am a poor excuse for a Southern cook, but I will blame my momma for not teaching me!! When we want fried chicken we will gladly let Publix do it for us!!
Elise
Oh, you should try pickled okra-yum!! Now that I might try to make...
P.S. Do you eat grits??

Amy said...

My family is Southern so I LOVE Southern cooking. Cornbread, fried okra, turnip greens, biscuits and gravy- mmmmm. That being said, other than the cornbread, I have no idea how to cook any of it. I think this is a GOOD thing though because I would be really overweight if I could make it for myself :)

Pro-Life Mommy said...

I am southern and I can't fix okra, have no desire to either! I can fry chicken though!

Mrs. Hurzeler said...

There are these things called Napolitos and they are pieces of cactus leaves, the pokies removed, and the darker outer skin peeled off, and people use them in dishes. I live in Arizona, and so not everyone eats them, but more the Hispanic culture do. People also eat prickly pear cactus buds. LOL. Hope you have a fun day with the little ones.

Bev said...

I lurrrve fried okra :) I am definitely a southern girl! I can not for the life of me make a decent biscuit! I am not giving up and I shall prevail, but I might be 90 before it happens!:)

3boysmama said...

so funny! My husband is from Oklahoma, and he HATES okra. So I'm off the hook becuase I'm like you: I'd have no idea how to cook it. I don't think you can even buy it here. I've never seen it.

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

Just buy it frozen and prebreaded. It isn't the same as homemade but it's easier and mushy.

Polly marypauline at stankus dot net said...

Okra! Yummmmm E!
I'm one of the very few that like it boiled. I don't care that it's slimy. It's yumm.
As far as the fried stuff goes, just buy the frozen and save yourself the frustration. I AM a southern cook and I wouldn't take the time to make it from scratch.
If you want to try okra in other ways, go to www.fatfreevegan.com. Susan uses okra in lots of recipes.

patty w said...

ROFL.. I remember the first time I made it! At my Grandma's we'd have it all the time, she was gone to a rummage sale so I decided to start Sunday dinner for her. I had no idea the stuff was slimy when raw! I almost threw it out but continued on and it was wonderful fried (the only way I like it!) And, I like it crunchy if you are talking about the coating....next time , mix a little flour in with the cornmeal and it will give you a little different texture.

I was bred and born in Ohio but my heart and soul is a Southerner! GRITS girl (girls raised in the south) My "people" are all from the South! LOL

At least you tried something different and out of your comfort zone. Good for you, don't give up!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I love fried okra! Yummy. Kudos to you for your first time fixing it. Don't give up you will get the hang of it!

char said...

It looks like you did it well M. My dad loved Okra. It is an aquired taste. char

Annikke said...

I've been reading your blog for about a year now, I comment periodically. I love your ideas and your values. I had no clue you were from Colorado. I am too and still live here! Thanks for the great blog, I love it!

Kim said...

I am a southern girl raised in North GA. I grew up eating alot of okra that my Mom prepared in a skilled with some cornmeal breading but not totally encased in breading. It can be slimy but once you develop the taste for it it is yummy. Fresh okra is so much better than frozen. Now do I make it for my husband? Hardly ever! Can't make it like my Mom or his grandmother could! I do put frozen okra in my vegetable soup and that is good! I can't believe some people had never heard of okra! That's how southern I am! I can't fry chicken very well either! Guess I'm a cooking disgrace to my southern roots! Ha!

*carrie* said...

That's so funny, Monica. You know me and pancakes. Eric's dad even made a k-shaped one for Kendra. I was really impressed!

Anonymous said...

i learned to like okra ok during our 2 1/2 yrs of living in AL, but i've never made it. this PA gal had heard of it before, but my dear hubby doesn't care for it, so why even try to make it?!? ;-) we do like hot boiled peanuts & cheese grits...looking forward to getting some fresh peanuts in a few wks! YES!!! :-) as far as thing local to the area...whoopie pies & hogmaw are the most unusual that i can think of. guess we just think the rest is like what everyone else eats everywhere else. :-)

~eunice

Michelle said...

Learning to cook "all things Southern" requires time, practice, and patience. You will get the hang of okra. My mom was one of those ole time Southern cooks-- everything she made was delicious; however, she never let my sisters or me in the kitchen so we grew up without knowing how to cook. I have finally gotten the hang of southern cooking with the help of my mom's sister. However, I still cannot make a lemon pound cake that tastes as good as my mom and aunts even though I use the same recipe. They have both stood beside me, watch me put the ingredients in, and told me exactly what to do. Didn't matter-- My cake was still different from theirs!! I am still trying on that one.

LineFromTheVine said...

I can not imagine not having okra around! Frying okra is one of those things, like the family heirlooms that has been passed down through my family. Okra needs to be picked young, otherwise it becomes fibrous and is so tough, you wouldn't want to eat it. You wash it and cut both ends off. We always just bread it with cornmeal mix (you could bread it first in egg and milk if you are eating it fresh from the garden, but if you are defrosting from frozen, it will hold it's breading by itself) while the grease is heating in an iron skillet (nothing else fries it quite the same). When the oil is hot enough that a drop of water dances across the top, it's ready for the okra. (Putting it in too early, can make your okra too crunchy, or can cause your breading to fall off.) Drop it in carefully (but don't over fill the pan or you will ruin it). You don't want to stir it too much or the breading will fall off. As it browns, you can flip it over to brown all the edges. Then remove it from the grease with a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels so that the grease can drain off. (We've just started putting the okra onto a pizza pan with holes sitting over another pan so that the grease can drip into the pan below...works great!) Let it cool and salt to taste! That's it. You can pretty much fry any vegetable the sam way. This is one of my all time favorite things to cook and eat! I try not to make it too often because it is so bad for you...but it is always on the menu for birthdays and holidays.

Tracy

Dawn said...

(Said in my drawliest Southern accent) Darlin', don't waste your time with fresh okra to fry. Buy the frozen-it is JUST as good, and yummo!! We luv fried okra around here. And I can eat up some good slimy boiled okra too!! And pickled okra-gracious goodness-it just doesn't get any better than that.

But, woe is me. My spaghetti is bad. I could eat spaghetti twice a day, seven days a week. Just can't stand my own. My mom's is soooo good. I don't fry chicken either. Only time I did, got popped right in the eye, so that was the last time.
Dawn

Darcy said...

I can't give you any pointers on cooking with okra but I can on the fried chicken. It's actually cheating a little because you only fry the chicken long enough to brown it and then you finish it up in the oven. My husband loves it when I make it. The recipe (Oven Fried Chicken) is on my blog if you want to give fried chicken one more chance. :)

Your 1-2-3-4 biscuits would pair up perfectly with it!

Tracy said...

This Aussie gal is balking at the idea of okra. I've heard it's slimy and I'm just soooo not interested!

My list of things that don't turn out so good are sponge cake and scones.

My MIL's sponges were so light and moist ~ mine are dry and blech. The scones....well, I'm too young to get it right I think. I have this theory that you've got to have 40 years of practice to get scones nice and light and fluffy. I get the odd good batch...but it's odd.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother makes the best!! She frys her okra and green tomatoes at the same time in the same pan. So gooooood!!! Yes i am from the south too!! tammyp

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

At least you tried and the picture looks great! We don't eat okra at all --the chidren think that its too mushy.

Anonymous said...

Your okra looks good to me. The only thing I would add is to say, let your oil get good and hot and allow plenty of room for the okra to bubble.Crispy is good, then place on several layers of paper towels and salt and pepper to taste. I HATE boiled okra. I'm a Southern girl, but I still buy the pre-breaded frozen kind. Love fried green tomatoes, if you don't try those you have missed something. I'm in the West Ashley area of Charleston.Are you nearby?

Sweston said...

Monica,

After reading this post the other day, I was dying to have some fried okra. I don't think my kids have ever had it. Anyway, yesterday my husband brought home some locally grown okra. Tonight I made it. (cut it, soaked in egg, tossed in flour, fried it, put a paper towel in a collander to drain). All 5 of my kids ate it up. (even my 13 yo stepson from Chicago). I paired it with salmon patties, mac n cheese, and collard greens. Yum!!Yum!! Thanks for the inspiration;) Now I want some fried green tomatoes.
Summer

Linda said...

We LOVE okra! My daughter is crazy for okra soup.

In the caribbean, there's only ONE way of preparing these, which is making a fish-and-okra soup.

The consistency is very slimy, so really something most people have to get used to.. but the three of us all love it! :)

Just okras, beef stock, salted beef.. and then all kinds of seafood inside. Served with cornmeal porridge (the hard kind, so you can put lumps of it in the soup and they won't dissolve)

greetings from holland!

Mrs. C said...

I'm catching up on old posts and this one caught my eye. We have fried okra at least once a week. My kids love it! :)

Blessings,
Mrs. C