A lesson on okra: Avoid the slimy stuff!
By Xaviere Chatagnier
I love okra but that hasn’t always been the case. I loathe that slimy stuff that people put in stews and soups. YUK! However, okra that is small, super fresh and preferably red is simply exquisite.
Okra is considered a mallow from the Malvacea family. Included in this species are cotton, hibiscus and okra. When you see okra in bloom it looks just like a hibiscus. A cup of okra only has 33 calories and it’s high in vitamins C, A, B6 and magnesium.
What’s not to love about okra? Okay the slime is gross. Red or burgundy okra is so tender and sweet we eat it raw. It really tastes like a hibiscus!
My goal is to buy small okra at the market because I grill it. Grilled okra tastes like popcorn. I recently had friends over and they said that they hated okra. Once one friend tasted it, she was hooked and we had to pry it from her hands. Another friend just told me that he hated okra—just wait and see I will win this bet!
My favorite way to eat okra is grilled. Leave the ends on the smallest okra you can get, use two skewers and place them horizontally then stack the okra 10-15 high brush with an olive oil, salt and pepper mixture then grill till brown. When you grill okra it just doesn’t get slimy! I also love okra stir fried or raw. Yep, okra raw tastes floral.
The Jasper market is now swimming in okra, tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, corn and beans. Zach Henson has tomatoes, squash, zucchini, beans, eggplants, potatoes, figs and eggs. Zach will be at both the Wednesday market and Saturday as well.
Jenny Fellenbaum and Tony (great focaccia) will be at both markets. The Wednesday market is open from 2-5:30 p.m. in Jasper but be there way early if you want the pick of the crop.
Red Apple Barn will be at the Jasper Farmers Market this Saturday with peaches and tomatoes. Jackie Carlisle (best healthy bread ever) plans on being at the market with her millet bars (yum!), Ezekiel bread, granola, English muffins and so much more. The Johnsons should have more corn this week. Floyd has tomatoes and eggs though last week he got rammed by a truck and ended up with six dozen scrambled eggs. Floyd still brings his bird houses as well. There was a new couple at the market selling hot peppers but even better than that they also sold dried pepper flakes. We smelled a few of their samples and settled on Lemon Drop pepper flakes. It smelled divine and should taste it too. Denise Seibel, goat soap maker and heirloom tomato grower, is back for a few weeks. She has okra, heirloom tomatoes, figs, handmade goat soap and fig bushes. Her husband is an expert fig grower with 200 different varieties. There were many other farmers, artisans and bakers.
Of course, we had breakfast at 61 Main along with about 30 other people. The place was hopping last Saturday. Jenna serves a great breakfast and brunch on Saturdays 9-3 p.m. She had all sorts of heirloom tomatoes and other farm fresh vegetables for our vegan friends. But the rest of us had quiche and veggie omelets. You can order from the brunch menu or just ask for eggs any which way. Jenna has been terrific trying to satisfy our diverse group.
I had a great dinner at Home Restaurant last Thursday. I ordered the Farmers Plate. It was so great with an assortment of the freshest local vegetables and Stacey Arnold’s microgreens. John Lupi buys as much local produce as he can. Donny Hunter supplies him with tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. John Culbertson sells him heirloom tomatoes. Etc. Farm supplies John Lupi with about every vegetable you can name. Lupi also buys his organic microgreens and beans from Stacey Arnold. He also bought French filet beans from me as well. All of us grow our vegetables organically. You have to think how cool it is when our local restaurants support our farmers and serve us healthy fresh vegetables.
Eat Local and Shop Local,