I remember as a new gardener the first time I grew okra. The way it performed in the heat of the south was incredible. The pods grew so fast that I really think if I had stood there and watched I could have witnessed them lengthening! It didn’t seem to have any pests. No bug seemed to be interested in it. That should have been my first clue. I was so excited for my first harvest. A few minutes into cutting off those green pods my hands and arms started to itch like crazy. I thought, “Am I allergic to this stuff?” After running the water from the hose over my arms the itch subsided a little. I trudged home opened my harvest bag and the smell hit me. If you are a gardener you know what I am talking about. The smell of raw okra, not nice. I thought to myself, “Is this even edible? Then there is the slime! If you don’t cook it right, it is just a slimy mess all over your plate. Don’t let your kids first experience, with eating okra, be a big slimy mess. Trust me, they will never touch it again.
Lucky for you, you can skip all these growing pains with okra by following a few simple rules. Pick it with long sleeves and gloves, always. Pick every other day or the pods will be too tough to eat. Trust me on this I tried it. I thought,” If I cook anything long enough it will soften up.” No, it will be like chewing on pieces of wood in your gumbo. Another reason your family might refuse to try okra again. I finally found a recipe that really makes okra shine. With much pleading I convinced my family to give okra one more try and they love it!
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
- 4 cups of okra
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 1 tsp sage
- 11/2 tsp paprika
- pinch of cayenne(depending on how hot you want it)
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp ground caraway seed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 links of whatever kind of sausage you want
- Throw all ingredients in a crock pot (You can saute everything then cook on low 40 min if you don't want to use the crock pot)
- Place the sausages on top and cook on low for 4-6 hours
- Serve over a bed of rice
You might ask, why don’t you fry it? Fresh fried okra is great but, let’s face it, it is horrible for you. If you don’t know that fried food is BAD for your health than you need to read more. Don’t skip the spices, they make this recipe.