The Hand of God Has A Green Thumb Named Okra

The hand of God has a green thumb and I’m pretty sure that’s why okra is the absolute best. I know some people claim to hate the “texture” but usually they’re referring to the way the okra has been cooked. Personally I haven’t met an okra dish I haven’t liked and I’ve had one made with okra powder that makes a sort of green gelatinous goo. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old and was being dragged along through the Sahara while my parents were off doing work “in the field”. And then again with “callaloo” in Haiti. It’s been a good life when you can enjoy one of your favorite vegetables across continents.

I’ve only recently started cooking okra for myself but not because it’s difficult. It’s not always available and when it is here’s usually a family friend who makes it for me. “Spoiled”. I know.

So without further ado, here’s just a few of the ways I know I like o eat okra as well as a couple I still need to try.

Grilled Okra with Red Curry-lime Dressing

Grilled Okra with Red Curry-lime Dressing

Spicy Okra Pickles

Spicy Okra Pickles

Roasted Okra (aka. Seared Lamb Chopes with Blood Orange Sauce and Roasted Okra with Chili Oil)

Roasted Okra (aka. Seared Lamb Chops with Blood Orange Sauce and Roasted Okra with Chili Oil)

Southern Fried Okra

Southern Fried Okra

Ladies Fingers (Okra) Fries

Ladies Fingers (Okra) Fries

Okra and Sauteed Tomatoes

Okra and Sauteed Tomatoes

Okra Fritters with Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese

Okra Fritters with Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese

Smashed Fried Okra

Smashed Fried Okra

Okra Rellenos

Okra Rellenos

 

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Half A Salad with a Full Garden

Last summer I was getting all fancy with the gardening and the fresh stuff and piles and piles of lettuce to show for all my hard work. Thanks to my appaent inability to withold memories I went and planted flowers and herbs on top of where the end of last year’s crop went to seed. So what happened? Rogue lettuce. EVERYWHERE. It was growing out of the drainpipe hole at the end of the garden bed. It was springing up from between the cracks in the sidewalk. It was sort of grow up and through a rock?? And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that even with all that crazy ninja lettuce popping up everywhere and messing up my carefully planned out herb garden I’ve gotten about 10 good leaves from the lot of them.

On the bright side (in the back where we get more sun) I’ve had so many tomatoes that the only thing I could think of after a while was to cut them in hlf and throw them in the oven so I could at least have something that still tasted like tomato and would turn to black goo on the countertop. I really hate it when tomatoes go bad. It’s super gross.

But all those poor tomatoes I just didn’t rescue in time aside, I was left with only half a salad since I was strangely without any other ingredients to help make any salad I made be more than just chopped tomatoes with salt. It takes a special tomato to be delicious without some sort of additional lubricant with taste.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

But between work and more work and my entire fammily deserting me for the island homelands I have had very little to eat except vegetables for the last month. It all happened because my dear mother finished her radiation treatments (yay!) and it ended with a really really big last minute party where I tried to grill outside. Thinking I’d try something new for a big crowd I attempted making burgers. Like real burgers. The kind with meat cooked on an open flame. Well over charcoal.

For those of you who don’t know: I was raised vegetarian. At some point the family became pescatarian but even fish is a rare occurence at Chez Tobing. I have left behind those meatless way for almost a decade now but even today I don’t cook meat. So me deciding to try cooking burgers for a party was probably the worst idea. They didn’t turn out awful. Just not great. The black bean burgers I mixed up, however, turned out amazing and I’ve even made this receipe since. I usually make my own aioli with vegenaise, fresh crushed garlic, lime, and sriracha. I had also posted the burger recipe last year in “Keeping it Veggie“:

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

But alongside the semi-successful burger project I grilled about 5 billion pounds of fresh stuff: Eggplane, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, OKRA!, bell peppers, asparagus, baby bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn… You put the grilled veggies on a toasted bun with the aioli and a still cripsy-on-the-outside black bean burger (or a marinated and grilled portabellow mushroom if you prefer) and that makes for a good party! In the future, though, I think I’ll leave the regular burgers to a professional. The afterparty of this whole affair was me sitting on the sofa eating nothing but roasted vegetable sandwiches for the next week while watching “Chuck” and drinking the remains of my homemade “Make Your Own Juice Bar”. My favorite was the sparkling  Persian Lime with an extra shot of sweetness from the ginger simple syrup.

In honor of the vegetables (and “fruit”. That’s right, I’m looking at you tomatoes!) that kept me alive while living alone for the last month I’m dedicating the next series of posts with all the wonderful ways to eat them!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers (from SkinnyTaste)

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Muffin Week: “Baked Doughnut Muffins with Blueberry Jam” (Day 7)

Okay… Okay…! I know! What’s with the repeat blueberry items??

But hear me out. Imagine these made with a proper RASPBERRY preserve. I’m thinking Bonne Maman Raspberry preserves to be exact. Then it would be like a really good jelly filled doughnut only in muffin form… and if it’s called a muffin it has to be healthier, right?

Anyway you chose to go with it, I think this is an excellent way to end Muffin Week.

Baked Donut Muffins with Blueberry Jam

“Baked Doughnut Muffins with Blueberry Jam” from Simply Delicious

 

Muffin Week: “Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze” (Day 6)

These do seem a little more complicated than I’ve been going for but the certainly do seem worth it. Since I work from home on Fridays and this particular Friday isn’t too crazy I think I can schedule a full lunch break to make these while monitoring my “mobile work space”. Some people think I’m crazy bringing all these screens into the kitchen. During work hours I will have my work laptop (in case of any phone calls or urgent emails), personal laptop (with the recipe), Billy the iPad (named after William Blake and usually streaming some sci-fi series on Netflix), and my phone (because I’m popular… and my boss has my cell phone number in case I’m needed for something).

So during a full episode of Star Trek: Voyager I think these could come into being…

Chai Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze

“Chai Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze” from Ambitious Kitchen

 

Muffin Week: “Coconut Oatmeal Muffins” (Day 5)

I sometimes describe my insides as being on to fronts. One side is always trying to colonize the other and tradition usually wins. For this reason I know I couldn’t actually go an entire week only eating muffins for breakfast. At some point I’d go looking for something savory and preferably involving rice or bread. That being said, I feel like something like this would probably be an evening snack as opposed to  a breakfast item for me. Something about coconut feels off as a breakfast flavor in my book. But it would be nice to munch on while watching Battlestar Galactica with my mom after work.

Coconut Oatmeal Muffins

“Coconut Oatmeal Muffins” from Baking Bites

 

Muffin Week: “Blueberry-Orange Cornmeal Muffins” (Day 4)

I was inspired by blueberries yesterday and thought I should find one that actual calls for blueberries. While I will always be a fan of my favorite blueberry muffin recipe from some time ago (See  ) I think these certainly look… interesting. I’m often wary of cornbread or cornmeal based muffins but I think that a little extra texture in a breakfast food can be good for you. It’s like giving your mouth a little tasting exercise to get it started for the day.

I like to keep something flavorful at my desk throughout the day. Whether it’s something to drink (coffee or tea) in the mornings or some sort of fruity candy or new kind of chocolate covered nut (so far my absolute favorites are the dark chocolate, cocoa dusted, almonds I can get around the corner at Whole Foods) I’m a fan of texture and flavor. So maybe these would be a good start to that day. Plus I feel like people won’t hate me for bringing them into the office. Anything that looks like it might be remotely unhealthy doesn’t seem to go over.

Bueberry-Orange Cornmeal Muffins

“Blueberry-Orange Cornmeal Muffins” from Martha Stewart