August 2013

Okra and Other Summer Garden Delights

photoWhat you see above is summer’s bounty, people. Fresh basil, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and okra just picked from the garden.

I dedicate this Paestry post to my co-worker who kindly shared these garden delights with me these past two months. The experience has already cemented a future plan to begin gardening.image_7It is mind-boggling how prolific a garden can be. It started with never-ending yellow summer squash, cucumbers and “peaches and cream” corn, then the green beans and bell peppers arrived and the okra emerged. Soon, the jalapenos and banana peppers appeared and now the tomatoes are really taking off.photoThis entire time, the basil has been thriving. It is the most fragrant basil I have ever encountered. I plucked a leaf once, ate it straight-up and it was so fresh it tingled my tongue. frametastic

image_5I will take a moment to focus on okra. It is a wonderful and mysterious vegetable. Before moving to Alabama, the only times I’ve eaten it were in gumbo or Indian curries.

The most distinctive thing about them is their sliminess, which is by no means unpleasant but rather their best trait. Cooking them reduces the slipperiness inside the pods but I like the slimy texture.
image (2)image_3Their flavor is challenging to describe. It’s unlike any vegetable out there, really. Kind of musky and mellow in a green vegetable way, if that make any sense at all.

The plants grow really tall, as high as five feet. They make beautiful flowers too. I’ve read they love hot and humid weather, which explains why they thrive in the South. image_1 (2)My friend and I cooked them the traditional southern way. We cut them in small pieces, coated with cornmeal and fried until crispy. Other recipes have them battered and deep-fried. I’ve also fried some just covered with flour. Anything goes!image_4 (2)

image_5 (2)It has been a marvelous summer of fresh garden vegetables. To close, these are some cool hop plants that grew high up a trellis.image_10frametastic(1)

Taste of Alabama: New Market BBQ

photo 2Just your typical lunch at yet another fabulous BBQ joint in north Alabama. This one, at New Market Bar-B-Q in New Market.