In the South we love our vegetables. From Louisiana to North Carolina, the end of season harvest is abundant. We have finally had some rain here in the mountains bringing on a new growth spurt for annuals that realize the end is near. One vegetable, loved by many but unappreciated by others, doesn’t care if it is hot and dry. That vegetable is okra. A slender somewhat fuzzy green pod from a member of the hibiscus family, okra is high in iron and vitamins C and A. It is completely fat free unless of course you roll it in cornmeal and fry it in bacon fat or olive oil. And who wouldn’t?
Jan was visiting New Orleans a year or so ago, reveling in the miraculous recovery of one of our most unique and romantic Southern cities when he came upon this amazing produce truck covered with hand painted graffiti . He asked the young proprietress if he could take her picture. She said yes. He then jokingly asked, ” Are you Mrs. Okra?” She replied, ” No, I’m Miss Okra, Mrs. Okra is my momma!”
This fall during the week of Oct 3-9 we have a fabulous cooking class led by Norma Jean Marcon glorifying Creole and Cajun cooking. Recognizing the regional flavors of New Orleans, this garden to table style class will use produce from the folk school’s fall harvest augmented by seasonal favorites Norma Jean brings with her from the great Crescent City. You can learn to make an authentic gumbo in this class (gombo is French for okra). There are still a few spaces available. It’s a great opportunity to heighten your culinary skills in our well loved studio while celebrating the great culture of la belle New Orleans. Click here for more info and to register for this class.
Until then you can cook up a mess of these tasty okra fritters:
Use fresh young okra and slice it thin.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together just until moistened:
1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 large egg
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cups okra, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon water
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Pour peanut oil into a cast iron skillet to a depth of 2 inches. Heat carefully to 375 degrees. Maintain this heat throughout cooking. Drop tablespoons of fritter batter into hot oil. Cook until golden on first side, then flip and finish cooking the other side. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
Nanette Davidson has lived for most of my her in Brasstown, NC. In 1999, she created the cooking program for the John C. Campbell Folk School and served as the Resident Artist in Cooking until 2019. She is the author of The Folk School Cookbook.
Nanette is also a professional weaver, a charter graduate of the Haywood College professional craft curriculum, and is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.