The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Land Of Plenty

September 10th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Posted in garden, Recipes

A never ending okra harvest

A never ending okra harvest

I wonder if more Americans wouldn’t cook at home if they didn’t get the idea from our popular media that every meal had to rise to the level of restaurant food. The same ethic has been embraced by hundreds of food bloggers, each enticing us with recipes entirely different from what we saw yesterday–photos to drool over, ingredients from around the world, meticulous preparations.

Does anyone really eat this way?

Americans have gotten into the habit of clipping recipes out of food magazines, then marching to the supermarket (or farmers market) to purchase the ingredients, whether or not they are in season. How different food is in real life. When you grow your own food, you discover that there are seasons and you learn to eat what the garden gives you. In the spring, for instance, we ate lots of collard greens and kale and mustard greens and snap peas. Then the green beans started to swell and we ate tons of those while the tomatoes began to ripen and the squash was coming into its own.

These days we eat tomatoes at almost every meal and no doubt you’ve noticed we’ve been eating lots of okra. We are eating okra every day and I expect that to continue for another week, or as long as our okra plants hold out.

Is that a bad thing? Is it possible to get sick of eating okra? Well, maybe, if you are convinced that dinner should be something new and different and more like eating in a restaurant every night. Otherwise, adjust your expectations to more closely fit what’s actually happening outside your window, there in the garden. The garden is telling you what’s for dinner.

But it does help to have a few different recipes, or even to just improvise. Take this Southwestern okra stew I invented the other night. It’s actually just a riff on the smothered okra that we like to make so much. That dish is made with green bell pepper. But we happened to have some poblano peppers just getting old in the crisper drawer, so I used those instead. They were already going soft, so I simply placed them under the broiler to char the skin. They are then easily peeled. Otherwise they can be cut into pieces and laid flat under the broiler. Some people like to char them directly on a gas burner on the stove top.

Using the original smothered okra recipe, I substituted four poblano peppers for the green bell pepper. I like the heat these peppers give to the stew. Drippings from our favorite Allan Benton bacon add a smokey flavor as well. How about that? A couple of simple changes result in a spectacular new dish. No major brain work, just using what we have on hand.

Isn’t that more what cooking should be about?

Leave a Comment

Please note: Your comment may have to wait for approval to be published to ensure that we don't accidentally publish "spam". We thank you for understanding.


  • foodperson

    Absolutely! I’ve wondered whether I’d love tomatoes or raspberries as much if I could have them any time, and I suspect I wouldn’t. Perhaps the any-food-any-time ethic has also diminished our sense of what’s special and to savor the moment–especially since that kind of eating has a tendency to rely on tasteless produce. Now, I guess I’d better figure out what do do with my okra (from CSA).

  • Sylvie

    I am with you about eating what’s in season, especially from the garden. The meals make itself if you eat that way, and while one uses the same ingredients it does not have to be the same meal. As you just demonstrated with your example.

    Although frankly when it tastes SO good, because it’s so fresh and harvested properly, there are a lot of things we eat repeatedly – in season.

    oh darn. Need to go pick yet another quart of raspberries… what am I going to do with them?