9.01.2009

Smothering Dreams

September already? Yow, where did the time go? We just planted our okra 'last week' . Up north in western NY when Fall hits, the first thing we used to think of in terms of warm comfort food was a nice hot bowl of chili. Down here in South Louisiana, we think of a nice big bowl of gumbo. Cajuns never think of cooking it during the summer months. Horrors, no! Not until the first cold snap hits does anyone's fancy turn to thoughts of gumbo. With that in mind, we plant okra.
Cappy thinned out our okra garden, but it's tall and very productive.
The flowers for each okra stalk start out as a gorgeous flower. The flower only lasts for a day, then falls off, then to replace the flower, comes the okra.

I just hauled in this colandar load today. A lot of people use the regular short dark green okra, but Cappy and I grow what is called "Long-horned" okra, which has been the tradition in his family. The bigger ones have a more mild flavor. Personally, my choice is.....either:-)
What I usually do after I pick them, is to wash them, slice them and put them in bags in the freezer. Slicing them takes a little bit of time, but I spend that time dreaming of the dark, rich gumbo it will be making. When we've got a TON of sliced okra accumulated in the freezer, we take them out and 'smother them down', using Cajun sausage, the usual chopped vegetables, like onions, garlic, etc. and our own blend of Cajun seasoning spices. Cappy spent time smothering our okra, savoring the experience when he was home last time. His Aunt Gussie, after she found out, kinda/sorta scolded Cappy for using a black iron pot, because it turns the smothered okra a dark color, having leeched iron from the pot. Last year we used a big aluminum pot. Either way, once the smothered okra becomes a main ingredient in the dark brown gumbo, it tastes Wonderful! Smothered okra, on it's own tastes pretty darned good as a side dish as well. When people are going through all the stages of making the smothered okra, I think their thoughts are far in the future months, to the 'cold' weather when they will be savoring their gumbo made with the okra they are "smothering" in the present. (Just thinking about it right now is making my mouth water.) The pot starts out with crisp veggies, then after tending to it for quite awhile, it becomes a pot of moosh. Smothered Okra. Yum-eeeee!















This year we have to give credit to Mr. Ed, our good friend from Rochester, NY, whom the ol' guys from our town Forum call "Winchester". Mr. Ed taught us a technique for canning that is so amazingly easy. So, with that in mind, we took our freshly made, hot and steamy smothered okra and canned it. Now, whenever we open our pantry, besides all the jelly we've made, we see future pots of smoked chicken/andouille gumbo sitting there in rows looking for all the world like so many jars of mysterious greenish brown mush. It might not look all that appetizing, but I can tell you, it's the stuff dreams are made of.

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