Southern Comfort

In the garden, the okra is being a little slow about producing.
This year, I have grown my favorite ‘Red Burgundy’ okra
and an okra classic ‘Clemson Spineless’
okra clemson spineless
There are many ways to eat okra.  My daughter in law loves it pickled.  Our Louisiana friends throw it in the gumbo pot.  I’ve recently seen it cooked on the grill.  Not this girl.  The only way I eat okra is fried.
Actually, I was probably in my late teens/early 20’s before I knew you could fix it any other way.
For those of you who are new to frying okra, here is my recipe.
First of all, I have never used an exact amount of anything when I make this. This used to freak me out when I was learning to cook. “I need measurements!”, I would cry to my Mom and Grandma.
There were none.
So, Lesson Number One: when frying okra, you must be flexible.
Now, take a deep breath and a swig of tea and get out the buttermilk.
Pour some buttermilk (about 1/2 c.?–depends on how much okra you have) in a medium size bowl.
Cut off the ends of the okra and discard.
Slice remaining pieces about 1/2 inch thick
Put the okra in the buttermilk and let it bathe while you get the cornmeal out.

okra and squash
I added some squash, too
I use self-rising white cornmeal , but you can use regular white or yellow or self-rising yellow if you want (we’re being flexible remember?).  I’ve used all the above but my favorite is the self-rising white as it doesn’t overpower the taste of the okra.  Just my opinion though.
For those that would like measurements, here’s what I’ve come up with for the coating.
Mix together about 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and about 1/2 tsp. of Cajun seasoning (or more to taste)
slap ya mama
Thanks to our Louisiana friends for introducing us
and place in a pie plate, shallow bowl or even a Ziploc bag (how flexible are we?)
With a slotted spoon, remove the okra from the buttermilk and let drain just a bit. Place in your cornmeal mixture and coat evenly.
I use my hands
okra and squash
I love using my cast iron skillet to cook okra but you can use any deep skillet you have available.
cast iron skillet I put about 1/2 inch of canola oil in the pan and turn up the heat.  Most recipes say to heat the oil to a certain degree.  That’s fine but, because we are so flexible, we are going to do it Grandma’s way. After a few minutes of heating, put in a slice of okra.  If it sizzles, it’s ready.  If it doesn’t, it’s not.
we’re sizzling hot!
When the grease is ready, put the okra in but don’t over-fill the skillet.  You want a single layer giving them plenty of room to mingle.
I also threw in a potato at the last minute
Cook for  2 or 3 minutes, uncovered.
Lesson Number Two:  Don’t be messin’ with it!
Give it time to cook and get all crusty brown.  If you were wondering why I added sugar to the cornmeal, this is why.  It dissolves in the cornmeal while cooking and gives it that golden brown coating.  It also helps the coating stay on.  Grandma was so smart! After a couple of minutes, turn them over and cook a few more minutes.
Lesson Number Three:  Don’t mess with it, but don’t turn your back on it either.
I am notorious for burning okra.   I am a serious multi-tasker in the kitchen and you just can’t do that when cooking okra.  This part is not flexible.   Seriously, the first time I made it, smoke filled our apartment, our smoke detectors went off for 10 minutes, the neighbors came running,  and the okra went in the trash.  It has since been a long time running joke in my family about my okra cooking skills. But, I am not a quitter, and the second time around was a little better as they were just slightly charred.  It was then we discovered if you mix charred okra in with mashed potatoes, you hardly notice.
Anyway, after your okra is done, drain on paper towels.
Next, go out to the garden, grab some tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers.  Slice and enjoy your meal.
p.s.  this particular meal also included another side dish home-grown on the farm.
Black Angus Sirloin Steak!
That my friends, is our version of Southern Comfort!