I have a vivid memory from when I was a little girl of hiding beneath a long row of plants in my Mother’s garden. It was a very hot day and these tall plants made a good shady place to sit. Plate-sized leaves floated above my head and huge yellow flowers dotted the foliage. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, except I was sitting in the okra patch.
Okra has been around my family table for as long as I can remember. We usually ate it dredged in cornmeal and fried in bacon fat (heaven!) I’m guessing that my great grand parents brought their taste for okra with them when they moved from Oklahoma to California during the great migration that was the Dust Bowl. If you’re from the South, okra is pretty common. Now that I live in Minnesota, it’s a bit of a rare bird. While I’m growing okra in my garden this year, our Northern climate is short on the hot humid days that make the plants thrive. Time will tell if I see much okra this year. Lucky for me a few more industrious farmers sell okra at the farmer’s market.
My Dad and I are both partial to pickled okra, the spicier the better. Okra pickles should be crisp and delicious without a hint of the slime okra is famous for. My recipe calls for lots of hot red chiles, garlic, green coriander seeds, mustard seeds and black pepper. All you need to go with it is a plate of BBQ and an ice cold beer.