Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Dog- (aka okra-pickin'-every-day) days of summer are here again

The hot, sticky, okra-pickin'-every-day, dog days of summer clearly are at hand.

In a predictable ritual now, each late afternoon Hubby exits carrying his paring knife, gloves, and plastic bag and heads to the garden to see what's ready on the okra rows.

To be usable for cooking at all, new okra pods must be removed quickly from the plant. Let them stay a day too long, and they're tough as leather; the knife can hardly hack its way through the pod to slice the okra to prepare for a meal. (When this happens, hubby throws the hardened okra on the ground, knowing the pod will leave seeds for the next year's garden.)

At this point many gardeners let their okra go to seed or chop down the mighty plants that by now are as tall as a person. Okra-pickin', at this stage, is not necessarily a joyful task. Sweltering days combined with the itchy okra leaves can make for some unpleasantness. Many okra-pickers find they must wear long-sleeves to avoid succumbing to the itchiness. Interestingly, cutting the okra is like deadheading a rose or a geranium--removing the new pods simply makes more grow in their place.

But I have far too many favorite as well as untried okra recipes remaining in my file to turn my back on this harvest. (As I mentioned in an earlier blog, on years that we don't grow okra, we always regret the lack thereof.)

Plus in my refrigerator I had some ears of fresh corn that needed to be used up in a recipe. Hubby's most recent trek to the garden gave me reason to prepare Okra Creole, a divine veggie combination (okra, corn, tomatoes, onion, green peppers) that holds a place of honor in my new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden. (In the Vegetable Side section of the cookbook it is the first one listed.)

Hubby and I used it Boldto top some leftover pasta we had in the refrigerator. The next night (we loved it so much, we prepared it two nights in a row--with fresh okra each night) we served it over crumbled (low-sodium) tortilla chips. For tonight's leftovers we may serve it over brown rice, but it's wonderful on its own without using it as any kind of extras.

With more dog/okra days undoubtedly ahead, many more trips to the okra "grove" undoubtedly are in Hubby's future.

Okra Creole

3 or 4 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons bacon drippings (I use 3 tablespoons olive oil)
18 okra pods, sliced
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced, or 1 cup canned tomatoes, undrained (if canned, I use the no-salt-added variety)
1 cup fresh corn
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning (I use salt-free, such as Mrs. Dash)

In large skillet fry 3 or 4 slice bacon. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon drippings and let it remain in skillet. Crumble bacon. In skillet saute onion and pepper. Return crumbled bacon to skillet. Add sliced okra pods, tomatoes, corn, and seasonings. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

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