In one place no okra was to be found at all. In another place the small handful of okra that was available was $4.29 per pound and looked as though it was about to sprout fungus at any second. Possibly this was occurring because we were away from the part of the U.S. in which okra is king. In the Western region, in which our son lives, okra isn’t exactly everyone’s first-choice veggie.
The designated hour for our guests to arrive fast approached. Hubby encouraged me to try no more stores and reminded me that before too many months we’d be fighting off the okra “trees” that take over our backyard garden in the summer, so we could have our fill of it then.
Since I had to make an emergency switch-out, I opted for "Friendly Puppy” Salad. Part of our party decor was a terra-cotta pot that had been handpainted with a Snoopy dog on it as a centerpiece for our son’s third birthday when he was a child. All these years I had saved it; now for his 35th I was using it as the base for a balloon bouquet. The Friendly Puppy with his doleful eyes (made from raisins) and his floppy ears (made from prunes) would fit with this party theme.
Wish I’d had time to peel fresh pears for the occasion, but since the moments sped by, I drained pear halves from a can, rinsed them, and plopped each on a spinach-lined salad plate. Onto each pear went the raisin, the prune, orange sections for the dog’s collar, and a cherry for his nose. This made a very healthy substitution—one that the kids in the audience (grown kids as well as the munchkin variety) would find appealing.
Maybe on his next Texas visit, when the garden is up and running (and over-running) with this Southern staple, our son can drop in for some fried okra. Meanwhile the healthful Friendly Puppy brought smiles and made a great substitution.
Friendly Puppy Salad
4 pear halves (fresh, peeled pears are preferred, although canned, drained pears can be used)
dried, seedless raisins
oranges (fresh orange sections are preferred, although canned, drained Mandarin orange pieces
can be subbed)
cherries (fresh cherries are preferred if in season, although jarred, drained cherries can be subbed)
Arrange these items as described above and as illustrated in the photo. Chill before serving.