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 Gertie's Southern Fried Okra

Okra, which originated in western Africa, is also known as lady fingers and gumbo, among other names. From the same family as hollyhock, rose of Sharon and hibiscus, it's a lovely plant as it grows and blooms in your garden. The edible pods grow in an elongated, lantern shape. It is a fuzzy, green, ribbed, fibrous pod, usually two to four inches long, but it can grow to fourteen inches long.

The immature pods are used for soups, canning, pickling and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable. It has an unfortunate reputation for being slimy, which turns some people off and keeps others from trying it. And that's a shame.

But when it's fried as my late mother-in-law taught me, the slimy texture is conquered and the final product is crispy-tender and utterly delicious!

Can you celebrate Kwanzaa without fried okra? Yes, of course, but what would be the point? :)

In memory of Gertie, who was a wonderful mother-in-law and the best cook I've ever known.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb fresh okra, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
.

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl mix the cornmeal, flour and other dry ingredients. Set aside.

Place the okra into a large, flat-bottomed bowl; combine eggs and milk in another bowl, then poor it over the okra and toss until fully coated. Let this sit for ten minutes or so, tossing a couple more times to make sure all the okra is equally coated.

With slotted spoon, pick up the okra, drain it, then toss it in cornmeal mixture until it's well coated, 5 or 6 pieces at a time depending on how big the pieces are.

Heat half an inch of oil, about 2 cups, in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Oil is ready when dash of cornmeal sizzles. Using a slotted spoon, place 5 or 6 slices of okra in skillet and fry them until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip them over halfway through if needed. With slotted spoon remove from skillet and drain on paper towels while you fry the next batch.

Serve hot.

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