Stalking Your Fresh Okra Row

You smile and shout, “Okra for supper!”

The children go screaming away from the table, “I hate slimy, alien pods!”

So you, standing there, holding your hard work in your hands, a beautiful dish of cooked okra, ready to place it on the table for you and your family, think, Why should I go to all this trouble for this weird vegetable my family won’t even try eating?  I’ve stalked that okra row every other day now, and this is the thanks I get.

In your mind’s eye you see, with a winsome smile, yourself “stalking” okra, knowing how very tricky to pick it is, because it’s all so very, very many shades of green. You see yourself, while picking, looking back behind you over the row and sighing. I missed so many pods. How did I do that? I was staring right at those leafy stalks! If I don’t pick them, they’ll get hard and I’ll lose part of my precious crop.

So you back up, crouch down, and begin to step very softly searching for those smaller, tender pods among those leaves, at various heights, and among those beautiful, yellow, insect buzzing blossoms. It’s hot, and the sunshine is blistering. Then you start laughing at yourself, because you remind yourself of a crouched lion, on the hot Serengeti plain, stalking its prey. Take one slow step, let your gaze search carefully through those big, green leafs, the same color as the pods. You see your prey, reach in, snap it off, and triumphantly throw it in your bucket! When you think you’ve got them all, only, a few days later, when you go to pick okra again, you immediately see several pods you missed. Dang it! And you begin to stalk that row again!

Now, why go to all this trouble if some of your family doesn’t like okra? Let me count for you, all the wonderful ways of this special food, and then we’ll talk about growing it and cooking it. And I will tell you why, after all your years of hard work, later in life, your children may learn to love it!

First, let’s take a look inside that green, strange, seedy pod and what it brings to the table for the nutritional life of your body. Health to the body is health to the mind. Now the good book says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” For the love of our sound mind, we all want to be healthy, whole, and happy. Okra’s benefits helps with the following:

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Boost immune system
  • Lowers risk of colon cancer
  • Helps prevent anemia
  • Helps your eyes to have clear vision and helps prevent cataract & glaucoma
  • Cleanse your liver
  • Treats constipation
  • Helps asthma
  • Helps with sun stroke
  • Strengthens bones
  • Helps to prevent obesity
  • Can help with type 1 & 2 diabetes

This cute little okra alien pod is packed with:

  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A (beta carotene)
  • Luetin, Xanthin
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin B6
  • Minerals
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

And yes, I looked all this up. In doing so, I learned more about okra than ever! I’ve eaten it most of my life and never knew how wonderful it was for my body!

And I tell you the truth, growing okra is not that hard. It’s a hardy crop and very drought tolerant, once you get it established. Over the years, Homie and I have planted different varieties, different ways, and different places in our garden. We found that reverting back to the “good old days,” the way our parents did it, was doing it best. Okra loves sunshine, the right amount of fertilizer, water, and to be “sowed.”

Our parents and grandparents on the family farm, took a hoe, a normal farm tool, dug a shallow furrow in their mounded row, and then sowed the seeds uniformly and somewhat thick. It made a thick row that could start bearing as early as knee high. When it starts to bloom and bear, it will continue to bloom and bear those tasty, enriched with vitamins, okra alien pods until the first hard, killing frost. When picking okra, it does have a tendency to make you itch. TIPS HERE: Wearing gloves, or washing your hands and forearms with soap immediately after you pick it, solves this problem. Also you can use a sharp knife to cut your nutritious okra. And when you stalk your okra row, go down one side, and then back up the other for a more thorough stalking and gathering experience.

You might say, “That seems like a lot of hard work for a vegetable for only a few meals.” Oh! Contraire! Okra is for breakfast, dinner, and supper! (We live in the south, so we eat these three meals. Smile.)

IMG_2986

Okra for breakfast? Yuk! No yuks, please, until you try our “Okra and eggs, sausage, and butter-fried toast”  recipe on my Homestead Recipes page. It’s a nutritional, power packed meal for starting any great day.

As for your children, watching you eat it will have a great impact on them. When they get older, they may revisit the nutritional value of the “alien okra pod.” Repetition with foods creates a normalcy in their minds. Statistics inform us that children may need to try a food six or seven times before they begin to like it. The keys are exposure and persistence by the parents. My children never liked okra either. But today, they love it cooked several ways. Neither Homie or I ate okra much when we were growing up, but today, it is one of our main super food crops, along with the super foods mustard greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli, lettuces, and collard greens.

At the homestead we grow okra every summer. We grow it, stalk it, fry it, saute it, boil it, pickle it, and freeze it for the fall, winter, and spring months, until we get to grow it again. So I hope I’ve helped you fall in love with a great super food, the okra alien pod, like I have! 

As always, I encourage you to check out all my books on my page Shop-For-Love

So happy okra growing, staking, eating, and preserving!

From my kitchen to yours, happy eating,

With love, from Romance & The Homestead,

Della.

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