O-K-R-A. When you think of “easy,” think okra. Not only is this vegetable easy to grow, it’s easy to maintain, harvest, pair with others, rotate year round. Why, it literally gets along with everyone! Low water needs, low nutrient desire, you can’t miss with this one. Keep in mind that while it’s easy, it does tend toward the slimy and seedy (we’re talking plants here, not people), but to a very low degree, especially when ingested fresh.
Speaking of easy, the Big Easy loves this baby, packing it into everything from gumbo to etouffe and all things Creole, while southerners have long favored the fried version. Southerners like most things fried — I know this, because my mother grew up on Georgia cooking and we ate everything from fried chicken to fried plantains (odd, yes, but the family transplanted to Miami as did her culinary preferences). Fried okra ranks as an old favorite.
My son is a big fan of okra — only lets my mother fry it for him — while my daughter… She needed a bit of coaxing. “C’mon, honey. You can’t crinkle your nose. You haven’t even tried it, yet!” Once I convinced her it tastes best fresh from the vine (it’s actually a branch, but it sounds better when you say vine) she agreed, sort of. I think she was more enthralled with the idea of eating it right from the plant than anything, but as a mother, my motto is: whatever works!
Another reason to include okra in your garden — it’s good for you. Okra has wonderful health benefits, including vitamin C, calcium and potassium. But even better, it contains glutathione, an antioxidant and cancer fighter which attacks carcinogens and ushers them away from cells, into the urine, and eventually out of the body. Studies have shown encouraging signs for the role of glutathione in preventing the development of oral and throat cancers, too. For more information on the natural health benefits of food in general, check out the book, The Doctors Book of Food Remedies written by Selene Yeager and the editors of Prevention magazine – another favorite of mine.
So this spring, try a round of okra (don’t bother until then, because okra likes it hot) and you’ll be glad you did. Trust me!
P.S. If anyone who resembles the likes of an okra plant tells you to “trust them” – run!