Ok, Okra! Pickled Okra!!
How many of you have run screaming from the room?
To the sophisticated few who are still with us, but privately thinking “I don’t really like okra”. I say “yes you do.”
Well, no. It’s easy to dislike okra– a bit too easy if you ask me.
And it’s true, it can be a bit of a slimy mess when cooked improperly. But the obvious answer is– don’t cook it improperly! While it’s true okra can ooze a certain slime, and it seems that may be unpalatable to many people. But heat tames the slime. Fried okra can be bliss. Really! I mean it. Still, there are other ways to enjoy okra.
Maybe my roots are showing, and I don’t mean the un-dyed roots on my head ‘cuz I don’t dye my hair (yet). I mean my “Southern Roots”. I have spent some time in okra loving states in my life. I have developed a taste for the stuff.
Okra is staple in Southern, Creole, and Cajun cooking. It’s also a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. It’s low in calories to boot.
Although, it does looks like an alien, especially when sliced crosswise. That’s not a good enough reason to shun it. So get ready. I am sending you to the market. I need me some okra.
I know you know you know this. But there is more than one kind of basil in this world.
One type I particularly love is Thai basil (Ocimum thyrsiflorum). I like to use Thai basil in summer cocktails. I do… check my blog. In fact I often grow Thai basil in the summer just for cocktails. That’s right. I have a cocktail section in my garden. But this summer I didn’t plant any. So when the inspiration hit for a basil infused vodka and passionfruit cocktail. I was a bit bummed. Fortunately I have served enough Thai basil cocktails to my friends to infect them with the love of the herb. Some of them even planted some themselves. So I went on a foraging adventure in their backyards.
Thai basil has wonderful anise notes. It’s not as well known as other types of basil. Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is by far the most common variety. It is widely recognized as the standard, especially in Italian cooking. It’s big, bold and flavorful. Well deserving of all the attention it receives.
But genius sometimes lies in the details. And I know you want to be a genius, right? I mean “always aim for the left field bleachers” I always say. Actually I never say that. I hate baseball metaphors. But I am being editorially lazy and relying on standard catch-phrases. Shame on me!
Anyway, lose the lazy and familiarize yourself with other varieties of basil as well. We may be talking nuance here, and subtlety is not an attribute commonly attached to basil. But nonetheless there are subtle differences between the varieties. Some of these Ocimum cousins have gotten themselves entrenched in cuisines the entire world over.