Southern Fried Okra

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With summer winding down quickly, I find myself trying to squeeze in all the things I promised the kids we would do over the summer.  I do this every year because summer seems to fly by before we realize it.

I love to go see movies with my kids.  Christopher and I have had a couple of very late-night movie excursions.  Just the fact that we were out way past his bedtime – and mine! – made it seem like an adventure.  Elizabeth and I love to see girlie movies.  Cinderella, Maleficent, stuff the boys would never go see with us!

I promised them both that we would go see a few movies this summer, and we just didn’t.  With the school year barreling upon us, I knew it had to happen soon – or not at all.

We invited Elizabeth’s best friend Laura to go see a movie on Friday.  The girls were excited and worked out all the details.

And then, on Thursday night, we saw the horrible news on t.v.  There had been a deadly shooting at a theater in Lafayette – about two hours from us.  My heart stopped.  Michael and I watched as the story unfolded on the air.  At one point during the evening, I asked him if he thought I should still take the girls to the movies.  His response was classic Michael.  No nonsense.  Straight to the point.

“Baby, we can’t let things like this keep us from living our lives.”

He was right.  Laura’s mom was in agreement, so we kept our plans the next morning.

As I pulled into an empty parking space, I spotted an SUV from our local t.v. station and recognized the two reporters – who saw us park and LEAPT from their vehicle to grab a camera and a microphone – in spite of my out loud prayer, “Please, please, please don’t let them talk to me!”

They interviewed me and asked if I was nervous about coming to the theater after what happened in another part of our state the night before.  I answered their questions and tried to remember to smile and not say “uh.”  The entire interview was about a minute long.  They thanked me and I was on my way.  The girls were hiding behind my SUV!  We walked into the theater and the whole time my mind was racing.

What did I say?  Did I make sense?  Did I ramble?  Did I look stupid?  Will they show my footage and caption it with “Village Idiot” instead of my name?

We laughed our way through The Minion Movie.  It was really cute!  And then we went to a late lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  The girls had so much fun.  Listening to their conversation was bittersweet though.  They’re growing up.  So fast.11754605_10155906163605002_7716647928774435429_o

Of course, hearing about our grand adventure made Christopher question when he could invite a friend to the movies.  So I ended up back at the theater on Saturday afternoon with Christopher and one of his football buddies, Jordan.  We saw Jurassic World – which Christopher and I have been wanting to see since we first heard they were making it.  It was incredible!  But it was a little scary to watch it alone.  Because, for the first time, I sat away from my child and let him enjoy time with his friend.  We went to eat Chinese afterward.  It’s Christopher’s favorite because it’s a buffet and he can eat as much as he wants.

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We got back to our house and Michael took Jordan home.  When he and Christopher returned, they brought in a huge bag of okra, fresh from Jordan’s family’s garden.  I was thrilled.  My daddy brought me some earlier that I roasted in the oven. It was great.  This time, Michael requested that I fry it.

Growing up, I watched my mama fry more batches of okra than I can count.  She dusted them with cornmeal and fried them crisp.  I decided to do something a little different.  I soaked the pieces in buttermilk before dredging them in a seasoned cornmeal mixture.

The result was incredible.  We all loved it.  In fact, I don’t remember Michael eating anything else at lunch.  Tender, fresh okra encased in a crispy breading.  So good!

Southern Fried Okra

  • 4 cups of okra slices (1-inch pieces)
  • 3 cups of buttermilk
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Tabasco
  • 1 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne
  • Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, pour buttermilk and whisk in Tabasco.  Set aside.  Cut ends from okra and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Place okra into buttermilk, stirring to coat all the pieces with buttermilk.  Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

In a shallow bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, salt, onion powder, and cayenne.

In a large skillet, pour about 2 inches of oil and heat for frying.

Use a slotted spoon to drain spoonfuls of okra.  Toss in the cornmeal mixture.  Use your hands to shake excess cornmeal off and place pieces on a baking sheet.  Continue with remainder of okra.

When oil is hot, place okra pieces into oil and fry until golden (2-3 minutes).  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Well Duh #1:  DO NOT overcrowd your skillet!  You will need to fry in batches. I used a large skillet and fried 5 batches.

Well Duh #2:  I put a finished batch on a stack of paper towels and salted it.  After a few minutes, I pour the pieces into a bowl.  I repeat this with each batch.

Well Duh #3:  I am told that these are excellent with a squeeze of lemon juice over the top.  I don’t know because they were gone too fast for me to squeeze anything over them!  Elizabeth had hers with ketchup, Christopher had his with barbecue sauce.  Michael had his with Tabasco.

Well Duh #4:  Although there is Tabasco in the buttermilk soak and cayenne in the dredge mixture, these are not spicy at all.  Just flavorful!

Well Duh #5:  To see if your oil is ready for frying, place the handle end of a wooden spoon into the oil and press to the bottom of the skillet.  If the oil on the spoon handle bubbles immediately, it’s ready.  Watch your oil while frying and lower the heat, if needed.  I started out on high, but lowered the heat to medium-high after the first batch.

Yes, I did end up on the 6 o’clock news.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Several friends said I actually sounded somewhat intelligent.  I just said that we decided that if we stopped doing things every time something crazy happened in the world, we would never do anything anymore.

They actually used my name and not Village Idiot.

I actually added that we prayed and trusted God to take care of us, but they didn’t air that part though.  That’s okay.  I still said it.  And I meant it.

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