Good morning!!! And I do mean morning. It's 4 a.m. as I'm writing this. One of the joys of insomnia is that I can sit in the utter quiet of the early morning and contemplate the joys of okra. Yep, you read that one right; I said okra. I find that of all the vegetables, okra is probably the most maligned of all vegetables. It is also the one of which family fights are made. I mean, no one is just "meh" regarding okra. You either love it, or you want to shoot the person who put it on the table. Now, I'm a versatile foodie. That's a polite way of saying I'll eat anything at least once, which could explain my dress size. But Jorge? Not so much. So I really think he felt last night that he took one for the team by trying this recipe. But he lived through it, and the beautiful thing about it is, he doesn't know it yet, but some of the leftover okra made it into his lunch container for today. ROFL!!!!! Aaahhh.....I wish I could be a fly on the wall when he makes that discovery. But, I disgress. I am always on a quest to introduce new vegetables into our diet, as well as new ways of cooking vegetables. We can only eat corn so many times a week, you know? So, I decided to try this recipe, and I thought it was good. Yeah, it was a little slimy as okra usually is, but the celery in the mixture kept it crunchy, so the trick is to always get a bite of celery with a bite of okra. As a matter of fact, you might want to use a little more celery than I used to get a little more crunch. But not too much, or you'll be serving Celery Creole, which is just weird.
In case you're wondering, Creole cuisine, which I think almost everyone knows originated in Louisiana, combines the influences of French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, African, and Native American cooking. The main difference between Creole and the possibly more popular Cajun cooking is that Creole cuisine evolved more in the kitchens of the more affluent and the pre-Civil War plantations. And, like so many other types of cooking, some of it is good, and some of it must have been a kitchen experiment gone bad.
Which brings us back to okra. A lot of people, especially in the South, will eat okra if it has been breaded, battered, and deep-fried, but heck! in the South, there are people who eat deep-fried Twinkies, so that means nothing. I realize deep frying it hides some of the dreaded sliminess, but if you're going to deep fry it, you might as well forget cooking at home and just go on down to the local McFast Food place and order a heart attack to go. And we're not doing that, are we? And why not? Because it's Low Carb Thursday, that's why! Oh, and because we want to be healthy. Yeah, that's it. We're doing this for our health. Keep telling yourself that.
adapted from "The Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook & Program Basics, 1994
2 strips bacon
4 green onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 c frozen okra
1 -14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 C water
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp file powder
First, in your trusty cast iron skillet (the deep one) or better yet, your trusty cast iron Dutch oven, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove and let cool. Using the bacon grease left in the pan (if you're really afraid of the Health Police, pour it out and use vegetable oil; I used the bacon grease like the good Southern girl that I am), cook the onions and celery on medium heat for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the okra, tomatoes, water, red pepper, black pepper and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low. Crumble the bacon into the mixture and cover. Simmer 12-15 minutes. Stir in the file powder.
PROTEIN: 3 g
CARBOHYDRATES: 9 g
MUSIC TO COOK BY
"Jambalaya on the Bayou - Hank Williams"