I’m so very sorry that I missed the open mic night. I couldn’t be home that night. My dearest wish is that things will calm down one of these days and I can have a life.
In the meantime, writing last week about how my siblings help me with recipes for my books has gotten me thinking about okra pie.
Okra 'pie' is an old family recipe that I included in the my last book, The Drop Edge of Yonder. It’s not really a pie - it’s okra sliced up with egg and cornmeal and fried into a kind of large round fritter. It can be sliced into wedges and eaten by hand, so it’s not only quite delicious, it’s fun to eat, as well.
My mother raised okra in her backyard garden, and always had tons of it every summer. Usually we ate it fried, sometimes boiled with tomatoes or in a stew, but she made it into a ‘pie’ for us quite often, and we loved it. I made it myself quite a bit when I was younger and actually cooked at home with some regularity, but it’s been so long that I had forgotten the particulars and had to ask my sister, the famous Carol, to help me reconstruct the recipe. Most of the time I can make it just right - perfectly brown and toasty and all in one piece. However, it takes a practiced eye to know just how long to cook it on one side before attempting the flip-over, and occasionally I end up with a pan full of loose fried okra with egg in it. It doesn’t really matter. It’s still yummy.
p.s. To all you poor non-Southerners who have only eaten your okra boiled, this is not slimy in the least.
1 lb. sliced okra (about 4 cups) 2 beaten eggs
¾ cup yellow cornmeal ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
Fat for frying
Melt the fat in a heavy skillet. The fat should cover the bottom of the pan to about 1/8 inch deep. When very hot, add the coated okra and spread out so that it covers the bottom of the skillet in a single layer. Do not stir. Let the okra cook until the top looks dry and the edges are beginning to brown, then turn the batch over with a large turner. After years of practice, my mom could turn the entire thing over in one piece. If the pie breaks into two or three pieces the first hundred or so times you try it, don’t worry about it. Fry the other side until brown, adding more fat if needed. Turn the "pie" out onto a serving plate, cut into wedges, and serve.