The Secret to Southern Fried Okra

Let’s cook fresh okra. It’s time to take advantage of this vegetable which is plentiful the summertime in the South and is easily grown in a garden here. I’ve discovered several delicious ways to fix okra since moving to Louisiana. “Southern Fried Okra” is one of those iconic recipes. My recipe is easy — using common household ingredients. It is crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The breading actually sticks to the okra for the most part. You may not want to purchase commercially breaded okra after eating this recipe. Give it a try!

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Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar

Here’s an easy recipe for a small batch of eggplant — “Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar.” Eggplant grows well in a Louisiana garden and I needed ideas to cook a few at a time as they ripened in the hot summer heat. One of my favorite eggplant dishes is served at a local Lebanese and Greek cafe. It consists of sauteed eggplant which is doused in lemon juice and garlic. The soft eggplant pulp blends with the spices perfectly and it is another “melt in your mouth” eggplant recipe. Thought I’d try to make a variation with my garden eggplant.

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A Small Batch of Blueberry Jam

I had a bumper crop of blueberries on my two bushes this year in my yard. I watched all spring as the blueberries grew. However, after sharing with the birds and going out of town at the height of the season, there was only about a quart of blueberries left for picking. What could I make with the small batch of blueberries? I’ve never made blueberry jam; but it seemed like a way to savor the wonderful flavor of the blueberries all year. Here I go. Continue reading

Stuffed Zucchini with Homemade Pasta Sauce

Summer is a great time of the year to load up meals with fresh, seasonal vegetables such as zucchini and yellow squash. The quality of fresh picked vegetables is excellent and the price is usually inexpensive. But what if you don’t like summer squash? In searching for ideas to use a huge zucchini growing in my garden, I found a recipe which is absolutely delicious. Zucchini is a mild flavored squash and this recipe tones the flavor down even further by stuffing the zucchini with a meat mixture and topping it with pasta sauce. It is a good way to learn to like a new food and is the best recipe I’ve found in a long time.

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Sliced Cucumbers with an Oriental Twist

Do cucumbers grow in a Louisiana garden? The answer is emphatically, “yes.” It is the one vegetable which is sure to flourish. This year I planted cucumbers seedlings about 6 weeks behind schedule, then went out of town when they were ripening. The plants produced enough cucumbers for us to enjoy a nice batch with several over-sized cucumbers to pick. My favorite way to serve cucumbers is marinated in vinegar and oil; this time I added an oriental twist. Continue reading

Ramen Chinese Cabbage Salad

My winter garden is rapidly coming to an end as warmer weather and longer daylight hours of spring arrive. My Chinese cabbage grew very well this winter, I am pleased to say. I’m going to make one of my favorite salads — Ramen Chinese Cabbage Salad — with the last cuttings. This salad is easy to make and is very healthy, too. How nice to have a healthy vegetable which also tastes great. The salad has plenty of crunch which includes the “surprise” ingredient of dry ramen noodles.

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Easy Cook: Fresh Cranberry Fruit Compote

Cranberries add a festive and refreshing touch to holiday meals. The tart flavor of cranberry sauce helps tone down the rich flavors of a large holiday turkey meal. Doesn’t cut the calories of the meal you just ate, but it does cleanse the palate. Last weekend  company was visiting — they helped with the cooking. My niece and I created wonderful fresh fruit compote with cranberries and foods on my kitchen counter. We served the dish at almost all meals and discovered it was a satisfying substitute for high-calorie desserts. Guess we found a way to save on calories, after all.

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Louisiana-Style Smothered Mustard Greens

Winter greens such as mustard and collard greens have never been my favorite vegetable. But when a co-worker brought her version of Louisiana-style mustard greens to work one evening, I had a new opinion. This dish was so good. It is flavored with typical Cajun seasonings and bits of ham and simmered slowly on the stove — as in old fashioned southern cooking. Best of all, greens are “good for you” — plenty of  healthy benefits. Don’t overlook this often forgotten vegetable; especially when it in season in the fall and winter. Here is my co-worker’s recipe made with mustard greens from my garden.

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Cajun-Style Shrimp Stuffed Jalapenos & Variations

I grew a bumper crop of jalapeno peppers in my garden this summer; these hot peppers are extremely easy to grow. One of my favorite appetizers at a local restaurant uses these peppers in a dish called “Crab Stuffed Jalapenos.” All summer I’ve attempted to duplicate and copy their recipe using my large crop of jalapeno peppers. Here are several of my variations and results. The stuffed jalapenos are delicious; I do recommend having a large glass of water nearby. Continue reading

Crunchy Blueberry and Apple Crisp

I have three treasured blueberry bushes in my backyard. The oldest ls loaded full of blueberries this year and the fruit ripens in May. I’ve watched the blueberries all spring, hoping I could pick them before the birds found and ate them. I’ve been thinking of recipes to make and decided on this easy dessert, “Blueberry and Apple Crisp.” 

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