Our economy depends on cash flow. Our farmers, ranchers and other small businesses need as much help as we can afford. Buy local and help your fellow Alabamians. Also, don’t forget to donate to your local food bank whenever possible!
Here we are, still not knowing what is going to happen next. As I said in my last article, let’s look positively; let’s look at the bright side. Hopefully by the time you read this, people will be out and about, even if they are leery of what lurks ahead. We may still be six feet away from everybody, but at least we can talk to them face to face, not looking at them through a computer screen. The thing I missed the most was not being able to share a meal either at a social gathering at my home or in a restaurant or at someone else’s home. I was happy to see the drive-thru windows and order pick-up spaces at restaurants were busy. At least there will be some revenue coming in to keep people employed and help the establishments to stay open. Even then, there will be many small businesses that will not make it. So, get out there and give them your support.
There are friends that need support too. Sharing a meal, socializing and even meeting new people are necessary activities after being cooped up because of the stay at home guidelines from the government. You have been preparing meals at home and have reached the end of your imagination on how to prepare all the bulk items, (pasta, rice, canned soups, canned tuna, and canned tomatoes) you stored away for an oncoming emergency. Now you need to start cooking with fresh items on your menu. In addition, it is a good time to introduce new items and a part of a menu you probably do not pay much attention too, like hors d’oeuvres. Also, try new ways to prepare eggs, instead of scrambled or fried. And since the weather is better and you have been confined indoors, try what would be called casual outdoor dining with your friends. Using an iconic ingredient in Southern cooking will be a good start. Show off your imagination and try preparing okra somewhat differently, not fried but grilled! There is not much better than something grilled and with lots of butter.
Okra, fresh, 2-3 inches, as many as you want to eat
1 stick butter
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Skewers or a grill basket
1. Blanch okra for three minutes in boiling water remove & pat dry.
2. Make thyme butter by melting butter & adding thyme & cumin.
3. Skewer the blanched and dried okra or place in a grill basket to prevent it from going through the grill grates while cooking. I use two skewers to hold the okra. It keeps them from spinning around and keeps them flat on the grill.
4. Place skewers over hot grill that has been preheated to around 450º F.
5. Grill until slightly browned, about five to six minutes on each side. The time depends on how hot your grill gets.
6. Brush okra with melted butter two to three times while grilling. Serve the grilled okra warm and enjoy!
While you’re outside and grilling, help out the Gulf shrimp industry and grill up some shrimp and serve it with another ingredient I introduced you to, jicama. For more on jicama, check out the April 2020 issue of the Alabama Gazette. The tender shrimp and the crunchy jicama go good together. The Asian inspired seasoning it a good fit also.
Grilled Shrimp & Jicama
½ to ¾ lb. peeled & deveined shrimp, see note
½ half jicama, peeled & julienned
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp ginger, fresh minced or dried
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp dry mustard
Note: too large shrimp and there will be fewer per serving, too small and they will be just too small!
1. Combine sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, soy sauce & corn starch. Heat in a small pan, slowly heat until sauce thickens.
2. Grill shrimp in a grill basket or skewered until just cooked.
3. Place hot shrimp in a large bowl, add sauce & jicama. Toss until everything is coated.
4. Divide & serve on a bed of lettuce on individual plates.
Despite the news and rumors, I was always able to get eggs at the grocery store. There was a shortage of certain sizes, but I always buy jumbo eggs and was able to find them. My neighbor’s chicken started laying eggs and there were always a dozen eggs to play around with and try in different recipes. The next recipe is not very adventurous but if you tell your friends that you had florets polonaise last night for dinner, not many will know that its steamed broccoli and cauliflower with eggs and breadcrumbs. Cauliflower and broccoli are
plentiful and good looking right now, so try a recipe off the beaten track.
1 1/4 lbs. mixed cauliflower & broccoli cut into equal-sized florets.
1/4 cup butter or 4 Tbsp of olive oil
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, baked
2 eggs, hard boiled
salt and pepper
1. Trim vegetables & break into equal-size florets.
2. Place the florets in a steamer for 10 minutes or a pan of boiling salted water for 5-7 minutes, until just tender.
3. Toss steamed vegetables in the butter or oil & transfer to a serving dish.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, mix together lemon rind, garlic & baked breadcrumbs.
5. Finely chop the eggs & mix together with remaining ingredients.
6. Sprinkle chopped egg mixture over the cooked vegetables & serve at once.
7. Add salt & ground fresh black pepper as a final touch. I like to put just enough salt to bring out the flavors and let people put more if they are a salt lover.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, things are somewhat back to normal, even if it is the “new” normal. It will be the time when we can visit with friends face to face, go out to eat, enjoy a pint at the local pub, children can build sand castles with their friends. And at least do not forget those that tirelessly gave their all and were there to protect us.