Monday, August 27, 2012

Okra & Black-eyed Peas Dance

Lately I have been reading The Food Rules, An Eaters Manual, by Michael Pollan, and have taken to heart that we cook and eat more complicated than we need to. This book reminded me to eat simply. Among some of the highlights: eat fresh foods that are minimally processed, eat with others, enjoy every bite, eat at a moderate pace, eat as much as can fit in both your palms. I will add another old world rule from my grandmother as she always reminded me: eat your food sitting down. She hated when I stood in the kitchen and ate, and probably thought I was missing some important conversation at the family table, where everyone came home for a large midday meal. While modern American lifestyle is not fortunate enough to have this family luxury, we can still find ways to make eating and mealtime enjoyable, like cooking your own farm to table food and sharing lunchtime meals with cook workers, whenever possible.

This simple meal of black-eyed peas, potatoes, with fresh tomatoes and okra on the side, is inspired by my reading. I have only recently become an admirer of the okra vegetable, upon mastering the cooking off of its slimy consistency. Also, I learned that okra is wonderful for normalizing cholesterol and sugar levels, and has the multiple benefit of eating a fibrous plant. From my experience, cooking in an iron skillet really enhances the flavor of okra and is a must for any home cook. Likewise, black-eyed peas have tremendous health benefits. They are an excellent sources of fiber, protein, potassium and iron. For this recipe, I pre-soaked in filtered water for a couple hours. This shortens the cooking time considerably, and somehow maximizes their nutritional benefits.

Ingredients black-eyed peas dish:

1 cup of b lack-eyed peas
1/3 cup of navy beans
4 small potatoes sliced
1 cup of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1/3 cup of fresh parsley
3 small tomatoes
1/3 cup of chopped white onion
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt

First, put Blackeyed Peas and Navy Beans in a medium cooking pot with chicken broth and water. Turn heat to medium, and add onions, potatoes, and spices, making sure to stir ingredients. Once it reaches a rolling boil, lower heat and place lid on pot. The beans usually cook within 30 minutes or less if pre-soaked. If peas and beans start to look dry and are still uncooked, add some more water, allowing 10 minutes more cooking time. Add the parsley, and sliced tomatoes before serving. Stirring them in to beans.

Ingredients okra dish:

16 okras chopped into moons
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1 handful of breadcrumbs (or crushed croutons)

First, pre-warm iron skillet on medium heat. Place olive oil and chopped okra in skillet. Add spices and breadcrumbs while sauté in olive oil. Cook until lightly browned. Add salt as needed. Okra is ready very quickly and should be made after beans are done.

Serve side by side together as one meal. This recipe makes 4 moderate servings.
Happy eating!

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