Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tomatoes and Okra or What you can Make with Bruised Tomatoes

As I sit here wrapped up in a blanket at the first of August....Well, it's not THAT cold, but I do have a chill. I think about the crazy weather we've experienced this summer. There were floods one week, no rain for weeks, tornadoes, sweltering heat and almost record-breaking cold around the 4th of July. The only thing missing was snow and I'm convinced if we got some of that, I wouldn't have been surprised. We would have made a bread and milk run and waited a few hours for it to disappear.

We live just outside of the city limits and the deer have moved in the back yard and helped themselves to the feast my husband has prepared for them. They really loved the asparagus, carrots and lettuce. The blue birds and finches are really enjoying the sunflowers and the marigolds I planted in between the cabbage are incredible! The ones on my patio are dried up and hopeless. This only proves who has the green thumb in the family and it's not me. In spite of all the ups and downs, our garden performed quite decently.After all the mud following the rains, the weeds got a little crazy, but it didn't stop anything from growing.

I've spent many a night and weekend putting up green beans and especially tomatoes. Some years are great and some not so. When I do have a lot of tomatoes, I work really hard to put up all I can because I never know what the next year will hold. When the cold for us weather gets here, I look forward to all the soups, stews and pots of chili these will be a part of.

Yesterday, I was picking through the tomatoes to can and I had a bunch that just weren't going to make the cut. They had a bruise or some other flaw. Andy had also cut some okra. I can't stand to throw away food so he and I started talking about what I could do with them. I looked back over the 400+ recipes on this blog and realized I had never posted my recipe for tomatoes and okra This is so easy but it requires some patience. Why? Peeling tomatoes requires that and a super sharp knife. Other than that, it's a piece of cake. I'm not going to give exact measurements on this one because it's a throw what you have a in a pot recipe. TASTE THE BROTH! That will determine if you need to add additional seasoning to satisfy your taste buds.
 Blanch some chopped okra in a medium saucepan.
 Cook until the color just starts to change. It will finish cooking in a big pot later.
 Pour the okra and the "slime" in to a strainer and rinse several times. Set the strainer on top of your pan and set to the side. Another inch of slime drained off by the time I was ready to use it.
 Drop a half stick of butter in the bottom of a large soup pot. Cover with chopped or sliced onions. These were some of the small onions from this year's garden so I left them in rings. Set to the side.
 I went through probably 30 tomatoes; peeling, trimming out the bad spots and cutting into large chunks. Season with some salt and set to the side.
 Season with salt and pepper and saute until just tender.
 Drop in the tomatoes. Season some more and add Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Stir well and cover.
 Turn heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes or so. The tomatoes will be tender. Taste the broth. Add additional seasonings if needed.
 Drop in the okra and cook uncovered.
 Cook until the okra is tender. Serve as a soup. 
If you have squash or zucchini, they make a wonderful addition!
With the little bit of Creole Seasoning. I had an urge to turn this dish into something with a little more flair. 
I decided to cook some rice for a base to top with tomatoes and okra; added in some boiled shrimp and Andy grilled some garlic bread.