Peanut Soup or Groundnut Stew. Delicious!
Marty Martindale

For years, we have associated the peanut with kid food, pigeon food, circus food and peanutsoupelephant food. However, we did learn to allow peanut butter to find more sophisticated places in our at-home kitchens.

Now, more than ever, we are being reminded of how good for us peanuts are. More than anything, they are affordable protein! Protein is vital to all of mankind and too frequently it is priced very high, even in regions where people are very poor. In short, throughout early South America then Africa, these countries’ poor added anything they could grow to their groundnut stew, frequently serving it thick, as a sauce, over some starch. They readily learned the nutritious peanut blends nicely with a great number of foods and most amazingly, the TOMATO.

We know traders allowed the peanut to migrate from South America to Africa. Then, slaves as exported to North America brought precious peanuts along to grow in their new land. It didn’t take long before history records George Washington and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello proudly serving their version of Peanut Soup. To this day, fine restaurants in D.C. feature their own, special Peanut Soup.

The the peanut is also popular in Asian cooking. Portuguese traders brought groundnuts to the region in the 1600s, thus the popularity of many Satay dishes. Continue reading

Chef Virginia Willis Knows her Okra
Marty Martindale

“Passionate okra lovers crave this bright green, heat-loving vegetable whether fried, okraplaingrilled, steamed, roasted, broiled, boiled, pickled, raw, whole, sliced or julienned.” Willis asserts, as a food writer and chef, “I love okra, I enjoy it cooked in a myriad of ways and combinations. And, I love a challenge. I will cajole, entice and seduce doubters into becoming believers. I rejoice in converting people to the joys of cooking, eating and savoring okra. I’m an okra missionary.”

Willis knows okra so well, she’s written a Savor the South cookbook, titled simply OKRA sharing some 50 delicious recipes, both southern and worldwide, and just about everything else you would ever want to know about okra.

okrabookFor instance, okra is very unpopular with a whole lot of people, especially its tendency to give off an unwanted, slimy, colorless juice. However, Willis deals with this on page 14, in her section, Top Ten Slime-Busting Tips.

Okra originated near the equator in northeastern Africa. It later spread to the rest of Africa, the Mediterranean and India before entering the New World. It became especially associated with the south of the U.S. when slaves brought seeds with them to work there.

Okra is rich in vitamins K, C, A, B6, folate and fiber.

Choose small, slender pods for their tenderness. The larger ones can be tough and too fibrous. Make sure pods are firm, undamaged and bright in color, usually green, but okra can be available in red, burgundy, white or light green. Okra doesn’t store well for long periods and should be eaten shortly after purchase. Until using, store in refrigerator in paper bag. Continue reading