Welcome to my cooking page. These recipes have all been tested and tasted at the Paynederosa, or by members at family events.
Okra has been around since antiquity; some say that it was originally from West Africa; others maintain that the plant originated in East Africa, in the area around the Horn. In the greater scheme of things, it is of little consequence. Okra is a delicious and nutritious vegetable which should grace more dining tables. Below is a dissertation on some of the benefits to be derived from the consumption of okra.
Benefits of eating okra.
The following is what Ms. Sylvia Zook, PhD (nutritionist) Univ. of Illinois has to say about it.
1) The superior fibre found in Okra helps to stabilize blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract
2) Okra's mucilage binds the bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
3) Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, Okra's mucilage soothes and facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins in bile acids. These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non toxic , non habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients and is economically within reach of most,
4) Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics) and this contributes to the health of the intestinal tract. These are similar to the ones proliferated by the yoghurt in the small intestine and helps biosynthesis of Vitamin B complex.
5) Okra is good for summer heat treatment and is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted and suffering from depression.
6) Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
7) Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel.
8)In India, Okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements. To retain most of Okra's nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, e.g. with low heat or lightly steamed. Some eat it raw.
Other benefits reported:
Okra is an ideal vegetable for assisting in weight loss and is a storehouse of health benefits, provided it is cooked over low heat to retain its properties. This also ensures that the invaluable mucilage contained in it is not lost to high heat.
For adding bounce to your hair, boil horizontally sliced Okra till the brew becomes maximally slimy. Cool it and add a few drops of lemon and use this as the last rinse and notice your hair bounce back to youthfulness and fullness.
Okra is an excellent laxative, treats irritable bowels, heals ulcers and soothes the gastrointestinal tract.
Protein and oil contained in the seeds of Okra serve as the source of first-rate vegetable protein. It is enriched with amino acids such as tryptophan, cystine and other sulfur amino acids.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. This anti-inflammatory activity may curtail the development of asthma symptoms. A large preliminary study has shown that young children, with asthma, experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a high diet of fruit, rich invitamin C. 1/2 cup of cooked Okra contains over 13 mg of vitamin C.
Diets high in insoluble fiber, such as those containing Okra, are associated with protection against heart disease in both men and women.
Eating plenty of flavonoid and vitamin C -rich fruits and vegetables, such as okra, helps to msupport the structure of capillaries.
1/2 cup of cooked Okra contains 460 IU of vitamin A. Some studies have reported that eating more foods rich in beta-carotine or vitamin A was associated with a lower risk of developing cataracts.
There is more concerning the advantage of eating Okra, however, the above should suffice to show that we should be eating more of this wonderful vegetable. The slippery nature of okra's juice tends to turn some people off. However, cooking okra with other vegetables; in gumbos, soup's and with other vegetables, eliminates that objection.
Whether or not the pickling process affects the above listed attributes accorded to okra, we do not venture an opinion. We do, however, swear by the excellence of the following recipe:
Paynederosa pickled okra recipe:
There are many recipes for pickling okra, but in reality, they vary but little. Even President Johnson had his own recipe which was used to pickle okra for the LBJ Ranch guests. We use the following recipe on the Paynederosa and our family and friends feel that it serves us well. As stated, it varies little from all other pickled okra recipes, and that variance is mostly in the seasonings.
4 lbs fresh, small okra pods.
6 cups of cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, or a mixture of both.
2 cups of water.
4 tbl spoons pickling salt.
1 tbl spoon of hot pepper sauce of choice.
Whole dried hot red peppers.
The ideal size of the pods to be pickled is about 2 1/2 inches long. Carefully trim and clean the okra, taking care not to puncture the pods.
The okra pods should be soaked for a couple of hours to plump them up before canning. In sterilized jars, pack as many of the pods as you can comfortably squeeze in. Placing the pods in the jars stem side down for the first layer and the next layer point side down will give a firmer pack. As you pack the jars, add garlic cloves, the hot dried peppers, the fresh dill and a ha lf tsp of mustard seed to each jar.
It is in the seasonings that our recipe differs from most others. I take large garlic cloves, cut them into smaller pieces and add several of these pieces to each jar. I am also very generous with the dried peppers, adding several to the jar. They add a beautiful contrast of color to the appearance of the jars as well as adding a bit of zest. If you can find fresh growing dill, put a small stem of the dill holding the seed flowers into each jar. More than likely, you will only be able to obtain dill that does not have the flowers, so just add a sprig of that. If you cannot find fresh dill, use dried dill, say 1/2 tsp to each jar.
While packing the jars, have the other ingredients; water, salt, vinegar and hot pepper sauce simmering awaiting their turnto be added. It is here that one can easily play around with the seasonings. Aside from the liberties that I took with the garlic and pepper pods, I also diverge from the common treatment of the pickling liquid. For example, I add a tbl spoon of pickling spice plus a couple dozen black pepper corns.Adding a tbl spoon each of mustard seeds and of dried dill bring out hidden flavors.
In spite of soaking the okra and tightly packing the pods, the liquid level in the jars will decrease considerably over the course of a few weeks as the pods absorb the liquid. That is not a matter of concern except for appearance, but to counteract that aspect, I fill the jars to 1/8 inch, rather than 1/2. This is for cosmetic purposes only and is probably not worth the effort.
Tightly close the lids and place the jars in the hot water bath. Bring the water to a boil, cook for ten minutes and remove the jars from the bath. In a week or ten days, enjoy.
The hot water cooking method is old fashioned and many prefer to use a pressure cooker. It is purely a matter of choice , however I have never found a bad jar of okra, even after a couple of years sitting on the shelf. See our video: Pickling Okra on the Paynederosa on the videos page.
..Barbequed Baby Back Ribs.
Baby back pork spare ribs have long been a favorite at our family gatherings. Not surprisingly, over the decades, some have fancied themselves to be quite expert and their spare ribs to be superior to those of their siblings, cousins, uncles, etc. They have felt that their preparations, seasonings and cooking to be the ultimate in the art of barbequing spareribs and have staked claims that their ribs are the best. This has resulted in some very spirited competitive cook offs at our family reunions, which usually last several days and the results provide some very excellent fare, enjoyed by all. Although we have never arrived at a consensus as to an over-all winner, the ribs are so delectable that none is a loser, brother Don’s family have been the most assertive in their claim to be number one. Without conceding anything, other than nephew Jim Payne’s spare ribs are excellent in every way, I am including herein his recipe for baby back spareribs.
As we all know, the quality and taste of the finished product depends equally on every step in the process, that is to say, the quality and freshness of the ribs, the blending of the seasonings in both the dry rub and the cooking sauce and the preparation of the ribs and the cooking of the ribs as well. Jim has devoted much time and thought to the selection and blending of the seasonings he puts in his dry rub and sauce. He was born and raised in the Kansas City Area and thus has a preference for Kansas City style barbeque sauce. It is my opinion that one cannot do better, as well and Jim avers that his sauce is the equal of Kansas City Barbeque, or in other words, the best.
Summer in the Mid-West is the time for outside living and cooking, so Jim usually makes a fairly large quantity of sauce at one time. The following recipe will make three quarts.
1 cup sugar.
12 cup salt.
2 tbl spoons celery seed.
2 “ “ ground cumin.
2 “ “ red pepper.
2 “ “ garlic powder.
1 “ “ chili powder.
2 quarts catsup.
2 cups cider vinegar.
1 tsp lemon juice.
1 ½ tsp liquid smoke.
You will note that Jim has a rather small number of ingredients compared to other recipes you have seen. Of course, he could have added a much larger number of condiments, but for what purpose? Nothing turns me off on a recipe more than seeing a large number of items to deal with. Less is more, particularly in recipes.
In a small bowl, mix together the first seven listed ingredients, set aside. In another bowl, combine the remainder of the ingredients, mixing well and then add the contents of the smaller bowl, thoroughly mixing all together. Simmer the prepared sauce for two hours, stirring as needed. If you are not going to use the sauce immediately, refrigerate or preserve by canning or freezing. Home canning methods work quite well for the sauce.
For the dry rub mixture, Jim uses the following.
8 tbl spoons paprika.
3 tbl spoons cayenne pepper.
5 tbl spoons freshly ground black pepper.
6 tbl spoons garlic powder.
3 tbl spoons onion powder.
6 tbl spoons salt.
2 ½ tbl spoons dried oregano.
2 ½ tbl spoons dried thyme.
Place all ingredients in a food processor, thoroughly mix and store in an air tight container. In practice, Jim prepares the sauce and dry mix in advance of intended use and thus is always ready on short notice to dish up a batch of spare ribs.
In preparing for the barbeque, Jim thoroughly coats and rubs the mixture into the ribs, places them in a zip lock bag and refrigerates them over night. He smokes them over low, indirect heat, using large chunks of hickory wood which he has soaked for at least two hours. The ribs are well cooked, in 4 to 6 hours, the meat ready to fall off of the bones. He does not baste the ribs until nearly ready to serve. As sauce tends to burn or blacken, particularly when over heat for so long, this late basting is a good move. He places extra sauce on the table for those who prefer lots of sauce with their ribs
Most certainly, nephew Jim’s ribs are great, but without going into all of the family spare rib recipes to make comparisons, perhaps discussing another method of preparing baby back ribs will suffice. Sometimes we may have to look for short cuts if time does not permit doing something one given way and that can be true in cooking spare ribs. One short cut is to parboil the ribs before placing them on the barbeque. Of course, one can buy excellent prepared barbeque sauce, saving the time of making your own. Another saving in time can be realized by skipping the rubbing process when parboiling ribs. In my later years, parboiling has become my favorite method of cooking ribs and at least one member of our extended family agrees with that process. Niece Bobbi Payne Askew, a certified Chef, also parboils ribs.
If I do not parboil the ribs prior to cooking, using the dry rub, my cooking methods are the same as Jim’s, or anyone else’s for that matter. The ingredients in my rub differ little from Jim’s, one exception being that I do add a generous portion of dry mustard. Some people are allergic to mustard, so that is a factor to consider. Whether parboiling or strictly using the barbeque, one must start with prime quality ribs. Most baby back ribs obtained from the butcher are well trimmed in regard to excess fat, but if not, trim any that remains. Spare ribs have a tough membrane covering the bones and I like to remove that membrane to facilitate the penetration of the seasonings into the meat. If you do not wish to take the time to remove the membrane, thinly cut through the membrane between each rib to enable the seasonings to do their work. This actually works quite well.
Having dispensed with the dry rub process, place the ribs in a large pot and cover with water. Ribs are usually sold in large slabs, so I cut them into two or three pieces to facilitate the covering of them in the pot. Add the seasonings that you would normally use in your dry rub, substituting liquid seasonings, such as hot pepper sauce, if desired. Boil the ribs for 10-20 minutes, or until you see the meat starting to shrivel from the bones. The boiling process does two very important things. One, it helps remove most of the fat that remained on the ribs and the boiling helps the seasonings to penetrate the ribs. It also cuts the barbequing time as you will observe when you grill them.
Drain the ribs and add a generous portion of your prepared or favorite barbeque sauce and stir or shake well to coat the ribs. They are now ready for the barbeque. Cook them over low heat, turning them from time to time until done. This should occur in less than two hours, depending on your ability to control the heat on your barbeque. I coat the ribs two or three times during the cooking. Spare ribs are somewhat messy to eat, so you can reduce that aspect somewhat by not adding sauce during the last thirty minutes on the grill. However, some affectionados like copious quantities of barbeque sauce on their ribs, for those, provide additional sauce at the table.
It is a good idea to grill a few extra ribs as your guests will invariably ask for seconds. Yes, pork baby back ribs are here to stay!