Viscous chunks of tomatoes sprawled out along the belly of the pan. Simmering. Fragrant.
Like glitter stuck to their faces, paprika dusted the red flesh as I stirred in chopped okra.
Okra, a vegetable with heritage and a story from a far away land, with history and political cognition. It reminded me of home. Back in the pines of North Carolina and the swamps of Florida, Okra is a part of me. It runs through my blood in the same way a relative would. Pumping from my heart, igniting my memories, and providing a lineage to be spoken of, I am of this food and this food is of me.
In the summers away from school in Florida and our winters reunited as a family in North Carolina, we connected at the table. Hands held, we prayed. We prayed for health. Dear Heavenly Father, we bow our heads before you to thank you for this meal. I trust in you Father to provide nourishment to our bodies. We prayed for strength. Please Lord, lift our heavy arms and allow our tired eyes to open with ease. And we asked for peace. As your children, we beg of you to show us the way, for you have exemplified nothing less than a beacon of hope. Bringing our hands palm to palm, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Okra always sat at the table and cultivated conversations. Dressed up in a ceramic bowl on the dining room table - the centerpiece of our gatherings - okra encouraged us to speak about the things we wanted to and talk about the topics we needed to.
Okra & Black Eyes Pea Stew
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 1 can black eyes peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 c okra (I used frozen)
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 c water
- 3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 of a teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 of a teaspoon onion powder
Smoked salt & pepper to taste
A dash or two of liquid smoke
- In a medium size pot heat up some oil over medium size heat
- Add chopped onion and garlic - allow to cook until translucent
- Stir in a can of fire roasted tomatoes
- Add in all of your spices and veggie cube - allow to cook for several minutes
- Once the spices have created a union with the tomatoes, add in okra - allow to cook
- Stir in water and bring to a boil
- Turn the heat to low and simmer until stew-like
- Add a few dashes of liquid smoke
- Taste, adjust how you feel necessary
- Serve over a grain or eat it alone!