Let’s Eat — A Writer’s Guide to Cooking

Yesterday I made a tasty stew that consisted of lamb broth, two onions, three large cloves of garlic, two tomatoes, a small handful of chopped parsley, about ten potatoes, a scattering of pearled barley and a few split peas. I could have added a few carrots for color, but I decided to skip the carrots, and to skip the celery as well, because I made a stew with carrots and celery last week. Or was it the week before? I don’t remember.

The primary ingredient of another stew I made recently was okra. I started with a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan, put in a few pieces of lamb, added salt and pepper and a little water, and put the heat on low. Then I chopped several cloves of garlic, an onion, five tomatoes, and a wad of parsley, dumped it all on top of the meat, and added salt, pepper, and basil. While the mixture came to life and started to cook, I trimmed the stems off of two pounds of whole okra, which we had bought frozen. The stems are hard and you don’t want them in there. But it’s important to not cut too deeply. Leave the okra intact, otherwise the seeds will come out while the okra is cooking and you’ll end up with a slimy mess.

Once or twice during the trimming process, I stopped to stir the tomatoes and other stuff, and to add a little more salt, pepper, and basil. I don’t bother tasting, because the aroma tells the story. After the mixture had cooked down pretty well, I added the trimmed okra, making sure it was uniformly spread out in the pan and submerged in the juice. Then I squeezed half a small lemon over the top of the okra. Lemon juice is an extremely important ingredient.

Once the okra is added, it only takes about forty-five minutes for the stew to be done. If you cook it too long, the okra can weaken and go to shreds. This doesn’t hurt the flavor, but when you reheat the stew the following day you end up with slime — which also doesn’t hurt the flavor, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. After all, if you do this right, people might be willing to eat it next time — something they won’t care to do if you dish up an unsightly mess.

The foregoing recipe can also be used for eggplant, but be sure to leave out the lemon juice. Cut two good-sized unpeeled eggplants into medium-sized chunks and add them to the already-cooking tomato mixture, same as with the okra. A nice option is to peel two or three potatoes, slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, and cook them with the eggplant.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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