Monday, August 15, 2005

Keyboard Gumbo Limbo

I finally thought to do something I should have done about a year and a half ago. I am really hard on keyboards. I have never had one on which I didn't wear off the letters. Keyboards usually last about a year for me before my acidic fingertips or my acerbic wit eats the letters off all the keys. AEIOU and STRNLC are always the first to go and the rest of the letters and numbers disappear sooner or later.

W4D once had the nerve to write the letters back on the keys of a light colored keyboard on the family puter with a Sharpie. He's left-handed and no one can read his writing anyway but I had a tizzy fit since he made an ugly mess of a nice blank keyboard. Yes, a blank keyboard looks sort of nifty but I didn't realize that some people can't touch type. I touch type fairly well as long as my hands don't get in the wrong position but I must admit, when I can glance down and check, typing is much easier, foolproof and thereby faster. Why in the world it never occurred to me to get a new keyboard is beyond me. I would often type for a while and be looking at copy or watching the tube and only occasionally glance up at the screen and see that I had typed gibberish for 60 to 100 words. This is what happens when your hands accidentally move over a key or two and you don't have any letters on your keyboard.

"Rgus us wgjsy happens ehen upi aen'r [auing arrwmtion."

Type 100+ words a minute with your hands in the wrong keyboard position and it is most irritating to have to go back and do it again. Having letters on my nice new keyboard is going to be a big timesaver. Yaye!

August is Okra Month in the South. Okra is a starchy, pod vegetable that goes bonkers when it is too hot to breathe. When the sun is so brutal that you can't be outside for more than 5 minutes, okra thrives. If it rains a lot, okra pods will grow an inch a day. If it doesn't rain and there is a terrible drought, okra pods will only grow 3/4 of an inch a day. If a hurricane comes and blows everything away, okra will survive. You can't kill it and you can't eat it fast enough. By the end of August, you just pick it and dry it and use the excess pods in flower arrangements (pretty spray painted gold) or as Christmas decorations (little white angels or red and white okra pods crafted into clever southern Santa Claus ornaments). BTW, for $58 (floral price for dried okra in above link) you could plant enough okra to feed a small town and have enough left over in August to make a few thousand ornaments or floral arrangements. But, as usual, I digress...

Okra should be eaten when it is no longer than 3 or 4 inches or it can become tough and stringy so if you don't pick some every day, it will grow too large.


Okra was originally brought to the South from Africa by slaves in the 1700's. The African names for it sounded like "gumbo" which is also the name of the stew dish made with okra. It is a treat often eaten dredged in egg, a mix of corn meal and flour, and then deep fried. My mother always soaked it in ice water first to cut the stickiness and it's tasty fried, even though it is a lot of work.

My favorite way to eat it was taught to me by a Texas email pal. He suggested I cook it like I make grilled asparagus. It is so easy and fast and just delicious. This is my pal, How's way to grill okra:

Fresh okra, 3 to 4 inches long
Oil (I prefer olive or peanut oil)
Salt (sea salt is best)

Can you believe it? This is the easiest recipe ever! Wash the okra and pat dry. Place in bowl and drizzle with olive oil - or peanut oil - or even Wesson if you must. Get in there with your hands and make sure the okra is all coated with a thin layer of good oil. Then, liberally salt and pepper. Place on hot grill. That's it!

Now, it is easier if you skewer the okra in rows with two skewers so you can turn it easily like a little rack but you don't even need to do that. Just toss them on the grill and toast them for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Tastes like popcorn! Thanks, Howard. We love okra this way and I don't need to mess up the kitchen.

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