Okra is a hot weather crop that originated in Africa, and has become a staple in both the southern US and Indian cuisines. Here in the north, okra can be grown during the hot weather of summer. Don’t bother planting the seeds until the soil has really warmed up. Then behold, as the statuesque plants grow like wild fire, producing copious hollyhock-like flowers followed by crunchy, dark green, grooved pods. Okra can be slow cooked to bring out its mucilagenous properties to thicken gumbo, but can also be lightly stir-fried to minimize this quality, and to keep the pods nice and crunchy. Cooking with acidic ingredients like lemon, tomato, or vinegar will also minimize the slippery texture of okra. (Family: Malvaceae).