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The Okra Pod Cast
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The Okra Pod Cast

Author: Chris Smith and Rebekka White

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This is a podcast dedicated to okra, not just the pod, but the whole plant and the people it connects. It’s amazing where okra will take you, so join us as we explore okra in all its diversity, both in the garden and the kitchen, and maybe even on Mars!
7 Episodes
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2021 Okra Dreams: After a winter break, we are launching straight into spring. E6 focuses on growing okra and the upcoming season, but there’s plenty of food talk to get us dreaming about those hot harvest days. Mark Tancig, a UF Extension Agent, shares expert advice on growing okra and talks nematodes.  We discuss okra varieties with Ira Wallace of SESE as well as food, memories and culture. And we close with some beautiful stories from Sidney Nicholson, who recounts his, often amusing, childhood responses to his okra-loving mother! Meet the GuestsMark Tancig is the Commercial/Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Leon County, FL, where he shares research-based best practices for sustainable landscape management. Mark also coordinates the Leon County Master Gardener Volunteer Program. His articles are regularly published in the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact.Information About Nematodes:Nematode Management in Vegetable Garden Cover Crops for Nematode Management Nematode Assay Form (UF) Ira Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperative Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Ira serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. Ira is an organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. She was named a 2019 Great American Gardener by the American Horticultural Society. She is author of the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast and a subsequent  state specific book series.Sidney Nicholson retired from a long career in law enforcement in NYC and became an after-school coordinator at Cornerstone Learning Community in Tallahassee, FL, where he mentored children, young people, and adults alike. He is a father and grandfather, and husband and partner to his childhood sweetheart, Gloria. He enjoys life outdoors and spending time with family and friends. Participate in the Whidby White CSS Project.We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale. Subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also, consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Thanks from your Co-hosts, Chris Smith and Rebekka White! 
India's Bhindi: A Romp Through Okraland: We speak with long time food writer, Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, who gives us a mouthwatering overview of okra across India. Rushina’s interview is a fantastic glimpse into the diversity on offer. After Rushina we speak with two chefs in India who both bring a creative, experimental eye to a traditional food. Executive chef, Vidit Aren, shares his personal journey with okra and some okra research and development at the Mumbai restaurant, Slink and Bardot. And then Rachel Goenka, award winning restauranteur, chef and author, shares her solution to having too much okra!Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal: A culinary expert, writer and consultant. Rushina focuses on food history and stories around ingredients, cuisines, and the people who cook them. In 2013 she published A Pinch of this, A Handful of that and continues to keep an amazing food blog. Here is a link to her Spice Chronicles project on Instagram.  Follow her on Instagram.Chef Vidit Aren: Executive Chef at Slink and Bardot and recently awarded 40 under 40 in Condé nast list of chefs pan India. Aren's journey through the culinary world has shaped him into a razor-sharp chef with boundless energy and a drive for innovation. Follow him on Instagram.Rachel Goenka: A Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who took her culinary and patisserie training back to Mumbai and has since opened multiple award winning restaurants and eateries in India as the founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company. She is described as contemporary and creative and experimental, and has written an award winning book, Adventures in Mithai, which is a cookbook exploring international techniques to create luscious delicacies. Follow her on Instagram.We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Your Co-hostsChris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects.  
Okra's Family: This episode is centered around okra. That may sound a little crazy given this is a podcast all about okra, but we really wanted an opportunity to get to know okra on okra’s own terms. We hear from Jordan Collins, who shares some botanical origins and agronomic potential of okra. We're honored that Roy Blount Jr. shares his Song to Okra and some slippery stories. And two talented 'Botanists in the Kitchen' share botanical and culinary insights which may leave you hungering for a plate of fried okra and mole! We hope this episode leaves you knowing okra just a little bit better!  Meet our GuestsJordan Collins: Jordan is a biology student at Arizona State University and a verified okra devotee. Follow his impressive research and okra explorations via Instagram. Roy Blount Jr: Not only the author of a Song to Okra, but writer and radio personality who’s numerous achievements and contributions have made him a larger than life figure. Roy Blount Jr. is an American writer and author of 24 books, his latest book is titled, “Save room for Pie”. He’s a humorist, a reporter, a panelist on NPR’s, “Wait, wait don’t tell me” and so much more, but most importantly, he is an Okravore who does not turn away when things get slimy.  The Botanist(s) in the Kitchen:  Both Katherine Preston and Jeanne Osnas are PhD plant ecologists and evolutionary biologists who love to cook.  They are plant nerds with knives.  Between them they have been teaching college courses in basic botany, taxonomy, ecology and evolution for nearly 30 years. They are self-taught cooks with pretty different diets.  Katherine is a long-time vegetarian who could eat her weight in broccoli any given day, especially with an excellent baguette.  Jeanne is an omnivore, especially fond of wild-caught foods and garden-grown veggies. Follow them on Twitter.We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Your Co-hostsChris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects.   
Okra Soul Soup: In previous episodes we’ve certainly talked a lot about eating okra, but this is our first deep dive into a specific dish: Okra Soup. We are very fortunate to have  interviewed two incredible Charleston natives, Chef BJ Dennis and Chef Amethyst Ganaway, who help weave a narrative of food and people and deep roots stretching back to West Africa. Okra soup is certainly delicious, and be prepared to salivate during the whole episode, but it's also a connection to community and culture beyond it's varied ingredients.  Meet our GuestsJesse James Wilder: Rebekka's dad was born and raised on James Island SC and is responsible for Rebekka's love of okra soup, and therefore most likely this very episode of The Okra Pod Cast! Rebekka captured a short recording of some okra soup memories! Chef BJ Dennis: A Charleston native who has dedicated much of his life to exploring, learning and sharing his passion for cooking food that celebrates his Gullah roots. BJ Dennis has been featured and interviewed in articles, TV shows and podcasts across the country. If you follow BJ on instagram then you’ll know he loves okra, but with everything BJ cooks and shares there is underlying knowledge about people and places and culture. That just about makes BJ Dennis a perfect guest for our podcast! Follow him on Facebook. Chef Amethyst Ganaway: Amethyst is originally from North Charleston SC, where she discovered her passion for food early on and was lucky enough to learn how to cook in her grandma’s kitchen. Today, Amethyst is a professional chef, writer, and recipes developer. She received the 2020 prestigious LDEI culinary award and has been featured in many  publications to date, most recently in the New York Times Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram and check out her writing at the Geechee Gordita. We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Your Co-hostsChris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects.  
Grand Mother Okra: In our previous episode, titled  Motherland okra, we explored okra’s West African origins with our guests Michael Twitty and Jon Jackson. In this episode we accompany okra on its journey northward to hear how okra is used and celebrated by our friends and neighbors of Middle Eastern descent. We are happy to welcome three wonderful guests, who tell us about their experiences with okra, its uses, and who share with us the stories that connect okra to the people and the culture they love and carry within them.Meet our GuestsSuzy Salwa Phillips has been cooking amazing food ever since she was a child in Lebanon.  She shares a love and passion for good ingredients and delicious spices with her attentive staff. Visit her restaurant or find her food truck at Gypsy Queen Cuisine. Follow Suzy's work on Instagram and Facebook.Mehmet Oztan is a Service Assistant Professor of Geology & Geography at West Virginia University, where he works on projects related to preservation and documentation of West Virginia’s and Appalachian Region’s agrobiodiversity, seed stories, race and culture of seeds, racism and discrimination in seed industry, advocacy of food diversity, and adaptation of seeds to changing regional climate/growing conditions. Mehmet is co-owner of Two Seeds in a Pod Heirloom Seed Co, a small, family-owned seed company that specializes in Turkish heirlooms. His dedication to seed and food preservation is inspiring. Learn more and follow along on Instagram and Facebook. Vivien Sansour is the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and the Traveling Kitchen Project. Both initiatives work to bring Palestinian seed heritage back to the dinner table. Vivien was born in Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem. She has spent time in the United States, including in North Carolina! Vivien Sansour is a powerful story teller and talented writer. Follow Vivian's work on Instagram.We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Your Co-hostsChris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects. 
Motherland Okra interviews Michael Twitty, culinary historian and author, as we dig deep into okra's origins on the African continent, and its subsequent 'globetrotting' journey. We learn of the culinary skills and knowledge of people along West coast Africa, where okra is ubiquitous, and recognize slavery's role in the dispersal of food crops as well as those people. Okra is certainly a food, deserving of celebration, but as you'll come to see, it's also so much more! We were extremely excited to speak to Michael Twitty about okra: Michael really is first and foremost an explorer and a seeker of knowledge. He is a scholar, a historical interpreter and a culinary historian. He’s also an amazing writer. He wrote The Cooking Gene, which won a James Beard Award in 2018 for Book of the Year. Michael Twitty's website, Afroculinaria.com which is a blog and so much more, highlights much of Michael Twitty’s work and projects, which are devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. Follow Michael's work on Instagram and Twitter.Our first Okra Short, comes to us from Jon Jackson. Jon Jackson founded and runs, Comfort Farms, a 20-acre central Georgia farm which helps struggling veterans find connection and belonging as they care for the land and animals. Jon tells us about an okra he is growing from his Mother's land, Liberia. Follow Jon's work on Instagram. We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com. Also consider supporting us with as little as $1 a month via Patreon.Learn more about your co-hosts:Chris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects.
Welcome to The Okra Pod CastThis first episode is a short conversation between co-hosts and okra fanatics, Chris Smith and Rebekka White. Our aim is to introduce you to the podcast and to ourselves. Remember, this is a podcast dedicated to okra, not just the pod, but the whole plant and the people it connects. We hope you enjoyed, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcast fix and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Email questions and comments to theokrapodcast@gmail.com.Learn more about your co-hosts:Chris Smith is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at blueandyellowmakes.com and utopianseed.org or on Instagram.Rebekka White is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and in growing visions. Her work is committed to building an okra village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at WildOkra.
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