Known as “Queen Molly” the woman who set the finest table in early 19th century Richmond, Mary Randolph and the unnamed enslaved cooks in her kitchens produced food that set the standard for excellence in Southern cookery. Cook and explore along with me through the wonderful recipes in her classic book The Virginia House-Wife, first published in 1826. – – An Indigo House Digital project

Okra and Tomatoes – The Virginia House-Wife | pg. 95. | Mary Randolph

Okra and Tomatoes – The Virginia House-Wife | pg. 95. | Mary Randolph

Take an equal quantity of each, let the okra be young, slice it, and skin the tomatas, put them in a pan without water, add a lump of butter, and onion chopped fine, some pepper and salt, and stew them one hour.

 

1-Butter and tomato
1-Butter and tomato
2-Onion chopped fine on top
2-Onion chopped fine on top
3-Arrange okra
3-Arrange okra
4-Fill in top with okra
4-Fill in top with okra
5-Ready to eat!
5-Ready to eat!

Gumbs – A West India Dish.

Gather young pods of okra, wash them clean, and put them in a pan with a little water, salt and pepper, stew them till tender, and serve them with melted butter. They are very nutricious and easy of digestion.

 

Note: Okra was flourishing in Jamaica as early as 1707 and was well known at Southern gentry dining tables by the end of the century. The second recipe is much simpler; plain butter okra but she includes it in her book nonetheless. I have included the words ‘tomatas’ and ‘nutricious’ just as MR spelled them and she spelled okra at least two different ways in her book; ‘ochra’ and ‘ocra.’

Just as Randolph recommends serving rice with her ochra soup recipe I recommend rice to accompany these dishes as well.

For the much more complex okra soup recipe of Mary Randolph’s see Dining At Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance, edited by Damon Lee Fowler, Thomas Jefferson Foundation 2005. Page 106.



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