June 10, 2010

We joke about it a lot, just how different Jill and I are on paper.

There’s the age difference (19 scandalous years), the skin color difference (she’s white, I’m brown), the religious difference (she was raised Pentecostal, I was raised Hindu), and too many personality differences to count.  But rarely do these differences occur to us as stumbling blocks; in fact, they rarely occur to us at all.

We forget our age difference—“Oh wait, you wouldn’t remember that, you were three in 1985,”—and I have, more than once, asked Jill to borrow her concealer, only to realize that “pale beige” isn’t really going to work for me.

Truth be told, the biggest difference between us, or at least the one that occurs like the biggest, is the class difference.  Jill was raised in a solid, blue-collar family in Shreveport, Louisiana; I was raised in a decidedly white-collar suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.  We may both be Southern women, but the ways of life to which we grew up accustomed are very different.

Jill grew up gardening, hunting, pickling, and canning—that’s how her family got their food.  And though her parents, through their frugality and hard work, could easily now afford not to do any of that anymore, they still do.  Because it was never just a strategy, it was (and remains) a way of life.

Of course, this way of life has recently become trendy.  More and more people are starting to see the value of growing their own food, or at least knowing where it’s grown.  Food writers like Michael Pollan and Hank Shaw are helping to remove some of the ignorant stigma against those who have the courage to kill their own dinners.  And pickling and canning have seen a real resurgence in the last few years, one which I suspect will only grow.

Last month, in May, I was asked to participate in an incredible grassroots event here in Houston, Outstanding In My Backyard (OIMBY).  The event featured local chefs and home cooks using local ingredients to create a literal backyard feast.  We raised over $5000 for the Houston Food Bank and hope to double that number when cookbooks featuring recipes from the event go on sale later this summer.

It seemed only appropriate for an event like OIMBY that I cook a dish that has always been Jill’s signature—deviled eggs—using the okra that her parents grew, and that she pickled & canned.  For Jill’s family, this “new” emphasis on local, fresh, and organic isn’t new at all, it’s the way they’ve lived for generations.

serves 6-8 as an appetizer


2 dozen farm-fresh eggs, hard-boiled
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 dozen pickled okra spears, roughly chopped*
2 T pickling juice from the okra
smoked paprika (optional)

Slice the eggs lengthwise & gently turn the yolks out into a large bowl.  Mash the yolks with the mayonnaise, mustard, okra, & okra juice.  Stir mixture until it’s fluffy but not wet, adding more okra juice if necessary.

Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling into each hollowed-out egg white half, mounding it up as high as you like.  Continue until all of the eggs have been filled; garnish each egg with a generous sprinkling of paprika.

*Substitute cucumber pickles.  Note: I prefer the texture of hand-chopped pickles to that of pre-made pickle relish.



  1. Nice post, honey! Thanks for the shout-out to the family traditions. For our next batch of deviled eggs, we can use our own okra currently growing in our backyard (if we can tear ourselves away from frying it, that is.).


    Comment by Jill Carroll — June 10, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  2. Where do you get your eggs? I would love to buy fresh eggs but I work on the weekends that the farmers market is in Pearland. Boo.

    Comment by katie — June 10, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  3. I’ve never heard of pickled okra in deviled eggs before – it’s brilliant! Now how about the recipe for fried okra…

    Comment by Dragana — June 10, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

  4. pickled okra in deviled eggs – genius! two of my faves combined. we have a fledgling okra plant in our backyard garden…i now see its destiny.

    Comment by Lauren — June 10, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

  5. deviled eggs, pickled okra, southern Heaven

    Comment by Carole — June 11, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  6. just made some for lunch (was wondering what to do with my leftover relish before i move out – relish should not travel over state lines) – yum! despite being from the south, i dont really know how to cook like a southerner!

    been meaning to say thanks for the challah recipe too – my boyfriend had never had challah french toast (the horror, i know), and it was de-lish.

    Comment by Victoria — June 14, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

  7. Jill–it is both wonderful & dangerous that you have figured out how to replicate your mom’s pickled okra!

    katie–I buy mine from Dustin at the Tuesday market at Rice. I swear by those eggs!

    Dragana–thank you! & we’ll work on fried okra for a future post, definitely.

    Lauren–oooh, congratulations on the baby okra. I’m impressed!

    Carole–exactly 🙂

    Victoria–this comment made, like, my whole week.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — June 16, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  8. How VERY interesting – using pickled okra instead of pickle relish! I may even try chopping the pickles myself instead of using the jarred kind. Deviled eggs are one of my specialties & the ONLY dish I can make not using any kind of measurements. 🙂

    Comment by Tricia — June 16, 2010 @ 3:40 am

  9. I demand the recipe for the pickled okra–how can I really make your deviled eggs without it? (And I want to make them for the 4th of July!)

    Comment by AynSavoy — June 16, 2010 @ 5:50 am

  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nishta Mehra and David Leftwich, David Leftwich. David Leftwich said: Really captures the OIMBy spirit! => RT @BlueJeanGourmet: I wrote a post about deviled eggs, okra, my in-laws, & @OIMBY […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention DEVILED EGGS « Blue Jean Gourmet -- — June 16, 2010 @ 6:23 am

  11. Thanks so much Nishta for a great post. I love this shout out to Jill and family traditions. It is so true that the movement toward local, seasonal ingredients is not a trend but just a return to the way most most people lived – and still live – in this country. Plus, these eggs were out of this world.

    Comment by Tara — June 16, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

  12. Great post..
    and okra in eggs wow its so totally new yet delicious sounding..

    Comment by sheba — June 18, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  13. What a charming entry. I must try this recipe.

    Comment by Val — June 22, 2010 @ 4:05 am

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