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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Now is the time that vegetable gardens in our area – as well as roadside stands and farmers’ markets – are beginning to yield wonderful vegetables! The passage of April into May always means we have a great choice of homegrown or locally grown vegetables and fruits. So, this is the perfect time to try the recipes below. There is Aunt Carolyn’s okra fried rice and Mrs. Betty Chinners' extraordinary squash recipe. These will get your season of fresh food enjoyment off to a savory start. Then, there is my green bean casserole, which can be adapted by using almost any vegetable.

Okra fried rice

6 slices of bacon

4 cups fresh okra, sliced

1 yellow onion, chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups cooked rice

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with white paper towels. In the bacon drippings, fry the okra, stirring occasionally. After about five minutes, add the onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for about five more minutes. When the okra is soft and the onion is browned, pour in the cooked rice and crumble the bacon into the mixture. Cook on medium-low, stirring or "tossing" constantly until the rice is slightly fried, too.

Scalloped squash

8 medium summer yellow squash

1 large Vidalia or yellow onion, sliced

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 3-quart casserole dish. Wash the squash and cut it into 2-inch cubes. Combine with the onions in a saucepan and cook in a little salted water, boiling for about 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain vegetables well, and arrange in the prepared casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, pepper, milk, butter, salt, crumbs and half of the cheese. Stir thoroughly, and pour this mixture over the squash and onions. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Green bean casserole

(This is one of my own concoctions that can be used to make a casserole of almost any vegetable.)

1 stick butter

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)

3 cups fresh green beans, sliced, cooked, drained

1 can cream of onion, cream of celery, or cream of mushroom soup (your preference)

1 large can French-fried onions

2 cups grated mild or sharp Cheddar cheese 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter. Add the cooked, drained fresh green beans, can of soup of your choice and onion rings. Stir this mixture until the ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the ingredients into a greased two-quart baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then top the casserole with the grated cheese and bake it for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and the cheese is very lightly browned.

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