One of the running gags in my father’s long-standing daily column of some 40 years was his aversion to okra. He just couldn’t stand it — particularly plain boiled okra. Lila Adams happened to save an old clipping from The News and Courier containing a recipe that would supposedly cure anyone’s distaste for okra. Even Ashley Cooper’s. She gave it to me by virtue of the connection.

It’s a clipping of “Recipes Loved and Lost” and I imagine it is 30-40 years old. “Ashley Cooper,” a reader submitted, “must be in the minority, as everyone I know loves okra ANY way. I’m sharing a recipe my mother-in-law taught me. She’s a Kentuckian!

Okra Patties


1/4 pound okra, sliced thin

1 medium tomato, chopped

½ medium onion, chopped

1 egg

Milk (about 1/3 cup)


Salt and pepper



Combine okra, tomato and onion in a bowl. Add beaten egg and about 1/3 cup of milk. Add flour until mixture is of pancake batter consistency. Season. Melt shortening in skillet; cook batter as you would a pancake. Serve hot.

Personally speaking, I can understand why people may not like boiled okra. There’s just something about green, slimy okra that rubs some people the wrong way and probably more so than the actual flavor. This would be analogous to slimy raw oysters, which some people loathe. Steam them properly, though, and those same people can’t get enough.

But I love a good okra soup, like fried okra, and do tolerate boiled. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of okra patties and certainly don’t recall ever trying them. Once the fresh okra arrives, I may consider the above — maybe. No promises! Thank you, Mrs. Adams, for the clipping.

I-26 tree removal

Count my voice among the many who take issue with the S.C. Department of Transportation’s plans to remove 30 miles of trees from the Interstate 26 median that extends roughly from Summerville to Interstate 95.

It’s easy to call this a knee-jerk reaction. If it is, then I’d say the department can be excused for making it since lives are being lost in disproportionate numbers along this stretch, and the tendency is just to react and fix it. If it’s not, then I would say more thought needs to be given toward better solutions.

Either way, it’s fascinating how trees assume magical powers the further one is removed from Charleston. They apparently cause people to text, drive drunk, speed and not pay attention, all while exerting a kind of hypnotic stupor. If you look closely enough, you’ll really see apple trees throwing their apples at cars just like the ones in “The Wizard of Oz” that harass Dorothy and her intrepid companions.

Seriously, no one wants to blame anybody, particularly the unfortunate souls who have died along this stretch of I-26. But it seems equally strange to blame inanimate things, as if they jump out from the median and into the middle of the highway, when all they do is one simple thing: beautify.

When I-26 first opened, people were truly surprised at how lovely certain sections of the interstate were. The stretch between Summerville and I-95 remains that way, and is arguably an example of good design — not bad.

Unless the funds are sequestered (the latest “it” word), I would strongly advocate an increased police presence, making texting absolutely illegal and backed by hefty fines, and even the use of cameras to look for wayward or erratic driving (in addition to speeding).

To what extreme does one logically blame Mother Nature and react accordingly, all in the name of driver safety, before all that’s left is nothing? Cutting those trees may be the easiest solution, but is it the most balanced and reasonable? No!

On old buildings

Regarding historic Charleston, Walter Duane says, “Thanks for your article on the old library building and on preservation in general. Let me say at the outset that I am usually on the side of preservation. and I live in an old house.

“At one time, many were only interested in saving old buildings if they were antebellum or happened to be in certain sections of the city.

“In the late ’30’s I worked in a grocery store on the corner of King and Broad Streets. Many houses on the lower peninsula weren’t attractive. In recent years, what with new paint jobs, shutters and window boxes, houses have gotten much more attractive and appear cozy.

“Despite South of Broad’s reputation, if one were riding up Meeting Street extension, for example, one would have seen many beautiful houses in unincorporated areas. The old town in the North Area had some beautiful houses even if they weren’t historic. There are beautiful old houses throughout the county.

“As mentioned above, I live in an old house. Windows rattle, floors creak, and it’s expensive to heat. So how does one handle an old house? As the song says about a woman, you must ‘love her, love her, love her.’ ”

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@