Food ‘n Flix post: The Help

The Food ‘n Flix feature this month is The Help.

Loved the book.

Watched the film because I loved the book.

How many times is this the case?  We fall in love with a novel and cannot wait until the film version comes out only to be disappointed.     It happened to me again with The Help.

I read the novel soon after it was published.   I loved it.  (Sorry, I think we have established that.)   But, when I re-watched the film for this post, I again was aggravated by the cast of characters.  (See my last Food ‘n Flix post for a major character aggravation!)   Don’t get me wrong, all of the actors did a fabulous job bringing Mississippi culture to life and I believe the screen play was pretty much true to the novel.

Perhaps it was not so much the characters like Hilly and her narrow-minded and bigoted ways, but the entire beliefs and environment of  the Deep South prior to the Civil Rights movement that aggravated me so much.

An ideal time in American history? Definitely NOT!

Let’s not forget the message of the film.  In that regard, this is an important film and I’m glad it is there to remind us about our not too distant past history.

I am off my soap box so let’s get on to the food.

Three different varieties: Clemson Spineless, Jade, and Red Burgundy Okra.

What could be more Southern than okra?   Since I was able to grow at least a bit of it this summer, I wanted to post a super spicy recipe for fried okra (and an easy way to preserve it for winter meals).

Spicy Southern Fried Okra

1 lb. okra
3 T. flour
3 T. cornmeal
1 t. chili powder
3/4 t. fine sea salt
1/4 t. cayenne
canola oil for frying

Start a pot of water to boiling.  Wash okra and cut off stem.     Prepare an ice water bath.

Blanch okra in small batches 3-4 minutes.

Blanch the okra pods.

Remove and place in ice water bath immediately.

Cool quickly.

When cool, slice into 1/2 inch slices.    Place slices on a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain a bit.  (Your okra will never be dry because it is slimy okra after all.)

While okra is draining, mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Whisk the spices together.

Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet.   Dredge okra pieces in the spicy flour mixture.    When oil is hot, fry.

Fry it up!

Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Eat as soon as it is cool enough.


I served this with Copy-Cat Chik-Fil-A Chicken from Jen at Juanita’s Cocina.   You must try this recipe.   It is deliciously different.

It may not be Southern-fried chicken, but it is delicious.

Another great idea is to freeze this okra after the dredging step above.   Place the dredged okra in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze.

At this point you can freeze the okra.

Once the slices are frozen, remove and seal in freezer bags.   It is best to use a seal-a-meal if you have it.

Measure out whatever sized servings you will need for winter meals.

Just to recap, this film offers us all a glimpse into a dark era of American history that in itself makes it an important film to revisit.     We can learn a lot, even in these “enlightened” times in which we currently live.

One special thought we can all keep to heart at times, especially if we work with children:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important. ”

This thought should be a mantra repeated often to some children and adults alike (but with correct grammar, please).

Thanks to Glennis at Can’t Believe We Ate for hosting this month.

I am really looking forward to September’s film, It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.    I love Streep and am really excited that she is starring in August: Osage County, a play turned film currently shooting in northeastern Oklahoma.    Don’t worry, if I have a star sighting it will be posted immediately!    We were lucky enough to see the touring cast of this play in Tulsa  a couple of years ago.    Talk about a dysfunctional family squared on crack.     I can’t wait for the movie and I hope I am not setting myself up for disappointment again. 🙂

For the latest on who is playing whom in the movie version, click here.

24 comments to Food ‘n Flix post: The Help

  • I love these okra bites…so tasty served with chicken.
    Don’t know about the book, but I am going to get a kindle copy.

  • I loved that movie and your dish goes great with it … Happy Wednesday 🙂

    • Thanks, Angie and C.J. Angie, I bet you will enjoy the book. It has been a couple of years (at least) since I read it so I may have to pick it up again too.

  • You’re right – there’s not a whole lot more southern than okra, except maybe grits. 🙂 Even though I was raised in the south, I never grew to like okra no matter how it was cooked. My sister is a huge okra fan and would love your fried okra, so I’ll pass this on to her. I agree with you comments about the movie. Unfortunately, when I go back to Louisiana, I still see A LOT of bigotry. Hopefully, the new generation will change that.

    • Yes, I’m sure it is way too prevalent even in 2012. That’s why I put “enlightened” in quotes. Hopefully it will get better with every generation.

      I do think okra is an acquired taste, too.

  • I ate so much okra when I was a child that I stopped eating it throughout my teenage and adult years. But this dish looks so much different than the way we make it here in Greece. I think I would gladly start eating them if they were made this way! They look delicious!

    • Katerina—How is it prepared in Greece? Have you posted any recipes? I am really interested.

      Katie—My mom moved to Iowa a few year’s ago and was told that she could not grow okra in that climate. She has proven them wrong. 🙂

  • I have never had okra…. No reason, other than lack of availability…. It always looks so good! I rarely watch movies made from books – always disappointed when I do.

  • Liz

    I read The Help early on, too…definitely better than the movie. Your okra looks amazing…I don’t think I could wait till it cooled to sample 🙂

  • I read the book, but still haven’t seen the movie. So many parts of the book made me so sad, I haven’t been in a rush to re-visit it. Your okra look killer!!

  • […] could be more Southern than okra?” asks Debra at Eliot’s Eats .  She prepared  Spicy Southern Fried Okra to go with her “Copy-Cat Chik-Fil-A Chicken“.  I was glad to see this recipe!  […]

  • I loved the book and need to see the movie. Your fried okra looks sooo freakin good. I’m so needing some of that in my belly!

  • Yum, I could definitely go for a plate of that tasty okra (and chicken) right now. Great inspiration.

  • I loved the book and the movie, but I hope you like next month’s movie more!
    This looks really good to me. The one time i had okra I was less than impressed, but I feel like this preparation wouldn’t leave me feeling that way.

  • Your okra is HUGE gal! Wow, I guess mine never really get that big because I pick them so early. I’m impressed with your frying, I’m just way too lazy. I mostly freeze them until we have vegetable soup in the winter.

    That book/ movie was wonderful and yet so hard. Being from DC and moving to the south was culture shock for sure. I just finished watching two different movies on the same disturbing topic: Machine Gun Preacher (regarding the Sudanese people) and Crash (racial tensions in LA). Both movies have stayed with me, reminding me that while my heart is not full of hate and bigotry, plenty of people the world over are still dealing with it everyday. Yet each day, someone can make a difference. That’s my plan, be the someone who makes a difference.

  • Yep, fried okra is a perfect Southern food pick–it looks delicious! 😉

  • I never had plea when I was growing up but I sure do eat it now. Love it. I am impressed with your preparation of plea. I must admit to buying it already breaded 🙂