I can’t remember how I first met Kamala Gamble, but the second time I met her we were on a panel together, discussing King Corn*, an event I have since recognized as the moment my career began to shift toward sustainable agriculture. Kamala is a chef, urban farmer and outspoken advocate for local and sustainable food issues in Oklahoma City and beyond. For a year or two, she was also the recipe columnist for the magazine I edited, Oklahoma Living.
The arrangement was wonderful: Once a month, usually at the last minute when I was already a bit frazzled by the impending doom of my deadline, I would drive over to Kamala’s house/farm to pick up the month’s recipes and photograph them. For an hour or so in the middle of my workday, I strolled through her rows of okra, lingered in her expansive kitchen and ate whatever she fed me.
We also talked. And this is the single best thing about Kamala: She listens. She moves like a whirlwind, but if, on a random Tuesday, you mention to her that you would like to one day live in the U.K. again, she will remember, and she will ask you two years later how that dream is coming along. And when she introduces you to someone, she will pull the high points of your life story out of her pocket and present you with more generosity of sprit than anyone I know.
As if that wasn’t enough, I freaking love her zucchini fritters and tomato soup, and I have made them over and over, although never as good as hers. The soup would be a perfect use for any end-of-the-season tomatoes you are lucky enough to have on hand. I already typed the recipes up once five years ago, and I’m too lazy to do it again, so if you want them, just download this PDF from Oklahoma Living‘s September 2008 issue.
* When I moved to Brooklyn, I discovered that one of the filmmakers behind King Corn, Ian Cheney, lived in my neighborhood! I saw the original Truck Farm parked just a few blocks from my apartment. And through my job I now work a lot with FoodCorps and have met Curt Ellis several times. This life is a circular thing, friends, and very big in its smallness.