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Small Touches, Big Flavor August/Septem


page 46

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43 34





Egg Nog

David Leathers Uses Knife Skills to Create Works of Art


Pass Christian Oyster Festival


Janet Wagner Shares Love of Cooking Through Classes


Cooking with Divian

Carl Conway



Smartphone Apps for Foodies


Clancy's Café in Red Banks

Dutch Ann Foods




Aunt Velma's Applesauce Cake


Delicious Dishes for Football's Biggest Day



Tom's on Main in Yazoo City Mary Jo's Hot Tamales in Meridian


Porches in Wesson

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 From the Editor 8 From Our Readers 10 Coming to Terms 12 Fabulous Foodie Finds 18 Deep South Dish 78 Events 80 Recipe/Ad Index 82 Till We Eat Again


Shady Acres Village in Seminary

48 COMMUNITY Stewpot

ON THE COVER: Keep the holidays simple with easy appetizers that may be prepared in advance. See page 26. Recipe and food styling by Janet Wagner. Photography by J.J. Carney. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  5

{ from the editor }


Celebrate Southern Food

s I embark on the third year of publication of this their mark on the culinary map. We feasted on a bounty of magazine, I want to reflect on the some of the perks that fabulous food by some of the South's best female chefs. have come along with being publisher/editor. One of the In between the feasting, we were entertained with fascinatbiggest perks, of course, is the food. In my opinion, Mississippi ing stories that delved deeper into the lives and accomplishhas some of the best food on the planet. I have been privileged ments of women who have impacted Southern foodways. to partake of a lot of it and have enjoyed every bite. There was even a Cake vs. Pie debate with Kim Severson of We also have some amazing and talented people who creThe New York Times pleading the case for cake and Kat Kinsate it and are working diligently to preserve the rich culinary man of Eatocracy taking the side of pie. After hilarious pleas heritage we possess. As an added perk of this job, I have been for each side, the audience cheered for their preference and it honored to meet many of these people. I now have lifelong was declared a tie. During the somewhat heated discussion, we friends who share the same passion for food as I. noshed on Coconut Cake and Fried Apple Pie by Lisa DonoOne organization whose mission is to document, study, van of Husk Restaurant in Nashville. Both were to die for, and celebrate the diverse cultures of the South is the Southbut I'm a cake girl and it won for me. I still dream of getting ern Foodways Alliance (SFA). Based at the University of another taste of that cake. Mississippi's Center for the Study Space doesn't allow for me to go of Southern Culture, the SFA is a an about all we ate and experienced member-supported non-profit that that weekend. Check our photo produces and publishes documentary album on Facebook to see what we films, oral histories, and great writing enjoyed. in addition to mentoring students and I want to urge you to support sponsoring scholarships. the efforts of the SFA by becoming a Throughout the year, the SFA member today. A membership would hosts "road trip" food events for its also make a great gift for the Southmembers at locations all over the ern foodie on your list. For more South. The highlight of the year as an information or to join, visit www. SFA member is the annual While you're sium each fall. Held on the Ole Miss there, check out the fascinating oral campus and locations around Oxford, histories and writings about the food John and J.J. Carney, left, enjoy a Southern food lovers from across the that make the South the unique culiweekend of great food with Jay and nation converge to celebrate our food, nary region it is. Melissa Reed at the Southern Foodways eat food, talk about food, eat food, deIn this issue, we look toward the Symposium. bate food, eat get the idea. holidays and into the new year. Janet I've been a member of the SFA for Wagner (pg. 26) gives us several great several years. Tickets to the symposium are limited and one recipes for holiday appetizers that may be prepared in advance, has to set an alarm and be quick at the computer keyboard to making life much simpler during this hectic time. We also take score one, as they sell out in minutes. My husband/executive a look at a "sweet" Biloxi tradition on page 45. Columnist Mary editor, John, and I were finally able to get tickets to attend this Foreman helps us ring in the new year with her twist on the year. traditional black eyed peas (pg. 18). Shortly after the year's end Contributor Jay Reed is one of those aforementioned comes football's greatest game - the Super Bowl. Contributor friends. We had a fabulous weekend of feasting and chatting Lisa Bynum shares her recipes on page 40 for helping cheer on with him and his wife, Melissa. As Laurie Colwin (Home Cook- your favorite team tastefully. ing) once said, "One of the delights of life is eating with friends, From my family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed and a Happy New Year. Now...go join the SFA and let's eat! double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends." The SFA Symposium is the perfect event to do just that and it was a joy to get to know the Reeds better over delicious dishes. The theme to this year's symposium was "Women at Work." It was a time examine the role of women in the creation of J.J. Carney Southern food culture and to honor those who have placed Editor

the glory of God.� q “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for 1 Corinthians 10:31 r 6  DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

Missing an issue? Back issues are available at Cooking with Venison

Josh Marks

Hunter's Harvest

Comeback Sauce

The Crawfish Boil


3 7 T H

CHIMNEYVILLE CRAFTS FESTIVAL One-of-a-kind people deserve one-of-a-kind gifts

James Beard Dinner

eat. drink. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI MISSISSIPPI eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI 75 Years of Edam Cheese


Canada's Mississippi Queen

Giardina's Keeping Tradition Fresh & Elegant page 62


Dairy Farms

Collins Tuohy Mrs. Annie' s Famous Strawberry Cake

Award-Winning Barbecue

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Swapping Memories & Cookies page 28

page 22





page 46

Picnic S hrimp & Grits


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Prime Time for a

A Southern Favorite page 28

JEFF GOOD with ladle by Ben Caldwell and bowl by Herbert Johnston PHOTO BY ROY ADKINS

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DEC fri6 sat7 EM sun8 BER MISSISSIPPI TRADE MART HIGH STREET, JACKSON | fb: Chimneyville Crafts Festival

Landscaping • Irrigation Waterfalls • Lighting Outdoor Kitchens & Patios Iron & Brick Work


Thurman’s Landscaping eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  7

{ from our readers }

I really enjoy the magazine! Anita James McDonough, Ga. ••• I read your magazine for the first time recently and couldn't be more impressed! I thoroughly

enjoyed it from cover to cover and cannot wait until the next issue. My only complaint is that it's not monthly! :) Keep up the great work, and thanks for showcasing our wonderful state in such a great light! Tina McDonnieal Thompson Facebook fan

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eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI J.J. Carney Publisher/Editor John Carney Executive Editor Anne Morgan Carney Executive Assistant Carrie Anderson Doug Anderson Carra Keith Amelia Perdomo Sommer Reeves Advertising Executives We're a Foodspotter! Follow us on Foodspotting to see the great dishes we've spotted across Mississippi and beyond.


Thank you for your interest in this magazine. We would love to hear from you. Please understand that letters submitted become the property of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI and may be edited for length and clarity. E-mail us at info@, leave a comment on our Facebook page, or write to P.O. Box 1051, Monticello, MS 39654.

NEW ADDRESS? If you're a subscriber and your address has changed, please let us know. The post office doesn't provide forwarding service for the magazine and we don't want you to miss an issue. Send your change of address to us at P.O. Box 1051, Monticello, MS 39654 or e-mail us at 8 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI is published six times a year by Carney Publications LLC P.O. Box 1051 Monticello, MS 39654 601-756-1584 © eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or reprinted without written consent from the Publisher. Advertising rates and more information is available upon request. Subscriptions are $24 for one year and $36 for two years. Subscribe online or make checks payable to: eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI P.O. Box 1051 Monticello, MS 39654

{contributors} LIZ BARRETT is an Oxford-based journalist who has been working with trade magazines and online publications for close to 10 years. She runs the award-winning website and blog, which provides Oxonians with local restaurant news and information, and is the editor-at-large for the nation’s No. 1 pizza trade publication, PMQ Pizza Magazine. In her spare time, she likes to plan getaways to far-off places, conjure up wild business ideas, and is currently writing her first book, due out in late 2014. JENNIFER JACOB BROWN is a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Writers. She has been writing news and features in Mississippi since 2007. A native of Meridian, she currently lives in Hattiesburg with her husband, Cory, and their two dogs. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. JULIAN BRUNT is a food and culture writer from the Gulf Coast whose roots run more than three hundred years deep in Southern soil. He is deeply concerned with culinary and cultural traditions and thinks no man worth his salt that cannot hold forth in tall tale and willingly endure the heat of the kitchen. LISA LAFONTAINE BYNUM is a freelance writer from Grenada. Her work has appeared in several publications in Mississippi. She is a graduate of Delta State University where she received a BA in Marketing and her MBA. In her free time, she enjoys food writing and photography. She currently resides in Brandon. Photo by Alisa Chapman Photography JO ALICE DARDEN is a book editor and freelance writer. A former lifestyles editor for the Greenwood Commonwealth, she is a regular contributor to its quarterly publication, Leflore Illustrated. She grew up in Greenwood, graduated from Delta State University with a major in English, and now lives in Cruger with her husband Bob, also a writer, on his family’s farm. KIM HENDERSON is a freelance writer living in Copiah County. While at Mississippi College, she was named their most outstanding journalism student and has since been published by sources ranging from the Associated Press to LifeWay Christian Resources. She currently writes a weekly slice-of-life column for Brookhaven’s Daily Leader.

COURTNEY LANGE is a Jackson based writer and photographer, whose work has appeared in local and regional publications. Courtney is a 2001 graduate of the Western Academy of Photography, located in Victoria, BC, and a 2011 graduate of Mississippi College, where she earned a B.A. in Public Relations. She is currently enrolled in graduate school at Mississippi College. When she is not working, Courtney enjoys traveling, daydreaming, and daydreaming about traveling. SUSAN MARQUEZ lives and writes in Madison. She has a degree in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Southern Mississippi and had a long career in advertising and marketing before stumbling into a freelance writing career in 2001. Hundreds of published articles later, Marquez still loves to tell the stories of the interesting people, places, and events throughout the South. KATHY K. MARTIN is an Ole Miss journalism graduate who currently lives in Collierville, Tennessee with her husband and two children. She works as a freelance writer and chairs her church’s Christian writers group.

GENNIE PHILLIPS, a Forest native, is the publications coordinator at East Central Community College in Decatur and a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer. She is the former editor of The Demopolis Times, a five-day daily newspaper in Demopolis, Ala., and managing editor of The Scott County Times, a weekly newspaper in her hometown. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, she has received numerous awards from the Associated Press and the Mississippi and Alabama Press Associations. She is the proud mom to an infant daughter, Mallory Grace. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. JANETTE TIBBETTS is a ninth generation Mississippian. She grew up on a Jones County dairy farm, attended Millsaps, taught school, and was a merchant. She is the founder and curator of “The Sandbank,” a Beatrix Potter Collection, at USM. She is a freelance writer and photographer. Janette writes weekly garden and food columns for magazines and newspapers. She was awarded a writer’s grant from the Mississippi Art’s Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives with her husband, Jon, and writes in their home near Hattiesburg. A published author of short stories, she is presently completing a novel.

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{contributors} KELSEY WELLS is a news writer at Lawrence County Press in Monticello. She is a graduate of Southwest Mississippi Community College where she served as editor of The Pine Burr. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications at William Carey University and served as a staff writer and life editor of The Cobbler student newspaper until she became managing editor her senior year. She currently resides in the Divide community where she is active in her church and community.

LEIGH ANNE WHITTLE is a freelance writer from Newton. She earned a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Mississippi in 1985 and began a home baking business in 1994. Her catering experience helped her reach the 3rd level of the Fox Network Master Chef Competition in 2010. She is a current recipe columnist for The Newton County Appeal and The Meridian Star 360 publication. Leigh Anne has written one small cookbook titled Meal Appeal. She is very active in theatre productions in Meridian and the Mississippi Bankers Association. She is also the former host of The Cowboy Maloney Viking Cooking Show on networks in Meridian and Hattiesburg.

Save the Date APRIL 5, 2014

coming to terms









This skirt steak was prepared by Chef Alex Perry of Vestige in Ocean Springs and was cooked for 48 hours.

Sous-vide Sous-vide is a cooking technique in which food is sealed in a vacuum bag and cooked in a low temperature water bath, normally 130140 degrees F, for extended periods of time. It requires a special machine or an immersion circulator, that controls water temperature to within one degree. The technique is more than two hundred years old, but it was rediscovered in the 1960s and is still popular in fine dinning restaurants. The results can be spectacular, in particular with meats such as beef short ribs, which can be cooked for as long as seventy two hours. When properly utilized, the results are extremely tender and juicy and has the appearance of being rare or medium rare.

{ raise your glass }

Don't Knock the Nog 'Til You Try It! EGG NOG 1-1/4 cups Bourbon 1/2 pint (8 ounces) milk 1 cup half and half 1 pint heavy cream 2 cups sugar 6 eggs Nutmeg Start with room temperature eggs. Cold eggs cannot be worked. Separate eggs. Beat yolks until frothy, then beat

in sugar. Stir in whiskey. (Do not beat.) Let stand about an hour to “cook� the eggs. Stir in the milk and cream. Last step, fold (see note) in beaten whites. Keep in a cool place until used. Serve in a chilled punch bowl. Do not ice. Sprinkle nutmeg over the Nog on serving. Serves about 12

Note: To fold the eggs whites, heap them on top, then with a large spoon bring liquid up from the bottom, around the sides of the bowl, and spill onto the whites. Slow, gentle, but thorough folding will make a smooth Nog. Whites often beat more easily if a pinch of salt per white is added. Ford Wall Monticello

Most people have a lovehate relationship with Egg Nog; they either love it or hate it. If you're one of the haters and have only tried it from a carton, don't knock the nog until you've tried this homemade version. You may adjust the amount of Bourbon to your taste. For an added level of sweetness, try topping your nog with sweetened whipped cream. And...freshly grated nutmeg makes a world of difference as opposed to already ground nutmeg. edm

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{ fabulous foodie finds }

"Get Fit" Gadgets Once the tinsel is stored away and the black eyed peas have been eaten, our focus tends to turn to eating healthy and getting fit. We've rounded up some great gadgets to help you meet your healthy eating goals in the new year.

Portion Control Plate by Meal Measure, $12.98

Fruit Infusion Pitcher by Prodyne, $24.99 Belk

Tabletop Oil Mister by Prepara, $19.99

see page 80 for store information


Digital Nutrition Scales by Perfect Portions, $39.99 Bed Bath and Beyond

Citrus Sprayer Set by Lekue, $15.00 The Kitchen Table Hattiesburg

Topchips™ Chips Maker by Mastrad®, $19.99 Bed Bath and Beyond

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A Feast for the Eyes


f asked about his childhood, chef and Mississippi native David Leathers likes to joke, “I had a dad that believed in child labor.” Beginning at eight years old, Leathers worked in the kitchen of his parent’s barbecue restaurant in Fulton. “Even before I became interested in becoming a chef, cooking has always been a part of who I was,” he explains.

By Lisa LaFontaine Bynum photos courtesy of david leathers

“It was our livelihood.” Leathers attributes the work ethic his father instilled in him at a young age as a contributing factor for his success later in life. At eighteen, Leathers left small town Mississippi to attend culinary school at the former Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. He admits the move was a bit of a culture shock, but he would later go on to


graduate at the top of his class. During his studies, an instructor gave him a bit of advice that would impact his career path. “This particular instructor told me to find a specialty that makes you different from all the other chefs,” Leathers says. He was inspired to take up food carving based on a book he owned by famous food sculptor Xiang Wang.

Chef David Leathers take playing with your food to a whole new level. He believes that allowing kids to be involved in the meal process that they will be more open to trying new foods, a tactic he uses with his own five-year-old son.

When Leathers discovered that Wang taught classes at The Andy Mannhart Academy in Luzern, Switzerland, he enrolled himself and was on a plane to Europe. Where Pennsylvania was a culture shock, the young chef quickly fell in love with Switzerland. “It is a beautiful country,” he adds. “I didn’t want to leave.” He did face one unique challenge, however, that most students don’t usually deal with on their first day of class. Wang only spoke two languages – Mandarin Chinese and Swiss-German. While it may seem im-

possible to take instruction from someone who doesn’t speak your language, Leathers discovered that the language barrier wasn’t really a barrier after all. “It didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language,” Leathers recalls, “It was more important that I was able to observe him and see his instruction rather than hear it.” His experience would later inspire him to release three instructional DVDs on the art of food carving. Leathers' talents have garnered several TV appearances, most notably on TLC’s Extreme Food Sculptures.

During the show, Leathers constructed a life-sized sculpture of a woman in a masquerade mask to serve as the centerpiece for a charity ball in Louisiana. The entire piece took 72 hours to construct. Leathers eventually went on to launch his own brand of merchandise through his company Food Stylin. The product line includes T-shirts and his own line of kid-safe knives. Today, he frequently uses his talents to teach kids about healthy eating. He makes frequent visits to elementary schools throughout the year and hopes to comeat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 15

bat childhood obesity by finding ways to make eating fruits and vegetables fun. “We have become a generation of convenience. It’s not just about eating healthy food; it’s about eating real food. Not everything comes out of a package.” he says. “I had a little girl ask me once what my favorite vegetable was. When I told her asparagus, her response was, ‘Ew, yuck. Gross!’ I could

tell from her response that this little girl had never actually tried asparagus. I decided I wanted to visit every school in that community and let every kid try asparagus. Once they have the opportunity to try it, they can make their own decision.” Leathers believes that by allowing kids to be involved in the meal process, it will open them up to trying new foods. He hopes to be able to share his


message with a wider audience through a children’s television show titled Play with Your Food currently in the works with PBS. “It’s a tactic I use with my own fiveyear-old son,” he says. “By giving kids ownership, they take pride in what they are eating. The most important ingredient is making things fun.” edm

Chef David Leathers uses his superb knife skills to fashion ordinary fruits and vegetables into works of art - a true feast for the eyes.

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{ deep south dish }

Food. Family. Memories.

Food Traditions in the South BY MARY FOREMAN


e Southerners are very big on traditions and things that connect us to our Southern culture. I mean where else would you find an armadillo groom’s cake at a wedding, but in the South? Our football is practically a religion to us, and we are so passionate about it that you can believe every fall event in our life from the birth of a child to a wedding, is planned around the most important games. And, of course, like every school across the nation, we have our quirky and very particular rituals and traditions, whether it’s Friday Night at the Fountain, The Plaza at homecoming, donning the Sunday best at The Grove, the Walk of the Champions or shining up an old cowbell, Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty, we carry them on without fail every time our favorite team plays, too. We hold tight to our dialect and expressions, even though it may drive our Northern friends and family buggy. We monogram everything, from shirts to sheets, towels to stationary, and yes, the clothing of our children. We hold our elders in high respect, as we were taught to do, and we are still a very family oriented folk in the South. When our 83 year old grandfather is honored in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his first season as the football coach of our high school alma mater, you can bet the whole family is there to cheer him on. When we live close to home, the tradition of Sunday dinner at our mama’s house remains just as important as any holiday family gathering or reunion is.

While we may differ a bit from one another across our Southern regions, we all still hold true to these things like family, religion, our history, heritage and our traditions, and never more than around our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and our food. Grace said before our Thanksgiving dinner followed by a roundabout of expressions for those things we are thankful for in our lives, helps us to remember there really is always something to be grateful for. We gather for Christmas cookie making night, where kids get to sample things like hot pusharatas right out of the fryer dipped while still warm in powdered sugar, snatch homemade fruitcake crumbs, and maybe sneak a few rum balls. We gather around for our annual Christmas Eve pajama party while grandpa reads the traditional Night Before Christmas to our children, as he did for us as children. We wait for and expect the traditional dishes that are served every single holiday with our families without fail, and rarely with any swing from tradition. We unapologetically inhale marshmallow covered sweet potato casseroles, green beans swimming in a creamy base made from condensed soup, rolls that somehow always manage to be forgotten and a little extra browned on top, and yes, even that canned cranberry sauce, that slurps from the can in all its ridged glory. While we may add a thing or two here and there to experiment, we don’t dare sway from those things, for they are as important to many of us at the holiday table, as is the turkey and dressing.


These are the rituals that help us hold our sanity together the rest of the year and nowhere does tradition seem more important than around these holidays, and most especially in ringing in the new year. We all have our varied traditions we hold to for the New Year, and while the dishes and their interpretations may vary by family, there are usually some basics in common. You’ll often find some kind of pork (for prosperity and forward progress), black-eyed peas (for coins) and a mess o’ greens of some kind, often either collard greens, turnip greens, or just good ole, basic southern fried cabbage (for paper money), and cornbread, in some form, served alongside (represents gold). Even those who don’t care for some of these dishes will usually make sure that they eat at least a bite, lest they unintentionally bring on bad fortune in the new year. Black-eyed peas often show up in the form of a dish called Hoppin' John, where rice is stirred into one of our favorite Southern peas, while others simply stew them down Southern style, and serve them over cooked rice like we do with our traditional red beans. And then, there is our jazzed up form of Deep South Hoppin’ John - a black-eyed pea jambalaya made with the “trinity” of cooking - onion, bell pepper and celery “wit da Pope” of garlic, cooked down with some smoky diced ham and a spicy, Cajun Andouille sausage, a little jalapeño, some Cajun seasoning, black-eyed peas and long grain rice. It’s just a perfect side to go with that fragrant pork roast. edm

Deep South Hoppin' John From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

6 slices of bacon 1 cup of chopped onion 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper 1/4 cup of chopped celery 1 teaspoon of minced garlic 1-1/2 cups of diced smoked ham 1/2 pound of Andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, sliced 3 cups of chicken broth or stock 2 cans of black-eyed peas, undrained 2 cups of uncooked, long grain rice 1/4 cup of chopped, sliced pickled jalapeĂąo 1/4 cup of sliced green onion

1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning, or to taste 1 bay leaf Chow Chow or pickled onions for garnish, optional Hot sauce, for the table Using kitchen shears, cut the bacon into the bottom of a cast iron Dutch oven and saute until slightly browned. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery; saute for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook

another minute. Add the ham and sausage and cook another 3 minutes. Add the broth and black-eyed peas; bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, jalapenos and green onion. Season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, add the bay leaf, stir, return to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked through and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 minutes, and fluff with a fork before serving. Serve with Chow Chow or pickled onions if desired and pass the hot sauce at the table.

Mary Foreman, a native of Biloxi, is the author of the popular website deepsouthdish. com, where she shares her favorite, homespun, mostly from scratch and, very often, heirloom and heritage, Southern recipes.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 19

Easy Slow Cooker Pork Roast From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

2 tablespoons of cooking oil 1 stalk of celery, cut into chunks 1 (4 to 6 pound) boneless Boston butt pork roast Garlic salt, black pepper and Cajun seasoning, to taste 1/2 cup of chicken broth or water 1 or 2 (10-3/4 ounce) cans of cream of mushroom soup 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme 1 teaspoon of dried sage Heat oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium high. Add the celery to the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle the roast generously all over with the garlic salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning and brown in the hot oil on all sides. Transfer the roast to the slow cooker, fat side up. Pour off any excess fat from the skillet and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth or water, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom. Pour the juices from the skillet over the roast. Smear the undiluted mushroom soup on top and sprinkle the top with the thyme and sage. Cover and cook 7 to 8 hours on high, 9 to 10 on low. Times will vary according to how 20 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

your slow cooker works. Roast will be fall apart tender. Remove in large sections to a platter, trimming off any excess fat and tent with foil while you make gravy with drippings, if desired. Cook’s Notes: Substitute a bone-in pork roast, or a leaner pork loin roast, just keep in mind the size and adjust time appropriately. For a 3 to 4 pound loin, you will need about 6 to 8 hours on low. If using a loin, increase the cream soup to two cans. If you prefer, you can stud the roast with slivers of garlic, and substitute kosher salt for seasoning. Add vegetables if you like. You’ll need about 3 large carrots, scraped and cut into chunks and 10 medium sized red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters, adding them in with the celery in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss before adding the roast. To Make Gravy: Mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water or milk for a slurry. Use a fat separator to remove excess fat from the slow cooker drippings and transfer to a skillet. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry; reduce heat to medium and whisk for several minutes, until mixture thickens and reaches desired consistency.

Southern Style Greens From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

1 large bunch of turnip, mustard or collard greens or a mixture 2 ounces of salt pork, cubed 2 quarts of water 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar 1 teaspoon of beef base or bouillon 1 tablespoon of bacon fat or butter Splash of apple cider vinegar Salt and pepper, to taste Pickled onions, optional Hot pepper vinegar sauce and/or hot sauce, for the table Clean the greens by breaking off large stems. Rinse well in clean water, several times to remove any grit or sand. Chop into small pieces, rinse again and drain well in a colander; set aside. Rinse the salt pork and cube. Add the salt pork, water, salt, sugar, beef base, bacon fat or butter and vinegar to a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the greens, return to a boil, reduce to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours, depending on texture and tenderness desired; stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve cornbread and pass pickled onions, hot pepper vinegar sauce and/or hot sauce at the table. Cook's Notes: May substitute a 1-pound package of prewashed and chopped greens. Trim any rind off of the salt pork before using. May also substitute streak o' lean (fried salt pork), or smoked ham hocks, hog jowl, ham or turkey. Allow the hocks or smoked meats to slow simmer in the water for about an hour, or until the meat breaks away, then proceed with greens. Turnip Roots: Peel, cube and rinse the roots well. Add to the pot in the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Southern Fried Cabbage From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

3 slices of bacon 4 tablespoons of butter, divided 1 cup of chopped onion 1 medium to large head of cabbage, chopped (about 10 to 12 cups) 1 teaspoon of kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper 1/4 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste, optional 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, optional Dash dried red pepper flakes, optional Chop the bacon and cook in a large pot until the fat is rendered. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion and saute about 4 minutes. Add a splash of water to the bottom of the skillet to deglaze the browned bits in the bottom. Add half the cabbage,

salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, and stir. Add the remaining cabbage and seasonings, stir, reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until cabbage reaches the desired consistency, stirring several times. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the cider vinegar. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve as a side dish, along with some skillet cornbread. Variations: Substitute a good Andouille, spicy smoked sausage, or ham, sliced or chopped, or a can of corned beef for the bacon. May also add in chopped fresh tomatoes or one can of stewed tomatoes, cut up, to the cabbage. I just use my kitchen shears to cut them up right in the can. May also use one can of Rotel or regular diced tomatoes, and add about 1/2 of a green pepper, chopped with the onion, if desired. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 21

{ featured festival }

Celebrate the Bounty of the Sea at the...

Pass Christian Oyster Festival 22 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

"Oysters are one of our Gulf 's greatest treasures. A versatile product of many Coast chefs. It doesn't get more local than this! Embrace this salty pearl of the Gulf waters!" • Chef Patrick Heim, Taste Catering • eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 23

story by julian brunt photos submitted


any think that there is no more picturesque city in Mississippi than Pass Christian. The streets are graced with live oak trees, draped with Spanish moss, and the view out over the Mississippi Sound is enchanting. Scenic Drive, which parallels the white sand beach, is lined with elegant and stately homes, and the combination of view and architecture makes this place truly unique. You may be familiar with the sidewalks, shops, and streets of this village of just five thousand souls, but there’s another side that you may not know of; just off shore there are twenty square miles of oyster reefs, the largest in the continental USA, making Pass Christian one of the most important oyster producers in the country. The oysters are harvested by tong and dredge; and in a good season more than a thousand sacks will be harvested every day. Some of the reefs are within sight of the beach and when the season begins more than one hundred oyster boats can be seen at work there. These nine reefs have been known since the French first arrived, in fact, early Europeans called the area Passe aux Huîtres, or Oyster Pass. The simple oyster is the most important element to this small


Friday, January 24th • 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Enjoy fabulous oysters and seafood dishes by... Chef Patrick Heim of Taste Catering Chef Tom Wolfe of Wolfe's Chef Victor Pickich of Coastal Catering Vote for your favorite chef as they compete for the title of "Top Oyster." This event supports a scholarship fund and helps keep Saturday and Sunday's festival free. Adult tickets are $30.00, under 18 are $15.00, and under 10 are free. To order tickets at or call 228.222.2916.

town’s economy and the people that live there celebrate their mollusk every year at the Pass Christian Oyster Festival. This year the show kicks off on January 25th at 10 a.m. and closes on January 26th at 5 p.m. This is a family event and you can expect a variety of fun things to do and lots of good things to eat. There will be an oyster shucking contest and an oyster eating contest. If you’re a die-hard foodie, you will not want to miss Friday’s "Come Unhinged Oyster Eve," located at the harbor under the big top tent. There you will be able to sample some of America’s best oysters, taken from those reefs just off-shore and prepared by restaurant chefs and famed local cooks. Whether you like them deep fried, grilled, or sauced and pampered, you’re going to find an oyster to love at this winter festival. Even if oysters are not for you, there will be dozens of other dishes celebrating locally caught shrimp, fish, and crabs. Another event that will be fun for everyone will be the cook-off competition where well-known chefs compete for your vote to be crowned "Top Oyster." Tickets are only $30.00 for adults and include all the seafood you want. If you’re into salt water fishing, then you should be sure to sign up for the fishing rodeo; or if you are a landlubber, the lighted boat parade will make for a great evening on the beach. There will also be oyster shell painting classes, a classic car parade, and cooking classes where you can learn new kitchen skills and how to shuck an oyster, too. Also look for games, carnival rides, music, arts and crafts, and the Pearl of the Pass beauty contest. This two day fun-filled event will have something for everyone, but don’t lose sight of what the celebration is all about, sweet, salty oysters from Mississippi’s own waters. Enjoy! edm

- 2014 Pass Christian Oyster Festival Saturday, January 25th 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Free festival includes kids' activities, Classic Car Cruise, a Chef's Station featuring cooking demonstrations and the art of oyster shucking, and live music. Check out the new "Spat Spot" where kids will learn about the life of an oyster, marine life, the importance of the Mississippi Sound, and the quality of water for sustainability of the seafood industry.

Sunday, January 26th 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Free live entertainment!

For more information, visit www.passchriswww.passchris or call 228.222.2916.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  25

For the holidays, Janet Wagner enjoys making delicious, easy appetizers that may be prepared in advance. 26 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

Cooking with the Kitchen Goddess story by susan marquez | photography by j.j. carney


Janet Wagner

he doesn’t have a gourmet kitchen. But she does have two full size refrigerators and two full size freezers, stocked full of both raw ingredients and finished products. In addition to the organized cabinets in her kitchen, she uses a hall closet upstairs as an extra pantry. It takes every bit of it for Janet Wagner (a.k.a. Kitchen Goddess), for whom cooking comes as naturally as breathing. “I’d spend every waking hour in my kitchen if I could,” she said. “I just love it that much.” As much as she loves to cook, Janet enjoys sharing her recipes, techniques and kitchen tips with others. It’s not uncommon to find 12 to 15 eager “students” gathered in the breakfast room-turned class room of her Madison home for one of her famous cooking classes. “I’ve been teaching classes in my home for almost 20 years,” said the perky Janet, dressed in her pink chef ’s coat. She’s the first to tell anyone that she’s not a trained chef. “I didn’t go to formal culinary school, but I learned to cook at the feet of the masters.” That began in her hometown of Brookhaven, where she learned to cook typical Southern fare in the typical manner. “Everything was fried. And for most of my youth, I thought asparagus only came in a can.” But after losing both parents at an early age to heart disease and cancer, Janet decided there had to be a better way. She moved to Jackson and went to work at the Everyday Gourmet, where she assisted with the cooking classes. “The Everyday Gourmet brought in some world-class chefs, and I watched everything they did and learned so much.” Wagner eventually began teaching classes at the store before venturing out on her own. She and a business partner opened Kitchen Delights, behind the old Keifer’s in Jackson. “We did catering and take out dishes.” Her son, Mike, was always in the kitchen of the business with her, and after she closed the business, all his friends would hang out in Janet’s kitchen. “All the kids wanted to learn to cook. That’s when I began teaching classes in my home.” Janet teaches both adults and children, and the classes are very different. “The adult classes usually have a theme, such as make-ahead appetizers–things you can pull out of the freezer when company is coming.” Children’s classes center on kitchen skills, and recipes that incorporate the skills learned. “For kids to learn how to cook, you have to stand over them and teach them the right way to do it. Mess is a part of it, but you can clean up a mess.” Concerned that many parents today don’t have the time to teach their children kitchen skills, Janet said that busy lifestyles can easily lead to obesity. “Mothers are feeding their children 'convenience' foods that are processed or bought at a drive-through. I use real cream and butter, but the key is moderation. You can cook large quantities of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 27


Cooking class participants enjoy the delicious appetizers prepared by Janet Wagner.

things on the weekend and put it in the freezer. That’s just as easy as taking out a pre-packaged frozen dinner, but much more nutritious. And the time spent with the kids in the kitchen is invaluable.” Mike and Janet began showing Mike’s son, Tristan, the ropes when he was about eight months old. “I put a sheet down on the kitchen floor and gave him a bowl of flour and measuring cups,” Janet said. “He had a ball, and made the biggest mess ever, but he was also learning manual dexterity, which is needed in cooking. Now whenever he comes over to my house, he wants to put on his little chef ’s coat and he heads straight to the kitchen.” Janet has bought Tristen a set of child-sized knives and cut-resistant gloves. “It’s more dangerous to try to cut a carrot with a steak knife than it is a knife with a well-sharpened blade.” Janet teaches cooking classes

in her home about every three weeks, with a class in the morning and a class in the evening. There’s a limit of 15 people per class. “I do classes made up of people who don’t know each other, but they all become friends over cooking and food,” she said. “And I do classes for groups that all know each other. I’ve taught book clubs, garden clubs, Sunday school classes and many others. I can also schedule a private cooking class for a group and they can decide what they want me to cook.” Another way Janet shares her cooking knowledge is on her facebook page: www.facebook. com/janetkitchengoddess. “I share kitchen tips, what I’ve been cooking and recipes in the Recipe Binder. I also post information on upcoming classes.” For more information on Janet Wagner’s cooking classes, or to get a schedule, email her at edm

Kitchen Tips from the

Kitchen Goddess

1. When you’re making something, make it in mass quantities. Divide portions into smaller freezer bags. Lay freezer bags on a cookie sheet until frozen, then stack them up in the freezer. The pint size bags stand up perfectly in the door of the freezer. 2. Shop the sale aisle! Learn where your local grocery store puts their sale items. I buy dented cans and soon-to-expire items. If they have half-and-half on clearance, I’ll buy all of it and use it to make big batches of creamed soups. It’s an economical way to cook. 3. Don’t discount the discount stores! I buy things like roasted red bell peppers and lasagna noodles at the Dollar Tree. The quality is great, and it’s much cheaper than the grocery store. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 29

Cheese Torta 16 ounces cream cheese, softened 8 ounces goat cheese, softened 2 ½ teaspoons dried basil 1 tablespoon Garlic Garni or Creole seasoning ½ cup pine nuts, almonds, walnuts or pecans Roasted red peppers, diced In a food processor, cream together cream cheese, goat cheese and basil. cooking spray, then lining it with plastic wrap. Layer as follows: Cream cheese mixture, roasted peppers, cream cheese, nuts, cream cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To serve: remove plastic wrap and place on serving tray. Serve with crackers.

Turban Stuffed Squash 1 (3 pound) turban squash, or mini pumpkin 1 pound bulk sausage 1 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped onion 2 cup chopped mushrooms 1 egg slightly beaten 2 cup sour cream 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon salt Remove small upper portion of squash, cutting down to seeds; remove seeds. Sprinkle cavity with salt. Place cut side down in a square baking pan with one inch of water. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until tender. Remove squash from pan, reserve water. Cook sausage, celery and onions five minutes. Stir in mushrooms and continue to cook until meat is browned; drain. Combine egg, sour cream, cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add to sausage mixture. Spoon into cavity of squash. Place in pan of water. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serves 6. Note: This can be made 2 days ahead of time and baked at the last minute. If you have any leftover stuffing that will not fit in the squash, just place in a casserole dish or foil, throw away pan and cook. Then just refill the squash as needed at the party. 30 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

Picadillo 1 pound ground beef Dash cumin 1 onion, chopped ¼ teaspoon oregano 2 bell peppers, chopped 1 teaspoon sugar 3 tablespoons oil 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 can diced tomatoes 1 teaspoon salt 1 can tomato paste 2 cups raisins, optional 1 can tomato sauce 1 (3 ounce) can green 2/3 cup water chilies 1 clove garlic, chopped Brown meat, onion and bell pepper in oil. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.. Serve in a chafing dish with tortilla chips. Note: I make large batches of this. Let cool and place in pint zip lock bags. I have found if you use the pint bags, you don’t waste. You can pull out more than one if you need it, but if you are having about 4-6 people, this is plenty. After putting in zip lock bags, place them on a cookie sheet and put into freezer. This allows them to freezer flat then they will fit into the door of your freezer. Remember to always label what you freeze!

Creamy Poblano Peppers Strips (Rajas) 4 fresh poblano chilis 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced 2 cans kernel corn ¼ cup heavy cream ¼ cup sour cream ½ cup shredded cheese (any kind will work) Salt Pepper Char the poblano chiles directly over the gas flame on the stove or under the broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in a plastic bag and let steam for about 10 minutes Add the oil to a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Set aside Peel and seed the chilies. Cut the chilies in ¼ to ½ inch strips and add the strips to the onion and corn mixture and sauté until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and sour cream and cook until bubbling, about 8 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Season the rajas with salt and pepper, to taste. Note: The pablano Chile is a fresh chile that ranges from mild to hot. It is a deep green color and is large and wide with a shiny skin. This would make a great 1st course. Put over crostini (little toast). You could use this as a hors d’oeuvre. If you do, you will need to dice the onion and pepper strips, then place on crostini and serve. You could even do this as a hot dip, served in a chafing dish. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 31

{ mississippi made }

Dutch Ann Foods Continues Tradition of Homemade Goodness


sing a recipe passed down for generations, Dutch Ann pie crusts’ tastiness enhanced the delicacy throughout the years, with evidence showing that Dutch Ann pie crusts were sold commercially as far back as 1955. Also contributing to their deliciousness is the ingredients used to make the flaky, flavorful crusts. Dutch Ann takes pride in the fact that it uses all natural ingredients and strives to live up to the “Homemade Goodness” branding. Originally, the retail sale of Dutch Ann Frozen Pie shells was the brainchild of Roy Brewer and his

wife, Anna Kottler Brewer. The first formula was derived from an old recipe handed down from Anna’s uncle, Otto Kottler, an immigrant baker from Munich, Germany, whose specialty was baking many types of pies. Yet, it is unknown exactly when the Brewers came up with the idea of selling the empty pie crusts, but they began by selling semi-soft pie shells with a shelf life of only a few days. In the beginning, all shells were made entirely by hand, but the process became more automated with the purchase of a crude machine driven by an old washing machine motor mounted on a


round table that stamped out the pie shells. The business was purchased in 1962 by the Herold and Miller families and relocated to Natchez, where the plant was upgraded with state-of-the-art modern equipment. At that time, there were also some slight changes made to the formula in order to appeal more to the Southern taste. Originally, the business operated in historic downtown Natchez until 1997, when upon the death of Mr. Herold a decision was made to close the business. William T. “Bill” Jones, Jr., the current president of Dutch Ann Foods, Inc., had worked at the business during high school and had many fond memories of his time there. He, along with several friends and colleagues, Tom Middleton, Ken Jeanette, Woody Allen, Allen Warren and Bill Chaney, approached the Herold and Miller families about selling the business to them. At the time that they purchased the business, it was

GRANNY’S PECAN PIE TARTS 3 whole eggs 1 cup white corn syrup 1 cup chopped nuts 1 cup sugar ¼ cup melted butter or margarine 1 teaspoon vanilla 16 tart shells Mix all ingredients well for about 2 minutes with mixer. Pour into raw tart shells and cook very slowly at 300-325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

moved to its current location on Liberty Road in Natchez. Today Dutch Ann Foods has 16 production line workers making its products who are led by plant manager Roger Heard, originally from Greenwood. The company currently produces three products: 3” tart shells, sold eight to a box or in bulk packaging with 144 shells to a carton; 9” standard pan pie crusts sold two to a package and 9” deep dish pie crusts sold two to a package. Bulk packaging is also available with all of the products. The tart shells are a great way to provide individual pie servings and are the company’s top seller. Whether you choose the 9” standard pie crust or the 9” deep dish is strictly a matter of preference and based on the size of your

recipe. However, the company advises this rule of thumb: if your crust will hold at least four cups of liquid before baking, you should probably choose the deep dish. Dutch Ann Foods, Inc.’s current line of products is great not only for standard cream and fruit pies, but also an excellent start to a great crawfish pie, meat pie, quiche, deep fried fruit pie, etc. Keeping the tradition of a family oriented company, Bills’ sister, did the artwork on the current packaging and created the “Dutch Ann” girl. In addition, Granny’s Pecan Pie Tarts recipe, which can be found on the tart box, was provided by “Granny” Doris Britt of Minter, who is the mother of Bill’s wife, Kathy Fay Jones. Dutch Ann boxed tart shells can be

found in larger retail stores; however, all three items are available for purchase at many local retail grocery stores across the country. Dutch Ann products are routinely sold as far east as North Carolina, as far north as Kentucky and as far west as California. The company can provide minimum order quantities when buying direct and can provide a list of retail stores and distributors servicing the different areas of the country. Dutch Ann Foods, Inc.’s goal is to continue growing while providing its customers with affordable, high quality products and to possibly expand the products offered. edm Dutch Ann Foods, Inc. 716 Liberty Road, Natchez 601.445.5566 eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  33




f you would like to know which came first, the recipe or the ingredients, I can tell you. Although the apples and the pecans are as essential as the precise recipe she developed, it was neither the recipe nor the ingredients on hand that first prompted Aunt Velma to develop her cake. Once I saw the trees, I knew. It was the trees! As a bride, over 50 years ago, I moved to my husband's old homeplace. The trees not only preceded me; they were there before the birth of my late husband or his Aunt Velma. My husband's grandfather planted the trees over a century ago, creating a pretty fruit tree terrace just beyond our backyard. The small orchard still had six Granny Smith and four Gala apple trees as well as a few Indian Peach trees growing on a little knoll when I arrived in the early sixties.

In all the years we lived there, I never knew of any fertilizing being done to the trees. Perhaps they were fed by the runoff from the well-cared-for vegetable garden just above the grove. As is the habit of native fruit trees in South Mississippi, the buds on the apple trees started swelling in late winter and usually the trees were in full bloom by Easter. At their peak, the breathtakingly beautiful white and pink blossoms infused the garden with their unforgettable scents and gifted our young family with the perfect natural setting for hiding and hunting Easter eggs. As the morning sun reflected off the dew laden blossoms, it cast a pink glow across the grove and I understood why Aunt Velma had selected the popular Haviland china pattern of her day, Apple Blossom, as her wedding china. Beneath these apple trees, Martha, our daughter, forgot herself long enough to let go of my hand and take

her first steps. I have always thought the beautiful blossoms with their pastel glow and delightful fragrances distracted her as she ran on her tiptoes down the little incline and into my arms. After the flowers faded, so many small, soft green leaves covered the trees that even on hot summer afternoons the shady area on the terrace beneath its branches was quite cool and a pleasant place to stroll our baby. The little green apples were never anything special to behold and actually took away from our lovely spring and summer scene. By the time the apples ripened, most of them had black spots, but Aunt Velma would gather them anyway as her mother before had done. She filled large buckets by pulling all the apples she could reach from the lower limbs of the tree and picking up the ones that fell. She even retrieved the apples that rolled down the grassy hillside. Aunt Velma washed, peeled, cored eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  35

and sliced the apples before simmering them all day with a stick of cinnamon, a few allspice, and one whole nutmeg tied in cheese cloth. As the spiced apples bubbled on her stove top, their familiar aroma signaled a fresh cake was forthcoming. Her father had also cleared land with oxen and planted a 20-acre pecan orchard. As the trees grew and spread, the tip end of their limbs overlapped enough to create a giant canopy. Many decades later I found the pecan orchard a delightful area, in walking distance of our back door for an impromptu picnic with our children. The pecans had been, at one time, especially during the Depression, an important cash crop for the widowed grandmother and two aunts who were struggling to rear their sister's orphaned sons and pay the taxes on their land. However, Aunt Velma preferred the very best pecans for her cake. She never used the less valuable and easier-to-

shell nuts from the seedlings or the paper-shell trees. She selected only the best of the heavier Stuarts, which if sold always brought top money at the farmers market. Raw, the Stuart is a rich tasting pecan, but baking further enhances its flavor and spreads its oils throughout the batter. The pecans usually began to fall with the late October rains. Aunt Velma watched the trees carefully. Growing up playing under the apple trees' cool shade, she enjoyed their beautiful blossoms and then, as an adult, having the apples and pecans on hand roughly at the same time of year. This encouraged her to start adding applesauce and pecans to the cake which she perfected through the years. We now lovingly refer to it as "Aunt Velma's Delicious Applesauce Cake." The cup of pecans she used in her recipe was not to be ground or even chopped. I recall watching Aunt Velma select only the firm fully-formed and

evenly cream-colored Stuarts before breaking the halves and then giving each quarter two or three more uneven breaks. I observed for years before I was trusted enough to help perform this important task. In those early years of my marriage, I sometimes felt excluded. Too, I was puzzled by her behavior. She initially appeared as if she were selfishly controlling the selection of the ingredients before generously gifting us with her marvelous cake. Now I understand how she cherished the cake along with her family and all things coming from the soil on the old family farm. Perhaps I lose some of the essence of Aunt Velma's recipe by substituting store-bought applesauce and pecans, but what remains always conjures up the taste of her original cakes and of the first day my baby daughter ran barefoot on her tiptoes under the apple trees. After Aunt Velma's death, more than two decades ago, I came across her handwritten copy of the recipe.

Aunt Velma's Delicious Applesauce Cake For our recent holiday Open House I baked several recipes of this cake in Nordic Ware's 10-inch cathedral pan. When stacked, their shape, similar to the Notre Dame Cathedral, provides easy access for replenishing the dessert buffet while creating an eatable table-top holiday scene. The 8-portico designed cake serves 16. 3 brown eggs 2 cups sugar 1 scant cup Wesson Oil 1 cup applesauce 2 cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cloves Pinch of salt 1 cup broken pecans 2 tablespoons unsalted butter To prepare pan: I microwave two tablespoons of unsalted but-


ter 20 seconds on medium. Brush pan twice, being careful to coat indentions with melted butter. Chill pan for ten minutes between coatings. Flour generously and tap lightly to remove access. Aunt Velma's direction: Grease and flour tube pan. Set aside. Preheat oven 350 F. Step 1: In a large mixer bowl, beat three large brown eggs until frothy. While continuing to beat, add sugar and oil. Mix well. Step 2: Add one cup applesauce made from the tree growing nearest the garden gate and cooled to room temperature. Step 3: Sift two cups self-rising flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Add to mixture and beat until smooth. While slowly turning the batter

with the large wooden spoon, scatter in the one cup of hand broken Stuart pecans. Step 4: Pour into tube pan and bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan five minutes before inverting on cake plate. Note: I never bake this cake 55 minutes. If after 50 minutes the tester is clean and the cake is pulling away from the pan, I remove the deliciously moist cakes from the oven.

Remembering Mother's Pralines them up. Our father cracked their shells, then Mother picked out the meat and soaked the halves in bourbon for a few hours. After she had carefully cooked down sugar, butter and cream into candy, she added the bourbon soaked pecans. Of course, the taste of the pralines Mother created were far more delectable than those she had treated us with in New Orleans. While children, when we were beyond Mother's ears, my sister and I secretly named her wonderful candy Bourbon Street Pralines. Now, we openly refer to and share Mother's easy pleasing recipe by this delicious sweet's rightful name. edm

Bourbon Street Pralines Equipment needed: 2 quart heavy steel boiler Vegetable brush

How foolish I was to doubt my mother. After hearing a piece of music, she was capable of sitting at the piano, picking out the notes with her right hand, combining them with cords, and beautifully performing for us her rendition of the piece. After stretching her budget as far as she could extend it to purchase backto-school clothes for me and my sister, Mother could see a dress in one of the finer stores in Laurel, Jackson or New Orleans, take the latest fashion off the rack, try it on us, turn it inside out before neatly replacing the dress, go home, and cut and sew my sister or me an identically styled garment out of cow feed sacks that was even more lovely than the one in the store. After shopping at Maison Blanche, she would also take us sight-seeing down Canal Street and over to Charles and Toulouse. We had heard of Bourbon Street and we even crossed it and walked near enough

to read its street sign, but Mother would never take us sight-seeing on Bourbon Street. She said, "It was no place for ladies!" Occasionally she would take us riding on the trolley, but we never rode the car with the Bourbon Street destination. We were left to wonder and long for the forbidden sights we knew we were missing. However, Mother always purchased us candy from a sweets shop on Royal Street before we returned home. I recall the first small bag of pralines she bought and remember how fantastically delicious they tasted and immediately knew it was the best candy I had ever eaten. Although she did not have a recipe, Mother promised to make us some when our pecans were ready. We knew better than to complain, but thought to ourselves, 'home-made will never be as good.' When the pecans fell from the tree, my sister and I helped Mother pick

2 cups pecan halves 1 cup Bourbon 2 cups light or dark brown sugar (I use 1 cup of each) 1 cup white sugar 1/3 cup unsalted butter. 2 tablespoons water 1 cup heavy whipping cream Clean pecans halves with vegetable brush and plum for 2 hours in Bourbon. Drain and set aside. (Retain pecan flavored bourbon for Spiked and Spiced Apple Cider.) Place sugars and butter in boiler set over medium heat. Add water and blend. Add cream and cook while constantly stirring until mixture forms soft ball in tap water. Add pecans and stir gently. Vigorously turning the mixture may whip air bubbles into the candy. Spread, separate and cool on tinfoil lined tray. Store in air tight container. *Serving pecans toasted in slightly salted butter with pralines will enhance the flavor of the cake and pralines. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 37

Condiments for Applesauce Cake Some of the most delightful cake toppings take little preparation. While I always offer the Easy Pleasing Caramel Sauce (see eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI, p. 19 , October/ November 2013) with the applesauce cake, I recently discovered Blue Bell's Pecan Praline 'n Cream Ice Cream. We place it on the line beside whipped cream. Either rich condiment is delicious on top of this cake and drizzled with the hot caramel.


Dessert Menu Aunt Velma's Delicious Applesauce Cake

Cakes maybe baked 2 days prior to serving; then wrapped and stored at room temperature.

Condiments - Whipped Cream, Pecan Pralines 'n Cream Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce Toasted Pecans Bourbon Street Pralines Spiked and Spiced Hot Apple Cider

TOASTED PECANS 1 1/2 cups apple cider 3 cups pecan halves 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon apple spice 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon Kosher salt Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak pecan halves in apple cider for one hour. Drain and set aside. Mix sugar and spice. Add pecans and turn to coat. Spread on heavy iron baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown; stirring every five minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt. Separate and cool. Store in air tight containers. *Note - When cooking pralines or toasting pecans, we search for the best pecans available. My son, James, a librarian at Hinds Community College, discovered Klein & Sons Organic Pecan Orchard in Edwards. These delicious pecans are vacuum packed and the Klein's ship. For ordering information, call 601-852-8497.

SPICED AND SPIKED HOT APPLE CIDER 2 quarts apple cider 2 cinnamon sticks 1 teaspoon allspice 1 teaspoon apple pie spice 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon brown sugar 8 ounces Bourbon Cream sugar and butter. Add allspice and apple pie spice. Mix well. Add apple cider and mix. Add cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Add bourbon . Serve hot. Pour into warmed china teapot. During an open house, keep a kettle of this recipe simmering on the stove top. The aroma is inviting and refills are always ready. Several recipes maybe made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  39

Individual Mexican Layered Dip 40 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014


recipes, food styling and photography by lisa lafontaine bynum

Super bowl munchies are almost as exciting as cheering on your favorite team and watching the commercials. Here are a few easy to assemble recipe ideas to curb your appetite as gameday excitement builds. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 41

Burger and Fries Bites For the meatballs: 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20) 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 cup warm water

Additionally: 16 potato rounds 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese, cut into quarters Eight cherry tomatoes, sliced For the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Form meatballs into approximately 1-1/2 inch balls. Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in


batches if needed, pan fry the meatballs until browned on all sides. Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in the center. To assemble to bites: Cook potato rounds according to package directions. Arrange on a baking sheet. Top each round with a meatball, then a slice of cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven just until the cheese is melted, about 3-5 minutes. Top each with a tomato slice. Insert a toothpick through the center. Makes 16 bites

Easy Game Day Chili 1-1/2 pounds hamburger meat 3 (16 ounce) cans diced tomatoes 1 medium onion, chopped 1 medium bell pepper, chopped 1 (16 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained 1 (16 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1 (1.25 ounce) packet chili seasoning mix 4 tablespoons chili powder 2 cups water

Game Day Chili

Individual Mexican Layered Dip

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, brown hamburger meat until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from the pan. Reserve the drippings. Add onion and bell pepper to the pot. SautĂŠ until tender and onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in beans, chili mix, chili powder, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for at least 1-1/2 hours. Serve in hollowed out bread bowls, if desired. Garnish with cheese before serving. Serves 6-8

Individual Mexican Layered Dip 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning 1 cup guacamole 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream 1 cup chunky salsa, drained 1 cup shredded cheddar 1 (2.25 ounce) can green chilies 1 (2.25 ounce) can of sliced olives, drained 8 (9 ounce) plastic cocktail glasses White tortilla chips In a small mixing bowl, combine taco seasoning with refried beans. To assemble the cups, fill each with an even layer of beans, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Garnish with a spoonful of green chilis and the sliced olives. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving garnish each cup with a tortilla chip. Makes 8 individual cups.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 43

Cookie Dough Truffles 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cups packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons milk 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and milk and continue to mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine salt and flour. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and continue to mix until flour is well incorporated. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in chocolate chips. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime, melt remaining chocolate chips in the microwave or using a double boiler. Once chocolate is smooth, remove cookie dough balls a few at a time from the freezer. Roll around in the melted chocolate until ball is completely covered. Using a fork or slotted spoon, remove ball from the chocolate allowing any excess chocolate to drain off before moving to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Place finished truffles back into the refrigerator for an additional 15 minutes. Makes approximately 33 truffles.

Cookie Dough Truffles

FO R T H E T AB L E S CAP E Decorating for your Superbowl Party doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. Our easy tablescape was made for less than $25. Cut brown kraft paper to fit the size of your table. Secure each end with tape. Measure the length of the table and mark the halfway point. This is going to be your 50 yard line.

Divide the two remaining halves of the table by five and mark the rest of your yard lines accordingly. Carefully lay white masking tape down each line to make the yard lines. For the numbers, we purchased white numbered stickers from a local craft store. Make sure you have enough stickers


for both sides of the table. You will need: (18) zero stickers (4) four, three, two, and one stickers (2) five stickers Also, just because it’s a football game doesn’t mean it can’t be elegant. We used two oversized beer mugs as vases. Just fill them with clear or colored stones, water, and your favorite flowers.

Give a tasteful gift this year!

. k n i r d . t ea IPPI 13 MBER 20 R/NOVE OCTOBE

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eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

P.O. Box 1051 • Monticello, MS 39654 eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  45

Sweet Biloxi Tradition Pusharatas

4 cups flour 6 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup sugar 2 whole eggs 1 cup milk 1/2 cup canola oil 1 good pinch salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg Zest of 1 orange Zest of one lemon 1 cup raisins 2 cups chopped pecans A tablespoon of whiskey or brandy is optional

Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly, then add the eggs and milk, mix well until incorporated and smooth. Heat the oil to about 350 degrees F and carefully drop the batter by the teaspoon into the oil. Cook until golden brown, remove, drain and then toss in powdered sugar.




iloxi is as unique a Mississippi town as can be found and for many reasons. Perhaps its greatest difference is its location on the coast and its historical dependence on the seafood industry for its economy, contrary to the habits of the rest of this rural state. Many people from Europe, Africa, and Asia have passed through the seafood factories in Old Biloxi, but perhaps none made their mark as well as those that arrived there from what was once known as Yugoslavia. These stalwart people achieved much and contributed greatly to the growth of the Coast, but their culinary contribution is often overlooked. Salt cod, known as bakalar, rizota, a Slavonian style jambalaya and daube and gravy may be wellknown, but nothing is as famous, or as anticipated, as Christmas-time Pusharatas made by the Slavonian Ladies Auxiliary. This Croatian delight is a bitesize fritter filled with chopped fruit and spices and the ladies make them by the thousands during the holidays. Some people call them

Austrian donuts, Croatia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but whatever you call them they are just plain delicious, especially when served hot from the frying pan. There are many variations on the recipe, but most include nutmeg and cinnamon, zest of lemon and orange, raisins and pecans, and just a sip of brandy or whiskey. Once the batter is made, it is dropped by the teaspoon full into hot oil and deep fried until golden brown. When drained, they are sprinkled with granulated sugar or a glaze made with evaporated milk, sugar, and almond extract. There is no question that pusharatas are delicious, but when the Slavonian Ladies Auxiliary gets together every Christmas to make them, it is more about tradition and friendship. The seafood industry is not what it once was and the city of Biloxi is no longer thought of as the Seafood Capital of the World, but you can bet your last dollar that pusharatas are going to be made every December on Biloxi’s Point Cadet for many years to come. edm

RIGHT - Susie Pitalo Jurich, far right, age 92, is a 60-year charter member of the Slavonian Ladies Auxiliary (SLA). Her daughter, left, Julia Jurich Wade, and grandson still mix the glaze for pusharatas.

Members of the SLA make well over 15,000 pusharatas each year. The SLA holds its Pusharata Sale every year on December 23rd. They are available by pre-order only.To place an order, contact Pat Smolcich at 228-392-5226. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  47

{ community }

Community Stewpot story and photography


n 1981, representatives from seven community churches came together to discuss a growing need that they all had in common - meeting the consistent requests for food from Jackson’s downtown poor and homeless. Together, faith leaders from the multi-denominational coalition formed what is known today as Stewpot Community Services. For the past 30 years, Stewpot Community Services has provided a nutritious noontime meal 365 days a year to anyone who shows up on their doorstep, no questions asked. The noontime meal continues to be the heart of the organization, serving more than 60,000 meals with the help of 7,000 volunteers each year. More than 50 meals a day are delivered to Jackson’s ill, elderly and disabled, through the Meals on Wheels program. “All God’s children [come] together over a nourishing meal,” said Executive Director Frank Spencer. In 1982, the organization expanded its reach, creating a food pantry that provides emergency four-day food supplies to carefully screened applicants who present sufficient need. Throughout its history, the organization has


continued to expand its services, providing art and children’s programs, clothing, shelter, educational support and counseling to Jackson’s forgotten. During the holiday season, Stewpot provides 1,000 holiday meals, including turkeys and hams to needy families, who qualify. Today, the organization provides support to more than 650 people a day through 16 separate ministries. “Over the years, Stewpot’s leadership has continued to add services, based on community need,” explained Spencer. Stewpot currently operates three separate shelters. Sims’ House and Flower’s Shelter provide transitional shelter for women and children, offering 90-day stays to more than 60 residents a year. While there, residents are provided with job assistance, counseling services and financial services. Before leaving, women are given educational assistance and help in finding permanent housing and jobs. The Billy Brumfield House is an emergency shelter for men; that also provides them with drug and alcohol rehabilitation support services, counseling and employment assistance. This shelter is named for a homeless man who died of hypothermia while sleeping in his car. The Billy Brumfield House serves more than 60 residents a year. Matt’s House is an emergency shelter for homeless women and children, who have

FROM FAR LEFT - The food served in the Stewpot Community Kitchen is provided through food drives held by local schools and churches. Meals are not the only thing served in Stewpot's Community Kitchen; each day, visitors are provided with a short Bible study message and fellowship. Although the organization continues to expand its community services,

the noontime meal continues to be the heart of Stewpot. Community groups like this one from Holmes Community College (pictured in front of Stewpot's Sims' House), support Stewpot by holding food drives, serving in the Community Kitchen, providing tutoring services and offering their skills in carpentry and landscaping to one of Stewpot's 16 ministries.

by courtney lange

no other place to go. Serving more than 300 guests a year, Matt’s house provides clients with much more than a place to rest. In addition to providing food and shelter, Matt’s House offers parenting and budgeting classes and assistance in finding jobs and permanent housing. “In addition to meeting the basic needs of our clients, Stewpot also really seeks to provide them with more than just food, clothing and shelter,” Spencer said. “We are dedicated to serving people by serving their spiritual needs and by providing them with access to healthcare, legal advice, counseling support, and educational opportunities through a variety of programs.” Today, that expansion is continuing as the organization is upgrading its physical facility, to better meet the needs of a growing community in need, Spencer explained. “Stewpot continues to minister in many ways,” Spencer said. “On the one hand, we serve a community in need. We do this by providing them with food, clothing, and shelter. We also provide a place for people to serve and minister to others by sharing their time and their talents with us. People who are passionate about carpentry and who are skilled in plumbing or who have electrical skills, serve here, too. They serve

by sharing their time and talents to us so that we are able to do God’s work.” Stewpot also needs volunteers to serve food in the Community Kitchen, tutor in the afterschool program, and provide support through one of the organization’s legal or community health clinics, Spencer said. “Churches, schools and other community organizations are a tremendous support,” Spencer said. “We need those groups and organizations to continue raising money and collecting food through food drives and we need them to keep volunteering to serve lunch in our community kitchen. Basically, we need the community to keep doing what they have been doing so well for the past 30 years.” Stewpot continues to accept donations of cash and food that will be used to feed Jackson’s homeless. Individuals and organizations are also welcome to volunteer at the Stewpot’s Soup Kitchen, 365 days a year. For more information, or to make a donation to Stewpot Community Services, please visit or find them on Facebook. edm

OPPOSITE & ABOVE - More than 7,000 volunteers from churches, schools and other community organizations serve meals to Jackson's homeless 365 days a year. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 49

{ in the bloglight }

story by kelsey wells photography by divian conner


he South has long been known for its delectable cuisine, and when you combine delicious food with Mississippi hospitality, people just keep coming back for more. For food blogger Divian Conner, the food and warm welcome of her home state brought her back to her roots. Conner, who now resides in Starkville, grew up in Mississippi but traveled to Texas and Georgia after graduating from college. The divorced mother of four said she “missed being home, close to the family and the hospitality that Mississippi has that no other state can seem to duplicate.” Moving home allowed her to come back to the strong family ties she had experienced as a child. She recalls the importance that her family always placed on being together for meals. As she spent time watching her mother prepare meals for her family with love, she also developed a passion for cooking. Conner began her food blog as a way to share Southern recipes with people across the country and even around the world. A Canadian friend remarked to her one day that some of the dishes Conner talked about preparing were not common in Canada. Conner began posting photographs of her prepared meals online, and the photo blog soon became a food blog complete with recipes for preparing the Southern meals. Conner wants to use the blog as a way to share not only her passion for food, but also as a platform for promoting family togetherness during mealtimes.

“My family has always been connected with food in some way. To me, food is a great way to connect with others,” said Conner. On her blog, she tries to include meals that taste and look delicious but do not require complicated, time-consuming recipes. She wants to encourage children to be willing to try new things and emphasize to parents that making special meals for the family is a great way to show love for them. Conner is pleased with the feedback she has received to her blog. Some of her favorite responses are the videos readers post of themselves trying out recipes from the blog. She looks forward to continuing to share her stories and recipes and hopes that she can encourage others to try cooking and eating new things and to make healthy


Divian Conner eating choices through portion control and moderation. To read Divian Conner’s food blog, go to Enjoy your trip through scrumptious new meals, all served with a Southern twist and a dash of the Mississippi hospitality that makes you feel at home and loved here in the Magnolia State, no matter where you are. edm

BANGERS AND MASH EASY MASHED POTATOES 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters 1 Maggi Chicken Bouillon Cube 2 tablespoons butter Fill a large pot with water and after peeling, rinsing and cutting your potatoes, place them in the water. Bring to a boil and place in the maggi cube. Lower the heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender and easily sliced with a fork. Pour off the broth into another pot and add your butter to the potatoes. Pour about 2 cups of the broth into a measuring or pouring cup and set aside. Begin mashing the potatoes and slowly adding in the broth until you reach the consistency you prefer. (The Maggi cube has a nice level of salt in it already so I do not add more salt)

6 sausage links or Bratwurst

FOR THE ONION GRAVY 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 3 cups beef stock 4 teaspoons corn starch or flour 4 teaspoons cold water Salt and black pepper Heat the oil in a large frying pan, turn the heat to medium and add the sausages. Fry until the sausages are golden brown and firm, turning them from time to time - about 20 minutes. Once cooked place in an ovenproof dish and keep warm. Melt the oil and butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the onion and

cover with a lid. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar to the onions and stir well. Cover with the lid and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and boil gently uncovered for 5 minutes. In a heatproof jug or bowl, mix the corn starch/flour with the cold water to a thin paste. Pour a little of the hot gravy into the starch mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour the starch mixture back into the gravy, raise the heat to high and boil for 10 minutes or until the gravy is slightly thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve. Season with salt and pepper. When serving, place the bratwurst over the mashed potatoes then top with onions and gravy. Serve with a nice slice of toasted french bread or an English Popover.

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  51

{ from mississippi to beyond }

Food 101

story By Kathy K. Martin | photos submitted


ood, says Carl Conway, has been the tool to success throughout his life. Today he serves as clinical professional instructor of Purdue University, where he shares his food knowledge with hospitality and hotel management students. “In my job as an instructor, most of what I teach is management and life skills and how to deal with peo-

ple. Food is just the tool we’re using.” The oldest of six children, Carl began cooking for his family in Jackson when he was about five years old. His mother was a single mom, who was busy going to school and working fulltime, so Carl became responsible for preparing the family’s meals. “I really learned to cook out of self-defense and just cooked whatever I felt like cook-


ing.” His fascination with food began as he watched Julie Child’s cooking show on TV every Sunday afternoon. One of his earliest recipes was homemade croissants with orange marmalade. “Growing up in west Jackson in the 60s meant I couldn’t always find or afford the recipe’s ingredients.” Consequently, he made many substitutions such as red

onions for shallots and said that he still makes substitutions today to give his food a unique edge. Now in his third year at Purdue, Carl said that his advanced food service class is the capstone class for hospitality industry students. The class includes lectures with labs five nights a week, which provides fine dining in the John Purdue Room of the campus’ Marriott Hall. Students plan the menu under his supervision, test recipes, order food, market the restaurant, maintain inventory and supervise a staff to learn the complete picture of food operation. Their goal each night, says Carl, is to make at least $850 in sales and serve 40 guests. “We usually do over $1,000 a night and see 60 to 70 guests.” A typical menu features three appetizers such as Tomato Florentine Soup, Shrimp Cocktail and a house salad, and about eight to 10 entrées such as Coq au Vin, Braised Beef Short Ribs, Crab Cakes and New York Strip Steak with a compound butter sauce. Desserts include Chocolate Soufflé and Carl’s

recipe for Chocolate Bread Pudding, which he made as a child with a Hershey chocolate bar, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and slices of Wonder bread. Today he elevates his signature dish with 80% bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream, and organic eggs. What makes the campus restaurant so unique, Carl says, is its use of fresh, local ingredients, most available right on campus. The beef and pork are butchered on campus, apples are grown on orchards there, and herbs are fresh from the college’s gardens. When Carl was in high school, he did well in his studies and was accepted to top universities such as Yale. Instead, his life took some turns and by age 19 he joined the Army with hopes to cook there. However, his education made him more valuable in logistics and later nursing, where he worked at the University of Mississippi Medical Center during a break in his service. He retired in 2000 after 23 years with the Army and finally followed his dream of culinary school at the Opryland Hotel. In his first year of the three-year program,

the school closed, so he jokingly calls himself a culinary school dropout. He continued with chef jobs at the Cumberland Grill in Clarksville, Tennessee and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a job as adjunct professor of culinary arts at Austin Peay University, and a job running the prep kitchen for the Shop at Home TV Network. When it dissolved, he moved to Indiana to work for Second Helpings, a nonprofit anti-poverty organization that provides culinary job training to adults faced with success barriers such as homelessness and lack of job and life skills. Carl calls that job extremely rewarding as he saw up to a 93% job placement rate and a 75% retention for program graduates. “Employers knew that when they hired my graduates, they also got me as a consultant.” His love of food and teaching others about food are apparent. He still prepares many recipes that he received from friends who learned them from a family member who grew up in Italy, Greece or Germany. “I call these dishes my world home cooking.” edm eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  53

CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 2 cups canola oil 3 cups all-purpose flour 2 red bell peppers, diced 4 green bell peppers, diced 3 medium yellow onions, diced 10 ribs celery, diced 6 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups dry red wine 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes 6 quarts low sodium chicken stock 3 tablespoons Creole Seasoning 1 tablespoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 3 bay leaves 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 pound Andouille sausage, diced 2 whole 3-pound chickens, roasted and deboned, cut into 1-inch pieces 2 pounds okra, sliced Heat the butter and oil in a large

stock pot over medium until the butter melts. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring often, until the roux is dark brown, for about 45 minutes to an hour. Add the Andouille sausage and sauté about five minutes. Add the peppers, onion, garlic, and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in Creole Seasoning, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder, thyme, bay leaves, and kosher salt. Add the diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine and stir until blended. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook, skimming fat as necessary, for two hours. Remove the bay leaves, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Add the okra and chicken and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Serve with white rice. Makes two gallons - 32 servings as an entrée or 48 as a first course.

CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING 1 quart heavy whipping cream 1 pound (about 7 slices) fresh bread crumbs 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 8 egg yolks 1/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat an 8-by-12inch or 9-by-13-inch pan with butter; set aside. Place the bread crumbs and chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Temper the eggs by whisking in a onefourth of the heated cream. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot cream. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the cream mixture over the bread crumbs and chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake the bread pudding for 30 to 40 minutes, until just set in the center. Serve warm with whipped cream and warm caramel or chocolate sauce. Yield: 8 servings


Muddy Waters

{ from the bookshelf }

Treasured Recipes from Our Acadian, Sicilian, and Southern Heritage Author: Dr. Don E. Marascalco BY KELSEY WELLS


or Dr. Don E. Marascalco and his family, the muddy waters of the Mississippi River mean many things, from a promise of a better tomorrow to the opportunity to become successful to the perfect catch for a delectable meal. His new cookbook, appropriately titled Muddy Waters: Treasured Recipes from Our Acadian, Sicilian, and Southern Heritage brings together a melting pot of cultures to produce recipes that entice chefs from every region. Dr. Marascalco, who resides in Meridian, is a descendant of French, Italian, and Sicilian immigrants who came to America in the late 1890s and early 1900s. These immigrants settled in western Mississippi and southern Louisiana because of the promising careers available along the Mississippi River. As time passed and the family grew, they never lost their appreciation for a good family meal. Muddy Waters is the compilation of recipes from Dr. Marascalco's family and friends. Some contain hints of distant cultures, some are definitively Cajun, and others are pure Southern comfort foods, but all point to the influence and opportunities found on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. This beautiful hardback edition features delightful photographs of varied regions of America and beyond. Food photography on the recipe pages entices the senses and encourages chefs to try their hand at these family treasures. The journey down this river of delectable dishes begins with appetizers and beverages such as Sicilian Caponata, and a specialty drink called Mississippi River Water (a tea, sweet, of course, with a twist), among others. Recipes for jams, pickles, and other preserves and relishes are sure to make one's mouth water. For a good foundation for these jams and preserves, the bread section provides a variety of choices from New Orleans French Bread to Amish Friendship Bread to Old-Fashioned Cat Head Biscuits and Beignets. Soups and salads are around the next river bend, from the Deep South-inspired Turnip Green Soup to Coca-Cola Salad (a Mississippi favorite as Coca Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg). Sauces bring out the best of the Italian influences through Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Bolgeo Stewfatto, a tomato gravy. Hearty main dishes range from Sicilian Ravioli and Greek Meatballs to Southern staples like Chicken or Turkey Dressing and Quick Chicken and Dumplings. Unique side dishes include Cajun Cabbage and Carrot Souffle. No Southern cookbook would be complete with casseroles, and Muddy Waters offers dishes for all three meals, from a Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole to Enchilada Pie and Creole Crawfish Casserole. If you aren't already full from your journey, add the perfect ending to your meal with Italian Cream Cake, Choco Chocolate Ripple Divinity, and the obligatory Southern Pecan Pie. Like the muddy waters of her namesake, Mississippi's cuisine is influenced by a multitude of cultures and flavors. Dr. Marascalco and his family offer a wealth of local, national, and historical tastes in this beautiful new volume. edm

BUTTERMILK POUND CAKE 1 cup shortening 1-1/2 cups sugar 5 eggs 3 cups self-rising flour 1 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon lemon extract Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream shortening; add sugar gradually, on high speed of electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating about 1 minute after adding each egg. Turn mixer to low speed and quickly add flour and buttermilk, alternately, then flavoring. Pour mixture into an extra large angel food cake pan or 2 loaf pans, which have been greased and floured. Bake 1 hour, or until cake leaves the sides of the pan.

BUTTERMILK CAKE GLAZE 1/4 cup buttermilk 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 1/4 cup margarine 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cool slightly and stir in vanilla. Yields enough frosting for one 10-inch cake. Lanny King To obtain your copy, mail a $30 check per book to Dr. Don E. Marascalco, P.O. Box 1551, Meridian, MS 39302. Price includes postage and handling. Case price (12 books) is $360 including shipping. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  55

{ what's hot }

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Tom's on Main -


Yazoo City

Clancy's CafĂŠ Red Banks

The Hills The Delta -


Mary Jo'Meridian s Hot Tamales -

Porches Wesson

The Pines



Our wonderful state is divided into five travel regions - The Hills, The Delta, The Pines, Capital/River, and Coastal. It is our goal to give equal coverage to all regions of the state in every issue. The following sections are color coded by region for your convenience. We hope you will take the time and travel to all regions to take advantage of the diverse culinary styles present throughout our state. We do suggest that you call to verify operating hours before visiting any of these wonderful establishments.

Shady Acres Village Seminary


eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  57

The Hills • The Hills • The Hills • The Hills • The Hills • The Hills • The Hills • The Hills

Southern Soul with a Cajun Flair


Story by Liz Barrett Photography by Liz Barrett and Clancy’s Café

ention the name Red Banks, Mississippi, and a lot of folks won’t have heard of this small town of 2,200 located 10 miles northwest of Holly Springs. Start talking about Clancy’s Café, however, located just off Highway 78, and serving up down-home catfish, duck and sausage gumbo, ribs, steaks, brisket and other savory delights, and you’ve suddenly got their attention. Everything about Clancy’s Café makes guests feel at home, from its mismatched vintage plates to the open kitchen to the mouth-watering cakes made by grandma. “We’re a very family-oriented restaurant that’s casual


and relaxed,” says chef and owner Tyler Clancy, who is originally from Helena, Arkansas, and spent his teen years in Holly Springs before working as a chef in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Oxford. “My goal with Clancy’s has always been to provide guests with a consistent, great meal at a great price. I enjoy making food from scratch, whether that means hand battering the onion rings, cutting the fries, or creating our sauces and dressings.” Clancy’s Café opened on New Year’s Day 2011 in a building that previously housed two catfish restaurants—most recently, Crossroads Fish House. “We kept catfish on the menu

since it’s been available in this location for the past 20 years, but I didn’t want to be known as a catfish restaurant,” says Clancy, who describes Clancy’s Café as Southern soul with a Cajun flair. “I really like cooking barbecue and have smokers on site for smoking brisket, ribs, pork and chicken.” Every meal at Clancy’s starts off with a basket of hushpuppies accompanied by a unique onion salad dipping sauce that Clancy adapted from the previous owners’ menu. The vinegar and hushpuppy combination produces an indescribable melt-inyour-mouth experience unlike any traditional hushpuppy accompani-

Photo by Andrew McNeece

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The Pontchartrain - blackened fish covered in creamy Cajun sauce

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Barbecue Ribs

Photo by Andrew McNeece


ment. And, while newbies jokingly moan that they’ve eaten too many hushpuppies before supper, Clancy says that most plates return to the kitchen empty with just enough room left for one of grandma’s homemade cakes or cobbler. Always a work in progress, Clancy’s just underwent a menu and logo redesign, adding some popular specials to the menu full time, such as duck and sausage gumbo, brisket, and surf-n-turf. Other menu highlights include raw oysters on the half shell, hand-cut steaks, shrimp & grits, a smothered sirloin, chicken stuffed with spinach and artichoke dip, and the Pontchartrain, a blackened fish covered in creamy Cajun sauce. The always-popular Clancy’s Sunday buffet is a crowd pleaser, offering fried chicken alongside a rotating

entrée such as pasta jambalaya or ribs; six Southern sides such as fried okra, creamed corn, turnip greens and purple hull peas; cornbread and banana pudding. Open Thursdays through Sundays for dinner, Fridays and Sundays for lunch, Clancy’s opens at 4:00 p.m. for early birds. Recognizing early on that seniors were an important demographic of his business, Clancy adjusted his hours and prices to accommodate the group. “I don’t ever want anyone to feel excluded because of our prices,” he says. Just another example of how Clancy’s makes everyone feel welcome; must have something to do with that good old Southern soul. edm Clancy's Café 4078 Highway 178, Red Banks 662.252.7502

Onion Salad 1/2 gallon white vinegar 2-1/2 cups sugar 6 jumbo yellow onions 4 red onions 1-2 green bell peppers 28 ounce can diced tomatoes Bring vinegar to a boil on stove. Dissolve sugar in vinegar. Meanwhile, give onions and bell peppers a medium dice and place in a plastic container. Add canned tomatoes. Pour hot vinegar over onion mixture and let steep for 1-2 hours. When mixture has cooled, place in refrigerator and let marinate for 24 hours before serving. Yields 1 gallon

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CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT - Hushpuppies and Onion Salad, Interior of Clancy's Café, Stuffed Chicken and Duck Gumbo, Three kinds of catfish with Mac and Cheese.

The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta

Colorful Restaurant

Draws Locals and Blues Tourists


Mussels, Shrimp, Scallops and Oysters story by Jo Alice Darden Photos by Julian Brunt, Thomas Johnson and Jo Alice Darden


ess than a decade ago, downtown Yazoo City resembled many other downtowns in the Delta – sad rows of once-elegant turn-of-the-twentiethcentury buildings abandoned first by the draw of suburbia and again by a faltering economy. But these structures waited patiently for new generations of the cities’ visionaries

to recognize their value and begin to restore them. Happily, Tom’s on Main in Yazoo City is a beneficiary of the city’s colorful resurrection. “A few years ago, downtown was dead,” said Thomas Johnson, chef-owner of Tom’s on Main. “A pharmacist across the street told me he used to tell his employees eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 63

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OPPOSITE - Diners feel welcomed by the brilliantly colored exterior of Tom’s on Main in downtown Yazoo City. The building was constructed in 1905, after a fire destroyed much of the town in 1904. TOP - Cheerful colors inside the restaurant invite diners to notice what’s on the walls at Tom’s on Main – artfully chipped and painted plaster over bricks and photos and paintings by local artists available for purchase. ABOVE - Chef-owner Tom Johnson, who opened Tom’s on Main in January 2013, is a seriously handson chef and manager.

The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta • The Delta

Fried Catfish Plate

Hamburger Steak with Onion Gravy

Fried Catfish Po’ Boy 64 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

to park on the street so other people would think something was going on downtown. Now we have to ask them to park in the back so customers can find spaces on the street.” One of the reasons for the renaissance is blues tourism. It has taken over the Delta. Johnson said he has had customers from France, Scotland, England and Australia, all following the Blues Trail throughout the state. “People who live here just don’t appreciate the blues like foreigners do,” Johnson said. Part of the restoration of downtown Yazoo City includes hotel rooms and loft apartments in the spaces over the street-level stores and restaurants downtown to serve the tourists. The redevelopment drew Johnson from suburbia. A farmer for 25 years, he started growing and selling tomatoes in the summertime. One of his employees wanted to operate the business full-time, and it evolved over the years from a produce stand to a takeout place on a hill in Yazoo City, where it remained for about nine years. When his current landlords bought several buildings in the downtown area and started renovating, they invited Johnson to open a full-service restaurant in one built in 1905, which he and a friend decided to call Tom’s on Main when it opened in January. Johnson said his hobby has always been food. He’s constantly researching dishes on the Internet and looking for new cookbooks, especially those by New Orleans chefs. He watches cooking shows on TV for ideas – like the one he got for a dish that is now a top customer favorite. “Our cheeseburger – the idea came from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. We sprinkle grated sharp cheddar over the hot burger and let the cheese melt and pool and brown a little,” he said. Another customer favorite is the multi-layered chivito, from Uruguay. “We are often told by diners that this is the best sandwich that they have ever eaten,” said Johnson. It’s a dish with many variations; see the recipe Johnson provided for his version. The menu for both lunch and din-

Customers are invited to bring their own liquor, if they’d like. Tom’s on Main is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. for lunch and Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 5 p.m. for dinner. “I love to cook and test new recipes and see people enjoying our food,” Johnson said. I enjoy hearing customers’ compliments on the food without asking them!” edm Tom’s on Main 219 South Main Street, Yazoo City 662.716.0505


Baked Parmesan Chicken Breast Boneless, skinless chicken breasts about ½-inch to ¾-inch thick Ranch dressing Grated parmesan cheese


Chivito (One Sandwich)

3 to 4 ounces thinly sliced ribeye steak 2 ounces deli-sliced ham 2 strips of crispy cooked bacon 1 or 2 slices of pepper jack cheese or other cheese of choice Grilled onions Slices of hard-boiled egg Mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato 1 sesame-seed burger bun or other bun of choice

Sear seasoned steak in cast iron skillet for one minute on one side. Turn and place ham, bacon, cheese and grilled onions on top. Sear other side for one to two minutes (we cover). Toast bun and put egg slices, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on it. Top with cooked steak mixture and serve. (From Tom Johnson: Google chivito, and you will see variations of the recipe.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a shallow casserole dish. Cover generously with a layer of ranch dressing. Top with a good layer of parmesan cheese—do not skimp on cheese! Season top with pepper or Montreal Steak seasoning— the Parmesan cheese has enough salt. Bake in a 350-degree oven on the top rack for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken breasts reaches 165 degrees to 175 degrees and the top lightly browns. (From Tom Johnson: We check the chicken with an instant-read thermometer to make sure safe temperature is reached. This dish is a plate-lunch special we offer at least once a week.)

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ner – although quite different from each other – reflects a substantial New Orleans influence, from shrimp po’ boys to gumbo ya-ya, which is made with chicken, sausage and generous heat. Sourcing as locally as possible, he offers several daily specials and makes seasonal changes, as well. Now that the Delta’s summer temperatures have backed down, for example, he has re-introduced chili. Tom’s on Main serves beer, including craft beers, and wine. Johnson consults Wine Spectator for wines that are best buys for his restaurant.

The Pines • The Pines • The Pines • The Pines • The Pines • The Pines • The Pines • The Pines

Winner! Winner! Tamale Dinner!


Jordans Earn Chance of a Lifetime Through Dedication and Persistance STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEIGH ANN WHITTLE


ntrepreneurs Thomas and Mary Jordan’s dedication and persistence to the perfection of the ultimate tamale have led them to the chance of a lifetime. In April of 2013, they entered the Food Network competition Food Court Wars and won; but not without hard work, days of preparation, tears of frustration, and a surprise happy ending. Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales has only been open a few short months in the food court of Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian. What started out as a tamale eatery occupying a small space in a Shell service station in Clinton has now become a winner of fame and fortune. Celebrity Chef Tyler Florence supplied the Jordans with the new-found fame; fortune in the sense of believing in oneself to the point of personal achievement and gratification. Head Chef Thomas Jordan worked on his tamale recipe for over 20 years before he became satisfied with the tender husk-wrapped sensation that he proudly serves today. He would only let friends and family taste his finest product. “Creating a tamale is a long process. The tamales are boiled instead of steamed. I season to perfection,” says Thomas. One of his former customers claimed that the seasoning was so good that he just wanted to “suck the shuck.” This single comment led the Jordans to name their small business "Suck the Shuck Hot Tamales." eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI  67

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The staff of Mary Jo's Hot Tamales in Meridian - from left, Mary Jordan, Santonio Cooper, Amelia Riojas, and Thomas Jordan

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Thomas Jordan serves as head chef at Mary Jo's Hot Tamales. The cooking duo started out in the banking industry in Chicago, Ill. Originally from Benoit, Thomas searched for years for a good tamale similar to the Mississippi Delta origin that he desired. After years of working many jobs, they decided to open Jordan’s Barbecue Ribs. Mary and Thomas worked in shifts continuing their occupations while following their love and passion for preparing and perfecting recipes. “We experienced much frustration and what felt like failure. We had a bad location, so we had to close the restaurant down.” says Mary. Retirement led them to Clinton where they moved their pots, pans, and passion for preparing a perfect tamale. The couple cleaned the service station to cover overhead expenses, for which they were very grateful. Suck the Shuck was in existence but Jordan wanted more. After viewing a casting call for Food Network's Food Court Wars on WLBT Jackson, he and his bride of 46 years made a decision to “go for it. The rest, as they say, is history. (The show can be viewed in its entirety online on titled Food Court Wars - Suck the Shuck vs. Po’Boy Station.) "It was an amazing experience. We are grateful for the opportunity,” says Mary. As I sampled each menu item, I was grateful for Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales and the fact that I was treated like family. Who would have thought that one could go into a food court and receive the friendly service that usually occurs only at fine dining restaurants? Mary Jordan herself stands proud at the 68 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

Mary Jordan provides customers with great service and a big smile.

counter waiting to take orders with a cause a person to tell five people about look on her face like a child waiting to your place. If the food is bad, they’ll get on a carousel. A genuine smile that tell 25 people about it,” says Thomas. one sees from someone who loves what He shared this attitude with me, leadthey do. She is proud to offer such ing me to understand he will only put signature items as fresh Hot Tamales, his best dishes out there in hopes of Cheesy Corn Supreme, and Sweet n’ delighting people to tell others about Spicy Wings. The tamale was tender Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales. The dishes I and delicious. Thomas created the sampled were made to perfection. The Cheesy Corn Supreme as a requested service I received was courteous and side dish at The Tamale Festival in prompt. And, most importantly, the Jackson. Many of his customers enjoy friendship and culinary bond I made the mildly spiced blend of corn and with Mary and Thomas Jordan will be cheese as a dip for the tamales. Other lifelong. Plan a visit soon when you are sides include creamy coleslaw, hearty hungry for Mississippi Delta tamales to french fries, and homemade potato see the stars of Food Court Wars and salad. Each proves to be an excellent tell them that Leigh sent you. edm accompaniment to the hand battered crisp fried chicken on the menu. Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales Customer and friend Lucinda Bonita Lakes Mall Food Court Pitts noticed the serious passion that 1720 Bonita Lakes Circle, Meridian the Jordans had when she met them. 601.453.3483 “Their story touched my heart. I can’t say enough about the food, I could eat it everyday,” says Pitts. Many travel far and wide to taste the winning tamale and meet the determined couple who worked their way to be awarded free rent for a year in the Bonita Lakes Thomas Jordan boils his tamales in his own special food court. blend of seasonings to create a hot tamale that “Good food will makes peopl want to "suck the shuck."

o cou


of f o

od ne



Tyler Florence, left, host of Food Network's Food Court Wars, gives advice to contestants Mary and Thomas Jordan.

Fried Chicken

Sweet n' Spicy Wings

Fresh Potato Salad 5 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed 1-1/2 cups real mayonnaise 5 tablespoons prepared mustard 1 onion finely chopped 1/2 cup relish 1 teaspoon salt ( sea salt ) 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 6 hard boiled eggs 1/2 teaspoon paprika Cut potatoes into small cubes,then boil until tender. Drain and fold in mayonnaise, mustard, onion, relish, and 4 chopped eggs ,add salt, and pepper. Slice remaining 2 eggs on top of salad and sprinkle with paprika . Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales Meridian eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 69

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ABOVE - Chef Chris McSweyn

LEFT - Celia and Al McSweyn




Sit Down Stay Awhile

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hen Al and Celia McSweyn married in 1966, they brought two distinct cooking backgrounds with them. Hers bore a strong Port Gibson influence, heavy on hospitality and the use of fine china at family functions. His, on the other hand, was formed on a farm in Hazlehurst while he grasped the well-worn handle of a hoe. “Cooking was a way of life in my family,”explains Celia, with a drawl worthy of her upbringing. “Not only was the food wonderful, but the presentation was, too.” With a laugh she adds further insight into what she calls her era: “Tomato aspic made an appearance at every gathering.” Al describes his younger years somewhat differently.“My mother and grandmother stayed busy putting meals on the table for our large family and the field hands. They canned all summer,we smoked our own meat, milked and made butter, too.” He is smiling at the memory. “I guess I just grew up knowing what good food should taste like.” And if cooking is a way of handing down your history, diners at Porches in Wesson are benefiting from a doubly delicious heritage. Since the McSweyns opened their lunch-only restaurant in 1995, the establishment has upped the ante in the area's fine dining game. Imaginative Shrimp and Fried Eggplant Croistini and Cast-Iron Skillet New York Strip drive the menu, while fresh offerings like Pontchartrain Blues Crab Cakes and Blackfish Destin showcase the family's ability to dish up coastal bounty. But it's not only the entrees making a name for themselves. Celia's sister, Sybil, provided the creative force behind their ever-popular Porches Hot Pineapple, and the McSweyn's son and chief chef, Chris, is the mastermind behind the famous Porches Bread Pudding with Almond Sauce. A definitively lighter version of the New Orleansstyle rendition, his mainstay dessert has gained critical acclaim for the restaurant. It was Chris, in fact, who first prodded his parents into granting Porches a trial run. Al recalls thinking, “I'll give him three months, then he'll have to get a real job.” That was 18 years ago. Chris brings a newer attitude to a kitchen that prides itself on tradition. “We blend, but we're different,” Al says, then elaborates. “Not only is he an exceptional cook, but he

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The enclosed back porch is a favorite lunch spot for Porches' diners year-round.

Shrimp and Eggplant Crostini

has great organizational skills, too. lights. Locals also know that Celia has That makes a big difference when been known to keep garland – as well you're trying to serve multiple orders as holiday spirits - up well past New at peak temperature and flavor.” Year's. At no time is that ability more More than just an area favorite, appreciated than when Porches opens though, Porches has become a destifor reservations-required evenings, nation for food lovers motoring down such as those planned for I-55, or just seeking an excuse to. the first three weekends But for a white tablecloth domain of December. Al likens - where even a simple the kitchen on such salad doused with occasions to their real-deal what his navy comeback commander sauce feels called like an their indulindul carrier gence landings why not - contravel trolled the dischaos. tance? Still, amaz“It amaz he says, es me how Smothered Pork Chop, Rice and there's no far people Gravy, Lima Beans, Porches Hot better time to will drive to Pineapple, and Homemade visit than dureat,” Al admits. Yeast Roll ing the Christmas “But the house is season, when Chris pulls unique, the porches are out all the stops on the menu and unique. People say it's like going to the porches themselves are lit up in their grandmother's.” 72  DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

The National Register of Historic Places agrees. Originally built as the James Samuel Rea House in 1878, the now-restaurant/home has 2,600 square feet of porches, including those around an atrium offering alfresco elegance. That's right – restaurant/ home. The McSweyns know their business inside and out, literally. “The restaurant has grown so much through the years that it's nearly consumed the whole house,” reports Celia. “We have one room left that we can call our own.” When it comes time to settle accounts, diners find themselves passing through Celia's gift shop of upscale items, including their popular cookbook, Pineapple Days, Bread Pudding Nights. Now in its third printing, the volume contains a collection of the restaurant's coveted recipes, as well as essays revealing Al's take on smalltown living. The author, however, would be the first to tell you it's not all about cookbooks, or even how long you spend in the kitchen. “It's about how good it tastes at the table,” Al states knowingly. And that's why most customers will find it hard to resist lingering on the front porch, where wicker gliders and a cushioned swing offer the perfect spot to savor the flavor of Porches just. a. bit. longer. edm Porches 1193 Highway 51, Wesson 601.643.9035

Porches Cooking Classes

Al's art of butchery was honed behind the scenes at Sunflower in Hazlehurst, his after-school job for three years. “I can judge a cut of meat. That's what I bring to the table,” he says, noting that many customers tell him they've eaten all over the world, but nothing beats Chris' steaks.

There's a reason real butter replaced margarine in my refrigerator a few years ago, and it's the same one that has me writing heavy whipping cream on my grocery list where Cool Whip used to be - cooking classes at Porches. For a magical succession of Tuesday nights, I waltzed out of my own kitchen and into theirs, where, gathered around an island with four other Emeril-wannabes, I listened to Al McSweyn extol the virtues of a cast-iron skillet and the wonders of puffed pastry. Interested in receiving some hands-on instruction for yourself? Call to register, and as their flier suggests, be sure to come to class hungry. You will definitely dine on what you cook. Here's a peek at the syllabus to whet your appetite:

Week 1 – Never Grill A Steak Again! Well, Almost Never. Famous Rolls Trimming a Strip and Rib Loin Pan-Seared New York Strip Making a Pan Brandy Sauce Steak Diane Apple Napoleon and Caramel Sauce Week 2 – Why Your Grandmother Canned Soup Stock The Basic Foundation For Soups Broccoli and Cheese, Potato Bacon, Chicken Noodle No-Knead Rustic Breads, Classic Cornbread Why You Don't Buy Chicken at the Super-Store I Need It To Cook Fast Lemon & Capers Chicken Piccata Week 3 – Fish, in the Style of the Miller's Wife Pan-Seared Salmon and Spinach Salad Lemon Pepper Crackers Shrimp and Oyster Appetizers Paneed Snapper Seafood Pastas Porches Bread Pudding

Al McSweyn, left, puts the finishing touches on Apple Napoleon and Caramel Sauce for participants of his cooking class.

GRILLED CHICKEN & PASTA SOUP 1 small onion, medium dice 2 stalks celery, diced 2 carrots, thinly sliced 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 2 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin 2 cups chicken broth 8 ounces linguine, fettucine or small flat egg noodles 1 cup frozen English peas Salt and pepper 1 cup heavy cream, optional Season chicken breast with Tony's seasoning. Grill

chicken in a ridged skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. In a small stock pot, sauté onions, celery and carrots, salt and pepper until crisp tender in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Dice chicken breast. Add chicken breast, chicken broth and water. Adjust salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add heavy cream and peas just before pasta is done.

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Good Food

SHADY ACRES story and photography By Jennifer Jacob Brown


immy Dossett, Woody Garrick, and Willie Parker have been first in line for lunch at Shady Acres Village for years. “Six days a week,” Dossett said over a blue plate lunch, “we get here first to get first dip from the pot.” Dossett says they come partly for the friendly atmosphere, but mostly for the food. Shady Acres Village is a garden center, gift shop, ice cream shop, 74 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

and produce vendor, but it’s best known for its restaurant, where the most popular items are the old fashioned hamburgers (made from freshly ground beef), smoked ribs and chicken, daily entrée specials such as fried fish, and blue plate specials. The business began as a small fruit stand back in 1984. “My daddy always grew produce, vegetables and watermelon,” said Martha Mixon, who is co-owner

of the business with her husband Tommy. “He sold them under two trees in the front yard. My husband’s grandfather was a truck farmer – he sold vegetables out of his truck – so I guess it was just in both of our blood.” Shady Acres fruit stand grew over the years with the addition of a gift shop and a small café. The Mixon’s sold the business in 2005, then bought it again after it burned in 2011, rebuilding it as the larger Shady Acres


Village. “I wanted it to look like a little village or Western town, but once you get inside, it’s one building. We wanted something that was just bigger and better, but we wanted to keep that same good atmosphere.” In fall, customers at Shady Acres Village are greeted by an abundance of pumpkins, gourds, and chrysanthemums, which are piled up all along the rustic weathered wood exterior of

the building and arranged on its three covered porches. Inside, the rustic atmosphere continues with shelves of country merchandise and cozy home décor, country music, diner style seating, mason jar lighting, and country artifacts like old bicycles, baskets, lanterns, and road signs hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. The décor lends itself to a friendly atmosphere where customers con-

in Seminary verse with one another whether they know each other or not. All the customers at Shady Acres have different reasons for being there. One customer stopped by on his way from Hattiesburg to Jackson and had a chat about the store with Mixon. “Last time I drove out this way, it was ashes,” he said, looking around the cozy dining room. “When I saw this new building here, I had to come in and see.” eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 75

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and Friends at

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Another customer stopped to talk about the cakes, one of the most popular items in the store. “My fatherin-law said, ‘If you stop there, don’t get one of those,’” he says, pointing at an Italian Cream Cake. “They’re too good.” Out on the screened-in porch, Jimmy Dossett is anxious to talk up his favorite lunch spot. “For a few years, we had to find somewhere else to eat, and when this opened back up, we came back,” he said. “They treat us real good here.” Mixon said that she’s had customers from as far away as Africa and Australia, with travelers on Highway 76 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

49 often stopping in for lunch, and sometimes going out of their way to come back the next time they travel. Her nearest customer, Mixon said, comes in every day and lives right on the property – her mother, Izette Folkes, has a house right next door. “She comes over every day. It’s been good for her to see friends she hasn’t seen in a while,” she said. “The days that she doesn’t come, everybody’s asking, ‘Where’s Miss Folkes?’” Along with serving hot food each day from the restaurant, Shady Acres Village sells freshly baked cakes and dessert breads, homemade jams, dip mixes and other packaged foods,

hand-dipped ice cream, and fresh seasonal produce. They also take orders for holiday casseroles and meats. In winter, prime produce includes Louisiana Satsumas, navel oranges, sweet potatoes, and pecans. For more information and to look at the full menu, visit Shady Acres Village's website. To keep up with daily lunch specials, find Shady Acres Village on Facebook or call. edm Shady Acres Village 624 Highway 49, Seminary 601.722.4114

TOP - Customers order the Blue Plate Special at the restaurant at Shady Acres Village. ABOVE - Willie Parker, Jimmy Dossett, and Woody Garrick are first in line for lunch at Shady Acres every day.

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OPPOSITE - Old Fashioned Hamburger

{ calendar }

Fill Your Plate

December 2013/January 2014

Food Festivals & Events

December 5

Oxford: Square Toast for Scholarships Square Toast for Scholarships is a walking wine and food tasting event which is spread across the restaurants and businesses on the Oxford town Square. On the night of the event, the area around the Oxford town Square transforms into one large, varied restaurant. Event-goers check in at the courthouse to receive their wine glass and a map to participating vendors. The event is produced by the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the School of Applied Sciences of the University of Mississippi. For more information, visit or call 662-915-2621. 78 • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014

December 6

December 7

Register for door prizes, visit Santa & Miz Claus, enjoy special activities and wassail throughout Downtown Columbus. Wassail is served at over 30 participating businesses. Cast your vote for your favorite at this Columbus tradition for 10 years. For more information, visit wassail-fest-3 or call 662-328-6305.

Enjoy a taste of the holidays with craft vendors, shopping, a Reindeer Run, Whistlestop Marketplace, Roxy Theatre Matinee, Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting, Caroling, and more. For more information, call 601-683-2201.

Columbus: Wassail Fest

Newton: Christmas in Newton

December 14

Biloxi: Greek & Russian Bake Sale The Greek & Russian Bake Sale from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Biloxi will transport you across the boundaries of land and sea. The sale features traditional Greek pastries like Baklava (layers of filo, spiced nuts and honey), Kourambiedes (butter cookies with powdered sugar), Finikia (honey cookies with walnuts), Spanakopita (spinach triangles) and the popular Greek bread (Tsoureki) along with Russian pastries like Russian Bread, Poppyseed Rolls, and Nut Rolls. For more information, call George Yurchak at 228-831-5820 or Dimitri Vlahos at 228-297-0526; or visit

Ends January 12

Jackson - An Italian Palate: Paintings by Wyatt Waters Wyatt Waters created hundreds of watercolors in Italy during summer 2011. On display at the Mississippi Museum of Art are more than 60 artworks from that project. Waters and food writer and restaurateur Robert St. John embarked upon their Italian journey to research their book project, An Italian Palate. For more information, visit www. or call 601-960-1515.

January 24-26

Pass Christian Oyster Festival The Oyster Festival originated as a hometown celebration honoring the local favorite – the oyster – and is now under the auspices of the Pass Christian Harbor Festival Association. Last year hundreds of visitors flocked to the festival on the Gulf in Pass Christian Harbor – drawn by live entertainment, top-notch artisans, carnival rides and the lure of oyster eating. See our feature on page 22. For more information, visit

To have your food festival or culinary event included in future issues, please contact us at All submissions are subject to editor's approval. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI • 79

Recipe Index

Real Southern Cornbread From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Aunt Velma's Delicious Applesauce Cake, 36 Baked Parmesan Chicken Breast, 65 Bangers and Mash, 51 Burgers and Fries Bites, 42 Bourbon Street Pralines, 37 Buttermilk Cake Glaze, 55 Buttermilk Pound Cake, 55 Cheese Torta, 30 Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, 54 Chivito, 65 Chocolate Bread Pudding, 54 Cookie Dough Truffles, 44 Creamy Poblano Peppers Strips (Rajas), 31 Deep South Hoppin' John, 19 Easy Game Day Chili, 43 Easy Mashed Potatoes, 51 Easy Slow Cooker Pork Roast, 20 Egg Nog, 11 Fresh Potato Salad, 69 Granny's Pecan Pie Tarts, 33 Grilled Chicken & Pasta Soup, 73 Individual Mexican Layered Dip, 43 Onion Gravy, 51 Onion Salad, 61 Picadillo, 31 Pusharatas, 46 Real Southern Cornbread, 80 Southern Fried Cabbage, 21 Southern Style Greens, 21 Spiced and Spiked Hot Apple Cider, 39 Toasted Pecans, 39 Turban Stuffed Squash, 30

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1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of fat (bacon drippings, vegetable oil, lard or shortening) 2 cups of stone ground, all-purpose white cornmeal 1 teaspoon of salt 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda 1-1/2 cups buttermilk 1 large egg Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub a tablespoon of the fat on the bottom and sides of a 10 inch cast iron skillet and place into the oven. Whisk together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the buttermilk, remaining 1/4 cup of melted fat and egg and gently blend. Use an oven mitt to remove skillet from the oven and carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet. Place into the preheated oven and bake at 450 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes. Slice out of the skillet or carefully turn out onto a plate and serve immediately while hot. Cook's Notes: May also use a 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

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It Wouldn't Be the Holidays Without Seasonal Treats BY JAY REED


’ve been thinking about the holidays for a pretty good while now. It may be because the local dollar store let Santa join the decorating committee sometime in early October. But mostly it’s because there are so many unique things to love in that season prior to the anniversary of Y2K. How about those fall and winter vegetables? There are very few bites that are more satisfying than a fork loaded with sweet potato, greens (turnip, collard or mustard – I’m not prejudiced), and something porky. It’s even better chased with hot, buttered corn bread. Can I get a witness? I have even been known to put all that (and a little more) into a soup, making a loaded spoon almost equally acceptable. Not far off from the soup category (don’t mean to start an argument here), I have noticed that there are a lot of chili cook-offs this time of year. The

P.S. If you watched "The Book of Manning" on ESPN recently, the drummer leading Coach Billy Brewer and Archie Manning through The Grove was none other than yours truly.

adjectives that pop into my head when I hear the word chili are usually red, beefy, and beany. But it could be green or white, pork or poultry - bean varieties are legion. I like to mix red, white, and black – it gives a patriotic look to the dish (if you use your imagination a little.) The Mississippi State Fair comes along during these almost-cold days as well. They even have vegetables there, if you don’t mind breaking through a hot crunchy batter to get to them. Life happened and I didn’t make it this year, and it hurt my heart a little. On the other hand, given the edible choices I’m sure I would have made, my heart should probably be a little thankful. The Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium holds court in Oxford every fall on an away-game weekend, and this was my fourth year to attend. Tickets for this event sell faster than a Justin Timber-Bieber concert, and I guarantee we eat a lot better. Nine straight meals prepared by some of the best chefs in the South (therefore, on the planet) is not a bad way to spend a weekend. Then there’s Thanksgiving, the holiday that brings families together in most states, but in Mississippi can just as quickly tear them apart. Hello, Egg Bowl. Have you ever seen a place that was so proud to display car tags and banners proclaiming “A House Divided?” Unfortunately, that game signifies the virtual end of the regular season of college football, and thus, tailgating season closes as well. It’s no secret that I am biased – my heart is in a tent smack dab in the middle of The Grove – but as a native Starkvillian returned, I am impressed with the way TSAT (The School Across Town) has improved the tailgating experience over the years. I can’t speak to how the Golden Eagles do it, so I guess somebody in Hattiesburg ought to invite me down next year. (We’ll call it research.)



{ till we eat again }

Jay Reed, a graduate of Ole Miss, lives in Starkville where he is a pharmacist by day and a freelance food writer by day off. He is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and writes “Eats One Ate,” a weekly column in the Starkville Daily News.

Let’s not forget all the limited edition treats that this season brings. I am a slave to pumpkins, trees, bells and snowmen – the Reese’s kind, anyway. And did you know that Monroe County peanuts make their way into that peanut butter? I think that’s something to be proud of. It’s a special time for Oreos, too. I don’t get terribly excited about October‘s orange cream or December’s snowman design – but those that are dipped in white fudge? Have mercy. The Wife is a big fan of candy corn and the fall mix – I like to pick out the pumpkins. A local purveyor of frozen creamy desserts advertised candy corn as a seasonal topping. I was suspicious, but did add a few pumpkins to my froyo at a similar establishment a few days later. After a few minutes in the cold they had transformed into small orange rocks. Be careful. And just a question: does anybody really like those peanutbutter-ish-flavored taffy-like objects in the black and orange wrappers? Or are we just too afraid of bucking tradition to urge them on to Halloween history? Asking for a friend… I suppose most of this could be done in other months. Christmas in July is not a foreign concept, there are other venues for donut burgers and funnel cakes, and I don’t think candy corn ever expires. But it’s all better with a touch of frost on the ground. edm

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7/30/13 10:24 AM

7/30/13 10:24 AM

Since we started in 1947, our chicken has been free of extra salt, water and other additives. It’s not just 100% natural. It’s 100% chicken. For recipes visit us at or find us on Facebook.


Profile for Eat Drink Mississippi

December January 2014  

Our December/January 2014 issue features delicious dishes for your Super Bowl viewing party, the Pass Christian Oyster Festival, the Kitchen...

December January 2014  

Our December/January 2014 issue features delicious dishes for your Super Bowl viewing party, the Pass Christian Oyster Festival, the Kitchen...