Today in Mississippi December 2021

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Joy of the holidays and the ordinary Christmas time is here again in Mississippi. I love Christmas because it’s about family, giving, the birth of Jesus Christ, community, and joy. Joy is the special feeling in our souls brought about by God’s presence on Earth and through the words and works of Jesus Christ. Christmas joy is evident all around the holidays — from the expectant eyes of a child on the morning of Dec. 25 wondering what Santa Claus might have left them to the smile on grandma’s face after she smells that first scent of her favorite peppermint hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. The spirit of the season might appear harder to spot on a daily basis outside of December. I have a suggestion for witnessing joy on an ordinary day throughout the rest of the year: read our cover story this month on The Mustard Seed in Flowood. Better yet, I would urge you to visit or volunteer sometime to see it up close and in person. Not everyone can drive to the Jackson area to volunteer. But you can bring joy to others and to yourself by volunteering in your local community. Volunteering in your community is intrinsic to the cooperative way of life. The Mustard Seed is a Christian community for adults with developmental disabilities.

Known as “Seedsters,” the adults who live at The Mustard Seed’s group homes and the participants in the day program are living their best lives — literally and figuratively. Don’t feel sorry for these folks — they are living productive, independent, and fulfilling lives away from their families of origin while working, playing, and learning. The Seedsters will tell you that as well as their families. But you can also see it in their faces, smiles and interactions together and with visitors. There’s an infectious spark of joy in what they do and how they live. Whether you and your family are struggling or thriving this holiday season, we hope this story warms your heart. It certainly warmed mine. As 2021 ends and the promise of a new year is just ahead, remember to always look for the joy in others, yourself, and God. From myself and all the electric cooperatives in Mississippi, we wish you and your family and friends a safe Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Mississippi is... I come from baseballs and bats, from ponds and fishing poles. I’m from the buttermilk biscuits and duck rolls. I come from the saying, “If you gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough,” from Lucedale, and Agricola, with baked beans and fried chicken. I come from the tears of losing my grandfather, from the picture books on the wooden shelf, bringing back old memories and good times. I come from the gun beside my bed, from the slugs I’ve shot. I come from hats off at the table, from blessings before we eat, and prayers before we sleep. I come from the dirt on my boots, from the working sweat I’ve been through, And the tea I’ve drunk. I come from going to church on Sunday, And Bible reading at night. I come from a country world.

by Case Crawley, a resident of Lucedale and a member of Singing River Electric. Case, now 16 and a junior in high school, wrote the poem in the eighth grade.

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158


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in this issue

5 southern gardening Peppers at Christmas? Absolutely

7 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places in Mississippi


outdoors today


Remembering Christmas

10 local news 16

feature The residents of The Mustard Seed are living life to the fullest

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Vol. 74 No. 12

OFFICERS Eddie Howard - President Randy Carroll - First Vice President Ron Barnes - Second Vice President Tim Perkins - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior Vice President Lydia Walters - VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Alan Burnitt - Graphic Designer Courtney Warren - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING 601-605-8600

Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications, 800-626-1181

Circulation of this issue: 466,752


20 on the menu Hopping on board with charcuterie

Non-member subscription price: $9.50 per year. Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 12 times a year by Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Inc., P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300, or 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS 39157. Phone 601-605-8600. Periodical postage paid at Ridgeland, MS, and additional office. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2) NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300

23 mississippi seen The state capital celebrates its bicentennial


On the cover A group of “Seedsters” at The Mustard Seed in Flowood take a break from painting for a group photo. Photo by Chad Calcote

And we think you’re going to love ours. So let’s work together: As electric cooperatives, we were built by the communities we serve—and by members just like you. 4 TODAY | DECEMBER 2021

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Ornamental peppers

have use as

above the foliage. Fruit As an ornamental hortistarts as yellow-green and culture guy, I’m always thinktransitions to a bright orange and brilliant red. ing about how to expand Chilly Chili is a great choice for container plantor extend the usefulness of our ing, as the plants reach just 1 foot tall and wide. landscape and garden plants. I’ve These peppers are not hot and are probably the safest been toying with a nontraditional to grow around curious children. use for ornamental peppers. The ornamental pepper variety Sangria holds its slender fruit This is a group of attractive plants many pointing upward boastfully as if getting ready for a party. This of us grow during the summer. They come in a colorful and wide pretty ornamental pepper bears fruit in almost unbelievable variety of selections. I have always marveled how the colors numbers so that they resemble confetti. change as the pepper fruit mature across the season. Young Sangria peppers emerge greenish yellow and then march The idea I’ve been playing with is growing some ornamental through a wonderful parade of colors peppers indoors during the winter from orange, lilac, purple, and finally and using them in Christmas and on to a glorious crimson red. Unlike holiday season décor. Chilly Chili, Sangria peppers are hot, Now, this isn’t new idea. I rememhot, hot! ber a day over 30 years ago when Growing ornamental peppers for my fellow grad students and I were the holidays is really easy. kicking around ideas. One student Find a bright window where the came up with this totally out-ofplant can receive about six hours of bounds thought of growing pepsunlight a day. Temperature-wise, if pers specifically for the holidays. you’re comfortable, the plants will We’ll call them Christmas Peppers, The slender, colorful fruit of the Sangria ornamental pepper are produced be happy. To be more specific, this he said. in such numbers as to resemble confetti. The peppers are very hot. means daytime temperatures in the This was one of those wild and low 70s and a little cooler at night to the mid-60s. Temperatures crazy ideas — and maybe has a touch of horticultural heresy — in this range will help encourage and prolong the flowering cycle because everyone knows that poinsettias are the end-all, be-all and production of the colorful fruit. holiday plant forevermore. But still the idea stuck with me, and As with all indoor plants, correct watering is important. Keep I’m so glad it did. the potting mix consistently moist, not waterlogged, as this condiSlowly over the years, garden centers and floral designers have tion leads to root rot issues that cause the flowers drop off. been adding ornamental peppers into their holiday creations. In fact, the Chili Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University has developed an entire series of ornamental peppers to celebrate the holidays, from NuMex New Year’s Day to NuMex Christmas. What I like about using ornamental peppers as holiday plants by Dr. Gary is the fact that the plants continue to produce multicolored fruit Bachman over most of the winter. Most of the ornamental peppers grown for the holidays stay small and are well mannered. Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at A couple of my landscape favorites are perfect for holiday use. the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Chilly Chili seems to explode in a dramatic, colorful demonBiloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. stration. This 2002 All-America Selections winner holds the fruit DECEMBER 2021 | TODAY 5

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Keep these holiday lighting tips in mind for a safe holiday season. Inspect all electrical decorations. Damaged sockets and/or loose or exposed wires can cause serious shock or start a fire. Purchasing LED lights, they use less energy and run cooler. Never mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation. Make sure cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation. Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses. Turn off all indoor andoutdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep. Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International

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by Steven Ward

Although his life is not much like the exciting cinematic universe of Indiana Jones, retired Mississippi State University professor and professional archaeologist Evan Peacock still has an interesting story to tell. Born in the Delta and reared in the hill country of north-central Mississippi, Peacock has just released a memoir, “Kudzu on the Ivory Tower: From the Backwoods to an Academic Career in the Deep, Deep South.” When he was 10, Peacock found a stone arrow point on his family’s land, and instantly fell in love with archaeology. One of the people in his life that helped Peacock follow his dream was his ninth-grade music teacher. “Mr. Hill had an impressive library that included many large, picture-heavy books about science, which he freely shared. After I helped him move a pipe organ from Tennessee down to French Camp Academy, he gifted me with a copy of a book about the Aztecs,” Peacock said. “Not only did that help spur my interest in archaeology, but it demonstrated that such interest could be taken seriously by others.” Peacock said he’s heard over the years that some mistakenly think archaeology is not a viable career. “I cannot say how many times people told me, “You can’t get a job doing that.” It turns out that archaeology is a well-developed profession with a need for smart, dedicated practitioners,” Peacock said. “Most of the jobs are related to what is called cultural resource management, that is, commercial archaeology done in the face of development. While I was working at Mississippi State University, we started a master’s program which

boasted over a 90% job placement rate for our graduates.” Peacock also said Mississippi is a bountiful resource for archaeologists. “Mississippi has a very rich archaeological record, stretching back some 14,000 years, that remains little explored. During my career, my crews and I found and recorded about 1,000 sites that never had been formally reported before, and we were just scratching the surface,” Peacock said. “Most of what exists in the state remains to be found. And much of what we find in Mississippi can be used to address Photo by Josie Strain very large-scale questions about humankind in general, like what led to the adoption of settled life and agriculture.” Late in his career, Peacock discovered something fascinating in the Mississippi Delta — shell rings. “These are large, circular rings of freshwater mussel shells and other artifacts; they are so large that they easily can be seen in aerial photographs. They mark where Native villages stood about 1,200 years ago, when people had their houses on top of the shells and other refuse, probably as an efficient way to lift their dwellings out of danger of periodic floods,” Peacock said.

A resident of Starkville, “Kudzu” tells the story of how Peacock became an archaeologist and college professor.

I was born in Clarksdale, but was reared in the backwoods of Choctaw County. The nearest town, French Camp, was four miles away. At the time, it held fewer than 200 people, so we really lived out in the sticks. We were very poor; being the sixth of seven sons meant that I wore a lot of hand-me-downs, and government cheese was a welcome menu item.

Visit for more information about Peacock and his new book. DECEMBER 2021 | TODAY 7

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Wild game was a key component of sustenance back then and was only supplanted by the customary salt pork and black-eyed peas found on every New Year’s lunch table. Daddy and I were the hunters of our family, but neighbor boys and dads joined regularly. Quiet lessons were taught and learned during such outings and formed the basis for living decently. Those lessons shaped us. And those outings set the stage for my lifestyle and vocation that eventually afforded an audience of kind and gracious readers who follow the writings of that country boy now fully grown and tasting old age. I took my first deer during the Christmas holidays, the day after Christmas in fact — my birthday. We had to travel a considerable distance since deer were not handy to home, and that first encounter with a whitetail is etched deeply into my being. It was then and is still now sobering, intriguing, exhilarating, and yes, heartbreaking. The experience is cataloged among those lessons of life, lessons from the past that now impact the present and future. So, Christmas is again near. I hope it makes pleasant memories for you. And I particularly hope that the true essence of this season is known and celebrated in peaceful joy for you all. Merry Christmas.

by Tony Kinton Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit or email for more information.


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VERSION #______________ RON Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested STEVEN Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHAD Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ELISSA Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHRIS Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ARTIST __________ Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested

Christmas memories can take many forms and illicit an array of emotions and sentiments. Memories stepping back to childhood can be particularly poignant and are perhaps the most recalled. Christmas for us was a grand celebration but one with few fluffs and no superfluous ingredients. We had ample farm food, and never did we go without adequate clothing. But gargantuan bundles of purchased presents simply were never a part of the season. One paramount adventure was our going into the pasture and chopping down a small cedar for the living room. That tree, even when decorated sparingly, was, we always concluded, beautiful. There were also those Christmas programs Nature’s perfect Christmas tree – at that little Baptist fully decorated. Church down the road, the kids dressed as angels and shepherds and as Mary and Joseph. Some men wore bath robes and filled roles of the Wise Men. We all sang Christmas carols and closed with “O Holy Night.” No Wagnerian opera or Mozart sonata could compare. And there are yet Christmas memories of hunting, memories fresh as this morning’s sunshine. We hunted during the Christmas season — squirrels and rabbits primarily, but the occasional duck and quail when opportunities presented.

Holiday Décor Tips for an energy-wise home

Whether you’ve already decked your halls or you’re just getting started, there’s still time to incorporate energy savings into your holiday décor planning. If you haven’t strung your twinkle lights, be sure to use LED light strands. LEDs consume far less energy than incandescent lights, and they can last 40 holiday seasons. They’re

also safer because they’re made with epoxy lenses, not glass, making them more resistant to breaking, and they’re cool to the touch, so no burnt fingers! If you missed Santa’s memo about energy-saving LEDs, and your holiday lights are already up, you can still save on lighting costs. All you need is a programmable light timer. Most models cost between $10 to $25 and can be purchased at local retail stores. With a light timer, you can easily program when you want your holiday lights turned on and off, which will save you time, money, and energy. If you’re using

a timer for exterior lighting, make sure it’s weatherproof and intended for outdoor use. If Clark Griswold’s décor style is a bit much for your taste, consider a more natural approach. Many Christmas tree farms, and local retailers, give away greenery clippings from recently trimmed trees. With a little twine, extra ornaments, and sparkly ribbon, you can create beautiful garlands and wreaths to hang over your front door or windows. To add extra twinkle at night, you can install solar-powered spotlights to illuminate your new (essentially free!) greenery. Solar spotlights can vary in price, but you should be able to purchase a quality set of four for about $30, and because they run on natural energy from the sun, there’s no additional cost to your energy bill. Regardless of how you decorate your home for the holidays, there are plenty of ways to save energy throughout the season.

If you haven’t made the switch to LED holiday lights, it’s time. LEDs can last 40 holiday seasons, and they’re safer than incandescent holiday lights.


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Energy efficiency tip of the month

Heading out of town for the holiday season? Remember to unplug electronics that draw a phantom energy load. Some gadgets like TVs, phone chargers, gaming consoles, and toothbrush chargers use energy when plugged into an outlet — even when they’re not in use.


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by Shea Stewart A group of University of Mississippi researchers is working with the Mississippi State University Extension Service to conduct free lead-in-water testing in schools and child care facilities. The UM Lead in Drinking Water Team is assisting the extension service’s SipSafe program, a statewide effort funded through an Environmental Protection Agency grant to reduce lead exposure in children ages birth to 5 years by screening water in qualifying schools, and child care facilities. Formed in 2017, the interdisciplinary UM research team takes a community-engaged, research-based approach to address lead in water-related health gaps in the state. The UM team is responsible for the recruitment and sampling of child care facilities and schools in seven Mississippi Delta counties: Coahoma, Issaquena, Leflore, Quitman, Sunflower, Warren, and Washington. “As a public university, the University of Mississippi exists to serve the public,” said Stephanie Otts, team member and director of the National Sea Grant Law Center at the UM School of Law. “Faculty and staff do that through teaching and research.” Joining Otts on the UM Lead in Drinking Water Team are Cris Surbeck, chair and professor of civil engineering, and Kristie Willett, chair and professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The team brings together expertise in law, policy, toxicology, water infrastructure, and water treatment.

The UM Lead in Drinking Water Team was invited by the MSU Extension Service to become a SipSafe collaborator because of the team’s experience conducting community lead education and sampling events in the Mississippi Delta region. Although the program was launched in August 2020, sampling didn’t begin until this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA has provided funding for the project through August 2023, and that could be extended for another year, through August 2024. The team goes to each location, and collected samples are analyzed by a certified laboratory. Since beginning this summer, the Ole Miss team has sampled 361 faucets and water fountains in 20 child care facilities. “All of the facilities have had at least one faucet with some amount of lead,” Surbeck said. “Ten facilities have at least one faucet or drinking fountain exceeding our 5 parts per billion level of concern. “It’s interesting to see that some facilities have no detected lead in all faucets but one, and others have detected lead in 75% of their fixtures. This tells us that the presence in lead at each facility is very dependent on whether their pipes or fixtures have lead as a material.” Negative results are shared, too, but if lead is detected, the team holds a briefing with facility officials and managers to address the results and discuss possible mitigation measures. Besides the testing and helping participants develop a plan to respond to the results, the program also includes communicating lead information to the public via educational materials and training the public on the risks of lead in drinking water. “The educational component is crucial to the project because lead in drinking water is an underestimated source of childhood lead exposure,” Otts said. Shea Stewart is a communications specialist at the University of Mississippi.


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by Bonnie A. Coblentz A 100% fatal, transmissible, neurogenerative disease has entered the Mississippi white-tailed deer population, and hunters play a big part in controlling this disease. Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a prion disease that is easily transmissible to deer through saliva, feces, urine, or a contaminated environment. The amount of positive material needed to infect deer 100% of the time is the size of one very fine grain of sand. Bronson Strickland, wildlife specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said CWD’s almost permanent effects make it dangerously different than other diseases.

“Hemorrhagic disease is viral and common among the deer population, but while it can be catastrophic in certain locations and years, that disease cycle has an endpoint,” Strickland said. “This does not happen with CWD.” “More importantly, there is no annual end point, such as the arrival of cold weather,” Strickland said. “Once the disease becomes entrenched in a population, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do anything about it.” William McKinley, deer program coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said the disease is similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Unlike mad cow disease, which transmits to humans at a very low rate, CWD has never been known to transmit to humans. In CWD’s 16-to 20-month incubation period, infected animal shows no signs of disease. “When the animal becomes clinical, they begin to stumble, are listless, lose weight, and forget common things,” McKinley said. Physically, the disease causes holes to form in the brain, and when a hole is formed in a region that controls a function critical to life, the animal dies. “Animals typically die within 6-8 weeks of showing symptoms,” McKinley said. “They spread the disease even when they show no symptoms.”

The first positive case in the state was detected in February 2018 in Issaquena County. Since then, there have been 83 positive deer reported in the state in eight counties: Issaquena (2), Pontotoc (1), Marshall (20), Benton (56), Panola (1), Tallahatchie (1), Tippah (1), and Alcorn (1). “Our state wildlife agencies can’t manage the disease to keep it from spreading if they don’t know where it is, and if you eat your venison, testing it first gives you peace of mind,” Strickland said. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people, but some animal studies raise concerns that there may be a risk to humans. To keep CWD numbers in check, wildlife specialists have determined that the best management practices are to lower deer density and eliminate practices that encourage deer to congregate. “Supplemental feeding does not cause CWD, but it facilitates its spread as deer concentrate in certain areas, such as around a feeder,” he said. When CWD is unmanaged, few deer live to reach the older age classes. Trophy bucks with boast-worthy antlers could become a thing of the past. Hunters are encouraged to bring the heads of all deer harvested for free testing at one of 46 drop-off sites across the state. Store the meat in coolers before processing until CWD test results are back, a process that usually takes about a week. When handling deer, such as when field dressing a harvested animal, wear latex gloves and minimize contact with the nervous system — the brain and spinal column. “That’s where the highest concentrations of prions are found,” McKinley said. “If you like to saw off the antlers, we recommend you keep that tool separate to prevent possible cross contamination.” Bonnie A. Coblentz is a writer and editor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


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Where can you find the most

by Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen There are many products and services out there that claim to provide maximum energy efficiency, so it can be challenging to know where to start. Fortunately, our monthly bills can help identify areas for the most energy savings. For the vast majority of homes, the months that require the most energy use are in the winter and summer when temperatures are most extreme. Just total up your average energy use for the months when you use the most energy, then subtract the average amount you use during “shoulder months,” A single ductless heat pump can serve up to four rooms when you’re through blowers installed in each room. Photo Credit: Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance barely using your heating or cooling system, typically during fall and spring. The most likely reason for the difference in energy use is heating and cooling your home. Every home is different. For example, there’s a small percentage of homes that include uncommon energy uses like a well pump, swimming pool, or a home business that requires more energy than heating or cooling. But typically, heating and cooling your home are by far the largest energy uses. Sealing air leaks is often the least expensive energy-saving measure that delivers the most bang for your buck. The second most cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs depends on your situation. If you have an older propane or oil furnace, replacing it with an energy efficient heat pump might be your best investment. If you already have a relatively efficient furnace or air conditioning unit, insulating your attic could be the next most cost-effective measure, followed by insulating exterior walls, or the crawl space or basement. Replacing windows is a high-priority project for many homeowners, and new windows can certainly add value to your home. However, this can be a costly project, making it difficult

to justify solely based on potential energy savings. If your windows are old and leaky, it could be worth the investment. Do your research upfront so you fully understand the costs of the project. After you’ve found ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs, where else should you look for energy savings? Your next largest energy use is likely water heating. A few low-cost measures like repairing leaky faucets and insulating the first 6 to 10 feet of hot water line could deliver significant savings. Installing energy efficient showerheads can save water and reduce energy use. Check out Consumer Reports for reliable comparisons and reviews of energy efficient showerheads. If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it’s likely time to consider how and when to replace it. You can purchase a traditional water heater that uses the same fuel you’re using now. But there are several other options, including New windows can increase comfort and resale value, but heat pump this can be an expensive upgrade to achieve efficiency. water heat- Photo Credit: Roger Mommaerts ers, tankless water heaters, and even solar water heaters. Be sure to do some research before your water heater breaks so you know about your options. Appliances and lighting account for a smaller portion of your energy use. As you replace older appliances and lighting, look for options that include the ENERGY STAR® sticker. You should also review energy use information found on the EnergyGuide label. We hope this information will help you start to identify areas to save energy at home. Pat Keegan and Brad Thiessen of Collaborative Efficiency write on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association..


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The antioxidants and nutrients in herbs and spices pack a healthy punch in many holiday dishes.

by Susan Collins-Smith Food is a central part of holiday celebrations, and many traditional dishes can be loaded with fat, sugar, and salt. Qula Madkin, registered dietitian and instructor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said that although some holiday foods should be occasional indulgences, many of these dishes also pack a healthy secret: herbs and spices. “For me, the most exciting part of the holidays is enjoying good food with special people,” Madkin said. “While celebrations will be different this year, we can For me, the most exciting part still enjoy our family of the holidays is enjoying good food traditions withfood with special people, While out feeling guilty.” Many of the foods celebrations will be different enjoyed during this year, we can still enjoy the holiday season our family food traditions include herbs and without feeling guilty.” spices, which have known health benefits. Just like fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices contain antioxidants, or properties that may protect cells from damage.

Cinnamon • Cinnamon is full of fiber and manganese. One tablespoon contains 4 grams of fiber. Manganese is a mineral that appears to help regulate blood sugar. • It has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. • It lends a sweet taste to foods without adding sugar.

Sage • Sage contains small amounts of zinc, magnesium, copper, and vitamins A, C and E. • One teaspoon contains 10% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. • It has antimicrobial properties and supports oral health.

Cloves • Cloves are a good source of vitamins K and C. • They contain manganese, which supports bone health. • They have antibacterial properties.

Madkin breaks down three spices commonly used during the holidays and their benefits. Cloves are used to make ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Ground cloves will complement foods the same way cinnamon or ginger do. Try it in applesauce, oatmeal, muffins, cookies, stewed pears, whole-grain pancakes, and sweet breads. Madkin said herbs and spices have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, and science has proven their antioxidant properties. But more research is needed to identify what other specific health benefits herbs and spices may provide, such as possible prevention of certain chronic diseases. Many herbs and spices come in various forms, including dried, which is convenient and readily available. Madkin said processed herbs and spices have been proven to retain their antioxidant properties. However, keep in mind that some cooking methods, including grilling and frying, can reduce antioxidant properties. But microwaving, simmering, or stewing can enhance these properties. Janet Jolley, Extension agent in Marshall County, encourages people to experiment with different herbs and spices to punch up the flavor of foods. Jolley recommended trying allspice, anise, bay leaf, basil, or cayenne pepper instead of salt when seasoning meats. For poultry, try anise, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic, lemon grass, marjoram, oregano, paprika, sage, or thyme. Allspice, basil, celery seed, chili powder, dill weed, garlic powder, marjoram, paprika, parsley, rosemary, or thyme compliment fish well. Bay leaf, garlic, lemongrass, onion powder, or saffron go well with seafood. For soups and stews, try allspice, anise, bay leaf, basil, cayenne pepper, chile powder, cilantro, garlic powder, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, onion powder, oregano, saffron, or sage. For vegetables, try anise, basil, celery seed, chili powder, cinnamon, curry powder, dill weed, garlic, garlic powder, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage, or thyme. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. DECEMBER 2021 | TODAY 15

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Seedster Logan Chew paints Christmas ceramics at the 2021 Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson.

by Steven Ward It’s easy to find The Mustard Seed’s booth at the annual when she was 21. She loved it so much she moved into the Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson each holiday season. group home. She was always scared she was going to miss Just look for the longest line. something. She just didn’t want to leave at the end of the Shoppers line up each year to buy Christmas ornaments, day,” Cindy Chew said. ceramics, paintings, and other Founded 40 years ago, The Musartwork by The Mustard Seed’s tard Seed is a Christian community residents and day program for adults with developmental participants. The Seedsters’ joy for life and friendship disabilities in Flowood. On the first day of this year’s “Many of them do not have many is infectious. You may want to come out marketplace, the booth was options for ‘life after 21.’ That’s here to bless us as a volunteer and you will packed with shoppers eyeing where The Mustard Seed enters — we are so grateful for our volunteers potential gifts while Mustard their lives. “Seedsters,” as our and their time and gifts they share Seed resident Logan Chew, 37, clients and residents are affectionsat quietly and painted ceramic ately called, can become a part of angel after ceramic angel. the Mustard Seed when they are 21 or older,” said Mustard About an hour and a half after the marketplace Seed Community Relations Director Mandy Sisson. opened, Logan finished painting eight angels while “Many of our Seedsters compare their time here to sitting at the booth. college or work. Seedsters are enrolled as a day client or a While Logan painted, her mother, Cindy Chew of resident. They come to work every day with their friends/ Madison, stood by and watched, smiled, and answered coworkers/roommates, and they take such pride in the questions. feeling of independence that The Mustard Seed provides “She started going to The Mustard Seed’s day program for them,” Sisson said. 16 TODAY | DECEMBER 2021

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Photos by Chad Calcote

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Sisson said many of the Seedsters have watched their brother, sister, cousin, or neighbor move out, go to work, and reach milestones. “It’s such a natural desire to want to have your own work and friends outside your family. The Mustard Seed provides this,” Sisson said. The Mustard Seed name comes directly from the Bible. Matthew 17:20 says that “if ye have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move and nothing will be impossible to you.” Sisson said the group’s aim is to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of adults with developmental disabilities by providing a loving and protected Christian community with meaningful activities that allow the participants to fulfill the potential that God has created within them. The Mustard Seed is a private 501(c)(3) and does not accept state or federal funding. Families pay a monthly tuition. Fees for services generate approximately a quarter of the annual operating budget while the remaining amount is generated through tax deductible contributions, donations, and proceeds from ceramic sales.

Photos by Chad Calcote



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This mural of “The Seedsters” hangs on a wall behind the cash register in The Mustard Seed’s gift shop. The art was painted by former Mustard Seed employee and current volunteer Loris Nejam Davis.






A) Jerry Dearing B) Sarah Simonson C) Will Terry D) Matthew Nichols E) Matthew Davis F) Gabrielle Chambers G) Emily Olander

What is a typical day like at The Mustard Seed? There’s devotional time, painting and class time, a break with snacks, more painting, lunch and rest, more classes, clean up time, and chores. There is a group home for men and one for women. Ten Seedsters live in each home while 20 other Seedsters participate in the day program. Seedsters hail from all parts of Mississippi as well as other states. There are weekly activities including the Man Group on Monday afternoons, Reading with Peg on Mondays,

Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Birthday Bashes once a month. Fridays are earmarked for off campus activities — restaurants, movies, baseball games, or bowling. Seedsters also have the choice to enroll in classes. They can choose from watercolors, rock and roll history, yoga, photography, creative writing, nutrition, coffee club, drama, Christmas carols, and hand-building ceramics. “I think people sometimes don’t realize how happy the Seedsters are to be here. I know for a fact that people misunderstand the group homes and how proud the Seedsters are to live there with their other family,” Sisson said.


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The holidays are always a special time for The Mustard Seed. Besides selling Seedster artwork at Mistletoe Marketplace, the site’s gift shop, which is open Monday through Friday, stays busy with Christmas shoppers at a steady clip. “We paint ornaments and Christmas ceramics all year. For every $7 it takes to run The Mustard Seed, $2 comes from our ceramics art program. That’s a huge number and a huge outreach tool for us,” Sisson said. Each piece of artwork sold by The Mustard Seed has the name of the Seedster who worked on it on the bottom of the piece. “In a way, each piece of artwork has its own story,” Sisson said. “We love to hear stories about how someone was gifted a mug and didn’t know about us, but then they turned the bottom of that mug around and saw Logan Chew’s name on the bottom and then looked her up on our website and learned about her and then wanted to write her a letter or come and meet her. “That is special. Logan is an artist. This is her work. This is her job. She is talented, and there is no denying that. And then the fact that someone bought that mug for you and you feel this connection to Logan is such a neat thing to be a part of,” Sisson said. One of the pillars of Christmas is giving. There’s an enormous atmosphere of giving on The Mustard Seed’s campus. There’s a feeling of warmth and giving to the Seedsters who thrive in an environment of creativity and everyday life. The Seedsters represent giving through their artistic talent and gifts, both personal and literal. Sisson said people should volunteer or visit. “I think people want to get involved; they want to ask questions; they want to bring their children here, but they are

sometimes intimidated or aren’t sure where to even begin. Call us, come shop, schedule a tour. Let us show you around and meet our friends. If you don’t like hugs, then this isn’t the place for you,” Sisson said. “The Seedsters’ joy for life and friendship is infectious. You may want to come out here to bless us as a volunteer and you will — we are so grateful for our volunteers and their time and gifts they share. But I think volunteers will be blessed far more by the Seedsters who I believe remind us how to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To love unconditionally and not see what makes us different.”

Visit or call 601-992-3556 for more information about volunteering, the gift shop, or donating.


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with Rebecca Turner


Charcuterie boards first became popular in 15th century France and have been on 5-star menus and served at swanky shindigs for centuries. Now, thanks to social media, the concept of creating artistic food boards is trending. An authentic charcuterie board is truly a work of art with a curated array of flavor profiles that is also visually appealing. These edible works of art are piled high with cured meats, cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, and more, and when done right, they look effortless. Putting together a show-stopping charcuterie board worthy of a viral internet moment is simple but not easy. Magnolia Milk Maids in Vicksburg creates customized sweet and savory charcuterie boards in all shapes and sizes. What started as a hobby has become a thriving Mississippi small business. Since I am still learning to master the craft of charcuterie, I went to the professionals to learn the basics. “The perfect charcuterie board needs to contain at least five elements,” said Lauren DeRossette, co-founder of Magnolia Milk Maids. “Starting with cheese! Use at least three different kinds of cheese, one being a domestic cheese that everyone is familiar with, like cheddar or Monterey. Add in a savory element with salami, pepperoni, olives, and nuts.” “Walnuts pair well with various cheeses. Provide a sweet bite from artisan chocolates, fresh local honey, or seasonal fruits. Go unexpected and add spice with spicy cheese, or spicy soppressata, to your favorite pepper jelly. An artisan bread or cracker gives something to scoop all of it up with!” Leigh Arnold, a co-founder of Magnolia Milk Maids, has additional tips to get you started if you need further inspiration.


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Photo of cheese boards provided by Magnolia Milk Maids

“A delicious spread that will please everyone is as easy as going to your local grocery store. I recommend a combination of well-known and specialty meats and cheeses. Pair pepper jack with a BellaVitano merlot soaked or an aged cheddar,” Arnold said. “Boar’s Head pit craft turkey compliments pepperoni and salami, and it is a meat option most guests will enjoy. “Fresh fruits and vegetables add color and crunch while citruses act as a palate cleanser, so include lemon wedges or orange slices. Vegetable dips or roasted pine nut hummus are always a crowd-pleaser.” A charcuterie board offers an answer to “What can I bring?” this holiday season. Pair your creativity and food favorites with Mississippi’s charcuterie influencers’ advice, and you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and delicious spread.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at

INGREDIENTS 1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese 1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained 4 roasted garlic cloves 1 teaspoon sea salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper fresh herbs olive oil In the bowl of a large food processor, place cottage cheese, drained beans, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. If necessary, scrape down sides and blend another minute. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Garnish with freshly chopped herbs such as thyme and parsley, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired. Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers. Dip can be made 1-2 days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Recipe credits: The Dairy Chef, Rebecca Egsieker


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mississippi seen

mississippi is...


mississippi marketplace onEvents theopenmenu outdoors today to the public will be published free of charge as space allows. Submit details at least two months prior to the event date. Submissions must include a phone number with area code for publication. Email to scene around the ‘sip picture this Events are subject to change or cancelation due to COVID-19. Please confi rm details before traveling. opinion co-op involvement Christmas Lights at Landrum’s my Christmas in Columbia. Nov. 20-Jan. 1. Columbia. Homestead. Lakeside Treasures. Dec. 4. Columbus. Arts and crafts Outdoor ice-skating rink. Christmas lights will shine after dark. Rides and booths open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Lightshows and music will continue daily through the season at the top of each evening hour. Parade of Lights on Dec. 4 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Will feature dozens of decorated floats. Uplifting live music for the Light Your World event on Dec. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Dec. 31, there will be live music and fireworks for New Year’s Eve. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. and go until midnight. Tickets $15. Details:

Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18. Laurel. Take a Christmas

bazaar presented by The Friends of Lake Lowndes.

with Santa and a tour of the working homestead with more than 85 buildings. Hot chocolate, a marshmallow roast, funnel cakes and the open Smokehouse will be available. Tickets are $10. Children 3 and under are free. 1356 Highway 15 South. Details: 601-649-2546.


tour of the past with thousands of Christmas to 2 p.m. Lake Lowndes State Park. 3319 southern gardeningwalking grin ‘n’ bare 8Lake ita.m.Lowndes lights. There will be Christmas music, Photos Road. Details: 205-399-1248 or

Trees of Christmas at Merrehope. Nov. 21-Dec. 30. Meridian. Two historic homes elaborately decorated including more than 40 trees and festive exhibits. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on four Sundays — Nov. 21, 28 and Dec. 5 and 12. 905 MLK Drive. Details: 601-483-8439.

The Life of Christ. Dec. 3. Monticello. Drive through presentation features volunteers from local churches depicting scenes from the life of Christ from birth to resurrection. A CD with music and scripture accompanies each scene. Atwood Water Park. 1362 E. Broad St. 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Details: Email Kelsey Wells at

Carl Jackson’s 23rd Annual Home for Christmas. Dec. 18. Louisville. Benefit for the restoration of the historic Strand Theater. Featuring Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Val Storey, Bradley Walker, Johnny Rawls, and Issac Moore. 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows. First Methodist Church Christian Life Center, 300 West Main Street. Details: 662-773-3921. The Inspirations in concert. Jan. 22. Petal. First Baptist Church of Runnelstown will host the group at 7 p.m. A love offering will be received. 9211 Highway 42. Details: 601-583-3733.

And we think you’re going to love ours. As a member of an electric cooperative, you can help guide our future as we efficiently deliver affordable, reliable and safe energy.


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their eyes! Well, actually not. There wasn’t even a decent road connecting Jackson to the outside world for four years, and the railroad didn’t come through until the 1840s. The new location was so remote and isolated that for the first 10 years of Jackson’s existence, every time the Legislature met, they proposed moving the capital elsewhere. In 1832, the constitutional convention declared Jackson would remain the capital city until at least 1850. Following that time, lawmakers would take another look at the situation. The thing is, by 1850, people were more or less used to the idea of Jackson as the state capital. But it wasn’t until the 1920s that Jackson finally had more people living in it than in Meridian. When Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman occupied Jackson during the Civil War, the government moved to Columbus and Macon. The original furniture from the Governor’s Mansion was lost at Macon. But after the war everything gravitated back to Jackson — except the Governor’s furniture. So, Jackson it has been for 200 years. And the city celebrates its existence over the next year for both being the capital in the first place, and managing to stay the capital.

by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at


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VERSION #______________ RON Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested STEVEN Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHAD Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ELISSA Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHRIS Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ARTIST __________ Date_____ Approved Revisions Requestedw

The most unlikely city in the state is celebrating its 200th birthday in 2022, starting right now, during the holiday season of 2021. Jackson is the “unlikely city” because the capital city was not supposed to be there. And if members of the early state Legislature had had their way, Jackson wouldn’t be the capital today. The very first capital of the Mississippi Territory was Natchez. But there was an element in government that thought there was too much “river” influence in Natchez, so they moved the capital to Washington, about six miles away. I guess six miles was a lot farther then than it is now. When Mississippi became a state, Natchez once again became the seat of government. But the capital needed to be more centrally located. So, in 1821, Columbia became the capital. That’s where the Legislature appointed a three-member commission to find a site in the dead center of the state for the permanent capital. Well, turns out, the dead center of Mississippi was a swamp. So, the commission started inching southwest along the Pearl River until they came to the bluff where Louis LeFleur had a trading post. It wasn’t the center of the state, but it met the other requirements — high ground near a navigable river, good drinking water, and soil rich for growing. Lawmakers planted their stake at LeFleur’s Bluff and created the new capital city and named it named Jackson, in honor of Andrew Jackson, war hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. He had not been elected president yet. A new state house was built in Jackson, and the Legislature met there for the first time in December 1822. And people flocked to the new “Emerald City” with hopes and dreams and stars in


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