Taco Tuesday and Cinco de Mayo Are Still On, Despite Pandemic

by Kara Kimbrough Almost like a blue moon, it’s rare that Cinco de Mayo and Taco Tuesday fall on the same days. An extension of Mississippi’s COVID-19 dining-in restrictions mean those desiring to celebrate the Mexican holiday on May 5 will do so at home this year. But never fear, there are several ways to stage an in-home celebration containing the best of Mexican cuisine. Pass the salsa, please! One of the first things that occur at any Mexican restaurant is the arrival of chips and salsa. It’s easy to make your own using chopped tomatoes, spices, and peppers. After a few seconds in the food processor, you’ll have a restaurant-worthy salsa that might just beat out the competition. Or, pick

Show Mom Your Appreciation with a Gift of Wine

By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr Since the coronavirus struck the United States, there has been a heap of well-deserved praise for the sacrifices of first-response teams, medical workers, grocery employees, and countless other groups that continue to keep the country moving despite personal risks.  One group strikes us as missing: mothers. As Mother’s Day approaches, we should take note of the unsung heroes who have kept the house running. They are often the cooks in the family, brave grocery stores to buy staples, wash the clothes, entertain the children, and still manage to work behind a computer and phone. We know this isn’t the case in all households and that fathers, too, are pulling e

Fried Chicken Is the Perfect Way to Endure 'Shelter In Place'

by Kara Kimbrough Online comments about Mississippians’ “bucket list” of things they’re dreaming of resuming as soon as Pandemic 2020 is over invariably include a mention or two about fried chicken. “I can’t wait to sit down to a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot biscuits!” posted a hungry friend. A sports-loving male friend daydreamed about the day when settling down in front of the television with a platter of fried chicken wings and dipping sauce to watch sports would become a reality. Here’s some good news applicable for today: most supermarket delis and, in some areas, restaurants are currently offering pick-up service of Mississippi’s favorite fried delicacy. Af

The Food Factor Makeover: French Toast

by Natasha Haynes, Mississippi State University Extension Service I love to spend more time making breakfast on the weekends. But most familiar breakfast foods have a lot of extra calories. Traditionally, French toast recipes include white bread, eggs, butter and/or oil, and maple syrup. This French toast makeover substitutes whole wheat bread for white bread, mashed banana for the egg, and cooking spray for the oil. As long as you top it with fruit instead of butter and maple syrup, this French toast has a fraction of the calories compared to the traditional option. Tip: Mash the bananas by themselves in the bowl before you add the milk. It’s not as messy. (We learned the hard way!) Our ban

Perk Up Your Spirits with a Grilled Steak and the Perfect Wine

Food photo created by KamranAydinov By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr We used to think of “comfort food” as a dish to ward off the chills of winter – stews, soup, hearty pastas. Now, the phrase can be easily applied to warding off the boredom of being trapped indoors by the coronavirus. If you’re like us, you begin to think about dinner in the morning. As long as the food chain remains intact, you can easily conjure up a decent meal on your morning walk. In fact, we’ve been spending idle time going through old cookbooks in search of recipes we somehow overlooked. They are there! One of the great meals to perk up the spirits is a grilled steak.

Making Your Own Condiments, Sauces Is a Tastier, Healthier Option

by Kara Kimbrough I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with mayonnaise. I love it spread lightly – key word: lightly – on a crispy hamburger bun. Sprinkled with ground black pepper and melded with a sliced tomato, crispy lettuce, ketchup, and a beef patty, it’s a winning combination. And, who can fully enjoy a BLT without a little mayo to offset salty bacon and serve as a softener for crunchy toasted bread? Lastly, imagine making tuna, chicken, or shrimp salad without a light base of creamy mayo to hold it all together. It simply doesn’t work. However, topping anything – and yes, I have friends that add a dollop to peas and other vegetables – with a large quantity of mayo is out of the q

3 Tips to Planning Efficient Home-cooked Meals

A few generations ago, dining out was an experience reserved for special occasions. However, until recently, when restaurants were shuttered in the wake of the public health crisis prompted by the spread of COVID-19, many people were dining out multiple times a week. Hospitality solutions provider Fourth surveyed 1,000 American adults in 2019 and 56 percent reported dining out at least two to three times per week. Ten percent said they ate out four to six times each week, while 6 percent said they dined out everyday. People accustomed to relying on restaurant for meals multiple times per week may be unaccustomed to cooking many meals at home, which has become the norm thanks to restrictions

Inexpensive Wines that Pair Perfectly with Comfort Foods

By Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr As we continue to hunker in our bunkers, there is every indication that we are spending more time and more money with wine. Some stores are showing four-fold increases in sales of all wine, especially in the $20-plus category. Many of you, like us, have decided that if we’re going to be stuck in our homes, we may as eat and drink well. For many of us, it’s the highlight of the day. Next week, we will have a column about some pricey red wines to enjoy with steak. But this week, we’re writing about inexpensive wines that make great companions to comfort foods, such as pasta, burgers, and chicken. It’s warm enough to even fire up the grill. Wines that are inexp

Use the Freezer to Keep Dairy, Eggs

by Susan M. Collins-Smith, Mississippi State University Extension Service As families limit trips to the grocery store, they can use their freezers to preserve more than just meat, fruits, and vegetables. Dairy products and eggs can also be frozen. Natasha Haynes, a family and consumer science agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the freezer is one of the best ways to save money and reduce food waste. “Right now, a lot of people have questions about whether they can freeze dairy products, eggs, and bread,” Haynes said. “You absolutely can, but each product is different, and you want to make sure you freeze them correctly. That way, you’ll have the best quality

Brunch for Easter 2020 Might Lift Our Spirits

by Kara Kimbrough As Easter approaches this weekend, thoughts turn to family dinners highlighted by potato salad, spring vegetable dishes, and the piece de resistance, a glistening ham as the centerpiece. Easter 2020 will be altered for most of us. Reading online comments illustrates many are simply too sad about canceled church services and festive family gatherings to try to recreate a scaled-down dinner. One suggestion shared among my friends, and heartily approved of by all, was serving Easter brunch while the family gathered around the computer to watch their church’s service via livestream. My friend’s idea caused me to think about biscuits, bacon, and other brunch or breakfast items

Burgundy Is a World Apart

IMAGE: by The Wine Guys, Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr Two weeks ago, we wrote about the joy of drinking the red wines from Bordeaux during colder months. As promised, this week we’ll address the value of the red wines – older and current release – from Burgundy. Burgundy is a world apart from Bordeaux, not just in distance but culturally as well. Bordeaux, which favors cabernet sauvignon and merlot in its blends, is a warmer growing region with the cool, maritime influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Burgundy to the east is much farther inland and is more influenced by mountains. The unblended chardonnay and pinot noir, which prefer cool climates

Salvation Army in Dire Need of Food

The Salvation Army (SA) in Jackson is in urgent need of food donations for its pantry. The organization has enough food on hand to meet current demand until Tuesday of next week. Everyone is urged to donate as many canned items as possible or donate financially through SA's Walmart list.  Financial donations can also be mailed to P.O. Box 31954, Jackson, MS 39286. For more information about SA and its programs or to donate online, visit

Now's a Great Time to Pair Wine with an Experience

by The Wine Guys, Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr As we write this column, most people are confined largely to their homes as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country. Like you, we have a lot of anxiety over what the future holds for us and our families. It is a time for introspection and care, but it’s not a time to panic or to lose touch with friends. In fact, it may be time for a nice glass of wine. It’s tempting to drink more than we should in the face of adversity, so be careful in how much you consume. It has been proven that wine – more so red than white – has antiviral qualities, but there is a tipping point when the health risks are greater than the health benefits. Whi

Irish Soda Bread Is Easy to Make in a Pinch

by Kara Kimbrough As freezers slowly defrosted and grocery store shelves were bare after Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago, millions of Southerners vowed never to depend on modern technology to feed themselves and their families. Gardening, canning, baking, and other long-forgotten skills suddenly became popular again, only to have interest wane as life got back to normal. But guess what? The current COVID-19 pandemic has made all of us realize–once again–that depending on others for food is probably not the best way to live. As a result, recipes abound online for homemade bread and other baked goods that are now hard to find in supermarkets–if you even dare to venture out nowadays as the pan


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