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  • Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: China: Classic Fried Rice

    by Dennis Seid This classic Chinese recipe is one of my favorites. A caveat: these are approximate measurements! Like many cooks, I do a dash here, a pinch there and adjust on the fly. For practical purposes, you have the basic outline for the recipe, and feel free to improvise. Also, a wok works best with the fried rice, but a large skillet will work, too. Ingredients: 2 cups rice 3 large eggs Green onions 1/2 onion, diced 6-8 oz. Chinese roast pork (or cooked chicken, beef, ham) 4-6 oz. shrimp Cooking oil (vegetable, canola or peanut, NOT olive oil) Light soy sauce (optional) Salt and white pepper Crushed garlic Method: Rinse the rice three to four times in water (put about an inch of water above the rice), pouring out the starchy water after each rinse. Cook the rice either on the stovetop or in a rice steamer. After cooking, refrigerate overnight. Chop two green onion stalks into small-medium size pieces. Separate white from green parts. Dice up proteins into small cube-sized pieces. Cut the shrimp into halves or thirds depending on size. Crack and beat eggs in a bowl. Add a touch of salt, but not too much. Heat wok, add a little oil and scramble eggs for 20-30 seconds. They don't have to be thoroughly done as they'll go back into the heat later. Set eggs aside and wipe down wok. Heat wok with oil, add one teaspoon (or as much as you want) crushed garlic and the onion and cook until translucent. Add meat, then slowly add in rice, being sure to break up the clumps of rice. Constantly stir so as not to burn the proteins and/or rice. Add about 1 Tablespoons of light soy sauce (optional) or salt (sea or kosher) and white pepper to taste. Add eggs back into the rice mixture, continue stirring. Once thoroughly cooked, add green onions, stir, take off heat and serve. Top with fresh green onion if desired.

  • Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: Classic English Christmas Pudding

    By Carol D. Andersen This recipe is a classic English steamed “Christmas pudding” – what Americans would call “dessert” – usually with a soft texture like custard. While “pudding” can be steamed, baked, or boiled, it is almost always a homely or rustic dish, while the English consider a “dessert” a lighter and more sophisticated offering such as chocolate mousse. Feel free to change up the fruit to your favorites and/or add nuts in place of some of the fruit. The whiskey adds a lovely flavor, but substitute rum if you prefer, or omit altogether. I make it for holidays or whenever my English husband Tony is feeling homesick for his native London. Ingredients: 2 cups shredded suet (or Crisco) 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg small can crushed pineapple, drained 4 eggs, beaten zest and juice of 1 lemon 1-1/2 cups golden syrup (recipe at bottom), warmed* 2-3 Tablespoons rum or whiskey (optional) a little milk 2-2/3 cups raisins** 2-2/3 cups currants 2-2/3 cups sultanas or golden raisins 8 oz. candied mixed peel Method: Combine the suet, flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Stir in the crushed pineapple, beaten eggs, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Add syrup and whiskey and mix thoroughly. Add a splash of milk and mix again. Add in all the fruit - mix well to combine. Put into a greased 4 cup (1 liter) pudding basin (see note at bottom), seal with a double thickness of aluminum foil, and tie with a string to make a handle. Steam in a pudding steamer for 6 hours. Turn out onto a serving dish. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream or crème Anglaise. *Golden syrup is also called "light treacle." If you cannot find it, you may substitute maple syrup, honey, dark or light corn syrup in this recipe. Or, see the recipe below for a simple 3-ingredient recipe for golden syrup will will keep at room temperature for months. **Raisins, sultanas (also called golden raisins) and currants are three different varieties of dried grapes. Don’t have a pudding basin? Use a Pyrex bowl or any deep glass or ceramic bowl with a lip. Don't have a pudding steamer? You can also improvise a steamer. Take a large pot (such as a spaghetti cooking pot) and put a metal trivet or heatproof plate in the bottom so the pudding basin won’t touch the bottom. Fill the pot partway with water. Using the string handle, gently lower the pudding basin in the water to rest on the trivet; the water should reach about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the bowl. Put on the lid. Over medium heat, bring the water to a gentle simmer. Cook according to the recipe. Check frequently and as necessary, add more boiling water to keep the water level high enough to replace what has evaporated. NOTE this should be a gentle simmer, not a full rolling boil, to steam the pudding (not boil it). Once the pudding is done, lift out of the hot water using the string or heatproof oven mitts. Easy 3-Ingredient Golden Syrup Ingredients: 1-1/4 cups water 4 cups sugar 2 Tablespoons lemon juice Method: Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, stirring regularly to prevent burning until the sugar is dissolved. Stir very gently to prevent sugar water from splashing up the sides of the saucepan. Once boiling, gently stir in the lemon juice. Reduce the heat to a very low and gentle simmer and leave the saucepan uncovered. DO NOT STIR the syrup again. Let it simmer on very low for 40-60 minutes or longer until the syrup is a rich amber color. If you’re using a thermometer, the temperature should be about 240-250 degrees F. Be patient – the rich, caramelly and buttery flavors develop over time. (Note: If your syrup is too thick and stiff you can reheat it, adding a little bit of water. If your syrup is too runny then you need to let the syrup caramelize longer.) Turn off the heat, let it sit for a few minutes, then pour the hot syrup into a glass jar and let it cool completely before storing at room temperature in a jar with tight sealing lid. Golden syrup can be substituted for any liquid sweetener, especially in recipes that calls for light or dark corn syrup. With its deep caramelly, buttery notes, try it in your next pecan pie for a whole new flavor sensation!

  • From the Bookshelf: "The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook"

    From the Bookshelf: “The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook,” by Regula Ysewijn “Christmas would be nothing without its food, of course, and indeed its drink. Flemish food writer and culinary historian Regula Ysewijn has brought to life not only the dishes of the Downton era, but also some of the magnificent edible delights of earlier centuries. It is a brilliantly researched book full of tasty treats. I do hope you enjoy it.” – Julian Fellowes For devotees of the series (and for those who just love holiday cooking), “The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook” is a delight from cover to cover, chock full of full-page photos which bring the beloved show to vibrant life. Sprinkled throughout with quotes and stills from the TV series, it’s almost as if Mrs. Patmore and her sidekick Daisy are in your kitchen walking you through the festive recipes. The first part of the book sets the stage: Edwardian traditions such as the Christmas tree and decorations, the exchange of Christmas gifts, entertainment including Christmas crackers and singing carols, and of course, the special foods and drinks enjoyed during the holiday season. A “kitchen notes” section translates for modern readers the ingredients that were once common in kitchens of 100 years ago. The ingredient guidelines allow modern cooks to be successful when adapting recipes originating from a time when eggs were brought in from the henhouse each morning and the milk was still warm from the cow! The gorgeously photographed recipes section is divided into chapters including soups; fish and shellfish; meat, game and roasts; meat pies and savory puddings; sides and vegetables; sauces; savories; desserts and sweets; and the all-important drinks chapter. Ingredient amounts are given in both imperial and metric quantities to make this a truly international cookbook. Just a few of the over 70 recipes include pheasant soup and oxtail consommé; roast beef, goose or turkey; jugged hare with prunes; Yorkshire pudding; tomatoes à la Bruxelles; apple and celery salad, orange salad with kirsch and curaçao, and roasted parsnips; parmesan biscuits and macaroni and cheese tartlets; mince pies, apple pie, gingerbread biscuits, trifle, and Epiphany tart; and mulled wine, wassail, and “Smoking Bishop,” a popular Victorian Christmastime mulled punch which famously appears at the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Ysewijn has also included fascinating and useful essays throughout the text to explain the cultural context or history behind the various dishes. The passage on “How to host a Downton Christmas” details creating decorations from evergreens, pine cones and holly berries; creating a festive menu; and setting a splendid table. “Boxing Day” explains the history of the holiday and how the English upper classes saw it as yet another day to enjoy themselves. Readers can also learn more about Christmas desserts (“On Plum Pudding,” and “A Downton Christmas Cake,”) or gain practical information such as how to choose a bird using the “Downton Turkey Checklist” and how to fashion “DIY Christmas Crackers.” Available from most booksellers online, the cookbook can also be purchased in a boxed set with a companion volume, “The Downton Abbey Cookbook.” For even more Downton Abbey cookery, try The Official Downton Abbey Night and Day Cookbook Collection, which contains “The Official Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Cookbook” and “The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Cookbook.”

  • From the Editor: A New Year and a New Start for eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine

    By Michele D. Baker Hello, Friends – Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! I am excited to share news of a change to eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine was launched in December 2011 when one of our own Mississippi newspaper editors saw a need to shine a light on something that makes Mississippi special... our food culture. She foraged the state to bring us the best Mississippi has to offer in terms of food, talent and local businesses. The magazine changed hands in 2020, and I joined the magazine as editor in 2022. I am pleased to share that I have purchased the magazine and will be taking it over on January 1, 2024. This is the beginning of an exciting change which will bring it back home to Mississippi and allow it to evolve into something different, but nonetheless wonderful. Some of the details are still being worked out, but the emphasis will remain the same – focusing on the food, people, and restaurants that makes Mississippi special. I intend to create a writing collaborative among Mississippi food, wine and travel writers. This expanded EDM team has a long list of ideas on the drawing board and we will be sharing some of these ideas and changes in the coming months. What will remain are the weekly e-newsletters featuring recipes and stories. We are also committed to revamping and expanding the recipe section. EDM will still feature heritage recipes, beautiful photography, and informative blog posts. Following along with the idea of making EDM a more cooperative venture, in the future, you can expect to see articles from new writers, including videos and interactive content. There will also be opportunities for readers to have their essays, recipes, and photos posted on the website, and we are exploring partnerships with foodie-friendly groups to promote products we think are worthwhile. We are also planning to do much more with our social media! Finally, EDM will also conduct regular surveys and reader polls to get your input – this collaboration includes you, too! We hope you will take the time to add your recipes, share your voice, and help us shape the future of this storied and important magazine. With your support, help, and a bit of love, we can all take EDM into the future together! Happy Holidays and a bright and blessed New Year, Michele D. Baker Editor, eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

  • Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: Gambia: Benachin

    Recipe and images by Lingerie Sock-Camara, owner of Mrs. L’s Kitchen Benachin (also known as Jollof rice) originates from the Senegambian regions of West Africa, commonly Senegal and Gambia. The name “bena-chin” means “one pot,” which is how the dish is prepared, making it one of the easiest and most delicious dishes in West Africa. Benachin is also very similar to the red rice of Georgia and South Carolina, dating back to when west African slaves brought their native dishes with them (Benachin being one of many). One of the reasons Benachin is so popular in West Africa is its versatility. The dish can be made with beef, chicken, fish - or any protein, really - and almost any vegetable. It can be cooked with or without the tomato paste that gives it its red color. Either way, the dish is delicious. In the Gambia, Benachin is usually prepared on special occasions -- such as Kwanzaa -- or for a special guest because of the time and patience it requires. It is best enjoyed when everyone sits together and eats from the same plate. Benachin with Beef and Vegetables Ingredients: 2/3 cup vegetable oil 1 pound beef, cut into bite size pieces 1/2 yellow onion, diced 1/2 green pepper, diced 4 garlic cloves, minced 3 cups water 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (optional) 2 Roma tomatoes, diced salt and pepper red pepper flakes to taste 2 cups rice, washed Baby carrots Whole okra 1/2 cabbage, cut into wedges Lime (optional) Method: In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until brown. Remove and set aside. Add chopped onions, bell pepper, minced garlic and tomato paste, stirring until onions are cooked down and mixture becomes a paste-like consistency. Keep stirring pot to prevent burning, about 10-15 minutes. (The longer you stir, the richer the flavor; be patient!) Add diced tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir for 5 minutes. Add water, seared beef, carrots, okra, cabbage and bring to a boil. Partially cover with lid and allow vegetables to cook. Once vegetables are tender, remove everything except the beef and set aside. Adjust seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Add washed rice, stirring until totally coated in broth. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and put on the lid. Cook 10 minutes. Stir again and replace the cover, cooking until the rice has absorbed the liquid, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Squeeze in half a lime for extra flavor (optional). Spoon onto serving dish and garnish with cooked vegetables. NOTE: for a more authentic taste, blend a bundle of parsley, half a green pepper, three garlic cloves, a small piece of ginger root, the juice of half a lime, one Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and add in step #5. As described in the introduction, you can substitute any vegetables you want.

  • Holiday Cocktails to Keep You Sipping All Season Long

    Story and images by Lisa L. Bynum What better way to add a little merriment to your holiday season than with a delicious craft cocktail? Whether you're planning a cozy night by the fireplace or a lively holiday party, these cocktail recipes promise to infuse your festivities with the perfect blend of flavors that will be remembered long after the last sip. Raise a toast to the magic of the holidays. Bourbon Milk Punch Makes 1 cocktail Ingredients: 3/4 cup whole milk ¼ cup heavy cream 2 ounces bourbon (such as Cathead's Old Soul High Rye Bourbon) 1 ½ ounces simple syrup ½ ounce vanilla extract Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled and pour the cocktail into a rocks glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick if desired. Rosemary and Gin Grapefruit Cocktail Makes 1 cocktail Ingredients for the rosemary simple syrup: 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary Ingredients for the Rosemary and Gin Grapefruit Cocktail: 2 ounces gin (such as Wonderbird Spirits Gin No. 61) 3 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup (more if you want it a little sweeter) Method to make the rosemary simple syrup: Combine the simple syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then allow the mixture to simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Remove and discard the rosemary stems before serving. How to make the Rosemary and Gin Grapefruit Cocktail: Combine the cocktail ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds until everything is combined. Strain into an ice filled glasses and garnish the cocktail with grapefruit wedges and rosemary springs if desired. Tuaca Pineapple Martini Makes 1 martini Tuaca (pronouced too · aa · kuh) is a type of Italian brandy flavored with citrus and vanilla spice. Ingredients: 1 oz. Tuaca 1 oz. Amaretto 1 oz. vodka (such as Cathead Vodka) 1 ½ oz. pineapple juice Maraschino cherries, for garnish Method: Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Pour in liqueurs, vodka, and pineapple juice. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and shake until combined. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with cherries if desired.

  • What's Happening: ALDI + Pecan Festival + Dolce Bakeshop + Chipotle Mexican Grill

    by Evangeline Davis This edition of "What's Happening" was first published in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine. What's Happening: ALDI Supermarket Opens in Flowood ALDI’s new Flowood store includes organic meats, fresh produce, gourmet cheeses, sustainable seafood, gluten-free products, and specialty wine, all at unbeatable prices. The discount German supermarket chain is known for carrying a smaller selection of products than other stores -- only about 900 core items, meaning they need less warehouse space -- of which 90% are “private label.” They keep prices low by offering these generics and sourcing local meat from regional farms, translating to lower transportation costs. The stores also use energy saving refrigerators, LED lights and support a bring-your-own-bag policy, which means they are also eco-friendly. See the weekly specials at ALDI.us. 35th Annual Mississippi Pecan Festival in Perry County Held September 29 - October 1 in Perry County, the festival is sponsored by Fulmer’s Farmstead, a horse-powered farm with old-fashioned charm. There’ll be horse drawn carriage rides, vendors selling vintage clothing, arts & crafts, and homemade goodies of all kinds; a pecan bake off; the “purtiest rooster contest;” the annual talent show with singing and dancing; and cafe and General Store will be open for you to pick up jams, jellies, cinnamon rolls and all your other favorite baked goodies, all in a historic homesteading atmosphere! Learn more at FulmersFarmstead.com. Dolce Bakeshop Opens 2nd Location in Bay St. Louis Long Beach bakery Dolce Bakeshop in has opened a second location in downtown Bay St. Louis this summer. The “bakery by the sea” is only a block away from the water. “We’ve watched it grow and boom down here,” said owner Brooke Rester. “We thought we could fill a niche because there wasn’t another bakery in Old Town.” Rester said they are glad to be part of all the “excitement” and recently joined the Old Town Merchants Association. Patrons can enjoy coffee, pastries, muffins, scones, and danish and Dolce has started shipping their cookies nationwide. Learn more about weddings, cakes, classes and events at www.dolcebakes.net and on Facebook and Instagram. Chipotle Mexican Grill Now Open in Olive Branch Open since early September, a new location of the franchise Chipotle Mexican Grill is now open in Olive Branch on McGregor Crossing. The franchise is famous for fresh, “real” food, with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, no freezers, no can openers, and no shortcuts. In fact, they claim that they only use 53 ingredients and the hardest of those to pronounce is chipotle (it’s chih-poat-lay). They are also one of the first national brands to commit to goals on local and organic produce and responsibly raised meat with no added hormones. The store also features the brand’s signature “Chipotlane,” a drive-through lane that allows customers to pick up digital orders. The restaurant will be open every day until 10 p.m.

  • Taste of Magnolia: Blue Cornmeal Cakes

    Story and Images by Divian Conner This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI The fall décor is out and our porches are starting to match the hues that are shrouding the trees outside. Rich oranges and browns have rushed in the fall as we ready for the grays of winter. Cooler months mean heartier and more filling foods are to be had and we seem to huddle indoors away from the chilly breezes that Mother Nature is gently whispering at us. Fall in the South is a perfect balance of just the right vibe and temperatures, and it is when I bring out those dishes that will leave you nestled on the couch watching your favorite movie or reading your most recent book purchase. Fall is also the time when we start our family and friend game nights. The cooling air has made everyone more comfortable and relaxed, and we can whip up warming ciders and cocoas. We shop around for new games; we play the tried-and-true ones and we have a night full of good snacks and good laughs. I guess the summer heat tires us out so by the end of a summer night you just want to relax and cool off. Come fall, all bets are off and we ramp up the indoor activities and the food flows in form of small appetizers, dips, and drinks. Speaking of food, the Brunswick stews, the hearty chicken and dumplings, all the dinners that summer banished into time out, make a hasty breakout and are now front and center again. I am big on one pot meals like soups, stews and casseroles. It seems that fall and winter are perfect casserole months. You can’t have a good stew or casserole without a nice bread to go with it, and cornbread is my go-to for any southern stew. It is the diversity of cornbread that amazes me. Not only can it act as an accompaniment for your dinners, but it can also easily transform into a dessert. I recently traveled to Taos, New Mexico and picked up a ton of blue cornmeal. I have never had any dish using it and was curious about the taste. Since I have been back in Mississippi, I can’t stop using it. It tastes very similar to yellow cornmeal but there is a slightly sweeter taste with a strong “fresh corn” flavor. I have been making so many things using it and my family has decided that blue cornmeal cake is their favorite. This recipe is not overly sweet and can even be used to scoop up thick stews full to the brim with nice roasted vegetables and meats. Of course, substitute regular white or yellow cornmeal for the blue if you can’t find it (but it’s available online). I urge you to try it; it does change the taste and is amazing! Blue Cornmeal Cake Ingredients: 1-¼ cups all-purpose flour ¾ cup blue cornmeal (or regular cornmeal) 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter ¼ cup vegetable oil 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs 1-¼ cups milk Maple Chili Glaze ½ cup maple syrup 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (more chili powder for more of a kick) Method: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well -- but gently -- in medium bowl. (Overmixing will make the cake tough.) Pour batter in greased cast iron skillet or baking dish of your choice. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cakes have puffed and are slightly brown around the edges and in middle. Allow to cool and top with maple chili glaze or your favorite jam or cream.

  • Grandma’s Cookbook: 3 Cream Cheese Recipes Fit for the Holidays

    These three forgotten gems from the 1950s are perfect to bring back (70 years later!) to all your Thanksgiving parties. As always, feel free to make substitutions to customize these recipes! Party Salmon Pâté Recipe by Marian Hankins Almost any spice that goes well with fish can be added (or substituted). Be cautious with the liquid smoke, which can make this dish very salty -- use 1/2 teaspoon to begin and then taste. This recipe can be made the day before to allow the flavors to meld. Great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas party! Ingredients: 1 (14.75 oz.) can of pink salmon 12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1.5 bricks; can be light or low fat) 2 teaspoons minced horseradish ½ - 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring 1 Tablespoon lemon juice 1-2 Tablespoons minced, dried onion (or 3 Tablespoons minced fresh onion) 1-2 Tablespoons chopped, dried parsley (or 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley) Dash of hot sauce (optional) Paprika, parsley, lemon slices, dill, and green olives for garnish Method: Drain and carefully remove the skin and bones from the canned salmon. Using two forks, flake the remaining fish into uniform pieces. Add the softened cream cheese and all the spices; mix thoroughly to achieve a smooth, stiff mixture, not quite a paste. Lightly spray a fish shaped mold with nonstick vegetable spray. Press the pâté into the mold and refrigerate at least 2 hours before unmolding. If you don’t have a mold, don’t worry! Wet your hands first so the pâté won’t stick. Then, on a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper dusted with cornmeal, form into the rough shape of a fish about 8” long (shape and size to fit the serving platter). Sprinkle the tail area with paprika and use a triangle cutout stencil to make a paprika fin. Sprinkle on additional parsley flake scales and a sliced green olive with pimiento center for an eye. Serve on a bed of Panko crumb “sand.” Serve with Melba toast or Wheat Thin crackers. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. If taking to a party, make a day ahead but wait to decorate until closer to serving time. Aunt Fern’s Festive Thanksgiving Cream Cheese Ball Of the hundreds of cheeseball recipes available for parties, this is one of the easiest and most delicious. Make it a day ahead, press into a pretty mold, and turn out onto the serving platter just before the party begins. Sprinkle the top with chopped vegetables and voilà! A beautiful, delicious addition to any party table. Ingredients: 16 oz. (2 bricks) cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened 2 Tablespoons chopped chives 2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes 1 teaspoon garlic pepper 1 teaspoon dried dill 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup) chopped black olives, diced yellow pepper, and baby tomatoes for garnish Method: Mix together the cream cheese, butter and all the spices until well blended. Fold in the chopped red bell pepper. Lightly spray a circle, pumpkin, or star shaped mold with nonstick spray or vegetable oil. Press the cheese mixture into the mold and top with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, unmold the cheese and place on serving plate. Smooth the top with a spatula or knife and decorate with chopped yellow pepper, diced black olives, and baby tomatoes. Serve with crackers, celery sticks, or cucumber circles. Super Simple Pumpkin Pie Dip Recipe by Anna Howard, Baton Rouge Ingredients: 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree 8 oz. (1 brick) cream cheese (can be light), softened 2 cups powdered sugar 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger Method: Beat all ingredients until soft and smooth. Pour into serving bowl and cover tightly. Chill up to 8 hours to thicken. Serve with pear and apple slices and ginger snap cookies.

  • Thoughtful Foodie Finds for Thanksgiving

    by Evangeline Davis This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. When it comes to food holidays, Thanksgiving is probably the Super Bowl! These fun and thoughtful Foodie Finds make great hostess gifts or holiday happies for your own kitchen. Julie Pedersen Gourmet Oil Dipping Spice Kit, $42. You could give your loved one a fancy set of gourmet olive oils, or you could let them make their own with this set inspired by international flavors. Stocked with 15 different types of herbs and spices (think: oregano from Italy, smoked paprika from Spain, za’atar from Levant), each tin comes with recipes and bread pairings so they can get the full tasting experience. Mix into EVOO and go! Find at UncommonGoods.com. Lemon-Lime Citrus Bush Aurantifolia, $74.95 If you’re anything like us, you probably use lemons almost every day, so how would you like to enjoy your favorite ingredient fresh off the tree? Reaching about two feet tall, the potted bush will thrive by a sunny window, on the porch, or planted in the yard, and will eventually produce little Meyer lemons perfect for freshly baked scones, delicious dressings, and your favorite Thanksgiving cocktail. Order from Fast-Growing-Trees.com. Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, $45 This blend of premium aged whiskies is made by Uncle Nearest, a brand created in honor of an enslaved man named Nathan “Nearest” Green, the master distiller who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. “Folks who love diversity in business and a superb drink will be glad to unwrap this gift,” said Oprah, when she picked it for her 2020 list of Favorite Things. Small batch made in Tennessee by a Black-owned, Woman-owned business. Available in select Mississippi stores or visit Drizly.com. High Point Coffee Roasters, $17.99+ Craving coffee? Look no further than New Albany-based High Point Coffee Roasters, one of the top producing coffee roasters in the Southeast United States! They can accommodate any order from restaurants and convention centers all the way to individual bespoke coffee sales. Try the breakfast, campfire, or Mississippi Magnolia blend, or one of their single origin coffees. Available as whole beans or pre-ground. Get caffeinated by HighPointRoasters.com.

  • A Special Thanksgiving with Nana in Natchez

    By Kathy K. Martin This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. My family celebrates Thanksgiving in Natchez at Nana’s house. This has been our tradition since I married my husband, Chuck, over 30 years ago. “Nana” is Betty Jennings, my mother-in-law, but everyone calls her Nana, especially all her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She has always said that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday because the focus is on family, food, and thankfulness to God. She’s now 89 years old and when you ask her how she’s doing she usually replies with, “I’m blessed beyond measure,” or “I’m better than I deserve,” or with a little chuckle, “I can still walk and talk.” Thanksgiving at Nana's House Her residence has changed locations around Natchez several times. However, the atmosphere of her home, which she shares with her husband, Charles, remains the same. It’s peaceful, comfortable, and the epitome of motherly love. The busyness of life seems to completely stop when you walk inside and she greets you with a warm hug and a reminder to make yourself at home. She decorates the house with many framed pictures of family and overflowing candy dishes. Needlepoint pillows, many of which she made herself, adorn chairs and couches in the living room and sun room. Quilts are usually stacked nearby for napping after the Thanksgiving feast. The back patio is where we all gather before a meal to visit as we look out at the trees and watch birds come to the feeders hanging in the yard. Comfort Food Is On the Menu The Thanksgiving menu remains the same through the years and echoes her feeling of tradition and comfort. Her cornbread dressing continues to be the star of the meal. Now that she’s older, instead of standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables, we take over that task and she comes in at the end to complete the final seasoning and the first taste with Chuck. Another one of her signature dishes is broccoli cheese casserole. It was made for many years with garlic cheese rolls that we can no longer find in the grocery stores. Today we just make our own with shredded Cheddar, Velveeta, cream cheese, garlic, and other seasonings, finished with a drop or two of liquid smoke. This is melted with cream of mushroom soup, cooked broccoli and chopped, sauteed onion and baked in a casserole dish. Of course, we also roast a large turkey to go with the dressing and broccoli casserole. My sisters-in-law, Catherine Fisher and Elizabeth Lestelle, and their husbands bring appetizers, bread, and other accompaniments. The usual dishes include an English pea salad and sweet potato casserole. I make a few cheeseballs for our appetizer and then homemade cranberry sauce to round out our feast. Dessert follows with pecan pie and caramel cake. After holding hands together in a circle to pray and thank God for all of our blessings, we gather around the large dining room table to eat, followed by naps on Nana’s couches, and then later we watch the Egg Bowl on TV. Black Friday Family Outing The next day it’s all about leftovers and shopping in Natchez. Darby’s on Main Street in downtown is always on our list. The original store sells decadent homemade fudge that is hard to pass up, especially when we’re offered a free sample. The store also has everything from clothes to candles and furniture and more home décor upstairs, in addition to two other furniture and interior stores nearby. Sometimes we have lunch at Magnolia Grill in Natchez Under-the-Hill along the Mississippi River or we grab some tamales and a Knock-You-Naked margarita at Fat Mama’s Tamales, another Natchez original on Canal Street. If we’re able to extend our stay through Sunday, sometimes we go to Nana’s church, followed by lunch at the Carriage House Restaurant, known for its biscuits and fried chicken. Time with family is the main focus of the Natchez holiday. We save the antebellum home tours and other activities for another time. Nana says she’s just glad we’re all together for another Thanksgiving. English Pea Salad By Betty "Nana" Jennings Ingredients: ½ cup sugar ½ cup white wine vineagar ½ cup oil 1 Tablespoon salt 1 Tablespoon black pepper 1 Tablespoon water 1 can of shoe peg corn, drained 2 cans of English peas, drained 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped 1 cup of celery, finely chopped 2 bunches of green onions, finely chopped 1 medium-sized jar of chopped pimentos Method: Mix together the sugar, vinegar, oil, salt, black pepper, and water. Combine the corn and peas. Add the chopped vegetables, pour mixture over the vegetables, and mix well with a spoon. Let it sit overnight in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Natchez Restaurants The Natchez Garden Club’s Christmas Pilgrimage Tour of Historic Homes begins November 24 (the day after Thanksgiving). Many of the antebellum homes serve a Thanksgiving feast and provide lodging: Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall Magnolia Grill at Natchez Under-the-Hill Restaurant 1818 at Monmouth Historic Inn The Castle Restaurant at Dunleith Historic Inn Here are some more great options for a Thanksgiving feast out: Biscuits & Blues Fat Mama’s Tamales Wardo’s New Orleans-Style Po’boys

  • Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: German Gingerbread Hearts

    Lebkuchenherz (gingerbread hearts) are traditional German gingerbread biscuit-like cakes decorated with icing. They are typically flat, plate-sized hearts decorated with royal icing. They are made of “Lebkuchen,” a gingerbread like cake made from honey and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. You will find these gingerbread hearts typically sold at large German fairs such as Oktoberfest (during beer fest time, you may see them referred to as "Wiesnherz") and Christkindl (Christmas) Markets. They are popular souvenirs and are great as gifts. German Lebkuchenherz (Gingerbread Hearts) This recipe makes 8 hearts each about 6” x 7” (dinner plate sized) Ingredients: 1/2 cup unsalted butter (7/8 stick) 1 cup honey 1/2 cup brown sugar, well packed 2 Tablespoons gingerbread spice (buy in the store or make your own; see recipe at bottom) 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder 4 cups flour (loosely tipped in, not packed) 1 egg Method: Place the butter, honey and brown sugar in a small pot and place it on the stove. Melt the ingredients over low heat. Remove pot from the heat and leave to rest until it reaches room temperature. Add in the gingerbread spice, baking powder, cocoa powder and egg to the honey mixture. Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the ingredients until combined. Slowly add in the flour and knead to a thick dough. Cover the dough, or place in an airtight container, and leave to rest for at least 5 hours at room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a approximate thickness of 1/4”. As the dough is very sticky, use a non-stick baking mat, roll out directly on the baking parchment, or use plastic wrap to encase the dough. If the dough is too dry and starts cracking, brush a little milk on top. Using a large heart-shaped cookie cutter or a sharp knife, cut out hearts and place them on a tray lined with parchment. Cut out two holes for the strings or ribbon to thread through with a straw. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Check that they do not turn too dark. Leave to cool completely before decorating. Royal Icing Decorations: Ingredients: 4 cups powdered sugar 2 egg whites 1 pinch of salt 2 Tablespoons lemon juice Food coloring Method: Place the egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whisk the eggs until you can see soft peaks forming. Add the icing sugar and lemon juice in several additions. The icing should stick to the whisk but still be soft enough to be piped. Divide the icing into little bowls. Add the food coloring as desired. Remember that if the food coloring is liquid, you might need to add a little more powdered sugar again to gain the right consistency. Traditionally, the edges of the heart are scalloped and there is a message inside such as “Ich liebe Dich” (I love you), “Liebling” (Beloved), “Gruβ aus Oktoberfest” (Greetings from Oktoberfest), or “Frohe Weihnachten” (Merry Christmas). German Lebkuchen Spice Blend: This is the standard recipe. Make larger quantities by doubling or tripling the measurements. (As always, you may want to slightly change the proportions to suit your own taste buds.) 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg 2 teaspoons ground cloves 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground anise 1 teaspoon ground allspice Mix together thoroughly in a small bowl and store in an airtight container.

  • Saving the Barbecue: Hickory Pit Gets New Owners, New Look

    By Michele D. Baker This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. Alex and Sarah Frisbee considered it “saving the barbecue.” While having a pleasant drink at Amerigo’s bar with friend and Hickory Pit owner Ginger Watkins, Watkins mentioned she was ready to either sell the famous pig joint or close it down altogether. “We bought it to keep it open,” says Alex, grinning through his beard from beneath a cowboy hat. “It was a fixture from our neighborhood, and I grew up on the family meal party packs,” chimes in Sarah. The couple had no restaurant experience, although Alex Frisbee’s dad Ted had run two restaurants – Café Beignet and Nana’s on the River – in Vicksburg. The Frisbees joked that in the 15 years of their marriage they “ate out a lot” and had joked about owning a restaurant, so when Watkins mentioned Hickory Pit, they jumped at the chance. Using skills honed through her work as an interior decorator and painter, Sarah began the process of respectfully redesigning the interior, adding her own touches and updating the décor. Alex jumped into the deep end of running a kitchen, learning everything there was to know about meat, spice, and grilling. “Everything we serve is made from scratch onsite except for the onion rings,” brags Alex. “All the sauces are made in house, the comeback, the ranch, and the salsa. Even the tortilla chips.” Many of the reasons that people love and continue to visit Hickory Pit will remain the same: a menu of 95% scratch-made items, best quality meats with no additives or preservatives (including meat by the pound and the ever-popular Party Packs), and a delicious range of sides and desserts. Although the staples are staying much the same, the Frisbees are excited about some of the additions to the much-beloved menu. “We’ve started a Taco Tuesday – which is very popular – and added a Korean BBQ Brisket taco, and on Freedom Fridays there is a beer and sausage dog special,” says Alex. The updated menu includes the new Brisket Grilled Cheese (or any of Hickory Pit’s meats), a melt-in-the-mouth comfort; the Big A’s Slaw Burger, a single burger with slaw and pepperjack cheese; and the “Queenie,” a full barbecued chicken. Sarah’s artistic influence is also apparent. In addition to freshening up the look inside and out, the front counter area will offer additional cold case space for chicken salad, pimiento cheese, and smoked egg salad, available as sandwiches or prepackaged for purchase. Any of their meats can be bought by the pound as lunchmeat, and the Frisbees plan to begin offering more salads (including a chopped salad), green beans, and mac and cheese as side options. Both Frisbees follow a gluten-free diet, so expect more gluten free options such as gluten free bread and gluten sensitive desserts (all meats are naturally gluten free). There will also be a beer cooler inside featuring locally made beer including Vicksburg’s gluten-free Key City varieties, and patrons will also be able to buy many of the house-made sauces, freshly made and bottled on site, and HP merchandise like shirts, hats, koozies and mugs. The couple has also doubled down on their catering, partnering with Fresh Cut Catering. Changes are also coming to the outside of the restaurant, too, and after the proposed patio expansion, the Frisbees want to encourage brown bag beer and “well behaved dogs.” The couple is also excited about the possibilities for collaborating with other restaurants and nearby farms. “We’re talking to Sal and Phil’s about potentially offering our Hershey Pie there, and we are hoping to partner with Taqueria La Guadalupe to serve tamales,” says Alex. Hickory Pit’s new incarnation is proving to be an exceptional success. “We welcome everybody to drop on by for all your old favorites and take a look at the new changes,” says Alex. “Don’t worry,” he finishes, “you’ll still find all the things you love.” The Frisbees have saved the barbecue after all, and despite the refreshes, updates, and changes, all is firmly within the spirit (and the palate) of the beloved original. Follow them on Facebook for updates, specials, and the latest news.

  • Mississippi Food Culture Spotlight: Pho Is Most Famous Vietnamese Soup

    By Anna Huong Nguyen, Gulf Coast This article first appeared in the October/November issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine. Pho (pronounced "fuh") is the comfort food of Vietnamese cuisine and has gained its popularity more recently among all cultures. I am fortunate enough to grow up on Pho; it was a comfort food in my family. We came to the United States in 1980. We were sponsored first in Memphis, then moved to Maine, where my dad found factory work for most of our childhood lives. We moved to the coast in 1999 and here we remain. Pho is a labor of love that consists of a quick boil, then a long simmer to bring out all the flavors of the bones and spices. A bowl of Pho is made up of rice noodles, meats, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and the broth. The broth is what knits the soup together. Vietnamese Pho Ingredients for the broth: beef bones and bone marrow charred onion charred ginger Pho spices packet (Pho spice packages can be bought online or at any Asian market) rock sugar salt fish sauce For the bowl: rice noodles Thai basil bean sprouts cilantro beef eye round (thinly sliced) thin sliced raw onion hoisin sauce (to taste) sriracha sauce (to taste) lime Method: Remove impurities from beef bones and marrow with a 5-minute boil – this quick boil is the path to a beautiful clear soup – then wash the bones to remove the residue. Fill a large pot with water and add cleaned bones, beef, water, charred onion, charred ginger and spices (cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, star anise). Simmer for 3 hours. Season broth with a couple cubes of rock sugar, a couple teaspoons of salt, and couple Tablespoons of fish sauce. Prepare the bowl with rice noodles, thinly sliced eye round, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and sliced raw onion. Pour boiling Pho broth over and season with the desired amount of hoisin and sriracha sauces. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

  • “Tiny Chef Simms” Powell Creates Big Flavors

    Story by Nina Parikh and images by Joy Parikh This article first appeared in the October/November issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. Thirteen-year-old Simms Powell (@tinychefsimms on Instagram) picked up a knife at four years of age and has been going strong ever since. With most kids, they find an interest for a while and move on to another, but Simms keeps building on the same theme. It started with wanting to try everything in the produce section at the grocery store. Simms touched and smelled everything. He wanted to help in the kitchen. And he loved raw oysters at four years old. He wants to taste everything, cook whatever he finds intriguing, but he also wants to know how things grow and then grow them in his garden, and he’ll fish any body of water and attempt to make every fish he catches taste good. He regularly talks with and learns from Jackson’s finest restaurants’ chefs and most of the vendors at the High Street Farmers Market know him by name. Over a bowl of ramen in the Fondren district, in between unfocused, silly young teenager talk, I interviewed my nephew – or “chephew” as I call him, Tiny Chef Simms Powell – to learn why he has such a great fascination with food. Simms, do you remember when you first picked up a knife? I don’t remember how old I was, but maybe three or four, and my Dad always made salads and I’d watch him chop vegetables. I think the first thing I chopped was a cucumber with a miniature cleaver. It was the only knife that was small enough that I could hold. I still have it. Maybe I should frame it. Now that you use a knife like a professional, is there anything you find great joy in chopping or cutting? I hate cutting garlic, onions, and shallots. But it’s pretty satisfying to cut pandan jelly. And if I have a really sharp knife, slicing chashu pork. I also really love smashing cucumbers and then chopping them to make Asian cucumber salad. What motivates you to cook? Because I want to try new foods, I browse YouTube for interesting food and chefs and then lots of times we don’t have restaurants that serve that type of food, so I’ll ask my Mom to drive me to Mr. Chen’s Market, Valdez Market, Patel Brothers, Aladdin Mediterranean Grocery, Whole Foods, or the farmers market so I can get the ingredients and try making it myself. What’s your favorite type of cuisine? I really like Korean food because it’s savory and rich and spicy and has fermented flavors. I also love Filipino food (his maternal grandmother is from the Philippines) because it has a great mash up of flavors – vinegar, garlic, shrimp paste and fish sauce. It’s like a mix of Spanish and Chinese and Indonesian and American foods and flavors. I also like Thai food, but I don’t have much experience yet in cooking it. I didn’t realize that Korean was your favorite, but I guess that explains why you make your own kimchi. I’ve watched you before, but I’m not sure of all the steps and what goes in it. Tell me about how you make it. Well, it depends on what kind you make – the kind you cook with or the kind you snack on and use as a condiment? How about the one you cook with? Okay. Well, the ingredients are napa cabbage, gochugaru chili flakes, Korean pear because it has enzymes that break down things like meat and cabbage and it has sugar to feed on as its fermenting, onion, rice flour and water. I don’t know the amounts. I’m still experimenting to make it how I like it. But it’s pretty good. So you’d put all the ingredients (except for the cabbage) in the blender to make a paste. You have to brine the cabbage overnight. Then you put the paste on each leaf and place them in a jar that can breathe (otherwise you’ll have to burp it regularly). And it’ll sit in a cool, dark place for two days to a week. The longer it sits the sourer it will be. And then you refrigerate it. It will continue to get sour, but a lot slower. If you want the snacking kind of kimchi, you’d cut the cabbage differently and add carrot, daikon radish, ginger and green onions. I taught Chef Paz at Sunflower Oven how to make kimchi. She said she only really knew how to bake and I’m not very good at baking. So I taught her kimchi and she teaches me to bake. She even used the kimchi in their daily quiche! Besides the chefs at Sunflower Oven, what other chefs inspire you? Chef Hunter at Elvie’s and Chef Sean (but he’s now in New Orleans). Chef Sean and I like similar things like breaking down animals and he’s also part Filipino like me, so we have that in common. At Elvie’s, I like that Chef Hunter has dishes that combine things I would never think of. Their new fall menu has a tuna crudo which has a coconut curry sauce – at least I think it’s coconut – I would never think of that. It’s so good. I also like the vibe in the restaurant, it’s like a petite restaurant – it’s professional, but relaxed. Other chefs that inspire me that don’t live here are Senyai Grubs and Joshua Weissman. Senyai Grubs likes all kinds of simple, unfussy foods. He’s like me – just likes food and wants to try things. He lives in Thailand right now. And Joshua Weissman cooks all kinds of cuisines and he’s really funny. I have his cookbook and it has my favorite bimbimbap recipe I’ve tried. His gojuchang recipe is perfect with bean sprouts and carrots as condiments. It’s so simple, but so perfect. I also took inspiration from his ramen and pho recipes and mixed his with a pho recipe from a Vietnamese grandma. He also has this Taiwanese popcorn chicken and I tossed it in a Filipino adobo sauce. It’s chicken battered in a wet batter of potato starch (all fried chicken should use potato starch) and tossed with fried basil leaves and coated in some leftover adobo sauce I cooked down just because I had it. Adobo has soy sauce, vinegar, crushed whole peppercorns, and garlic. It’s tangy, salty, and garlicy. Do you like fusion cooking? Not really. But I’m still learning and experimenting. I don’t think most restaurants do well with fusion cooking, but I’m also not great at it. But sometimes something will work out. I know you’ve had a garden out back since you were little. Why did you start it? So I can grow stuff that I can’t buy in stores. And also what you grow usually tastes better like tomatoes and cucumbers and radishes and you can grow so many varieties. At the grocery store, there’s usually only one kind. I grow different lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, varieties of cucumbers and eggplants, peppers, ground cherries… Will you have a fall/winter garden? I’m too late for a fall garden, but I have plans for winter. I want to grow some of my favorite root vegetables like the Tokyo Globe (I think that’s what it’s called). It’s a small white Japanese turnip. And this giant sugar turnip from Sweden. It’s massive and it’s yellow inside and out. And wasabi radish, daikon radish, globe carrots, ox heart carrots, a couple cabbages and lettuces, kale, mizuna greens, and colossal collards which can get three feet long, two feet wide, and 12 feet tall! And parsnips – I just learned they grow well in gravel because they elongate to reach the water below the gravel which makes them long and skinny so they won’t be tough. Baker Creek Seeds in Arkansas is my favorite place to buy seeds. They have amazing heirlooms. What have you foraged recently? On our summer trip on the East Coast, I picked lots of wild blueberries. They have the highest amount of vitamins and antioxidants. We have them here, but they’re not very prevalent and other creatures get to them before we have a chance to. I also picked wild muscadines, possum grapes, elderberries and elderflowers last month. And I did some urban foraging for some figs. I’m waiting for the pawpaws, persimmons and maypops to get ripen! But I’m worried about the maypops because of the caterpillars and the drought. You’ve had a maypop, right? They’re like really small, super sweet passion fruits. What do you forage around here at other times of the year? Mulberries, mushrooms – chanterelles, lions’ mane, chicken of the woods, oyster, and cauliflower. You like to fish, too. What do you like to catch? Anything that swims and bites! Catfish, sunfish, bass, crappie, bowfin, gar, carp. I like to catch gar because they fight hard and because I want to prove that there’s no such thing as “trash fish.” People say that carp, fresh drum, gar, and bowfin are trash fish and not worth cooking. I disagree, but I do agree with the bowfin, though. What are your dreams for the future? I used to want a food truck, but they don’t seem to be successful in our area and I’m not sure I could showcase how I like to cook in a food truck. So instead of saving up $50,000 for a food truck, I’ll use that toward a restaurant. I want to have seasonal foods and cook a lot of seafood. Similar to Elvie’s. I also want to fish! And also make videos about fishing and cooking. I haven’t really seen many videos of people in the south fishing and cooking. And also not very many southern foraging videos. I only see pictures on Instagram. So I might make foraging videos, too! Anything else, Simms? Thanks for the ramen. (Simms is up and running, acting silly and telling jokes with his cousin – my son – without skipping a beat. He is still a pre-teen, after all!)

  • Warmth for the Soul: Four Classic Soup Recipes Perfect for Fall

    By Lisa L. Bynum This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink MISSISSIPPI. After the brutal triple digit temperatures we experienced during the summer of 2023, we welcome cooler autumn weather with open arms. Crisp fall air brings with it cravings for warm comfort foods like homemade soup. This fall, add these four soup recipes to your dinner rotation and you’re sure to stay warm, cozy and full! Old Fashioned Potato Soup Serves 4 Ingredients: 5 slices bacon, diced 1 cup diced celery 1 cup chopped onion 1 teaspoon minced garlic 2 Tablespoons flour 6 cups uncooked baking potatoes, peeled and cubed 3 cups chicken broth 1 Tablespoon dried thyme 4 cups heavy cream 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream Salt and pepper to taste ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, optional Method: Cook the bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels but reserve the bacon grease. Set aside ¼ cup of the bacon for garnish. Add the celery and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour and stir the vegetables to coat. Cook for two minutes. Add the potatoes, chicken broth and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Return the bacon to the pot. Mix in the heavy cream and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the reserved bacon and chopped fresh parsley if desired. Fall Vegetable Beef Soup This soup freezes well! Serves 8 Ingredients: 4 cups tomato juice 4 cups chicken broth 1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup) 5 small-to-medium red or yellow new potatoes, cubed 2 cloves garlic minced 1 stalk celery diced 1 (15 ounce can) lima beans 1 (15 ounce can) black-eyed peas 1 ½ – 2 cups cooked, chopped pot roast or ground beef 1 (12 ounce bag) frozen mixed vegetables Salt and pepper to taste Method: Combine tomato juice and chicken broth in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add onions, potato, celery and garlic. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes. Add lima beans, black-eyed peas, roast and frozen mixed vegetables. Simmer until heated through, about 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garden Vegetable Meatball Tortellini Soup If making ahead, wait to add the tortellini until right before serving. Serves 4 Ingredients: 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil 1 (16 oz.) package Italian sausage 3 cups chicken broth 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes ¾ cup chopped carrots ¾ cup chopped yellow squash ¾ cup chopped zucchini 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 Tablespoon dried basil, optional 2 cups frozen cheese tortellini Salt and pepper to taste Grated Parmesan cheese, optional Method: Heat vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Form sausage into 1-inch meatballs. Working in batches, add the meatballs to the pot. Cook the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and no longer pink in the center, about 7-10 minutes. Remove meatballs from the pot and set aside on paper towels. Drain any grease from the pot. In the same pot, add the broth, fennel seeds, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and carrots. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the squash, zucchini, basil, and tortellini. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat and cook until the tortellini is tender, about six minutes. Add the meatballs and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to your preference. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired. Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup from Scratch Serves 8 Ingredients: 4-5 pieces uncooked chicken 8 cups water 2 cups sliced carrots 2 cups sliced celery 1 ½ Tablespoons dried parsley or 3 Tablespoons fresh 1/3 cup cooking sherry Salt and pepper to taste 2 ½ cups uncooked egg noodles or other pasta Method: Place the chicken pieces in a large stock pot. Cover with the water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and boil for 20-30 minutes until the chicken pieces are cooked through. Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred it. Return the chicken stock to a boil over medium high heat. Add the carrots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the parsley and sherry. Return the chicken to the pot. Cook for an additional 7 minutes until the chicken is heated through. Season the soup with salt and pepper to your preference. In the meantime, bring six cups of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta. Add noodles to individual bowls before serving.

  • Fresh From the Farm: 6 Mississippi Pecan Recipes

    This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI. Fall is the perfect time to buy freshly harvested Mississippi pecans – their season is October through December. There are farms from Natchez to Tishomingo and from Tunica to Moss Point, so pick your favorite grower and opt for a bag of fresh pecans that have been cracked and blown and give these six great recipes a try! Grab a couple big bowls and some nut picks and spend a lovely afternoon with relatives and friends telling stories, sipping wine, and picking pecans. To find a farm near you, visit www.MSPecans.org. Roasted Hot Pepper Pecans Ingredients: 1 stick butter, melted 4 cups pecan halves 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 4 Tablespoons hot sauce Salt to taste Method: Melt the butter in a heavy sauté pan or skillet. Add the pecans and pan roast over medium heat until the butter is nearly gone and almost absorbed. Add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce a few drops at a time, stirring constantly until well mixed and fully absorbed. If the pecans get soft, spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spread the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake 5-10 minutes at 325 until crisp. Allow to cool and store in airtight container. Spicy Glazed Pecans Ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick) 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste) 1 Tablespoon water 1-1/2 cups pecan halves Salt to taste Method: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil with vegetable oil. Combine sugar, butter, cayenne pepper and water in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. When butter has melted, add pecans. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour pecans onto prepared foil and spread out to separate the pecans. Add salt and let cool for 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Spicy and Sweet Cocktail Pecans This recipe is courtesy of Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com Ingredients: 3 cups pecan halves 2 Tablespoons olive oil 2 Tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika (also called Pimenton), optional 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Method: Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, paprika and cayenne pepper. Add the pecans and stir to coat. Spread the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Nuts are ready when they release their aroma, appear to be sizzling, and seem to be browned in bits. Transfer to a cooling rack and store in an airtight container. Sweet, Spicy & Salty Candied Pecans Recipe courtesy of Jennifer Segal Ingredients: 2 cups pecan halves 1/2 cup powdered sugar 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste) 4 teaspoons water Method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the water and stir until a sticky glaze is formed. Add pecans and stir to coat evenly. Transfer the pecans to the baking sheet and spread them so they do not touch. Bake 10-12 minutes until pecans are crusty on top and caramelized and golden on the bottom. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Candied Pecans Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons salted butter 3 cups pecan halves 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 cup water 1 teaspoon vanilla Method: Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir constantly for 3 minutes to lightly toast the pecans. Add the brown sugar and stir another 2 minutes until the sugar is melted. Stir in cinnamon, salt and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the water evaporates, 1-2 minutes. Add the vanilla and stir to coat. Spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake 5-7 minutes until fragrant and lightly crisp. Cool completely and store in airtight container. Maple Pecans This recipe is courtesy of Sally Sampson Ingredients: 4 cups pecan halves 1/2 cup maple syrup 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 large egg white at room temperature, whipped Method: Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Spread the pecans on the prepared baking sheet and toast 10 minutes until fragrant. Lower the oven temperature to 250. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, syrup and spices. Whisk the egg white until frothy and fold in. Add the hot pecans and mix well to coat. Return the pecans to the oven for another 30-40 minutes until the nuts are golden. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

  • It's Chilly Enough for Chili – And Cornbread, Too

    by Kara Kimbrough This article first appeared in the October 2017 edition of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine and was updated on October 29, 2023 “Chilly enough for a little chili?” These and other clichés were served up as often as the thick bowls of aromatic beef, tomatoes, and seasonings at a recent chili cook-off where EDM contributor Kara Kimbrough served as a judge. Besides sampling enough chili, she learned a lot about the dish we call a soup, stew, and main dish. Along the way, she also gathered a few recipes to test and pass along. First, veteran chili cook-off chefs say we’re got it all wrong. We’re used to filling our chili pots with a mixture of tomatoes, ground beef, beans, and spices. The first chili dish ladled into a tin pan over a campfire somewhere out west on the American frontier was a totally different dish from the familiar red concoction we enjoy today. Texas Rangers, cowboys, and assorted other adventurers in the 1800s made chili from dried beef, fat, pepper, salt, and chilies that was pounded together with heavy objects found around the campsite. Some carried dehydrated chili "bricks" made at home and thrown into their saddlebags. Others believe chili may have originated in Texas prisons, where large vats of leftover meat and tomatoes were an inexpensive way to feed inmates. Today’s chili cook-offs are annually held in hundreds of U.S. cities and towns, following in the footsteps of the first one held in Texas in 1967. Genuine cook-off chili primarily consists of cubed beef with chili gravy. The cubed meat makes sense in a competition, judges say, as cooking ground meat for three or more hours makes it too soft. Experts say chili should not be excessively greasy, too thick, or too thin. It shouldn't be lumpy, so leave out the chopped vegetables. Likewise, guard against grainy chili by making sure spices are finely ground. When it comes to meat, select a piece with just a little marbling and not much gristle. Some chili cooks prefer chopped chuck, while others opt for mock tender (also called tri-tip), which isn't easy to find. Don't use sirloin, veterans say -- it's too mushy for a hearty chili. If you’re cooking up a pot at home and opt for ground beef, make it a coarse chili grind. This can sometimes be found in grocery stores; if not, ask your butcher to grind a piece of beef for you. Real chili cooks don't use grocery-store chili powders, which contain a combination of ingredients like oregano, cumin, salt, and garlic in addition to chili pepper. They add these ingredients separately. Additional tips from veteran chili cooks include: Use chicken or beef broth instead of water for cooking liquid. Use tomato sauce instead of chili tomatoes, so you won’t have seeds in your chili. Spiciness should be distributed throughout the mouth when enjoying a bowl of chili. This is achieved by using a range of chilies and peppers that can include ground black pepper and white pepper, jalapeno powder and hot sauce. Use paprika to adjust color. For a special touch, add a drop of apple juice, honey or a dash of brown sugar. Experts also agree on the need for a side of hot cornbread to complete a bowl of simmering chili. What about a recipe that creates both in one dish? (After trying it, I’m giving One Skillet Chili and Cornbread Combo a blue ribbon.) One Skillet Chili and Cornbread Casserole Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1-1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into small cubes Salt and ground black pepper, to taste 3/4 cup fine cornmeal, plus 1 extra tablespoon 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 extra tablespoon 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 3 teaspoons bottled minced garlic 3-4 tablespoons chili powder (lesser amount for milder chili) 2 teaspoons ground cumin 3 cups chicken broth 2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with chilies, drained 1 (14.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 2 tablespoons sugar 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 large egg 1/2 cup milk 1/4 cup sour cream, plus more for serving 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat olive oil over high heat, coating pan well. In a separate bowl, mix beef with salt and pepper, one tablespoon of the flour, and one tablespoon of the cornmeal, stirring well to combine. Pour the beef into the hot skillet and cook over high heat until meat is browned, 6 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft; 7-8 minutes. Add desired amount of chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring to mix ingredients; about 1 minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, and beans, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thicker; about 30 minutes. Stir in a little water if mixture becomes too dry. While chili is cooking, stir together the remaining 3/4 cup cornmeal, 3/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, milk, and egg together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until well combined. Stir in the melted butter and Cheddar cheese. Drop large spoonfuls of batter on top of the chili, leaving a little space in between. Batter will not completely cover the chili. Place oven in skillet and bake until cornbread is golden brown and the chili is hot and bubbly, about 17 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Top with additional sour cream if desired.

  • Till We Eat Again: (Pumpkin) Spice Is the Variety of Life

    By Jay Reed This article was originally published in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI I bet you thought this was going to be a column making fun of all things pumpkin spice. Or maybe you’re a spice jar half-full kind of person and had expectations of defending pumpkin spice’s honor by metaphorically painting its name on a water tower. Truth is, I did take a view in a previous issue that there might be too much pumpkin spice in our lives during the fall. Since then, I’ve made some observations. One: I wasn’t wrong. There are a lot of things pumpkin spiced, and despite the mockery, they keep coming. However, many of them appear on the clearance aisle at the grocery store even before fall is over. It’s why I own a jar of pumpkin butter (spiced, of course). Two: Feelings change. I realized later that I really didn’t have anything against pumpkin spice. Sure, there may be an excess of pumpkin-themed and fall-colored products available in the autumn months – hello, Harvest Thumbprint Cookies and Fall Leaf Tortilla Chips – but I have to believe Big Pumpkin has done their market research and deemed it a worthy gamble. But I’m also interested in answering these questions for myself: What’s the deal with the abundance of “warming spices” during those cold-in-some-states-though-not-in-Mississippi months? What exactly are they? And if I eat them while standing outside watching the Christmas parade, am I actually going to warm up? I hate to bore readers with lists, so if lists bore you, skip this paragraph and move on to the exciting details. But for those who like to see things in one place first, here’s a list of some common warming spices: ginger, allspice, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, mace, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, mustard, and horseradish. You might argue with one or two of those, or suggest a few additions, and that would be okay. We’re learning together here. Related: Till We Eat Again: Wedding Tales As for the Christmas parade question, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes!” Admittedly, as the junior high band marches by in elf hats playing Jingle Bells, my peppermint hot chocolate might bring the same body heat as your chai latte, even though mint is a cooling herb. Generally speaking, however, warming spices do, to some degree, raise body temperature. Fall is a big season for root vegetables, which happen to lend themselves well to these spices. Consider the dessert we disguise in the South as a Thanksgiving side dish: the infamous sweet potato casserole. Now try to imagine it without cinnamon. Pumpkin and butternut squash soup are also qualified candidates for a sprinkle of spices from the list. If roasted carrots aren’t orange enough for you, add some turmeric. Cardamom used to be a mystery spice to me. Can’t say I’d ever heard of it till we moved to the Middle East, where we sometimes we had it in our rice, and almost daily in our tea alongside cloves and cinnamon. The tea was hot, we were hot, and we added warming spices. I’m sure there was a reason for that - perhaps if we warmed our insides we’d sweat and cool our outsides? Same song, different verse for cumin. I recognized the flavor of it when we landed on the other side of the world but didn’t know the name. There we were told the spice that was in so many of the dishes we were learning to love was pronounced “kimoon” in the local dialect. So we made sure to bring back plenty the first time we came home for a visit, only to discover that “kimoon” was just “koomin” and was in every grocery store in America. I didn’t realize ginger was spicy until I had my first Blenheim ginger ale. Even the lowest of their two spice levels packs more heat than my favorite airplane beverage. It will most definitely warm up the inside of your mouth. In my own kitchen, I like a little cinnamon in my chili, in homemade barbecue rubs, on roasted nuts, and in granola (even if it comes within the apple pie spice mix.) And who doesn’t love a well-made, warm, gooey cinnamon roll? As for mace, I’ve never had the pleasure of its acquaintance. I thought it was what the drum major used to direct the marching band, or what women used to carry in their purses. I’m sure it’s a lovely flavor; I pledge to try it the next time a bottle appears on the clearance aisle next to the pumpkin spice deodorant. Pumpkin spice latte image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

  • From the Editor: Oktoberfest, Halloween and Thanksgiving: Three of the Best Food Holidays Ever

    By Michele D. Baker I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month. The weather is finally cool, the leaves are changing to beautiful scarlets, oranges and golds, and all the best food is on the menu! October is also the month of Halloween, which happens to be my favorite holiday. I think this stems from when I was a child in the 1970s in Hattiesburg. I was that child with hippie dippy parents who believed sugar was evil; we ate only free range, farm to table, organic foods. As you can tell, my parents were way ahead of the trend and now I consider myself lucky, but at the time I thought it was a horrible imposition because none of my classmates ate that way. I used to go over to a friend’s house each day after school because her mother had an entire cabinet full of Little Debbie snack cakes, potato chips, and Pop-Tarts and the refrigerator always had 2-liter Cokes in it (and Diet Coke, Sprite, and Fanta orange soda). For lunch at school, my brother and I ate freshly prepared chicken salad on whole grain bread with raisins as a snack – in recycled paper lunch bags, no less – but my friends had metal Superman lunchboxes from which they pulled bologna and Kraft cheese slices on Wonder bread with yellow mustard… and Pringles. Related: Tips for a Happy, Healthy Halloween However, Halloween was the great equalizer. It was the one day a year when I was allowed to dress up like Princess Leia (my brother was Darth Vader) and go house to house begging for food like a street urchin from “Oliver.” I always came home with my plastic pumpkin bucket brimming with treats, and my brother and I would spread our hoard over the living room floor and spend hours swapping candy for what we liked best: we learned the art of negotiating in those sessions! I wanted anything chocolate, and he was more a Twizzlers and jelly beans kind of guy. (We also secretly made fun of the neighbors who bought cheap hard candies from the dollar store and praised those who gave out full size Snickers bars.) In this issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI you’ll find plenty of great recipe ideas for all the fall holidays: Oktoberfest, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. We also share recipes from cooks from just a few of the amazing food cultures that make up our state’s tasty food tapestry: Vietnam and Germany. So no matter how you spend your fall – with friends at home, at Oktoberfest or a Halloween party, and whether you do Thanksgiving big or small – I wish you a fabulous, healthy, and delicious fall! Until next time, Michele

  • Sunflower Oven's Slow Rise to Success

    by Susan Marquez This article first appeared in the October/November 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI Robert Raymond says that growing up in Chicago, he wasn’t exposed to a lot of home cooking. “We joke that my mom was a master of the microwave,” he laughs. Starting at the age of 15, he worked in area restaurants before going to college in New York, where he spent time working in a bakery. “As a college student, I was interested in learning to cook for myself.” An opportunity to work for FoodCorps, a grantee of AmeriCorps, brought Raymond to Mississippi in 2015 when he was 24 years old. “I had never been to Mississippi before, and I learned to love it,” he says. “There were nine people in my ‘class,’ and seven were not from here. Of those, four of us chose to stay.” Raymond says that FoodCorps was a good fit for him, because in his work in the food industry and during college, he became interested in how food moves our economy. Jackson turned out to be a fantastic new home for Raymond, who made many new friends here. He loved cooking and baking and began trying his hand at sourdough bread. “I had a lot of fails,” he admitted. But he continued trying, and mastered bread baking. “I liked the challenge of it,” he remembers. “I really wanted to understand why bread exists.” Other bakers joined him, and for six years now, they have been turning out bread and other baked goods under the Sunflower Oven name. Related: The History Behind Sandwiches Sunflower Oven’s bread was sold at weekly popups in a local bar before moving to the Mississippi Farmers Market. “We had the whole baking operation in my house. We had enough equipment to generate a good supply of bread. As a matter of fact, most of my house was dedicated to baking bread. We kept going and going,” recalls Raymond. “We weathered Covid, which was challenging, and by late 2021 we were in a good place.” In late August 2022, Sunflower Oven opened in a storefront in Belhaven Heights in Jackson. “We had the opportunity to pursue a storefront space, and it turned out to be a great decision,” says Raymond. “We also decided early on to structure the business as a cooperative bakery, which means that everyone who works at the bakery is a part owner. That was something that was really important to us,” he says. “We really value labor, and making sure people have a long-term interest in not only the success of the bakery, but in the success of Jackson.” Sunflower Oven only bakes sourdough bread. “Any kind of bread can be baked with a sourdough starter,” Raymond explains. “We also made a commitment to only use stone-ground flour. There are more health benefits when all the grains in the flour are accessible. We give priority to the flavor of the grain, from wheat to rye to spelt.” Raymond has also unwittingly become an educator. “It’s been a learning experience for many people who did not grow up eating this kind of bread. When eating Sunflower Ovens bread, people naturally sense that it is going to treat their bodies right.” Raymond says he could have chosen to purchase bread flour from a big producer in bulk, but he approaches flour as many would fresh produce. “We only want to use high quality, nutritious grain, and we use it within three months of being milled.” The flour used at Sunflower Oven comes from Carolina Ground, a small mill in North Carolina. “We wanted to keep it local, or at least Southern. It didn’t make sense to transport flour from across the country.” Sunflower Oven also offers breakfast and lunch, and Raymond says most of the ingredients are sourced from farmers they’ve met at the farmers market or in the immediate area. “We focus on using Mississippi products as often as possible.” Menu items center around their breads. While someone is baking there seven days a week, the bakery is open to the public Sunday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also find them on Saturday at the Mississippi Farmers Market on High Street. “We sell wholesale to area restaurants,” says Raymond. “We have had a lot of growth very fast, and we still have a lot of room to grow. It’s encouraging to see how many people are still learning about us.”

  • Smokin' Fall Recipes From Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston

    Cooler weather is in the air, and celebrity chef and judge on Netflix’s new food show “American Barbecue Showdown” Melissa Cookston’s smokin’ fall recipes are sure to keep your audience warm, cozy and wanting seconds! Taken from Cookston’s website and cookbook, “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” the below award-winning recipes for smoked chicken salad, smoked top sirloin and smoked mini pumpkins with wild rice, pear and sausage stuffing will help your audience fall right into the season with smoked recipes! Smoked Chicken Salad “Chicken salad has long been a mainstay of the 'church social' or 'afternoon tea,' many times in the form of finger sandwiches. If you go door to door, you will get as many different recipes and methods for the chicken salad as doors you knock on. If you look at several of the recipes, you will soon realize that the correct 'chicken salad' is in the eye of the chef making it that day. It’s a remarkably versatile dish and can take any number of different ingredients/methods and still be delicious. When I make chicken salad, I love the subtle flavor that smoked chicken brings to the party, along with the texture of walnuts and the sweet pop of grapes, so I’ve included them in my recipe.” Ingredients: - 1 pound pulled smoked chicken - 1 cup mayonnaise - 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved - 1/2 cup sweet gherkin pickles, diced, plus 2 tablespoons pickle juice - 1/3 cup celery, finely diced - 1/4 cup white onion, finely diced - 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped - 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt - 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper In a large mixing bowl, fold all the ingredients together to incorporate without breaking apart the chicken too much. Serve over butter lettuce with sliced fresh tomatoes and strawberries for a cool salad or on a sliced pumpernickel or wheat bread as a sandwich. Smoked Top Sirloin "One of my favorite cuts of steak is known as the top sirloin cap. I think it is one of the most under-appreciated cuts of beef, generally because it is not sold separately. When you break down a top sirloin, it is mainly comprised of the main sirloin and the cap. The cap is also known a culotte steak or a churrasco steak. It is significantly more tender than the top sirloin and more flavorful.” First, trim off any silver skin. I remove the fat cap, as well, as I want to season the entire steak. However, this is optional. Next, season it up! I use my Grillin’ Shake, but a simple salt and pepper or your favorite BBQ rub will do nicely as well. Put in on the smoker! I ran my smoker for this cook at 275 degrees F, but frankly wished I had raised the temp to 300 degrees F in retrospect. For beef, I’m a big fan of using cherry wood, but any hardwood would be good with this. For this steak, I cooked it to 143 degrees F internal temperature. It took about 45 minutes. However, the sizes of these cuts will be different, so cooking times will vary. Remove it three to five degrees before your desired doneness, loosely cover with foil, and let it rest five to 10 minutes. The internal temp will continue to climb and hit perfection while resting. Identify the “grain” of the meat and slice against it. Serve it up! Your friends and family will thank you! Smoked Mini Pumpkins with Wild Rice, Pear and Sausage Stuffing "Those pretty little mini pumpkins that you picked up for décor? Cook them! These make adorable side items and are so flavorful! The stuffing can be made ahead by a day to make dinner prep easier.” Ingredients: - 1 cup wild rice blend - 2 cups chicken stock - 1 tablespoon unsalted butter - 1/2 onion, diced - 1 tablespoon celery, diced - 1 tablespoon minced garlic - 2 firm pears, roughly chopped - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt - 1/2 teaspoon black pepper - 1 tablespoon fresh sage - 1/2 pounds country style sausage Add the rice and 2 cups chicken stock to a stockpot. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender and stock is absorbed. Add more stock or water if necessary, during cooking. Pour rice onto sheet pan and allow to cool. Cook, crumble and drain sausage. Allow to cool. Cut the pumpkin about one-third of the way from the top and remove the cap. Scrape out any seeds and strings. Lightly season the inside of the pumpkin, then fill with stuffing. Sprinkle approximately one teaspoon of chopped pecans over the top of stuffing. Place in smoker over indirect heat at 275 degrees F for an hour and a half to two hours, or until pumpkins are tender. In the last few minutes of cooking, you can sprinkle the stuffing with cheese, bacon or chopped pecans, if desired.

  • Grilled Orange Old Fashioned

    It’s been a good run, pumpkin spice latte, but it might just be time to hang up your hat. According to CountryLiving.com, a Grilled Orange Old Fashioned - a sweet, smoky bourbon cocktail - is the real drink of the Thanksgiving season. Since Prohibition ended in Mississippi in 1966, the road was cleared for manufacturing spirits manufacturing. Now, Kiln’s Crittenden Distillery and Jackson’s Cathead Distillery craft local bourbon and gin options for holiday cocktails. Makes 4 servings. Ingredients: 1 navel orange, sliced 4 dashes Angostura bitters 4 maraschino cherries 8 oz. good bourbon or rye ¼ cup simple syrup 4 large marshmallows Method: Heat a grill to medium-high. Grill sliced navel orange, turning occasionally, just until charred, 2 to 4 minutes. Muddle oranges, Angostura bitters, and maraschino cherries in a pitcher until fruit is slightly mashed. Stir in bourbon or rye and simple syrup. Thread marshmallows on skewers and grill, turning, until charred, about 1 minute. Divide into four glasses half filled with ice and garnish each with a roasted marshmallow.

  • Spooktacular Foodie Finds for Halloween

    by Evangeline Davis Halloween is primarily known for its child-oriented food items, but these Foodie Finds are for grown-up kids of all ages! DASH Mini Pumpkin Waffle Maker, $24.99 With over 200,000 reviews on Amazon, this 4” mini waffle maker is a must-have kitchen tool. The adorable single-serve waffle maker in festive, bright orange makes mini pumpkin-shaped waffless perfect for Halloween breakfast with… what else? Pumpkin butter! (Available in multi packs to make more than one waffle at a time.) Get one on Amazon. Williams Sonoma Skull Ice Mold Set, $19.95 A hosting gift for whisky aficionados and Halloween fans alike, this set of two novelty ice molds serves up skull-shaped whisky stones will make any cocktail feel a bit more bone-chilling. Large skull cubes melt slowly, keeping the drink cold longer. For added spookiness, check out the companion glasses etched with skull and crossbones. Find it at Williams Sonoma. Halloween Bamboo Serving Utensils, $16.01 Why stir chicken soup when you can brew up a potent potion? Anytime you cook, it’ll feel like conjuring a spell with this set of bamboo Halloween spoons. Lightweight, eco-friendly bamboo won’t scratch your hands or pans, and the six-piece set comes with a bonus storage canister. Grab on at Walmart.com. Teaspressa Dark and Bold Minute Cocktail Sugar Cube Trio, $30 Sugary candy? Save that for the little ones. Drop one of these wondrous cubes into a shot of booze, wait a minute, stir, and drink up! Hand-infused with concentrated cocktail ingredients like spiced cherry and Angostura bitters, vermouth extract, and spearmint leaves, these miraculous little sugar cubes make instant, delicious Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, and Mojitos. Find them at UncommonGoods.com.

  • Recipes from the Grave

    A book review of “Recipes from the Grave, Wonderful Dishes for the Here and After” by P. Arden Corbin By Kathy A. Megyeri Two years ago during the pandemic, TikTok user Rosie Grant discovered how many people left recipes on their tombstones – a way for some to share their love through food even after they pass away. After spotting “Kay’s Fudge” followed by the words, “Wherever she goes, there’s laughter,” Grant started photographing the recipes and learning about the authors. Most were dessert recipes on women’s tombstones. Grant considers herself a “culinary archeologist” as she recreates the treats in her own kitchen. So far, she’s collected 22 recipes and finds it comforting that someone’s legacy might be their carrot cake recipe, so Grant started making and bringing snickerdoodles and guava cobbler to the graveyards to share with visitors and honor the cooks’ memories. Grant’s passion for the project is obvious; one of her cemetery videos garnered over 7 million views. She now travels to cemeteries collecting recipes from gravestones. She never cooked before but now says, “I’m literally learning how to cook through the dead,” and wants her own tombstone to share a clam linguine or mac ‘n cheese recipe. “The two things we inevitably do in life are eat food and die someday,” Grant says, “so it’s a shared experience and to many, it brings back memories of their grandparents.” Her 195,000+ TikTok followers are begging her to compile a cookbook. Writer P. Arden “Doc” Corbin has done just that in “Recipes from the Grave, Wonderful Dishes for the Here and After,” collecting over 100 recipes and including brief biographies about the contributor, cooking suggestions, measurement substitutions and tips for baking bread, pies and cakes. He includes Ann Landers’ meatloaf recipe, and a recipe by Ruth Corbin Graves called “How to Preserve a Husband.” “For a finished product, husband should be wrapped in a mantle of kindness, kept warm with the fire of devotion, and served with peaches and cream. Husbands prepared this way will keep for years.” Corbin admits that most of these family recipes are probably 100 years old and were baked on stoves fueled by wood or coal or cow chips but “all are well crafted,” he says, “and all harken back to a time in America when the supper table was a place for the family to recharge, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company.” Grant and Corbin remind us of the importance of food in our lives, as food for the body, food for the soul, and as memories that bind us across generations.

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