I admit I've slacked on the blogging this week, but it wasn't for lack of material. Since my last post, I escorted a Japanese journalist all over our great state, drowning her in information and photos of the interesting, the funny and the interestingly funny spots in Mississippi. On each trip of these I take, I see, experience or taste something I never have before, and it inspired me to give you a few highlights of my journey. Sometimes we're so focused on "getting away" that we don't realize the great stuff in our own backyard.
Romie's Restaurant in Tupelo is soul food central. Their lunch menu is a never-ending list of deep-fried comfort foods from chicken spaghetti and fried green "maters" to corn bread and pork chops. Check your diet at the door, folks. Don't miss: the banana pudding was the best I've had to date.
We all know Oxford has great shopping and dining - it's the envy of college towns all over the nation. When you're in the area, venture off the square onto Ole Miss's campus. Though the maroon blood pumping through my veins moved a little slowly when I passed The Grove, I was fortunate enough to see the Civil Rights Memorial near the campus's Lyceum. This powerful monument of Ole Miss's first black student James Meredith is worth a visit - even for the Bulldogs out there. Don't miss: William Faulkner's Nobel Prize in the Lyceum.
Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at The Crossroads - the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale - for the ability to play the guitar like no other man before him. Blues junkies from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this soulful mecca to stand on the same ground as this blues great. Even if you're not all over the blues, you'll love Cat Head, the ultimate delta blues and folk art purveyor. This store is packed with photography, music, t-shirts and art, all indigenous to the Mississippi Delta. Don't miss: the folk art paintings by L.V. Hull - I even gave one to Claire for Christmas this past year!
Ok, so I'm partial to Greenwood. The small town that changed my mind about the Delta in general is changing the minds of people all over as well. The downtown area is growing and developing in a way that would make the cotton brokers of yesteryear puff their chests with pride. Don't miss: Russell's Antiques. Even if you can't afford anything, you can play in the diamonds. They are a girl's best friend, after all. Tell them I sent ya.
Prior to this job, my only thoughts of Vicksburg were those cultivated in Mrs. McCoy's 5th grade history class in our Civil War unit. A bunch of 10- and 11-year-olds in a motor coach with a sack lunch and canned Cokes with names scribbled on masking tape doesn't exactly say "solemn," "mournful" or even quiet. But, I ran across something even a 5th grader can appreciate. Enter Mrs. Margaret's Castle - her husband told her if she married him, he'd build her a castle. Not exactly what I had in mind, but to each his own. Don't miss: well, just don't miss the whole thing. It's folk art on steroids.
And for this week's Delicious Dish, I chose something that I made for my honey last year for Valentine's Day. Since we are poor and I am developing my culinary prowess, I'm cooking again this year. Not sure what just yet, but I have a few things in mind. Anywho, these are super-easy and a fantastic appetizer - the best fungus you'll ever eat.
Paula's Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms (the real recipe is for Crab-Stuffed, but sausage is cheaper ;) and good year-round)
1 of those tube things of ground sausage, browned and crumbled (or 1 c. crab meat)
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons Parmesan (I prefer the grated kind)
House Seasoning, recipe follows (not really necessary to make Paula's unless you just want a good general spice blend. I use Shapley's.)
2 portobello mushroom caps, or 10 white mushrooms caps (both are good)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (store bought are best, believe it or not)
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, parsley, green onions and Parmesan. Season with House Seasoning, to taste. Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture and top with bread crumbs (I just pour some on a plate and press the tops of the stuffed mushrooms in the crumbs). Spray the tops with nonstick spray to help them brown. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is hot and melted.
Paula's House Seasoning
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
YUMMY! Best when shared. ;)