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Stories Written by Ginna Parsons

Thomas Wells | Buy at Steele's Dive owner Jason Steele and his restaurant manager, Melissa Dunlap, pose outside the restaurant, which opened a year ago in west Tupelo.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Steele’s Dive owner Jason Steele and his restaurant manager, Melissa Dunlap, pose outside the restaurant, which opened a year ago in west Tupelo.

Thomas Wells | Buy at The Fried Green Tomato and Turkey Sub features deli-sliced turkey, American cheese, lettuce, basil mayonnaise and two fried green tomatoes on a po' boy bun.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
The Fried Green Tomato and Turkey Sub features deli-sliced turkey, American cheese, lettuce, basil mayonnaise and two fried green tomatoes on a po’ boy bun.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – For more than five years, Jason Steele was known for the homemade plate lunches that came out of Endville General Store he operated in Pontotoc County.

“I feel like I cut my teeth out there,” said Steele, 36.

When he decided to go bigger and open a 200-seat restaurant in west Tupelo, he knew better than to mess with a good thing.

In the evenings, he serves steaks, ribs, fish, chicken, salads and sandwiches, but at lunch, the majority of his business is the good old-fashioned meat and three.

“At lunch, 70 percent of our business is the buffet,” Steele said.

It’s easy to see why.

One day last week, the offerings were fried pork chops, chicken spaghetti, fried chicken tenders, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, fried okra, speckled butter beans and squash. Another day, the buffet featured French onion chicken, meatloaf, fried chicken tenders, fried okra, mashed potatoes, green beans, purple hull peas and boiled cabbage.

Chicken and dressing is always offered on Thursdays and catfish is on the buffet every Friday.

“My kitchen staff has got years and years of experience,” he said. “I do very little cooking. Our food is consistently good and there’s a reason for that. You’ve got to hire good people who have as much pride in the food as you do.”

Steele bought the property where Steele’s Dive is located – just west of the Coley Road/Cliff Gookin/Main Street/Highway 6 intersection – while he still had the store in Endville.

“I thought this was a good location and it’s turned out to be an excellent location,” he said. “People told me I was crazy, that this was off the beaten path, but there’s a lot more going on in west Tupelo than people think. You’ve got the airport, Ballard Park, the Buffalo Park and lots of neighborhoods in west Tupelo.”

All that traffic has rewarded Steele with a booming business. He figures he serves around 300 customers at lunch and that many at dinner toward the end of the week.

“So many people only have 30 minutes to eat and I knew they could run in here and get a plate lunch for $7 and eat in 15 or 20 minutes and be back at work,” he said. “I thought if we did an upscale mom-and-pop it would work and we’ve been busy since the day we opened the door.”

Music and more

Steele said it’s hard to describe his customer base.

Thomas Wells | Buy at All the original artwork on the walls at the restaurant was created by Tupelo High School art students.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
All the original artwork on the walls at the restaurant was created by Tupelo High School art students.

“It’s as diverse as you can get,” he said. “You might see a group of guys from the Park Commission in here that have been cutting grass sitting next to guys in business suits. And we want it that way. We want everybody to be comfortable here.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, acoustic musicians play in a corner in the small indoor dining room. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, a band plays on the outdoor patio.

“They play anything from modern country to Southern rock,” Steele said. “And there’s no cover for the music. I don’t want to lose my reputation as a restaurant.”

At dinner, popular menu items are fried oysters, bone-in rib-eyes, prime rib and burgers.

“Believe it or not, we sell a ton of cheeseburgers,” he said.

One thing customers regularly comment on is the original artwork on the walls. It’s all done by Tupelo High School art students.

“Anna Garner, a THS art teacher, came up with the idea and I said OK,” Steele said. “When she started bringing the paintings in, I was astounded. I had no idea there was so much talent at the high school level.”

Another area where he receives kudos is the restaurant’s bathrooms, which have tile floors and walls, decorative mirrors and elevated basin sinks.

“We get complimented on them every day and that’s something that’s important to me and to a lot of customers,” he said. “When I had the store at Endville, I had this woman stop one day to use the restroom and she said, ‘I’m gonna have to come back here and eat. Anybody who keeps a bathroom this clean is bound to have a clean kitchen.’”

Thomas Wells | Buy at Lisa Stevens of Booneville likes to serve her barbecued shrimp over cheesy grits with a loaf of crusty French bread and a salad.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Lisa Stevens of Booneville likes to serve her barbecued shrimp over cheesy grits with a loaf of crusty French bread and a salad.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Lisa Garner Stevens has a very vivid memory of Christmas Eve when she was 13 years old.

After everyone else in her family went to bed, she crept into the kitchen and got down her mother’s cookbooks. And she came across a recipe for homemade caramels.

“We had this open den/kitchen area and I watched ‘White Christmas’ on TV for the first time and made caramels for the first time,” said Stevens, 49. “They turned out beautifully and I still make them from that exact recipe. It’s not Christmas unless we have ‘White Christmas’ and homemade caramels.”

Of course, along the way she’s learned to make other things. She cooks four to five times a week for herself and her 16-year-old daughter, Lainey, a junior at Booneville High School. Her 20-year-old, Leah, is a senior at Mississippi State University.

And on Sundays, her mother, Dot Garner, joins the family for a big lunch that might include fried chicken, mashed potatoes, purple-hull peas, slaw, fried okra, corn, sliced tomatoes, cornbread, a dessert from Dot – and pickles, always pickles.

In the summer, Stevens travels every week to Atlanta to help her twin nieces, Liz and Elise Garner, can pickles for their specialty food company, garnergirls. They specialize in MawMaw Dot’s Sweet Pickles and Habanero Sweet Pickles; both are available in gift shops in Northeast Mississippi.

“I bet I have put up thousands of pickles this summer,” Stevens said.

Her work schedule allows her this luxury – she teaches sociology at Itawamba Community College during the regular school year, but has the summer months off. Before that, she worked as a grant writer for the Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District for 20 years.

“If I had still been at my first job, I couldn’t have taken summers to make pickles,” she said.

“I believe life is this huge puzzle and everything we do is interconnected. I don’t know if we see it now, but I do think if we live long enough, we’ll see how it all fits together.”

Stevens likes to cook so much, she rarely eats out, but when she does, it’s usually on Friday nights.

“Because there’s nothing I like better on Saturdays than to stay home and clean house and cook,” she said. “That’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to stay home. It’s like a haven.”

Stevens actually has a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Blue Mountain College.

“I didn’t want to go to college, but my dad made me, so I decided if I had to have that piece of paper then I wanted it to be fun, and cooking was fun,” she said. “Later, I went back to school and got my master’s in sociology. I thought about going back and getting my Ph.D., but I think I’d rather make pickles.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to

Thomas Wells | Buy at New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp with cheesy grits.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp with cheesy grits.

New Orleans-style Barbeque Shrimp with Cheesy Grits


2 pounds fresh, jumbo shrimp

1 stick butter, melted

4 tablespoons chili sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

5 cloves fresh garlic, minced


2 cups water

2 cups milk

1 cup quick grits

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 clove fresh garlic, minced (optional)

4 tablespoons butter

11⁄2 cups shredded Colby/Monterey Jack cheese

2 to 3 ounces processed cheese, cubed

Peel and devein shrimp and set aside. Place remaining ingredients (through fresh garlic) in a saucepan. Stir and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool. Place shrimp in an oven-proof casserole dish and pour the cooled sauce over the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

For the grits, bring water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in the grits and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in butter, shredded cheese and processed cheese.

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake shrimp and sauce for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve shrimp immediately over cheesy grits or alone with crusty French bread and a salad.

Thomas Wells | Buy at Stevens and her nieces make garnergirls pickles using her mother's recipe.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Stevens and her nieces make garnergirls pickles using her mother’s recipe.

Marti’s Mexican Cornbread

11⁄2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil plus 3 tablespoons

1⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup creamed corn

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1⁄2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, 1⁄2 cup oil and remaining ingredients and mix well. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch iron skillet on top of the stove. When hot, pour cornbread batter in the skillet and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Cornbread will be done when top is golden brown.

Sharon’s Green Beans

4 cans cut green beans

8 slices bacon, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

1 small onion, diced

1⁄2 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain green beans and pour into a 9×11-inch baking dish. In a sauté pan, fry the bacon until crisp and sprinkle over the beans. Sauté onion in bacon drippings until translucent. Add sugar and vinegar to the pan and cook until boiling. Pour mixture over the beans. Bake 1 to 11⁄2 hours until the beans reach desired doneness.

MawMaw Dot’s Banana Pudding


1⁄2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

32 vanilla wafers

2 to 3 ripe bananas, sliced


3 egg whites

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the pudding, combine sugar, flour and salt and place in the top of a double-boiler over medium heat. Whisk in egg yolks until well combined. Slowly pour in milk, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until well-mixed. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook while stirring or whisking constantly until thick, 10 to 13 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla.

For the meringue, whip the egg whites until they start to thicken. Gradually add the sugar, followed by a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until tall peaks form.

Layer the following bottom-to-top in an oven-proof casserole dish: Vanilla wafers on the bottom and sides of the dish, sliced bananas, pudding and meringue. Bake 12 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: You can also layer and cook exactly as described above, but instead of using a casserole dish, use 4 half-pint Mason jars for individual servings.

Nancy’s Blueberry Salad

1 small box black cherry gelatin

1 small box berry blue gelatin

1 small box raspberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

1 (15-ounce) can blueberries

1 small can crushed pineapple

1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese

1⁄2 cup sugar

2 cups sour cream

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Drain blueberries and pineapple, saving the liquid. Add enough water to the reserved blueberry and pineapple juice to make 1 cup of liquid. Stir the blueberries, pineapple and the 1 cup of liquid into the dissolved gelatin. Pour mixture into a 9×13-inch dish and refrigerate until firm.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream and mix until smooth. Spread on top of congealed gelatin mixture and sprinkle with pecans.

Crusty Coconut Pie

1⁄2 cup milk

11⁄2 cups frozen coconut

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 stick butter, softened

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour milk over coconut and let sit while creaming sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add milk, coconut and vanilla and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until pie is firm and golden brown.



When I was growing up in south Alabama, no one I knew had a backyard vegetable garden and there was no such thing as a farmers’ market. If you wanted peas or squash or okra, you either went to a farm out in the country and picked your own or you visited a farm stand on the side of a dirt road.

In those days, there were no fancy little grape or cherry tomatoes, either. Tomatoes were big and red and usually misshapen. Often, the ugliest tomatoes were the best, with blood-red flesh and not a hint of mealiness. The hard green ones were reserved for either slicing thin and frying or making chow-chow.

Today, just about everyone I know has something edible growing in their yard, whether it’s corn or butterbeans or a single pot of herbs on the deck.

At our house close to downtown Tupelo, we have lots of 75-year-old trees that provide tons of shade in our yard. And while we don’t get a tremendous amount of sun, we get just enough to successfully grow basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, mint, chives and cherry tomatoes.

In past years, we grew red and yellow grape tomatoes from seed and we did OK with those. We didn’t have an abundance – rarely enough to share – from our two plants, but I’d say every couple of days we’d get a handful.

This year, my husband, Charlie, planted cherry tomatoes from seed and culled two hearty plants from the seedlings that sprouted. He put one plant in a raised bed in our courtyard and another in a big pot in the middle of the backyard.

Both of these prolific plants produce little orange cherry tomatoes that are sugar-sweet. We don’t use any kind of sprays or pesticides, so we can eat them right off the vine. Every day, we probably get a dozen or more tomatoes and there are hundreds more that aren’t ripe yet.

Roasting is one way to use up cherry tomatoes quickly. I roasted some on Friday night and served them atop grilled salmon. They were the star of the show.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

3 cups cherry tomatoes, any color

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Place the tomatoes, oil, garlic, basil, thyme, salt and pepper in a large ovenproof skillet or gratin dish. Gently toss to coat all the tomatoes with the oil, garlic and herbs. Roast on the middle rack for 1 to 11⁄2 hours, or until the tomatoes are beginning to burst and are very soft. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Adam Robison | Buy at Denise Kennedy-Brown of Tupelo worked for 25 years in the veterinary medicine field before stepping out on her own as a wedding planner and event coordinator.

Adam Robison | Buy at
Denise Kennedy-Brown of Tupelo worked for 25 years in the veterinary medicine field before stepping out on her own as a wedding planner and event coordinator.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – When Denise Kennedy-Brown was just a teenager, she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

At age 15, she took a job at All Animal Hospital in Tupelo as a kennel worker, assistant, receptionist – whatever needed to be done.

“It was a good foundation, because I was going to be a veterinarian,” said Kennedy-Brown, 40. “That’s all I wanted to be. That was the goal.”

After graduating from Tupelo High in 1992, she went on to Mississippi State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science. She put in her application for vet school and was about to realize her dream when her husband got a terrific job offer in Jackson.

“So I gave it up and followed him,” she said.

When she got to Jackson, she put in her application at several veterinary clinics, but no one was hiring. So she turned to something familiar.

“While I was a student at MSU, I worked in the floral department at a grocery store. I liked it and I was good at it,” she said. “In Jackson, there was this very posh floral store looking for a designer and I got the job. It was there that I was exposed to weddings, parties and home holiday decorating.”

It wasn’t a stretch for Kennedy-Brown to be working as a party planner.

“I planned everything about my own wedding,” she said. “I did the flowers, the decorating, the hospitality gifts – it was all my vision. I did everything but the food. I was always Miss Organizer. I was the go-to person for things like that. For me, multi-tasking was a breeze.”

Adam Robison | Buy at Kennedy-Brown uses reference material to help make weddings and other occasions special.

Adam Robison | Buy at
Kennedy-Brown uses reference material to help make weddings and other occasions special.

She eventually got a job at a vet clinic in Jackson and resigned herself to the fact that she was never going to become a veterinarian. So she did the next best thing – she became a certified veterinary technician.

In 2002, Kennedy-Brown and her husband, Jason, got the opportunity to move home to Tupelo. She went back to work at All Animal for a bit and then landed a job at Tupelo Small Animal Hospital that fall.

“I loved working there and eventually became the hospital manager, but I always wanted more,” said Kennedy-Brown, who has nine four-legged children – three dogs and six cats. “In 2013, I decided I was ready for something different. I told the clinic it was time for a change.”

That change became Special Occasions by Denise Kennedy-Brown.

“I call myself an event coordinator and wedding planner,” she said. “For a wedding, I can do invitations and wedding favors, rent the event space, order the flowers, hire the caterer, reserve the church, arrange for music and hire the photographer,” she said. “Or I can step in on the day of the wedding and execute the event so the bride can let go at the end.”

In addition to weddings, Kennedy-Brown coordinates parties, showers, ribbon-cuttings, grand-openings, conventions and even gender-reveal parties.

“If it’s an occasion, I can make something of it,” she said. “And I try to make it fun. At the end of the day – the end of the job – it’s all about making smiles and knowing I did that.”

news_djournal_greenBy Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Mobile Service Office of the Disabled American Veterans will be in north Mississippi next week to help area veterans with benefits.

Two staffers will be in the mobile unit to help veterans file claims, fix problems with claims, fill out paperwork and answer questions.

“It could be any veteran or veteran’s family member who might need assistance on filing for compensation from Veterans Affairs for anything from medical to educational benefits,” said Mark Dye, service officer for DAV Lee County Chapter 43.

The mobile office, which will be located at the DAV Center at 1494 S. Veterans Blvd., will be in Tupelo on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary and veterans will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis, Dye said.

The mobile unit also will be at the DAV Amory Chapter 61 on Wednesday and at the Columbus Clinic on Thursday. It is funded in part by a $2 million grant from the Harley-Davidson Foundation.

“The officers had a real good turnout last year,” Dye said. “This is a free service and you do not have to be a member of the DAV to come to the mobile unit.”

Those seeking assistance need to bring discharge papers (DD Form 214), medical records and anything else that might be related to their claim. Dependent children of veterans will need to provide a birth certificate.

“These guys in the mobile unit are sharp,” Dye said. “They know this stuff upside down and sideways.”

For information, call Gary Gray or Charles Pugh at (601) 364-7178 or Mark Dye at (662) 213-4217.

Thomas Wells | Buy at Lois Sanderson of Tupelo shows off a platter of roasted carrots, asparagus, fingering potatoes and grape tomatoes. She mixes and matches foods with different colors and textures for healthier meals.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Lois Sanderson of Tupelo shows off a platter of roasted carrots, asparagus, fingering potatoes and grape tomatoes. She mixes and matches foods with different colors and textures for healthier meals.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – These days, Lois Sanderson is all about color on her plate.

“You eat with your eyes first, so a plate should never be the same palette,” she said. “You need different colors and textures. Color lets me know if I’m going to have a scrumptious meal or a bland meal.”

Sanderson, 55, hasn’t always cooked this way.

Before her divorce, she typically prepared a meat, vegetables and bread at every meal. And she fried a lot of foods.

But not anymore.

“When your diet has a lot of colors, generally it’s better for your health,” she said. “If it’s got a lot of color, it’s beautiful and it looks good, but I also know that means I’m eating healthier. In the last few years I’ve really started to concentrate on healthy foods. There’s no oil in my house except olive oil.”

After Sanderson’s divorce, she was back to cooking for just one.

“At first, I started breaking large recipes down, but even then I’d have a lot of leftovers. I don’t really like leftovers and I used to throw away so much food, so I just came up with meals for one,” she said. “Now, if I get a pack of chicken breasts, I’ll take out one or two and freeze the rest in packs of one or two. I do the same with shrimp and fish.”

Sanderson, a data analyst for North Mississippi Medical Center, said she enjoys the rhythm of chopping and cooking and putting a meal together.

“It’s relaxing to me,” she said. “I love to see the outcome of a plate.”

For herself, she might prepare a baked swordfish fillet, eggplant and red pepper couscous and an ear of corn; or maybe sautéed shrimp with some roasted vegetables.

For company, she might make roasted Cornish game hens and roasted potatoes with carrots or asparagus.

“I use a lot of herbs in my cooking,” said the Amory native. “Fresh cilantro, dill and rosemary really play a big part in the flavor of food. I even put fresh herbs in my salads.”

Sanderson shares her Tupelo home with two beloved cats, 15-year-old Molly and 12-year-old Elvis. They like to watch her cook and will sometimes wander in when she takes time for her creative outlet, painting.

“I got interested in painting after a stroke in 2004,” she said. “I wasn’t very artistic before. I started with watercolors on my own and then I took a class and the instructor suggested I start with watercolors or acrylics, but I wanted to do oils. So I did that on my own. And I think my watercolors have gotten better since I’ve done oils.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to

Thomas Wells | Buy at Roasted vegetables.

Thomas Wells | Buy at
Roasted vegetables.

Arugula, Honey Roasted Pear and Walnut Salad

2 to 3 Bosc pears

14 to 12 cup honey

1 cup walnuts

12 cup rice vinegar

12 cup canola oil

Juice from 12 large orange

Salt and pepper

2 bags arugula

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice pears in half lengthwise and core. Drizzle with honey. Place cut side up on a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Once cool, cut into 12-inch strips or cubes.

Toast walnuts in the oven or in a skillet while pears are cooling. Watch them very carefully – they can go from toasted to burned in a matter of seconds.

For the dressing, combine vinegar, oil, orange juice, salt and pepper. Whisk or shake in a jar.

To serve, toss arugula, pears and walnuts in a bowl. Add dressing to taste.

Grilled Potato Salad with Herb Dressing

2 pounds baby red-skinned potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


12 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

112 teaspoons salt

12 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

12 cup dill, chopped

3 green onions, minced

Boil potatoes, but don’t let them get soft. Toss them in oil and grill until browned.

Combine dressing ingredients, toss with potatoes and serve.

Best-Ever Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts


Chopped garlic

Chicken broth

Salt and pepper

Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Cut off ends of Brussels sprouts and discard any loose leaves. Cut each sprout in half (unless very small).

Fry several pieces of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Place chopped garlic and Brussels sprouts in the skillet drippings cut-side down. Do not stir too much. Once the sprouts are good and brown, almost cover with chicken broth. Let broth cook down until almost gone.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if using. Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

12 large sea scallops

12 slices pre-cooked bacon*

3 ounces bleu cheese

14 cup fig spread

Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut each scallop almost in half horizontally (leave connected). Place a small sliver of bleu cheese and a dab of fig spread in the slit scallop. Close scallop and wrap with bacon. Sprinkle with pepper. Broil on baking sheet for approximately 20 minutes. Serve with extra fig sauce.

Note: You can buy pre-cooked bacon in the store. If you choose to cook it yourself, use regular bacon (thin, not thick slices), and cook until almost done.

Roasted Vegetables

Phase 1 Veggies

Fingerling potatoes, cut in half or thirds

Mini carrots

Petite sweet potatoes, sliced in coins

Rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, beets

Leeks (cut off roots and about 1 inch of the top)

Phase 2 Veggies

Corn on the cob (cut in pieces)

Red, yellow or orange bell pepper

Yellow squash


Sweet onions


Fresh green beans

Grape tomatoes


Olive oil

Coarsely ground black pepper

Ground garlic salt

Chopped rosemary (optional)

Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put your choice of Phase 1 vegetables in a ziptop bag. Add a little olive oil and coat well. Spread vegetables on foil-lined baking pan. Sprinkle with pepper, garlic salt and rosemary, if using. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash/chop your chosen Phase 2 vegetables. Toss them in olive oil.

When Phase 1 veggies have cooked for 20 minutes, remove baking sheet from oven and spread Phase 2 veggies on top of Phase 1 veggies. Return pan to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes. If desired, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and bake an additional 5 minutes.



On Saturday, my sweet husband agreed to go to the movie with me to see “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”

The last movie I got him to was “Up,” which was in theaters in 2009. I’ve tried over the past five years to get him to comedies, romances, action movies and animation, but he always finds an excuse.

But the man loves food and especially good food and most definitely French food, so I knew I had a fighting chance with this one.

We were not disappointed. In an early scene that involves a tray of food with fresh tomatoes, cheese, olives and bread, Charlie leaned over to me and whispered, “That was worth the price of admission.”

We were also taken with the Indian food in the movie, so much so that we decided to go out for Indian food for supper, until we remembered we no longer have an Indian restaurant in Tupelo.

Maybe if we did, it would serve something like this lentil dish from the Food Network’s Aarti Paarti.

Everyday Red Lentils

1 cup red lentils, picked through

2 cups water

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 serrano chile, sliced in half (optional)


12 teaspoon cumin seeds

12 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Generous 12 teaspoon turmeric powder

12 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse lentils under running water. Add them to a bowl, cover with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine water, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chile, if using, and the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim any scum from the surface. Lower heat, cover the pot and gently simmer until lentils are tender, almost falling apart, 30 to 40 minutes. Whisk the lentils, releasing the natural starch, and mash some of them so the mixture becomes thick. Add salt to taste.

In a small bowl, combine cumin and mustard seeds. In another bowl, combine turmeric and paprika. In a small skillet, over a medium-high flame, warm vegetable oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add seeds and immediately cover so you don’t get splattered. Add spices. They should sizzle and bubble a little – that’s the blooming. The mixture should bloom for about 30 seconds, no more.

Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, standing back so you don’t get splattered. Stir to combine. Transfer lentils to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

THOMAS WELLS | BUY AT PHOTOS.DJOURNAL.COM Corey Matthews gets his Signature Bedding showoom ready for this weeks Tupelo Furniture Market on Wednesday.

Corey Matthews gets his Signature Bedding showoom ready for this weeks Tupelo Furniture Market on Wednesday.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Signature Bedding has been exhibiting at the Tupelo Furniture Market since the business opened five years ago, and every market just keeps getting better and better.

“Our sales have increased every year, maybe because we’re growing and maybe because we’re getting our name out there,” said Corey Matthews, who co-owns the mattress company with Eugene Heatherly.

“Generally we pick up anywhere from eight to 10 repetitive customers,” he said. “We build a relationship with them and they don’t leave.”

Signature, located on Eason Boulevard, manufactures household bedding and also contracts with the military, rent-to-own companies and dormitories. It employs between 15 and 20 workers.

“We make mattresses for just about all the universities in Mississippi,” Matthews said.

Matthews’ father and uncle had a bedding company for years – Royal Products – and he grew up in that business.

“All my life, I worked in the family factory, in high school and in college,” Matthews said. “Basically, it’s all I’ve ever done.”

Matthews said Heatherly has 30 years in the business.

Signature Bedding makes pillowtop, Eurotop, memory foam, memory gel foam, latex and standard tight-top mattresses.

“We ship all over Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee,” he said. “We’re regional. Once you get outside about a 500-mile range, it’s hard to compete because of freight. We sell mostly to small mom-and-pop furniture stores.”

Three years ago, Signature moved into a permanent showroom in Building III of the Tupelo Furniture Market on Coley Road.

“It’s really good for us because we’re local,” Matthews said. “We can come in here and open up our showroom anytime of the year if a buyer wants to come outside of market time to write an order.”

Matthews said mattresses always have been a big part of the biannual furniture market.

“I bet if we went through here to count, there’d be 15 to 20 bedding companies,” he said.

Signature has three new offerings for the fall market, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday: a hybrid latex mattress with 1,386 nano coils (the higher the number, the better); a perimeter edge mattress with pocketed coils; and a pillowtop perimeter edge.

“Our business is mattresses, but we also do specialty bedding for boats and campers,” Matthews said. “We do just about anything people ask us to do. We’ve even built some round beds for folks.”