I have always loved all things Southern and especially the state of Mississippi.

When I have traveled to San Francisco to see my sister, I am amazed at the differences in our ways of life. When she tells her friends about life in Mississippi, they are also pretty amazed. Every time I go to visit, I feel like a bit of an oddity. They love to hear me talk and listen to the expressions I use.

Each birthday and Christmas, I make sure she receives at least one gift to remind her of her “Southern Mississippi roots.” I usually make a stop at Mississippi Gift Co., where Cindy Tyler always has just what I seem to need when I’m feeling particularly Southern.

A friend of mine from school gave me this list of things you learn when you live in Mississippi. I thought I would share them, and I hope you chuckle as much as I did.

• A possum is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road.

• There are 5,000 types of snakes, and 4,998 of them live in Mississippi.

• There are 10,000 types of spiders, and all 10,000 of them live in Mississippi.

• If it grows, it’ll stick ya. If it crawls, it’ll bite cha.

• “Onced” and “twiced” are real words.

• It is not a shopping cart; it’s a buggy.

• People actually grow and eat okra.

• “Fixinto” is one word.

• There is no such thing as lunch. There is only dinner, and then there is supper.

• Iced tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you are 2. We do like a little tea with our sugar.

• Backward and forward means “I know everythin’ ’bout you.”

• The word “jeet” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?”

• You don’t push buttons; you mash ’em.

• You measure distance in minutes.

• You switch from air conditioning to heat in the same day.

• All the festivals in the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect or animal.

• You know what a “dawg” is.

• You only own five spices — salt, pepper, Tony Chachere’s, Tabasco and ketchup.

• The local papers cover national and international news on one page, but need six pages for local gossip and Mississippi football.

• You think the opening day of deer season is a national holiday.

• You find 100 degrees “a bit warm.”

• We don’t need driver’s ed. If Mama says we can drive, we can drive.

Hope you enjoy this week’s recipes. Thanks for reading.

BAKED SPAGHETTI

1½ pounds ground chuck

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

½ cup water

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning

1½ teaspoons seasoned salt

1½ teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 small bay leaves

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 (8-ounce) package cheddar cheese, shredded

1 (8-ounce) package Mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan, brown ground chuck, pepper, onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring until beef is browned and crumbly and vegetables are tender. Drain well. In a large Dutch oven, combine meat mixture, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, parsley, all seasonings and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon one-third of sauce mixture over bottom of baking dish. Top with half of the pasta, and then one-third of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce and reserving one-third of the cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Top with remaining one-third of cheese, and bake for 15 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

ITALIAN CHICKEN SPAGHETTI

4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped

1 stick butter

½ cup chopped green pepper

½ onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

8 ounces thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

1 can cream of mushroom soup

8 ounces Velveeta, cubed

1 small jar diced pimiento, drained

2 teaspoons parsley flakes

1 package dry Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

1 small jar slices mushrooms, drained

Saute onion, mushrooms, celery and green pepper in one stick of butter. Mix all remaining ingredients, and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

BEAN AND SAUSAGE CORNBREAD CASSEROLE

1 pound package mild ground pork sausage

½ cup red onion

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

4 (16-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained slightly

1 teaspoon salt

1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mexican four-cheese blend

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup self-rising white cornmeal mix

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brown sausage in a large skillet until crumbles and is no longer pink. Add onion and bell pepper and saute until vegetables are tender. Drain. Stir in beans, tomatoes and salt. Pour sausage mixture into a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1½ cups cheese. Stir together buttermilk and cornmeal mix. Spoon over cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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