Mississippi homecoming

Every little kid growing up in Mississippi knows it’s spelled, “M i crooked letter crooked letter i, crooked letter crooked letter i, humpback humpback i.” Last week I made my first trip in eight years to my home state of 43 years.

Family and friends are a little older, the little kids have gotten bigger and babies have come along. I now have great-great-nieces and –nephews!

My buddy Chris Smith accompanied me on the trip, made possible when my niece Jeanette Hill Bradshaw and her husband Ray made two 1,000-mile roundtrips to fetch us, then bring us home.

The week-long stay was in the Richland home of Jeanette, Ray and their son Michael. All three did everything to make the visit perfect. (I should say that Michael’s Nissan Versa, loaned for the trip, was the smoothest backseat ride I’ve ever had!)

On Sunday, 14 September, Jeanette and Ray hosted “B.J.’s Homecoming Party,” attended by family and friends, at a beautiful park near their home (photos below). Everyone had a ball visiting and enjoying covered-dish specialties of great Southern cooks – male and female.

In Mississippi, it’s a given, “It always turns cold just before the State Fair.” So, with sunny days and nippy breezes, we escaped the state’s unrelenting humidty and heat. Chris and Michael spent Monday afternoon in the pool and came out shivering. The patio hot tub was on the fritz so I missed a first – and a chance to do a little Autumn skinny-dipping. (Are you getting a visual?)

Monday night we made a trip into the city where we dined at The Elite, landmark restaurant at the heart of Jackson on Capitol Street.

On Tuesday my brother Isaac Lafayette Turner, Jr. and his wife Glo of Wesson came to spend the day, and Isaac’s tales of battling his son Brad’s (shall we say aggressive) Nubian ram will one day make their way onto this blog – expletives deleted! We laughed the afternoon away!

My son, Ladd Frazier, hosted a dinner at his Pearl home on Tuesday night. Everyone talked the night away on his deck after baby-back ribs, potato salad, baked beans, rolls and iced tea.

Jeanette, Michael, Ladd, Chris and I spent Wednesday in historic Vicksburg enjoying a terrific luncheon buffet at the Rainbow casino and “free play” on the slots at the Horizon. Four of us won a little cash and Ladd made up for his loss at the all-you-can-eat buffet!

We posed for photos in front of beautiful murals, painted along the Mississippi River levee and with Civil War cannons, which defended the town during the Yankee siege.

We crossed the river bridge, with the state line marker at its midpoint, for two reasons: so Chris could say he traveled in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and to build high hopes when each of us bought a $163 million Powerball ticket!

Our final two days were restful and fun with Jeanette and Ray showing off their cooking skills (recipes below). You’ve gotta love a man who slips into the kitchen at 10 p.m. to make us a fresh peach cobbler and shares jars of his home-canned muscadine jelly and red pepper jelly. Jeanette is carrying on the good-cook tradition of her mother (and my sister) Mary Bell Turner Hill and grandmother, Ruth Marie Timmons Turner, my mother.

Friday there were souvenirs to buy for Chris’ folks and a must-have purchase of two things I cannot get in South Carolina: Blackburn’s Syrup and Mississippi tomatoes. Of course, no trip home is complete without Krystal burgers and catfish and hushpuppies!

Bathroom scales? What bathroom scales?

Mississippi is known not only as “The Magnolia State,” but as “The Hospitality State” as well. My hearfelt thanks to all who made the week extra special for Chris and me. Good eating is a Southern tradition, so I’ll close with these words from newspaper “socieity pages” of the past:

“Delicious refreshments were served, and a good time was had by all.”


Four photos and five fantastic, taste-tested recipes follow this post. Enjoy!

'B. J.'s Homecoming Party'

FAMILY & FRIENDS, representing 10 Mississippi towns and Slidell, Louiana. Kneeling in front: Friends David Edwards, Pete Aleman and Cari Trompeter. Seated: Ladd Frazier (son), Shari Nevels (friend), Martha Hanson (sister), B.J. Trotter, Chris Smith (friend), Jeanette Hill Bradshaw (niece), Third row, standing: Preston Patton, Sr., Debra Sims Patton (niece), Susan Hill, John Hill (nephew), Linda Hill, Sharon Sims Hust (niece), Samuel Edwards (friend), Abigail Edwards (friend), Raylynn Bradshaw (great-great-niece), Michael Bradshaw (great-nephew) holding Thomas Bradshaw (great-great nephew), Fourth row, standing: Robert Hill (nephew), Jack Hust, Annelle Poole (friend), Phil Poole (friend), Ray Bradshaw, Joanna Bradshaw, Brian Bradshaw (great-nephew). Unable to attend: Leroy (brother) and Glenda Turner, Isaac (brother) and Glo Turner and other family members. (Photo by Debra Sims Patton)

A houseful of boys

Attending, not pictured in above group photo: Kim Turner Runyan (niece) holding her nephew Ty Turner (B.J.’s great-nephew), son Blake, adopted son Quentin, son Bryce, husband Dean and son Brandon. (Photo by Debra Sims Patton)

Two special guys

My son Ladd Frazier, B.J. Trotter and Chris Smith, my South Carolina buddy. (Photo by Debra Sims Patton)


Marha Hanson and B.J. Trotter (Photo by Martha’s daughter Debra Sims Patton)

Taco Cornbread

3 small boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 lb. ground beef
1 can whole kernal corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes (diced)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cups mild cheddar cheese (grated)

Mix Jiffy Muffin Mix according to pkg. directions. Add one cup on water to the mix to thin for pouring. Pour half of muffin mix into greased 9X13 baking pan. Brown ground beef and drain fat. Add taco seasoning, Rotel tomatoes with juice, corn and black olives drained. Simmer on low 5 minutes. Spoon this mixure, juice and all, over the layer of muffin mix. Sprinkle with 2 cups of cheese, then spread remaining muffin mix over top. Bake at 400 degrees aproximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I serve hot with dollops of sour cream and chunky salsa on top. Great main dish. Can be served with a salad or guacamole. – From the kitchen of Jeanette Hill Bradshaw.

Grape Salad

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 8-oz. container sour cream
3 pounds seedless grapes, whole (I use red grapes)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix first three ingredients in mixer until smooth. Fold in sour cream and add grapes. Spoon mixture into 9x13-inch pan. Mix brown sugar and pecans. Sprinkle over grape mixture. Refrigerate a few hours before serving. – From the kitchen of Annelle Poole.

Broccoli, Cheese & Rice

2 cups cooked rice (hot)
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 box chopped broccoli (cooked and drained)
1 small jar Cheese Whiz

Mix all together while rice is hot to melt Cheese Whiz. Pour into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until browning and bubbly. – From the kitchen of niee Jeanette Hill Bradshaw.

Mississippi Mud Cake

The jig is up! I have made the original antebellum Natchez recipe for years. For the past two or three years, I have made it with Duncan Hines Walnut Brownie Mix (family size). Taste about the same. So, here is the shortcut recipe:

Bake Duncan Hines Walnut Brownies (family size). according to package directions for 9x13 pan. During last two or three minutes of cooking, sprinkle 1/2 bag miniature marshmallows over top of brownies and return to oven. (ONLY A COUPLE OF MINUTES.) Have frosting prepared to pour over hot brownies.


1/2 stick margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix and pour over warm cake. Allow to cool completely, uncovered. Don't be alarmed, this will look melted but will set up as it cools. – From the kitchen of Jeanette Hill Bradsaw.

Corn & Cheese Casserole

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans cream-style corn
5 beaten eggs
1 small box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 cup oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Add oil to eggs. Add other ingredients. Mix well. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until center is firm. – From the kitchen of longtime friend Annelle Poole.


The real shame

At the risk of dating myself, when I was a teenager the best deterrent for finding oneself in “the family way” was shame.

Sex aside, argueably a major contributor to teenage pregnancy today is the absence of shame.

The real shame, though, is the exploitation of a 17-year-old girl for political purposes and the selling of media sensationalism.

According to CNN, the left-wing blog, Daily Kos, was the source of the rumor that Sarah Palin’s daughter is the mother of the 4-month old baby with Down’s syndrome. Pretty neat trick, since the daughter is five months pregnant.

Has it occurred to anyone that left-wing propaganda is just as despicable as attacks from the right?

Republicans are not without blame. Fox News spent the hours after the introduction of Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket parading one right-wing pundit after another delivering talking points about how great it was that Palin didn’t abort her afflicted baby.

Now, they have used Bristol Palin’s pregnancy to try to turn this election once more on the issue of abortion – a maneuver meant to mask eight years of ineptitude.

George W. Bush once addressed a fundraiser crowd, “Some call you rich; I call you my base.” Nothing like a culture war to bring low- and middle-income folks into the fold and make them forget they’re the ones being screwed.

As for Democrats, I thought we were the good guys. We’re beginning to sound more like the right than the right.

Even in our patriarchal society, no one accuses fathers of abandoning their family role when seeking - and serving in - public office.

We had better back off, or we might just find that bullet we’ve shot into our collective foot is sexism.

I’m ashamed.