The Return to Victory Gardens

In Memory of June Davis Davidson. Your spirit lives on through the many words you left us.

With the ever-escalating cost of produce, you can save money and still feed your family a nutritional diet by planting a Victory Garden in the corner of your backyard. A small plot of earth will provide a family with red, green and yellow vegetables all summer long; plump red tomatoes, yellow crook-neck squash, butter or green beans, purple eggplants, dark green leafy collards, cucumbers and red skin potatoes are hearty choices for the miniature southern garden.

These small gardens were originally called War Gardens and Victory Gardens during World War II when canned goods, sugar, meat and gas were rationed. War gardens helped provide food for the family and prevented a food shortage, ensuring a food supply for the military during the war. There were approximately two million victory gardens in the United States during this period, producing almost half of the food grown in America. .

A family affair

Engaging your children in gardening will be the perfect time to discuss the nutritional value of each vegetable grown. Not all will enjoy planting and gathering their crop, but most enjoy the hands-on experience and learning about soil preparation and the methods of planting and harvesting a victory garden.


The tomato is called the world’s healthiest vegetable because it’s rich in the anti-oxidant, lycopene. In the early 1930s, tomato clubs were formed in schools to teach girls about growing this popular and versatile tomato. Tomato Clubs would later become known as the 4-H Club, which began in Mississippi.

Tomato plants require staking, Wire cages, available at most any store with a home and garden department, can be used year after year. Six tomato plants will be sufficient for most families.

Garden tomato plants

Lush, healthy tomato plants


1) Scalding washed whole tomatoes will aid in removing the skin before canning or freezing.

2) Wash all vegetables thoroughly before preparing.

3) Add a tablespoon of vinegar in simmering pot of snap beans to preserve the rich dark green color.

4) Fruit and tomatoes should be refrigerated indoors to prevent fruit flies.

5) Take a soil sample to the County Extension service to test for your soil requirements.

6) Plant in full sun, or at least morning sun in a well-prepared bed to achieve maximum crop results.

7) Plant by the moon phase; underground crops such as potatoes are planted when nights are dark. Above ground crops are planted when the moon is full.

8) The Farmers Almanac’s is free booklet filled with useful information for the beginning gardener.

9) A tablespoon of vinegar in simmering dark green snap beans preserves the color.


Garden 2 Squash blooms

A beautiful squash bloom


Garden-Bobby Davidson gather squash

Harvesting the squash

Then and Now

Years ago, our grandparent used wood poles, attaching wire to the top, which ran the length of the row. Twine was added and zigzagged from the wire and anchored to the ground to allow the beans to grow up the twine. With Victory Gardening, do what the Native American’s did. Plant beans near the base of corn stalks and let the beans grow up the stalk. Not only will this reduce gardening work, but is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

From the garden to the table

Instead of a hamburger or hot dog meal, gather a couple of nice size green tomatoes. Wash and slice the tomato into thick pieces, salt, pepper and meal before frying in that seasoned iron skillet grandma gave you. Serve fried green tomatoes between a layer of bread spread lightly with mayonnaise and a leaf of dark green lettuce before you lightly toast the sandwich in a buttered skillet. Serve with a side of vegetable soup made from your garden; tomatoes, beans, corn kernels and okra and a quarter of an onion, simmered with a dash of salt, pepper, oregano and basil for a easy and delicious hearty meal.

Thoroughly washed and freshly cooked collard greens can’t be beat for flavor; garnish them with a dollop of sour cream and serve. A dish of cucumber and diced tomatoes is a cool,refreshing addition to your dinner table during the summer months. These two vegetables contains nutrients that decrease during the cooking cycle. Season and cook young, slender green beans in a wok. Scrap corn off the cob, add butter, salt and pepper and bake until done. Less butter is needed to season food than imitation margarine.

The Gardener’s chore

Victory Gardens are easy to maintain and require little work, other than preparing the soil for planting, just keep the weeds at bay and water. Sit back and watch it grow and produce. A rule of thumb is to plant one row about 14 feet long for each vegetable, except for eggplants, cabbage, cucumbers, and radishes.  A tiller comes in handy for breaking up the ground, but this can also be done with a shovel, although this takes longer and requires more effort. You’ll need a hoe regardless, to keep the weeds at bay. A weed free garden helps reduce pests. Some plant marigolds between vegetable rows because they claim marigolds keep insects away from vegetable plants, although there is no scientific proof that supports this theory. After the harvest, can or freeze excess vegetables, but follow FDA safety instructions on canning.

From acres of vegetables on family farms in the rural south to the small Victory Garden in our backyard, we can still supplement our diet with wholesome, healthy and additive free food.


So, grab your straw hat . . . its time to plant!




Fenway Victory Gardens

Organic Gardening

June Davidson book cover image copy

June Davidson


June Davis Davidson is the author of Country Stores of Mississippi, Images of Meridian and coauthor of Legendary Locals of Meridian. She is a member and former board member of the Mississippi Writers Guild and currently serves as the Meridian Chapter head. June is member of Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education and is listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission as a literary artist.




Quick Shrimp Pasta

 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil or T of dried

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese

sea salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 lb penne pasta, prepared


In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil and 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Stir well, then set aside. Preheat your oven’s broiler for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange the shrimp on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Then, sprinkle with 2 tbsp Romano cheese.

Broil the shrimp for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Add the cooked penne pasta to the tomato mixture and stir well. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Stir again. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Spoon the pasta into bowls and top with 1/4 of the shrimp. Serve immediately.




Fresh Pico de Gallo

Fresh and Fast: Fresh Pico de Gallo

3 Roma tomatoes,diced

1/2 cup purple onion,diced

2 T diced jalapeño

1 diced avocado

Fiesta lime mrs dash to taste

Fresh cilantro to taste

Fresh lime juice to taste

Gently fold all together.  Serve with tortilla chips


Snack Time!


Canine Cuisine

Once upon a time on an aisle in a grocery store,

Debby Martin searched for the healthiest dog food and treats, wanting only the best for her Dorkie (Dachshund and Yorkie mix) Kirby. Then, one Thanksgiving, after Kirby became sick from eating dressing from the table, Debby was determined to find out what dogs should and should not eat. Her discoveries surprised her – not about table food, but about commercial dog food.

“It’s been proven that some commercial products have tiny bits of the drug used to euthanize pets.” There can also be poisons and pesticides, said Debby. “I think over the years this builds up to the cancers we are seeing today.”

Thus began Debby’s seven-year journey from grocery store aisle to the kitchen. Questioning every ingredient in her canine’s diet, she researched holistic veterinarians and other websites on healthy food ingredients. In turn, she developed her own website to inform and educate others and to provide tried and trusted canine recipes.

“I started making Kirby’s treats and now he eats about 90 percent homemade. I just love creating the recipes. Kirby is very picky and won’t eat just anything.” 

Realizing, however, that one day her website might be gone, she wrote the canine chef cookbook to provide people with the same information and recipes on her website. The book includes sections on Wholesome Canine Nutrition, Recipes, and The Pantry. Within these sections, she includes pertinent information on healthy and harmful ingredients, food colors, tips and tricks, tools in the kitchen, and much more. Her ultimate goal: Pay attention to what your dog is eating. 

Take spices, for instance.

Holistic veterinarians consider garlic very healthy and safe for pets, but certain ingredients can be very dangerous, especially if your dog has health issues. 

“For example, Rosemary is beneficial for dogs, but if your dog is epileptic, it can cause seizures, whereas Nutmeg is extremely toxic for a dog,” said Debby. Always check with your vet first about the ingredients before cooking for your dog. “If you have any reservations about any ingredient, leave it out.” Table foods are fine as long as you know what’s in it.

Debby’s passion and concern for other people’s pets most likely grew when Kirby got sick. Sugar, Debby’s dog before Kirby, lived to be 15 years old. Though Debby did buy dry dog food, Sugar ate mostly table scraps from carefully prepared family meals that were low in sugar and fats. 

“So Sugar was really eating some very good food, said Debby. “He ended up living a long life and never had any illness.”

There is no moisture in kibble and a dog’s diet should be 70 percent water, explained Debby. Food that dry overworks the kidneys to reconstitute and break down that food. Over time, this can lead to kidney failure.

“Would you eat the same dry food every day?” she asked. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. As humans, we try to avoid fast foods. It’s healthy for your pet to eat fresh foods, just like you.” Even if you don’t prepare every meal for your canine, make treats and supplement the dog food. Juicing is healthy for you and your pet, so pour a topper over your pet’s dry food. 

When Debby provides foster care to neglected and abandoned animals, she feeds them the same food Kirby eats. She admits to being an advocate for healthy pet diets, saying, “I keep a list on my refrigerator of things Kirby can and cannot eat so everyone knows.”

Kirby knows not to take treats from people because Debby doesn’t know what’s in that treat and a well-meaning bite can be dangerous.

“Your dog is a member of your family, so you want them to live longer. Think about what you are feeding them,” said Debby. “You feed your kids well so they will grow up healthy. Feed your dog with the same attitude.” 

BREAKOUT BOX:  –  All recipes in the cookbook are on the website for people who can’t afford the cookbook.  Debby responds to all emails and contact.

the canine chef cookbook is available on Amazon, the Book Store on Main street and at Animal Medical Center, Starkville, Mississippi.


This article originally published in Town & Gown Magazine.


Stepping into a New Year


“Solvitur ambulando—it is solved by walking.” –Saint Augustine

With a new calendar on my wall and thoughts of resolutions, I know I must put on my walking shoes again and get this body moving. The first step out the door after over-indulging through the holidays is the hardest for me to make.

While wishing to be back in my cozy corner sipping cocoa, I’m inspired by my friends, Nancy Ellis and her dad, Sonny Evans, who get up at 4 A.M. on week-day mornings several times a week to exercise at the gym before going to their places of business. I’m thinking that if they can do that, surely I can manage to drag myself out of bed at sun-up and get back on a schedule of walking on the gym treadmill at least three times weekly.

I’m told that physical exercise also benefits mind as much as body.

According to an online article produced by AARP, “How Walking Buffs Your Brain,” research shows that, “Aerobic activity releases hormones like adrenaline in your body. These hormones are key players in your nervous system and in boosting your mood. Endorphins also release in your body during activity. They help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being.

Many people believe that a brisk walk can also help you tap into your creative side, boosting your power to think of new ideas and to solve problems. Author, Julia Cameron, who has written more than a dozen best-selling books on creativity, considers her daily outdoor walks a necessary discipline for both creativity and peace of mind. Cameron says, “It is on these walks that my best ideas come to me. It is while walking that difficult clarity emerges. It is while walking that I experience a sense of well-being and connection, and it is in walking that I live most prayerfully.”

In her book, Walking in this World, Julia Cameron shares:

“It was during a time in which my life felt directionless both personally and creatively that I discovered the solace and direction to be found in walking. I would walk a forty-five minute loop. As I walked, emotions would wash through me. I was grieving a lost marriage and the death of my father. I would walk and pray for guidance. A day at time, a walk at a time, even a simple step at a time, my sad and tangled life began to sort itself.”

Creative writing instructor, Brenda Ueland, advised her students who were suffering from writer’s block: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five-or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

The American Heart Association recommends:

“Walk more, eat better, and live a more healthy life.” They tell us that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce our risk of heart disease. 

I need new ideas and problem solving techniques. I need to stretch my legs, stretch my mind, and gain new strength for my body. So, here I go, stepping into a New Year, walking in this world.

by Virginia Dawkins


Photo “Runners On The Street During Adidas King Of The Road 2012 Run…” courtesy of Sura Nualpradid and freedigitalphotos

Your Lifestyle Or Your Life

The comedian, George Burns, was famous for making people laugh with silence. He once told of a robber who banished a pistol and demanded of him “Your Money or your life.” After George’s long pause, the robber demanded, “Did you hear me? I said, Your money or your life.” Eventually, George replied “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” That scenario reminded me of how some of us-even in the case of eminent danger, remain inattentive about our health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,

claiming the lives of one in four individuals, and adds 300  billion dollars of financial burden to the U.S. economy. The biggest factors that contribute to the onset of serious heart problems include: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; an unhealthy weight; and poor lifestyle choices like smoking: a poor diet; excessive alcohol consumption; and negative thinking.

Mississippi is ranked 49th out of 50 states and is America’s most unhealthy state.

And according to Dr. Agatston, creater of the South Beach Diet, “the poor health of Americans is only predicted to increase.” Once heart disease is present, we resort to popping pills to quell the symptoms, but prevention is better than all attempts to cure.

Maintaining a healthy heart and mind is both physical and psychological. It involves daily attention to activities, family history and healthy lifestyle choices. While you can’t change your family history, you can turn a family’s history of unhealthy living into healthy opportunities.

On the physical side, eating the right foods in the right amounts is a good start.

Foods that are low in salt and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish have been shown to reduce heart disease and cancer.

Maintaining an exercise regimen of 30 to 60 minutes 3 times a week and getting a good night’s sleep reduces your chances of getting high blood pressure and diabetes. Small portions of food are easy to accomplish by using a smaller plate.

On the Psychological side it’s important to remember we are creating our lives and that for every moment we live, we’ll be attracting either jewels or crap into it. It’s imperative that we choose our behaviors, friends, thoughts, and words wisely in order to manage stress.

healthHuman beings are designed to be in relationship with others.

We need to connect so that we know who we are and how we matter. Most of our problems are people problems. Our friendships and relationships have a major impact on our health. Plenty of people, however, love to hang out, listen to negativity, and complain when they can get a word in edgewise. That negative energy is infectious. Complaining and worrying are the absolute worst possible things we can do for our health. It sticks to our insides and wears us down. When we complain, we’re focusing on what’s wrong with our lives not what is right. What we focus on tends to expand. Negativity leaves very little room for positive growth and productivity. Separating ourselves from complainers is just as important as resisting the urge to complain. Do what you can with the problems that inevitably occur in life and let them go.

We all need a cheering section.

Think of a few people you can trust with your stuff. Use them as a sounding board for your concerns, your longings and your creative pursuits.

While there is nothing you can do to change your gene pool, there are many things you can do to help prevent heart disease. Here are just a few.

What’s a Person To Do?

  • Eat healthy and (reduce your salt intake to no more than 3/4 a teaspoon a day) stay active.

  • Move your body and stay active. If you’re overweight, make a plan to gradually reduce. 1 1/2 pounds per month is medically supported.

  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. One drink a day for women, two for men are medically supported.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

  • Find a Cheering Section-people with whom you can connect, share and evaluate your productivity-thereby dropping complaints, worry, and negativism.

Unlike George Burns, refuse to wait for imminent danger to tend to your health by improving your lifestyle. Take actions. You life depends on it.

© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy.D. February 24, 2016

photos courtesy of Free Digital Photos, stockimages and Sujin Jetkasettakorn.

Ocean Springs – The City of Discovery


Part 1

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

If you’ve ever been to this quaint little Gulf Coast town tucked along the eastern shore of Biloxi Bay then you know it has a lot to offer. Visitors come from far and wide, and many will either decide to stay and never return back home, relocate there, or decide to make it their retirement place.  Every town has its own personality, and this one lives and breathes a unique atmosphere, perhaps because of its nearness to New Orleans or its eccentric arts past.

A city that is increasingly growing in diversity, nestled within its space are lots of quirky boutiques, little shops, and great food places (more than 100!). A new favorite spot can be found around every corner. Ancient oak trees line many of the streets, stretching across the road and whispering tales of long ago. It’s a town with its own character, and a love for the arts. Numerous art festivals draw people from all over the US and Canada throughout the year, the most well-known being the Peter Anderson Festival.

Here is a baker’s dozen of popular favorites that you should not miss when you visit The City of Discovery:

  1. Tato-Nuts Donuts: The Mohler family has been making the world’s BEST donuts here since 1960. Donuts are made fresh every day, and you can also get a great cup of java (a.k.a coffee) and other pastries. These donuts are special because they’re made from potato flour- which kind of makes them healthier…at least that’s what I tell myself! Go early because there’s usually a line out the door! And if you go during the Mardi Gras season (Feb/March), be sure to try the King Cake donut. But the classic chocolate glazed is a popular favorite, especially because they make their chocolate glaze from scratch.

  2. Government Street Grocery: The best hamburger that you will seriously ever eat can be found at this restaurant. It’s not fancy, and it’s small but you can’t go wrong with any of the menu selections. Get the home-made fries and see if you can guess the secret ingredient. Be sure to look for their famous wall sign that reads, “Keep OS weird!” If you go in the evening, you can catch some great local bands (Texas Pete & Rooster Blues are just two examples). Local craft beers, like Blue Moon, are here, too.

  3. The new indie book shop, Southern Bound Book Shop: Finally, OS has an indie book shop! Bring on the 21st century! In its early stages before becoming a full-fledged butterfly, it’s currently tucked inside a cozy corner of the Adele & Grace Consignment Boutique…which is just mere footsteps from Gov’t Street Grocery. Events like Story Time for kids and a Book Club are encouraging folks to read more. They have a second location in Biloxi, and are great supporters of the local writers in the area. Many books written by local authors can be found here, as well as lots of new releases. Be sure to sign up for the rewards program to earn points for purchases toward future books. Go indies! Shop local!

  4. The Mary C. – officially the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education: If you want to catch a small theatre production or music venue, this is the place. Their annual calendar is filled each year with great artists and all good things for art lovers. This place is a nerve center for local arts. There’s a revolving art gallery that always features thought-provoking artwork or photography that very much pertains to local history and all things Southern. If you go, be sure to visit the gift shop for local designs and artwork. Don’t miss the Ocean Springs History Museum upstairs; if you can catch the Curator, he will tell you some very interesting things about the history of this place and how it developed, as well as the people who played roles in its development. The Mary C. always has a great many things going on. Besides all of these things already mentioned, it offers a wide variety of art classes for all ages… everything from calligraphy, sewing, painting, sculpture, and stained glass to drawing, jewelry making to culinary arts. Once a month they also offer a Saturday market on their lawn; local arts and crafts vendors set up stands and sell their wares.

  5. Walter Anderson Museum of Art: Ah, Walter Anderson…the eccentric man for which this town is famously known. His artwork is famously unique with flowing lines, ink drawings, wood carvings, and jewel-like watercolors. Most of his art relates heavily to the local area and its forms found in nature, such as the sea and local birds or fish. He was known for his 14-mile rowboat trips to Horn Island where he would spend weeks painting and becoming one with the sea and its creatures. If you visit the museum, you will find a unique collection of pieces that will inspire you to enter a magical world of imagination. And best of all, there is a huge room at the museum, tucked in the corner and used for meetings or gatherings; in this room you will find every inch of space filled with nature scenes and whimsical creatures or designs. There is also a Little Room, as it is known. It was discovered at his cottage after his death, and is a giant mural inspired by Psalm 104. The Little Room has been added as an extension to the museum, and stepping inside of it womb is like stepping into a magical and whimsical world filled with dreamlike imagination.

  6. Lovelace Drugstore & Soda Fountain: Nostalgia owns this place. It was originally the medical practice of Dr. O.L. Bailey, but was burned in 1915. It was rebuilt as Ocean Springs Drugs in 1926, and became Lovelace Drugs in the 1950’s. Still dressed in its retro-ish 50’s décor, Lovelace Drugs will take you back to yesteryear. It’s a must on your list of sites to see. They even still have the original soda fountain counter with bar stools. They still sell a small selection of typical drugstore items, but grilled Reuben’s are their specialty, along with milkshakes and root beer floats. A visit here is especially nostalgic during Cruzin’ on the Coast, when vintage vehicles take over the town.

  7. THE BEACH! – No stop to O.S. would be sufficient without a jaunt to the beach. There are a couple of popular spots. If you have a boat, you may want to check out the marina. Front Beach is conveniently located across from Fort Maurepas, which has playing areas for the kids and picnic tables, grills, and restrooms for the whole family. If you have your walking shoes, you can walk along a nicely paved sidewalk along the shore, and can even walk all the way to the Biloxi Bay Bridge which connects O.S. and Biloxi via highway 90. But East Beach is a personal favorite because it’s much quieter, and also allows dogs. This is also the best spot to watch fireworks on the 4th of July. No matter which spot in the sand you choose, watch for shrimp boats heading toward deeper waters, crabs along the beach, and pelicans diving for fish. If you linger to watch the sunsets, you’ll see a glorious show of colors and may catch fish jumping in the water. Breathe in the salt air, wiggle your toes, and relax…then write your name in the sand and get in touch with your inner child!

  8. Shearwater Pottery: Every town must have an off-the-beaten path place to check out. The first time that I went here, I seriously thought that I was headed to the boonies and would surely get lost in the woods and trampled by wild beavers or would end up driving headfirst into the ocean. Just past the marina, there’s a tiny, narrow dirt road- if you blink then you’ll miss it. There is a sign, but it blends in with the camouflage of the green bushes and clay road. Once you find this road, which is very narrow and curvy I might add, you pass several artist cabins before reaching a final cabin. You’ll know this is the place because of all the cars parked outside. Only in the South do we have driving directions like this! On any account, once inside you’ll be transported into another world…the world of marvelous pottery. Originally founded by Peter Anderson (brother of Walter) in 1928, it is still family-owned today. Needless to say, this is considered local hallowed ground. All three Anderson brothers- Peter, Walter, and James- are its most well-known pottery designers. Today they have a variety of potters who design and sell ceramics, decorative and utilitarian pieces as well as figurines. Truly unique in design and reasonably-priced, their pottery is magnificent. If you are into pottery and collections, this is one place you can’t miss. (Even if you’re not, just go!)

  9. French Kiss Pastries: Welcome to Paris! That’s exactly how you will feel upon entering this special little place. Take some time to ooh and aah over the beautiful and delectably inviting pastries, cakes, cookies and pies while you try to decide what to get. Personally, I always love their blueberry scones. The berries are so fresh that they explode in your mouth, bursting with flavor. But there’s also cute little gourmet cakes- get one and you can proudly claim that you ate a whole entire cake!

  10. Greenhouse on Porter: You will love this great little coffee shop that walks to the beat of its own drum. Jess & Katie, the owners, make the best gourmet biscuits this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Housed in an actual former greenhouse, colorful artwork adorns the front entrance area, and the table seating area greets patrons with a small organic garden. There’s a special spot for parking your bicycle, and you’ll get treated like an old friend from the moment you step foot inside. They also host Opp Shop events for local artists, movie nights, musical afternoons, yoga, and writer’s table events. This is really a place that has quickly become embedded into the local community, and its positive vibe will infect you. Mondays are usually Free Coffee days, and be sure to visit the Little Free Library…it’s co-sponsored by Southern Bound Book Shop!

  11. Quakes Ice Creamery: From the outside, you would never know what a treasure can be found within the walls of this place! If you are a true adventurer, then you will take a chance and soon discover. Once inside, you can sit down and eat a great hamburger or hot dog and grab a homemade malt, ice cream or sundae specialty. The food is great, and the ice cream is the best and creamiest in town- and features daily flavor specials. But the best part of all is that you can write your name on the wall! Grab a sharpie, and find a spot if you can, and leave your mark. Folks have been doing this for years. Literally every inch is almost filled- walls, ceilings, tabletops, chairs and benches…even most of the bathroom spaces!

  12. Historic L & N Train Depot, and Fresh Market Saturdays: During the bustling train days of long ago, this station ran a line from Mobile to New Orleans, and it made stops in Ocean Springs. It was built in 1870, and has been lovingly renovated. Today it houses the Chamber of Commerce and a Visitor’s Center, as well as a small gift shop that features local artwork- particularly that of Walter Anderson. This is a great place to stop and get brochures and loot to plan your itinerary. On most Saturdays, depending on the season, you can check out the Fresh Market from 9am-noon. Local farmers bring their fresh crops, and you can also get local honey, fresh organic milk and eggs, cheese, beef jerky, handmade soaps, hand-spun yarn and a menagerie of other items.

  13. Belgicans Fries: Last but not least, this is really the BEST place to get fries. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or supper! The name is a blending of play on words, Belgium and America…it’s the Belgian and American way of eating fries. They have a second location a stone’s throw away in D’Iberville. Fresh-peeled potatoes are fried twice to a crispy golden and crunchy texture. When you order, you get to decide topping choices. The menu is diversely unique, and they really do make a meal.

As you can see from this list, Ocean Springs has a lot to offer visitors.

This list is just a short example. In a town with over 100 restaurants and loads of other great places, you will have no trouble finding great spots to shop, eat, or play. Plan your visit today!

The City of Discovery, Part I by Kristina Mullenix


Christmas on the Coast: Unique Holiday Traditions

Around the U.S. and even in Northern Mississippi,

folks are busy raking piles of autumn leaves of red and gold, harvesting fresh veggies for the winter coming soon, and getting their coats ready as the temperatures begin to get cooler each day. But not on the MS Gulf Coast! It’s an area of the country where it rarely gets cold enough this time of year to move things indoors. That’s great at Christmas-time, when the celebrations often stay outdoors, and where folks in that area love to be on the water. Living a life on the sea and according to the rhythms of the waves has been their way for many generations, after all. And that is one thing that’s especially unique about Christmas on the Coast. Life revolves around the sea and all of its bounty every day, and this includes the holidays.

Susan Dufek Gates, a native of the Coast, says that her family usually spends the summer and fall season catching fresh fish and seafood to prepare for the big family-get-together at Christmas. Then they all gather and have fried oysters, fried shrimp, and crab cakes for their holiday meal. She adds, “We just celebrate the holidays the way we grew up with them. Having seafood at Christmas is really an honoring and a celebration of our surroundings, granted by God, and living next to the water that provides our meals.”

“Food, family, and God”

are the way we Southerners live our lives, and Jesus is always the reason for the season. Quite a few Coastal families have started the tradition of baking birthday cakes for Jesus at Christmas. They gather with their loved ones around the Christmas tree and sing “Happy Birthday” before opening presents.

Most family gatherings revolve around food–

it’s the way people socialize and connect with one another, and everybody likes good food- no matter which state or country you are located. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is no different. “Come Christmastime, everyone makes their favorite dish or pasty, like pusharatas or lady fingers. Most of these recipes have been handed down from one generation to the next,” sometimes adding their own special secret ingredient…a dash of this and a little of that, and wah-la! That’s what Cynthia Baker Powell, who comes from a long line of seafaring folks on the Coast, tells us. She adds, “Of course, everyone thinks their version of the recipe is the best!” (FYI: Pusharatas are a traditional pastry from Croatia, from which many Slavonian families descend on the Coast. For those unaware, pusharatas are a type of deep-fried nugget that is filled with yummy things like chopped lemons, dates, oranges & spices such as cinnamon, and usually a splash (or two)of whiskey…. Learn more about how to make pusharatas here:

The Coast would not be the Coast without boats…or a Boat Parade on the Water!

Just about all of the bigger coastal cities have their own boat parade, often accompanied by fireworks, face painting, vintage car shows, lots of food, downtown shopping events, and Santa (of course!). Many a generation ago somebody decided, “Hey, let’s decorate our boats for Christmas!” Moss Point, MS is the most famous for their boat parade, dubbed Christmas on the River. They even have costumed boaters throwing goodies and candies out to the kids. Everyone joins in the fun, watching the glittering lights cruise past on the harbor and taking in the sights of the festive decorations. Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Gulfport follow suit, as does Bay St. Louis and Pascagoula.

If you want to kick up your season just a notch,

in the famous words of Louisiana’s native son Emeril Lagasse, then you might take a stroll through Lowe’s or Home Depot to pick up some alligator-shaped lights for Christmas. A few Coastal folks have been known to spice up their holiday season by hanging these beauties up around the house. You haven’t lived until you’ve sung Christmas Carols surrounded by the glow of Cajun gators beaming all around you. And more than a few tables can be found serving a hot plate of Alligator Meatballs or Gator-on-a-Stick!

Down Louisiana way, they are known for their tradition of “Bonfires on the Levee.”

Forget the simple flashing lights from a bulb on a string; the Cajuns prefer to light the way for Pere Noel (A.K.A. Santa Claus) by using 30-foot-high flaming bonfires! Can you say, “Gone pecan?”  Families gather and build the bonfires, often accompanied by music, a visit from Pere Noel, lots of food, and fireworks. Everyone has a grand evening on the eve before Christmas, and the tradition continues the following year.

  • “You’re never too young to learn the tradition of making lady fingers at Christmas.” (Pictured is Jason Powell)- Photo courtesy of Cynthia Baker Powell

The holiday season is a time of gathering together with loved ones.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, we hope you celebrate them surrounded by friends and family in the warm glow of love and many blessings. If you come to visit us here on the MS Coast, we’ll set an extra place for you at the table and warmly welcome you to our holiday gathering before we head out the door to the boat parade or the Bonfire on the Levee…but only after we’ve eaten a handful of grandma’s famous pusharatas and fresh seafood! Merry Christmas, y’all!

By: Kristina Mullenix


Slow Waltz with Southern Oak

While Kentucky is traditionally considered the master of bourbon,

when old timers began distilling it, the Bluegrass State was a county in Virginia. So it’s no surprise that just outside Fredericksburg, Virginia, a small distillery practices the time-honored art and science of making fine bourbon. Each barrel aged at A. Smith Bowman responds to the seasons, while the spirit inside acquires tenor and taste in a slow waltz with charred oak.

Bowman’s small batch bourbons are currently distributed in 19 states and London, England, yet are still bottled by hand and they never combine more than eight barrels. For comparison, Maker’s Mark, another award-winning bourbon, combines about 19 barrels for each batch. A. Smith Bowman enjoys a growing reputation. “We’re attracting visitors to Fredericksburg from as far away as Maine and Florida and we get international visitors,” says tour guide Mary Ahrens.

In 2013, both John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon and Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon were awarded gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a blind tasting by industry experts of more than 1400 entrants.

George Final 2American Spirit

The history of the Bowman family is uniquely American. After serving in the Revolutionary War, Abraham Bowman and his four brothers settled in Kentucky. Abram Smith Bowman was born there in the late 1800s and moved to Indianapolis as an adult, finding fortune with a transportation company. When the city bought him out in 1927, he purchased a farm in Northern Virginia called Sunset Hills. He used leftover grain to distill spirits. After Prohibition was repealed, he built a modern distillery in Fairfax and named it after his farm. In 1988, the distillery moved to its current location in a former manufacturing plant just off route 2 across from the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds. It’s a small operation with a handful of employees. Although they sold their share in 2003 to Sazerac of Metairie, Louisiana, the family that gave this distillery its name serves as a reminder of a tradition generations in the making.

They distill twice a year, in the fall and the spring.

“That’s how the old timers had to do it,” Ahrens explains. “They had to cool their still before there was refrigeration so they had to do it when the streams were running. They could count on it.”

While continuing to make the spirits that built its reputation, Bowman looks to innovate. Master Distiller Brian Prewitt worked with Vendome Copper and Brass Works, in Louisville, Kentucky, to design a custom-made still. This month, a 24 foot tall, 500 gallon hybrid pot made to Prewitt’s specifications was assembled at the distillery. Its features will allow Bowman to experiment with flavor profiles and to take over the entire process of distilling vodka and gin, which until now have been distilled off site and bottled in Fredericksburg. Named “George” for the father of the Bowman brothers, it will make its inaugural run in March. George sits alongside “Mary,” the longtime still named for the Bowman matriarch. “We want to have the capability to try anything and everything, and with George, we should be able to do just that,” Prewitt said in a press release. “We’re excited to do some experimenting, try new things and continue to make great spirits here at A. Smith Bowman Distillery.”

Honorable Tradition

Federal law requires that bourbon be made of at least 51 percent corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, with no additives other than water and yeast. A. Smith Bowman’s recipe includes malted barley and rye. After several days of fermentation, the solids and the liquids are separated and the solids are fed to cattle.

The liquid mixture is then pumped into the still. After distillation, only the “center cut” – what the distiller determines is the highest quality – is used. Each barrel is filled with 53 gallons and hammered shut with a wooden mallet.

For a whiskey to be called “bourbon,” it has to be aged in new charred oak barrels. “We want an oak that’s going to be pliable enough to make into a barrel and porous enough that it’s going to interact with the whiskey,” Ahrens says.

Bowman gets their barrels from Independent Stave Company in Lebanon, Kentucky, a company that has supplied makers of bourbon and wine with hand-crafted barrels since 1912. ISC company sends buyers into Arkansas to select white oak from the Ozark Mountains. The wood is milled into staves which are then dried for 18 to 24 months in open air. After that, the cooper constructs the barrel using techniques first developed in feudal England. Finally, the interior is “toasted” with a 1300 degree propane flame to give them four degrees of char.

The spirit goes in crystal clear.

During aging, the oak relaxes in summer months and contracts in winter. This interaction with the wood develops the spirit’s color and taste. John J. Bowman single barrel bourbon is aged 10 years; Bowman Brothers is aged seven years.

Durindistilleryg aging, some of the alcohol seeps out of the barrel bringing wood deposits with it. This “barrel candy” seals the barrel. While each barrel is different, up to 65 percent is lost in the aging process to evaporation, what is known as “the angel’s share.”

There are more than 5000 barrels currently aging on the property. Finally, after being brought from the aging room, makers extract the bung and empty the barrel into a tank for filtration. Every four to six months, they release bourbon limited editions named after the patriarch Abraha

Bowman’s oaky, concentrated flavors are earning a growing reputation that may force the company to revise their bottling process. They still bottle one at a time.

Cinderpoo by Cesca Janece Waterfield

Cesca Janece Waterfield is a writer originally from the Northern Neck of Virginia. She is fascinated by the history of the rural south and is currently earning her MFA in Creative Writing in southwest Louisiana. Contact her via






Is Stress Making you Sick?

You’re driving along listening to the radio, enjoying a fine day when someone runs a red light. You brake, barely avoiding a crash that could have taken your life. Stressed, you’re left-for a few minutes- shaking like a leaf in the wind. You don’t like the feeling but you soon recover. This is a normal reaction known as the “stress response.”

Our body is well equipped to handle life-threatening situations.

It automatically responds with a complex series of chemical reactions that allow you to survive the danger and eventually return to normal. In the scenario above, the adrenal gland shot the chemical cortisol to brain and mobilized your internal defenses, making you stronger, faster and more capable of reacting appropriately. When the immediate danger is over, the body sends a calming hormone released by the hippocampus. Soon, you’re back to your normal self again.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you.

When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life-like when you slammed on the brakes to avoid an accident. It can also help you to rise to meet the challenges of your life and keep you on track to meet your responsibilities. But beyond a certain point, according to Dr. Jean King, Ph.D. of the UMass Medical School, “stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.”

We live in a very different world than we were evolved to live.

The pressures of modern life are never ending and tend to chronically tax our central nervous system. We spend our time fighting traffic, going to meetings, hassling with our children, mates and relatives and wondering how we’re doing in the world. Technological advances have expanded the business day. People constantly have their cell phone stuck to their ear as they try to manage their hungry, tired and fighting children; secure food for the family’s meal and navigate the family safely home. The divorce rate is the highest it’s been in history. Because we are living longer, many of us are likely to be the sandwich generation-taking care of our parents as well as our children. We tax our adrenal system with chronic stress because it’s responding to the stress of our everyday life with the same surge of biochemicals released during major threats. The biochemical onslaught the true stress hormones—dopamine, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and especially cortisol chips away at the immune system, opening the way to cancer, infection, and disease. Hormones unleashed by stress eat at the digestive tract and lungs, promoting ulcers and asthma. Or they may weaken the heart, leading to strokes and heart disease.

Not all stress is negative.

Image courtesy of Stock Images at Free Digital Photos

Image courtesy of Stock Images at Free Digital Photos

The birth of a new baby, a new love, a promotion, even compliment kick up the expectation and consequently, the adrenaline.

Too, not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be self-generated, for example, when you worry about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational, pessimistic thoughts about life. Research has shown that most of the beliefs and perceptions that lead us into stress-inducing situations and create our subsequent ineffective responses are formed in childhood. These early, long-standing thought patterns literally wear grooves in our brains.

Further, our ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships, your sense of control, your general outlook on life, your emotional intelligence, genetics and your ability to or calm soothe yourself and bring your emotions in balance.

What is stress really all about?

From both a physical and a psychological perspective, our ancestors lived with far more stress than we do today but I suspect, many of them had a different perception of its danger.

Some of the real or perceived threats with which we do battle, both at home and in the nation’s global concerns, so often rarely measure up to the threats they encountered. In so many cases, the stressors we face are not immediate threats to survival even if they do raise our blood pressure a bit now and then.

What’s a person to do?

  1. Take a mental check. Does the situation really put us in danger? I mean really? Or is this well-rehearsed drama?

  2. Fix what goes wrong and take care of routine matters in a timely manner. Delay increases the threat.

  3. Choose your friends wisely. Avoid those who put you down, criticize and find fault and contribute to the problem.

  4. When things are off kilter, have a self-soothing practice, such as deep breathing or saying kind words to yourself like, “Sweetheart, you’re doing just fine.”

  5. Have the courage to be imperfect. Striving for perfection creates anxiety.

  6. Have a regular exercise program to strengthen the body from the inside out and to help discharge the chemicals produced by stress.


For more on Dr. Rachell Anderson, click here. Also, visit her website here for more articles and books.