Saving Margaret’s Grocery, and a New Documentary

A 501c3, the Mississippi Folk Art Foundation, has been set up to save the art environment known as Margaret’s Grocery just outside Vicksburg, Mississippi. From the gofundme, the mission was put:

The funds we raise will help in a multitude of ways. From purchasing paint and brushes to moving the bus to its new location. (the wheels on this bus do not go round and round anymore). The bus also needs to be repaired,  replace the tires, to repainting.   The masonic art works need to be expertly moved and then repainted, (requires a crane) religious signs  need to be repainted also.  In addition to rebuilding the signs, relocation of all the art and brick work to a new location and purchasing the land for its new location to reinstalling this iconic folk art creation. All of this requires experts to help with this process and funds to pay to move the masonic art and reinstall in its new location.  

I’m among the donors from a couple of years ago — and gofundme gifts are going on currently —  and much work has been done already and is continuous. I’ve been visiting Margaret’s Grocery since the early 2000s when it appeared more like this:

Underneath all this: a trailer and a little store. Margaret ran this with her previous husband until he was murdered in a robbery. Later, she met Rev Dennis who asked Margaret to marry him and promised he would turn her little store into a palace. And he did.

Some very early pics of Margaret’s Grocery here.

I try to visit at least once a year, and it’s always something of a surprise to see how much worse it looks since each previous visit. These pics were taken in December 2016:

Some of my pics of Margaret’s through the years here. All the following pics are mine, different dates:




Since I took these pics, the school bus was removed to undergo restoration at anther location.

Here, Eric Feldman’s visit where he visits with Margaret and shows the interior.

Here, pics by the UCM Museum in 2001.

On March 7, 2020, the MS Folk Art Foundation’s documentary, “The Oral History of a Southern Vernacular Palace,” will be shown shown 6p at the Strand Theatre in Vicksburg. A panel discussion will follow, and the event is free. The gofundme campaign is going on currently.


Salt Lake City’s Lion House, And Making Sting of the Bee Cake

During our trip to Salt Lake City, we spent a lot of time around Temple Square, and were interested to see that Brigham Young’s home, built in 1856 for his family, has been made into a restaurant called the Lion House.

Lion House Pantry, Salt Lake City UT Lion House Pantry, Salt Lake City UT

This was a simple salad, a chicken pastry and rice dish, a roll, and their special sting of the bee cake. Really nice.

Lion House Pantry, Salt Lake City UT

They publish the recipe for the yeast rolls here on their site

Lion House Pantry, Salt Lake City UT

Another SLC specialty, sting of the bee cake:

Lion House Pantry, Salt Lake City UT

The cake is delicious. Really different — rather than a super soft cake, it’s something like the cross between a cake and biscuit dough. It holds up so well to the thick layer of icing that goes in the middle.

Shugie and I wanted to try to make our own version. I found a copy of what’s said to be the official recipe online. Basically we followed those instructions with a little variation: we substituted chopped pecans for slivered almonds (because Alabama) and because yum, we decided to forego the layer of raspberry for adding about 1/2-cup straight peanut butter and teensy Ghirardelli chocolate chips to the icing. It makes a big cake and we shared a large portion of it with family and friends, and of course it got devoured here too. Fab.

Sting of the Bee Cake Sting of the Bee Cake

Sting of the Bee Cake

This Week’s Various

Joe Minter's African Village in America, Birmingham AL

Joe Minter’s African Village in America

At the Guardian, Hanging trees and hollering ghosts: the unsettling art of the American deep south regarding the We Will Walk exhibit at the Turner Contemporary in the UK

Cultural critic Greg Tate describes the artists in We Will Walk as “southern black visionaries and homegrown technicians of the sacred” who deal in “neo-hoodoo imaginations and hollering bebop ghosts … folks who made ritual look like interior decorating”, and “turned lawn ornamentation into a form of incantation”. That esoteric mix is seen in the work of Minter, which includes a large recreation of the jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, where King was held after an anti-segregation protest – here, it’s watched over by six concrete dobermans.

And wow, Greg Tate undoubtedly skyrocketed the google search frequency of the phrase ‘bebop ghost’ with his Larry Neal shoutout. I’m going to print out the article and bring it to Joe and Hilda next week.

GrateFull Soul, Hattiesburg MS

Hummingbird cake from Gratefull Soul in Hattiesburg

Mattie’s in Austin shares its recipe for hummingbird cake, with cashews rather than pecans, and a pineapple gelee atop, made of pineapple juice and ginger beer.

Memphis’ Cossitt Library is getting a $6M renovation which will include podcasting / music studios, performance stages, co-working space and a cafe. Memphis is one of the cities taking part in the Reimagining the Civic Commons program.

Serkan Özkaya, David sculpture

at the 21C in Louisville

At the NYT’s Beyond the DJ in the Lobby: How Resorts Cater to the Creative Crowd, the 21C Louisville is mentioned, as is Blackberry Mountain in Tennessee:

…houses an Art Studio offering opportunities to throw pots, build ceramics, paint, sketch, weave baskets or learn textile arts. This year, there are also periodic multiday events featuring professional artists such as the potter Keith Kreeger and the glass artist Richard Jolley.

Motlow Ad, Birmingham AL

The Motlow’s / Jack Daniels mural in downtown Birmingham

If you would have guessed that Jack Daniels would have been the most-visited distillery in the world, I would have agreed — but it’s another Tennessee distiller that got 4.5M visitors last year. Also: remember when the JD tours were free? Not any more, for a while now.

From West Virginia Public Radio, The Hütte: A Melting Pot Of Swiss, Appalachian Culture

Deep within the mountains of central West Virginia, is a tiny village called Helvetia. It was originally founded by Swiss settlers in the mid-1800s, as they felt the steep mountains, thick forests, winding river, all resembled their homeland. Today the town of about 50 people is a melting pot of Appalachian, Swiss culture. There is even a swiss restaurant called — the Hütte. It celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago and is featured in an upcoming documentary.

Apolline, New Orleans

at Apolline in New Orleans

I realize this is a stretch, but while reading it, I made a connection between these two articles:

Help! I Don’t Know Any of the Drinks on This Menu! Our columnist explains why so many cocktails on bar menus these days are unfamiliar, and emphasizes the importance of continuing to serve classics at the Daily Beast


What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals at Appalachian Magazine with points like we lost an established body of songs, we lost a deep knowledge of our songs, and not so much a connection with the above but enjoyed this little insight: It is easy to imagine a family singing “It Is Well With My Soul” after eating dinner together, but almost impossible to imagine them singing “Oceans.”

Tennessee Rep Kent Calfee got lots of attention this week after people saw him drinking from a Hershey chocolate syrup bottle, like NBD.

“It’s a repurposed syrup bottle that I drink my water out of,” Calfee said on Tuesday. “I’m not going to buy a $25 or $35 or $45 water bottle that’s not worth what it costs because I’ll probably put it down and leave it somewhere.”

Among items in the upcoming March 5 auction of some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art and personal effects:

For the first time, O’Keeffe’s collection of recipes — a card file containing about 300 items — is going up for auction. Many are penned, or penciled, by the artist. Along with the chicken flautas, she copied out recipes for pecan butterball cookies, fresh applesauce, and leek and potato soup, among others.

Fried Pies, Amish Community outside Pontotoc, MS

fried pie from the Amish community outside Pontotoc MS

Yes to Season 7, Episode 5 of Tennessee Farm Table, with: “Good ole favorites”, Cast Iron Cornbread, make your own butter, fried peach pies, Beef Stew, and “Pal’s Sudden Service”.

Pink Lemonade, Jim's Cafe, Greenville MS

Mayhaw jelly at Jim’s Cafe in Greenville MS

Well-deserved love for mayhaw jelly at Texas Highways

Pam relies on a simple formula: just mayhaws, sugar, and Sure-Jell (a brand of pectin). “Wynn sterilizes the jars while I make batches of jelly,” she says, noting that jelly needs to be cooked in relatively small batches to gel properly. “My favorite thing about making mayhaw jelly is keeping the old ways and traditions alive,” she adds. “It’s culture, history, family, and society all rolled together.”

Doris Metropolitan, New Orleans

Doris Metropolitan in New Orleans

Thrillist does a list, and…sigh…another list. But this one is The Best Steakhouses in America and it rightly includes the incredible Doris Metropolitan in New Orleans.

Anyway, hi from the JCRS Gala in New Orleans last weekend and a beautiful Super Bowl Sunday lunch at Galatoire’s! The fam at the JCRS gala

Super Bowl Sunday at Galatoire's

Hope you have some beautiful lunches in your future this week. Lots of love! xoxo!