Kroger Imports Italian Mozzarella

mozz articleBy Danny Toma, staff writer

One of life’s great pleasures is to travel to the Campania region of Italy (Naples and environs) and eat fresh mozzarella di bufala (or, in Neapolitan dialect, muzzarella ‘e vufara), produced that very day, or, at most, the day before. It’s often served with fresh tomato and basil (the insalata caprese) or with thinly sliced prosciutto, but is delicious on its own as well. Even in other parts of Italy, like Milan or Florence, one would be hard-pressed to taste real mozzarella at its finest.

This authentic mozzarella cheese is made from the milk of the water buffalo (think rice paddies, not Great Plains) and, due to the fact that it is one of the most fickle of cheeses, it was rarely found in the U.S., until recently. It simply does not travel well, and once refrigerated, changes texture and taste almost immediately.

That being said, mozzarella that has been refrigerated is still quite good if relatively fresh, and is a completely different experience from eating most of the rather tasteless cheese that has the “mozzarella” label slapped on it. And now, you can try it for yourself. Kroger has recently started carrying authentic Campanian mozzarella in its cheese department, and while most of the current supply was quickly bought up, Kroger management has assured me that they will restock their shelves as soon as they receive a new shipment from the warehouse.

It is not cheap–around $7.95 for a four ounce ball–but if you’ve never had it, it will change the way you think about cheese forever. One word of caution: this is one cheese you don’t want to purchase on sale. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less firm it becomes, and it will develop a rather acrid taste. Buy it as soon as it comes in, take it home, let it drain for a minute or two, and then just cut it into a few slices to serve as a snack or an appetizer while imagining fishermen casting their nets into the sea with lemon groves on the land at their backs and the shadow of Mount Vesuvius looming above.

About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to on a regular basis.

It’s Collard Time in Oxford (Recipe Included!)

collardsBy Danny Toma, staff writer

Nothing screams “South” so much as a big plate of collard greens, and this is the perfect time of year to find fresh collards across Oxford. Whether one shops at Kroger, Wal-Mart, Larson’s Cash Saver, or Farmers’ Market on North Lamar, one can add a batch of collard greens to the grocery basket at a very reasonable price (the Oxford average is less than 40 cents for a bunch).

Unlike some of our favorite Southern specialties, collard greens are actually quite good for you. Rich in vitamins C and K, and an excellent source of fiber, some studies have hinted that collards may have anticarcinogenic properties as well. Only those on blood thinners need to be cautious around collards (the high levels of vitamin K is associated with blood clotting), but for the rest of us, we can have as much as we want. On top of the good nutrition they provide, collard greens only have about 50 calories per serving.

While we claim collard greens as our own peculiarly Southern dish, the fact is, collards have been eaten across the globe as far back as ancient Greek times. A member of the Brassica oleracea family of plants, which includes such things as cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, collard greens are eaten across many parts of Africa and Latin America as well.

One of the simplest and most traditional ways of preparing collard greens is simply to boil them with a piece of cured, salted meat, such as fatback or bacon. The rich green broth, or pot liquor, is delicious soaked up with a piece of cornbread. Many people, this writer included, believe that the only thing one needs to enhance the flavor at this point is a bit of pepper sauce sprinkled over the top.

As hard as it is to imagine, not everyone is a fan of boiled greens. Thankfully, the number of ways you can prepare collard greens is limited only by the imagination. Below is a recipe that I created for collard green-olive pesto; an easy and tasty recipe that appeared in Gourmet magazine in 2004 (see it here) and went viral, mainly due to its use by Community Supported Agriculture newsletters outside the South whose members had no concept of what to do with the batch of collard greens that showed up on their doorstep with their vegetable basket. Use it when you want to make that mess of greens a bit more “high tone.”

Collard Green-Olive Pesto

Recipe by Danny Toma


  • 1 ¾ lb. collard greens
  • 7 large brine-cured green olives (2 ¼ ounces), pitted
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)


Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut stems and center ribs from collard greens and discard. Stir collards into water in batches, then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer collards with tongs to a colander to drain, gently pressing on greens to extract excess water. (If making pasta, reserve water in pot for cooking pasta.) Coarsely chop collards.

Blend olives and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add collards, water, vinegar, salt, cayenne, and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a slow stream. Turn off motor, then add cheese and pulse to combine. Yield: About 2 ¼ cups


About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to on a regular basis.

Oxford’s Year-Round Farmers’ Market

By Danny Toma, staff writer

farmers' market

credit: Farmers’ Market

Wintertime sometimes brings on the blues, especially for those who love to buy their fresh produce at Oxford’s farmers’ markets.  As the outdoor markets close down for the winter, regular customers may feel that they have no place to go until spring for local, fresh, or unusual produce.

Despair no longer. One of Oxford’s best kept secrets is the little store on North Lamar just past the city limits. From the outside, it isn’t much to look at, and if it weren’t for the faded, hand-painted sign that says “Farmers’ Market,” there would be very little reason to stop. But stop you should, because inside is a vast array of fresh produce, meats and fish, cheeses, and all manner of gourmet goodies.

For the last 10 years, owners (and husband-and-wife team), Liz Stagg and Frank Coppola, have sought to provide a place where shoppers can “go local” as well as find one-of-a-kinfarmers market liz coverd items not available anywhere else in town—think Arkansas Black apples, fresh prickly pear cactus pads (nopales), purple and white sweet potatoes, huge batches of winter greens, pasture-raised eggs, tomatillos, and multiple varieties of dried chilies.

Stagg and Coppola, originally hailing from North Carolina, bought Farmers’ Market with the goal of staying as local as possible, partnering with local farms and other producers. They carry Delta Grind grits, High Point coffee, Peeple’s Farm eggs, Mardis honey, Brown Dairy milk, Honey Bee Bakery bread, and much more. From their other store near Batesville, Stan’s Country Store, they also sell meats and sausages that they process on site.

While local suppliers may not always have the items that their customers crave, Liz and Frank seek out the highest quality producers while trying at all times to keep their prices competitive with other stores in the area. Oxford gourmets need go no further for international food items from Latin America and Asia while at the same time stocking up on homemade beef jerky or locally produced pork rinds. They even make their own doggy treats.

So, don’t let the cold weather dampen your appetite for local food.  Drop by Farmers’ Market at 274 County Road 101 (North Lamar) and check out their offerings.  They are always happy to suggest ways to prepare items they have on sale or work with customers looking for the right ingredient for that special recipe. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. (662) 234-9363

Want to know more? Hear a 2011 interview with Liz Stagg’s via the Southern Foodways Alliance here.


About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to on a regular basis.


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5 Books for Food Lovers

Looking for a gift for the food lovers on your holiday shopping list?

I’m recommending the below five food-centric books, written by authors based right here in Oxford and the surrounding areas. Now you can keep things delicious and local!

Click on the book title to be linked to purchase information at Square Books or elsewhere. Most of these titles can be purchased at Square Books.




Square Table

Published by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council

An awesome collection of bygone recipes from around Oxford, Mississippi. Proceeds from the book go to support arts in Oxford.



daily journal cookbook


A Taste of the Season Cookbook (2014 Holiday Edition)

A Collection of 500 recipes collected and compiled by The Daily Journal.




pizza book cover


Pizza: A Slice of American History

By Liz Barrett

An insider’s guide to the history of America’s favorite food. Packed with new and historic photographs, fun facts and delicious commentary from pizza journalist and publisher of, Liz Barrett.



sfa cookbook


The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge

Containing more than 170 recipes for some of the south’s most iconic foods, this book will appeal to anyone who has ever appreciated the community written, spiral-bound cookbooks of our past.




Inside My Italian Kitchen

By Luisa Bosco Arico

Born in Italy and recognized for her “Cooking Italian Made Easy” column in the Oxford Eagle, Arico has compiled a cookbook with all of her favorite recipes, ranging from risotto to tiramisu.



Free Lebanese Cooking Classes Nov. 20 & Dec. 4

lebanon flagBy Danny Toma, staff writer

Lebanon, the home of the ancient Phoenicians and the site of the Biblical cities of Tyre and Sidon is one of the great crossroads of the Middle East. Inhabited by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Sunni and Shi’ah Muslims, and the mysterious Druze, its people speak Arabic and French, with minorities of Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish speakers. With such a rich and cosmopolitan heritage, Lebanese cooking is widely considered to be one of the richest in the region and shows Arabic, Turkish, and French influences.

Now, right here in Oxford, Mississippi, you too can learn the secrets of this delicious cuisine and best of all, can do it absolutely free of charge. The Oxford Activity Center (corner of Price St. and Molly Barr) will host two nights of Lebanese cooking classes, presented by Ms. Lena Hand, on Thursday, November 20th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Thursday, December 4th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If interested, contact Deb Helms at (662) 236-1157 or at As of this writing, there are still about 10 spots available, so act fast so as not to miss out on this one-of-a-kind opportunity!


About Danny Toma:

After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and will be contributing to on a regular basis.

Oxford Thanksgiving: Eaten Out or Catered In

thanksgiving postEvery year around this time I receive several emails from folks looking for a place to dine out on Thanksgiving.

More and more people either don’t want to deal with the mess of cooking at home, or they’re coming to visit their children who live in the dorms at Ole Miss and they want to be able to take them out to eat for the holiday.

This year, we also have the Egg Bowl on the same weekend as Thanksgiving, meaning many people will be traveling and not wanting to shop for all of the Thanksgiving fixings.

Since most restaurants in Oxford close for the holidays, I usually end up recommending that visitors try places such as IHOP, Huddle House, Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel (Batesville), which are usually open on holidays.

However, there are a couple of restaurants on the Square open this year….

Lenora’s will also be open on Thanksgiving, offering a small buffet-style dinner. Call 662-236-1144 for more info.

Locals will be open on Thanksgiving with a turkey and dressing brunch. Call 662-234-9594 for more info.

For those who have a space in town to hold Thanksgiving, but would rather have someone else cook, Oxford offers many catering options if you’d like food prepared ahead of time and ready for the big day.

A few options include:

Rib Cage: smoked turkey, smoked ham, pork loin – p/u by Nov. 26, (662) 238-2929

Honey Bee Bakery: hams, pies, breads – order by Nov. 24, (662) 234-2490

My Michelle’s: ham, turkey, dressing, casseroles, etc. – order by Nov. 24, (662) 236-1512

Queenissippi Catering: roasted Cajun turkey, casseroles, desserts, etc. – order by Nov. 23, (662) 609-5475

Little Easy Catering: variety of of holiday casseroles. (662) 236-5737

Lamar Lounge: smoked turkeys – order by Nov. 24, (662) 513-6197

Rebel Barn: smoked turkeys and hams – order by Nov. 22, (662) 469-6227

Mark Davis: variety of turkeys, brisket, pork loin, dressing, etc. – order by Nov. 21, (662) 801-3939

Lenora’s: A variety of Thanksgiving items; order by Nov. 25, (662) 236-1144

Have I missed a restaurant or catering option? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.



Now Open: Butter & Bread Co.

10668741_367525196730117_1225999303_nThere’s an adorable little kitchen store that recently opened just off the Square called Butter & Bread Co.

Owner Taylor Shaffett, born and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi, says she’s been dreaming of this store for years and finally took the leap.

Butter & Bread offers everything to make a kitchen and home look comfy and cozy.

Check it out at 107 N. 13th St., Ste. A, on the Facebook page here, or on their website here.

–Liz 10708013_367525193396784_2021405268_n

(photos courtesy Butter & Bread Co.)

Open Your Own Restaurant August 17!

restaurant day roy backstrom

Photo: Restaurant Day; Roy Backstrom

Have you heard about Restaurant Day? It happens this Sunday, August 17, and invites people around the world to open their own pop-up restaurant for one day.

This is a really cool concept that has been spreading around the world since 2011. It occurs four times per year in 55 countries, and there have been nearly 10,000 one-day restaurants set up by 35,000 self-made restaurateurs.

How cool would it be if we did this in Oxford?

It’s just one day.

Your own restaurant, serving whatever you want, wherever you want.

restaurant day kimmo lind

Photo: Restaurant Day; Kimmo Lind

Think about it….you could sell your “famous” fish tacos, BLTs, cupcakes, whatever you dream up. No one can stop you!

Watch the below video for inspiration and check out the Restaurant Day website for more information.


Family Cooking Night: Tuesday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m.

kid cookingEating Oxford Institute: Family Cooking Night with Good Food for Oxford Schools

Family Cooking Night invites parents and children (max 4 per family) to a night of cooking with Sunny Young, director of Good Food for Oxford Schools and Richmond Smith, a former chef of the New Orleans Saints and current nutrition services director for the Oxford School District.

Tickets are not available at the door. Please pre-order via Brown Paper Tickets to secure your place to this limited-seating class.

Attendees will create a salad, dressing, and shrimp dish utilizing ingredients from our local Oxford City Market.

The class will be held at Della Davidson Elementary School on Tuesday, August 12, at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $30 per family (4 per family max).

Find the Facebook event page here.

Eating Oxford Institute is a monthly food-centric class hosted by, in partnership with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford Parks Commission.


Summer’s Bounty (Oxford Citizen column June 27)

This content is restricted to members only.

Class Wrap-Up: Juicing for Health and Energy

IMG_5027Our first class in the Eating Oxford Institute series was held Wednesday night at The Powerhouse.

Attendees learned the benefits and techniques of juicing from Melody Sharp, owner of Living Foods (formerly Local Flavor).IMG_5096

Melody showed the difference between styles of juicers, how to get the most bang for your buck out of fruits and vegetables, tips for any fruits that need to be peeled/cored before juicing, and more.

The class sampled fruit and vegetable juices, participated in questions and answers, and all departed with a full-size juice, recipe card and coupon.


We loved having Melody share her knowledge at a fun evening of culinary learning!

Check out the great write-up by LaReeca Rucker in today’s Oxford Eagle, too!

Don’t miss next month’s class, Southern Foods Done Light, taught by Tim Woodard on July 15 at the Activity Center. Details Here.


***Eating Oxford Institute is a collaboration between, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and the Oxford Park Commission.

(Thank you to Giana Leone IMG_5021of the Daily Mississippian for sharing her photos from the event.)

Setting a Local Table in Oxford

In honor of last week’s Earth Week and the second season of Oxford City Market, I asked Betsy Chapman from Yokna Bottoms Farm to submit a post about Oxford Farms and Farmers. Check out her post below, and say hi the next time you see her at the farmer’s market. –Liz

We’re All in This Thing Together

betsyBy Betsy Chapman

It might come as a surprise, but there’s not a whole lot of “mudslinging” among Oxford’s community of growers and producers. Mud, yes. Slinging, no.

Despite our differences in philosophy and farming practices, the prevailing theme among local farmers: We’re all in this thing together

Whether we’re all under the big tent at Oxford City Market or side-by-side at Midtown, there’s a strong sense of mutual respect, support, and admiration. We know better than anyone the tremendous amount of hard work, time, and dedication it takes to bring thousands of pounds of food into town twice a week to feed our friends and neighbors.

Sure, more farms mean more competition, but it’s healthy competition and that competition is what will drive the market as we work together to build a strong local food economy. Simply put: No farmer wants to sit alone at the market….Fewer farmers means fewer customers.

That said, let me introduce you to the Multi-Farm Dinner my family and I enjoyed after last Tuesday’s first Oxford City Market (OXCM) of 2014:

On the menu:

yokna post 3

Yokna Bottoms spring salad mix with mild, crisp radishes from Charlie Dawson of Canebreak Farm tossed with Yokna Bottoms Green Garlic Vinaigrette – sweetened with Mardis Honey.

Sauteed kale from Will and Amanda Reed of Native Son Farm mixed with Yokna Bottoms collards, seasoned with Yokna Bottoms green onions and spicy peppers, slow-smoked on the farm.

Yokna Bottoms Chow Chow deviled eggs with the farm’s green onion and smoked sweet peppers and my freakin’ awesome homemade chow chow from neighbor and friend Stacey Sanford of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

Delicious homemade whole wheat bread from Christy and Marie of M&J Farm.yokna post 2

Peas from Bost Farm of Mid-Town Market, frozen from last year – still really good!

Iced sweet tea with Yokna Bottoms mint and Mardis Honey.

Dessert: Native Son strawberries with M&J Farm chocolate sauce!

See what we just did there? We made an incredible meal from the collective efforts of several local growers….

What’s on your local plate?

yokna post 1

Betsy Chapman works at Yokna Bottoms Farm and cooks up a storm in her tiny, ill-equipped Oxford, Mississippi, kitchen. Find her and her farmer friends at OXCM Tuesdays from 3-6:30 p.m. on West Oxford Loop and Saturdays 7-11 a.m. at Mid-Town Market, in the Sears parking lot off of North Lamar. For more information on Yokna Bottoms, give Betsy a call at 662-380-2367.


***On the subject of our community of local farmers, Will and Amanda Reed (Native Son) are facing a tough time. Their baby Magnolia Jane was recently diagnosed with a rare cancer and is undergoing treatment at Lebonheur in Memphis. Find out how to help support these incredibly hardworking Tupelo farmers: Thoughts and Prayers for Magnolia Jane.


Enter to Win: Miss-I-Sippin’ Recipe Contest has teamed up with the 6th Annual Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer & Food Tasting event to present a Miss-I-Sippin’ Recipe Contest.

Now through March 31, submit your recipe that incorporates at least one item from a Miss-I-Sippin’ sponsor (list of sponsors/rules). A team of tasters will select the winning recipe and the winner will attend Miss-I-Sippin’ as a VIP guest with special early admission.

The deadline for all recipes is March 31. Find rules and entry form here.


mississippinAbout Miss-I-Sippin’

April 3, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 pm., Powerhouse

Miss-I-Sippin’ is an annual beer and food tasting event benefiting arts and education, which has sold out the last five years and draws foodies from around the Southeast. The event features a variety of popular and seasonal beers and food pairings by Chef Beth Vickers Pace with Ole Miss Nutrition and Hospitality Management Faculty and Students. Recipes featuring Mississippi-based products are custom created for the event, and one of the most popular items, the beer float, will be returning this year. Tickets are $40/pp.

Sponsors include: Clark Beverage Group, Yalobusha Brewery, Coors, Abita, Lazy Magnolia, Cups, Delta Pride Catfish, Gulf Select Shrimp, Golden Flake Snacks, Polk’s Meat, Sanderson Farms, Yokna Bottom Farms, Red Smith Foods, Neilsen Massey Vanillas, Office Depot, MPAK, Magnolia Rental, and Lenoir Dining.

Contact the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council at 662-236-6429 or with any questions.

Facebook event page here.



Learn to Save with Coupons

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Easy Couponing Tips to Save You Money

By Benjy Foster

Who among us today doesn’t need to save money? Couponing has become more popular over the past few years thanks to television shows highlighting how much you can save. Some businesses have even changed their policies because of couponers, but there are still great deals to be found if you have the desire to save and the patience to learn.

In Oxford, the best place to pick up coupons is in Sunday’s Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, readily available around town. Remember to look at the front of the paper before purchasing one. It will tell you how many coupons are inside right on the front page. If it doesn’t list any savings, there are no coupons that week.

The first thing to remember when couponing is that just about every item you normally use in your home will go on sale and have a coupon for it at some point in time.

The key is to wait for the products to go on sale and use a coupon at the same time, if possible.

Believe it or not, there are even some products you can get for free, such as shave gel, soap, toothpaste and more by using coupons during sales.

Watch for special promotional sales. This is when a store runs a sale such as Buy 5 mix and match products and instantly save $5 (Kroger did this last week).  This is a good time to combine coupons and save a ton!

One of the best ways to save is when stores print coupons good toward your next purchase (these coupons that print after your transaction at Kroger are referred to as “Catalina Deals”). You can use that coupon on the same items again to make another coupon print out, or just use it for a discount off of your total at the end of your next shopping trip.

While some people think it’s necessary to clip every single coupon, I think this is a waste of your time; there will always be coupons that never get used. Just save the coupons in dated folders. Then, when the items you want go on sale, go back to your folders and only clip the coupons that you need for that shopping trip.

If you enjoy eating out and trying new places, there are also a lot of restaurants that consistently provide coupons in the Sunday paper as well as on the back of your Kroger receipts. Don’t be shy about using them; they can save you a lot of money—sometimes up to $10! These are restaurants such as IHOP, Red Lobster, Logan’s, Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesdays, Longhorn Steakhouse, and more.

These tips are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re just starting out with couponing and trying to make sense of it all, there’s an excellent website that will take you through it step by step and even show you in-depth views of what deals are going on at each different store. Find it at

Good luck and have fun saving!

Are You READY…for Thanksgiving?

turkeyWe are T-minus five days from Thanksgiving. Do you have a plan yet?

It can sometimes become overwhelming to imagine cooking a 10-pound turkey with all the fixings and then have everyone gobble it up in 20 minutes, leaving you a mess of dishes and pans that take two hours to clean up while everyone else watches the game.

Well, relief is not far away, as several places around Oxford can cater your Thanksgiving and save you the stress and headache that for some accompanies an otherwise wonderful gathering of friends and family.

Below is a list of locations that will cook for you and let you pass off the wonderful meal as your own (I know, you’d never do that). Be sure to call soon as most restaurants and catering companies need you to pre-order early.

The Rib Cage

Golden Rule Bar-B-Q

Rivals BBQ

My Michelle’s

Honey Bee Bakery

Roasted/Emileigh’s Kitchen

Mama Jo’s Country Cookin’

Olivia’s Food Emporium

B’s Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Q


Feel like skipping the gathering all together? That’s OK, too! Head over to The Library Sports Bar where they’ll be watching the game and enjoying free turkey with all the fixings.

Really not feeling turkey this year at all? There’s always somewhere to go. Buffalo Wild Wings will have a full menu and all of the TVs set to any game you want to watch.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you have a wonderful time doing EXACTLY what you want to do!