Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Robert St. John: My Favorite Season

 It has been said that the four seasons in Mississippi are— almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas. I have friends who believe that the four seasons in Mississippi are— dove season, duck season, deer season, and turkey season. There are also people who would argue football season, basketball season, baseball season, and football pre-season. 

The four seasons in my world are spring, summer, football, and holidays. The weather rarely matters. Local stores start selling sweaters and “fall” clothes in September. But, in South Mississippi, it’s usually 72 degrees and raining on Christmas Day. It’s hard to beat March, April, and October in this part of the world and fall football season is uniquely singular in the South. There’s just a different energy in the air when football is involved.


Within my seasons— spring, summer, football, and holidays— there are certain foods that I like, and many that I only enjoy during that season. Sometimes that’s because the food item is seasonal and only grows in this part of the world during that time, but other times it’s just what I associate with that time of year, or a particular holiday.


Spring is for lamb. If I were ever granted a last meal, the protein at that meal would be my grandmother’s roasted leg of lamb. We ate it once a month in my childhood. I don’t think there was any special ingredient or method she used, probably just salt and pepper with some onions and carrots in the roasting pan. She made a gravy from the pan juices. I do remember that she didn’t make a traditional roux. She dry-roasted flour in a pan until it started turning brown. There is a certain smell that is associated with making gravy in that manner. Occasionally, I’ll catch a whiff of toasted flour and it immediately takes me back to her kitchen. What a wonderful aroma. Gravy was the final step— in addition to the smell of those tiny biscuits baking in the oven— that always signaled that something important and memorable was about to happen, as lunch was about to be served.


Summer is for peaches. Peaches just taste like summer. They don’t have to be a cobbler or in ice cream, just give me a small bowl of lightly macerated peaches, and I’m good to go. If I have just finished a meal where freshly picked sweet corn was a component, all the better.


Football season and fall are synonymous. The weather is cooler, the air is crisp, and it’s the only time of year I find myself eating soups— gumbo, seafood bisques, vegetable-beef, and onion are my go-tos.


Though as much as I love football and football season— and I dearly love football and football season— there’s something about the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day that is so special to me. It’s a unique time of year in the Deep South. The holiday season is where everything seems to come together.


Eleven years out of the past 20 I have been on a promotional book tour during this period. It is always fun as I get to hang out in independent bookstores and to visit with people I sometimes see only once a year. Book signings are a favorite activity as I also get to visit with regular readers of this column who remind me of stories and details about my life and family that I have long forgotten. I had a breakfast cookbook coming out this fall but postponed it to next year’s holiday season due to a schedule that was more hectic than most year’s. The book will be released is 2023 and will be a better product because of the rescheduling.


The restaurants are always busy around this time of year and that’s nice. The weather is cooler and that’s a bonus. But beyond football, books, business, and weather, I think the reason this time of year holds such a special place in my heart is the Five Fs aspects of the Thanksgiving through New Year’s season.


I have written often of my philosophy of the Five Fs. It took me four decades to start figuring out the things that truly matter in life, but when I did, and when I started prioritizing those things, my life got so much richer. The Five Fs are— in order—faith, family, friends, food, and fun. To me, those are the things in life that truly matter.


Faith has always been a vital part of my life. I grew up in Main Street United Methodist Church in my hometown of Hattiesburg. In my youth I was there every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, and whenever the doors were open. I was there yesterday, sitting in the pew where my family has sat for over 100 years, thinking back to the foundation I was given as a part of that congregation. It’s the same one my kids were given, and one that future generations of my family will have available to them.  The fellowship and relationships that were ingrained in me in those early days made an impact that is still felt, today.


I don’t have many regrets in my life, but the main ones I have are family related. I feel as if I spent a lot of time with my extended family over the years but looking back, I still don’t think it was enough. There is nothing more permanent than losing a loved one and realizing that you might not have spent as much time as you could have with them. I would give a year’s salary for one more hour with my grandmother.


When it comes to friends, I think I have had this one nailed from the beginning. I have always valued my friendships. My grandfather used to say, “A rich man has his first dollar. A truly wealthy man has his first friend.” He also said, “You can judge a man’s success, not by the size of his bank account, but by the depth and breadth of his friendships.” I am a rich man today— not because I have a bunch of money in the bank, I don’t, but— because I have a multitude of friends.


Food brings us together like nothing else. When I think back to the best times in my life, food is almost always involved in some way. Sharing a meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The fun is the easiest part. When I was a teenager, I looked for fun in a lot of the wrong places. It took me a couple of decades to realize that when I have several of the Five Fs in place, the fun automatically happens, and the best memories are made.


It's my wish that you have a holiday season filled with and abundance of faith, family, friends, food, and fun, and may all your Christmas dreams come true.



Leg of Lamb with Raspberry Mint Chutney


Preheat oven to 375


1 Leg of Lamb, bone in, about 6-7 pounds

12 cloves fresh garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbl fresh chopped rosemary

1 Tbl fresh chopped thyme

3 Tbl kosher salt

1 Tbl fresh ground black pepper


Using a paring knife, cut 12 small pockets, spread out in the lamb leg.

Insert one clove of garlic into each pocket.

Rub the leg with the olive oil, the rub the herbs, salt and pepper over the leg.

Place the lamb in a large roasting pan, and place it in the preheated oven.

Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 and continue to bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to achieve a medium rare temperature. If using a thermometer, it should register 145 degrees. 

Remove from the oven and allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly around the bone and serve.




Raspberry Mint Chutney


1 Tbl olive oil

1 /2 cup shallots, minced

1 Tbl garlic, minced

1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced fine

2 tsp curry powder

1 /4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground


1 /2 cup sherry

3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 cinnamon stick

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf


1 cup mint jelly

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp water

1 /2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbl fresh mint, chopped


In a small sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook shallots 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger and seasonings, and cook 3-4 more minutes, stirring often. Do not let garlic brown. Deglaze with sherry and reduce by half.


Stir in 2 cups of the raspberries, chicken broth and bay leaf and simmer 15-20 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in mint jelly and cook three minutes more, stirring constantly. Dissolve the cornstarch with the 2 teaspoons of water and stir it into the simmering sauce. Allow the sauce to thicken then remove from the heat and strain. Stir in the vinegar, fresh mint and remaining cup of raspberries.


Serve at room temperature.

1 comment:

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

Merry Christmas Robert!

My contribution:

Pfeffernusse (German Christmas Cookies)


5 eggs beaten
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 cup candied citron (or candied fruit)
6 cups cake flour (substitute 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 cup cornstarch)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t mace
1/2 cup nuts, finely chopped
3 T Grand Marnier added to batter


Beat eggs well. Add sugar gradually, beating with each addition. Add lemon zest, juice, candied fruits. Sift dry ingredients together and add. Fold in nuts and Grand Marnier. Chill 1 hour. Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut out with a 7/8 inch cutter. Place on a cooking sheet and let stand overnight in a cool place to dry. Before baking, invert and put a drop of fruit juice or brandy on moist spot and bake upside down. (Tends to make them pop) . Bake in 300 degree oven for 8 minutes. Makes about 200 cookies. Store in a tightly closed container. Let ripen and soften before eating. Can roll in powdered sugar.

Can place an apple slice wrapped in a paper towel into container to help them soften.



1 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
4 whole eggs
3 T milk
3 oz brandy
3 t soda
1 t cloves
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 lb pecans (6 cups)
1 1/2 cups raisins cut up
10 oz chopped dates
1 lb green and red cherries, halved
1 1/2 lb candied pineapple (diced)


Cream margarine and sugar, add eggs. Beat well. Add milk and brandy. Sift flour, soda and spices together; add to mixture. Add nuts, raisins and fruits; mix well.

Drop by spoon or fingers on greased cookie sheet. Bake 20 t0 30 minutes in 275 degree oven. Makes 200 cookies.

Granny's Molasses Crinkles

Mix thoroughly:

3/4 cup soft shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

Stir in:
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Chill dough. Roll dough into balls the size of large walnuts. Dip tops in sugar. Place, sugared side up, 3 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with 2 o 3 drops of water for a crackled surface. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, 350 degrees, just until set but not hard.

Primo’s Restaurant Gingerbread Men

(From December, 2009 issue of Mississippi Magazine)


4 cups shortening
6 cups sugar
12 eggs
2 cups dark molasses
6 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons salt
16 cups all purpose flour
1 egg plus one teaspoon water


In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in 12 eggs and dark molasses and mix well.

Combine remaining dry ingredients together and add gradually to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Chill for about an hour.

Roll out on floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick, and cut into desired shapes. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press a raisin in place for each eye, the mouth and one or two buttons down the front of the man.

Beat 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water together. Generously brush each man with egg and water mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Yield - Approximately 40 large cookies

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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