Three generations of the Larson family have been in the grocery business since 1948 when James Larson opened his first store in Water Valley, 18 miles south of Oxford. The Oxford store was opened under the regional Big Star franchise, but became a Cashsaver a few years ago, as did the store in Water Valley. The concept is the customer pays the same cost as retail, plus a 10% markup at checkout. The store has been pretty much “no frills” until recently, when they installed new vegetable and refrigerator bins, upgraded the entire store’s refrigerated storage, and re-organized the location of some items.
The meat counter is the most impressive part of the store to me–best prices in Oxford by a long shot, but the meat is truly the best as well. I have never ever gotten a steak or chicken that was tough–and that is saying a lot these days. The pork is outstanding. They stock Mississippi catfish and fresh salmon. They also have a deli that is said to serve the best food in town (and I can attest their pies are yummy), plus they have a huge selection of craft beer and ale in addition to the Coors, Miller, and Budweiser for the ‘regular palate.’
Like any self-respecting grocery in Mississippi, they will have an ample supply of collard, mustard, and turnip greens, but they also carry kale, organic lettuces, and spinach. They sell local produce when available, and stock the local Brown’s Dairy products. They make a biscuit and a yeast roll ready to pop into the oven that is perfection without having to get flour on my hands or roll dough.
Pictured above is a spaghetti squash, stuffed with a mixture of kale, Great Northern white beans, fresh garlic, and smoked sausage. The dinner was inspired by a recipe I ran across in the Washington Post a few days ago by cookbook author and nutritionist Ellie Krieger. I omitted the onion, and substituted smoked sausage for the Italian-style sweet chicken sausage, reduced the amount of fresh garlic to only 1 clove, substituted kale for escarole, and the Great Northern beans for the cannellini called for in the recipe. These changes were necessary to accommodate the food peccadilloes in my family who do not eat onion, and do not like chicken sausage or cannellini beans, and not overly fond of garlic. The result was delicious, creamy, and filling.
Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on the cut sides of a seeded spaghetti squash and roast at 400 degrees F. While the squash roasts, saute the garlic, chopped sausage (I used 1/2 link of a two link package) and kale (I used 3 large leaves, chopped) in one tablespoon of olive oil, and then add:
1 cup chicken broth
1 14 oz. can Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp dried sage
Simmer on medium/low heat until the squash is done (about 40 minutes for the squash)
The simmering will result in a smooth and creamy sauce of melded flavors. Spoon over the squash and top with grated Parmesan cheese. I enjoyed primarily plant-based eating during the months of March-May while we were on stay home status. Now seemed like a good time to return to that strategy and I have found some new recipes that use the InstantPot, rice cooker, or at least take very little time on conventional cooktop or oven. This item will remain in the repertoire!