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Tuesday
Oct302012

Mississippi Queen Foods make real, authentic, Southern food available in the Greater Toronto Area

I'm the Mississippi Queen, and I live in South Etobicoke, of the Greater Toronto Area, but I am originally from Pearl River County, Mississippi, which is approximately an hour or so, east of New Orleans.  I have been here for several years, and I make authentic, Southern, Creole, and Cajun food, through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods.

You can check out my website, www.mississippiqueenfoods.com, and look in my 'Prepared Foods' area, under 'Order Prepared Foods', to see some of the Southern food I offer. You can also check out my 'Catering Menu' for options. I do offer catered services, throughout the Greater Toronto Area, as well as surrounding areas of Southern Ontario.

Here is some of the Southern food I make... Chicken & Dumplings; Blackened Catfish; Fried Catfish; Buttermilk Fried Chicken; Fried Shrimp; Blackened Chicken; Black-eyed Peas; Red Beans & Rice; Seafood Gumbo; Chicken & Sausage Gumbo; Cajun Boiled Shrimp; Corn & Crab Bisque; Jambalaya; Creole Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce; Sweet Potato Casserole; Barbecued Shrimp (prepared in skillet); Shrimp Creole; Potato Salad; Southern style Green Beans with Potatoes & Bacon; Spicy Coleslaw; Buttermilk Cornbread; Buttermilk Biscuits; Southern Pecan Pie; Sweet Potato Pie; Pecan Pralines; Red Velvet Cupcakes; Peach Cobbler; Blueberry Cobbler; and Banana Pudding. However, this is not an exhaustive list. 

You can order my Southern food for a delivery, or you can even make arrangements, to pick up, directly from me.  During the outdoor festival and event season, from June through October, you can find me cooking up some of my vittles, on the blues circuit, and at local farmer's markets. Please contact me, if you would like to have me as a food vendor at any of your upcoming events, or festivals.  connie@mississippiqueenfoods.com

I have also started teaching cooking classes- Cookin' with the Mississippi Queen- in the Greater Toronto Area, and if you are not local to me, but you can gather a small number of people, for a class, I will even travel to your location! Please contact me for the details.  connie@mississippiqueenfoods.com

If you are looking for Southern groceries, or any cooking ingredients, such as Cajun spices, grits, cornbread mixes, or Cajun hot sauces, you may be interested in my Southern Groceries, available online in my General Store. I will even take 'special requests' on my Buying Trips South.  

A great deal of my time is put forth into the promotion of my Southern culture, and the Great State of Mississippi, promoting the people, the places, and the products. My passion, and my livliehood, is my Southern culture, and I am always happy to share with you, that passion!

Wishin' ya' lots of good eatin'...
Connie Rouble,
The Mississippi Queen
Mississippi Queen Foods
www.mississippiqueenfoods.com

Monday
Oct082012

The Story Behind Mississippi Queen Foods and the Southern Groceries

photo by Judi Willrich Photography & Makeup I have been selling Southern Grocery Products, through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods, for a few years now, and as of last year, I created an online General Store, so these products could be made available, for purchase, across Canada. I sell many recognizable brand names, such as, Tony Chachere's; Louisiana Fish Fry Products; Zatarain's; Quaker Grits; Martha White; Crystal Hot Sauce; Pat O' Brien's; Bruce's; Steen's; Panola; Karo; Slap Ya Mama; Punch Ya Daddy; Allen's; Cafe du Monde; Andy Roo's; and Trappey's, to merely name a few.

This list always grows, because I also take 'special requests' from people, to source out specific products, they are uanble to find, here in Canada.  I am constantly hearing, 'oh yeah, I found this product when I was in New Orleans, but I have not been able to get any more of it, since I ran out....' This is where my niche market business, steps in.  

I get asked, quite often, why I do this, and how it all started.  If any of you reading this, are on my newsletter mailing list, you will also know I personally make several 'Buying Trips South', each year.  People constantly ask why I don't just have these products shipped to me, instead of personally making the voyage South, and carting all of these goods back, into Canada.

I thought I would answer these questions, for all of you, in a few ways.  First, I decided to blog about it, and secondly, I even made a little video for you to see! 

When I moved to Canada, from the States, I quickly realized, I no longer had access to many of the Southern Grocery Products, I had used all of my life!  When I would travel back Down South, I would haul all of the goods, back with me, in my suitcase.  I did this for years, and when I started my company, back in 2006, the idea for selling the groceries, here, myself, was not that long off, an idea.

A few stores did come into existence, selling these products, and some have since gone; and when the last one, I frequented, closed, I decided it was time for me to 'Make some Groceries'.  I officially started with this project, back in 2010, and went online with it all, in 2011.     

I am a huge promoter of my Southern culture, and I love the opportunity, to shine the light, back onto the State of Mississippi, any chance I get, to promote the people, the places, and the products.  This is my livelihood; my passion; and the path of my soul.  

My reward is in advocating these products, and teaching people, through the information provided throughout my website, and my cooking classes, how to use the products.  Many of these products are only available in Canada, because I have personally brought them here, to market and sell.

All of my family is located in the Southern parts of Mississippi, and specifically in Pearl River County, and the Gulf Coast region, about an hour-and-a-half northeast of New Orleans.  I would much prefer to 'pay myself' to make the drive, Down South, and personally bring these products back into Canada, via my broker, than I would prefer to pay a shipping company.  It allows me the opportunity to hand pick some items, I would not have access to, otherwise by ordering from a supplier, over the telephone, or internet.  Plus, it allows me the opportunity, to source small, independent, lesser known suppliers of top quality goods, specifically ones from Mississippi.

I pride myself on the promotion I do for these products, here in Canada, and for their manufacturers.  I know, as I grow, and move forward, this will be a key part of my growth- giving back to the State of Mississippi, for the gifts I have received.  

My business was built on my Southern culture, and it continues to grow.  It is important to me, to give back, in some way, to express my gratitude, for the gifts I have received.  The more I give, then more I can receive.  These are my geniune, heartfelt thoughts and attitudes behind the Southern Grocery Product aspect of my business.  

It is way more than making some sales for the sake of a dollar bill.  If this were the case, it is a mighty hard way to make a living!  This is about the path of my soul, and promoting as a 'Stand Up Proud', Mississippian, on behalf of a State wealthy and rich, in culture and artisans.  

I have a Buying Trip planned, for this week, and on this trip, I have scheduled to meet with Delta Grind, for some stone ground grits, out of the Mississippi Delta.  I have also scheduled to meet with the makers of Stuart's Cajun Pickles, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast area.  Be sure to check back with me, for further information on these products' availability through Mississippi Queen Foods online General Store.  

It is my goal, to continually provide you with new products, sourced, direct from the suppliers, within the State of Mississippi.

Connie Rouble,
the Mississippi Queen,
Mississippi Queen Foods

Thursday
Mar292012

Walnut Street Blues Bar, Greenville, Mississippi 

I found my way to the Walnut Street Blues Bar, in Greenville, Mississippi, not as a sought out destination, but almost, by accident.  I had a website called Junior's Juke Joint, earmarked for several years, and it was managed by a self-proclaimed blues bum, who wrote, extensively, on his recommended jukes to visit in the Mississippi Delta.
 
So, on my last trip Down South, to Mississippi, I spent a bit of time in the Delta, before I made my way on down to Pearl River County, where my folks are.  I had this notion, since I had not spent any time in Greenville, that it topped my list, for blues spots to check out, and remembering Junior's website, I went back to it, and saw one particular place, the Walnut Bait Shop, and knew, immediately, that was where I was going in Greenville.  

I got my room booked at the Comfort Inn, and I was excited to be finally putting all of Junior's recommendations to use!  Only one thing I failed to check out, and that was just how long ago those recommendations were made!

I got into Greenville, early evening, and to be honest, I knew nothing about where I was going, or what to expect.  This was one of those 'wingin' it kind of moments, for me, and I figured there was only one way for me check things out...just go.

I drive my car down Walnut Street, and I start looking for any obvious signs of this juke, but I don't see anything, with the name, Bait Shop.  I stop, and I get out of the car. I see this bar, but I can tell from the
signage, it is not the spot I am trying to find.  So, back to my car, I go, and with my handy dandy iPhone, I search out the address, again, which I must have written down wrong.  

No, this is the right address...but something, just ain't right.  I go inside, to find the Walnut Blues Bar, and go right on up to the bar, order my drink, and sit, and decide I'll check it out anyhow.  

Before I can get myself settled at the bar, someone asks me, 'are you with the film crew?', to which I reply, 'depends on what that gets me', thinking, maybe they left an open tab at the bar, in need of some settlin'.  Turns out, later that evening, the place is flooded with a film crew, working on The Haunted.  I make an executive decision, to admit I am not traveling with any of the film crew, but this had no affect on my level of service, in case any of you might be wonderin'.  

Danny approaches me, asking what I'd like to drink, whom I later find out is the owner, and we start chatting about the bar.  I tell him about how I went there looking for the Bait Shop, and he explains it closed some time ago, and since he owned the building, he opened the Walnut Street Blues Bar in its place.  I later found out, as well, that the website for Junior's Juke Joint, had not been updated in many, many years!

Ok, so I'm here, and at least it's blues.  Might be a 'blues bar', and I was after a 'juke', but happy to at least have the blues. Danny handed me a card, and the slogan for the bar was 'Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend', and being that Mississippi is considered the 'friendliest state', I figured there's probably some truth to the claim.  

I decide I'll have some food while I am there, and I end up ordering some chicken fried steak, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, Texas toast, and gravy.  That was the first thing I was real happy about.  At this point, I had been on the road for several days, and the home cookin' was quite welcome!

Then, when the music started, I realized it was a bit of a blues jam that evening, which was Saturday night.  There were some solid musicians on stage, but it had that laid back feeling of a open house jam, because many people were getting up to jam, jumping in and out of sets, and it had that 'house party' sort of feeling in the air.  

I will say, there were several people, in the bar, who are also well known players, in the blues, and Danny was taking me around for introductions.  It was local, and everyone knew one another, and Danny wanted to extend his Southern hospitality, ensuring I knew everyone there.

What I found interesting about the night, was the energy I find when I am Down South.  We are a musically driven culture, and so much of what we do, is centered around our music.  As I sat at the edge of the bar, and the edge of the stage, I could not help but notice the cross section of people who were in that bar, that night, there in the Mississippi Delta, all for the love of the music. 

Most people, well outside of Mississippi, who have not seen this first-handedly, would probably not believe, the varying walks of life, gathered together, on that dance floor, in that bar, would have ever gathered together in the same room!

However, everyone was there, and it was that same, old, familiar feeling and experience I have Down South. It was like coming home again, that 'house party', everyone is here for the love of the music, and nothin' else matters!

That is what I truly love about Mississippi- little surprises tucked away, all over the place.  I write this, to extend a thank you, to Danny, his wife, and staff, for their lovely hospitality that wonderful evening, I found my way to the Walnut Street Blues Bar.  'Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend', is exactly what I did. 

Connie Rouble,
the Mississippi Queen,
Mississippi Queen Foods


Tuesday
Jan312012

History of Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake is a type of cake associated with Twelfth Night Celebration, or the festivities of Epiphany, which begins on January 6th, twelve nights from the birth of Christ, or Christmas Day.  This celebration may also be called Little Christmas, or King’s Day, in honor of the kings, or wise men, who brought gifts to the Christ Child.  A popular custom is baking a cake for the kings, and this cake soon became known as ‘king’s cake’. 

The New Orleans tradition of baking a cake, for King’s Day, supposedly began as far back as the 1870’s, and continues today, from Twelfth Night, through to Fat Tuesday, or the Day before Ash Wednesday, or beginning of Lent. 

The ‘traditional’ King Cake is made from braided strands of Danish, cinnamon coffee cake dough, and then topped with a fondant icing, which is, then, liberally sprinkled with Mardi Gras festive colors of purple, green, and gold sanding sugars.  Purple represents Justice; Green represents Faith; and Gold represents Power.  Today, in the New Orleans area, many additional varieties of King Cake are also available by adding cream cheese, or other fillings to the traditional King Cake. 

In present day, New Orleans culture, a small, plastic baby, representing the Christ child, is placed inside the cake.  In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, nut, or pea.  Good luck is to be had by the person who finds the baby in the cake, but New Orleans, Southern tradition, is that whoever finds the baby is the one who buys the next cake, or host the next Mardi Gras party.  This always helps to keep the party going through Carnival season!

A plastic, one inch baby is baked inside each king cake; however, due to safety concerns, many king cake bakers are no longer inserting the baby, prior to baking, or prior to packaging, but instead, they are including the baby for you to insert, into the cake, yourself, prior to serving.  Mississippi Queen Foods does it the old fashion way, by baking it inside the cake, and asks you to please use caution, or common sense, when serving a Mardi Gras King Cake- the baby is baked inside, and please explain to all guests, especially children, and people not familiar with Mardi Gras traditions, to expect to find a small, plastic baby, lurking, somewhere in the cake!

I grew up about an hour east of New Orleans, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, and I make an authentic, or traditional, New Orleans style, Mardi Gras King Cake.  At the time of this writing (January 2012), I do not currently sell other varieties, but due to the requests, which I continually receive, for cream cheese filled cakes, I do intend to add other varieties, hopefully in the 2013 Mardi Gras season.  Be sure to check back for more information. 

I supply many displaced Southerners, with king cakes each season, through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods, here in the Greater Toronto Area, and as of this season, my king cakes are available for shipping anywhere in Canada!  No Mardi Gras party is complete without an authentic, Mardi Gras King Cake!

The Mississippi Queen is one of those bakers, who offer Mardi Gras King Cake, any time of the year, all year round!  I have provided King Cakes to a number of weddings for the groom’s cakes, as well as birthday cakes, and even a baby shower.  Enjoy…whenever you like!

Connie Rouble, the Mississippi Queen

Mississippi Queen Foods

Sunday
Jan082012

Authentic, Southern Style Red Velvet Cupcakes by Mississippi Queen Foods

As a Southerner, I grew up eating Red Velvet Cake, all of my life, and I considered it be my absolute favorite cake.  I always wanted Red Velvet for my birthday, and someone always had one, on the table come Christmastime. 

It is my understanding that the true origins of Red Velvet Cake are not known, but the legend, or tall tale, Down South, is that a Southern woman was visiting New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and was served Red Velvet Cake during her visit, at the hotel.  

As the story goes, this woman asked the chef for the recipe, and he obliged her request.  However, when the bill arrived at the table, she was charged $200 for the 'secret' recipe.  

To continue the tale, this woman was quite upset, and decided to 'get back at' the chef, by spreading his prized, secret recipe to anyone and everyone she knew....now, that's the part that truly makes me believe the story.  I mean, only a Southern woman could be responsible for the spread of the infamous Red Velvet recipe, so quickly across the South, fueling its populartiy!

Further to this, it is also my understanding that Southerners are responsible for the addition of cream cheese to the icing.  Once again, this all, may merely be, Southern Folklore!

Red Food Coloring and cocoa gives the deep, ruby color of the cake, and buttermilk is the secret ingredient that makes it so rich and yummy!  Topped with luscious cream cheese icing, and it is unbelievably good! 

I would like to mention, as well, so not to lose my credibility Down South, traditionally, Red Velvet is always topped with chopped pecans, but I have opted to sprinkle the tops with red sanding sugar, because I have found, at times, many of my clients are ordering Red Velvet Cupcakes, for an event, and they are choosing my Red Velvet Cupcakes, because they are 'nut free'. 

I have been making Red Velvet Cake for many years, and decided to start making them into cupcakes, when I started selling them through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods, because having them as cupcakes was so much easier to deliver to an event, or share.  No looking for a knife, or plates, or even napkins! They were just ready to devourer.

Ironically enough, I have watched Red Velvet Cupcakes become fashionable, here in Toronto.  So much so, I have started saying, 'Yeah, I've been making Red Velvet Cupcakes way before they were cool!'....

Order your very own box of my authentic, Southern style, Red Velvet Cupcakes, and you too, will understand why us Southerners do love them so! 24 cupcakes per windowed box.
Click here to order them online!

Connie Rouble, the Mississippi Queen
Mississippi Queen Foods