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Today is December 3, 2021

Featured Cookbook

Cuisine and a lifetime dream

By Sandra M. Buckley

Cuisine and a lifetime dream

Published by Sartoris Literary Group in Brandon. Visit or to order a copy.

As a little girl in Itawamba County in the 1930s, Juanita Caldwell loved to read. Her passion for books, and the adventure they inspired, sparked in her a dream to one day become a writer herself.   

However, her literary dream got put on the back burner, time after time, and year after year. From being a child during the economic downturn of the Great Depression to eventually marriage, children and the heartache of losing two husbands, the right time never seemed to avail itself for Miss Juanita.

Over the years, Miss Juanita’s life’s story was impacted by several defining moments. One of those was when she was 13. It was November 18, 1934, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Tupelo to celebrate it being the “First TVA City,” a landmark day in the history of Mississippi and the nation for progressive rural electrification. She was in the crowd and recalled, “I made eye contact with the president … and he smiled and waved.” 

During the 1930s, her father owned two local department stores; though later in that decade, one was burned down by arson and the other robbed of all its merchandise in the middle of the night. Her father, to take care of his family, accepted a job as warden at Parchman Farm in the Delta. So she, her parents and siblings moved to Sunflower County and lived in prison housing on the grounds of the Mississippi State Penitentiary. After she graduated from Drew High School, Miss Juanita’s journey eventually led her to Greenville, Greenwood and Hollandale.

Miss Juanita treasures many memories her life in Mississippi has afforded her – especially those touched by the rich culture and cuisine of the Delta. As cooking and gathering family and friends for meals played a constant, special role over the years, she holds close to her heart the cherished recipes she has collected for more than 80 years. 

And finally, at age 98, her lifelong wish to become a published author is now a dream come true. Through “Miss Juanita’s Delta Cuisine,” the author shares precious memories and photographs and more than 100 of her most-loved recipes – all of which were a lifetime in the making.

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