"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Ghandi

That's the B.T.C. of the little grocery Alexe Van Beuren started in the 4,000-population town of Water Valley, Miss., to offer products the local Piggly Wiggly lacked. One of the innovators who revived the empty storefronts just 25 minutes from the happening university town of Oxford, Van Beuren gave both the store and its cookbook a Norman Rockwell vibe. Real success arrived with chef Dixie Grimes, who added the folksy menu that made the B.T.C a regional culinary hub. There's skillet biscuits with three types of gravy, soups, salads, sandwiches, all kinds of casseroles, and plenty of old-school cakes. Food that makes you happy. Clarkson Potter. $29.95.

Adapted Chicken, Asparagus, and Mushroom Casserole

Serves 6


1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 cup chopped asparagus

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Madeira

1 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1 cup cooked white rice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter until it just starts to bubble, and then add the mushrooms, asparagus and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the flour and cook until it becomes golden brown, 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the Madeira until smooth. Whisk in the stock and cook until smooth and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chicken, rice, thyme, tarragon, salt, and white pepper. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes, or until browned on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: This casserole will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, freeze it before baking; thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then bake according to the recipe.