We are taking our annual trip to “Little Mountain” this weekend.
Every year, our church takes the short drive to Jeff Busby State Park on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Choctaw County. Everyone dresses in jeans and shoes for climbing the trails. Right after Sunday School and worship services, we hit the road. There are always those that “walk” the trails and those who enjoy the view from the “top” of Little Mountain.
It is always a great time to get together as a group and enjoy the great weather, great people and a lot of great food. We always try to time it to see the best fall foliage. It is amazing how beautiful the fall colors can be, at the top of the mountain looking out over Choctaw County and all of the amazing color and detail you can see walking the trails. I think you need both perspectives.
The picnic areas of Little Mountain remain open through the month of October. One year, we tried for the first Sunday in November, and we ended up eating at the top of the mountain...with no picnic tables. Not as much fun.
I have no idea how long this has been an annual event, but the Little Mountain picnic was the first time I met all of my husband’s family. It was the first time I attended church with him and the picnic was scheduled as usual after services. One particular older lady in the church whispered very loudly “who’s that with Pepper?” and launched into some crazy story about Q-tips stuffed in the ears of one of Pepper’s cousins. I didn’t hear all of the story because Pepper was a little panicked about my reaction to this crazy lady’s story. Oh, the early days of dating...
Thirteen years later, I am used to crazy lady stories. The husband doesn’t panic nearly as much about my reaction to these things.
The church ladies that are not crazy are amazing cooks. That first trip to Little Mountain was my introduction to Aunt Margie’s banana pudding, Aunt Joyce’s fried chicken and Sandra’s lemon squares. Sandra and Joyce also have a special gift with cupcakes. It is hard to explain, but they know what they are doing!
This year, rumor has it that Sandra will make homemade macaroni and cheese. We are all excited!
The dessert I am making this year is a personal favorite. It is easy to make ahead of time and put in the cooler ready for the day. I make this in a 9x13” pan. Because I will be putting this together as quickly as possible, I will probably prepare the crust on Friday night or Saturday morning and let it cool in the refrigerator all day, then prepare the rest of the dessert Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Layered Pudding Dessert
For the crust:
1 c. self-rising flour
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
Mix together and press into the bottom of the baking dish. I have a cute 9x9” baking pan and will make a thicker crust to use the cute dish.
For the white layer:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 small Cool Whip — use the large container if you want to top the dessert with a dollop of Cool Whip
Mix the cream cheese and sugar together, then fold in Cool Whip.
For the chocolate layer:
1 large pkg. milk chocolate Jello pudding
3 c. milk
Mix as directed on the box and let is set.
Cool Whip mixture sprinkled with nuts.
Prepare the first layer and allow to cool completely. I try to plan ahead and get this layer done early before working on the remaining layers.
Prepare the cream cheese mixture and the pudding. When the pudding has set, place a thin layer of Cool Whip mixture, followed by all of the pudding mixture. Top with a large dollop of the Cool Whip mixture and sprinkle with nuts or shaved chocolate if available.
Gwen Sisson is the lifestyles editor of Starkville Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .