By Gini Rainey
Well, it’s that time of the year again here in Tyler, Texas. You know – Rose Festival time! That’s when our Rose Garden is at its finest, and we honor the long tradition of celebrating our roses that was begun in 1933 with pageants, parades, and all sorts of fun! Of course, it’s also the time when the temperatures begin to feel more fall-like, and we get a break from the heat of summer. It’s when the nip in the air brings back a more hearty appetite and cooking once again becomes a pleasure. It’s not that grilling on the patio and serving up salads isn’t nice; it’s just that those of us who enjoy preparing good meals can up our game a notch and get those good aromas wafting through the house again.
There’s just something about having a pot of stew, soup, or chili simmering on the back burner that says fall and good eating. I can remember my mom making a big pot of vegetable or chicken noodle soup and how wonderful that smell seemed when we would come in from playing all day out in the neighborhood with our friends. It just smelled like “home!” You can have all of your frangipani candles burning around your house, but give me the smell of soup cooking or bread baking, and I’m in heaven! A close second for me is an apple pie or vanilla candle, but nothing beats the real thing!
If you are in town for the Rose Festival, you might want to take a look at the gift shop at the Rose Garden and pick up a copy of our Junior Leagues’ “And Roses for the Table” cookbook that was first published in 1997. This would make a lovely souvenir from Tyler, as well as a great addition to your cookbook collection. This 160 page cookbook will be at home in either your kitchen or on your coffee table and is filled with not only some wonderful recipes, but also incredible photographs of roses and table settings.
One of the recipes that sounds absolutely yummy, and would fit right in with this season, is the one for “Southwestern White Chili.” After soaking 1 pound of dry White Northern Beans for 24 hours, combine in a large pot with 5-1/4 cups chicken broth, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 large white chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, and ½ teaspoon of ground cloves. Simmer this for approximately 5 hours (filling your home with some good ju-ju yumminess) or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Then stir in 1 7-ounce can of diced green chilies, 3 cups of diced, cooked chicken breast, 1-3/4 cups of chicken broth, and 1 tablespoon diced jalapeño pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. To serve you can line a soup bowl with a flour tortilla and ladle in the soup or serve over rice. Some good garnishes for this is shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, sliced black olives, diced avocados, or salsa and of course, tortilla chips on the side. I’m talking about some mighty fine eating here!