PRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE ALPINE AVALANCHE NEWSPAPER
It’s not always easy being the new kids on the block… unless you live on the main drag in Fort Davis, Texas.
My husband and I decided two years ago that West Texas was where we wanted to be when our nest emptied, and so we bought a little place smack dab in the center of town. We’ve been living here full-time since the end of January, and we don’t miss Hill Country city life one bit.
About seven years ago, my husband brought me through Fort Davis on a trip to New Mexico. I was fascinated by the children walking home from school to have lunch. We drove around the neighborhoods, and I fell in love with a gorgeous old home that was surrounded by lush landscape and blooming gardens. It looked like you could easily get lost in those gardens right there in town. Wasn’t this supposed to be the desert?
Little did I know that seven years later, we’d have the honor of being invited to dinner in that dream home, tour the well-loved grounds filled with unique flora, and become friends with the owners, Beth and Larry Francell.
The home had belonged to Beth’s grandmother, and the Francells have done wonderful things with it; but I won’t get started on that right now because I’ll start talking about plants and their family history rather than food.
A week or so before this year’s Trapping of Texas event at the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, Larry asked if we’d like to attend, and later brought us two tickets. Larry is a former museum director, and was instrumental in making it what it is today. We didn’t really know much about the event other than there would be art, food and drinks, and we were expected to wear our cowboy boots.
To sum up the experience in one word: WOW!
The work of the regional artists was incredible. I’m no art critic, but I was overwhelmed by the use of light and textures and the beauty conveyed in the paintings and sketches of the cattle and horses and scenes of our rugged land and magical skies – simply spectacular. The bronzes and jewelry were equally stunning. Thank you for introducing us to Trappings, Francells.
I do, however, know food. And there was great food, and so much food, at every turn. Fajitas with all the trimmings. Hand-carved ham served with a cranberry horseradish mustard sauce. All the veggies and dips you could imagine. A table filled with petits fours – a favorite of mine since I was a small child.
If I could have stood at the shrimp cocktail table all night without anyone noticing, I might have. A never-emptying bowl of super-colossal shrimp way out here in far West Texas was almost like a dream.
I hope my fresh eyes give you a chance to notice all the good stuff we’ve got around us, and together we can savor every bite of our West Texas.
This recipe is an old family favorite Beth Francell served us for dinner one night. I could eat it any time of day. Served at our dinner table with chips and salsa, pinto beans and guacamole, we were fully satisfied, and a certain someone went back for seconds.
Baked Chile Rellenos from Lillian “Bit” Miller
8 to 10 long green chile peppers, roasted and peeled
1 pound Monterey Jack Cheese or a little less, sliced in strips
2 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
Beat eggs, milk, flour and salt until smooth, either by hand or in mixer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a Pyrex casserole dish (6″ by 10″ approximately).
Lay strips of chile on the bottom, and top with strips of cheese, then cover with more chile strips.
Pour beaten liquid mixture over chile and cheese layers.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until custard is set. Serve soon or let cool and reheat.
It will be firmer that way. You can double this recipe but don’t use too large a dish or it will take too long for the middle to firm up. It puffs up like a soufflé in the oven and then falls when taken out.