This column marks the beginning of our fifth year together, here on the pages of the Alpine Avalanche. It’s mind boggling how the last four years have flown by so quickly.
A lot can happen in four years – just think about high school days. A child enters into a big scary place with all sorts of older kids, and through it all, four years later, emerges as an adult with thoughts and skills and capabilities the child probably never even imagined. Four years can really encompass a lot of growth and change.
About four years ago, my friend Gail Yovanovich contacted me to see if I had any interest in writing a food column for the Alpine Avalanche. JT Maroney had just purchased the Avalanche, and was in the process of moving his family out here from Boerne, where my husband and I had just moved from to Fort Davis.
JT and I go back about two decades as friends in the newspaper business, and I was thrilled that he had taken the huge leap of faith out here in West Texas with his own paper. I knew JT when he was a young advertising salesman in Boerne and I worked in editing, layout and design in the newsroom. His sister Brandi, also in the newspaper business (she owns the Fort Stockton newspaper), is one of my dearest friends and has been for nearly twenty years as well.
When Gail contacted me, I was immediately flattered. Then I instantly started overthinking things. “Wait, that means deadlines. Word counts. Creativity. Writing things that make sense and are at least a little interesting to someone other than me. And, deadlines…” but I agreed to start writing a column.
I’d previously written a weekly column for one of the Avalanche’s sister papers, The Boerne Star, for nearly nine years and had been in “retirement” for about five years.
When I worked at the newspaper office in Boerne, the lady that wrote the recipe column passed away. To fill the need, I offered to write the recipe column. I had always been a creative writer, and had been compulsively collecting cookbooks for years and adored my three-ingredient cookbooks, so I figured I could whip up something once a week and share some recipes from my many cookbooks.
I was all about convenience food. I was young and had no clue about good food or nutrition, but I could write. So, I did it weekly, for almost a decade.
Combined with other publications I wrote for, after I had written my five-hundredth article, I honestly felt the well had run dry. I didn’t have any words left in me, other than a social media post here and there.
Thankfully, life in far West Texas got the waters flowing again. Life has certainly changed, even in our kitchen. Pretty much everything I cook now is from scratch, and processed food has no place in our home. We don’t even own a microwave.
This week marks the four-year anniversary of sharing my opinions of food, favorite recipes, travel adventures and escapades into local fare with you.
Looking back over four years’ worth of weekly ramblings, I am humbled and grateful that y’all keep me around here. Together, we’ve spent 208 (give or take) weeks together exploring different local restaurants, ideas about food, and whatever else I force you to listen to here when you read my words. It’s hard to believe that in all this time, only three times has a column been repeated.
I appreciate every single email, face-to-face meeting and comment that I’ve gotten from you all. Even the messages where you don’t agree with me – I appreciate that you took the time to let me know. Thank you all so much for your emails, cards and in person feedback over the years – I’d give all of you a squeezy hug if it was allowed. I look forward to what our fifth year together brings to our tables.
In honor of the beginning of our fifth year of Savoring West Texas together, here’s the first recipe I shared on the pages of the Alpine Avalanche.
Baked Chile Rellenos from Lillian “Bit” Miller of Fort Davis
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 more firm 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