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October 17, 2008   Email to Friend 

Barbour County's Dykes Wins Heritage Cooking Contest
By Darryal Ray

Heritage Cooking Contest top chefs show off their winning recipes. From left are Edwina Dykes of Barbour County, Carol Goodson of Houston County and Karan Tucker of Fayette County.
Minutes after hearing cookbook author Leslie Bailey declare that "there are no new recipes," Edwina Dykes of Barbour County proved her right by using a borrowed recipe that she personalized into a hearty soup to take first place in the Heritage Cooking Contest in Montgomery last month.

The annual statewide competition, sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation Women's Division and held at the corporate offices of Alfa Insurance, drew winners from 28 county Federations who entered their favorite soup recipes.

Dykes' White Chicken Chili, a flavorful concoction of Great Northern beans, canned chicken and white chili seasoning, evoked praise from the three judges and earned the blue ribbon and a top prize of $150.

Second place and $100 went to Carol Goodson of Houston County for her hearty Southwestern Soup. Karan Tucker of Fayette County, whose mother Mary Tucker won third place in the 2007 contest, repeated the feat by capturing the $50 third-place prize with her tasty Fruit Soup.

For Dykes, whose husband Larry is a hay and cattle producer and president of the Barbour County Farmers Federation, the win was particularly surprising since it was only the second time she had made the White Chicken Chili. The first was when she prepared it for the contest at the county level.

"It's a really delicious recipe, and it would be wonderful for any occasion," said Dykes of Louisville. "And it's very easy to make. Easy, simple and delicious."

The Heritage Cooking Contest strives to showcase the flavor, versatility and nutritional value of Alabama agricultural products. Dishes were judged on taste, appearance and ease of preparation. Judges were: Judy Brown, a retired Extension agent; Barbara Fennell of the State Board of Education; and Denise Butts, owner of Uniquely Yours Catering in Prattville.

While the entries were being judged, contestants and guests were treated to a lively presentation from Bailey, author of "Hey, Leslie! What's Cooking?", a collection of more than 150 of her favorite recipes.

Bailey, who hosts a WSFA-TV cooking show of the same title and owns Silver Spoon Caterers in Montgomery, kept the audience laughing as she prepared dishes like Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball from her book, talked about her menagerie of cats and praised farmers for their role in bringing food to the table.

"All of you out there are probably much better cooks than I could ever hope to be," Bailey told the audience. "Now cooking has never been hard for me. My mother was a great cook. My grandmother was a great cook. Everyone out here brings to the table recipes that have been passed from generation to generation.

There are really no new recipes. You may put a little spin on what you brought today. And I'm sure that it's the most delicious soup because you put your special ideas into it, you know what I'm talking about. It's what caterers call fairy dusting."

FIRST PLACE, WHITE CHICKEN CHILI, Edwina Dykes, Barbour County
1/2 stick butter
1 large onion
5 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cream of chicken soup
5 large (12.5-ounce) cans of chicken (or chopped chicken breasts)
2 packages McCormick White Chili Seasoning
1 (10-ounce) can Original Rotel tomatoes
3 tablespoons chili powder
5 cubes chicken bouillon
1 or 2 cans chicken broth, if desired to make soup thinner


Sauté onion in butter until translucent. Add drained and rinsed beans, then the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low to medium heat in a large stock pot or a large slow cooker for 2-3 hours. Serve with Mexican cornbread, crackers or tortilla chips.

SECOND PLACE, SOUTHWESTERN SOUP, Carol Goodson, Houston County
2 pounds ground beef
1 small package ranch dressing mix
2 packages taco seasoning mix
2 cans white shoepeg corn
1 1/2 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel
2 tablespoons minced onion


Cook ground beef, drain, and add remaining ingredients. Cook 2 hours in slow cooker or simmer about 30 minutes on the stove.

THIRD PLACE, FRUIT SOUP, Karan Tucker, Fayette County
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 (15-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (21-ounce) can peach pie filling
1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling


Mix well in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Serve as is or over plain pound cake. Serves 18-20.


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