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September 05, 2008   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
September 05, 2008

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.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - 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 on Thursday, Sept. 4.

The annual statewide competition, sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation's 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.

"I was actually going to do a Santa Fe soup in our county cook-off, but then someone else in our county did that," explained Dykes of Louisville. "So she said, 'Let me give you my daughter-in-law's recipe.' It's a really delicious recipe, and it would be wonderful for any occasion. 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.

"We had a lot of different types of soups," said Kim Earwood, director of the Federation's Women's Division. "We had cold soups, fruit soups and the typical hot soups. So we had a wide array."

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 ... and I know there are some you share out there. Do you share your recipes? You do? Good. Because whether you know it or not, 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."

Click here for the recipes of the winning dishes as well as the other Heritage Cooking Contest entries.

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