Recently our Rugby Lions Club had a family/new member night. The gathering was held at the Ellery Park gazebo which was constructed several years ago by the Rugby Lions Club.
The idea of having a storybook gazebo, complete with a witch hat roof, was the idea of the late Lion Mark Carlson. I had the pleasure of serving on this committee with him, and it was certainly exciting. We spent several hours deciding on where the gazebo would be located, as well as the style and selection of colors. When all was said and done, the park was presented a traditional gazebo complete with iron green gating and the hallmark red witch hat roof.
During the summer, the gazebo is home to the Lions Club "Music in the Park " which has been well orchestrated by Lion Kathy Kirchofner for the past 17 years. You can stroll by the park on a Wednesday evening, and it is the perfect Norman Rockwell scene. Folks are gathered about on tables and chairs enjoying music and ice cream cones provided by Cass-Clay. Often children are making fine use of the playground equipment as well. Ellery Park is located on Rugby's west side where the gentle roll of the terrain unites with an umbrella of green creating a perfect parcel of a park.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
There was no music in the gazebo for the gathering as the Music is the Park had concluded for the summer. However, we did have two well-known Rugby musicians performing. Their gig did not include notes, sheet music, or even voices. Instead, these musicians were preparing the chili which we would all enjoy. Lion Galen Mack and Lion Craig Wollenburg had volunteered their culinary skills.
Let us for a moment consider Mack he is a bass singer to be much like Richard Sterhain. (You know the base singer for the Oak Ridge Boys whose fame comes from singing so low on the popular hit, "Elvira.") Now Wollenburg we think of him as Rugby's own Pavarotti. His inviting, youthful yet veteran tenor voice has swooned many.
It is important to consider the background of both of our chefs. It is easy to note that the name Wollenburg has roots deep in Germany. Craig's ancestors, however, took the call of Martin Luther at the great nailing. Thus Craig is a Lutheran. Galen is Roman Catholic. Both of our chefs have directed choirs at their churches. Craig was raised as a Harvey Hornet and Galen as a Rugby Panther. Both have ties to University of North Dakota, and they both have been leading men in several Village Arts productions.
Both Lions chefs whether they want to say it or not have several creative competitive notions inside. Obviously, those notions will come out in their cooking of the chili. I personally feel that is great. After all self-expression is an integral part of your health, contentment, and well-being.
Both presented their chili in large white roasters. I did take the time to have some of each. Here is the verdict. Lion Mack's chili presented patterns of tomatoes, along with the usual kidney beans, with tones of sweetness peeking out in fine harmony probably from the tomatoes. Overtones of peppers gave it a fine upbeat. Lion Wollenburg's chili brought forth more spice almost forte, yet not fortissimo. Overall, it was jubilant. Beautiful patterns are worth repeating which was the case with his kidney beans.
I do not care for chili which has so much spice that you taste nothing else sometimes for many hours! To me, the seasoned chili maker has a delicate display of virtuosity when blending and adding spices. It is important to remember that with chili we can add more flavors with table spices, as well as with a variety of cheeses. I do not have either recipe that these two Lions cooked up. However, I am sure they would be willing to share. In our discussion after dining, we all agreed that both chilies had fine flavor. We may have to ask them to cook something else if one of them prefers to be the winner!
My addition to the meal was cornbread. Cornbread is common bread in United States cuisine especially in the South. I learned to make cornbread from one of our custom combining crews who stayed in our trailer court in Underwood each fall. Elsie was from Texas, and her duty was to cook for her hubby and his hungry crew. They traveled in a pink Detroiter Mobile home which had a large dining room. This was achieved when they converted the second bedroom into dining space. This also allowed Elsie to have an extra oven in her kitchen and much more counter space. She had a really fine traveling kitchen, and she made excellent use of it. They preferred to gather around the table with their hired hands, and it was easy with the extra dining space. In fact, they even had room for a blonde, inquisitive neighbor who was always interested in what was cooking!
As I have mentioned before, having the trailer court in our back yard was a real treat for me. I could walk out our front porch door and within minutes be chatting from folks all over the country. We had many wonderful renters who were often also great cooks. I share with you a southern recipe for cornbread that is sure to please. It also shows that you just never know what good recipes are tucked away in the tried and true recipe box of a pink mobile home.
Harvest Jalapeo Corn Bread
This corn bread has the appearance of a johnnycake being lower and flatter, but loaded with robust flavor. After eating this style corn bread, you may never be satisfied with the plain version again! When using the jalapeos in the can, I rinse them well in water before adding to make them less intense. I have also used canned green chilies which work very well.
2-1/2 cups corn meal
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs slightly beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 can of cream-style corn
1 can of jalapeo peppers
2 cups cheese of choice
1 onion, grated fine
In a bowl stir together cornmeal, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl beat 3 eggs lightly and stir in milk and cooking oil. Add the liquid mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir in corn jalapeno peppers, cheese and onion. Pour the batter into two well-greased baking pans, 9-by-13 inches, and bake the corn bread in a hot oven (425 F) for about 25 minutes, or until it tests done. Serve with plain or chive butter.