Connecting us to community and comfort food.
By Bill Grant
Well, that was one quick summer! I guess time really does fly when you are having fun and working two jobs.
For me, it's my work as president and chief creative officer at Grant Design Collaborative and my elected position as mayor pro tem and Ward 2 councilman for the city of Canton. Both have been keeping me very busy. Luckily, I really enjoy both positions, and I get to work with very talented and responsible colleagues in both positions. My team at Grant Design Collaborative is undoubtedly one of the most creative in the design industry, and they never cease to amaze me. On the City Council, I learn something new every day, and I am inspired by Mayor Gene Hobgood’s dedication as a public servant. Most days, I marvel at his knowledge of our community, governmental prowess and passion for Canton.
I am also fortunate to work with my fellow council members as we collaborate on new and exciting projects in progress. Of course, our city manager, Billy Peppers, and the city’s staff continue to run our daily operations in an efficient and effective manner. I often am asked if I enjoy my work as a councilman, and my answer always is the same — I like it when we are getting things done and moving the city forward for all citizens.
As fall arrives, I find myself in “baby kissing” season once again. While this year is an off-year election, I believe all politics is local. Local elections have the biggest impact on our daily quality of life, and they are extremely important. Our democratic process is empowering, allowing us an opportunity to continue or alter the course of our cities, counties and countries. I certainly don’t enjoy campaigning as much as doing the actual work, but I have much respect for and fascination about the process. I also believe elected officials need to walk their talk and live up to their campaign promises.
When I look at Canton today, I am proud to play a small role in our progress. Our downtown master plan and Livable Centers Initiative update have established a solid foundation for positive growth. Retail space is at a premium, and our historic preservation efforts have resulted in high-quality economic development, such as the restoration and repurposing of the mill office and Canton grammar school on the former school board property.
Next month, construction is scheduled to begin on the Panera in-fill project on the same property, with an anticipated opening of March 2018. The city has ownership of the Jones Building and should have the interior demolition, exterior renovation and roof completed in approximately 10 months.
Recognizing the city’s substantial preservation accomplishments, Canton has been selected as the March 2018 site for the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Expedition, providing an opportunity to showcase our historic resources and projects and host up to 450 visitors in one day!
Countless new restaurants have opened, and more are in the works. Plans for residential in-fill also are making progress, among many other exciting developments. This visible evidence is a byproduct of a sound strategic plan and a team dedicated to working the plan. Our Main Street program has delivered the best First Friday events to date, and the Canton Farmers Market has become the envy of other area cities. So many other great things are projected, so stay tuned for more details.
While our historic downtown district is in my ward and revitalization benefits all citizens, Canton also is making significant progress throughout the city. We have restructured and bolstered the capacity of our Code Enforcement Department to assist our efforts to overcome blighted properties, and we have added positions to our Police Department to enhance public safety. A Water and Sewer Master Plan has been completed, providing essential information about our future water processing and treatment needs. This plan is imperative for quality growth of all sectors, and clean water is a basic human right.
The design plan is completed to extend our Etowah Park trail east to connect the city’s new 45 acres along the river with additional paths throughout the natural areas. We also intend to extend the trail west from Etowah and Heritage Parks all the way to Boling Park. When completed, this river walk and master trail will be key to connectivity, while also providing additional recreational amenities.
When it comes to the Etowah River, we have made it the focal point of our future growth. It provides such an important asset, and we are looking at how to increase access and improve development along the Etowah.
In addition to the election of three council positions, the referendum on Nov. 7 also affords our citizens an opportunity to approve new city SPLOST projects that include funds for downtown parking, park and trail improvements, transportation and roads, public buildings, a new police headquarters, and economic development. Our SPLOST funds have been essential in paving more miles of streets than any other time in the city’s history, building the Etowah Park trail, enhancing public safety and many other important projects. I hope you will consider voting yes to approve the new SPLOST projects.
In addition to the aforementioned major accomplishments throughout the city, we also were able to include a tax cut for our citizens in the 2018 fiscal year budget, and that is great news for everyone.
Of course, progress and hard work can be stressful and exhausting at times, which brings me to a culinary connection of the dots. With fall around the corner, there is no better season for warm and nurturing comfort food. This overused culinary genre can be as complicated or simple as you want. From elaborate French recipes such as beef bourguignon to a simple grilled cheese sandwich, these types of foods provide nourishment while connecting us to pleasant memories.
One of the reasons I get so excited about cooking in the fall and winter is the opportunity to prepare soups and stews, essential cold weather meals in my kitchen. Like other comfort foods, they can be basic or complex, depending on your mood and tastes.
Nothing warms your body with healthy nutrition more than chicken soup “for the soul.” Various cultures have their own special versions of this concoction, all touting various magical medicinal benefits. I enjoy them all and have cooked hundreds of varieties over the years.
However, during hectic and stressful times, such as election season, I turn to a quick and easy-to-prepare recipe for rosemary chicken soup. I love rosemary with chicken in all forms, but this simple soup has a wonderful aroma and taste. Add as much or little rosemary as you want, or different vegetables. Prepare your own chicken broth from scratch or use a high-quality store-bought stock. Roast or poach your own chicken or even use a prepared rotisserie chicken from the market. It is really that simple and delicious. For now, here’s a basic and foolproof chicken soup recipe to set you on the path to success.
I hope you enjoy my version of this classic soup, and I hope for a chicken in every pot on Nov. 7! Until then, take stock in your blessings, and join our efforts to move #CantonForward.
Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup
• 4-6 chicken thighs or 2-3 breasts
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion, peeled
(half for stock and one half diced)
• 3 stalks celery
(one halved for stock and two sliced)
• 3 medium carrots
(one halved for stock and two peeled and sliced)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 8 cups homemade chicken stock
• 3-4 stalks fresh rosemary
• 6 ounces wide egg noodles
• 2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
(used for stock)
• salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken, carrot halves, celery, half onion and bay leaf into a stock pot. Cover with 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.
When stock is done, remove chicken, bay leaf and vegetables, and then pour stock through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids. Skim any fat from the top of the stock and set aside. Once the chicken has cooled, remove skin and bones, then shred into small pieces and reserve.
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the carrots are slightly softened. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add the reserved chicken stock, or packaged stock, and stir until combined. Gently stir the rosemary into the soup, and continue cooking until it reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
Once the broth is done, remove the rosemary, then add the egg noodles and chicken, stirring to combine. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, or until the egg noodles are al dente. Add more chicken stock to thin, if desired. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.