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Shane Synstegard scoops out meatballs, above. She said she preferred an 'easy job.' (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Holiday bazaars begin in earnest at Lutheran church

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The divine smell wafting from the kitchen of Akeley's First Lutheran Church was man-made, not heaven scent, no pun intended.

Or, in this case, woman made.

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The church's annual Taste of the Seasons, a major fundraiser, filled the parish hall Saturday and no doubt lingered through Sunday's services.

Handmade gifts, hand-baked treats and a Danish brunch greeted guests.

"We used to call it Taste of Christmas but we moved it forward so our seasonal residents could participate," said church member Peg Davies.

Lutheran ladies' aid groups have evolved into "Church Women's" groups, but are a mainstay nonetheless in keeping rural churches alive.

"The 'C' is for coolest, because we are," joked Carole Ann Morris, president of the FLCW (First Lutheran Church Women.)

She was wearing a stuffed catnip mouse as an oversized lapel pin.

The church's largest fundraiser has been going for about 10 years, Morris estimated, maybe longer.

"We meet once a quarter, maybe oftener, for events like this," Morris said.

"We typically serve 100 to 125," Davies added. "That's a lot of meatballs. Plus the creamed cheese mashed potatoes. It's amazing what the gals put together. I can't take much credit for it because I'm not very talented."

The churchwoman generally meet in mid-winter to strategize on the fall event.

They hold craft and baking days closer to the event.

One day is spent making cake donuts, which are then packaged and priced. Then there's a biscotti day. Same routine.

Cookies - yup. Breads, lefse, ya sure, you betcha. All for sale.

Then there's the abeleskiver, made and served piping hot the day of the event.

The Danish pancake recipe is hand-written on a piece of cardboard closely guarded by Phyllis Carlson. She gets out her abeleskiver pan, oils it up and pours pancake batter into it. The golf-ball sized cakes are turned when browned and done in minutes.

They can be coated with a cinnamon-sugar mix, slathered in jam or applesauce or served with traditional syrups, Carlson said.

The recipe for the Danish meatballs ("You can just call them Scandinavian,") was from a parish member who has since passed on.

Plate after plate of heaping mashed potatoes, meatballs and gravy is slid across the counter to the long line that queued up 15 minutes before the 11 a.m. serving time. The kitchen is a well-rehearsed battalion of cooks and bottle washers.

"They certainly have a very strong presence, there's no question about it," said Pastor Darrell Morton of the group of 26 or so woman that make up the FLCW.

"There's a huge volunteer core that makes things happen and of course, no small part of that are the women," he said, trying to be politically correct. "But I would say it's more than just the woman's groups."

Then the quarterly meetings will resume, once the kitchen has been cleaned up.

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Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers Hubbard County, courts and breaking news.

(218) 732-3364
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