Food for the Soul: St. John’s ‘Feast of Love’

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:20 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:21 a.m.
Janie Allen thumbs through ‘Feast of Love,’ a cookbook published by St. John’s Lutheran Church as part of its 250th anniversary celebration in 1997.
Janie Allen thumbs through ‘Feast of Love,’ a cookbook published by St. John’s Lutheran Church as part of its 250th anniversary celebration in 1997.

By Susan Shinn

Fact Box

French Onion Soup

• 2 C. onions, sliced

• 1/4 stick butter

• 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• 4 C. beef stock (or 2 cans onion soup)

• 2 C. Swiss cheese, grated

• 6-8 slices sandwich bread (1 per

person), toasted and cut in small cubes

Saute onions slowly in butter. When brown, add flour and mix well. Add beef stock. Cook 10 minutes. In individual baking dishes, layer one coat bread, one of cheese. Repeat layers. Add hot soup. Bake under broiler for 10 minutes, and serve piping hot.

— Don Weinhold Jr., submitted by Merrea Weinhold

Cheerwine Ice Cream

• 4 eggs

• 2 C. milk

• 2 C. sugar

• 1 can sweetened condensed milk

• 1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

• 21/2 C. Cheerwine

Mild added to fill line on freezer container

Put eggs and 2 C. milk in double broiler. Heat until steaming hot. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add sweetened condensed mild and evaporated milk. Chill.

Add Cheerwine. Pour mixture into 4-quart ice cream freezer container and add enough milk to bring mixture to the fill line. Churn until frozen. Makes 4 quarts.

— Submitted by Mary Ann Hoover

Peach Pound Cake

This is the one recipe in the cookbook that Margy Fink says she can’t conquer. It was submitted by Helen Lentz.

• 1 C. butter, softened

• 3 C. sugar

• 6 eggs

• 3 C. all-purpose flour

• 1/4 tsp. baking soda

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 C. sour cream

• 2 C. fresh peaches, peeled and chopped

(not too juicy)

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. almond extract

Cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine sour cream and peaches.

Combine flour, soda and salt in separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and peaches, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.

Pour batter into greased, floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 75-80 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool slightly, then remove from pan to cool completely.

‘Feast of Love’ recipes

For the Salisbury Post

In 1997, St. John’s Lutheran Church celebrated its 250th anniversary. The congregation published a cookbook, “Feast of Love,” as part of one of many special events that year.

The church eventually sold all 1,000 copies, which have been well used and well loved over the years by many of its fine cooks.

St. John’s had published another cookbook in the 1970s, says Janie Allen, who served as co-editor of the 1997 volume.

“It had been long enough that we felt it was appropriate to do another one,” Janie says. “It was one of the first things we agreed to do for the 250th anniversary.”

The committee came up with the name from “This is the feast,” part of the liturgy from the Lutheran Book of Worship — the “green book” — that was sung frequently at the time.

“We went to the windows in our chapel and found Jesus doing his first miracle, changing water in the wine,” Janie notes. “It was a special occasion with food and drink.”

That stained glass window became the focal point of the cookbook’s cover, and was set on a dark blue background.

Carol Hair is listed as “computer typist.” Which of course means she typed in every one of the book’s hundreds of recipes.

“She made a tremendous contribution to this cookbook,” Janie says. “She was just an absolutely perfect person to do it. It seems like she did it effortlessly.”

With a career in food service, Margy Fink served as cookbook committee chair.

“We didn’t have any trouble getting recipes,” Margy says. “People were most cooperative. I was just thrilled to death with the way the cookbook looked.”

She adds, “One of the things I remember was continuously checking the recipes to make sure we didn’t have any errors in them. I read every recipe Carol typed.”

“It was a task, I’ll put it that way,” Carol admits.

Janie and her husband, Sonny, wrote introductions for each category in the cookbook, highlighting St. John’s history.

“It was a big-time food place,” Janie says. “We’d have events and feed 700 to 800 people. At one time, I think we had one of the biggest Sunday schools in the nation.”

The committee put out a call for recipes through the newsletter, bulletins and through personal contacts, Janie says. She was especially pleased to have some recipes from the late Juanita Williams, a longtime caterer. Juanita started an Octogenarian Luncheon — an event honoring members 80 and over — that continues today.

“We just thought Juanita was the best cook in the world,” Janie says. “We all wanted her food.”

Along with serving as co-editor, Janie also contributed sketches to the cookbook, as did Donna Beilfuss, Donnie Moose and Montye Furr.

“We had a good time,” Montye says. “It was fun meeting with the other artists.”

There were a couple of unusual sections — recipes by and for children, and the St. John’s men also had their own section.

Janie admits that at first, she was skeptical about devoting a chapter for children.

“As I look back at it, I think it’s wonderful for folks to see,” she says. Of course, the children who contributed those cute recipes are now grown.

Thumbing through the cookbook, Janie points out recipes from local caterer Matt Trexler, and members Jim Chesky and his wife, the late Barbara Chesky.

The Cheskys were both great cooks, and contributed a variety of recipes culled from Jim’s naval service in many locations across the country.

“They weren’t local, Piedmont recipes,” Janie says. “They gave us more of a national flavor.”

Because the Ritchie family are members of St. John’s, the cookbook has several Cheerwine recipes.

Another family from St. John’s, the Rufty family, is highlighted at the beginning of one chapter. Janie remembers that the Ruftys filled up several rows in the sanctuary each Sunday.

The cookbook has many special notations in the recipes, such as where the recipe came from.

It’s not without touches of humor. The Rev. Marty Stevens, who was St. John’s associate pastor at the time, submitted a “recipe” for the Best Dinner Ever which included ingredients of meats, vegetables, breads and desserts.

“Arrange with various members in the congregation to provide casseroles and/or leftovers from covered dish dinners,” she wrote. “Freeze in one-serving portions. Remove from freezer. Microwave until heated. Enjoy — after giving thanks for the cook!”

“She was a single lady and not a cook at all,” Janie says, smiling. “That was her contribution.”

Janie says it makes her a little sad to see recipes from members who have passed on.

“But,” she says, “I’m so happy we have these recipes.”

One of those recipes is Don Weinhold’s French Onion Soup. Janie worked in Don’s law office for about six years.

“He’d cook for us around holiday time,” she says. “He had a big staff for an attorney in solo practice. He’d fix big, thick steaks and French Onion Soup from this recipe. I wanted something from him because he was such a great cook.”

Don never gave out the recipe, but after his death, his mother, the late Merrea Weinhold, found the recipe — stained and dog-eared — and submitted it at Janie’s request.

“These are tried and true recipes,” Carol says. “Cranberry Bread is a recipe I have used for 40 years, that I got from a dear neighbor in Wisconsin. I think of her every time I use the recipe.”

No doubt other St. John’s cooks do the exact same thing with favorite recipes in “Feast of Love.”

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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