Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bear Creek: gem of a meal, church

Every meal time is unique and it's those of yesteryear that we remember the best. When we grew up on the dairy farm near Rochester, every supper all of us grabbed our seat, passed around the cookin's and slarfed down our food before the rest grabbed it from our plate. But the food was always the best.

Such is the most recent trip to Bear Creek Lutheran Church's Meatball Supper in rural Grand Meadow. Amidst the corn fields, red barns and rolling hills sits a gem of a country church, full of tradition that each parishioner is proud to talk about. 

And a meal to brag about.

Serving up meatballs is exclusive in itself, with not many church socials centered around what would seem an easy fixing. But its recipe is a guarded secret and not shared, which made the meal even more enjoyable! On this Wednesday evening, September 5, over 220 people gathered to share in a familiar sit-down pass the potatoes meal.
Emma Grafe is one busy eight-year-old at
the meatball supper.

Usually attending church meals means a buffet style of serving the food. Not here at Bear Creek. Once you buy your ticket, you're promptly guided to a table set for eight and before you know it, food appears in front of you, ready to be passed around to newly met friends. Freshly prepared meatballs and gravy, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, buttered buns - and a wonderful added touch from country gardens - sliced tomatoes encircle your plate.  That was the bonus on this summer meal - tomatoes from parishioner gardens. Ahhhh, the memories of mom's garden produce on my plate! Milk, coffee or lemonade was filled for each of us, and the all-you-can eat was on. Don't forget to leave room for apple, pumpkin, triple berry or cherry pie - that would be sacrilegious!
LaVae Ringen was head of the kitchen this year.

"Last year we got to the bottom of the potatoes and wondered, 'oh boy, I hope we have enough!'" said Glen Warn, who has worked at all the 30+ meatball dinners. "It's hard to know, we plan for about 260." Glen was busy with Ann Hanson, cashier, greeting guests on the beautiful sunny summer evening, in a sweet, unassuming atmosphere. Visitors were encouraged to stuff the 'ballot' box for a chance to win a beautiful handmade quilt - or they could buy one that was on display, made by members of the congregation. Other than that, they were guided - not that they couldn't smell the way - downstairs to their seat.
Ann Hanson was an inviting
 host at the Bear Creek function.

The family-first congregation and WELCA sponsor the dinner. In the spring, a ham dinner is served over Memorial Day weekend, which allows visitors from all over dropping by the cemetery to add a great meal to their pallet. That dinner has been going on for close to 60 years: a lutefisk dinner at Bear Creek went for 40 years before ending some time ago. On this night, there happened to be another meatball dinner down by the Iowa border at a Spring Grove church called Black Hammer, but this was the place to be for hungry, dedicated meatball lovers!

LaVae Ringen runs the kitchen crew and with tradition on her side, the group flawlessly served up bowls full of delectable foods. She makes six pumpkin pies for the meal, but the others are bought through a local bakery. "We just don't have enough people with the time to make as much pies as we would like," she said. But the meatballs are handmade the Tuesday before, with the Pastor Shirley Redmond on hand to help. It takes about four hours to make 80 pounds of meatballs into circular gourmet - the day before it's time to peel the over 100 pounds of spuds, as well as prepare the coleslaw, tomatoes, corn and buns. LaVae's husband has six generations of family who have attended Bear Creek, and it's that spirit of tradition and loyalty that serves the close-knit congregation now and in the past.

"Tradition is very important to us," LaVae said. Said well, considering she has been helping out at this supper since the beginning as well. Money raised goes to many outside charities or causes, including American Bible Society, Rachel's Hope and world hunger. Aside from the Memorial Day dinner, every year on Dec. 23 the church has its annual Christmas celebration. They pack with standing room only the little church, which probably holds less than 100 people, with a children's program, worship service and social time afterwards. And for all the little kids in attendance, they get the traditional bag of peanuts and candy that has been handed out for over 100 years during this service.

Everyone, including adults, also gets an apple. It indicates the simplicity and lack of commercialism that existed in the 19th century, but also shows the importance of church, family and friends.

This was the first year since the meatball supper started that Beverly Hanson hasn't participated. She was instrumental in starting the supper, but this year family came first. She and her late husband, Loren, enjoyed working at the church socials.

One woman that arrived ready to eat laughed to a friend, "the scale isn't going to like me in the morning." Or as Glen said earlier in the evening, "the older we get the less we need to eat, and then here we are (ready to eat all our fill)."
The inside was just as beautiful as the outside of the
rural Grand Meadow church.

As the church moves on after 156 years, it's easy to see why it stands tall amongst the ripening corn and soybeans in southeastern Minnesota. The dry weather may have been on most people's minds and in their conversations on this night, but after a belly full of good food, all went home content. 

Although a grand display of friendliness, comraderie and love of church was at the forefront, it was clear those qualities were the foundations set many years ago - and will continue continue for many years to come.


*Saturday, September 15 - Trinity Lutheran, Blue Earth, Salad/Sandwich Luncheon, 8-1

*Sunday, September 16 - Trinity Lutheran, Elmore, Annual Pie and Ice Cream Society with pork sandwiches, salad, beans; 22:30-6:30

     -St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Mazeppa, 11-1:30, Ham and Turkey Dinner
     -St. Francis Xavier Annual Chicken DInner, Lake Park, 11-1
     -St. Andrew's Catholic Church, Hawley, Turkey and the Trimmings/desserts, 11-1
     -St. Adrian Catholic Church, Adrian, Annual Fall Dinner, 4-7

*Wednesday, September 19, Dodge Center United Methodist Church, pork chop dinner; 4:30-7:30
     -Chicken Pie Dinner, Hector's UM Church, 4:30-6:30
     -United Methodist Church, Detroit Lakes, Meatball Supper, 4:30-7

*Sunday, September 23 - St. John the Baptist de la Salle, Dodge Center, 21st annual Turkey/Ham Dinner, 11-1

*Wednesday, October 10 - Vineyard United Methodist Church,Hutchinson, Complete Turkey Dinner, 4:30-7

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

O Lutefisk, O Lutefisk

It is that time of the year again when that lovely lye smell radiates from church kitchens, with a variety of other yummy smells. Frolicking through the internet the other day and found out this "Lutefisk Dinner Calendar". This just includes churches, but good Scandanavians know there are restaurants that serve it as well.

These are the dates given. Please utilize your internet skills or lutefisk contacts to verify information given, as times, dates, etc. can change from year to year.

Prices also vary, from $13-$17, plus what is served aside from Lutefisk.

Lutefisk Dinners around the State:

Sept. 29 - Our Savior's Lutheran, Pequot Lakes (Last Saturday in Sept); 3 p.m. til it runs out

Oct. 3 - Zion Lutheran Church, Appleton (First Wed. in Oct); 4:30-7:30
Oct. 13 - First Lutheran Church, Pine River (Second Sat. in Oct); 3:30 - 7:30
Oct. 13 - Highview Christiana Lutheran Church, Farmington (Second Sat in Oct); 5:30 & 7:15, no tickets at door
Oct. 10 - Vang Lutheran Church, Dennison (Second Wed. in Oct); 11, 12, 1 servings
Oct. 16 - First Lutheran Church, Blooming Prairie (3rd Tues., Oct) 11, 1, 5:30, 6:30, 7:30
Oct. 20 - Grace Lutheran Church, Mankato (3rd Sat. in Oct); several time servings starting at 11
Oct. 20 - Holden Lutheran Church, Kenyon (3rd Sat. in Oct); 1-5
Oct. 21 - Evanger LUtheran Churdh, Sargeant; (Sunday of MEA)
Oct. 25 - St. John's Lutheran Church, Kasson (4th Thurs, Oct) 11, 3, 4
Oct. 25 - Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fridley (4th Thurs, Oct) 4-7
Oct. 26 - Zion Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls (last Fri. Oct) 4:30-7:30
Oct. 27 - Christiana Lutheran Church, Lakeville (last Sat. Oct) 4, 5:30, 7
     Our Savior's Lutheran, Middle River (Last Sat Oct) 3:30 til run out
     Zion Lutheran Church, Hanska (last Sat Oct). 4-8
Oct. 28 - Bethel Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie (last Sun Oct) 12-5
     Oakland Lutheran Church, Albert Lea (last Sund. Oct) 3-7

Nov. 1 - Cambridge Lutheran Church (firs Thurs. Nov) 3-7
     Trinity Lutheran Church, Long Lake (first Thurs. Nov) 5 & 7
     Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater (First Thurs. Nov) Reservations required, 11-7
Nov. 2 - Bethel Lutheran Church, Porter (first Fri. Nov) 4-8
     East St. Olaf, Byron (first Fri. Nov)4:30-7 reservations required
     House of Hope Lutheran Church, New Hope (First Fri. Nov) 3:30-8
Nov. 3 - Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Inver Grove Hgts (first Sat. Nov) 2-6
     Minnehaha Lutheran Church, Mpls, (First Sat. Nov) 4-6:30 seatings
     North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills (first Sat. Nov) one seating at 4
     Scandian Grove Lutheran Church, St. Peter (First Sat. Nov) 11-1, 4-8
Nov. 4 - First Lutheran Church, Baudette, (first Sun. Nov) 3-7
     Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo Lake (first Sund. Nov) 4-7
Nov. 7 - First Lutheran Church, Morris (first Wed. Nov) 4-7
     Little Cedar Lutheran Church, Adams (firs Wed. Nov) 11-1:30
     Urland Lutheran Curch Cannon Falls (first Wed. Nov) 11, 1, 4Nov. 8 - First Lutheran Church, Red Wing (Sec. Thurs, Nov)
Nov. 9 - Nov. 13 - Emmons Lutheran Church, Emmons, (sec. Tues Nov)11:30- 7 seatings
     Faith Lutheran, Staples (Election Day), 4-8
     Vinje Lutheran Church (Election Day) 3-8
Nov. 10 - Advent Lutheran Church, Maple Grove, (sec. Sat Nov) 4 & 6
     Christ Lutheran Church, Blaine (sec. Sat, Nov) 11-1, 4-7
     St. Johns' Lutheran Church, Lakeville (sec. Sat. Nov) 4-7:30 seatings
     Zoar Lutheran Church, Tofte (Sec. Sat. Nov) 5-7
Nov. 11 - Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, St. Louis Park ( Sec. Sun Nov) call for tickets
Nov. 15 - Our Saviors Lutheran, Barnesville (3rd Thurs Nov) 4-8
     Our Saviors Lutheran, Hibbing (3rd Thursday, Nov) 4-7
Nov. 16 - Immanuel Lutheran, St. Paul (Friday before Thanksgiving) 4-6:15 seatings
Nov. 17 - Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Mpls (3rd Sat. Nov) 3:30-6
     Glendorado Lutheran Church, Princeton (3rd Sat. Nov) 3-7
     Mindekiren Norwegian Memorial Church, Mpls, (3rd Sat Nov) three seatings, call church
     Richfield Lutheran Church, Mpls. (3rd Sat Nov) 4, 6:30
     St. James Lutheran Church, Crystal (3rd Sat. Nov) 4, 5, 6
Nov. 18 - Immanual Lutheran Church, Hendrum (3rd Sund Nov) 11-1:30

Dec 1 - Lyndale Evanglical Lutheran Church, Maple Plain (first Sat Dec) 2-6
     Minnetonka Lutheran Church, Minnetonka (first Sat Dec) 6 p.m.
     St. Barnabas/Oak Knoll Lutheran Churches, Minnetonka (first Sat Dec) 6-8 check for site
Dec. 2 - Bygland Lutheran Church, Fisher (First Sund Dec) 11:30-2
     Christ Lutheran Church, Preston, (first Sund Dec) 11-5 seatings
     First Lutheran CHurch, Worthington (first Sun Dec) 2:30 & 5:30
Dec. 3 - Zion Lutheran Church, Anoka, (first Mon Dec) 4 5:30
Dec. 4 - Bethel Lutheran Church, Little Falls (first Tues Dec) 4:30-8
     Faith Lutheran Church, Forest Lake (First Tues Dec) 3:30-7:30
     Gethsemane Lutheran Church,Virginia (First Tues Dec) 11-1, 4;30-7
Dec. 5 - First Lutheran Church, Duluth (first Wed Dec) 12-7
     Chatfield Lutheran Church (first Wed Dec) call for times
Dec. 6 - Our Savior's Lutheran Church Cloquet, (first Thurs Dec) 4-7
   Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Kelliher (first Thurs Dec) 4-8
     Trinity Lutheran Church, Monticello, (first Thurs Dec) 4-6:30 seatings
Dec. 7 - Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul (first Fri Dec) 6:30 til gone
     Grace Lutheran Church, Hermantown (first Fri Dec) 4-7
     Hope Lutheran Church, Moose Lake (first Fri Dec) 4:45, 5:30
     Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Mpls (first Fri Dec) 3-7
     River of Life Lutheran Church, Mpls (first Fri Dec) Noon
Dec. 8 - Christ the King Lutheran Church, New Brighton (Sec Sat Dec) 4 p.m.

Jan. 19 - First Lutheran Church, Columbia Hghts (3rd Sat Jan) 12-6 seatings
Jan. 25 - Calvary Lutheran CHurch, Alexandria (4th Fri Jan) 4 & 6

Feb. 3- Dell Lutheran Church, Frost (first Sun Feb) 1-6

May 16 - Lands Lutheran Church, Zumbrota (Thurs of Syttende Mai), 4:30 & 6