Kelli Berry, at left, instructs her 5-year-old granddaughter Lila Berry in the basics of cake baking as Lila’s mother, Caitlin Berry, looks on. Kelli Berry is a loyal supporter of the annual Country Store Bake Sale held just before Thanksgiving each year to benefit the Stephen D. Lee Foundation. This year’s event is Nov. 26, from 10 a.m-noon at the S.D. Lee Home in Columbus. Lila, a kindergarten student at Heritage Academy, is the daughter of Brooks and Caitlin Berry. Photo by: Courtesy of Kelly Hayes Photography
November 20, 2013 10:00:55 AM
Peek at the calendars of many a Thanksgiving hostess in Columbus and surrounds, and there's a good chance you'll see next Tuesday flagged in red. That's when the doors of the Stephen D. Lee Home open for two of the most anticipated hours of the year -- the Country Store Bake Sale.
The Association for the Preservation of Antiquities in Columbus and Lowndes County presents the 53rd annual Country Store from 10 a.m. until noon Tuesday, Nov. 26 -- a timely two days before Thanksgiving. Some of the city's best cooks will fill the Lee Home's elegant dining room with homemade cakes, cookies, pies, candies, rolls, breads, cheese straws, jellies, relishes and more. All proceeds benefit the Stephen D. Lee Foundation, which maintains the historic 1847 home and museum located at 316 Seventh St. N.
Kelli Berry is one of the savvy cooks who makes a point of shopping the Country Store each November to help complete the Thanksgiving feast.
"Everything I've ever gotten there has been fantastic," said Berry, who estimates about 30 family members will gather for "food, football and fun" next Thursday. "The bake sale is convenient, and anything that can make that meal a little bit easier makes my day happier."
This year, Berry will also join the 50 to 60 home cooks who are making treats to donate for the fundraiser.
Antiquities Association member Lillian Wade said, "There are always wonderful home-baked goods; we have a lot of favorites that come back year after year, but there are always some surprises, too."
Many of those favorites are sought after and sell out quickly. Shoppers can increase the chance of getting their first choices by picking up a number beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Lee Home. As 10 a.m. nears, patrons return, eager for the doors to open and the festive shopping to begin.
"When you get there, we'll get you in the right place in line," promised Wade. A turkey centerpiece door prize made by Mildred Austin will go to one lucky number holder.
Katy Waters chairs the Country Store this year. Her family has a long history of contributing to the event and the cause.
"There's so much tradition behind this; whole families have been involved for generations," said Waters, who is always reminded by the sale of her grandparents. They were often first in line to buy a large assortment of desserts to give away.
Long after the Country Store cakes, pies and cheese straws have been gobbled up during Thanksgiving weekend, the benefits they generate will continue working. Proceeds in the past have gone toward Lee Home projects including repainting, heating, landscaping, drainage improvements and new appliances.
"Last year, we used the proceeds from the Country Store to buy a new commercial dishwasher," explained Eulalie Davis, president of the Stephen D. Lee Foundation. The home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is often used for community and private events, including weddings and receptions. For more than half a century, Country Store volunteer bakers and faithful supporters have helped the Foundation maintain the historically significant landmark.
"How many things do you know that are still going 53 years later?" asked Davis. "I think that's a real testament to the people."
For additional information about the Country Store, contact Wade at 662-328-8012 or Rita Douglass at 662-327-3193.
Enjoy some of these Country Store pie recipes from Columbus cooks.
MOTHER'S APPLE CRUNCH PIE
Apples, enough to fill a greased pie pan
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons water
1/4 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine (for pastry)
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
(Source: Jean Wilder)
CHOCOLATE-PECAN CHESS PIE
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell, unbaked
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup melted margarine
2 eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup chopped pecans
(Source: Barbara Hodges; "After the Harvest," First United Methodist Church recipe book)
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 eggs, beaten
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
(This recipe was a favorite of the late Pat Kaye.)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.