New day for a spring tradition


Betty West Land, left, and Ann Sparkman talk April 19 at Land's home about

Betty West Land, left, and Ann Sparkman talk April 19 at Land's home about "fluffing" sweets and savories that will be for sale at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Women May Luncheon and Bake Sale in Columbus Wednesday, May 1. Homemade bake sale items are "fluffed" or decorated with ribbon and cellophane. The annual luncheon and sale event, traditionally held on a Friday, is moving to midweek this year. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch


Jan Swoope



It may have happened more than 60 years ago, but Betty West Land still remembers learning to make cheese straws from Edna Banks, a family neighbor.  


"She lived across the street and brought some when my parents had a party, maybe 1956 or 1957, and then she taught me how to make them," said Land, who has become well-known for the savory treats. They're among the first goodies to go at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Women Bake Sale, which annually complements the ECW May Luncheon. That's expected to hold true when doors open Wednesday, May 1 for this year's event.  


The luncheon is a long-standing community tradition in Columbus, dating back more than 150 years. It's been typically held on a Friday. This year marks a change, to a Wednesday. 


"It's been changed to midweek in hopes that more people could be in town and be able to go," said ECW president Stephanie Gale. "Especially when you get into May, it seems people often leave (for the weekend)." 


Ann Sparkman and Land partner in chairing the bake sale that became a part of the luncheon about 40 years ago. The event is the primary fundraiser for ECW, which supports numerous ministries. 


Gale said, "We continuously support Loaves & Fishes (Community Soup Kitchen); St. Paul's was one of the founders of that. We're also a big supporter of the Golden Triangle Homeless Coalition. We donate to Helping Hands and Habitat for Humanity, and also world missions." Recently, ECW also helped local families affected by tornadoes.  




Growing the sale 


Land previously coordinated the annual bake sale, which was a project of the Earline Robertson Guild at the church. In more recent years, Sparkman has assumed a leadership role of the sale that, in its earliest years offered about 20 items. Now it usually boasts 100 or more.  


"It's grown since Ann has been involved, very much so; she's good at it," said Land, who will make her signature cheese straws again this year. A few other bakers are expected to as well. "But we can't make enough," Land smiled. 


The luncheon and bake sale tap into efforts of the whole church congregation. Volunteers prepare everything from St. Paul's homemade chicken salad to barbecue for the luncheon, and sweets and savories for the bake sale. They serve dine-in patrons and man takeout stations. Some make floral arrangements and set linen-draped tables. 


"People are so generous; you ask them to do something and they're so kind about it," Gale said. "This is a huge event for our church as a whole and brings us together. It's fun, too; we're having a good time. We'd love for everyone in the community to come or place an order." 




How to go 


The May Luncheon and Bake Sale is open to the community. Dine-in hours May 1 are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the church Parish Hall at 318 College St. Pickup for preordered takeout begins at 10:30 a.m. The bake sale is 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., but may sell out before 1 p.m.  


The cost of chicken salad plates or barbecue plates is $10 each. Place advance takeout orders through April 30 by emailing name, number and type of plates, contact number and pickup time to [email protected]; or call the church office, 662-328-6673. 


Three bake sale contributors share recipes today for some favorite desserts, including Marian Chancellor, who sent one for blueberry pound cake.  


"I need to give full credit to my sister-in-law, Shannon Chancellor Duncan, for introducing it to me. She makes it every year for Chancellor Beach week. It doesn't last long."  






Serves 15 


1 cup butter, softened 


2 cups sugar 


4 eggs 


1 teaspoon vanilla 


3 cups flour, divided 


1/2 teaspoon salt 


1 teaspoon baking powder 


1 pint fresh blueberries or 2 cups canned blueberries, drained and rinsed 




  • Cream cutter and sugar. Add eggs one at time and bean until light and fluffy. 


  • Add vanilla. Soft 2 cups flour, salt and baking powder together. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture and beat. Dredge berries in remaining flour. 


  • Fold berry mixture gently into creamed mixture. Pour mixture into a tube pan which has been buttered and coated with sugar. Bake in preheated 325 F. oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  


    (Source: Marion Chancellor; originally from "Southern Sideboards," Mrs. G.G. Mazzaferro) 








    1/4 cup Hershey's dark cocoa powder 


    1 small can (5 ounces) evaporated milk 


    2 eggs 


    1 1/2 cup sugar 


    1 stick butter 


    1 teaspoon real vanilla flavoring 




  • Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat all ingredients together with electric mixer until well blended. It will be a thick liquid. Pour into deep dish, unbaked pie shell and set on baking sheet before placing in oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Top of pie should look hard and may crack before center is fully cooked. Allow to cool some before cutting. Serve cool or warm with ice cream or whipped cream. 


    (Source: Stephanie Gale) 








    1/2 cup butter, creamed 


    1 cup all-purpose flour 


    2 tablespoons sugar 


    3/4 cup chopped pecans 


    2 cups powdered sugar 


    4 tablespoons cocoa 


    4 tablespoons butter 


    2 tablespoons cream 


    2 tablespoons vanilla 




  • Combine the first four ingredients and roll into small balls. Make a thumbprint in the center of each ball. Bake 20 minutes at 325 F. 


  • Combine remaining ingredients in a double boiler and drop chocolate mixture into the thumbprint in each cookie.  


    (Source: Jo Harper)


  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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