Grace Church has been serving chow mein for 50 years

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 11/10/99.

Chow mein dinner What recipe requires about 50 pounds of rice, 35 pounds of onions, and 60 chickens? The chow mein recipe used by the Grace United Methodist Church for their annual supper.

This year the church celebrated its 50th anniversary of their annual chow mein supper on election day, Nov. 2.

Diners at the 50th chow mein dinner served at Grace United Methodist Church.

Rev. I.E. Kottke was the instigator of the chow mein supper. The supper was started in 1949 as a fund raiser for the church youth. Among the first cooks were Doris Nehring, Marian Putzke, Agnes Holifer, Rose Blaurock, and Marie Krupke.

"We used Agnes' chow mein recipe," Nehring said. Nehring and Holifer were both mixers. It was their job to heat the turkey or chicken broth and stir in the meat, onion, and celery.

Nehring said the recipe made one batch. One batch equaled one large double boiler. She doesn't recall how many one batch served. They borrowed the large double boilers and large spoons from the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds, something that is still done today.

According to Nehring, the first supper wasn't held on election day, but in early October. Besides chow mein, the church women and youth served potato salad and meat loaf as an alternative meal. "Rose Blaurock made her own salad dressing and mixed the potato salad in a wash tub," Nehring said.

For the 50th anniversary, the menu consisted of chow mein or roast beef and mashed potatoes. The meal has always included chow mein, with an alternative meal offered to those who do not like chow mein. In the early years they served meat loaf or ham. In the 1980s, they switched to salisbury steak.

On Sunday afternoon before the supper, the church youth gathered in the kitchen to cut up the onion and celery. Those in the kitchen had tears flowing as a result of their onion chores.

Ingredients needed for the chow mein supper this year were:
50 pounds of rice;
50 pounds of chow mein noodles;
10 turkeys (cooked and deboned);
60 chickens (cooked and deboned);
Broth saved from cooking the meat;
35 pounds of onion; and
50 stalks of celery
Volunteers start cooking at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in order to have everything ready to start serving at 4:30 p.m. In addition, 125 dozen bars were served this year for dessert.

In the first year the supper was held, the church youth served about 150 people. This year, approximately 700 people were served.

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