Church women share a love of quilting and cooking

Jerilyn VanDeWoestyne
A group of women at Colona United Methodist Church meet weekly to quilt and share recipes. Pictured are, front row, from left: Arlene McLaughlin, Evelyn Kicksey and Donna Kellums. Back row, from left: Charlotte Schaab, Mary Carol Devey, Sharon Bloomberg and Barb Searle.

The love of quilting and cooking is something a group of women from Colona United Methodist Church share. And they enjoy both their interests weekly when they meet for the purpose of fellowship, fund-raising and mission work, and because they simply enjoy each others company.

The group, calling themselves the Colona Ladies Methodist Quilters, meets each Wednesday in the church’s dining room, a tradition that has been ongoing for the past 32 years, since 1977.

Three decades ago, the group began when someone in the church had a quilt they wanted finished and asked if some of the women would help her with the project. “We did it for her, and the quilting just kind of went on from there,” said Barb Searle, one of the original gorup of women. “It has been a fundraising project for the church and we have a great time also.”

Almost all of the same group has worked together through the years and they always invited women of the church to come and work with them. “There is a core group and then whoever can also come and help,” Barb said. “We definitely encourage new people to come and work with us.”

According to Evelyn Kicksey (at 97 years-old the group’s oldest member) they have been able to purchase many items for the church with the proceeds from their quilting projects. “Everything we make goes back to the church,” she said.

The group has purchased items for the church’s Sunday School department; they have furnished many nursery items, purchased carpeting for the church, numerous kitchen items and have given to many mission projects.

“One of the best parts of it is the fellowship. It gives us a day out and a chance to visit with each other and keep up on what’s happening in our lives,” said Donna Kellums, another quilter.

Everyone agrees it is a very relaxing day for them. “You don’t have to follow a pattern, you just quilt in the lines,” said quilter Arlene McLaughlin.

The group has a long list of people who want their quilt tops quilted and finished off and they say it takes about six weeks for them to complete a quilt.

When they receive a quilt top to finish, the group is furnished with the tops, batting and backing fabric. “We’ve also done quilts to sell at bazaars or to give as gifts,” Barb said. “Sometimes someone needs a gift for a new baby or whatever and they will just buy one of our quilts.”

The group completes a lot of tied quilts that are sent to Cunningham? Children’s Home in Urbana.

“That home is sponsored by United Methodist Church and each child there gets their own quilt,” Barb said, adding most of the material, thread and other items to complete those quilts is donated.

“When we first begin on a new quilt, we can get about eight people around the table to work on it, but as we finish it, the surface area gets smaller so there’s not as much room for that many people,” Arlene said.

Various frames are set up around the dining room for the different quilts the group works on.

“Our frames are really just pieces of lumber put together, but they work for us,” Barb said, adding they always have another quilt ready to go when one is finished. “We usually run about a year behind on our list of quilts to be quilted.”

They might be working on a baby quilt, a tied quilt or a pieced quilt at the same time. “Sometimes when someone is just beginning to quilt, we might suggest they work on a baby quilt,” Barb said. “As they become more advanced they will move on up to the larger quilts.”

Not only do the women spend their Wednesdays quilting each week, most of them continue quilting at home. “I have probably made 40 quilts on my own,” Barb said. “I’ve always quilted I guess. I remember watching my mother quilt when I was growing up.”

Barb said she has made a quilt for each of her grandchildren and Evelyn adds she has made quilts for her great-great-grandchildren.

During the course of a day of quilting, many topics are discussed. Donna, who was born and raised in Colona, knows everything that goes on in the community, according to Barb. “And at 97, Evelyn also knows and remembers a lot of Colona facts,” she said.

The women who come to quilt at Colona United Methodist Church share a love of cooking along with their love of quilting.

The group spends the day quilting and sharing stories. They each bring some kind of goodie to share for morning and afternoon coffee and they bring their own sack lunch for their noon meal.

“We used to have a potluck once a month, but that was a lot of work, so now we bring something for coffee to share and we bring our own lunch,” Donna said.

Besides their quilting projects, the church is very well known for the dinners they host throughout the year, including a ham ball dinner that is very popular. The ham balls are made from a secret recipe and are served with potato casserole, green beans, rolls and assorted desserts. “People know if they come to that dinner, they’d better get here early or they ham balls will be gone,” Donna said. “Don’t be late.”

The Cookie Walk held in early December each year is another popular event and includes homemade cookies and candy, along with a mini-bizarre.

“The cookies can also be sold out early — sometimes within a half hour of when we start the sale,” Arlene said. “There is usually a line waiting for the doors to open.”

The church also has a hog roast in the fall, serving between 500 and 600 people. That menu usually includes potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, rolls and assorted desserts.

“We have excellent cooks in our church,” Barb said.

Admitting if she had her choice she would rather bake, Evelyn said she especially likes to do coffee cakes, coffee rings, and rye bread. “Sometimes, though, I have a hard time finding the rye flour I need to make the rye bread,” she said. “No place around here stocks it. I don’t like course flour, but I have a hard time finding the kind I like. If I do find some I keep it in the freezer.”

One of the desserts Evelyn usually brings to a church dinner is her famous Moon Cake, a dessert made with a cream puff base and layers of vanilla pudding, Cool Whip and a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top.

“It’s called Moon Cake because the cream puff crust is uneven and looks like the surface of the moon,” Evelyn laughs.

Anyone serving desserts at the church dinners knows the Moon Cake will be one of the first desserts gone from the dessert selection. “I used to serve dessert at our dinners and people would come through the line and ask me to save them a piece of the Moon Cake,” Donna said. “Everyone loves it.”

The cooks at Colona United Methodist Church have so many wonderful recipes, they have put together “at least” four cookbooks within the past 30 years, all recipes submitted by persons of the congregation. “We like to share recipes,” Donna said. “Or we might find a new recipe and try it out on our quilting group first.”

During the mini-bizarre held with their cookie walk, Donna and Barb make and sell numerous jars of homemade apple butter, estimating that at last year’s bizarre they sold over 60 jars of the treat. “The apple butter isn’t hard to do at all, just time consuming,” Donna said. “I do it on top of the stove, with spices added to the apples.”

The apple butter is another item that usually sells out. “It is so good served warm on Wheat Thin crackers,” fellow quilter, Sharon Bloomberg said. “We usually have some at the cookie walk that people can sample. That really sells it.”

Whether they’re quilting, baking, sharing recipes, or serving dinners, the women of Colona

United Methodist Church know working together is the secret of their success — and their

long-lasting friendship.

Women of the Colona United Methodist Church quilters group share some of their favorite recipes.

Addiction

Charlotte Schaab

In large bowl  melt 1 package white chocolate bark in 250 degree oven.

When melted, blend in 2 T. peanut butter.

Then add:

2 C. dry roasted nuts

2 C. miniature marshmallows

2 C. Rice Krispies

Drop by teaspoon on wax paper.

Dill pickles

Evelyn Kicksey

1-32 oz. jar dill pickles

1/2 C. sugar

1/2 C. vinegar

1 t. celery seed

Drain 3/4 C. vinegar that is on pickles. Add to sugar, vinegar mixture.

Bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes.

Cool and pour over pickles whick have been cut into 1/2 inch pieces and put back in jar.

Makes delicious chunk pickles. Keep in refrigerator.

Chocolate cherry bars

Arlene McLaughlin

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix

1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling

1 t. almond extract

2 large eggs

1 C. sugar

1/3 C. milk

5 T. oleo

1 (6 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips

In large bowl combine cake mix, eggs, almond extract and pie filling. Mix by hand. Stir until blended.

Spread in greased and floured 15x10x1 inch or 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

Frosting:

In small saucepan combine sugar, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour and spread over warm bars.

Cool completely. Cut into bars.

Baby pearl tapioca

Donna Kellums

6 C. water

1 C. pearl tapioca

1-3 oz. pkg. Jello

1 C. sugar

1 C. Cool Whip

1-16 oz. pkg. frozen fruit, no sugar

Bring water to a boil. Add tapioca. Bring water back to a boil. Put lid on and turn off heat. Let stand one hour.

Add package of Jello, sir until dissolved.

Add sugar, stir until dissolved and add frozen fruit. Let stand until cool then add Cool Whip.

Note: “I like lemon Jello and blackberries or Mandarin oranges, drained, and orange Jello. Any flavor Jello and fruit can be used.”

Taco soup

Sharon Bloomberg

2 lbs. ground beef

1 medium chopped onion

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 pkg. Fiesta dry Ranch dressing

1-6 oz. can tomato paste

2-20 oz. cans jalapeno pinto beans

2-20 oz. cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes

1-4 oz. can green chilies

1 t. minced garlic

Brown beef with onion, stir in seasonings. Combine rest of ingredients and simmer. Add water to get consistency you want.

Note: “I cut up stewed tomatoes to diced size.”

Harvest popcorn

Barb Searle

1/3 C. melted butter

1 t. lemon pepper

1/2 t. garlic powder

2 qt. popped corn

1 C. mixed nuts

1 t. dried dillweed

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 t. salt

2 C. shoestring potatoes

Toss together and spread on jelly roll pan. Bake eight minutes at 350 degrees. Stir once.

Yellow cake lemon bars

Evelyn Kicksey

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 C. oil

1 egg

Combine until crumbly. Set aside one cup.

Put the rest into ungreased cake pan, 9x13 inches. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

1/2 C. sugar

1 egg

Mix together and pour over cake after it’s out of oven. Top with the 1 C. reserved crumbly mixture.

Bake again at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Cut into bars.

Note: “I add a little lemon peel and lemon extract.”

Autumn apple salad

Sharon Bloomberg

1 can (20 oz.) undrained crushed pineapple

2/3 C. sugar

1 pkg. (3 oz.) lemon Jello

1 pkg. (8 oz.) softened cream cheese

1 C. diced, unpeeled, apple (1 medium)

1/2 C. chopped walnuts

1 C. chopped celery

1 C. Cool Whip

In saucepan combine pineapple and sugar, bring to boil, boil 3 minutes.

Add Jello, stir until dissolved. Add cream cheese, stir until combined. Cool.

Fold in apples, nuts, celery and Cool Whip. Pour into 9 inch pan. Chill. Cut into squares.

Serves 9-12.

Microwave carmel corn

Arlene McLaughlin

1 C. brown sugar

1 stick oleo

1/4 C. white corn syrup

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. baking soda

5 qt. popped corn

Combine ingredients (except soda and popped corn) in 2 qt. dish. Bring to a boil, then cook on full power for 2 minutes.

Remove from microwave and stir in soda. Put popped corn in a brown paper bag.

Pour syrup over corn. Close bag and shake. Cook in bag on high for 1-1/2 minutes. May need another 1-1/2 minutes.

Pour on cookie sheet to cool.

Serves 6-8.

New England brown bread

Donna Kellums

1/2 C. all purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

2 C. whole wheat flour

2 C. buttermilk

1/2 C. dark molasses

1 C. raisins

Combine first three ingredients. In another bowl mix next three ingredients. Add to flour mixture  and mix well.

Stir in raisins. Divide into two well greased 5-1/4x3-3/4 inch coffee cans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until bread tests done.

Makes two loaves.