A couple of years ago, Alta and Marge Grieser hung up their quilting needles and could no longer contribute quilts to nearly every relief sale they could find.
Locally, Fairlawn, Black Swamp Benefit, Sunshine, and Adriel all benefitted from the sale of their quilts.
“MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) sales… we have made quilts for California, Oregon, a lot for Goshen (Ind.), Pennsylvania,” Alta said.
“With some of those things, it’s a little bit like the (biblical story of the) loaves and the fishes. In comparison to what we have invested in work and in time, (their effort) brings a lot.”
One time a surgeon from Toledo was at the sale. Alta said she sort of apologized because there were little items.
“I thought he would be bored,” she said.
No, the surgeon had never seen a community working together, making a project a fun thing. People at the event knew each other and interacted.
“You don’t have that in the city,” the surgeon told her.
“We have met a lot of wonderful people in places where we’ve bought our supplies, and in buyers (at the auctions),” Alta said.
This year, the sisters are contributing Marge’s Sweet Rolls and English muffin bread to the Fairlawn Auction.
To up the ante a bit, Alta and Marge are offering their kitchen, where they will teach the winning bidder how to make English muffin bread.
Mari Yoder, Fairlawn Director of Development, said, “They’ve done the English muffin bread for a number of years, as well as other wonderful, delicious things. This year, they offered me the recipe, and I asked if they’d do a cooking class.
“I’ve told a couple of people about it, and actually, I think there might be a bidding war.”
“Well, you know, our kitchen is small,” Marge said.
“Yes, we can handle two or three people,” Alta said.
The ladies ran across the recipe when an aunt in Florida sent a loaf to another aunt who lived in Napoleon.
“She shared it with us, and I didn’t know at the time that our aunt had also sent the book that had the recipe in it,” Marge said.
When her aunt’s things were auctioned, Marge was the winning bidder of the Southern Mennonite Camp Association cookbook, dated 1973.
Now the recipe is not only marked, it’s multiplied by four, because that’s how much they make for benefit sales.
English muffin bread is baked in tin coffee cans, which are very hard to come by now.
“Everything is plastic now, or coated in plastic. We can’t use that,” Marge said.
The coffee cans the Griesers use moved with them 21 years ago when they moved into a Fairlawn duplex unit.
“We like the coffee cans because of the ridges,” Alta said. If the bread is sliced according to the ridges, it is the perfect size for the toaster.
“It’s a bit more attractive that way, and the dough is supposed to be divided evenly in the can, but we haven’t learned that yet,” Alta said.
“We’ve had a lot of help, and a lot of persons, especially now, helping us with our shopping if necessary,” Alta said.
Help has come in the form of trips to Shipshewana, Ind., to purchase 25-pound bags of the special Robin Hood flour that contributes to the lightness of the sisters’ baked goods.
“They go four times a year and bring us two bags each time,” Marge said.
“We don’t want to take credit ourselves for this. We’ve had help, and we have so very many generous bidders,” Alta said.
Donations are in, and the Fairlawn Auxiliary is ready to see if those “generous bidders” come out in support of their spring auction.
Items will be displayed tomorrow night, Thursday, during an auction preview at Founder’s Hall. The auction is Friday, April 5.