“Okay—let’s get this show on the road!” said Clara Breunig as she walked into the kitchen of Old Zionsville UCC.
She was ready to make the dough for more than 120 pies. When her pie dough-making crew jokingly said they were on strike, she didn’t bat an eye.
“No one’s on strike. C’mon get out here!” Clara quipped.
At 92, this petite woman earned every bit of respect she gets from her helpers. Their brief break was now over.
The countdown was on for the Oct. 13 Fall Dinner at the church. Preparations took the entire week: Monday, cut up and cook pumpkin for pies; Tuesday, pick up the turkeys, food and supplies; Wednesday, bake and de-bone the turkeys; Thursday, mix and roll the pie crusts; Friday, bake pies, shred the cabbage, peel potatoes and set up the tables; Saturday, make the potato filling, gravy and get the rest of the food ready for the incoming diners.
Also in the kitchen is Wanda Yeakel, 83. She keeps things hopping—no one sits idle for long. There is always something to do -- peeling, chopping, rolling, washing, sweeping, putting away, getting out, and on and on.
Everything served at the dinner is made from scratch, except the rolls and vegetables.
“There’s nothing substituted here—we make everything,” said Wanda.
She makes sure everything is ordered on time. Then she and Clara pick it all up. Her shopping list this year was:
- 300 pounds of potatoes (which were then donated) and four cases of #10 canned green beans
- 15 turkeys and 140 pounds of ham
- 13 heads of cabbage and three cases of #10 canned corn
- 30 dozen eggs and 1 ½ bushels of apples
“We even make the gravy from the turkey drippings,” said Wanda, who has been helping for about 35 years.
“One year, we tried making fried chicken instead of turkey, and another year roast beef instead of ham,” said Wanda. “People didn’t like that; they want their turkey and ham.”
Clara has been helping with the dinners for about 40 years, but said it is getting more and more difficult. Last fall, she still mixed the pie dough herself, but this year began teaching others how to do it “till it feels just right.”
“I mostly make the pies,” she said. “We make lemon sponge, apple crumb, cherry crumb, pumpkin and raisin. Some church members and people from the community donate other homemade pies and cakes.”
The dinners are served twice a year—May and October. All proceeds benefit projects within the church.