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IN THE SPIRIT: Fifty dozen doughnuts won't go far at church bazaar

One evening last week, I walked into Family of God Lutheran Church on The Point in East Grand Forks, to be greeted by a wonderfully familiar aroma - homemade doughnuts in the making. It was like stepping foot into mom's kitchen back on the farm.

One evening last week, I walked into Family of God Lutheran Church on The Point in East Grand Forks, to be greeted by a wonderfully familiar aroma - homemade doughnuts in the making. It was like stepping foot into mom's kitchen back on the farm.

The women even were using the same type of doughnut maker my mother had (which is mine now) - a 5-inch high red and white plastic beaker with a spring-operated plunger topped by a round, red wooden knob.

They were having a high-old time mixing eggs, sugar, buttermilk, cream, flour (some dusted Gloria's Fagerlund's cheek like rouge), nutmeg, vanilla, salt, baking powder and soda until all lumps were gone. Then, they pushed the plunger and a ring of the creamy batter slipped into 365-degree lard.

"It's the only thing the boss will let us use," Gloria said.

When it was all said and done, the women turned out 50 dozen doughnuts using Elaine Sundberg's recipe.

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Elaine's the boss.

"My daughter-in-law says that when I die, she wants my doughnut makers," Elaine said. "This is the same recipe I used when I had the restaurant in Nekoma, N.D. I made 27 dozen by myself for the bazaar last year. So, this year, I asked the girls if we couldn't do it at the church. "

Deb Hearn flipped the doughnuts over in the sizzling grease after they had browned on one side. And if some ended up not perfectly round or with a bump or lump, "they aren't out of shape," Jo Vettel said, "they are unique."

It was Terri Anderson's job to fill the doughnut makers with batter, and Mary Schaffer made sure everyone had what was needed, like paper towels, at the moment they were needed.

Doughnuts, you see, are the specialty at Family of God's annual luncheon and bazaar, which is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 6. It's always held in conjunction with the East Grand Forks Arts and Crafts Show in the VFW Memorial Arena, just across the street from the church.

Gosh, I love fall, and especially this particular weekend, when people come from everywhere, and the cars are bumper-to-bumper in my neighborhood and along Bygland Road Southeast

The women of Family of God don't think of their bazaar as simply a fundraiser for church projects. Nor do they see it as too much work. It's a social event for them and the community. As they prepare for it, they do not fail to reflect upon one of them who no longer is with them - their dear friend, Lois Smette, who died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 55.

Lois was a faithful and faith-filled friend and member of Family of God who was adamant about not letting their annual bazaar float down the Red and Red Lake rivers with the floodwaters of 1997. She rallied everyone, and the event was successfully held six months later, when the kitchen was only partially functional, and many things that had no place to go simply were covered with sheets.

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The women know Lois would be so pleased to know the bazaar continues on.

"Thanks to Lois, the event truly has been an uninterrupted annual event," Gloria said. "Her enthusiasm for life was contagious. Each year, we know Lois is with us in spirit."

Marla Carlson chairs the bazaar. "I can't put a finger on why she means so much to all of us," Marla said. "If Lois was down at the church, it was always more fun. She was just Lois, and she was our parish nurse. She was a true Christian. She filled you up."

"Lois was like a daughter to me," Avis Larson added. "I am a widow, and if I needed anything, I could call Lois."

Avis is a charter member of Family of God, which organized in 1979. Services were held in the former Crestwood School before the lovely brick structure was built in 1984.

And it was in 1984 that the bazaar and luncheon began.

Those days, the luncheon featured soups and sandwiches. After the flood, the menu was changed to chili. The chili was so good that many asked for the recipe. Once considered "top secret," the women now have consented to let the classified information become public knowledge:

Each one makes a batch of her family's favorite chili, and when they get it to the church, they dump them all together in a huge roaster. The resulting flavor is mild, but can be enhanced by hot sauces, peppers, sour cream, etc. The amazing thing is, the women have no idea how much chili they'll need for their feed, but for some reason, they always end up with just the right amount.

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Divine intervention, perhaps?

The $5 luncheon includes chili and all the fixin's, plus pie and coffee. The bazaar features white elephant items, crafts and baked goods.

The doughnuts, which are to die for, sell for $3 a dozen. Out of the 600 made in Family of God that night, I ate two. Nobody could eat just one.

Dunavan is a Herald columnist. Reach her at 218-773-9521 or naomiinthespirit@aol.com .

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