Homemade sausage highlights pancake supper
By LINDA M. LINONIS
A tradition that began 35 years ago continues today with the Shrove Tuesday pancake and sausage supper at Mount Olivet United Church of Christ.
Observing Shrove Tuesday is a custom linked to the church’s German heritage.
Millie Stratton has served as coordinator for the last decade. She explained that the church membership once was dominated by farmers. They had the resources and knowledge to butcher the pigs and make the sausage. “Now, there are about four families who continue to farm,” Stratton said.
But, the practice of making the sausage the Monday night before the Shrove Tuesday pancake and sausage supper remains. “It’s a tradition here,” she said.
The church bought three pigs with a combined weight of 800 pounds for the event. The pigs were butchered locally; each comes to the church in two halves. Edgar Guterba, who was born into the church, said about 400 pounds would be usable meat. The pigs have been inspected to ensure safety, he said.
Normally, Guterba said he would be among the meat cutters, but there was full house of about 30 volunteers. “That’s all I’ve ever done and know what needs to be done,” he said. The pigs are cut up, then the meat put through a grinder.
“Members of the youth group help with the grinding,” Stratton said. The young people also volunteer at the supper by serving.
After grinding, Edgar’s son, Gerald, hand-cases the sausage using an antique sausage stuffer that came from Edgar’s grandfather and Gerald’s great-grandfather, Eli Guterba. The Guterbas still farm.
“It dates to the late 1800s or early 1900s,” Gerald Guterba said of the old machine that fulfills its purpose. “My grandpa [Lloyd Guterba] taught me how to do this,” Gerald Guterba said. “It’s not how fast but how steady.”
John Crouse, who will be 34 in April, said he’s been at the sausage-making event for 32 years and a church member all his life. He was assisting Gerald Guterba, turning the handle of the sausage maker to push the meat into the natural casing.
“We try to make full rolls of 15 pounds each,” Crouse said. But, he noted, sometimes there’s a “blow out,” that is, sausage tears the casing.
This morning, a few church members put the sausage in roasters to
cook slowly most of the day. The sausage will be served with the pancakes tonight.
“We make a nice, mild sausage that’s seasoned with salt and pepper,” Stratton said. “We get a lot of reaction about the homemade sausage.”
Stratton said she keeps a handbook that contains details of the event that began in 1979. The book contains recipes, number of volunteers and lists of necessities. “It’s a real keepsake,” she said of the material that helps keep the supper running smoothly.
The first supper served 104 people; last year, 230. Attendance, Stratton said, “depends on the weather” but hovers around 200 people. When those attending sit down to eat, they’ll read the message, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” on the placemats.
She emphasized that the supper takes teamwork in preparation and serving.
The Rev. Melinda Quellhorst, pastor, said Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, is the day to use up butter, sugar and lard so they are not temptations during Lent. She described Lent as a time of self-examination before God and a time of meditation. “It’s a time to get closer to God,” she said. The pastor assisted Crouse and Gerald Guterba in the stuffing procedure.