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A Heritage of Faith
Thursday 30th of June 2011 08:45 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Note - While this blog post talks about a specific small, rural church, I hope it conjures up memories of churches in which readers have been a part during their lifetimes. With a few rural churches closing each year, it may do us good to remember the past, as we look to the future of our rural communities. As the childhood song goes, "The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a dwelling place, the church is a people."

It's a bittersweet moment to say goodbye to a childhood church. On June 26, after we sang the familiar words to Blest Be the Tie That Binds, we gathered to share stories and memories about the Byers United Methodist Church, the church that has been a touchstone in the community since 1905.

It was the home of my ancestors. The membership rolls include the names of many of my family members, including my great-great-grandfather/grandmother, Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Moore, who joined with my Dad's Dad, Lester Moore, at Christmas time in 1924
and the names of my mother and her sister Merlene in 1949 (albeit with my mom's name misspelled).

The Byers United Methodist Church was my church home for the first 15 years of my life.
My parents carried me in the door as an infant. It was also the church of their childhood, since both grew up in the Byers community. They got married there in 1953.

And they were there at the closing service almost 58 years later.

The beautiful stained glass windows which adorn the sanctuary glowed in the light then and now.

My family's roots in the rural church ran deep. One of the pews had the names of a grandfather and an uncle I never knew. Both were killed in separate accidents when my Dad was just a boy.

And on the other side of the aisle, we always sat in the vicinity of the Shelby Neelly Family pew. Last Sunday, I insisted we move to that side of the church because it just "felt" right.

It's where my Grandma always had butter rum and wild cherry Lifesavers for wiggly kids. And her hankies could magically transform into a sleeping baby.

At the Byers UMC, we trick-or-treated for UNICEF. We had our little UNICEF milk cartons to collect change at the same time we collected homemade popcorn balls and Halloween candies.

My youngest sister remembers knocking this lighted picture of Jesus off the wall as a kid roughhousing with another little girl. It survived. She wasn't the only one to get in trouble at church. It only took one trip down the church aisle with my Dad during a church service to remember the expectations for pew behavior.

We sang around the downstairs piano for opening exercises, and I learned classic children's Bible songs like Deep and Wide, Oh Be Careful, This Little Light of Mine and Do Lord! And then years later, I taught them to my own children and my little Sunday School pupils.

It's where we put our birthday money in a white plastic birthday cake during opening exercises. And we dropped our offering coins in a white, steepled church. Another worshiper and I looked in closets and in drawers last Sunday, searching for those cheap plastic memories. We only found this wooden imitation. Maybe other children have a memory of sticking their offering in its wooden slot.

It's where we circled the sanctuary and sang Silent Night to the glow of candlelight.

Even as memories tumbled back, we all realized it was time to close the doors. Though the register listed 23 on the membership rolls, only a literal handful of people came through the doors each Sunday.

I liked the litany we shared during the service. It said, in part:

Blessed be the name of God, whose Word has long been proclaimed within this hallowed place.
We give you thanks, O God.
As generations have prayed theirs prayers and sung your praises here, your Spirit has blessed countless worshipers.
We give you thanks, O God.
From within these walls, many have gone out to serve You in the world.
We give you thanks, O God.
As we go now from this house into a further journey of faith,
We give you thanks, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rest in peace, Byers United Methodist Church.

(This church building was dedicated in 1947.)

The Byers church was one in a three-point charge called the Unity Parish. On Sunday, another sister church, the Cullison UMC, also closed its doors as a worship center. Only the Iuka UMC remains.


   Respond to this Entry
Response 1
Friday 1st of July 2011 09:58:42 AM
Submitted by: Paula
Losing a church is so sad. A neighboring community just lost theirs a couple of months ago. I keep hoping and praying we can keep our little church open, but it gets harder all the time.
Response 2
Monday 4th of July 2011 07:08:39 AM
Submitted by: Paul
This was a great post. It also brings back memories of my younger days as a Pastor's kid while living in the Oklahoma panhandle. Thanks again for your post.
Response 3
Monday 4th of July 2011 08:07:39 AM
Submitted by: Kim
Thanks Paula and Paul for your responses. I had hoped that it would bring back memories for other people who grew up in church families across this part of the country. Paula, I wish I knew the solution to again filling our church pews. It's a subject we debate at my church, too. At my current church at Stafford, we became a two-point charge last year in an effort to remain viable. Thanks to you both for taking time to comment!

Hot Commodity
Wednesday 29th of June 2011 08:24 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

It's a brilliant marketing plan. Gather a bunch of your friends. Stir together some flour, yeast, water and salt (along with a few other key ingredients). Entice the public with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Slice it up and serve it along with a side dish of information about the wheat industry.

Nebraska Wheat set up their traveling trailer in the parking lot of the Wichita Airport Hilton during last Saturday's National Festival of Breads. They came at the invitation of Kansas Wheat, one of the sponsors of the breads festival.

During the day, they made 13 dozen chocolate chip cookies for festival goers. They followed that up with 125 cinnamon rolls. Before shutting the trailer window in the afternoon, they churned out 80 loaves of fresh bread.

Festival goers didn't mind leaving the air-conditioned comfort of the hotel ballroom to traipse out for a slice of homemade bread - even if it was 103 degrees in the shade.

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The New Face of Baking
Tuesday 28th of June 2011 10:13 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Gale Collier just knew she had a winner. The Redmond, Oregon, mom developed a braided yeast bread recipe with fresh peaches and a crumb topping. It tasted like peach cobbler, only better.

So she typed it up and sent it to the National Festival of Breads cooking contest. Because the Festival has multiple categories, she also included her recipe for Quick Raisin Granola Breakfast Rolls, a recipe she developed for use in her bread machine.

"It's more a run-of-the-mill, everyday kind of bread," Gale said.

When Cindy Falk of Kansas Wheat called her a couple of months ago to let her know she was one of eight finalists for the 2011 National Festival of Breads in Wichita, Gale just knew it was her peach braid.

"Was I ever surprised when she said it was my raisin and granola rolls, a recipe that came about when I was throwing things together!" Gale said during the competition on Saturday. "I had a little bit of Raisin Bran sitting on my kitchen counter. It wasn't enough for cereal in the morning, and I didn't want to throw it away. So I just threw it in some rolls I was baking. That's one thing I love about using the bread machine. I can throw almost anything into it, and it will still come out great. I can forget about it until it's time for me to shape it into whatever I want for dinner - whether that's pizza or rolls."

Those everyday rolls aren't so run-of-the-mill anymore. Gale and her Quick Raisin Granola Breakfast Rolls won the grand prize at Saturday evening's awards ceremony in Wichita. She receives $2,000 in cash, plus a free trip to a King Arthur Flour Baking Session in Norwich, Vermont, and a year's supply of Fleishmann's Yeast.

And a bonus? Her kids have grown to love raisins after repeated test runs in her Oregon kitchen.

Contestants began baking at 7:30 Saturday morning in eight makeshift kitchens in the ballroom of the Airport Hilton. They could make their recipes as many times as they wished until they were satisfied with the results or until they reached the 3 PM submission deadline. They needed one to submit to the judges, one for auction and two plates for The Great American Bake Sale, a fundraiser for Share Our Strength, a program that combats childhood hunger.

The eight contestants arrived in Wichita on Thursday. Gale brought her husband, Matthew, plus her 9-old son Canaan and 10-year-old daughter Rochelle. On Friday, they all got a chance to ride in a combine in a Sedgwick County wheat field, then followed the truckload of wheat to the local elevator. They also toured the Cargill Flour Mill.

"My kids really enjoyed riding the combine. It is called a combine, right?" Gale said. "I came away with a whole new appreciation for what goes into that bag of flour I pick up at the grocery store. Farmers in my area are much more likely to grow garlic than wheat, so it was amazing to get a look behind-the-scenes."

The avid cook and baker enters some recipe contests online, though she is busy with two young children and helps her husband, Matthew, with their experimental aircraft building business in Redmond.

At the Saturday night banquet, Master of Ceremony Eric Atkinson of the K-State Radio Network asked each contestant about their start in baking. Gale thinks she's improved since her earliest days in the kitchen.

"When I was about 10, I made biscuits for my family. They probably could have been used for hockey pucks, though everybody said they liked them. I've gotten better."

Yes, indeed. She has the title of the National Festival of Breads Champion to prove it.

Here's Gale's winning recipe. For recipes from other finalists, go to the festival's website. They should be available soon. (And as someone who got to sample all the finalists' yummy work, I highly recommend checking out all the recipes!)

Quick Raisin Granola Breakfast Rolls

1 cup Raisin Bran cereal
1 cup granola*
1 1/2 cups water, room temperature (80 degrees F)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 1/3 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/4 tsp. Fleishchmann's Active Dry Yeast

1 cup granola
1 egg white, beaten

* Quaker Natural Granola with Oats, Honey & Raisins
  1. Place Raisin Bran cereal and granola in large plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, finely crush the cereal.
  2. Have ingredients at room temperature. Add the ingredients to the bread machine's pan as suggested by the manufacturer. Start bread machine using the DOUGH cycle (about 1.5 hours). Open the machine and touch the dough to check its consistency after 5 minutes. The dough should form a ball around the kneading blade. If it's too dry, add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of water; if dough is too wet, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time until the right dough consistency is reached.
  3. Meanwhile, for topping, place 1 cup granola in bag; use a rolling pin to finely crush. Place egg white in small bowl and beat with fork.
  4. When cycle is complete, remove dough and divide into 18 equal pieces. Shape into uniform rolls.
  5. Dip each roll in egg white and granola, lightly pressing granola onto dough.
  6. Place rolls onto greased 13- by 18-inch sheet pans. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk (45 to 60 minutes).
  7. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 17 to 20 minutes, depending on size, or until golden brown. Remove rolls from pan and cool on wire rack.
Note: This recipe makes 18 rolls but it can also be made into smaller sizes that fit perfectly in the kids' lunch for a snack.

One roll provides approximately 194 calories; 6 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate; 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g fat (1 g saturated); 4 mg cholesterol; 50 mcg folate; 2 mg iron and 195 mg sodium.

Kansas Wheat Test Kitchen Note:

If you don't have a bread machine, follow these easy steps to make the dough, then continue with Step 3.
  1. Place Raisin Bran cereal and granola in a large plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, finely crush.
  2. Have ingredients at room temperature. In electric mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Add crushed Raisin Bran Cereal, granola and raisins. Add dry milk, buttermilk, brown sugar, honey, whole wheat flour, 2 cups bread flour, cinnamon, butter and salt. Mix 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Gradually add enough of the remaining 1/2 cup bread flour to make slightly sticky dough. Knead dough by hand or with dough hook 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough.
  5. Proceed with shaping and second rise as directed above.

I guess the old reporter in me came out with this blog post. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Gale and to the other contestants throughout the festival day. They were all extremely gracious to talk to people as they came by their individual kitchens scattered around the exterior of the hotel ballroom.

I think the judges chose well. Gale's recipe is one that won't intimidate new bakers. It's not a complicated-looking braid. You don't have to be a phenomenal dough shaper or have tons of yeast bread experience.

I like to think that Gale is the new face of home baking. Gale was the youngest contestant there. The oldest proudly shared that she is 81 years "young." But choosing Gale and her rolls just might make young moms think that they, too, can do this: She shows you don't have to rely on pizza delivery or driving through a fast-food delivery lane to put a meal on your table at home. And, if kids are involved in the baking process, they may even learn to love new foods ... like raisins!

One thing that will stay with me was the contestants' universal pleasure at visiting the farm to see where wheat is grown and harvested. It didn't seem at all disingenuous.

And they all mentioned what friendliness and hospitality they found from every corner - from the other contestants to the contest organizers to the people who came to the festival for fun. It made me proud to be a Kansas farm wife!


   Respond to this Entry
Response 1
Wednesday 29th of June 2011 07:09:43 PM
Submitted by: Jim Lane
Great recipe and cute gal.
Response 2
Thursday 30th of June 2011 08:34:48 AM
Submitted by: Kim
She was a delight to talk to - a bubbly, friendly personality. She was just as pretty on the inside as the outside! It was great fun to talk with all the contestants who came from all over the country.

Byers Banana Bread
Monday 27th of June 2011 09:01 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

My Community Kitchens Cookbook from the Byers United Methodist Church probably wins the prize for the most battered and stained in my whole cookbook collection (and I have an impressive collection).

It takes a rubber band to hold it together these days. On the inside cover, it reads:

A Book of Favorite Recipes
Women's Society of Christian Service of
The United Methodist Church
Byers, Kansas
My mom inscribed: To Kim from Mother, April 1972

The Byers UMC was my childhood church. When I was a sophomore in high school, we began going to the Pratt UMC.

But it was my church home for the first 15 years of my life. On Sunday, my parents, Randy & I went to the last service for the church in the town 3.5 miles from where I grew up. As is customary for United Methodist churches which are closing, there was a special service to say goodbye. (More on that later.)

It's where my parents were married and where I first remember gathering in the basement for song time and Sunday School, usually taught by my Grandma Neelly or my mom.

The Byers UMC has been an anchor for the little town of Byers for a long, long time. And the cookbook has been a sort of touchpoint for me throughout the years, too. Looking through it, I see the names of the ladies from my childhood, our neighbors and friends.

One of the most used recipes in the cookbook is for Banana Bread. In fact, instead of leaving the cover at the front, I have page 33, the one that features the Banana Bread recipe, just underneath the rubber band. I've converted it for a double or triple recipe more times than I can count. (I like being able to put extras in the freezer. It's great to mess up the kitchen once and get a bunch of production!)

Hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

Banana Bread
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

Cream together oil and sugar. Add mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition. Add nuts, stirring well.

Bake in large loaf pan or two small loaf pans at 325 degrees. The large pan takes about an hour to bake, the smaller ones, around 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

This freezes well.

Recipe Notes:


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A Pretty Good Fake
Friday 24th of June 2011 08:15 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Being fake isn't an attribute to which I usually aspire.

Is there anything that's better fake than real? Well, fake nails are better than my nails. A spray-on tan is better for you than a real one, I suppose.

But most of the time, we prefer to go with the real thing ... case in point, diamonds vs. zirconia.

But I did find a pretty good fake during harvest ... fake Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits. I didn't have time to make yeast bread from scratch, but I wanted to serve a hot bread with my roast beef meal.

It's not quick bread but yeast bread that will be featured at tomorrow's National Festival of Breads in Wichita (June 25). Doors of the Wichita Airport Hilton ballroom will open at 7:30 AM to the public. Eight amateur bakers from across the U.S. will bake their original yeast bread recipes. There's also a mini trade show with food and cooking vendors, plus a full schedule of demonstrations about everything from basic sweet doughs to baking with whole grains. A Great American Bake Sale will benefit Share Our Strength, which combats childhood hunger.

I hope you'll join me from 7:30 AM to 4 PM at the Wichita Airport Hilton! And did I mention free bread samples? Yum!

But, if you can't come to Wichita, make Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

1/3 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter (no substitutes)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, mixing together. Add shredded cheese, cutting in with the pastry blender. Cut in shortening, using a pastry blender, until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in milk, mixing with fork, until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and rounds up into a ball.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly about 10 minutes. Roll 1/2-inch thick. Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Melt butter in microwave. Add spices. Using a pastry brush, brush butter mixture over each biscuit. Reserve remaining butter mix.

Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Brush with remaining butter mixture and serve hot. Makes about 1 dozen.


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