10th anniversary of food ministry serves brunch to fair workers

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Photo by Ann Cipperly

 

Ladies in the community who assisted in serving the brunch to honor Lee County Fair workers are, from left, Diana Henderson, Gale Morgan, Jenny Swaim, Hattie Lett, who did almost all the cooking; Patsy Fellows and Liz Camp. This was the 10th anniversary of the ministry serving food to fair workers and presenting them with Bibles.

By Ann Cipperly

Hattie Lett with a few friends assisting cooked for days to offer a delicious brunch last Saturday morning to the Lee County Fair workers for the 10th anniversary of the food ministry. Women and men from several churches joined together to serve and assist. Rick Lane gave the devotion, while Mayor Gary Fuller presented a Proclamation of Appreciation for the fair workers.

For years Hattie Lett had a desire to prepare a meal for fair workers.  When she heard Frazier United Methodist Church in Montgomery started a ministry feeding fair workers, she wanted to help.

“It is something God put on my heart,” says Hattie. “I wanted to help at Frazier for years, but I always had a conflict. When I heard Jamie Sims was doing this for Lee County, I told her I wanted to help.”

Jamie Sims served the food, and Hal Cooper gave the devotion the first year, then Hattie took over the ministry. While Hattie has done almost all the cooking every year, she asked friends in different churches to assist in serving. Hattie begins cooking a couple of months ahead and freezes breads, muffins and quiches.

The week of the fair she cooked for days. Those helping her serve were Gale and Jimmy Morgan, Liz and Bob Camp, Diana Henderson, Patsy and Hugh Fellows and Jenny and Jann Swaim. Others helping who were unable to attend were Julia Smith, who bakes banana bread each year, and Dinah Motley, who prepared two casseroles. Janice Berardi cooked casseroles for last year’s brunch.

Charles Ellis generally cooks the sausage, but since he was in Colorado this year, Scotty Lett and Jann Swaim took over to cook. The Exchange Club provided the coffee.

Last Saturday the ladies and their husbands along with others arrived early on the fair grounds at the Opelika Exchange Club booth. Tables were covered in gold colored cloths and centered with yellow mums flanked with small pumpkins.

A table was set up for fair workers to register and receive a nametag.
Hattie also decorated the buffet table where the ladies served the food from crock-pots, while their husbands served orange juice, milk and coffee.

Egg and sausage casseroles, grits, sausage pinwheels, quiche, assorted muffins and breads, fresh fruit among other dishes provided a wonderful brunch for the workers.

Julie and Charles Ellis designed the invitations. Scotty and Hattie along with Jenny and Jann passed out the invitations Thursday night to each of the workers.

Many of the volunteers greet and chat with those attending. His Place sends men and Hosanna Home sends women who minister to the workers.  Harvest Evangelism also volunteers.

“God always sends the number of volunteers and ones needed to prepare, set up, serve the fair workers, “ says Hattie, “and to clean up afterwards. Starting with my husband, it is the body of Christ from many different churches being the hands and feet of Jesus! God has sent these fair workers from all over the United States to work from Florida to Indiana and to come to Opelika where we can serve them.

“It is quite a privilege and an honor to do so,” adds Hattie. “This cannot be done without the help of my husband and Christian friends who graciously share the love of Jesus. The Church of the Highlands donates Bibles and Lakeview Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Opelika have donated tracts which share the Good News.”

The Opelika Exchange Club sponsors the fair, which has been ongoing for about 70 years in Opelika. The James Gang is the name of the company that presents the fair. This year over 40 fair workers attended the brunch.

Hattie has a gift of hospitality. Born and raised in Marvyn, Hattie grew up learning hospitality at an early age. Her grandmothers were good cooks. Both her parents, Newt and Sara Ingram, cooked and loved having people over.

“When I was growing up, my home was like Grand Central Station where people would come by to visit,” says Hattie. “Food was an important part of our life because we had company all the time and barbecues in the backyard.”

Since her father was a farmer, they always had plenty of garden fresh vegetables. Her mother worked as a bookkeeper for Hall’s Clothing Store and Hagadorns in downtown Opelika and later for Dr. Bill and Barry Whatley.

Her mother always cooked a full breakfast with homemade biscuits for Hattie and her sister before they left for school.

Growing up, Hattie was impressed by the hospitality of a cousin, Forney Ingram, and his wife Isabel, who invited her family to lunch every year before the homecoming game at Auburn University. Hattie and her sister would dress up and wear corsages for the luncheon and football game.

“It was a gift for me,” says Hattie. “She would have the table spread with beautiful casseroles and pretty food. It made an impression on me.

“I saw this as a gift along with my heritage of food, with my parents having company and seeing people in my family live out hospitality.”

After high school, Hattie attended Auburn University for two years, then attended UAB, graduating in physical therapy. Hattie worked for over 25 years at the Children’s Rehabilitation Service in Opelika. She also worked part-time with East Alabama Medical Center Rehab Works; the Valley Haven School Early Intervention Program and the last five years with the Opelika City Schools.

Scotty owns J.A. Lett Construction Company. They have two children, Lauren and Hunter.

Hattie enjoys cooking for others, as she carries on the family legacy of hospitality. Following are an assortment of recipes that have been served at the brunch over the years.

Recipes:

Southern Sausage Grits Casserole
Hattie Lett
For the fair workers, Hattie quadruples this recipe to fill two crock-pot. One crock-pot has sliced jalapeño peppers added.
6 cups grits
Salt
2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. hand grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb. hot Jimmy Dean sausage, cooked and crumbled
Salt, pepper and Lowery’s seasoning salt to taste
Cook grits with salt according to package directions. Add butter and grated cheese while still hot. Add onion and milk. Stir well. When slightly cooled, add two beaten eggs, sausage and seasonings to taste. Put in crock-pot on high for four hours.

Quiche
Hattie Lett
9-inch unbaked pie shell
2 slices Swiss cheese
½ cup chopped broccoli
½ cup sliced mushrooms, optional
1 cup cooked chicken or ham or turkey, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp. plain flour, sifted
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Note: Instead of whole milk and 3 Tbsp. flour, you can use 1 cup half-and-half and 2 tsp. flour.
Bake piecrust 10 minutes at 350. Place Swiss cheese on bottom of crust. Sprinkle broccoli, mushrooms and meat over cheese.
Mix eggs, flour, salt and other seasonings; add milk, mix well. Pour into pie shell.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Sausage Breakfast Casserole
Dinah Motley
1 lb. bulk sausage 
6 slices white bread, crusts removed 
Butter or margarine, softened 
1 1/2 cups shredded Longhorn cheese
6 eggs 
2 cups half-and-half
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
Brown sausage, stirring to crumble. Drain and set aside. Butter each slice of bread and cut into cubes; place in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle sausage over bread and top with cheese. Combine eggs, half-and-half, salt and mustard; beat well and pour over casserole. Chill at least 8 hours. Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes.
 
Easy Egg Casserole
Janice Berardi
8 eggs
3 cups milk
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8 cups French bread cubes (3/4-inch pieces)
1 pkg. Jimmy Dean Hearty Original Sausage Crumbles
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat eggs, milk and pepper in large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add bread cubes; stir gently until evenly coated. Stir in sausage crumbles and 1 1/2 cups cheese.
Pour into lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serves 12.

Foccatio
Hattie Lett
Frozen bread dough (Hattie uses Kroger’s frozen loaf bread)
6 oz. tomato paste
1 lb. ground beef or venison or sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 small medium bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. basil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
Dash of red pepper
1½ cups shredded pepper jack cheese
Black olives, optional
Spray frozen bread with nonstick spray and place in a bread pan that has also been sprayed. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap; let rise 6-8 hours. Place plastic wrap on counter dampened with water. Roll out on plastic wrap (no flour) in a long rectangle.
Brown meat with the pepper, onion and seasonings; drain. Let cool.
Spread tomato paste over dough, leaving a ¾ inch margin. Layer cooled meat mixture, then cheese. Roll into a long roll. Shape into a circle (wreath shape). Decorate with shapes cut with cookie cutters from piecrust for the season or occasion, if desired.  Attach with an egg wash.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Add decoration and continue baking another 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Baked French Toast with Fruit Sauce
Hattie Lett
16 oz. French bread, cubed
8 oz. cream cheese (can use 1/3 less fat)
1 qt. fat free half and half
¼ cup maple syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
6 eggs, beaten
Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with butter. Place half of bread cubes in dish. Dot with cubes of cream cheese. Cover with other half of bread cubes.
Mix remaining ingredients together; pour over bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, remove French toast from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake French toast covered for 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking 30 to 45 minutes or until top is lightly brown and evenly puffed.
Serve with Fruit Sauce.
Fruit Sauce
2½ cups blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
1 jar wild blueberry, strawberry or raspberry preserves
Use same fruit and preserves. Combine berries and preserves; heat until warm. Can use frozen blueberries that have been thawed.

Laura Yancey’s Pina Colada Fruit Salad
2 cans chunk pineapple in 100{44c616e11cf70d617c8dd92fb0bc15f41001df771f775c6b004238009c89a3f0} pineapple juice
1 container strawberry colada yogurt
Grapes (red and green)
Sliced strawberries
Sliced kiwi
1/3 cup dried cranberries for garnish
Roasted salted almonds for garnish, optional
Mix juice from pineapple and strawberry colada yogurt.
Add all the fruit except cranberries in a bowl. Pour the yogurt and juice mixture over and mix carefully. Garnish with dried cranberries and almonds. Colorful and delicious!

Cookies
Jenny Swaim
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies – inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before frosting.
Icing
3 Tbsp. meringue powder
1 lb. (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. clear extract flavoring
1/3 cup warm water, or more as needed
Food coloring, if desired.
Beat until smooth.

Pumpkin or Zucchini Muffins
Hattie Lett
1½ cups sugar
1¼ cups canola oil
4 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla
15 oz. can pumpkin or 2½ cups grated zucchini
¾ cup flaxseed meal
2 cups oat flour
1½ cups plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
¾ Tbsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. allspice
Beat sugar and oil well; gradually add eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla and pumpkin or zucchini. Add flaxseed meal.
Sift remaining ingredients together.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with 1 cup water for pumpkin muffins and ¼ cup water for zucchini, starting and ending with flour.
Coat muffin tin with canola oil cooking spray.  Place batter into pan. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

Nona Parkman’s Blueberry Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup plus 1/2 tsp. Crisco
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 to 2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blueberries
Glaze:
In blender, blend 1/3 cup blueberries and 3 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle over biscuits prior to baking.
Preheat oven to 425.
Sift self-rising flour, baking soda and baking powder. Cut in Crisco with edge of a fork or use your hands; mix until consistency of small crumbles. Add half-and-half; add buttermilk as needed. Add just enough milk and stir with a fork or wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
Gently fold in blueberries. Wet counter surface and put down clear plastic wrap. Lightly dust plastic wrap with flour and have some flour in a small bowl nearby to keep your hands lightly floured to form dough into biscuits.
Turn dough out onto the floured surface and individually form biscuits with your hands, keeping your hands lightly floured. Put them on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan, which is lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Prepare glaze and drizzle over biscuits.
Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Southern Welcome to My Home Punch
Hattie Lett
Combine equal parts 100{44c616e11cf70d617c8dd92fb0bc15f41001df771f775c6b004238009c89a3f0} cranberry juice or white grape juice and diet ginger ale. 

Fruit Tray
Hattie Lett
Wash a fresh pineapple with the top on and cut it lengthwise in half with the greenery intact. Cut it in half again keeping the greenery intact. Cut along the bottom to separate it from the pineapple boat, but leave it in the pineapple boat. Slice it as you would a piece of watermelon, leaving the entire contents intact in the boat.
Put one boat and an elongated tray in the center and turn the other boat in the opposite direction parallel to each other. Surround with washed red and green grapes and strawberries.

Apple Puff Pancake
Hattie Lett
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to heat.
3 eggs, beaten
¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup milk
1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix sugar and cinnamon together in quart Zip-Lock bag; add sliced apples. Sift flour and salt; add beaten eggs. Whisk and slowly add milk.   Remove skillet from oven. Add butter. When melted, add apple slices in a swirl pattern. Pour flour mixture over apple slices.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with hot syrup (can use sugar-free or lite syrup).
Hattie will often make two and reheat the second one the next day in the microwave.

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