The Women of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bake sale was a huge success and there was not even any alcohol consumed. I cannot say the same for the Men’s Club, whose annual BBQ, incidentally, accompanied our bake sale. Let me be clear. The BBQ was also a success, but I can report to you that after the 8:45 service today Greer Carlyle had to stand in the refrigerated Sisco truck selling leftover smoked chicken and pork butts which indicates to me that the men may have lost count of what was on the smoker in their beer-induced state. I can tell you the women weren’t standing outside the Narthex selling pound cake this morning. I’m just saying.

So, of course, there is a strategy to a successful bake sale. I hope I am not embarrassing anyone here, but the more unusual the treat, the better it sells. Let me illustrate. You will note in the foreground of this photo are Marida Sterns’ renowned pecan tarts. To the left, you will see Susan Cowperthwaite’s pound cake from an old family recipe. At the top are Kathy Berry’s chewy ginger cookies. And to the right are Bari Horton’s spectacular lemon bars garnished with blueberries and mint. And let’s not even talk about Wanda Woolen’s spice cake with caramel icing that sold so quick I didn’t even get a photo of it.

Organizing a bake sale is also of utmost importance and we are masters at that, of course. This is bake sale central, with Julie Reinhardt along with her daughter, Renee, Leslie Fraser and Kathy Ulezelski. They look sweet, don’t they? Do not be fooled. You see that cash box in front of Kathy?  Items must be strategically priced and displayed to bring the maximum amount of cash to the box. That’s all I’m going to say about that. We do not even allow the Men of St. Paul’s a complementary cookie. Heck, Greer charged me $5 a chicken this morning. And I bought two since I felt sorry for him standing there in a refrigerated truck in his Sunday suit.

So, cheese straws. One of the big hits of the afternoon were Kathy Berry’s cheese straws. What a marketer she is. She packaged them with stickers that said “BerryGood Cheese Straws.” That’s what I mean about strategic display. And they had just the right amount of kick from the cayenne pepper, too. There were a few items we were forced to sample to make sure they met quality control. But we paid for them. We don’t even give freebies to ourselves.

So, there is basically just one cheese straw recipe. I’m giving you the one from my beloved Southern Living Magazine. If anyone tries to tell you to make them with blue cheese or white Cheddar, just ignore them. I can tell you they would never go over at a bake sale.

Southern Living’s Cheese Straws

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

1 (1-pound) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat first five ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until blended. Gradually add flour, beating until just combined. Use a cookie press with a star-shaped disk to shape mixture into long ribbons on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cut ribbons into 2-inch pieces.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.


  1. Dee
    July 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I love cheese straws. They will be waiting for me in heaven, I have no doubt. When I was 6 I was forced to be a flower girl in a cousin’s wedding. I managed to sneak around and eat most of the cheese straws at the reception, without detection. It was so worth the stomach ache. there is a photo of me somewhere standing in front of a refreshment table trying to hide with my body the empty platter where there were once many cheese straws… LOL

  2. Les Kerr
    July 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Catherine – your account brings back fond memories of Mississippi Cheese Straws, a delicacy from my home state. Thanks!

  3. julie hendrix
    julie hendrixReply
    July 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    So funny because I literally just polished off the bag of cheese straws that I bought. I love the throwdown Catherine! Don’t get too uppity though, the treasurer, with whom I have an intimate relationship, tells me the take on the BBQ was over $20K. He’s having another beer with the chair, Mr. Wesson, as I write. Good times!!

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