Church continues yummy tradition

12/9/2013

Yum-Yum Shoppe still going strong after 45 years.

Yum-Yum Shoppe still going strong after 45 years.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Every December for the past 45 years, St. Thomas Episcopal Church has played host to the Yum-Yum Shoppe.

"It's a tradition," church member Elizabelle Mackenzie said as she worked the door Saturday.

The Yum-Yum Shoppe was open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church and featured crafts and food, the aroma of which filled the air.

John Veesart's homemade pretzels baking in the oven of the church's kitchen contributed to the aroma. His pretzels are another tradition, at least for the past 25 years.

"I usually make 100 and sell out every year," Veesart said.

Despite their popularity, Veesart doesn't mind sharing the recipe.

"It's no secret. I've probably given this recipe to 100 different people over the years, and they always tell me that they just didn't taste as good, even though they followed the recipe exactly," he said, laughing. "We were just talking about that. It's kind of like trying to make your mom's cookies, when you were a kid. They never turned out as good as hers did."

Veesart said that to make the homemade bread for eight pretzels, a cup of water and four cups of flour are required. After combining the water and flour and kneading the bread, he said, then the dough must set until it rises to twice its size.

"It needs to be dry and elastic," he said. "And then you cut it up, roll it out and twist it into a pretzel shape, then you brush it with eggs and sprinkle it with salt."

Veesart then bakes the pretzels for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Veesart makes two kinds of pretzels, honey whole wheat and butter and herb, which he actually developed for a church member who can't have salt.

The pretzels are $2 a piece or 6 for $10. Veesart said that many people take the six packs home, freeze them and then warm them up to eat later.

On Saturday, he had some help from 9-year-old Bella Ramirez.

"It's a lot of fun making them with the kids. They like to make their initials out of the bread," he said.

Bella made a bow-shaped pretzel.

"Every time I got done making the bow pretzels, he fixed the shape," she said.

Bella also made a pretzel with the initials of her favorite teacher, Julia Morales, a second-grade teacher at Buffalo Jones Elementary School, and then she made a star-shaped pretzel, with Veesart's help.

"You have to make the bread thinner to do that," he said, demonstrating.

Bella said helping with the pretzels was a lot of fun, as her mother, Michelle Ramirez, prepared chili and potato soup for the luncheon that took place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ramirez said that the chili and soup usually go quickly, especially on days like Saturday, when the high was only 9 degrees.

Members of the church also make frozen casseroles.

"We all get together and do the casseroles, to have a good variety," Ramirez said. "We make a small size that will feed two to four people and a large size that will feed a family."

She said that other items typically found in the Yum Yum Shoppe include bierocks and pork burritos.

"Palla Lang makes the bierocks, and Chris Angeles, who used to own the Hacienda Restaurant, makes the pork burritos," Ramirez said.

Mackenzie said that other church members crochet and knit items for sale.

"There are a lot of things for the kitchen, like potholders. There are also some mittens over there," Mackenzie said.

Proceeds from sales at the Yum-Yum Shoppe go to the youth group and for special projects at the church.

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