“Not one person brined for days and days,” said Carol Forwood of the corned beef served at Beulah United Methodist Church’s St. Patrick’s-themed community meal. Nevertheless, it was delicious, to the delight of members of the Beulah community who dropped by the church on Saturday for their most recent community meal.
Corned beef and cabbage, the traditional Irish meal of St. Patrick’s Day, is an adventurous choice for a church community meal in Surry County. Most churches opt for a poor man’s dinner of pinto beans or hot dogs or maybe a pot luck, but then again, most churches haven’t managed to survive since 1889 as Beulah has done.
In the 128 years since Beulah got its start, the church has been burned, reportedly by bootleggers holding a grudge at being turned in, according to long-time church member Goldie Sparger; was rebuilt after much sturm and drang, involving a multi-year wait for work to begin, six months for the actual work to be completed, and finally a two-year wait for a lien to be paid off before the congregation was allowed to re-inhabit the church, according to a history of the church written by Rev. Bud Campbell, a former pastor; not to mention someone may have been hung in one of the oak trees in front of the church, according to church member Libby Willard.
In light of this challenging history, perhaps it is unsurprising that whipping up some corned beef and cabbage for their neighbors isn’t that big of a deal for the folks at Beulah. “Everybody steps up, pitches in and there’s less work with more hands,” says Carol Forwood. “We may be a small church but we ‘get ‘er done’.”
The St. Patrick’s-themed dinner was Forwood’s idea. The church hosted a successful turkey dinner at Thanksgiving and since St. Patrick’s was coming up, it seemed a natural fit to Forwood. “We want to do something for the community every quarter. We’re thinking about an ice cream social in the summer.”
“We just want to get to know our neighbors. Maybe then, they will be more comfortable to come and worship with us. The love of God is here and we want people to know they are loved,” Forwood adds.
Goldie Sparger has been at Beulah longer than most and exhibits the church’s can-do attitude, “If you’ve got two or three you can do it.”
To which another member quips, “Sometimes that’s all we’ve got.”
Carol Forwood adds, “We do a lot with a few.”
Beulah’s members are well aware of their church’s small size. It pops up often as they speak of their church. Sparger says they have about 20-25 people who are active. A lot of younger members have moved away and older ones have passed on.
“The Lord’s been faithful to us to keep it going,” says Sparger of the church that has been her home for 59 years. “It’s had its ups and downs.” But she is obviously proud of the fine old church. “It still has the original benches. They’re not the most comfortable,” Sparger laughs, and adds that all the musicians who play at Beulah say the church has the best acoustics they have ever dealt with. They credit it to the high ceilings and hardwood floors.
“It would be nice to get the community more involved in the church, like in the old days,” said Jackie Taylor. “I don’t know if that’s possible, but we’re trying.”
After 128 years and counting, Beulah United Methodist Church should not be counted out. They’re in it for the long haul.
Corned Beef from Scratch
1 quart hot water
1 cup sugar
1 cup pink curing salt
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 tsp. pickling spice or blend of your making
3 qts. cold water
1 qt. ice
Add spices, sugar, pink curing salt and kosher salt and mix in hot water until dissolved. Add cold water with ice cubes. Place beef cut of your choice in large container (glass or stainless) and pour in brine mix. Make sure to completely submerge the cut underwater. It is helpful to weigh the brisket down. Store covered for 5-7 days in refrigerator. (Turn over each day.) Wash the meat well after the brining process is complete.
To prepare traditionally: Add meat, cabbage, potato and vegetables to a stockpot. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours until the meat is tender, depending on size of meat cut.
Real Traditional Irish Soda Bread
“A recipe passed down through an Irish family for many generations. Contains none of the modern supplements like yeast or sugar, this is a simple very effective recipe.”
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 pinch salt
Heat a heavy skillet, griddle or cast iron frying pan over medium-low heat. Stir the flour and salt together in a bowl and stir in the baking soda. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Stir the mixture quickly together into a dough, and turn out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough a few times, just until it comes together. Gently form the dough into a flattened, round cake about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the round into quarters with a floured knife. Sprinkle a bit of flour into the bottom of the hot skillet and cook the wedges 6 to 8 minutes per side, until golden brown.
St. Patrick’s Day Brownie Trifle
This can be made in a normal size trifle bowl, or mini dishes, totally up to you.
1 package brownie mix (enough to make an 8×8 tray) You can also use a homemade brownie recipe.
1 (3.4 oz) box pistachio pudding (instant)
8 oz. Cool Whip
Mint Oreos, crushed
Cook brownies according to directions. Allow to cool completely. Make pudding according to directions. Take a Ziploc bag and place a few Oreos inside. Seal the bag and smash the bag to crush the Oreos. To assemble trifle; layer cut up brownie, a layer of pudding, a layer of Cool Whip, another layer of cut up brownie, a layer of pudding, and a few crushed Oreos on top. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. You can also use vanilla pudding and add green food coloring.
8 cups red or green grapes (or mix)
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
sugar to taste
Combine sour cream and cream cheese and vanilla. Add sugar to taste. Pour over grapes and mix. Nuts may be added on top, if desired.
1 #2 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (1 lb.) can cherry or blueberry pie filling
1 box white or yellow cake mix
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 sticks margarine
In a greased 9×13 pan, place pineapple, pie filling and cake mix (just as it comes from box; top with nuts and melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour in 350°F. oven. Serve hot or cold. Do not stir or mix in any way.
Variations: Use one small package of coconut instead of pie filling and use undrained pineapple or 1 pint blueberries, 1 cup of sugar.
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Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.