St. Mary's Women's Club Annual Salad Luncheon  

Hello! Let us tell you a little bit about ourselves. We are a group of ladies from St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral in Minneapolis, MN (OCA).  Most of our members have been part of this church and part of this club for many years. In fact, some of them have been members of this club for 60+ years! The original name of the Women’s Club was the Mother’s Club. Now, this name had nothing to do with whether a woman was the natural mother of a child; instead the name was descriptive of how the women were the "mothers" of the Church.  The nature of the work that the Mother’s Club did was caring for the Church, both the parishioners and the physical building. Over time, the name changed, along with the members, as one generation grew up and took over the duties of the club. In an effort to communicate to the church, as well as the outside world, what it is we do, the decision to start a blog seemed to be the natural next step.

When we put on events, host a bake sale, or hold meetings, we often have questions from other parishioners of the church. What exactly does the Women’s Club do? When are the meetings? Does everyone know how to make the apricot bread? Just how do you make those cheese buns?

The blog will be dedicated to showing the inner workings of the Women’s Club. We will share with you the behind-the-scenes work of hosting each of our events, what happens at meetings, share recipes, how to take care of liturgical vestments - just to name a few topics.

I wanted to start off with a post about our annual salad luncheon. This is a fundraiser that the Women’s Club puts on, usually in May. In writing this first blog post, I took a deep dive into the written records that the Women’s Club keeps. These humble notebooks hold the minutes of meetings that took place 50+ years ago and give a beautiful anthology of the Women’s Club happenings. The very first salad luncheon took place on May 23, 1972, with Dorothy Sodd as the chairperson and a ticket price of $1.50.  I did not find a reference for how much money was raised that first year but one note stated that the funds raised went towards the purchase of a new freezer. A few pages later, under an entry dated 1974, there was a note about the salad luncheon that stated "a total of $505.75 was raised for serving 317 adults and 10 children." Also noted, “more men came this year and they ran short of bars." (I'm sure those two things are related!)

The luncheon takes about 4 months of planning. This year, four ladies formed the committee. Excellent work Cindy, Corinne, Terry and Rhonda! (On a completely separate tangent - Women’s Club is a wonderful place to volunteer, learn event planning and gain leadership experience - career professionals and high school seniors take note!)


Flyers are a must-do. They are placed on every table at coffee hour a month or more in advance and additional flyers are passed out to local businesses.  We sell tickets before the big day at coffee hours as well as at the door on the day of the luncheon.  An announcement is placed in the church bulletin and we put up some signs around the neighborhood. We’ve been doing this for so long that there are several local businesses that just expect some fliers and ticket sales to come their way.  We also notify a local newspaper and there is a little bit of social media sharing as well. Advertising is one area that we would love to do bigger and better things in. To be perfectly honest, we would graciously welcome any ideas on good advertising and tips/plans for increased ticket sales. If you have any ideas, please let us know!

What we served

(For recipes, please scroll down to the bottom.)

Turkey salad - with fresh roasted turkey and pasta shells
Taco salad
Mediterranean salad
Popcorn salad (I eat popcorn salad once a year, at the salad luncheon! When you see the ingredient list, you’ll know why.)
Kale salad
Watermelon, pickles, buns & butter
Cherry salad (this is straight out the '80s- who can turn down cherry pie filling and cool whip)
A selection of bars were placed out for dessert: lemon bars, brownies, carrot bars, and rice krispy treats
Lemonade, iced tea, coffee
Potato salad was available to take-out, as well as Perohi, boxes of bars and cookbooks.

Prep work

The ladies have spent 3 days prepping for the luncheon; it takes quite a bit of planning, shopping, and chopping! Two days before the luncheon, several people come to church early in the morning to roast all of the turkey breasts and break down the meat.  In addition to that, we need to set up the dining room, place flower arrangements, market the event on social media and more! Quite a lot of hands helped in the prep work and we are so grateful to everyone who helped make this a success. When I dropped off my lemon bars and brownies early Thursday morning, the parish center dining hall looked beautiful and ready to go! Thank you Chris G. for all of the table flower arrangements!

The pans of bars are placed into a dedicated church school classroom across the hall. This way, they are out of the heat of the kitchen. Several women are tasked with assembling beautiful platters of treats. These bar platter pics were my favorite pictures to take.
Traffic Flow

One of things I admire most about Women’s Club is the way these ladies have come up with “best practices” solutions for these events.  One such solution is traffic flow; how to welcome, serve, seat, and offer hospitality to 100+ people, without long lines and wasted time. Some of the people came on their lunch hour, so it’s important that we have an efficient serving line and seating system all ready to go. We want guests to enjoy their lunch and have as much time to chat with table mates as possible.  The day of the luncheon was quite warm, so we kept the doors to the parish center closed to keep the “air-conditioning in”. Once inside the hall, guests handed their ticket to Mary, our lovely ticket lady, and got in line for salad. The tables are watched by several ladies with a careful eye for anyone needing a little help, refilling the salad bowls (a constant job-yeah!) and scanning the dining area for other needs.                                  

The kitchen in a flurry of activity; mixing salads, washing dishes and refilling the serving tables. We had so much help and we are so very grateful!!

Clean up crew!

The salad luncheon was an enormous success! Thank you to everyone who helped plan, shop, chop vegetables, bake bars, serve, and clean-up! The Women’s Club takes the Summer off but if you are interested in joining, we will meet again on September 6th, 2018. We typically meet the first Thursday of the month. We meet in the parish center at 7pm; we would love for you to join us!

Here are just a few of the recipes:
Popcorn Salad

6 c. popcorn
1 c. celery, diced
1 c. water chestnuts, diced or sliced
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 lb. bacon, diced and fried crisp (low sodium if preferred)
½ c. green onion, sliced
Mix everything together except the popcorn.  
Just before serving, mix in popcorn.

TURKEY SALAD  (approx. 75 servings) I know this is a large recipe, but if you have a grad party coming up or a large family gathering-here you go! Perfect scaling for a large service.
38 lbs. (about 18 c.) turkey breast
4 ½ c. celery, chopped finely
1-1.5 gallons of Miracle Whip
2 c. green onion, chopped
5.75 lbs. of small pasta noodles (medium shells, large rings, etc.)
1 T. salt
1 ½ tsp. white pepper
Bake and cool turkey breast.  Debone.
Cook and drain noodles.  Cool.
Mix everything together.
Refrigerate overnight.

CHERRY DELIGHT SALAD  (makes approx. 12 servings, ½ c. each)
20 oz. cherry pie filling
8 oz. cool whip
20 oz.. crushed pineapple, drained
14 oz. (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
Mix all together
Chill in refrigerator overnight

Yours in Christ, St. Mary's Women's Club