The Herald Bulletin

September 12, 2013

Cooking up casseroles

Casserole Kitchen offers homemade, frozen dishes to support the arts

By Nancy R. Elliott The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON – There are cookbooks propped up in kitchens all over Anderson. About 50 local women are cooking up their best casseroles, and it’s all for the love of art.

Members of Anderson’s Women’s League are busily preparing dishes to freeze and sell at next week’s Oktoberfest, the annual good-times fundraiser for The Anderson Center for the Arts, set for Thursday, Sept. 19. The Casserole Kitchen is a popular feature of the festival that also encompasses brats, crafts, log sawing, pretzel contest, entertainment, cider making, kids’ games, book and boutique booths, beer, and yes, art.

“We have some regulars who are there when we open the doors,” said Barb Erlich. She’s co-chairing this year’s Casserole Kitchen with Maureen Kirchenbauer.

Many of the members tap into the Tri Kappa cookbook for their taste-tempting casseroles. The all-local cookbook was originally published back in 1980, and reprinted and expanded in 2011.

Kirchenbauer said that the Chicken Rice casserole prepared from the cookbook is always a hot ticket at Casserole Kitchen. Breakfast casseroles are also big sellers, in both large and small sizes. Another winner is the ham loaf.

“It sells out immediately,” said Kirchenbauer. The small version meat loaves also make a hit. “Those are very popular – the perfect size for two or three people.”

“Most will have the recipe on it,” said Kirchenbauer. “That way, you can do it again.”

Kirchenbauer is still settling in on the casserole she will donate to the cause.

“I’m looking through all my cookbooks,” said Kirchenbauer. She’s considering a new recipe that includes both chicken and sausage.

“I make a Marzetti,” Erlich said. The beef, noodle, cheese and tomato casserole was based on a dish from the Marzetti restaurant years ago. “My mother went home and analyzed what was in it.”

A number of local restaurants are also donating frozen dishes for the event, contributing soups, chilis, pulled pork and more.

All of the frozen goodies find a home in the art center’s freezer along with an extra freezer being provided by Hoppie’s Refrigeration Service for the event.

Cost of the casseroles ranges from about $6 to $8 for smaller casseroles up to $12 for a 13- by 9-inch tray. Take it home and pop it in your freezer. Then, either thaw and heat up a pre-cooked casserole, or bake a prepared casserole according to directions.

In addition to the casseroles, expect plenty of baked goods, from cookies to cakes to pies and beyond.

Last year, the Women’s League raised $1,200 through the Casserole Kitchen that helped to supply computers for the art center. Kirchenbauer noted that Casserole Kitchen has been supporting the arts in Anderson for decades. The Women’s League originally started cooking things up for a fall festival that took place at the former art center on West Eighth Street 37 years ago.

“We try to promote music, programs in art, theater,” said Kirchenbauer. “We’re trying to promote the arts in Anderson plus support the art museum.”

Look for the casseroles and baked goods on Thursday, Sept.19, starting at 11 a.m. inside The Anderson Center for the Arts, 32 W. 10th St. during all the fun Oktoberfest activities. The Women’s League hosts monthly informative programs at the center as well.

If you go What: Casserole Kitchen, during Oktoberfest, to benefit Anderson Center for the Arts When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.Where: Anderson Center for the Arts, 32 W. 10th St., Anderson More info: Frozen casseroles will be available for sale inside the center, along with baked goods. Check out the events page at www.andersonart.org.