Our Life MN Our Life

Discovering The Mature Lifestyle Gourmet cooking in Wayzata Page 5 Food•Fun•Entertaining November 2016 November 17 & 18, 2016 Fridley couple cater their way into community’s heart BY SUE WEBBER CONTRIBUTING WRITER Bernie Stawski used to have 500 cookbooks, but she’s cut that down. She has only about 200 now. She and her husband, Dick, both cook. The Fridley residents owned Aurelio’s Pizza in St. Paul for 30 years before passing the restaurant on to their son two years ago. Three grandchildren now work at the restaurant, also. But that didn’t end the couple’s cooking ventures, not by a long shot. Bernie has been an acclaimed caterer for years, known for supplying the food at fancy tea parties, bridal showers, funeral luncheons, and a host of community celebrations, many of them at St. William Catholic Church. The Stawskis have been members of the church for 48 years. One of Bernie’s tea parties was a bridal show at St. William, featuring wedding gowns from the 1900s to now, followed by a tea party for 200 people. “I supplied the cups and saucers,” said Bernie, who has 200 fancy cups boxed in the basement of her home, and scores of others on display throughout her house. The menu for those teas always includes tiny cucumber sandwiches, and probably egg salad, too. Fancy cookies are served on huge platters. Apricots and strawberries are ready to be dipped in chocolate, and cream puffs and other desserts are offered, as well. When a party was held following the dedication of an organ at St. Williams, the refreshments included tiny tuna fish sandwiches, cut to look like a piano keyboard. She concedes that catering a party like that takes awhile, at least two days of baking. “I find the recipes in cookbooks, magazines, tea party books, and on the computer,” Bernie said. “I’m always trying something new.” A native of Wisconsin who grew up in Minneapolis, Bernie remembers that her mother was a wonderful cook. “She cooked for weddings and made pies,” Bernie said. “I got all my cooking from her.” For the last 17 years, Bernie has catered Fridley’s Senior Volunteer lunch, usually attended by 100 people. “They always want me to make Chicken Fantastic,” she said. “One year I did spinach pies.” With the Chicken Fantastic casserole, she serves croissants and Chinese cole slaw. “I change the dessert every year,” she said. “Sometimes it’s strawberry shortcake and sometimes it’s mandarin orange dream cake, or rhubarb cake with custard.” A surprise favorite is Black Bean Brownies. “They’re fabulous,” Bernie said. “They’re delicious and healthy.” The recipe is simple, calling for one can of black beans, rinsed. Return the beans to the can, fill the can with water, and blend it with a 20-oz package of brownie mix. Bake in a 9x9 or 7x11 pan. At several large lunches she’s catered for as many as 300 people, Bernie said, the favorite menu is lasagna, garlic bread and antipasto salad. For a few years, she catered the Knights of Columbus picnic, where she found her- Bernie and Dick Stawski of Fridley, longtime cooks and caterers, look over scrapbooks Bernie has made to chronicle their family’s life. (Photo by Sue Webber) self making potato salad for 500 people. “Volunteers helped cut up potatoes,” Bernie said. In addition to her cooking accomplishments, Bernie sewed all the clothes for the couple’s only daughter, Becky, who died of a heart attack eight years ago. “I dressed her like a little princess,” Bernie said. The couple has five sons and seven grandchildren. When one of her granddaughters was planning a wedding and wanted chair cov- ers for the reception, Bernie volunteered to make them. “I went out and got 800 yards of fabric,” she said. “My friend Alice helped me. We spent two weeks cutting them out and several friends helped me sew them. We’ve used them several times since for weddings and shows.” Oh yes, she ran Bernie’s Ceramics shop for 10 years, too. “I started it at home,” Bernie said. “Dick did the pouring of the molds.” It grew until she was teaching CATERERS - TO PAGE 3