89-year-old “Noodle Queen” helps make homemade delights for annual craft fair

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Eighty-nine-year-old Priscilla Lebsack has 17 boxes of homemade egg noodles covering the bed of her guest bedroom.

The Berthoud woman and her husband Bob have another 80 angel food cakes in their freezer for the annual Craft and Food Fair at First United Methodist Church of Berthoud — this year the sale is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 14 in the church’s fellowship hall, 820 Ninth St.

Priscilla Lebsack of Berthoud shows the bags of noodles she and the Berthoud United Methodist Women made over five Saturdays for the annual Craft and Food Fair at First United Methodist Church of Berthoud on Oct. 14.

But Bob is a little disappointed, at least about the angel food cakes.

“He waits for a failure so he can have it, but we don’t have failures,” Priscilla said. “It’s his favorite cake.”

Bob said he rarely gets a cake — either the regular-sized ones that sell for $10 or the small ones, $4 for four, white or chocolate. “If I want one, I have to buy it because she won’t make a bad one,” Bob said. “It doesn’t take any frosting to make them good. You don’t have to doll them up. They are what they are.”

The Lebsacks make the cakes and noodles, that sell for $5 a bag, with the help of the 30 members of the Berthoud United Methodist Women and of the church. They use leftover egg whites from the noodles to make the cakes, and the noodles and cakes combined are what help bring the crowds to the craft sale.

“They are made from scratch, and it makes them taste really good,” said Cheryl Kastle-Fenton, who organizes the craft fair. “There’s a real difference between bought noodles and our homemade noodles, and there’s a big difference between box mixes and cakes made from scratch.”

Priscilla, who heads up the faith circle of the United Methodist Women, uses a family recipe for the noodles from her late sister-in-law Florence Zeiler.

“She’s the queen of noodles,” said The Rev. Emily Hagan, pastor of the church, about Priscilla. “Nothing goes to waste. We wouldn’t have angel food cake without the noodles.”

The United Methodist Women make the noodles over five Saturdays, doing the work at the church building. This year they started at the end of August, using 22 dozen eggs each week.

As a first step, the women and church volunteers separate out the eggs — the noodles require three whole eggs and nine egg yolks per batch — and use two professional-grade mixers to mix the dough. Next they knead the dough into rolls that are sliced, and then run the long rolls twice through noodle-making machines, which they also use to cut the dough into narrow or wide-sized noodles.

The noodles are dried overnight, and the next day the Lebsacks and Kastle-Fenton and her husband, Dave Fenton, bag them into 70 plastic bags measured out in half-pound quantities.

The noodles consist of flour and eggs, while the angel cakes have a secret ingredient Priscilla won’t reveal. She got the recipe from a friend, Lucille Payton of Fort Collins.

“I was having some trouble making the cakes, and they weren’t coming out right,” Priscilla said. “Since she gave me this recipe, I don’t have many failures.”

In 1975 the United Methodist Women started the craft fair and noodle and cake sale to raise money to install an elevator in the church building, selling 30 bags of noodles and 10 cakes. They continued the fundraiser for local, national and international missions and to make donations to places like the House of Neighborly Service, Christmas in Berthoud and the church fund. Each year the fundraiser raises $6,000 to $7,000.

“We’ve had them sell out before lunch. Sometimes we sell the rest of them at the church the next day,” Priscilla said about the noodles and cakes. “We get rid of all of them.”

This year the craft fair will consist of 18 booths of local artisan crafts, the same number as last year. For the past five years the fair has been juried, a judging process that ensures there are different artisans presenting their handmade goods each year, said Kastle-Fenton, who implemented the juried process when she took over the organization of the craft fair.

“Every table is unique,” Kastle-Fenton said. “It’s one of a kind, and everything is handmade.”

The tables will feature knitted and crocheted crafts, wood crafts, metal wall art, lace doilies, leatherwork, candles, soaps, jewelry, herbal remedies and greeting cards, along with a few homemade food items such as smoked cheeses, and for the pets, doggie treats.

In a separate area, the noodles and angel food cakes, baked goods, tamales and cabbage burgers will be for sale, all made by the United Methodist Women. Lunch will be served 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and will include pulled pork sandwiches, deviled eggs, pickles and pumpkin pie.

“It’s not only shopping, it’s a good place to get baked goods,” Hagan said. “The noodles are really lovingly made. They’re special. You just don’t get noodles like that all the time.”

Tags: , , , ,