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Cottage Grove woman's popular home-baked goods at farmers market benefit church

Karen Fritze puts the finishing touches on one of the cakes she's made over 40 years in the wedding cake business she runs out of her home in Old Cottage Grove. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Many of the regular customers at the Cottage Grove United Church of Christ Farmers Market every Thursday afternoon head straight for the church bake sale to buy one or more of the eight to 10 loaves of bread made and donated by Karen Fritze.

They also buy her Dutch apple pies and canned goods made with vegetables from her garden at the home she shares with her husband, Wally, in Old Cottage Grove. Wally is in charge of peeling the Haralson apples, also picked from trees in the yard of the house where Wally grew up.

Karen's dilly green beans, pepper jelly, pickled beets and bread and butter pickles are very popular, according to Bev Gross, who helps with the bake sale. All proceeds go the church.

This week will also be a busy one for Fritze, who'll be roasting 17 turkeys, half of what the church will serve at Sunday's annual turkey dinner. Seventeen is the maximum number of turkeys she can cook at once with 16 of them in the professionally equipped kitchen ovens, where she also makes wedding cakes, plus one more in the kitchen she cooks in every day.

When she bakes bread, she uses a combination of white and whole wheat flour that's milled in Canada. She gets the flour from Canadian friends who live near the Fritze home in Arizona where the couple spends the winter.

"I have about 75 pounds of it by the time we leave," she said. "Canadian flour is not milled as fine as American flour."

At 72, Fritze still enjoys making wedding cakes, but she doesn't mind making fewer of them that she used to because some couples are opting for cheesecake, dessert-filled tables and cupcakes.

From a family of seven children and growing up on a farm, Fritze had many opportunities to learn to love cooking and baking.

As a 4-H club member, she took first place three years in a row for oatmeal raisin cookies.

"I still make them from that recipe," she said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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