Mary Raschke loves her church. She also loves to bake. Seventeen years ago the Oak Lawn resident and member of St. Peter and St. Paul Orthodox Church in Burr Ridge found a way to merge the two in to what has become a very tasty holiday tradition.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for the annual cookie sale?
A. When we moved the church to Burr Ridge, we wanted to introduce ourselves to the community. It was a way to welcome then into the church, to see the building. I’ve had callers wanting to make sure we’re doing it. We’re getting a faithful following.
Q. Where do the cookies come from?
A. They are all homemade by bakers from our church. We typically have more than 30 people baking for the sale.
Q. What do you make each year?
A. Usually I do kolaczki, the cocoa kisses and lizzies.
Q. What are lizzies?
A. It’s from the Welsley cookie exchange. It’s a recipe I’ve had for more than 20 years. It’s a combination of raisins soaked in bourbon, candied cherries, red and green, pecans and a spice cookie base. They’re great with coffee.
Q. Which is your favorite?
A. The kolaczki and the cocoa kisses. The cocoa kisses are a mixture of chocolate and ground pecans. Inside is a Hershey kiss.
Q. What other treats will people find?
A. We have people who make Russian tea cakes and Moravian spice stars. Melomakarona are Greek honey walnut cookies. We have a nice ethnic blend. We try to get a variety. Last year we had 82 varieties of cookies.
Q. Will people find common cookies like chocolate chip in the mix?
A. We try to avoid the plain cookies. They’re great to eat, but we’re trying to showcase the talents of the people and offer a wide variety of cookies.
Q. Are there items other than cookies?
A. There are specialty breads and chocolate creations.
Q. Do people have their favorite varieties?
A. People sometimes come in and specifically request a certain cookie. They know what they like.
Q. Are all of your bakers women?
A. We have four men who are baking this year. My husband does what are called Jewish cookies. We try to have something for everybody.
Q. How does the sale itself work?
A. People come in and decide whether they want a gift container or a to-go container. You can pack the cookies and they’re ready to give. They make wonderful hostess gifts. We also have plastic clamshell containers. You go through the tables, and each is labeled as to what they are.
Q. What is the money used for?
A. The money goes into the church fund. Last year we used the money for a partial scholarship for the summer youth camp, to offset the cost for children to go to summer camp.
Q. How many cookies were sold last year?
A. Last year we sold a little over 300 pounds. We have people who come in and spend $200 on an order. People buy for their offices, for their holiday parties. Some people bring their own holiday tins. If they want to say they’re their own homemade cookies, we don’t police that.