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Kaysers from Clear Spring cook scrumptious creations

December 27, 2001

Kaysers from Clear Spring cook scrumptious creations



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY
andreabh@herald-mail.com


One word pops into Town Clerk Juanita Grimm's mind when she sees Curtis Kayser walking into Town Hall:

Food.

Kayser brought Grimm a plate of shrimp, crab imperial, apple pie and red velvet cake on Dec. 11. He prepared a juicy grilled steak for her the week before. Grimm recently installed a microwave oven at Town Hall "to heat the merchandise," she said.

Kayser and his stepmother, Annabelle Kayser, for years have been divvying out treats from their kitchen to friends throughout their hometown.

The sweet, fresh-baked scent of the trademark apple cakes Annabelle Kayser often gives away filled her home on a recent Monday evening. The cakes cooled on a counter topped with the remnants of apple pie and red velvet cake her stepson prepared the night before.

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Curtis Kayser, 40, will soon bake and give away more than 700 cookies - peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal and sugar - to his friends and neighbors, he said. His stepmother will take her apple cakes and other goodies to widowed neighbors and co-workers at Washington County Hospital, where she has served more than 6,000 volunteer hours since retiring as cafeteria manager at Clear Spring Middle School in 1993.

"I worked the school lunch for 34 years so I know how to cook big," said Annabelle Kayser, 73.

She and Curtis - a self-taught cook - each year prepare two holiday feasts for more than 60 family members.

They started about 10 years ago making meals for neighbors whose spouses had passed away. The duo so enjoyed sharing the bounty from their kitchen that they began giving food to other people in Clear Spring, they said.

They give away fruits and vegetables from Curtis' large garden, desserts, entres and homemade wines. They test most of their goods before giving them away, keeping only a small portion for themselves.

Such discipline and active lifestyles keep the prolific cooks slim, they said.

"I've always said you're more blessed to give than to receive," Annabelle Kayser said. "We don't even think anything about it. We just do it."

"I guess it just turned into habit," her stepson said.

The Kaysers take turns in the kitchen on Saturdays and weeknights, marinating meats, measuring dry ingredients, and rolling out cookies and pie crusts.

"I'm the old-fashioned cooker," Annabelle Kayser said. "Curtis likes to try new stuff."

He leafed through one of the many cookbooks he's received as gifts, pointing to recipes he's tried. The chocolate grasshopper and mocha chiffon pies were hits. The chocolate-and-cream-cheese pie was tasty but not as great a success, Curtis Kayser said.

Grimm and Clear Spring resident Stewart Brennan said they've enjoyed every morsel Curtis has delivered to them.

"I like it all," said Brennan, 82. "He does a lot for me. He'll cook for you and help out doing anything."

Curtis Kayser, who does roofing work for Before And After construction company, volunteers for the Clear Spring American Legion, Sons of the Legion and Clear Spring High School Athletic Boosters Club in addition to cooking and tackling household chores for friends and neighbors, he said.

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