Mary Gieser makes marinated pork tenderloin

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Cook of the week Mary Gieser and her Pork Tenderloin.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Cook of the week Mary Gieser and her Pork Tenderloin.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Mary Gieser makes marinated pork tenderloin

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print story Published: 5/5/2010 12:00 AM

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Nobody knows if, after biting that apple in the Garden of Eden, Eve went home and baked an apple pie for Adam.

But we do know the Bible is peppered with references to food, from that first fateful nibble to Jesus famously feeding thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread.

So combining Bible study and cooking lessons makes good sense to Mary Gieser, one of several women at College Church in Wheaton who volunteers in a mentoring program called, "Apples of Gold."

That's not a reference to the most famous "first lady" on earth but to a passage from Proverbs 25:11 - "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."

Once a week for seven weeks, eight or nine "older women" of the church meet in a member's home with a dozen, mostly younger women they dub "apples" for a one-hour cooking demo, one-hour Bible lesson and a sit-down meal and gab fest.

As one of the cooking instructors, Mary's goal is to demonstrate easy, economical, nutritious dishes for busy women.

Mary, a mother of three and grandmother of twins, speaks from experience. She vividly remembers that day long ago when she spent five hours preparing a complicated meal for her husband and young children, only to see it devoured in 20 minutes.

"I had ignored my kids all day for a complicated, long-ingredient recipe," she says.

Each week the food and Bible lesson are linked; when the groups talks about loving your children, the food is kid-friendly and the table settings birthday-party ready, from tea sets to Peter Rabbit and cowboy boots.

When hospitality is the lesson Mary offers recipes for easy entertaining, like an all-salad menu for baby showers or brunch for overnight guests.

"We are giving them new inspiration for cooking to show kindness, taking food to other people, inviting people in your home, loving your children and your husband," says Mary.

Even the mentors benefit.

"Just being able to sit at the tables and hear them tell them stories -" says Mary. "Some have had bad upbringings; sometimes they talk about how they have become Christians. Everybody wins."

That includes Robin Wiper, mother of four children under 10, semiretired professional opera singer and former "apple."

"My parents don't live anywhere near me, and I didn't have any great role models growing up, I come from a divorced family," she says. "It was a wonderful experience to sit and drink in what all these older women had to say, new ideas about what to cook, how to cook," and advice on being a mother and wife.

One of Robin's favorite menus comes from Mary's "good Samaritan" meal of dishes designed to share with a friend or neighbor in need.

Mary delivers the marinated pork tenderloin and potato casserole uncooked, with baking instructions. She prepares the mock eclair dessert, ready to serve, plus a tub of basic muffin batter for the next day's breakfast.

To round it out she adds a bag of lettuce and a bag of frozen vegetables for easy sides.

"It's a very comforting, easy meal, my kids love it," says Robin, "and it's easy to give away."

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