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Sister Schubert: From a Sunporch in Alabama to the Corporate Boardroom

Posted: May 17, 2010

I have been a fan of Sister Schubert rolls since I popped the first delectable morsel in my mouth some 15 years ago. The name Sister Schubert is a household word in my family, my sister's family, my daughter's family, and the families of all my friends. Whenever anyone mentions having a party, someone says "I'll bring Sister Schubert rolls." I always keep a bag of the wheat rolls in my freezer---just in case. This weekend several of us are hosting a benefit brunch for the AIDS Action Coalition. Our menu includes Frank Stitt's creamy grits and grilled pork tenderloin on Sister Schubert rolls.

It is, therefore, no wonder that when I heard that Sister Schubert herself (Patricia Schubert Barnes) would be signing her new cookbook Cast your Bread Upon the Waters at a local gift shop, my sister and I were two of the first in line. I actually have more cookbooks than I have space for in my house. I have added rows of shelves to accommodate my numerous cookbooks, but, like the unexpected guest, there is always room for one more. Besides, in purchasing Sister Schubert's cookbook I felt I was not just purchasing a compendium of excellent recipes but also paying homage to a phenomenal woman who had accomplished an amazing feat.

In less than a decade, Sister Schubert transformed a tiny kitchen (actually her sun porch) and small catering business in Troy, Alabama, into a multi- million dollar corporation. How does one do that? Peter Pan would say "faith and trust--and a little bit of pixie dust." In Sister Schubert's case, it was a huge amount of faith coupled with many years of hard work. But don't take my word for it. Read about her life for yourself in Chapter One of Cast your Bread Upon the Waters and then simply taste her rolls. You will be a convert for life.

Regarding her recent cookbook Sister Schubert says, "When I started planning Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters, my goal was to create a reading experience as inviting as a fresh-baked batch of Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls."  The cookbook provides a delight for the eye as well as delights for the palate. As Sister Schubert observes: "I love the beautiful design of my cookbook – and apparently, a group of advertising industry judges feels the same way. The book and Web site won four ADDY awards from the Panama City, Florida chapter of the American Advertising Federation. In addition to a Gold and two Silver ADDY awards, the book was honored with Best of Show for Publication Design."

Cast Your Bread is several books in one---a story of one woman's life and success, a collection of simple and delicious recipes, not just breads and rolls, but main dishes (like chicken sausage gumbo and shrimp and grits), appetizers (like the crowd pleasing cheese straws--the mainstay of southern entertaining), side dishes such as tomato pie, and, of course, scrumptious desserts. The final chapter of the book is a tale of how Patricia Schubert Barnes went from housewife and mother to entrepreneur, to philanthropist founding the internationally known Barnes Family Foundation in 2001. Patricia Barnes has received a number of humanitarian awards and has dedicated her life to improving the lives of the less fortunate and enhancing the community through education, historical preservation and compassion. Taking the admonition "feed my sheep" to heart she has founded a charitable organization that reaches out to children across the world and offers them hope and a chance for a future. She attributes her success to her faith and to her family.

The title of the cookbook Cast your Bread Upon the Waters is part of a phrase from Ecclesiastes 11:1 "Cast your bread on the waters: for you shall find it after many days. The book is based on the principle that what you have been given should be put out to the universe and it will come back to you. Patricia Schubert Barnes inherited her love of cooking and her sense of commitment from her grandmother Leona Henderson Wood or Gommey to whom she dedicates the book. It was Gommey's "Everlasting Rolls" that set Sister Schubert on her path to fame and fortune. You can find the recipe for Gommey's heavenly rolls on page 28 of Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters.

Glossy, full color, mouth-watering photos adorn every page of this delightful book. I encourage you to buy a copy for yourself and at least one more (preferably two or three) to give as gifts. What could be more inspirational to a young bride than the story of this young woman's incredible success? And if one needs any further motivation, one can learn how to make those to die for rolls.

------Penne J. Laubenthal

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Sister Schubert is as much a part of the south as is hospitality, and every bit as tasty. Penne Laubenthal has reminded us of another Steel Magnolia who has made not only a positive impact, but a buttery one.

Peggy Farlow says...

Makes me want to go out and by a tin of her rolls right now! Great tribute to a wonderful person!

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