It’s noon on a Saturday. Kristi Gordon finds herself frantically flipping through hotdish recipe books in search of a unique dish that has the potential to take top prize at the Hotdish Bake Off. The sixth Annual “Hotdish Bake-off” sponsored by local group H.O.T.D.I.S.H. Militia, and held at Peace Church in Duluth, raises money for “reproductive justice for all women and young people of the Northland."
The bake-off and concert by Pamela Means, a political musician who plays at events of this type, were once again a success, with about 75 people in attendance. This exceeded the prior estimates according to event organizer Erin O'Daniels. A total of 34 hotdishes were entered into four different categories: Lutheran Ladies, Ethnic, Vegetarian and Dessert.
This event was started six years ago in reaction to the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, and to send women to the 2004 March for Women’s Lives. Now it focuses on providing funds to help women in need at the Women’s Health Center in downtown Duluth.
The Women’s Health Center provides a multitude of services for those in need in the Northland, including: pregnancy testing, annual exams, birth control, counseling and breast cancer screening.
There was a group protesting this event because of the association with the Women’s Health Center and the procedures that are performed there.
“Having this event at Peace Church is hypocritical. Peace and abortion are two contradictory things,” said one protester, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Several members of the H.O.T.D.I.S.H Militia, which stands for “Hand Over The Decision It Should Be Hers,” are also employed at the Women’s Health Center, including Christina Harkness.
“No one goes into the Women’s Health Center lightheartedly. It’s always for something very serious, and the protesters just make it worse,” Harkness said.
Despite the tension outside, the bake-off went according to plan.
Gordon eventually came up with a last-minute chicken chow mien hotdish that was a hit in the ethnic section, as most attendees took a sample. But despite her best efforts, Gordon’s chow mien hotdish was unable to take the crown for the ethnic category. That honor went to Joan Varney with her vegan Asian soba noodle salad. The winners of the other categories were: Lutheran Ladies, Em Westerlund with squash casserole; Vegetarian, Sadie Sigford with sweet potato hotdish; and Dessert, Mary Cohen with apple crisp.