Steinauer Convent Breakfast

Come and get a blessed breakfast! This Steinauer convent is now a baking haven.

Here’s the Convent House dream team that put together these recipes for Nebraska Life: From left, Barb Steinauer, Marilyn Wenzl, Marjorie Wenzl and Erma Gyhra.

Steve & Bobbi Olson

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(This story originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine)

WHEN THE THREE Steinauer brothers fled from famine in their native Switzerland in 1852, they kept on the run after hearing of violence in “bleeding Kansas.” Then in 1856, the brothers settled in a peaceful spot in the southeastern corner of a new territory named Nebraska. More than 155 years later, the Pawnee County village is now pronounced “Steener,” instead of “Stein-hour,” but if these brothers made a return visit, they’d certainly call the food here yummy.

The Convent House Bed & Breakfast is symbolic of this tiny village’s love of home-cooked meals stirred together with community pride. These elegant lodgings were built in 1993 on the dreams of three longtime friends, Marilyn Wenzl, Erma Gyhra and Marjorie Wenzl, who wanted to remake the former convent of the Catholic nuns who until 1970 had taught school for their parish at St. Anthony’s Church. Although plans to start this B&B to gain money for the church had doubters in town, the dedicated trio soon got other residents donating $500 for the heavenly decorations in each room.

This village was built on faith, and food, carried on from the traditional meals prepared by eastern European Catholic immigrants. We’re delighted to share some of these treasured recipes with you from a fundraising cookbook put together by parishioners of St. Anthony’s and the nearby Sacred Heart Church in Burchard.

The heartiest dishes begin where the beloved breakfasts at the Convent House are still served up by these three hardworking gals and their merry band of volunteers.The Convent House donates all its profits to the church and other charities, including the great prime rib dishes at its holiday dinners. They also treat the returning Benedictine nuns to a free steak when they visit from Kansas.

Marilyn Wenzl says the recipe to success is their cooking from scratch. “We do the long ways. We don’t do shortcuts.”

Marilyn was taught by the nuns here in the 1940s and can still smell the onions and garlic one of the sisters would cook with during the day. She carries on that spicy tradition, but holds off on the garlic when whipping up her delightful Peach French Toast.


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