Cheese balls keep their appeal over 19 years of fundraising for Barton |

Cheese balls keep their appeal over 19 years of fundraising for Barton

Dan Thrift

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Like the “Seinfeld” episode where we learned it’s fun to say “salsa,” the South Shore has its own fun thing to say around the holidays: “cheese balls.” Say it as you read: “cheese balls.”

Those delicious, walnut-encrusted round mounds of culinary delight are back for the 19th year, and you’d better get them early, as they go fast.

Started in 1989 by Fern Riley and the Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the cheese balls have been a staple on South Shore tables around Christmas.

Riley, who was the chairperson of the auxiliary’s ball at the time, grew tired of overseeing the event and wanted to try something new.

“I was at a convention in San Diego and ran into a lady who would summer at Tahoe and we got to talking. She was involved with a hospital in Torrence and they had the cheese balls. She gave me the recipe, only because it would be a fundraiser for BMH, and we’ve been using it ever since,” Riley said.

The first year, the group made 80 balls; 100 were rolled the second year, and soon after they were making 1,000 cheese balls.

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“I don’t know why they are so popular. I have people who send them around the country to family and friends. I’m glad they’re still around,” said Riley.

To make the cheese balls this year, Pearl Parks, who is overseeing production, said the process has been streamlined, but the quality is still there.

“It used to be a very time-consuming. Now we’ve got faster ways to get things done,” said Parks, who is in her third year spearheading the process. To make the 1,000 cheese balls this year, Parks estimated that volunteers will use 192 pounds of cheese, 75 pounds of walnuts, 32 pounds of butter and the secret recipe, which can’t be revealed. The cheese balls will go on sale Nov. 9 at the holiday fair at St. Theresa Catholic Church.

Upcoming cheese ball sales:

Nov. 9 at St. Theresa Catholic Church holiday fair

Nov. 12 at Barton Memorial Hospital

Nov. 20 at Carson Valley Medical Center

Nov. 21 during the quarterly wellness checks at Barton University