More German-Russian Food
"Where there is bread, there is home."
Traditional saying of the Germans from Russia
Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier, Rugby, ND, making cheese buttons (Käse Knöpfla).
When the German speakers of the prairie praised good food, they often did so by saying that it "schmeckt gut." "Schmeckt" sounds like what it means--tasty, lip-smacking good.
The heritage of those savory ethnic foods of the Germans from Russia, North Dakota's most prevalent ethnic group, will be featured in a new 60 minute video documentary, due to be premiered March 5 by Prairie Public Broadcasting.
"Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" is the second video documentary on the traditions of this ethnic group. The first, "The Germans from Russia: Children of the Steppe, Children of the Prairie," looked at the history of these Plains immigrants.
This new video includes footage of the 74th annual Sauerkraut Day at Wishek and Schmeckfest at Eureka, S.D., with traditional folk wedding and dress, husking corn, churning butter and serving custard and fruit kuchen.
Other segments include preparation of a wedding kuchen at Aberdeen, S.D., the Schachlika Crimean foods in Richardton, making knoepfla soup at Kroll's in Fargo and an old-fashioned Harvest Fest at Richfield, Minnesota.
Many of the cooks featured on the video live in or are from North Dakota -- Theresa Kuntz Bachmeier of Rugby, making cheese buttons (kaese knoepfla); Annie Roesch Larson, Aberdeen, S.D., making Easter bread; Edna Goebel Johnson of Horace, a native of Lehr, making strudla; Martha Schafer Suppan, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a native of Braddock, making halupsie (pigs in the blanket-cabbage rolls).
Kids in German-Russian families were thrilled when their mothers or grandmothers made creamy kuchen. The rich custard in sweet dough was traditionally filled with cottage cheese, prunes, apricots, rhubarb or other dried fruit.
This recipe for New World Kuchen was adapted from the Hulda Wacker family heritage in Ashley and Long Lake, S.D.
The fruit filling is adapted from the Katherina Pahl family heritage in Forbes. This recipe and other traditional foods are available at http://www.lib/ndsu.nodak.edu/gerrus/weihnacht.html.
New World Kuchen
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, scalded
1 package Red Star yeast (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup soft shortening
5 1/2 cups bread flour
Melted butter, clarified
Make a soft dough, mixing all ingredients.
Knead for 5 minutes. Let stand for 2 hours in a
warm place. Place on floured board. Roll out like a
pie shell about 1/4 inch thick (like a pizza crust).
Brush melted butter over entire shell crust. Crimp
edges of shell crust then place in a greased pan.
Place fruit and custard filling inside.
Beat 3 eggs with 4 tabelespoons brown sugar
Add 2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup white powdered cane sugar
3 cups chopped dried Turkish apricot halves,
soaked in 6 tabelspoons Bacardi white rum
2 teaspoons almond extract
Pour custard mixture over arranged fruit on
dough shell. Let shell crust dough rise before baking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and bake at 350 degrees
for 30-35 minutes.
Video premieres in March
Eric Schmaltz. The author is immigrant Johann Schmalz’s great-grandson. Born in Minot, North Dakota, in 1971, he is Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he teaches Modern European and World History. He expresses his eternal gratitude to old issues of the Emmons County Record as well as various extended relatives by blood or marriage who have assisted him with family history research over the past two decades, in particular Bro. Placid Gross, Mrs. Mary Lynn Axtman, Mrs. Nicole (French) Bailey, Prof. Amy Deibert, and Prof. Michael M. Miller.
"Schmeckfest: Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia," part of Prairie Public's Heritage Series, will premiere on Prairie Public Broadcasting and South Dakota Public Television in March.
A limited-edition video with extra footage is available to those who order their request from the GRHS Website. The video is $24.95 plus postage and handling ($4 to the U.S., $5 to Canada, and $8 for shipping via airmail outside the U.S. and Canada). Checks or money orders are payable to the NDSU Library. The videos will be mailed in March and April.
For a selection of German-Russian ethnic cookbooks, write: Michael M. Miller, NDSU Library, Box 6050, Fargo, ND., 58108-6050, or visit: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc.
Reprinted with permission of the Bismarck Tribune.