German Russians Recall Food Traditions in Radio Program

March 11, 2011

Organizers of the Dakota Memories Oral History Project, in cooperation with Prairie Public Broadcasting, will air a new radio program titled "German-Russian Food Traditions.”

The program will air on Wednesday, April 13, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. (CST). During their oral histories, narrators share vibrant memories of traditional German-Russian food practices. This program features stories about canning, butchering, traditional German-Russian dishes and much more. The narrators grew up on the Northern Plains in the regions of South Dakota, North Dakota and Saskatchewan. Merrill Piepkorn, host of “Hear It Now” on Prairie Public Radio, will provide context for these fascinating anecdotes.

Listeners will learn about memories such as John Gross’ detailed recollection of making “schwartamagan” out of the hog’s stomach. It is commonly known as head cheese, but he feels this not an accurate name and gives the “wrong idea.” Leona (Kuhn) Hoff recalls her mother making some type of noodles at every meal during the 1930s. She says “we were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor.” She goes on to tell that her mother was a wonderful cook and could prepare a meal from almost anything. Orion Arlyn Rudolph remembers how they kept perishables like milk and butter from spoiling. “Everybody had a habit of having a pail with a long rope that was let down into the well where it was kept cool,” he said. He also describes how they canned meats and vegetables as a way of preservation. Public interest in documenting and preserving German-Russian ethnic identity inspired the launch of the project in 2005. For four years, organizers traveled the Northern Plains, gathering stories and documenting family relationships and childhood memories of second and third generation Germans from Russia.

The NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection and Prairie Public provide major funding for the program. A CD of the radio program will be available for $20. To pre-order the CD, contact Acacia Stuckle, special collections associate, at (701) 231-6596 or

The program can be heard on North Dakota stations 90.5 FM in Bismarck, 89.9 FM in Dickinson, 91.7 FM in Devils Lake, 91.9 FM in Fargo, 89.3 FM in Grand Forks, 91.5 FM in Jamestown, 88.9 FM in Minot and 89.5 FM in Williston.

The Dakota Memories Oral History Project is a privately funded project sponsored by the NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. For more information, contact the NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at (701) 231-6596 or visit

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller