|Rose Marie Gueldner stirring up ideas for
her next book.
Gueldner authors historical cookbook, An endless
Herald Press, Harvey, North Dakota, April 6, 2002
By Mark Phillips
Rose Marie Gueldner recently finished her self-described "endless
project": an historical German cookbook, German
Food & Folkways. Or, more specifically, a cookbook emphasizing
recipes of Germans from Russia.
Originally from Anamoose, she lived in California and Germany and
spent five years researching and writing the book.
"I wanted to do a family genealogy. I thought it would be
nice to record the recipes from my family," said Gueldner.
She looked at books with recipes from German-Russian extraction,
but could find none. "I was looking for on the library shelves."
"I read hundreds of books for this," she said. "German
and Russian history. The book has an extensive bibliography. The
Harvey library was very helpful when I first moved back."
With a great interest in the past, she weaves history throughout
the book, mentioning the people, their habits, customs and backgrounds.
She focuses on the group of Germans who immigrated to Russia."Many
of them settled here in Wells and McHenry County."
Gueldner traced many recipes as far back as medieval Europe when
butter was introduced. "Originally the Germans used mostly
barley rye. When did wheat come in? Those who went to southern Russia,
Ukraine, began to raise wheat. They made that area the breadbasket
of Europe and exported it all over the region. When they settled, they became grain farmers and made the plains of the United States
the breadbasket of the world," she said.
"Was I ever discouraged during the five years I worked on
it? Every day," she said. "But it's been wonderful, exciting.
I have over 400 recipes. Every recipe has an English title and a
sub-title in German." One of her Frustrations was the many
German dialects. Grandmothers had the recipes in their heads and
the daughter wrote down the recipes phonetically, resulting in as
many as 12 different spellings for the same word.
One of Gueldner's favorite dishes is stuffed cabbage, or "Holubsti".
Translated, it means "little doves". The cabbage leaves
are filled, rolled and tucked under. "They appear to be little
doves in the sauce," she said. "It was charming to find
the translation of the word. It is a labor intensive dish, so it
was reserved for special events."
According to Gueldner, most cuisines trickle down from the aristocrats
first and eventually come down to the common people. Because of
this, she included a number of recipes that are just from the monasteries
and rulers' courts. Because there were over 1,000 Germanys before
the present state there were many courts, palaces and monasteries
to choose from. "These are more elaborate recipes," she
The exception to the rule is the potato. It was introduced by Frederick
the Great of Prussia in the 1620s who ordered his people to plant
and eat them as a deterrent to famine. Because the people thought
of the potato as poisonous, it was a long and painful introduction.
Frederick enforced his orders by threatening to cut off the nose
and ears of any who refused. Not surprisingly, this was effective,
and the potato was a staple of the German diet by the mid eighteenth
century. Now, playing a central role in german cuisine, the potato
is used in main dishes, breads, stuffing, soups and stews. "It
is hard not to think of potatoes when you think of German cooking"
The cookbook emphasizes what Gueldner calls "peasant cooking."
"It is simple, with honest flavors. Not embellished or highly
seasoned, but not bland, either. Their eating habits followed the
seasons. They ate vegetables when the gardens were ripe and chicken,
pork or beef at butchering time. Eventually, in this country, they
Now into its third printing, the cookbook has done very well, having
sold out its first and second printings. It is published by the
North Dakota State University's Germans from Russia Heritage Collection,
which is a special division of their library. The book is sold through
NDSU's library and bookstore, and on their website. It can also
be found at Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton bookstores.
"This book isn't just for the student of history or cooks,"
she said. "It's for the general reader." She recently
received a note from a reader in Minnesota who bought the book for
himself and now is buying copies as gifts for his children and grandchildren.
"I was flattered because he is a non-cook, and not that interested
Did she leave anything out of the book? "Yes," she said,
"It has everything except breads. It began to get too long
and I wanted to keep it to a manageable size. Maybe bread recipes
will be a book by itself."
Reprinted with permission of the Harvey Herald Press.