A Book of Favorite Recipes
By Jana Saastad
Lodi News-Sentinel, Lodi, California, February 16, 2002.
Edith Grosshans Gruebele lives to cook and cooks to live. And her children and grandchildren love everything she concocts, from kuchens and kuechla to kraut struedel and dumplings.
Yes, Gruebele is German and her ethnic dishes are captured for posterity in her self-published book Favorite Recipes of a Lifetime. Gruebele has sold some 200 copies at three different outlets including Sherrie's Sonshine nutrition store, the Wig Palace and Felten's Topaz Restaurant, all located in Lodi.
The down to earth Lodi woman flashes a warm sincere smile when she talks about the subject of food, and specifically the food of her heritage. Food made from scratch and made with love was something she took for granted as a small child in Frie Denstal, Bessarabia, a town known as the Ukraine. Cooking was a daily ritual she learned from her mother and her grandmother and so on down the ancestral line.
Gruebele came to the American shores by way of Lodi in 1952. But in between the years in her hometown and in moving to Lodi, she was forced to dwell in Poland as a World War II refugee, escaping the wrath of Stalin's army. After being liberated by the United States Armed Forces, she and her family spent time in Germany.
Even in the chaos created by political upheaval, Gruebele's mother managed to cook family dishes, passing down the recipes to her young daughter's able hands.
It was one of her daughters who suggested Gruebele write the cookbook to keep the numerous Germanic recipes alive and simmering in the New World for generations to come.
Gruebele agreed to the task which led her down a one-year odyssey of organizing, experimenting with recipes and turning a "pinch of that" into an actual measurement. It was a challenge; one that Gruebele says she'll probably not visit again. Still, Gruebele says she has no regrets; only a family heirloom that documents he culinary existence on this planet.
The following is an excerpt from a recent interview.
Q: Do you have a favorite recipe in your book?
Gruebele: My grandchildren's favorite is snowballs. It's an old dessert; about 100 years old. My grandmother made it.
Q: How did you go about getting a publisher?
Gruebele: My daughter put me in contact with a cookbook company which usually publishes books for organizations. I asked them if they would do mine and they said yes.
Q: Do you think it's important to hand down recipes from one generation to the next?
Gruebele: Definitely. It's a cultural thing, and we're into cultural and ethnicity. There are very few people who don't like German cooking. People can't get enough of it.
Q: Do your children cook the recipes?
Gruebele: Oh yes. In fact, my daughter-in-law didn't cook German. But since she's had this book it stays in the kitchen and she uses it all the time. She says it's easy to follow.
Q: Was there a moment in the book when you almost gave up?
Gruebele: Yes. Well first I was going to do the German recipes only, then I decided everything I had done in cooking for the last 50 years would go in.
Q: Have you been back to visit your homeland?
Gruebele: Twice. I went back when it was under Romania rule in 1989 and then I went back in 1996.
Reprinted with permission of Lodi News-Sentinel, Lodi, California.