Value on the Volga - Sheboygan native writes cookbook honoring her family’s heritage

By Allison Thompson, Sheboygan Press, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, April 16, 2007

Book available for order here

What are some of your best holiday memories? Most likely they revolve around the food your family prepared in the kitchen.

Many families have recipes that are only known by a select few – passed down from generation to generation, perfected by experience and careful study.

To help preserve some of those special recipes, and to capture the story of her family’s heritage, Anna Dalhaimer Bartkowski released a cookbook titled, “Value Meals on the Volga.”

“People spending time in the kitchen, it used to be that was the way we survived,” Dalhaimer Bartkowski said. “We have gotten away from that.”

By writing the book and providing some time-honored recipes, she hopes that a few families will take the time a couple times a year to cook together.

“To spend quality time with our families, to use recipes that we don’t necessarily use every day of our lives, but share a history,” those are the recipes Dalhaimer Bartkowski is passing along.

This book was written from the heart with details on how to create some of her family’s favorite items – recipes that were passed on generation by generation for over a decade, she said.

Dalhaimer Bartkowski, a graduate of Sheboygan North High School, said her family used to live on the Volga River in Russia.

“I grew up knowing what the Volga was. When I was growing up in Sheboygan it was commonly known, it was part of our tradition,” Dalhaimer Bartkowski said.

“The whole region was very unstable,” said Dalhaimer Bartkowski during a phone interview from her home in Chandler, Ariz. “The women who primarily made these meals had to get value out of every ingredient they had. Obviously there is a strong flour base to these foods, they have to make every ingredient last, if they burnt a meal, they ate it. The used the meals in times of plenty and a time of friendship.

Recipes include Green Bean Soup, Fleisch & Kraut Barok, Cootage Cheese Mauldasha, Butterhorns and Peppermint Cookies (see recipe that follows).

“The pink peppermint cookies are probably my favorite. I have so many memories of my grandmother and mother making those cookies,” Dalhaimer Bartkowski said. “There was always something special about that.”

Throughout the book are snapshots of Dalhaimer Bartkowski’s family, stories of her family’s heritage and jottings of the memories the recipes evoke.

The recipes and antidotes trace food traditions from German and Russia.

“Genealogy is a part of my passion. Every family is truly a personal story. These are stories that have been passed down to me, and I can’t think of anything more concrete” to pass on family history than by publishing it in a book, she said.

“My grandmother never had anything written down,” said Dalhaimer Bartkowski’s cousin, Charlotte Lamb of Sheboygan. “You put a handful in, you never had recipes; you just made it. Now they are giving the recipe and that is kind of nice. There might be an awful lot of younger German Russian people in town that have eaten this and really don’t know how to make this.”

To simplify the process, the book offers detailed, color pictures guiding the reader in the steps involved in making some dishes.

“What I’m hoping to accomplish is to inspire, in a couple different ways, other people who have this family history to share it with their family,” Dalhaimer Bartkowski said. “It’s a way they can build a relationship and have their memories carried on through cooking and sharing of stories.”

Bonnie Rauwerdink, manager of Book World in Sheboygan said that customers began asking about the book earlier this year.

“My customers have been talking about it and got in touch with Anna about it,” Rauwerdink said.

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