Volga-German heritage found in Midwestern food dishes

Author: Unknown

Delicious recipes were used in the kitchens of our ancestral homemakers. Meat was not always available for the simple reason that it could not be kept very long without spoilage. The homemaker could prepare a meal without meat and it would be fit for a king. All she needed were the basics of milk, cream, eggs, flour, sugar, potatoes and onions.

Animals, mostly hogs, were butchered in early spring or late fall. In the spring, the meat was fried down and put in large crocks or containers, covered with hot lard, and stored in the cellar or cave. Those who were fortunate to have an icehouse could keep meat into the latter part of the summer. Pork put up in the fall of the year was salted down and kept in a large wooden barrel. It sat on the north side of the house where the sun could not reach it, and was covered well with a heavy object to keep animals from getting inside. Headcheese (Liverwurst) made from the head of the hog, when cooked, was trimmed and the meat ground with liver and heart and stuffed into cleaned entrails. This was a delicacy, warmed, and eaten for breakfast.

Chickens were raised in the summer months from setting hens. When the eggs were hatched, the little chickens were taken from the hen and the hen set on another batch of eggs. It took four weeks to hatch one batch of eggs. Hens would sit on a batch of (usually) twelve eggs for each hen. Therefore, chicken was eaten often in the late summer months.

Noodles were made every few days. We still use many of the noodle favorites today: Noodle soup made from either chicken stock or beef. N oodles and bean soup seasoned with sour cream. Kase noodle baked in the oven. These are only a few of the noodle dishes. No doubt, there were many more. On busy days, another favorite and quick meal was the knebble and kartoffel (dumplings and potatoes), or schmarra made of flour, salt, water and eggs, then fried. The schmarra was made without potatoes.

Rivel soup, green bean soup, sauerkraut soup, and bean soup--these are only a few of the soups that were always a treat and were eaten at least once every day.

The delicious baked breads were baked at least every other day. Many varieties of mouth-watering breads came from the ovens of our ancestral homemakers. There were the kuchen and mauldasch made with berries, such as the swartzberren brought from Russia. The swartzberren, a small black berry, is bi-annual, and is grown in nearly every garden yet today. The berries are used in pies, kechen, and mauldasch as a dessert, and are also cooked with knebble and kartoffel as a main meal.

The cellar was stored with vegetables; both canned and dried for winter use--potatoes and onions being on the top of the list. The carrots could be buried in the ground or in a container filled with sand.

Source: Fort Hays State University Guest Column: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 Vol 97, No. 21

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