Eatbeat: Pass the sauerkraut
We settled into chairs at Archives coffee shop and talked about food. Germans from Russia food.
Dana McVeigh researched and wrote her thesis about this food for the master's degree she is receiving this summer at UND.
The title is: Foodways and Family: The Persistence of Tradition Among the Germans from Russia. Her faculty advisor is Dr. Douglas Munski.
"I've always been interested in food — how it travels from one generation to the next," she told me. And she has traveled studying the food of other countries.
In the fall of 2016, she made a trip out to the western part of North Dakota where many Germans from Russia settled. She attended Sauerkraut Days at Wishek. She learned of the history from reading materials in the library at North Dakota State University.
She has been interested in the knoephla, the sausage and the kuchen.
"Most are made from foods grown on the farm and from the dairy cows. In the fall they usually butcher. They are carrying on the traditions," she said.
Last summer, she made more trips around North Dakota — to Linton and Ashley. She went to the National Heritage Society convention last year in Bismarck. Workshops featured people with their roots tied to traditions of foods — such as little hand pie with pumpkin or sweet potato fillings.
"Going from Russia," she said, "Many of the people who settled here lived in Poland and traveled over other countries.''
During her research, McVeigh read the book "Prairie Mosaics" by the Rev. William Sherman of Grand Forks.
She said, "I think about one third of our population is made up of Germans, particularly those who came from Southern Russia, now the Ukraine. North Dakota has one of the highest concentrations of Germans from Russia in the United States.''
McVeigh is not one of them. Originally from Wisconsin, she has been living in UND campus housing in Grand Forks. She is 57 and lives with her four children.
During her research, McVeigh studied community cookbooks and found the majority have ethnic sections. There are directions for making knoephla and flour dumplings.
She says, "If I worked in an ice cream parlor and they only had vanilla, it would be boring."
She thinks that interest, understanding and tolerance of other cultures is something this world needs. And she says food is one way of understanding their history.
The following are Germans from Russia recipes from a 1983 cookbook published by Trinity Lutheran Church of Bismarck.
Fleisch Keichla (Arlene Kramer)
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 cups milk
2 pounds hamburger
1 onion—finely diced
¼ cup warm water
Pepper and salt to taste
Deep fryer at 375 degrees
Prepare dough mixture and roll out in about the size of a breakfast plate. Add a spoonful of hamburger on half of circle. Bring two edges together and seal. Deep fry to a golden color.
Knoepfla Soup (Georgeann Weinhandl)
3-4 large potatoes, diced
12 cups water
Boil potatoes until semi-soft, then add one fourth to one half cup chicken base (to taste)
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-1 ¼ cup water (dough should be firm)
1-2 Drop one knoepfla into boiling broth. If dough falls apart, it is too soft, add more flour. Then add small amount of dough into boiling broth and potatoes. If creamy broth is desired, add 13 ounces evaporated milk. Cook 15 minutes over medium heat.