Though memories fade and influences from the "new land" became increasingly common, Ostfriesen immigrants brought their culture and traditions with them to pass down through the generations. Much of the food consumed in Ostfriesland, outside of tea and spices if money was available, was grown on local plots or neighborhood farms and grains were ground in the town's mill. Rye bread, potatoes, kale, beans, bacon and cured meats were diet staples but seasonal treats were highlights to enjoy.
The following are a few recipes your ancestors may have enjoyed that can still be enjoyed today.
Lene Schmidt, Herta Korfé & Gene Janssen’s Grünkohl
Grünkohl is not green cabbage as the name translates, it is kale cooked with metwurst, sausage and/or smoked pork chops. Every family has a variation of this recipe and I even found it served in Christmas markets all over Germany. The kale has to be harvested after the first frost and is considered a winter delicacy. It is not served after Maundy Thursday when it’s time to plant another crop.
Our ancestors did not know that kale was a health food, they ate it because it was a plentiful crop they could grow in their gardens.
Sauté 1 or more large chopped onions in butter or bacon grease.
Fill a large roasting pan with two large bunches of chopped raw kale (at least 2 lbs., stems can be removed if too large) and steam on low heat on stove top with 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp. salt, 2-3 tea-spoons oak groats or 5 tablespoons of pearl barley and sautéed onions.
When cooked down, layer kale with 1 lb. chopped, cooked bacon and metwurst (or other sausage) and smoked pork chops (one for each person). Cook over lowest heat for one hour or until pork chops fall off bone. Serve with small boiled potatoes. Make sure the pot always has some liquid so it does not burn. The last of the season’s Grünkohl is eaten on Gründonnerstag - Maundy Thursday.
Lene’s Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)
Cook on top of stove on low heat:
2 lb. red cabbage, small head, sliced fine, drizzle with small amount of oil making sure all is lightly covered.
Add about one cup water, 1/3 c. sugar and three large sour apples peeled and cut in small pieces.
Put the following in a small cloth sack and remove after cooking: 1 tbsp. cloves and 3 bay leaves
Cook about 1/2-3/4 hours, stir with love, serve warm.
Specken Dicken (Old Years Pancakes) Traditionally eaten on New Years Eve!
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cup karo syrup
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp. soda
- 1 1/2 quart buttermilk
- 1 cup white flour
- 4 cup graham flour or 2 cups of graham flour and 2 cups of wheat flour
- While stirring batter add three teaspoons anise seed. (optional)
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
Cook one smoked metwurst and two unsmoked metwurst or other sausage. After they cool remove the skins, grind and add to batter or slice the sausage and put on top of batter in griddle.
Bake on a hot griddle on top of stove and serve with syrup and butter.
Lin's Rote Grütze (Red Fruit)
This treat goes well over cake or ice cream.
- 3 to 4 cups or more, of red or blue fruits, fresh or frozen - Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries (pitted and chopped), plums, rhubarb, currants, etc.
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of corn starch
- 3 tablespoons of minute tapioca
Cook fruit and sugar together in two cups of water until the fruit and sugar are dissolved.
In one cup of water, combine the corn starch and tapioca. Add this to the fruit mixture stirring as the mixture comes to a rolling boil. When cool it should be slightly thickened. Excellent served like a pudding, over sponge cake or vanilla ice cream.
Apfel Kuchen (Apple Cake)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsifted flour
- 4 tbsp. butter (in 4 pieces)
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 4 large Pippin apples (or tart apples) peeled, quartered, seeded
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 3 tbsp. melted butter
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 large egg
1. Cake: In food processor with metal blade: combine all ingredients except the apple and process until mixture looks like cornmeal. Spread in bottom of a well-buttered, 9" spring form pan.
2. Finely slice by hand or feed apple slices through slicing disc of food proc-essor - use moderate pressure on pusher or slice thinly. Arrange slices in layers on top of crumb mixture.
3. Bake for 35 minutes, 350º oven
4. Topping: mix all ingredients in food processor until smooth and sugar is dis-solved, or use your mixer. Spoon over apples and bake 20 minutes more or until top is firm.
Have a favorite recipe? Please send us a copy if you'd like to see it added here.