|Photos from North Dakota State University's
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection show people from across
the state carrying on their families' heritage and history in
the foods they prepare. Photos by Michael M. Miller / NDSU
Libraries, Photo illustration by Wayne Elfman / The Forum
Of Holubtsi and Heritage: New Cookbook Shares Germans
from Russia Recipes, Memoirs and History
By Deneen Gilmour
The Fargo Forum, Fargo, North Dakota, February 27, 2002,
Long after immigrants give up traditional clothing and cease speaking
their mother tongue, they continue enjoying cuisine brought to America
by their grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Knowing that, Rose Marie Gueldner of Anamoose, N.D., has spent
much of the past decade researching and writing "German Food
and Folkways: Heirloom Memories from Europe, South Russia and the
Now her work is printed and bound in a 224-page cookbook-history
Too much food, facts
Initially, Gueldner set out to write a little booklet, a compilation
of recipes and historical nuggets for her brothers, sisters, aunts,
uncles and cousins - all of German-Russian decent.
But she became so engrossed in her research that the information
exploded beyond booklet proportions. An educator and writer, she
began to wonder if she had the makings of a book.
When she moved from California, where she was a university instructor,
back to Anamoose in 1995, the project picked up steam. She returned
to Anamoose to care for her elderly mother and discovered she had
plenty of time to research and test recipes.
She connected with the folks at the German form Russia Heritage
Collection at the NDSU Libraries and they encouraged her to think
bigger that a booklet and write the type of historical cuisine book
Michael Miller, an NDSU Bibliographer, was chief among her cheerleaders
and supporters. Gueldner said Miller's staunch support was vital
to transforming her ring binder of research notes into a book.
"I've done almost nothing else for five years," she says.
"I've tested recipes and researched and had to cut out some
other things I like to do."
It has been worth it, she said, and will be even more gratifying
if people of German-Russia decent discover old family recipes and
morsels of their heritage in the book.
For Gueldner, that's what the project is all about: Connecting
the present with the past, using food as the common thread.
"Ethnic cooking with its dependence on the pride and practice
of group members is fragile in a foreign land, but it isn't easily
eliminated," she wrote in her book's introduction.
"Part of my mission," she says, "is to give dignity
and the spotlight to these pioneers."
Thousands left Russia
Some 300,000 Germans from Russia - Germans who initially sought
a better life in Russia and ultimately opted for a new life in America
- arrived on the northern plains beginning in the 1870s. The largest
concentration of these settlers took up farming in what is known
as "The German Russian Triangle," an area in south-central
North Dakota and north-eastern South Dakota.
In towns like Strasburg, Linton, Frederick and Eureka, families
did - and still do - enjoy borscht, strudel, mashed pumpkin and
potatoes, oxtail soup, button soup and pigs-in-blankets.
"As a child, I loved the holubtsi (cabbage rolls)," Gueldner
says. "They were special, done on a Sunday. Having made them
again and again now, I realize how labor intensive it was. So, it
was a labor of love when mothers made them."
Food for mind and body
Asked if the book is for cooks, history buffs or Germans from Russia,
Gneldner answers, "All three. I tried to approach the needs
of all three audiences," she says. "I wanted historical
context for the scholar but didn't want it bogged down in footnotes.
It's also for people who want a collection of grandmother's recipes,
of wonderful historical foods. And it's for those who like to try
Scholars on Germans from Russia believe she had hit her mark.
"This is not just a compilation of recipes - it's a genuine
survey of foods which are unknown to some, exotic to others and
delightfully routine to many who have Eastern European roots,"
writes William C. Sherman associated professor emeritus of North
Dakota State University. He is the author of "Plains Folk:
North Dakota's Ethnic History" and "Prairie Mosaic: An
Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota."
Timothy Kloberdanz, a German-Russian researcher at NDSU, after
reading the book, said, "If the German-Russians have a Martha
Stewart anywhere in North America, it may very well be Rose Marie
As Gueldner neared completion of the book she realized it was too
large. "I took all the breads out of this book," she said.
Those bread recipes will serve at the seed for another book, and
possibly for a "Germans in the Kitchen" series.
For purchase information, go to the Germans for Russia Heritage
Collection Web site at (library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/cookbooks)
Or, call the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at (701) 231-8416.
German Fried (Raw) Potatoes
Deutsche rohe Bratkartoffeln
_8 medium "old" potatoes
_2 to 4 tablespoons lard, bacon fat
or par butter
Wash and peel potatoes; hold in cold water, if necessary. Slice
about 1/8-inch or thinner. Heat 2 tablespoons of the fat in a large
iron frying pan over moderate heat until sizzling hot, add potatoes
and fry, carefully scraping browned ones up from bottom with a spatula.
Fry 25 minutes or until tender and browned throughout, adding salt
and pepper to taste. Use additional fat if needed. Serve very hot.
When sliced thicker, potatoes were steam-fried before browning:
Add potatoes to hot fat, cover and fry slowly for 15 to 20 minutes,
shaking pan back and forth several times. Remove cover and cook
for 5 or 10 minutes more, carefully turning potatoes once or twice
with a spatula so they become golden brown on top and bottom.
About the Author
Rose Marie Gueldner grew up on a farm near Anamoose, N.D.
Both sets of her grandparents emigrated from South Russia in the
She recieved her undergraduate degree from North Dakota State University
and master's degree in education / food and nutrition from Iowa
State University at Ames.
She taught for 20 years in the California State University System
at Fresno and San Jose. She lived in Germany for a time and worked
in private business before moving back to North Dakota seven years
Reprinted with permission of the Fargo Forum, Fargo, North