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Put a plate on the table for German-Russian cuisine

The Schnell family published a recipe book of favorite recipes in 2001. The recipes are for simple, delicious dishes.

Make room on the table for a plate filled with German-Russian cuisine today. We’re sharing the other side of the Randall family heritage.

Mark’s great-grandparents, Elizabeth and Peter Schnell, immigrated to the United States from Norka, Russia. They sailed on the Norddeutscher Lloyd out of Bremen, Germany with their three small children; Pauline, 4, Christina, 2, and 7-week-old Phillip; and Peter’s mother Katherine, brother George and sister Mollie. I am struck by the courage it took to embark on the journey — they didn’t speak English, or even understand it. They arrived in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 10, 1899 with $20 to their name, then traveled by train to Grand Island, Neb., where they settled for a few years before moving to Portland. Mark’s grandmother, Anna Schnell Kottkamp, was born in Portland in 1904, the fifth of eight children.

Her father was a butcher and owned a shop on Northeast 10th and Failing streets in Portland. Her mother helped him make sausage and scrubbed his work aprons by hand, boiling them on her woodstove until they were clean. Her days were full. Besides taking care of the children, the house was usually filled with relatives and boarders to care for. She was an excellent seamstress and cook. Every Saturday she would prepare a big pot of soup, fresh baked rye bread, and dishes from her homeland such as kraut kuchen. She made noodles from scratch, cut finely by hand.

The siblings all settled close to each other and the sisters and sisters-in-law continued in the weekly tradition of making bread, noodles and German-influenced dishes. Their lives were closely entwined; they attended the same church, Zion Congregational Church at Northeast Ninth and Fremont streets.

An entry in the “Schnell Family Memories and Favorite Recipes” sums it up best: “Our family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every marriage, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.”

Marrying into the Schnell clan was a delicious experience. Granny, as we called Anna, made the best comfort food. There was no better meal than a Granny Dinner — typically a roasted chicken surrounded by crispy roasted potatoes, green beans and chocolate pie for dessert.

Each Saturday, Granny and her sisters would make coffeecake and then get together in the afternoon for coffee and a visit. They were masters at variations on a theme. They took a basic coffeecake recipe and doctored it up to make unique sweet and savory cakes. Often Granny sent us home from dinner with care packages of noodles or coffeecake.

Marie, Anna’s daughter and Mark’s mother, is now the matriarch of the Schnell family, and the descendants number in the hundreds. Even though they don’t all live in Portland, as many as possible make an effort to get together at Christmas and for a summer picnic.

What would Granny and her German-Russian relatives put on a plate? It would be simple foods: roasted chicken, sausages, noodles, homemade breads and cakes. It would be delicious. The following recipes showcase some of the best recipes from “Schnell Family Memories and Favorite Recipes,” a book compiled by Schnell family members in 2001. If you make the noodles you might as well make the angel food cake so you don’t waste the egg whites. Granny and her sisters would approve.

What cuisine shall we explore next? Please call or email me to share your culinary heritage. It’s a great way to bring our world a little closer.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Guten Appetit! Essen machen ein Abenteuer!

SUBMITTED PHOTOS:  - Kraut kuchen is a popular and delicious German dish.

German Kraut Kuchen

Serves 10

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 envelope active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3 cups flour

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 small green pepper, finely chopped

1 medium head cabbage, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

Salt

Pepper

1 stick butter, melted

Scald milk with butter. Cool to lukewarm. Add egg, sugar, salt, and yeast softened in the warm water. Stir in the flour. Let dough rise for 1 hour, then stir down. Roll out dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Sauté onion, green pepper and cabbage in skillet with oil. Keep stirring and cooking until all is tender. In another skillet, brown beef. Drain well, combine with the cabbage mixture, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares; put a spoonful of meat mixture on each. Fold together so mixture is sealed in. Dip kuchen in melted butter, turn over to butter on both sides, and place in large baking pan, allowing room for dough to rise. Pour over any remaining butter and let rise about 1/2 hour. Bake in 450 F oven for 20 minutes.

Noodles

2 dozen eggs

9 cups flour

Separate eggs until you have 2 cup egg whites. Set whites aside for Angel Food Cake, or other use. To the egg yolks, add remaining whole eggs until you have 3 cups eggs. Beat slightly. In a large bowl, sift 9 cups flour, add egg mixture, stirring thoroughly. Dump onto a floured board and using hands knead until all flour is absorbed. If mixture is too dry, rinse hands in hot water and continue to knead until you have a smooth loaf. Divide dough into 2 rolls. Wrap roll in wax paper, cover with a towel and let dough rest for at least 30 minutes.

If you are lucky enough to own a noodle machine, cut the loaf into 1-inch pieces, rolling each piece until you have long narrow strips. Lay flat to dry. This is the tricky part — strips can be either too dry or too wet. Experience will teach you the correct dryness. Turning strips helps with the drying process. When ready, cut strips into 3-by-4-inch strips and feed into the desired blade. Spread noodles out on clean cloth until completely dry — usually overnight. Pack into dry containers and keep in dry place.

Nine cups flour usually yields about 8 quart plastic bags.

You can make a half-batch of noodles by using 1 dozen eggs and 4 1/2 cups flour.

Chris and Polly’s Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups egg whites (12 egg whites)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Have a tube pan ready, but do not grease it. Measure flour, and sift it with first amount granulated sugar together to blend. Measure egg whites, cream of tartar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually add second amount of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until meringue holds stiff peaks. Fold in flavorings. Gently fold in flour-sugar mixture until flour mixture disappears. Push batter into ungreased tube pan. Gently cut through batter to prevent large holes. Bake at 375F for 30 to 35 minutes. Invert pan on a funnel. Let hang until cold.

Remove from pan and frost.

Recipes from Schnell Family Memories and Favorite Recipes, published summer 2001.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

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