Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast: The Food Culture of the Germans from Russia in Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County, North Dakota
Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast tells an engaging story of how the Germans from Russia fed their families in the early years of homesteading in Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County, North Dakota.
This 120-page full color, 12-inch by 12-inch hardcover book contains recipes, handwritten recipe cards, photographs and interviews done with residents of the three counties. The stories and memories are heartwarming and depict a time when everyone worked for food.
On these pages, the food culture of the immigrants that came to North Dakota in the 1880s and 1890s with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, is told with their own voice. This book published by the Tri-County Tourism Alliance of the three counties was created by volunteers who collected transcripts of recorded interviews, old photographs, handwritten recipes and oral and written memories donated to the project by the descendants of this unique group of hardworking people.
True to the familiar mantra of the Germans from Russia “Arbeit macht das Leben süß” which translated to the English means “work makes life sweet” to survive everyone had to work for food. Included in the stories are recipes for familiar foods like sauerkraut and pickled beets and the not-so-familiar recipes for “flesch kechla” and “swatamaga.”
Whether you can duplicate the delightful dough dishes of these recipes or just want a good read, this book will provide many vignettes of life on the Northern Plains, which bound together make up the rich food culture of the Germans from Russia.
Sue (Kasemen) Balcom, editor for the book, said, “This project brought me home again. My heart aches for my grandparents. If I had known them, what I know now about these Germans from Russia, I may have lived my life differently. This book is a lasting legacy to my heritage. One of the most rewarding projects I have ever been part of.”
In the Foreword, Tom Isern, Professor of History and University Distinguished Professor at NDSU, writes, “ No Americans are more fiercely fond of their sausage than the German-Russians, and they pair their sausage with kraut. At the same time, they raised pumpkins in their bashtan (Russian borrowed word for garden) and make them into blachinda (Russian borrowed word for a turnover).”
Michael M. Miller, Director of the NDSU Libraries’ GRHC explains, “This book honors the rich and enduring foodways culture of the Germans from Russia who came to south central North Dakota in the last decades of the 19th century. No stranger to migration, these emigrants brought their agricultural, livestock, gardening, preserving and culinary skills with them from Central Europe to South Russia and finally to Dakota Territory and now, through the efforts of the Tri-County Tourism Alliance, their story is preserved in this beautiful book.”
Carmen Rath-Wald, President of the Tri-County Tourism Alliance, and Logan County Extension Agent, comments, “One of my earliest memories is of standing on a chair and watching my German-Russian grandmother stirring chocolate chip cookie dough in her chipped green enamel bowl. She died when I was just four years old, but with each chocolate chip cookie I eat, I remember her, and how she made me, her ‘Mitzi’, feel as we talked in her little kitchen. It is memories like this that, “Ewiger Saatz”, recalls for me and those memories connect me to the important past. This connection to heritage and culture is the crux of the book with the food as the vehicle.”
Acacia (Jonas) Stuckle, Emmons County Extension Agent, writes, “It is the food traditions of the Germans from Russia that will keep our heritage alive. Every time I make strudels or knoephla, I am teaching my own children about their culture. They will not learn to speak their ancestor’s dialect and they may never learn to polka, but they will eat the foods their ancestors once prepared. This book is an important tribute to the past and an even more important relic for our future.”
Click here to read more about this cookbook in North Dakota Horizons.
Click here to visit the blog devoted to the Kochbuch project.