Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Dinners

Floating Kartoffelklösse
Before I go on, a little history. When my grandparents grew up in Germany, Sunday meals were very important. Tradition was, if there was meat in the house, the men ate it first. The women were very creative with potatoes. Sunday was the day to make Kartoffelklösse

How many ways can you prepare a potato?
My grandfather and grandmother immigrated from Germany in the 1920's. They lived in a two bedroom, one bath apartment with a very tiny kitchen that was about 12'x 6'. The wooden porch adjacent to the back kitchen door made a great cooler in the cold Midwestern winter months. These cold winter months were considered Kartoffelklösse time. Her sink and countertop literally had no workspace. The kitchen table, a two top, was incredibly small but made a nice prep area. My grandma had an ingenious method of dealing with the massive pileup of dishes, glassware, pots and pans. The dirty ones were secreted behind the bathtub shower curtain to be dealt with later. The fact that she had arthritis made these dinners even more astonishing.
I later learned that my grandfather and grandmother would peel 20-24 pounds of potatoes the night before and keep them in cold water on the back porch until the next day. For the men in my family, as it was in my grandparents family, there was one job that only they could do. That job was to squeeze all of the water out of the grated potatoes in the cloth sugar sack. My cousins lived nearby and would often be there to help squeeze the potatoes dry. The potatoes had to be squeezed so hard that often your finger tip would poke through the cloth. Grandma would have to sew the rip in the sack, to save the dry pulp from falling back into the bowl of potato water. When every drop was squeezed out, the potatoes formed a dry pulp ball. It had to be so dry that your hands felt like they had flour on them.
Normally grandma would make enough Kartoffelklösse so that we could each have two, or three. This would generally leave about a half dozen to take home to slice and fry in butter for breakfast.
I just had to learn the art of making these dumplings before it was to late...   

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