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In Portland, Oregon this is how our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers made traditional German-Russian foods.

Russian Spoons

These hand made spoons were brought from Russia in 1892 by the grandparents of Marcia Staunton.

Grebbel (a German-Russian Doughnut)

1/2 c. soft butter (no substitute)

1/2 pint sour cream (do not use fat free or low fat)

4 eggs-beaten

4 c. flour

1/4 teas. soda (baking)

2 tbls. sugar 1/2 teas.

salt 2 teas. baking powder

Sift dry ingredients. Combine butter, sour cream and eggs, add dry ingredients. Makes a soft sough. Let rest at room temp. 1 hour - will rise. Knead down and roll out on lightly floured board to about 1/8" thick. Cut into desired shape and cut center slits (2) twist and drop into 350 degree hot oil. Watch closely and turn over and fry to lightly browned. Drain on paper towels, shake in powdered sugar.

Recipe From Zion Daughter Cookbook, Portland Oregon by Mrs. Peter Klaus

Krautkoche or Kraut Kuchen

The name Krautkoche (the K's are pronounced like a hard G) for this item seems to be somewhat unique to Portland.  In other parts of the United States and Canada they are known as Runzas and Bierocks.

Make your favorite white bread dough.  Chop one head of cabbage and one large onion.  Heat about 1/9 cup oil in pan and add cabbage onion salt and pepper to taste.  Put on lid and steam until tender - do not brown.  Drain well.   Roll out bread dough and cut into 4" squares.  Top with a heaping spoon full of cabbage.  Bring corners together and pinch well.  Dip in melted butter and place seam side down on baking pans.   Let rise 1/2 hour. Bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes. Cool.

Marcia Staunton - Portland, Oregon

Eben Gläce (Strawberry Dumplings)

4 c. flour 2 eggs 1 c. hot water. Make dough. Let rest. Divide dough and roll one 1/4 at a time. Roll as for pie dough. Cut  into 4" squares. Top with sweetened fresh strawberries (use only fresh berries) and 1/2 teas. dried bread crumbs. Bring corners up and pinch well. Drop into boiling water -cook 5-7 minutes. Drain. Cover with cream and melted butter.

This is a meal not a dessert.

My grandparents came from Norka.  This what they ate and what I grew up eating.

Marcia Staunton - Portland, Oregon

Here's one version of berry dumplings

The Oregonian 06/03/2003

Barb's Mailbag by Barbara Durbin

Q: Years ago my grandmother made strawberry gleese (spelling?). They were small, strawberry-filled dumplings that were put into a milk-based soup with potatoes and onion. Can't live without them and want to duplicate the recipe. Maybe they had a little sour cream. They were of Russian-German origin. Can anyone find a recipe for me? -- Norman Condit, Portland

A: Four years ago, we featured an extended family (with a German-Russian background) that still carried on the tradition of making eben kloese, or strawberry dumplings. Classically, the Herder family served them with melted butter, cream, chopped berries and, on the side, sausages.

Herder Family Strawberry Dumplings (Eben Kloese)

Makes 6 servings

These are traditionally served as an entree, with cooked sausages.

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 4 pint baskets Oregon strawberries (don't substitute less flavorful out-of-state berries), washed, stemmed and cut up
  • Granulated sugar to taste
  • Lightly salted boiling water
  • About 1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick; see note)
  • About 1 cup whipping cream or half-and-half

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, eggs and hot water to form soft dough.

Remove from bowl to floured board and knead until most of flour is absorbed. Cover dough with cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into fourths. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough slightly thinner than pie dough. The dough will be elastic and more like bread dough than pie pastry.

Cut 4-inch squares out of the rolled dough. (You will get 6 to 8 squares out of each portion of dough.) Place 3 to 4 tablespoons berries in the middle of each square. Sprinkle berries lightly with sugar. Bring 4 corners up over berries, pinching the edges securely together to hold in berries.

Carefully drop dumplings into boiling water (about 6 at a time fit in an 8- to 10-quart kettle). Cover and bring back to a boil. Boil gently about 10 minutes.

Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove cooked dumplings and place in warm, ovenproof serving bowl. Drizzle each batch of dumplings lightly with a few tablespoons melted butter, a few tablespoons cream and some chopped berries. Keep bowl in warm oven while boiling additional dumplings.

Note: Use real butter only. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.

Schnitzsuppe (Dried Fruit Soup)

1 lb. mixed dried fruits                          2 tbsp. flour

1 cup raisins                                           1/2 tsp. soda

3 qts. cold water                                      1/2 cup cold water

1 pt. sweet (whipping) cream                3 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

Wash dried fruits and raisins.  Drain. Add cold water and boil for 1 hour.   Make paste of flour, soda and 1/2 cup cold water.  Remove soup from heat and add paste slowly, stirring.  Add small amount of soup mixture to cream, stirring constantly.  Add rest of cream to soup and heat through.  Do not boil.  Add butter and sugar.  Serves 8

Esther Schreiber - Portland, Oregon (contributed by her daughter Marilyn Pefferly)


Dissolve 1 envelope active dry yeast in 1/4 c. warm water.  Scald 1 c. milk; add 2 tsp. sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/4 c. butter; let cool to lukewarm.  Mix the proofed yeast into the milk mixture.  Add 2 c. flour and beat.  Work in 2-1/4 c. more flour.  Knead for 5 to 7 minutes ( the dough should be smooth and satiny).   Place in greased bowl; cover; let rise until double in bulk ( this will take about   1 hour).  Meanwhile, prepare the Riwwel (recipe follows).

Press dough into a greased 9" x 13" cake pan.  Brush with 2 tsp. melted butter.  Distribute the Riwwel over the top of the dough and pat down gently.   Let raise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Riwwel (Crumb Topping) Recipe:

In a bowl, mix 1 c. sugar and 2 c. flour.  Add 1/2 c. melted butter and stir with a fork until crumbly.  For a crunchy topping, mix 2 tsp. water into the crumb mixture.

Sei Unser Gast - Used with permission from AHSGR

Two Recipes for Butter Glace

1 loaf of white bread- remove the crust.
toast the crust in the oven and let the middle part of the bread dry.
Crumble the dry bread & toasted crust with a colander and rolling pin. 
 Put in a mixing bowl.
Heat 1 cup of half and half and pour over the bread.
Add 3 eggs and 1 cube of real butter- melted.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
Mix and roll into balls.
Drop the butter balls into Chicken Noodle Soup or Freeze as needed another day..
When butter balls raise to the surface it is done.

Contributed by Will Keller

Start with 2 beaten eggs, then add the following ingredients: 1/2 tsp. baking powder and enough flour to make a rather stiff dough. Mix well and cut off little pieces into salted boiling water. Boil for about 15 minutes. Drain them and put them into a frying pan along with some butter, cold cooked potatoes and onions. When this mixture is almost cooked add: little bread cubes that have been browned in some butter in another frying pan.

My aunt Rachel (my father's sister) used to make them and I remember them with fondness, for they were the one meal that my father would make for us also.

Contributed by Kathy Griebel (nee Stahr)

Soap Recipe

3 Quarts of melted lard or clean animal grease

1 Quart of water into which 1 can of lye has been poured

Allow the lye mixture to get cold and when the lard is just beginning to set, pour lye mixture slowly into it.  Keep stirring with a wooden spoon, and add 3 tablespoons of ammonia and 3 tablespoons of Borax powder.  Continue stirring until thick.   Score before the entire mixture becomes too hard. Allow to stand overnight and cut bars with sharp knife and remove from vessel.  Allow soap to season.

Use porcelain utensils.  Do not use aluminum vessels for any of this procedure!!!

This soap can be shredded for use in hand washing.  It is used in wringer washing machines, and has been used for 54 years..........no need to use bleach for white clothes!

Recipe was given to Marie (Trupp) Krieger by her Aunt Pearl Borgens Libsack Kammerzell (Mrs. John Kammerzell) in Portland OR on April 21, 1952.


My maternal grandparents brought over to America from the Volga area seeds which they called "blauberren"; however, they were actually more black than blue. Hence, the reason for some to call these berries "Schwartzbeeren".

These berries characteristically were quite small with lots of little seeds inside of them. They made awfully good pies but it took a lot of berries for one pie. The plants which produced these berries spread very rapidly. My dad used to get aggravated because my mom cultivated these berry plants in our garden and before the growing season was over, they were all over the garden. Well, I grew up thinking these berries were blueberries but many years later after I reached adulthood and had some of these blueberries in my very own garden I found out that they were not of the genus that produces blueberries but of the genus of the nightshade plant. The nightshade plant can produce poisonous berries but this particular offshoot that grew in the Volga area was edible.

Lee Kraft

Salem, Oregon

"Yagoda" is the Russian word for berry.  Schwartzbeeren (literally "black berries"), are a type of edible black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) that was grown in many of the Volga German colonies.

I was reared in Ellis County, Kansas, and the Volga Germans who settled there brought seed of Schwartzbeeren along to the United States when they emigrated, beginning in the 1870s. Today, many of those settlers' descendants (including my mother) grow Schwartzbeeren to use in traditional preparations, including Kuchen and Maultaschen. They are also served with Klump or Knebel (dumplings). More modern methods of preparation include pie and coffeecake.  Schwartzbeeren are not the same species as what is often called "Garden Huckleberry" in the United States. Unlike Garden Huckleberry, which benefits from a very long growing season (they are generally picked just before frost), Schwartzbeeren may be eaten as soon as their skin turns from shiny to dull and from green to dark, purplish black. Although the flavor is fairly acidic, it is sweet when the berries are dead ripe, and beloved by many who grew up eating them.  There are a number of recipes that feature Schwartzbeeren in the Sei Unser Gast (Be Our Guest) Volga German cookbook, published by the North Star Chapter of Minnesota, AHSGR.  To order the cookbook go to http://www.ahsgr.org/mnnostar.html.

Sam Brungardt

St. Paul, Minnesota


Click here to learn more about the award winning video documentary titled "Schmeckfest:  Food Traditions of the Germans from Russia" that was produced by Prairie Public Broadcasting of North Dakota.  This is a wonderful videotape that should be in every German-Russian family library.


Light Rye Bread of the Volga Germans in Portland
Recipe of Marie Fischer Schneider from the colony of Rosenberg

1 C milk
1 pkg. dry yeast
2 C lukewarm water
2 C rye flour
2 T sugar
2 T shortening
1 t salt
5 C (or more) white flour
Scald milk, then cool to lukewarm. In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add warm milk. Stir in rye flour and sugar until smooth. Cover bowl with a towel and set mixture out of draft overnight. (Faster: cover and let set in a warm spot 1 - 2 hrs.) Mixture will rise and fall over the course of setting and will be somewhat bubbly the next morning.
Add shortening, salt, and flour. Knead to a soft dough, adding more white flour as necessary. Cover, set aside away from draft, and let rise 1 hour or until double in size. Punch down dough, divide in half, and shape into two round loaves. Place in greased cake pans, cover, and let rise again until double.
Bake at 375 degres for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes.
Makes a heavy-crusted bread. Traditionally sliced thick and served with butter and a little salt on top.
Tends to dry out quickly after cut. Double-wrap for day-to-day storage. Freezes well when double wrapped also.


Our three children grew up with Volga German foods, not only the goodies their Grandma Mollie made but those from our own kitchen, as well. I still make my grandma's Rye Bread, Riwelkuchen, Grebbel, and Bierok (also known as Kraut Kuchen, but we called them "Beer Hogs" as kids because we couldn't say Bierok!)
For our kids, now grown with families of their own, it just isn't Christmas without homemade German Noodle Soup and Butterglase. Again, when we were little, my sister and I "Americanized" the word butterglase. In our family, it's Noodle Soup and Butterballs. Our oldest son is such a fan of this soup that his siblings and two young daughters affectionately call him "Buttergut" at Christmas time.
And the traditions live on!

Courtesy of Vickie Willman Burns


Anna Koch's Recipe for Rivel Kuchen