My comfort food is German and that’s what I make a lot at the fort. I can justify it by knowing that there were a lot of German settlers that came to the Watauga by way of the Great Road from Pennsylvania. I got a recipe from my friend, Chef Stephen Block, and made it with beef at home. WINNER!!! Technically it’s a venison dish and there is a venison roast that Earl Slagle gave me just waiting to be cooked so that’s dinner at the public house, aka Cabin 4, the Hillbilly Hilton, for the February muster.

Here’s the recipe and it’s wonderbar!


1 lb venison (or stewing beef), cubed, all the silver flesh cut off

a few spoonfuls of bacon fat

4 small onions, halved and wedged

4 shallots, wedged

1 tbs flour

3/4 bottle of red wine (I used merlot)

1 cup beef broth (2-3 cups if you make dumplings)

1 tsp beef bullion crystals

3 tablespoons good paprika (I used 2 of sweet Hungarian paprika and one of smoked)

1 tsp cayenne

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tsp minced rosemary

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 juniper berries

8 peppercorns

2 fresh bay leaves

2 tbs lingonberry jam

salt and pepper to taste (add at the last)

1 lb crimini or baby bella mushrooms (add last 15 minutes)


  • Brown the meat in the bacon fat and then set aside.
  • Add the onions, shallots, Brown and then add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes. then add the garlic
  • deglaze the pot using the wine. Add the broth and bullion. Simmer on low heat.
  • Add the spices (after you toast them gently in a separate pot to release their flavors), jam and meat.
  • Cover and simmer and hour or until the meat is tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste the last 15 minutes

Thicken the gravy if you don’t make dumplings (pats of butter rolled in flour will make a wonderful thickener and glaze the gravy)


1 egg

6 tbs flour

pinch of salt


add to broth and when they float, they are done.

Serve with pickled red cabbage.



Chad always asks us what we want to do to demonstrate 18th century living skills and invariably, my mind turns to cooking. Slowly but surely, I’ve been collecting the right period pieces to make  on the hearth nearly any thing people ate back then. Since I have to eat, I may as well make things that are good as well as something that reflects the ethnic identity of the area. It seems as though, I dip more into German cooking than anything else which, fortunately, is appropriate as many families did come from the Palatine area. thinking ahead, I was tryingto plan a bill of faire that wouldn’t be a ton of work on a hot day but tasty and pleasant. I was planning on a salmagundy, roasting the hen in a tin roaster but then I ran into a recipe for Wurstsalat from the Alsace region. God knows how much I love sausages so its going to be a sausage salad that i will make in September. The recipe below is from a Facebook site called “I Love Germany”.  I’m going to go to Fresh Market and see if the traditional sausages are available. If not, I think I will use Summer Sausage.



German, ( literally sausage salad) is a tart sausage salad prepared with distilled white vinegar, oil and onions. It is normally made from a sort of boiled sausage like Lyoner, stadtwurst, regensburger (two types of cooked sausage) or extrawurst. It is a traditional snack in southern Germany, Alsace, Switzerland and Austria.

To prepare the dish, the sausage is cut into thin slices or strips and placed, along with raw onion rings or cubes, in a vinegar and oil marinade, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Common additional ingredients are finely cut gherkins, radishes, parsley or chives. Wurstsalat is normally served with bread and sometimes also with fried potatoes. (I don’t know about the fried pottoes but some boiled new potatoes, diced would be great)

Popular variants are the Schwäbischer Wurstsalat (Swabian wurstsalat), which is half composed of blood sausage, and especially the Schweizer Wurstsalat (Swiss wurstsalat), also called Straßburger Wurstsalat (Strasburg wurstsalat) or Elsässer Wurstsalat (Alsacian wurstsalat), and containing Emmental cheese.

I am also going to add yellow peppers for sweetness , Emmenthaler cheese and use sweet red onions , cut fine and fresh corn .My secret ingredient will be white wine vinegar and Styrian pumpkin seed oil. that stuff is so good, it’s almost a sin. Serve it up on artisinal lettuce and garnish with hard boioled eggs, OH MY!!!

I’m going to make rye bread too as the heart will make the dough rise easily. I’ve made it at home many times and it’s really wonderful. ( I got this recipe from http://www.whats4eats.com/breads/bauernbrot-recipe   a while back and each time I use the variations, adding spelt and seeds)


1 large loaf


Dough Starter

  • Bread flour — 3/4 cup
  • Rye flour — 3/4 cup
  • Honey or malt syrup — 3 tablespoons
  • Water, lukewarm — 1 1/2 cups
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon

Flour mixture

  • Bread flour — 2 1/2 cups
  • Caraway seeds — 2 tablespoons
  • Salt — 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil — 1 tablespoon
  • Cornmeal — for the baking tray


  1. Add the ingredients for the starter to a large bowl and mix together until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. While the starter is resting, mix together the remaining ingredients except for the oil and cornmeal. Pour the flour mixture over the starter. Do not stir. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set aside for at least two hours and up to five hours. The starter will bubble up through the flour mixture.
  3. Add the oil to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the starter. As the mixture comes together, remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. The dough might be a little sticky. Knead in just enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
  4. Set the dough aside to rest for about 10 minutes, then knead for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set in a draft-free area of the kitchen to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and lightly knead it 3 or 4 times. Form into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes or so.(I like to let it rise overnight.)
  6. Preheat oven to 450°F and set the shelf at the lowest level. Put a small metal pan in the oven (you will use this later). Lightly press down on the dough and form it into a ball. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet and set the dough onto the baking sheet. Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for another hour.
  7. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to slash the top of the dough in 3 parallel lines about 1/4-inch thick. Then slash with another set of 3 lines perpendicular to the first set. Use a spray bottle to mist the dough with water.
  8. Set the baking sheet in the oven and pour about 1 cup of water into the small pan to create steam. Shut the door immediately and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. (An insta-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf should register 190°F.) When you bake it in a bastible, just add a tiny bit of water to the bottom of the pot. The cast iron creates it’s own steam and keeps it in.
  9. Set the loaf on a cooling rack and let cool completely.


  • For even better flavor, let the starter ferment for an hour a room temperature. Then set it in the refrigerator to ferment slowly for another 8 to 24 hours. Return it to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. (I’ll make the starter a day ahead and bring it with me.
  • Vary the proportion of rye flour and bread flour to your liking. Or eliminate the rye flour altogether and use all bread flour. You can also make a whole wheat loaf by replacing about 1/2 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. You will need to add a little more water if you do. I acrually like more rye flour rather than less
  • Mix 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, flaxseeds, cracked wheat, rye or spelt into the flour mixture for added texture. THIS IS A MUST!!!!
  • For a darker crust, brush the dough with some buttermilk, yogurt or dark coffee just before baking.
  • I use a bastible and bake it in that. It allows for a wonderful crust yet delicious interior texture.

Noodles and Broth served up!

Noodles and Broth served up!

This is something I really shouldn’t admit as a person raised in a rich Italian American tradition but my favorite food is German. When we have events, I love to do cooking demos and can make German recipes all day long because many of the early settlers to the region were Palatine German. For the May Seige, I wanted to make something hardy, few pots and yet something that would make a good show. I count as a friend a chef in Californina whose name is Stephen Block and he has a very fine website called GERMAN GOODIES RECIPES. He has also compiled an excellent book of his mother’s recipes which I have and has another site tracing the history of foods. His links are below.



I was skimming his recipes as I usually do and found one that was his mother’s favorite called GEFULTE NOODLES. At first I thought of gefilte fish and thought that was a non starter , but then I read on and oh boy, it fit the bill.

I made the beef broth at home using vegetables, bones and a nice roast which we had for dinner, but the rest I did at the fort. the result was SPECTACULAR so this is going be a staple and I’ve made it at home too . His recipe makes an enormous amount but can be halved and it works out just fine, just as Stephen said it would.

Gefulte Noodles

This is a hearty cold-weather dish, consisting of large squares or triangles of noodle dough, filled with a meat and parsley mixture, folded over and sealed, then boiled in beef broth.

1 or 2 bunches fresh parsley, washed, drained, and heavy stems removed. (Should have about 2 qts.)
1 large or 2 small onions
Chop parsley and onions (or put through a grinder or
food-processor.) Put into a large skillet with
2 Tbs. Oil
Simmer until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove into
a large bowl.
2 slices bread; put to soak in about ½ cup milk.
1 lb. lean ground beef ; Brown lightly in skillet.
Add to the green mixture in bowl; squeeze the milk out of the soaked bread, crumble bread up and add to the mixture. (May add a little salt.)
1 egg Break into mixture and mix all together. If filling seems too soft, add a few bread crumbs.

5 eggs, plus ½ shell of water for each egg used.
Beat lightly with a fork.
1 tsp. Salt (Optional)
Flour Add, a little at a time, enough to make a moderately stiff dough. Turn out onto well-floured board. Knead, working more flour into dough, until it is smooth and elastic. (May use Kitchen-Aid mixer for this.) Allow dough to “rest” for 10-15 minutes, while preparing broth.
Fill a large pot—or two of them—about 2/3 full of water; bring to a boil. Add enough bouillon cubes or other beef base to make a good broth. Keep simmering while getting noodles filled.

Keeping board well floured, cut off, with metal spatula, a piece about the size of a large potato. Roll with floured rolling pin until about 1/8 in. thick. Cut into squares or rectangles about 3” or 4” on each side. Put a spoonful (about 1 TB) of filling in center of each; fold over and seal well. Drop a few at a time into boiling broth. Repeat until dough is used up. If there is extra filling, put it into the broth. Simmer at least an hour. (Two hours will be even better. If some of the noodles break up and spill their filling into the broth, it’s okay. These noodles are not things of beauty, but they are delicious!)
Grandma Block used to lift out a few nice filled noodles, dry them a bit, and then keep them in the refrigerator to fry in butter for the next day’s breakfast!

FOR SMALLER BATCH: Use 2 jumbo eggs + 2 half-shells of water. Add 1 ½ to 2 Cups flour; this will make about 12 noodles. Cut filling recipe and broth about in half.

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

Making the noodles. They were perfect. I bet I could add sugar and fry those babies too!

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

half the recipe made 13, plus the left over stuffing I put in the pot.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

Simmering nicely over the fire.

I had left over so I dried them and fried them up for breakfast on Sunday. Oh yeah, with a nice fresh egg!

Everybody I know is tired of winter and in this season of renewal, there is a German soup recipe that my friend, Stephen Block posted on his website, THE KITCHEN PROJECT.   http://www.kitchenproject.com/GermanGoodies/2015/April2-2015.htm

It is served on Holy Thursday and is a reminder of new life. I bet it must be wonderful with greens foraged from the garden or fields like creesy greens, dandelion and maybe a ramp or wild garlic thrown in. I’m making it tomorrow and will let you know what I think.

4 servings

1 cup diced onion
6 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
2 medium potatoes diced
a good hand full of 7-9 different herbs
1 / 2 cup milk or cream
Sour cream for garnish.
Salt and pepper

Here are the 9 herbs I used;

1 leek sliced (separate white and green into two piles)
handful Celery tops
Basil, Curly Parsley, Arugula,
Watercress, Dill Weed, Spinach, Cauliflower Greens

Excellent served with potato pancakes or crusty bread.

One of his friends sent him her favorite Potato Pancake recipe . This is how I make it and oh boy, GOOD!

(Potato Pancakes)

This is Barb Rokitka’s favorite style of doing potato pancakes. She recommends using a solid shortening like Crisco.

4 Servings

2 1/2 cups potatoes,(2 large) *
3 cups ,water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

12 Tablespoons grated onion
1 potato,boiled, mashed
1 egg,large 2 med. , beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 vegetable oil,as needed
1 stick butter or Crisco is optional for extra crispiness.
Sour cream and applesauce (for garnish)


Back some months ago, my students were doing a multi part project and one of the aspects was 18th century foods. We found this source and it’s terrific. As a matter of fact, my foodie students check this website out frequently. I posted the site to the side here.  I wrote a letter to Chef Stephen Block telling him how much my students like his site and I ACTUALLY GOT A REPLY!!!  Check out his site- I’ve made some of the recipes and they are winners.

Visiting Historic Old Salem: Colonial Life, Tradition, & Culture in a Moravian Village