Thursday, October 11, 2012

Krautburgers, Kraut Bierochs, Runzas

Nothing evokes a memory like a certain smell. The fragrance of onions, cabbage and simmering ground beef. The heavenly aroma of the thin pastry pocket that encloses the mixture. The scent wafts across the parking lot of the First Plymouth Congregational Church in South Denver, but transports me to my grandmother's kitchen in Globeville.
Although my grandmother, Ida Ose Jackson, was Swedish and my Grandfather, Andy Jackson, was Slovenian, most of their neighbors on Sherman Street were Volga Germans and this recipe, like the local gossipwas probably exchanged over the back yard fence. Grandma didn't use a printed recipe but talked throughout the cooking process (so young apprentices needed to watch and listen).  
Like a lot of German Russian fare, krautburgers are made with humble ingredients, cabbage, onion, ground beef and a simple pastry, but can be dressed up with bacon, ham, sausage, cheese and potatoes. Economical, tasty and easy-to-make, these are great directly from the oven, reheated, or cold for a picnic lunch. 
Like the Volga Germans, the recipe migrated from the Rhinelands, to Russia and then to the heartland of America, the ingredients and instructions relayed by word of mouth. As the first generation of Volga immigrants to Colorado passed on, efforts were made to preserve the history, traditions, culture and unique heritage of this little known group and the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia was founded in Greeley, Colorado in 1968. The Society would eventually move its headquarters to Lincoln, Nebraska, which had been a clearinghouse for German Russian immigrants. Today, the organization hosts multiple chapters in 24 states and Canada with collections of photos, publications, resources for genealogy and educational programs.
Members of the Metro Denver chapter held their twice yearly bake sale October 6th at the First Plymouth Congregational Church. The funds collected help support the organization's meetings and events, including the next opportunity for ready-made kraut burgers in April. 

Members of the Metro Denver Chapter preparing the filling

American Society of Germans from Russia

North Dakota State University, Germans from Russia Collection

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