Posts Tagged ‘PA Dutch’

Not a dog. Not a commercial for cat food.

A Pennsylvania Dutch traditional food. I can remember my mother and grandparents raving about it.

Commercial chow chow

Commercial chow chow

It’s pickled vegetables – beans, corn, carrot, cauliflower. Here’s a typical recipe.  I’d try it as a kid, but I never really like it.

I’m just not much of a pickle fan. I don’t like relish (except my zucchini relish!!) I don’t like pickled anything, really.

But in late summer, with a glut of cabbage and green tomatoes, I was paging through an old Pa. Dutch Cookbook I stole from my mother* and came across a recipe for chow chow that was unlike the chow chow I knew. No beans, no corn, no carrots…instead, green tomatoes, cabbage and onions. And lots of mustard and ginger.

Desperate to do something with my produce, I gave it a try.

Revelation! Chow chow is delicious!! I love it. Olivia loves it. We eat it on sandwiches and with hot dogs (you know those horrible vegetarian hot dogs that even your dog won’t eat? Chow chow makes them taste great!!) and with potatoes or just as a side dish with anything, really.


Chow Chow Recipe

2 quarts chopped cabbage (I shredded mine)

1 quart chopped green tomatoes

6 large onions, chopped (I shredded these, too)

3 sweet red peppers, chopped

2 lb. sugar

4 Tbs. dry mustard (I didn’t have quite this much, but it still tastes mustardy)

3 Tbs. white mustard seed

1 1/2 Tbs. celery seed ( I only had ground celery seed and threw in a bunch)

1/2 Tbs. ginger (I used more to make up for the missing mustard!)

vinegar to cover (about 8 cups)

1 Tbs. cloves

Put each kind of vegetable in a separate bowl and sprinkle a small amount of salk over each. Let stand for 4 hours. Press juice from each vegetable and combine. Mix the dry ingredients and rub into a pete by using a small amount of vinegar. Then add all the vinegar and heat to boiling. Put in the vegetables and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Pack into sterile jars and seal. Cover jars with boiling water and process for 15 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 quarts.


*This is the stolen cookbook.

AAAA photos of cookbook and recipe

On the inside cover is a price tag – $1.00 at the Provident Bookstore, now the Friendly Bookstore in Quakertown, PA. It’s copyrighted 1978, but in a quick Google search,  I couldn’t find  the publishing company, so I presume it no longer exists. You can still get copies of it, though, even on Amazon.

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Fastnacht Day

Shrove Tuesday is Fastnacht day where I come from. Pennsylvania Germans celebrate not with parades and costumes, but with food (of course), making donuts called fastnachts sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with honey, molasses or in our case, jam.

I always wanted to make fastnachts, but most recipes are quite complicated, requiring preparation the night before you want to make them and hours and hours of rising time. I managed to find one recipe for cruller-style fastnachts, however, that do not use yeast and can be made pretty easily.

Cutting the fastnachts.

Frying the fastnachts.

Yum!!! Served with our wild plum jam

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Potato Candy

During International Cultures Week at our school, parents are invited in to share stories, songs, games and food from our home countries. I used to think that the goal of this week was to share our own cultures with others, but now I see it is also a way to share my culture with my own children!  So, I always make an effort to teach them and their classmates something about Quakertown or Pennsylvania or Pa. Dutch folks.

A favorite activity from my childhood was making cookies and sweets for Christmas and probably the most unusual thing we made was potato candy.  It’s the perfect thing to make with kids because it’s fun and easy and magical things happen while you’re mixing.

Here’s what you do: mix about a tablespoon of mashed potatoes (the thicker the better) with LOTS of powdered sugar. Seriously, like almost a cup… [So, okay, it’s not the healthiest thing in the world…but low-fat, right?!]

Add the sugar by spoonfuls and mix. The magical part is how first it almost liquefies, but as you add more sugar it turns into a play dough like consistency that you then can roll into balls. The balls can be rolled in coconut or cocoa powder or nuts or sprinkles to finish them off. Or you can hide treats in the center – we always made some with peanut butter inside! You can also roll it flat, add something on top like peanut butter, then roll jelly-roll style and slice. Refrigerate before eating (if you can keep the kids from gobbling them down).


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