It has become an extended family tradition, on the Family Day weekend here, to gather together at the grave sites of my in-laws – a time to honor them and remember them. Afterward, we go for lunch together at a restaurant that was their favorite, and spend time reminiscing and telling over again the stories that were told as the family was growing up.
This year, we had occasion to look through some old papers that we all had sitting around, and discovered/were reminded of some very interesting family history.
For example, my father-in-law with his family had fled Ukraine to Germany before WWII, and later he enlisted in the German army in order to avoid being conscripted into the Russian army. During the war, he was held as a POW by the British and ‘traded’ back to the Russians, who took him to a camp in Austria, tried him as a traitor and sentenced him to 10 years hard labor. He escaped from this camp and made his way back to Germany. There he had to obtain some kind of papers to be able to remain in the country and work. The German government aided men such as this, but often the facts were skewed. In my father-in-law’s case, they used his stepmother’s name in the place of his own mother’s, and falsified his place of birth.
All this to say that, among all of these old papers, we discovered a statement made before a magistrate, correcting this misinformation. As we discussed all of this, and his children remembered the things they’d been told, we determined that this was done in order to have correct information for the Canadian government when they immigrated to Canada.
Also, among these papers was a statement from the shipping line, confirming their passage to Canada and the cost of passage ($540 Cdn for two adults and two minor children), along with the fees charged to enter Canada and then make their way by train across the country to join the rest of my father-in-laws family here in the Fraser Valley.
As interesting as this was, things got a whole lot closer to home when we turned this statement over and looked at the back. On there, in my mother-in-laws hand-writing was a recipe for Einfache Ffefferkuchen (Easy Spice Cookies). This was fascinating. We wondered why she would choose to write a recipe on the back of an ‘official’ paper, but then thought maybe that was the only paper she had available. Regardless, this is the only recipe of their mother’s that Grizz and his siblings have. Grizz’s brother was the only one who remembered these cookies – and he’s the baby of the family.
Grizz and I spent a fair bit of time, first deciphering the hand-writing to determine the correct words, and then using Grizz’s fading grasp of German and Google translate, we translated the recipe, then printed it for his siblings.
I thought I’d share it with you all:
8 C flour 1 1/2 C sugar 1/2 C butter (actually ‘fat’) 2 eggs 1tsp ground cloves 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking soda 2tsp cinnamon 2 tsp ammonia powder (substitute 1/2 lemon rind grated baking powder), mix with a little 1 1/2 C honey water to make 3-4 Tbsp
Mix half the flour with the spices; melt honey and sugar together and let cool, then add to the flour mixture, stirring slowly. Mix eggs with the salt/baking soda/ammonia mixture and add to the flour mixture. Leave the dough sit for (about/up to/at least) 8 days in a warm spot. When ready to bake, add the remaining flour and knead to a soft dough. Roll the dough into ‘straws’ and poke with a fork. Dough can be rolled in almonds before baking if desired, or after baking dipped in melted chocolate.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes (This is a total guess as there were no baking instructions with the recipe).
It’s a little cool and damp right now to try this, especially if I really want to leave it sit for several days (and that part of the instructions was a little vague as we couldn’t find a translation for the words used). But someday I’m going to try this out.
And speaking of memories, when my parents moved last summer, my mother found a few things around, like a whole bunch of Nabob coupons. She handed them over to me, not sure what I could possibly do with them, but they were from my paternal grandmother originally. I think people used to collect these and turn them in for free products. A statement of the frugality of people who lived and raised families during the wars and the Depression.
Then my mother also gave me this:
She doesn’t know what it is, I certainly don’t know what it is, but again, it was my grandmother’s. Anybody out there got any ideas?
It’s always fun to find or learn family history, and share memories and/or pass along the oral history from the stories our parents and grandparents told us. A good way to spend Family Day weekend.
Happy memories. Blessings, Peg