Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A taste of Germany coming to Faribault on November 11 November 1, 2012

ONCE UPON A TIME, in 1974 to be precise, I entered college with every intention of majoring in German. Eventually, though, I realized that following such a path, because I had no desire to teach, was rather foolish. And so I pursued my other love, writing, and earned a journalism degree.

I tell you this tidbit because it relates to the rest of this post, about an upcoming German Fest to be presented by Cannon Valley Lutheran High School.

We need to backtrack even further, first to Wabasso High School where I studied the German language for four years and was an active member of the German Club. I loved learning German. I expect either you love learning a foreign language or you don’t and German was the single foreign language offered at my alma mater.

I also enjoyed the social aspect of German Club, specifically our annual club trip to New Ulm, undeniably the most German city in Minnesota. Back in the 1970s, traveling to New Ulm in the next county to the east to shop downtown and at Domeier’s, a little German import store, and later dine on a German meal at Eibner’s Restaurant, rated as a major trip. I am serious. It is not all that often that I left Redwood County while growing up.

It was on one of those German Club trips to New Ulm that I first tried sauerbraten, beef marinated in vinegar and I don’t know what else. The main dish tasted so exotic and different from the corn-fed beef my mom roasted in her speckled enamel roaster back on the farm.

During that single meal in the upstairs of a New Ulm supper club, I felt as if I had traveled across the ocean to Germany to dine.

Serve me sauerbraten now and I am that giddy German-speaking high school girl dining at Eibner’s in New Ulm.

The 2011 CVLHS German meal: sauerbraten and spaetzle on the left, German potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage, dinner roll and sauerkraut and brats.

Today I needn’t even leave Faribault, my home of 30 years, to eat sauerbraten. Cannon Valley Lutheran High School will serve sauerbraten and a plateful of other German foods—spaetzle, German potato salad, sweet-and-sour red cabbage, bratwurst with sauerkraut and bread pudding—at a Sunday, November 11, German Fest. Serving is from 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at Trinity Lutheran Church, 530 Fourth Street Northwest, Faribault.

It’s a heavy, filling ethnic meal that is absolutely delicious. These Cannon Valley people know how to cook.

Diners  pack the Trinity gym and enjoy the German meal at the second annual CVLHS German Fest in 2011.

Tickets go fast. So do not tarry if you wish to partake. To reserve your tickets, call CVLHS at 507-685-2636 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday or email the school at cvlhs@cvlhs.org.  (Tell them I sent you.) Advance ticket purchases are recommended by Wednesday, November 7. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door.

Meal tickets are $13 for ages 11 – adult; $7 for ages 5-10; and free for preschoolers with paid adult.

In addition to the German meal, the Fest includes a free program of “Thanks and Praise”—songs and readings in German and English—beginning at 4 p.m. in the Trinity sanctuary.

During the supper, diners will be entertained with polka music. You will have to tap your feet as I do not expect there to be dancing.

However, I do expect great food and fellowship.

As a bonus, you will support CVLHS students by attending. The meal is a fundraiser for a German Club trip, not to New Ulm three counties to the west, but to Germany in February.

CLICK HERE TO READ a post I wrote about last year’s second annual CVLHS German Fest.

BONUS PHOTOS: Earlier this fall, CVLHS hosted its annual silent and live auctions at the Morristown Community Center in Morristown, where the high school is based. Below are three images from that event. Students, staff, parents and others volunteer countless hours to support Christian education at CVLHS. Their dedication continues to impress me.

The crowd of bidders at the annual CVLHS auction. The school has strong community support.

CVLHS  students work the baked goods and produce sale during the recent auction.

Auctioning of  a beautiful pieced quilt at the CVLHS live auction.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


In Hastings: The comfortable familiarity of an old-fashioned grocery store

Reissner’s Meats & Grocery in historic downtown Hastings, Minnesota.

YOU KNOW HOW SOMETIMES, when you step into a place, you feel like you’ve been there before, but you haven’t.

That would be Reissner’s Meats and Grocery in historic downtown Hastings.

Third-generation owner Dick Reissner.

Entering this narrow two-aisle store with a mustachioed, gray-haired shopkeeper in a butcher’s apron leaning on the front counter, I experienced a sense of familiarity tracing back to my childhood. Reissner’s reminds me of the corner grocery in my hometown of Vesta where I purchased my favorite Tootsie Pop suckers, Bazooka bubble gum and yellow packs of Juicy Fruit gum from the candy counter on many a trip to town with Mom.

Honestly, I cannot remember much else about Rasmussen’s Grocery except the candy and the wood floors and the big old screen door that banged shut behind me.

Aisle one with the candy counter to the left.

Reissner’s in Hastings possesses that same nostalgic feel, even a vintage look in the red-and-white tile floors, the mishmash of merchandise, the hulking and energy-sucking open cooler that holds pop, and the price stickers adhered to canned foods and more.

Dick Reissner reads at the front counter while I explore his store.

Richard (Dick) Otto Reissner was preoccupied with reading when I walked in on a recent Saturday afternoon and didn’t seem to want to be bothered. So I didn’t query him with the list of questions formulating in my mind as I perused the aisles.

Vintage photos which clued me in as to the history of this place.

Therefore I have no stories to share with you about this third-generation family business. Only photos.

The exterior sign, which dates the business to 1902.

I totally forgot to search for the lefse or ask about  Grandma Ruth.

The vintage toys, etc., are not for sale.

An old, old cooler…

How often do you see price stickers on food anymore?

I have no clue, none, why there’s a saddle, right, in the grocery store.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling