Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Kommen Sie for a taste of Deutschland in Faribault November 2, 2013

Arroz con pollo tastes much better than it looks.

Arroz con pollo, a Latin American dish of chicken and rice seasoned with fresh garlic, onions, red peppers and cilantro. The perfect comfort food as Minnesota transitions into winter.

EVERY YEAR ABOUT THIS TIME, I find myself craving comfort foods. Homemade mac and cheese. Beef roast and mashed potatoes. Steaming bowls of soup laced with thick chunks of vegetables. Fiery chili. Even hotdish.

Sliced strawberries, cucumbers and Amablu Gorgonzola cheese added to Romaine lettuce made a perfect salad. I topped the salad with lemon poppyseed dressing.

Sliced strawberries, cucumbers and Amablu Gorgonzola cheese added to Romaine lettuce make a delicious salad, often a meal for me during the summer months.

I eat fewer salads, place less fresh produce in my shopping cart, fight the urge to bake cookies.

The cycling of the seasons, transitioning into the long, dark and cold days of winter in Minnesota, imprints upon my body and psyche. Call of comfort foods. Snuggling on the sofa under a fleece throw, book in hand. Limited trips outside the house once the curtain of cold and darkness falls upon the land.

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

The German meal: sauerbraten and spaetzle on the left, German potato salad, sweet and sour cabbage, dinner roll and sauerkraut and brats. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And so this seems the perfect time to partake of the food of my forefathers at Cannon Valley Lutheran High School’s annual German Fest: Sauerbraten mit spaetzle, Deutsche potato salad, sweet & sour red cabbage, bratwurst mit sauerkraut and the, oh, so delectable bread pudding.

Diners enjoy the ethnic meal at the second annual CVLHS German Fest in 2011.

Diners enjoy the ethnic meal at the second annual CVLHS German Fest in 2011.

Tickets are now on sale for the Sunday, November 10, German Fest Supper, served from 5 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. in the Trinity Lutheran Church gym, 530 Fourth St. N.W., Faribault. Cost is $13 for ages 11 – adult; $7 for ages 5 – 10; and free for preschoolers with a paid adult. Call (507) 685-2636 for tickets. You may also purchase tickets at the door.

If you appreciate German food, you will enjoy this ethnic meal served after the free German Fest of Thanks & Praise, which begins at 4 p.m. in the Trinity sanctuary. From songs and prayers in German to the music of an accordion trio, a harmonica player and a 12-piece band, the program offers an opportunity to reflect on our blessings.

The German Fest presents a perfect prelude to Thanksgiving and to this season when Minnesotans crave comfort foods.

FYI: The German Fest Supper is a fundraiser for Morristown-based Cannon Valley Lutheran High School, which serves students in grades 9 – 12 from around the region. Classes were suspended this school year, among other reasons, to pay off the school’s operating debt with plans to reopen in the fall of 2014.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faithful support of Christian education September 19, 2013

The crowd of bidders at the annual CVLHS auction.

The crowd of bidders at the annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School auction. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT AN AUCTION. Sure, the cause may be to empty the house, settle an estate, raise monies for a charity or cause.

But the beauty of an auction lies in the bringing together of folks in a sense of community to achieve a defined goal.

Never have I felt a deeper bonding of souls than at the annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Auction Fundraiser, which I’ve attended for many of its past six years. I feel like I’m among family at this auction in the Morristown Community Center. We’re all there to support young people desiring a Christian education.

This Saturday, September 21, CVLHS holds its seventh annual auction event beginning at 4:30 p.m. with a silent auction (that closes at 6 p.m.) followed by the live auction at 7 p.m.

Auctioning of beautiful pieced quilt at the CVLHS live auction.

Auctioning of a beautiful pieced quilt at the CVLHS live auction. Volunteer Development Director Mike Young is pictured on the right. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Organizers—including my friend, volunteer Development Director Mike Young—work tirelessly to put this event together. Mike’s not going to like me singling him out. But sometimes that’s OK, to be publicly thanked for selfless dedication and hard work.

Embroidered dish towels were among silent auction offerings.

Embroidered dish towels were among silent auction offerings at a past auction. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Jars of pickled beets on display.

Jars of pickled beets and other fresh and canned produce and baked goods are available for purchase. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

You can't beat the food served during the CVLHS auction, like this pork sandwich, potato salad and homemade apple pie.

You can’t beat the food served during the CVLHS auction, like this pork sandwich, potato salad and homemade apple pie. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

So many individuals and businesses contribute to the success of this event with donations of handcrafted and new items, garden produce and baked goods, gift certificates and more, including their time.

They do it all for the students attending Cannon Valley, a grade 9 – 12 Christian high school located in Morristown.

Except this school year, classes have been temporarily suspended in order for CVLHS to repay debts, regroup and recruit more students. It’s not easy funding a private school—relying mostly on donations, gifts, congregational support, tuition and fundraisers to pay the bills. The plan is to reopen the school next fall.

"Breaking Bread," an original painting by well-known Faribault artist Rhody Yule, will be sold during the live auction.

“Breaking Bread,” an original painting by well-known Faribault artist Rhody Yule, will be sold during the live auction.

Now the fine folks at Cannon Valley and their supporters could have easily tossed in the proverbial towel and said, “That’s it. We’re done.” But they didn’t. They are choosing to move forward despite the financial challenges. That’s faith, dear readers. Faith.

FYI: To learn more about Cannon Valley Lutheran High School, click here.

To learn more about artist Rhody Yule, click here.

CVLHS supporter Kevin Becker repurposed this early 1900s headboard and bed frame in to a storage bench. The headboard was built by the grandfather of the Rev. Robert Snyder, a retired pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

CVLHS supporter Kevin Becker repurposed this early 1900s headboard and bed frame in to a storage bench. The headboard/footboard was built by the grandfather of the Rev. Robert Snyder, a retired pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault. Trinity congregation is a CVLHS association member/supporter. Photo courtesy of CVLHS.

Here are some of the items to be sold at the live auction beginning at 7 p.m.: farm fresh hamburger; a get-away for four to Branson, Missouri; tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and Chanhassen Dinner Theatre; a week’s stay at Lake Okoboji, Iowa; two half hogs; a Cedar Garden Arbor Electric organ; handcrafted Intarsia art; a Minnesota Twins print autographed by Tony Oliva; garden art; and more.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shop at this gym full of treasures July 25, 2013

GOOD MORNING. It’s 6 a.m. And, if you’re an avid garage saler and have the morning free, you likely already are preparing your route of must-hit sales.

A shot taken Tuesday evening with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

An overview shot taken Tuesday evening in the Trinity gym with more items to be set out on Wednesday.

In Faribault, add the Cannon Valley Lutheran High School sale to your list. Doors to the sale site, the gym at Trinity Lutheran Church, 530 Fourth Street Northwest (Minnesota Highway 60 across from McDonalds) open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and Friday, July 26. Saturday, July 27, hours are 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Tuesday I got a sneak peek at this gym full of treasures. Yes, I adhere to the “One man’s (or woman’s) junk is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.”

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Frames and mirrors and merchandise reflected.

Except for clothing, of which there is none at this sale, you will find the usual assortment of merchandise ranging from household décor to kitchenware, books, furniture, toys, sporting equipment, some collectibles and more.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

Sweet vintage thermoses.

A bit overwhelmed by the volume of offerings, I methodically worked my way through the gym, photographing items I found of particular interest. Note that I am drawn to vintage more than anything.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

A kitschy vintage clock for the cat lover.

I collect vintage drinking glasses and tablecloths, but did not uncover any during my one-hour walk-through. That’s just as well. I already have more than I need.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A beautiful Pyrex casserole for the collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

A large bowl for the Pyrex collector.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

And two more beautiful Pyrex bowls.

I suggested to one of the organizers that the three Pyrex bowls and casserole I spotted ought to be marked at collector prices. “There will be collectors here,” I advised her.

"Puppy Love" and "Winter Solitude" by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

“Puppy Love” and “Winter Solitude” by Rhody Yule, appraised and priced at $395 and $375.

If you’re an art collector, you will want to examine four paintings by my friend, Rhody Yule, a Faribault sign painter and prolific artist whose work was featured in a 2011 gallery exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts six months before his death at age 92. He was a remarkable man of deep faith and I was blessed to be gifted with one of his religious themed paintings. Now you, too, can own a piece of Rhody’s art.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

Some wonderful wooden puzzles, newer and older.

If I had young kids or grandkids, I would have scooped up lots of books and toys, most in excellent condition. I did nab a homespun poetry book, The Old Hometown, by Faribault resident Marlene Hyatt Meehl, now deceased. I also found two blackboards to use at my daughter’s wedding reception.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise.

Another view of that gym full of merchandise, to which more has been added since I took this photo.

I expect you will find something you “need.” How could you not in a gymnasium packed with treasures?

MORE FINDS:

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

There are plenty of hard-sided suitcases for sale and a few soft-sided also.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

I have not seen curlers like this in 40 years, just like my mom used and occasionally poked into my head. The plastic pins for securing the rollers are included.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan.

This vintage timer was made in one of my favorite Wisconsin towns, Two Rivers, along Lake Michigan. The box and the literature inside are as vintage cool as the timer.

 A peek at some of the furniture.

A peek at some of the furniture.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious pieces.

Among the abundance of Christmas decor, I spotted these precious Nativity pieces.

© Copyright 2013 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

 

Hey, all you foodies and fun-loving folks… September 28, 2012

IT’S GOING TO BE ONE of those glorious fall weekends in Minnesota. Trees flaming with color. Crisp cobalt blue skies. A certain awareness that these sunny, warm days of autumn will soon morph into the gray weeks of winter.

But let’s not go there.

Instead, hop in the car and take a fall drive this weekend. Follow a meandering gravel road. Banish “hurry” from your vocabulary. Slow down. Park your vehicle and walk.

Then dine at a local community-centered activity like Cannon Valley Lutheran High School’s annual auction at the Morristown Community Center beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Wait a minute, you say. What does that have to do with food?

Well, the CVLHS event includes a bake sale. I know the woman organizing the bake sale and, based on that, you can be assured of an excellent selection of home-baked goods.

You can’t beat the food served during the CVLHS auction, like this pork sandwich, potato salad and homemade apple pie.

Not only that, you can eat a little lunch at the CVLHS auction. Hot pork, beef and cheesy turkey sandwiches. Salads. Pies from the Trinity Pie Makers (of Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, my church) and assorted desserts. The food alone is well worth attending this event. Take that from someone—me—who has sampled this delicious food several times. (Click here to read a previous post about the CVLHS auction.)

One dozen of Kathy Hallanger’s fall-themed cookies sold for $40 at a previous auction.

Check out the silent auction items (auction runs from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.) and then stay for the live auction of items (beginning at 7 p.m.) like a week at an Iowa resort, theatre tickets, framed artwork, homemade cookies, a garden bench, 11 yards of clean gravel, a 2000 wheelchair accessible van and, ta-da, this just in from my friend Mike Young, volunteer development director at CVLHS:

Just to let you know…another example of how great people are…as I am standing in the office at CVLHS this morning…looking straight at the window…in pulls a pickup and trailer with an “M” 1944 Farmall Tractor for the auction!

So there, need a vintage tractor? Or how about a goat? Mike told me earlier this week about a game involving a real goat. Seems someone may be “stuck” with a goat, although you apparently can buy “goat insurance” to insure yourself from owning said goat.

The Ray Sands Band played at the 2011 Germanfest.

Then, on Sunday, head east of Faribault to St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, for the congregation’s annual Germanfest which includes a 10 a.m. worship service, a 3 p.m. polka praise service and a German buffet served from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and then again from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Deutsche food served in 2011: German potato salad, red cabbage, sauerbraten, rinderwurst, a brat, sauerkraut, beets and green beans on my plate.

And, yes, I ‘ve attended and can vouch for the deliciousness of the German meal and the enjoyment of the polka service. Additionally, you’ll find a bake shop (there’s that food thing again), Christmas store, quilt show, petting zoo, root beer stand, bingo and farmer’s market. (Click here to read a post I published last September about Germanfest.)

Will you be attending a community event this weekend? If so, feel free to share in a comment. Or are you organizing or participating in any such event this weekend in Minnesota? Here’s your chance to spread the word. Submit a brief comment with info. It’s all about community here on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

An evening at the Soup-er Bowl, Minnesota style March 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:58 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Diners lined up for samples of homemade soup in the fellowship hall of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Morristown, Sunday evening for the Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Soup-er Bowl.

“IT’S SAUSAGE, SHARON, not hot dogs.”

And so the debate waged at our table Sunday evening during the second annual Cannon Valley Lutheran High School Soup-er Bowl—Sharon, remembering how her mother stretched meals with hots dogs; others at our table laughing and telling her she was wrong about the hots dogs in the soup.

After the soup at the center of our conversation placed second in the competition, I sought out the soup maker, Bonnie Borchert, who had her hands immersed deep in soapy dishwater in the kitchen of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Morristown.

“What gave your soup that smokey flavor?” I asked Bonnie after praising her soup and congratulating her. In an agonizing decision, hers got my vote as the best soup.

“Three pounds of Polish sausage.”

There you go, Sharon. Polish sausage. Not hot dogs. No tangy vinegar either, as you suggested.

And so Bonnie took second with her Cheesy Potato Polish Sausage Soup, vying against six other soup makers.

Winner of the 2012 CVLHS Soup-er Bowl: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup made by Steve LaMotte, representing Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

Repeat contestant Steve LaMotte won the Soup-er Bowl with his Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, the same soup which last year earned him a second place. Laced with homemade noodles and hefty chunks of chicken and vegetables, Steve’s savory and creamy soup could have passed as hotdish. It was that thick. He promises to return next year, but with a different soup.

The coveted trophy awarded to Steve LaMotte.

While the soups were the draw for those who love soup, like me, the Soup-er Bowl also serves as a fundraiser for CVLHS and as a social gathering. The din of conversation reached a deafening roar in the fellowship hall as diners filed in and settled in to sample the soups.

Good food. Lively conversation. Laughter.

What more could you want in small-town Minnesota on a Sunday evening?

Soup makers, including Steve LaMotte, right, served the soups to diners. The soup makers did not scoop up the soups they prepared. That was done intentionally to preserve the integrity of the voting process. One diner (aka my sister Lanae) voted for two soups. I considered hers a spoiled ballot.

And the kids, as kids will do, entertained themselves by running and swinging and jumping off/ on the table and chair racks under a mural of the women at the tomb on Easter morning.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Soup sampling at the Soup-er Bowl March 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:23 AM
Tags: , ,

Some of the soups served at the 2011 Soup-er Bowl.

GIVE ME A BOWL of soup—hot, thick, cheesy and packed with vegetables or savory, creamy tomato basil—almost any type will do except oyster or clam chowder.

My friend Mike knows how much I enjoy a good bowl of homemade soup, which is why he asked me recently to prepare a soup for a soup cook-off. But I was out of town on the day of the event and had to decline his invitation.

That was last weekend. This Sunday, March 11, the winners in local soup competitions at four area Lutheran churches advance to a Soup-er Bowl finale at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Morristown.

Cannon Valley Lutheran High School, of which Mike is the volunteer development director, is sponsoring the event where diners will sample eight soups for $5 and then vote for their favorite. I will be there, as I was last year.

Let me tell you, these soup makers can cook, which makes choosing a winner difficult. This year the offerings will include cheddar broccoli, potato ham, potato cheese/Polish sausage, plantation peanut, chicken noodle, cheesy potato, white chicken chili and creamy chicken noodle.

I see a lot of chicken in that list. Just, FYI, last year’s second place winner is returning with his creamy chicken noodle soup that included homemade noodles and hefty hunks of home-grown chicken. Honestly, I am not a big fan of chicken noodle soup, but I loved Steve’s soup. That says a lot right there.

Anyway, if you’re into soup, join me at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 404 W. Franklin St., Morristown, for the 5 p.m. Soup-er Bowl. You needn’t be Lutheran—all are welcome.

CLICK HERE to read a post about the 2011 Soup-er Bowl.

And click here to read a post about an annual soup party hosted by my sister Lanae and her husband, Dale.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In the kitchen preparing for a German dinner November 15, 2011

Barb Young preps food in the Trinity Lutheran Church/Faribault Lutheran School kitchen for Cannon Valley Lutheran High School's German dinner.

THESE DINNERS DON’T happen without lots of willing hands and hours and hours and hours of volunteers working together.

We’re talking church, school and community dinners here, and specifically Cannon Valley Lutheran High School’s second annual German Fest of Thanks and Praise.

This past weekend I got a behind-the-scenes, before-dinner peek at the effort that went into preparing a German meal for more than 200 diners. Cooking isn’t my forte, meaning I admire folks like Arlen and Suzanne Krause who always seem to be in the kitchen whenever CVLHS, based in Morristown, hosts a fundraising dinner. The Krauses love to cook and they know how to cook. I’ve suggested more than once that they open a catering business or restaurant.

Arlen Krause prepares ethnic food for the German Fest dinner.

Saturday evening, while assisting my friend Mike Young, the CVLHS volunteer development director, and my husband Randy with setting up tables and chairs for the German dinner, I occasionally popped into the kitchen to photograph progress there. The Krauses and Barb Young, who’s married to Mike, were busy mixing and stirring and slicing in the two hours I was there; they’d started around noon and labored until 9 p.m. and were back again the next morning. And I know they’d also been prepping food earlier in the week.

Beef awaited slicing and complete transformation into tender and savory sauerbraten.

The feeding-multitudes recipe for delectable bread pudding.

Bread cubes, mounded high in bowls, were baked into bread pudding.

Pans of raisin-topped bread pudding cooled on the kitchen counter Saturday evening.

Fortunately, the kitchen crew trio didn’t mind my scooting around the counters, camera in tow. I tried to stay out of their way and not ask too many questions or overstay my welcome.

But staying out of the kitchen proved challenging given the tantalizing scent of gravy bubbling in roasters, the sweet Grandma’s kitchen aroma of bread pudding baking in the oven and the pungent, nose-stinging scent of vinegar poured onto cabbage.

By the magic addition of vinegar, the cabbage color changed from blue gray to purple in the foreground. I was witness to a science experiment and cooking class rolled into one.

I am 100 percent German, after all, and perhaps my German genes were naturally drawn to these food smells of the Motherland. Either that or I was awfully hungry given the supper hour. Probably both. Homemade caramel corn, strategically placed on the serving counter, cut the hunger edge.

Vinegar, sugar and butter—lots and lots and lots of butter—were key ingredients in the ethnic foods I saw prepared. I could hardly wait to taste the complete meal Sunday evening following the German worship service.

Let me tell you, the German dinner rated as absolutely fabulous. Tender sauerbraten (savory beef and gravy) atop spaetzle (like mini dumplings); dense bratwurst mixed with sauerkraut; tangy, bacon-laced German potato salad as good as I’ve ever eaten; the perfect blend of sweet and sour in the jolt-of-color red cabbage; a nip of pepper in the tiny rounds of pfefferneusse (cookies); and to-die-for, heavenly bread pudding smothered in a buttery, sugary sauce.

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

CVLHS volunteer cooks and bakers—and I know more were involved than Arlen, Suzanne and Barb—thanks for one outstanding ethnic meal.

As long as I’m extending appreciation, I’d like to express a broader thanks to all those folks out there who labor behind the scenes at church, school and community dinners. I’ve been to a handful or more of these dinners this year and I have, every time, been beyond impressed with the quality of the food and the hard work that clearly is invested in such events. Well done.

CVLHS students served the German meal to attendees.

Diners enjoy the ethnic meal at the second annual CVLHS German Fest.

Kristin Sellentine, a Trinity Lutheran Church member and active in community theater, greeted guests as Katie Luther, wife of Reformist Martin Luther. Her costume hearkens from her days of acting at the Renaissance Festival.

CVLHS Development Director Mike Young, a designer at Erickson Furniture in Faribault and a floral designer, transformed the Trinity gym into a beautiful dining experience with his creative talents.

Prior to the dinner, German Fest attendees gathered in the Trinity sanctuary for a service of thanks and praise, including a performance by the CVLHS Tone Chime Choir. Hymns and prayers spoken and sung in German and English, and other musical selections, were also part of the 45-minute service.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In praise of German food and missions November 6, 2011

A 2009 Thanksgiving display at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

WITH THANKSGIVING only weeks away, it behooves us to begin expanding our stomachs in preparation for the big meal.

It also behooves us to focus our thoughts on thanksgiving and praise.

If you live anywhere near Faribault, you can accomplish both by attending two upcoming events at my church, Trinity Lutheran, at 530 Fourth Street Northwest, across from McDonalds. Trinity isn’t sponsoring the events, lest you think I’m specifically promoting my congregation here.

Rather Morristown-based Cannon Valley Lutheran High School and rural Waterville-based Camp Omega are coordinating these separate Sunday worship services followed by meals.

ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, on Sunday, November 13, CVLHS is offering a German Fest of Thanks and Praise at 4 p.m. followed by a supper of traditional German foods at 4:30 p.m. Attend one or both, and I’d highly recommend both, especially if you appreciate the Mother Tongue and good great German food.

The plated portion of the authentic German meal served last year by CVLHS.

I attended this Lutheran high school’s first-ever German worship service and dinner last year and enthusiastically endorse it, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it to you here. (Click here to read a blog post from the 2010 German celebration.)

After you’ve thanked and praise, you can indulge in that ethnic meal of sauerbraten with spaetzle, sweet and sour red cabbage, bratwurst and sauerkraut, pfeffernusse and bread pudding (to die for).

And let me tell you, these Cannon Valley volunteers know how to cook.

If you want to partake in the German meal, you need to act soon. Tomorrow, Monday, November 7, is the deadline to purchase tickets, which are $13 for adults, $7 for ages 5 – 10 and free for preschoolers. Call CVLHS at (507) 685-2636.

A portion of Jesus face, photographed from a stained glass window at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY, November 20, I’d suggest you return to Trinity at 2 p.m. for a two-hour “Let the People Praise!” service followed by a Camp Omega-sponsored free turkey supper. Yes, you read that right—free worship service, free food.

First the worship service, which truly is two hours long and which evolves around missions: Think of it as Mission Sunday or a mission rally or something along those lines. Missionaries involved in Hispanic, Sudanese, Hmong, Liberian, Anglo and campus ministries will participate.

There’ll be singing by a Hmong choir and Liberians and, yes, even drumming and dancing. In a Lutheran church. Would you want to miss that? I didn’t think so.

I can almost guarantee that you’ll be emotionally and spiritually moved based on the music alone. I anticipate many pastors attending this service and, boy, can they sing.

After the service, Camp Omega is sponsoring that free turkey supper several blocks away at the Faribault American Legion with Gary Thies, mission development counselor for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, as the presenter. He’s traveled to 76 countries and spoken at more than 1,250 churches throughout the U.S. I’ve heard this man speak. He’s fired up for missions. He’ll address “Missionary Ministry in our Daily Lives.”

Thies will also give messages at the 5:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19, and 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, November 20, Trinity worship services.

Anyway, organizers are hoping to fill the Trinity sanctuary and the Legion. If you want to attend the free 4:30 p.m. turkey supper on November 20 at the Legion, you must RSVP to Curt at Camp Omega, (507) 685-4266. He needs a head count soon. You can’t just walk in the door on the day of the dinner and expect to get seated. It won’t happen.

So, there you go—two wonderful opportunities to prepare for Thanksgiving.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Differences & bridges October 24, 2011

I WANT TO SHARE two items with you today. Both are different, yet alike, because they’re about differences. Differences between cultures and differences between states.

Humbird Cheese, a popular tourist stop at Tomah, Wisconsin.

Let’s start with the humorous of the two, a little story from my second daughter, who lives in eastern Wisconsin.

Along with a photo, she sent this text message: “They teach them early in wi.”

I studied what appeared to be a child’s drawing of a hefty hunk of cheese and a mouse, along with words too miniscule to decipher on my cell phone screen.

M: “It was a drawing with a haiku in a surgery dept waiting rm. Can u read the haiku or is it too small?”

Me: “I can’t read it.”

M: “It says ‘I love to eat cheese. Swiss Colby pepperjack too. I’m almost a mouse.’ By devon age 9.”

Honestly, don’t you just have to laugh at the subject of this haiku. Of all “the things I love,” this 9-year-old Wisconsinite wrote about cheese?

Would a Minnesota child ever choose to write a cheese haiku?

Wisconsin, I love your cheese, really I do. And I love how your kids love your cheese.

Numerous cultures were represented during the International Festival held in September at Central Park in Faribault. Here singers perform the Mexican national anthem in the band shell.

NOW TO THE OTHER  STORY about differences, written by sports reporter Brendan Burnett-Kurie and published Sunday on the front page of The Faribault Daily News. Here’s the headline for that top-notch feature, which should be required reading in every Faribault (maybe even Minnesota) classroom and home:

“The beautiful team…How the Cannon Valley soccer team bridged cultural gaps and came together around the game they love.”

I tipped Brendan off to this story after my good friend Mike Young told me about the soccer team at Cannon Valley Lutheran High School in Morristown. Mike serves as the school’s volunteer development director. Yes, you read that correctly. Volunteer.

But back to Brendan’s story. He wrote about the school’s recently-rejuvenated soccer team which includes a melting pot of students—of different ethnic backgrounds, different sizes, different ages and from different schools. (CVLHS, with less than 20 students, couldn’t field a team solely from within.)

It’s one of those feel-good stories that make you smile. These boys became a team and became friends. Differences didn’t matter to them. Not differences in their skin colors, their heights, their ages, their shoe sizes, their anything.

Brendan writes: “One day during practice they all took off their shoes and flipped over the tongues, comparing the sizes. Little fourth-grader Yianko Borrego had size 4 feet. The largest were size 13.”

These boys can all teach us a thing or a hundred about acceptance.

FYI: To read Brendan’s outstanding feature, click here.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling