It’s a little later in the month than I would have preferred, but today we finally had our annual Markel Family Oktoberfest! It was a beautiful day, and I thought it was very fitting that we sung a hymn in church this morning that I remember my dad singing in German while I played the piano when I was a child.
I was excited to have a dirndl and lots of edelweiss accessories to wear this year:
When we got home from church, we had our traditional Oktoberfest lunch of fondue with brats, German pickles, and homemade pretzels:
I made most our dinner of schnitzel, spaetzle, rotkohl, and sauerkraut from scratch (the sauerkraut was the only store-bought item).
For dessert I made our favorite Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte:
Oktoberfest is a lot of work…like an actual holiday’s amount of work. But it is a holiday for us, and I love having a way share my heritage with my family!
I don’t always make Jäger sauce to go with schnitzel, but when I do, this is the recipe I love!
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
1 8 oz. can sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups water
1 beef bouillon cube or 1 tsp. bouillon granules
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 oz. sour cream
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté a few minutes until onions are soft. Add water and bouillon and simmer for about 20 minutes. Combine cornstarch and sour cream and stir into sauce. Cook over low heat until sauce thickens, taking care not to boil. Serve with schnitzel.
For the second year in a row, we didn’t get to go to the inaugural Great North American Oktoberfest in St. Louis (and at this point, I’m kind of thinking that the event will never happen), but we did have a happy Markel Family Oktoberfest at home! I started last week by assembling all of our favorite German foods from Aldi’s Deutsche Küche:
For lunch, we had cheddar and beer fondue with homemade pretzels, German pickles, and Nürnberger Bratwurst, plus more pretzels with beer mustard and nacho cheese sauce for those who don’t like fondue:
Dinner was schnitzel with optional Jäger sauce, spaetzle, sauerkraut, artichoke and cheese strudel, and red cabbage with apples:
And dessert was, of course, Black Forest cherry torte:
I also had a fun Oktoberfest celebration with my neighbors in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:
It wasn’t quite the Oktoberfest I had hoped for (again), especially after I derailed our pretzel-making to go to Urgent Care to have a splinter removed (that was unpleasant!), but it was a fun day of celebrating our German heritage!
This year’s Oktoberfest celebration was a weird one, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising in 2020. Normally, a Markel Family Oktoberfest is an at-home event. We listen to our Germany’s Greatest Hits CD, make some of our favorite German foods, and watch The Sound of Music and any episode of Rick Steves’ Europe set in Germany (or the Alps) we can find.
But this year was supposed to be different. The Great North American Oktoberfest was going to have its inaugural event in St. Louis this fall, and I had Plans. We were going to spend a day downtown, and listen to music and try out the rides and I was going to eat a steckerlfisch and maybe buy an authentic dirndl. And then COVID-19 happened. So we were back to our traditional Oktoberfest at home, which happens to be a very nice event. I started my shopping at Aldi a few weeks ago:
We made pretzels (of course):
We played Ticket to Ride–Germany:
We had a traditional German dinner
And our favorite German cake for dessert:
I even got into the spirit of the occasion in Animal Crossing: New Horizons!
So we had a fun day. Like so many other things this year, it wasn’t exactly what I had planned, but I’m glad we already had a tradition in place so we didn’t miss out on anything familiar!
Here we are, at the beginning of a new decade! I thought it would be fun to come up with a “Top Five” of the things I’m most looking forward to this year. I kind of wish I had something really big on my list, such as a family vacation like the one we took to Florida in 2018, or a trip to London, but I really don’t need grand events to come up with things I’m excited about! So here are the things I’m thrilled are coming up in the next year (more or less in chronological order):
Lego Modular Bookshop–I always look forward to the release of the new modular building on January 1st, but I’m especially excited about this year’s set, because like the Pet Shop, it is a building in two halves, which will offer me lots of options for displaying it on my Main Street! Actually, I was so excited about the set, I was in line outside the Lego Store 20 minutes before they opened this morning, just to make sure I got one of the 29 sets they had in stock (I did)!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons–I feel like I’ve been waiting for a new Animal Crossing game forever. Sure, I’ve played (and enjoyed) Pocket Camp for the last two years, but it’s not a full game, and it’s just not the same. So if you’re looking for me on March 20th, I’ll be living the island life with my animal friends!
Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen–One of the highlights of every year for the last several years has been the release of the latest book in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series. We’re nearing the end, with the last book set to come out in 2021, but until then, May will be a great month for reading for me!
Tokyo 2020–Everyone knows I love the Olympics, and I’m especially looking forward to this year’s summer games, because our whole family has an interest in Japanese culture. It will also be a bit bittersweet for several reasons, including the fact that it will be the closing bookend on Turkey and Bunny’s homeschool summer school experience (summer school began in 2008 with the Beijing Olympics), but in spite of that, it’s still going to be a fun time!
Great North American Oktoberfest–I actually thought this event, which is the first in what appears to be an annual event traveling to different cities, was going to be held in 2019 (and, as it turns out, I was right…originally it was scheduled for last year), so you can imagine my disappointment when we didn’t get to attend. I’m hoping that it won’t be postponed again, and I will be able to enjoy this experience in St. Louis in the fall!
Yesterday we celebrated Oktoberfest! This is something we do most years, but not always on the same date, and it definitely doesn’t always look the same (some years, we go pumpkin picking on the day of our Oktoberfest celebration, but it’s still a little too early in the fall for that). Here’s a look at this year’s festivities.
We started the day with a special (but not specifically German), fall-themed breakfast:
We made pretzels from scratch, which is always fun, and they went perfectly with the German fondue I prepared for lunch. We also had pickles and mini bratwurst for dipping (or just for eating, because the boys aren’t big fans of fondue), plus a delicious cheese and artichoke strudel I found at Aldi:
For dinner, I made schnitzel (also from Aldi…they’re the best frozen schnitzel I’ve ever had, probably because they have saltines in the breading), Jäger sauce, spaetzle, red cabbage, and sauerkraut:
And for dessert, our favorite German cake…Black Forest cherry torte:
We spent the day watching The Sound of Music (I know, it’s set in Austria, but Oktoberfest is a chance to celebrate part of our family’s heritage, and my grandfather was from Austria, so I think it works), and every episode of Rick Steves’ Europe set in Germany that we have. We also played Chrono-Trek, which really has nothing to do with Oktoberfest, but is our current favorite game, and so much fun to play. It was a great day!
Oktoberfest is one of my favorite times of year! My children have come to expect me to tell the story of why Oktoberfest starts in September and to make all their favorite Oktoberfest treats. Here are the recipes I’ve shared over the years…pretty much just sides and desserts for some reason, but those are the most delicious kinds of recipes, right?
Homemade Pretzels–This is one of favorite recipes, not just for Oktoberfest, but in general, because everyone gets involved in helping shape the pretzels…we’ve had a lot of fun coming up with unique shapes over the years!
Cheddar and Beer Fondue–If you’re looking for a dip for pretzels (or brats, crusty bread, and baby gherkins), this is the recipe you want.
Spaetzle–I can make over a dozen batches of this recipe in a single week, because it’s one that everybody loves, and it goes with pretty much anything.
Jäger Sauce–I don’t make the actual schnitzel from scratch anymore, because Aldi sells amazing frozen pork schnitzel that has saltines in the breading, but I do still like to make homemade Jäger sauce to go with it!
Apple Strudel–Technically, this is an Austrian recipe, but it’s still an Oktoberfest favorite around here!
Black Forest Cherry Torte–This is one of our all-time favorite cakes…I’ve made it not just for Oktoberfest, but for birthday, too!
It’s that time of year again…Oktoberfest! I’m looking forward to cooking some of our favorite German foods in the coming weeks, but none is more appreciated than homemade spaetzle…well, other than Black Forest Cherry Torte! Here’s the recipe I use…it makes a lot, so you might want to halve it if you don’t like spaetzle as much as we do (or if you don’t have seven members in your family!). I use a little less nutmeg than many recipes call for, because I find it a bit overpowering, but feel free to adjust to your tastes.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pinch fresh ground pepper (white is traditional, but I use black)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Shredded Gruyère cheese (optional)
Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Working over pot of water, press dough through spaetzle maker or colander with large holes, dropping into water. Cook four to six minutes. Drain well.
Sauté cooked spaetzle in butter. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top. For an extra-special treat, add some shredded Gruyère cheese and sauerkraut while sautéing the spaetzle.