Family Recipes Passed On

Yesterday we gathered at my daughter’s house to reminisce about food from our past. Our family used to do “pult” fests from time to time.

Pult or kropkakor, I am not sure of the Swedish spelling but I am sure someone out there is, is a potato dumpling that our family always enjoyed. I have since found out that most cultures have some type of potato dumpling with various fillings so it is not uniquely Swedish.

Years ago I asked my mother-in-law how to make pult. She was unable to tell me exact measurements because she “just made it”. We arranged a pult session where I could write down what we did. It was our Christmas dinner that year. As we worked I kept my paper and pen handy. In spite of very sticky hands I managed to write it all down. By the time the extended family was there the pult was ready.

These potato dumplings are very heavy. They fill you up quickly. I could usually manage to eat one, but no more. My children used to share one, but that ended as they took their place in the family pult fest.

My father-in-law ate his with cream. The rest of us preferred butter. They are even better as leftovers the next day, but we did not often have many to fry. When we ate pult that was the main part of the meal. We served cranberries along with them since lingonberries were not readily available.

The family stories go on and on. When the Swanson clan celebrated its heritage you can be sure pult was on the menu.

As all of the cousins grew older it was impossible for one person to make enough pult to feed the family. At least two households had to have pult cooking on the stove.

When my children married I made each of them a cookbook with favorite family recipes. Pult was one of the ones that I included along with the elaborate instructions. My son told me that he and his wife actually made them alongside grandma once so they had made them before.

Yesterday it was just my daughter’s family and me. My daughter and granddaughter never made pult before. I told her to plan on at least an hour to prepare them and another hour for them to cook.

First I demonstrated how to roll the potato balls and fill them. Then we set up an assembly line to put them together. When you make pult you use one-third potatoes, one-third cooked potatoes chopped up, and one-third grated raw potatoes. The filling is salt pork cubed along with lean pork chops also cubed.

Carly made the shell and I added the filling. Then, she pulled the shell together and added a dollop of dough to the top. Jill added water with her hands to create a solid ball. When we had enough to fill one pan we dropped them into the hot water.

The pult came out perfectly. We rolled them smaller than grandma used to but the children probably would not have eaten them if they were larger.

In the end we all enjoyed the making process. My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our pult fest. My granddaughter ate all of hers, but my grandson was not fond of them. “I like the meat and I like the potatoes, but I do not like these!” he said.

We had plenty left since my son and his family was too tired to come eat with us. Tonight will be fried pult night.

I also need to pay homage to my German heritage. My grandfather loved some of the old German recipes that his mother used to make. I have learned to make some of them. Krautnoodles was a favorite. You made homemade noodles, drained some sauerkraut, and then, fried them both in butter. I often tried to make this if I knew grandpa was coming for a visit. He also liked the sour green beans that had a sort of gravy of its own, but I never mastered that one.

I did learn to make several kinds of German cookies. When grandpa was around I made pfeffernuesse and springerles that I sent to him. I no longer make these because I never liked them. They were both hard cookies that you had to dunk into coffee. I do still make my great-grandmother’s molasses cookies. I have tweaked the spices because I like a little more flavor, but it is basically a very old recipe. It originally called for lard, but I have changed that, too.

The first time I tried to make them I had to call my grandmother. When I copied her recipe I did not notice that there was no flour mentioned. I noticed it at once when I tried to make the cookies. She told me about how much to add and I went from there. When I wrote out the recipe for the girls I made sure it told how much flour I use.

These cookies are a must at Christmas. I cut them into gingerbread men. They are the favorites of my two grandsons. Each will look through the plate of cookies to find the molasses ones.

Now that I have made everyone hungry – maybe you can gather your family and cook up a family favorite for all to enjoy. Get everyone involved. A family that cooks together has a lot of fun.

Passing on your family recipes is recording family history.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.