Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reminiscing My German Heritage & Childhood

Today I wanted to write about a childhood memory.  Hopefully, my cherished memories of my oma (that’s German for grandma) and her European background will trigger fond childhood memories that will inspire you to share your story with me!

This is the story of how Groupon took me back to my childhood! Ha ha ha

A few months back I opened my e-mail before doing anything on the internet… nothing new.  Every day I see a ‘new deal’ that Groupon offers waiting to be opened.  This particular day the subject line read, “Hansa Import Haus”.   With that, a rush of oma’s old world recipes came to mind.  When I was little my dad and my oma would take a mini European trip to the Hansa Import Haus, just located down the street from Cleveland’s ever famous West Side Market on W. 25th Street.

Needless to say, I purchased the ‘deal’ immediately and finally presented my printed coupon treasures to the nice ladies at the counter several days ago. Hee hee hee

The Hansa Import Haus is located on the west side of Cleveland, OH and sits on Lorain Avenue.  The architecture temporarily tricks your mind into believing you have just stepped foot into a little part of Europe. 

The Hansa Haus is filled with great finds that you won’t see at your local grocery store - including specialty items for traditional ‘old world’ recipes and even games, books, & magazines (not in English of course).  Make sure to check them out the next time you feel like exploring Cleveland and all of its rich cultures!

These are just a few things I picked up while I was there. 

The taste of European Rye Bread has a delicious distinct taste like no other!  And how can one resist chocolate from Lindt!

My oma ALWAYS spread some goose liver pate over rye bread - as a snack - OR she would spread some over peeled boiled potatoes.  Mind you, I've had some crazy looks from people, but I like it and still reminds me of my childhood.

Even though my oma and opa (grandma and grandpa) moved to Cleveland with my dad (when he was 3 years old) from Kaiserslautern Germany.  I, unfortunately, don’t know a lot of the language OR how to cook the recipes my oma made.  The only words I know in the German language are: oma (grandma), opa (grandpa), & Ich liebe dich (I love you).  It’s SO SAD… I know. 

The one recipe I was able to salvage from my oma after she left to be with the Lord, on June 1, 2005 was her Rollade (beef rolls).  I’m sure this was not her personal recipe, but one of tradition.  I remember when I was little my oma would always pick up the noodles at the Hansa Haus - since they were no where to be found at the local grocery store - and of course, while I was there the other day I saw the very noodles my oma used in her recipe!  I picked up a package and braved the idea of trying to duplicate the recipe sometime soon… hopefully sooner than later. Ha ha ha

These are THE noodles used in the rollade recipe.

These noodles are long like spaghetti, but thicker due to the hollow center.

As strange as some of the ingredients sound in this recipe, surprisingly, the flavor is unbelievable and delish! (And if anyone decides to give this recipe a try, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!)

Rump, English Cut or Beef Sirloin may be used.  Cut into slices ¾” thick or thinner.  Pound each slice well; sprinkle with salt, pepper; spread a very thin slice of bacon on each slice; place a small pickle and very little mustard on each slice (optional); roll up each piece and fasten with toothpicks or string. (My oma always used long pickle slices & mustard; she always used string because the toothpicks wouldn’t stay fastened.)

Dip each roll in flour.  Melt a small amount of butter in a skillet.  Place the rolls in the heated, melted butter; cover and fry for 10 min over a med flame, turning them once.

In the meantime, sauté finely chopped onion in a pot.  Place the fried rolls into the pan.  Add enough boiling water to cover and stew the rolls for an hour or until tender.  Be sure to use a slow fire.  When done, take out the toothpicks/string and place the rolls on a platter while you finish the gravy.

Use 1 T. flour in ½ cup of cold water and blend thoroughly.  Add to the gravy and let boil about 5 min.  Stir to prevent burning.  Sour cream may be added, if desired.  (My oma added the sour cream to the gravy, which was phenomenal!)

(Now, the recipe doesn’t say anything about noodles, but my oma made these specific noodles to go with the rollade.  She prepared the noodles separately and placed them next to the beef rolls on the plate.  She would then pour the gravy over the rollade and the noodles (that I can’t find anywhere except the Hansa Haus).  After that my oma would grate a block of Swiss cheese on top of the noodles, and viola!)

Like I said, the combination of some of the ingredients may sound kind of weird - maybe even a little scary - but you have to give it a try before making any final conclusions.  Believe me!  Yum!

In all, my trip to the Hansa Import Haus has had me reminiscing ever since!  Again, be sure to check them out the next time you feel like exploring Cleveland one weekend, and say hello to the nice ladies behind the counter.  They are ever so helpful & kind!

Please comment below if you’d like to share a childhood memory, or if you have already been to the Hansa Haus and would like to share your experience.  I promise to respond… that’s how I roll!  Ha ha ha