Darlene Foster's Blog

Family Matters

Posted on: August 28, 2010

Original Hoffman family

I consider myself fortunate to be part of a wonderful, huge, German-Canadian family.  My  great grandparents, Henry and Katharina Hoffman, arrived in Canada from South Russia in 1909, and for the past twenty-five years, we have been meeting for a reunion once every 5 years.  This summer we met in the beautiful central Alberta area near Ponoka.  It was so great to see all my many cousins, aunts, uncles and siblings.  We ate fabulous German food, caught up, played games, went canoeing and were entertained.  It didn’t matter that it rained at times, we just moved inside to eat, visit, share news and reminisce.  Just being together was all that mattered.  Family pictures were taken and loved ones no longer with us were fondly remembered.  I attended with my mother, my aunt, my daughter and my grandson.  Six generations were represented as my grandmother’s younger sister is still with us at 91 years  young. (on the picture she is seated second from the right with a baby on her lap.)

The most popular event, after the German meal, of course, was the silent auction.  Family members donate items and others bid on them to raise funds for the next reunion in five years.  The bidding is fierce as everyone vies for cherished items such as hand knitted afghans, homemade wine, jams, pickles and many other treasures.  There is much friendly competition, no one gets hurt and most leave with something to take home.

My great-grandparents crossed the ocean on a cattle ship with three toddlers and my grandmother on the way.  They stopped in Winnipeg long enough for my grandmother to be born and then carried on to set up a farm in south-eastern Alberta where they had nine more children. They brought with them a strong work ethic, incredible tenacity and the love of family.  There are now well over two hundred of us descendants. We have  chosen many different walks of life, there are not many farmers left, but the love of family has stayed strong throughout the generations.

The love and feeling of camaraderie was everywhere that weekend and I know that no matter what happens in my life, my family will always be there for me.  What a comforting thought.  Speaking of comfort, when I need comfort food, I usually long for German food.

Now if only I could make saskatoon kuchen, perogies or knepfla with sauerkraut that tastes as good as it does at the reunion.

Here is a recipe for those who would like to try.

Best German Kuchen

Dough:

4 cups of flour                                                1 cup margarine or butter

2 tsp. baking powder                          1 tsp. salt

2 eggs in measuring cup and milk enough to make 1 ½ cups

Filling:

6 eggs                                                  2 cups sour cream

1 ½ cups sugar                                                2 Tbsp. flour

2 tsp. vanilla                                       ½ tsp. baking powder

750 gm. cottage cheese

Crumbs (optional):

¾ cup butter                                        2 cups flour

1 ½ cups sugar                                                Pinch of salt

Make dough by mixing dry ingredients together

Beat 2 eggs in a measuring cup and add milk to make 1 ½ cups.

Mix and knead well

Let dough rest for 30 minutes (dough will be soft)

Roll out dough for 6 -8 pies and pat into pie pans

Beat all filling ingredients together except cottage cheese

Fold in cottage cheese.

Put cream filling on top of dough in pans

Place your favourite fruit on top (Fresh or frozen).  My favourite is Saskatoon berries but apples, peaches, blueberries, plums etc are all good.

Rub ingredients of crumbs together if using and spread evenly over kuchen.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 F for 35 – 40

May be frozen and served later for unexpected guests!

14 Responses to "Family Matters"

Hi Darlene: I loved hearing about the reunion. We are going to try and make the next one. It has been almost 30 years since I have been up for a visit. Sad to say. Loved hearing the history.

Thanks Robin. It would be so great to see you and your family at the next reunion.

Sounds like a wonderful time. Your great grandparents must have been tough, but then people were way back when, weren’t they?

Thanks Laura. Yes, we do come from tough stock. It has stood the test of time though as I have seen that toughness in my own adult children when faced with difficult situations. I guess that is a gift my great grandparents gave us.

Hi Darlene,

I love your article, stories about our family pioneers are full of strengths and so powerful. Love the picture

Dats a lot of info kid ; tanks for dat

You are welcome.. I thought I told you to lose the accent!

It was a wonderful time wasn’t it. Do we know who is doing the next one? Seems to me I knew but can’t bring the family to mind. Oh well doesn’t matter it will be a great time no matter who puts it on. Wish the weekend wouldn’t have gone by so fast.

It was great as always. My friends are so envious that we actually do this. I believe it will be the Becker family who will host the next reunion.

Hi Darlene,

Great writeup! Good to here from you, I would love to have a copy of that picture, as Mom (Annita) didn’t have one in her box of treasures. Keep in touch.

Dianne

Great to hear from you Dianne. I am sure someone can get you a copy of the picture. It is a good one. I have some nice pictures of the ‘three amigos’ from the reunion I will send to you. Please do keep in touch. Darlene

Hi Darlene,
What an awesome write up and thanks so much for taking the time and effort to do it. This past reunion was one of the best! I enjoyed talking to you and catching up on some of the family news.
Today I am making kucken for the first time ever, by myself. Somewhat apprehensive as to how it will turn out. Won’t you come over for quality control purposes?
Must dash and get started. Take care and keep in touch.
Sandra

Hi Sandra:

Thanks so much for your comments. I too enjoyed visiting with you and your family as you all hold a very special place in my heart (such fond childhood memories). Good luck with the kuchen. I am sure it will turn out great as it must be in our genes! Much love to all.
Darlene

[…] Family Matters August 2010 13 comments 5 […]

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