Grandma Suzie's Grebel

I think it is important to know your family...for MY family to know their family.  Sunday after Mass, we were so fortuneate to celebrate with friends over brunch.  I say celebrate because we were celebrating friendships, some old and some new.  (Thanks Clark family for being amazing hosts!) 

We have all connected to each other because of running together.  Some combination of us have run and do run together on a regular basis.  We were celebrating Sunday...the Lord's day and gave thanks to Him for all of our blessings.  We were celebrating families as we watched 30-some kids play and eat and play some more.   The spread of food was mouth-watering, the company genuine, and the feeling left at the end of our time was more than gratifying.  It seems that most good times gathered together end with the cliche saying, "We should do this again sometime soon!"  This day was no different.  In fact, as we pondered the idea of having brunch together regularly, we recognized that this is what our grandparents did every week.  It was the norm to share a Sunday afternoon together sharing meals, dancing, baking, etc.  I've always been a fan of this idea.  Maybe it's the nostalgic part of me longing for more time with family, deeper relationships with family, unbreakable bonds and selfless sharing.  You don't see that so much anymore as you may have 50 years ago.  I think it should be revived.  (That, and wearing hats...I really want a good reason to wear those really pretty Kentucky-Derby-party-type hats...)  Reviving such a thing with friends would be just as welcome! 

These things being on my mind, mixed in with this week being "G" week brought even more thoughts of family and heritage and keeping memories and traditions alive to the forefront.  What??  I know, I can ramble...I couldn't pass up serving Grebel as a "G" week snack.  Grebel is something that is considered a traditional food in my family...meaning my extended family.  I haven't really done a very good job making such traditional things for my own family.  My Great Grandma Suzie use to always have grebel at her house...along with sour cream raisin cookies and those little round pink mint candies.  I remember helping her make the cookies and sometimes the grebel.  She's been gone now for a little more than 12 years.  I wish my kids could have met her...they would've like her.  She had a china cabinet full of salt and pepper shakers...the cute ones that were characters or figures.  She had a box under the bathroom cupboard with old perfume bottles and wooden spools that somehow entertained us for hours.  She had a shiny silver Christmas tree that was up every Christmas when we went to her house after Christmas Eve service.  She and Great Grandpa lived across the street from the church and their house was FULL of family every Christmas Eve.  Great Grandpa always sat in the same chair in the corner and used his cane to get someone's attention. 

ANYWAY...Grebel is one of those foods that makes its appearance at family holiday celebrations, although no one makes them like Great Grandma did.  (Lefsa, Kuchen, Butterballs, Halva, and Schnitz Soup are some other favorites of mine, but probably for another post.)

I bake and cook with my kids all the time, but I've really not ever started teaching them how to make any of these things.  I really don't even make them.  I decided that isn't acceptable.  These things need to be passed on.  I don't want my kids to just have a vague memory of eating them at Grandma's house.  Enter "G" week, creating the perfect opportunity to get started! 

We of course used Grandma Suzie's recipe.  I wouldn't think of using any other.  I've made grebel a few times before, but not often enough to remember important things like what kinds of sour cream and "can I make buttermilk or should I use actual buttermilk?"  I often think of the coversations I would have with my grandma now if I could.  After a little deliberation and a phone call to mom, I decided on a carton of full-fat sour cream instead of the light or fat free stuff and real buttermilk, but the grocery store only had powdered, so that would have to do.

I had ready and eager helpers.  See that apron on Amelia?  That was one of the first things I ever sewed...when I was eight!  Poor Joe had to wear Mathilda's apron, but he didn't care much.  There was a little squabbling over who was going to get to pour something in.  I had to watch Amelia closely because she was really eager to just add her own measurements of whatever she could!
All of the ingredients go in together and then get mixed to a sticky's pretty tasty too I guess!  Of course, taste testing is a most important part of any cooking/baking project!

The sticky dough gets refrigerated for a while...overnight possibly, but we were not that patient, so we finished the dough at 10 am, ate lunch early, took naps (you know, the deep, drooling, I've-been-up-since-4 am-and-I-need-a-nap nap) so we could get up and finish before leaving to pick up the other kids from school.

We had a fairly good mess to clean up, but the mess is always worth it...and usually pretty amusing with all the flour and sticky dough attached to little fingers and faces!  I love being in the kitchen and I really like my stainless measuring utensils...the nostalgia thing you know.  I can never find any of them when I need them because they make good toys too, but I'll take them any day over an "all-in-one" device just because they remind me of good things in my past...baking with my grandmas and my mom. 

One mess was cleaned up and then we made an even bigger one getting the dough ready to fry.  A grebel is like a donut.  Joe said, "What do we call these again?"  "Grebel"  "They taste like donuts.  Why don't we just call them donuts?"  "Because they're grebel and it's very important that they aren't JUST donuts."  :) 

The dough gets rolled out to about 1/8 of an inch and cut into squares with 2 slits cut in the middle.  You're supposed to twist them--pull one side through the opposite slit and then twist a little but I'm not really good at this...I guess practice might make closer to remotely right??

Fried...yes, fried, not baked.  It would not be good to make these weekly.  :)  And then flip when one side is golden.

...until they're all done, and then...

 ...sugar...when they're still warm, dredge them in sugar...

 While not entirely necessary, it is important.  Joe got the important job.

 Voila!  Grebel...German Grebel...Great Grandma's German Grebel.  How's that for G's???  And just in the nick of time too...we were done with enough time to spare to wipe the flour from ourselves, take a quick taste and run out the door to school.
"What's for snack today?" they all asked.  "Grebel", Joe said proudly.  "Mmmm."  They know.  They remember.  And now they can remember that their mama made it too!  :)

Grandma Suzie's Grebel
1 c. buttermilk
1c. sour cream
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
5 cups flour (more may be needed)
Mix all ingredients together to form a sticky dough.  Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.  Roll out dough adding more flour as needed to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into squares and make two slits.  Twist.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.  Sprinkle with sugar while warm.