Tummy Thursday

Today’s meal doesn’t actually look very nice, I have to admit, but it’s a local classic. the region I come from was formed by two factors: industry and agriculture. While many parts of Germany went either way, we always kept our rural character while still becoming important centres for mining and steelwork. the local industry bosses found out that keeping people in small rural areas instead of dense cities like Düsseldorf or Bochum had its advantages, too. They gave “generous” credits to their workers so they could build modest houses, and where now completely dependent on that one employer. The other advantage was that they could get away with lower wages because the people had gardens to do some small scale farming and supplement their income.

This means that most of the local diet is based on potatoes, poor people’s food all over Europe.

This particular dish has many names and probably as many “secret” family recipes as there are families. In my family it’s called “Grumbeere un Kneppcher dorjenanner” (potatoes and dumplings mixed together). Most people call it some version of “married ones”. All these names hint to the fact that the main parts are cooked in a single pot.

Enough history, lets get started.

Peel potatoes, slice them into wedges and bring to boil in a very big pot. This is not pictures due to being dull.

Next, make the batter.

Per person take 100g flour and 1 egg.

Mix together with enough milk to make a not too runny batter, add chives, salt, salt again, it isn’t salty enough, add some more, and nutmeg. Most people, me included will add something to make them lighter. My mum sometimes used sparkling water, i just add a pinch of baking powder.

Bowl with batter

Actually I didn’t have chives and used parsley

When the potatoes are 5 minutes from being done, take a big spoon and put it into the boiling water to make it hot and wet, then scoop out batter and put it into the pot, always dipping the spoon after each turn. Best wait a second or so after the first one to see if it holds or if you need to add some more flour.

Pot with dumplings

They will rise to the top quickly, but need a few minutes to boil completely. Best take one out and check.

Dumpling cut in half

The inside should be firm, not runny

When they’re done, scoop potatoes and dumplings into a big dish and fry some bacon cubes. People rarely had large servings of meat, but often a slice of bacon to add flavour to their meals. Usually the sizzling bacon is poured over the dumplings and potatoes, but since the kid no longer likes bacon, I serve it at the side.

Use the bacon frying pan to heat some salted milk which is poured over everything. Serve with a green salad and enjoy.

Bacon, potatoes and dumplings and milk

The finished meal. I swear it tastes way better than it looks


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reading how you were cooking it, I could picture in my mind my maternal grandmother making it. In my mind’s eye, it would be topped with Red Eye Gravy.

    PBS had an interesting series about food this summer entitled No Passport Required. The host, Marcus Samuelsson, was born in Ethiopia, adopted by a Swedish family and raised in Sweden, and is now a chef in the US (NYC to be precise). He went to six cities to explore the food of immigrants and listen to their stories of adapting to their new country. He even found a new way to serve herring.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Grumbeere un Kneppcher dorjenanner is a lovely name. Sounds like hearty food invented by people who could keep a potato patch, some chickens and maybe a pig.

    I hope this isn’t too much of a derailment:

    The policy of keeping people rural is reminiscent of the thing I once read about Belgium and suburbs. There was this book about an town-planning project that some architect had done that I once saw and in the introduction they talked about the national policy that Belgian Government (dominated by Liberal-Catholic politicians) had in the early 20th century or so, which was basically subsidizing the working class to build their own detached houses in the suburbs (with affordable loans and by building railways), so that they wouldn’t strike and riot in the cities, but would embrace ownership and family values. According to the book, the policy created incredible urban sprawl and a part of the suburbs are now in a downward spiral due to the insufficient local services, depopulation and aging population.

  3. Nightjar says

    How interesting. This is unlike anything I have ever cooked or eaten, and now I’m curious.

  4. avalus says

    This dish wakes childhood memories! I should make some grumbeere un knepp* again. Tank you!

    *how our family called it. Palatinate accent has just wonderful wordcreations as Grumbeerestambes! (potato mash)

  5. says

    Oh, I know Grumbeerestambes as well, or Grumbeere un Geeleriewestambes

    Ice Swimmer

    Sounds like hearty food invented by people who could keep a potato patch, some chickens and maybe a pig.

    A goat. Goats were known here as “miner’s cows”. Most families had one. they gave milk and occasional meat and were easy to keep. My grandparents used to keep rabbits (long before my time) to have a little income and some meat.
    Even though they didn’t need it anymore, the garden was still in it’s “optimised for food production” form when I was a kid. A small part for sitting, then two vegetable patches that would be alternately planted with potatoes and veggies (beans and peas, mostly) and then an orchard. Late summer and autumn were always busy times.

  6. dakotagreasemonkey says

    This is remarkably like Knoephla soup, which is a local food of North Dakota, Made by the descendants of the “Germans from Russia” , that live here now, along with a mix of Nordic settlers.
    I never had anything like it, until I moved to ND. Quite tasty soup, and quite filling. The last picture looks remarkably close to Knoephla Soup. Big slabs of flour dumplings, bathed in a potato soup.

  7. says

    That makes sense as the “Knoepla” indicates that those people were originally from Swabia (the -le/la diminutive is a giveaway for Southeren Germany and Switzerland), which is pretty close to where I live. Knöpfle or Spätzle are often eaten in soups, though usually in clear soups.

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