Grüß Gott!

The tradition of Oktoberfest started in 1810 when the citizens of Munich were invited to the marriage festivities of Crown Prince Ludwig to Prince Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The festival grew and now over 6 million people from all over the world attend the event every year.

Oktoberfest has only been canceled 26 times since its inception. Unfortunately, Oktoberfest was canceled last year and this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beer is a big part of the modern festival with more than one million gallons consumed during Oktoberfest. If you’re drinking beer in Germany, it’s probably vegan. According to Reinheitsgebot — the German purity laws of 1516 — only malted grains (barley), hops, water and yeast can be used to brew beer. The German purity laws are over 500 years old and German beer is among the most delicious in the world.

Since none of us are going to Oktoberfest this year, you can join us in celebrating Oktoberfest at home. Put on your dirndl or lederhosen, open a beer, and cook up some delicious vegan food with German flavors.

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A study run by the German Nutrition Society in 2016 estimated that almost 1% of the population of Germany is vegan. In the U.S., a 2021 study found the number of vegans is 0.5%. Current data shows that the number of vegans worldwide continues to rise. If the movement maintains the current growth rate, over the next 10 years, at least 1 in 10 people will be vegan.

Guten appetit!

Beer Cheese Soup

This recipe is adapted from the beer cheese soup at plantpowercouple.com. The husband-wife team produce delightful videos of themselves cooking together.

3 cups peeled and diced potatoes

1 peeled and diced carrot (about ½ cup)

1 small onion, diced (about ½ cup)

1 cup water

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup canola oil

4 large cloves garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons German mustard (or any spicy mustard)

1 tablespoon vegetable broth concentrate

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup vegan beer

4 vegan-friendly soft pretzel buns

Boil potatoes, carrots, and onions for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are well done. Strain the vegetables and mash them. Add remaining ingredients, except beer. Put soup into a pot, add beer and simmer on medium to low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir the soup frequently to ensure that it’s not sticking to the bottom of your pot. Add more water if your soup is too thick.

Cut off top of pretzel buns, scoop out the center, and serve the beer soup in the buns. If you’d like, sprinkle the soup with vegan bacon bits, chives or paprika.

Kohlrabi Schnitzel

In 2018, kohlrabi was Duluth’s vegetable of the year. The whole “Vegetable of the Year” program is the coolest thing ever.

“Kohlrabi” is the German word for “cabbage turnip.” Kohlrabi is delicious raw as well as cooked.

So what to do with kohlrabi? Well, make schnitzel, of course! The schnitzel is good on it’s own with a little white sauce, but I also like the kohlrabi schnitzel on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and a little vegan mayonnaise.

One medium-sized kohlrabi will make about four schnitzels. I recommend one kohlrabi per person.

3 medium-sized kohlrabi

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup bread crumbs

Canola oil as needed

Peel then slice the kohlrabi about 1/3-inch thick. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the kohlrabi, and boil for 8 minutes. Remove the kohlrabi from heat, strain, then rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a bowl, make a batter by mixing the flour with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¾ cup of water. The batter should be the thickness of pancake batter. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.

Mix the breadcrumbs in a bowl with the remaining ½ cup of salt.

Dip the kohlrabi first in the flour mixture then the breadcrumb mixture. Fry them up in canola oil in a skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Currywurst

Currywurst dates back to 1949. Berliner Herta Heuwer lived near Checkpoint Charlie, where she traded alcohol for ketchup and spices with the British soldiers who were stationed there. Eventually, Heuwer opened a food stand where she sold currywurst into the 1970s. Heuwer died in 1999 and her curry sauce recipe went to the grave with her; she didn’t even share the recipe with her husband!

Heuwer’s gastronomic creation is now part of the culinary repertoire of Germany. Munich’s currywurst museum remained open until 2018.

My family loves bratwurst with curry sauce. I think it’s weird. The recipe below tastes like the currywurst we enjoy in Germany.

4 vegan bratwurst

Curry sauce:

1 cup tomato ketchup

¼ teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons mild curry powder

1 teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons beefless or veggie broth

2 tablespoons water

Put ketchup in a small saucepan and heat. When the ketchup is warmed, add baking soda and stir continuously until foaming subsides. Reduce heat to low and add remaining ingredients. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Saute or grill bratwurst until they’re browned on all sides. Cut the bratwurst into thick slices and douse with warm curry sauce. Currywurst may be served with fries or a crusty bread. Extra sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for about a month.

Gurkensalat

2 large cucumbers

¼ cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¾ cup vegan sour cream

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Peel and thinly sliced cucumbers. Mix vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together. Pour over cucumbers. Marinate the cucumbers for about 30 minutes, drain off liquid, then mix the cucumbers with the sour cream. Garnish with parsley.

Layered German Skillet

We always have the ingredients for this simple dish on hand.

1 tablespoon of canola oil

14-ounce can sauerkraut with caraway

1 finely diced apple

1 cup uncooked rice

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound veggie burger crumbles

¼ teaspoon pepper

10-ounce can stewed tomatoes

Spread canola oil in a large, deep skillet. Spread sauerkraut, then apples, over oil. Then top with rice and onion. Top with veggie burger crumbles, pepper, and tomatoes. Add about 2 cups of water. Do not stir.

Cover the skillet and heat on medium to low heat for about 30 minutes or until the rice is done. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice and may require the addition of a quarter cup or more of water. When the rice is cooked, remove the cover from the skillet and let any excess water evaporate. Serve from the skillet.

Apfelstrudel

Parchment paper

1 tablespoon canola oil

All purpose flour (for dusting)

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoons flour

¼ cup raisins (optional)

½-pound package of frozen vegan puff pastry, thawed

Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then grease then dust the paper with flour.

Mix the apple slices, sugar, flour and raisins (if using) in a bowl. Roll out puff pastry on a floured surface until about 12 by 16 inches. Put the apple mixture down the bottom half of the long side of the pastry, leaving a 1-inch border around the outside. Fold in the short sides and then stretch the long side over the apple filling.

Put strudel on baking sheet with the seam side down. Cut ¼-inch deep slashes diagonally across the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the apfelstrudel cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Susan Alexander is food columnist for the Duluth News Tribune. She loves gardening, farmers markets and creating delicious meals consisting of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.