Celebrating German Roots & Fall Harvest with Oktoberfest
For a few days each year, folks in southern Minnesota toot their own horns. They’ve also been known to play the concertina, sing volkslieder (folk songs) and dance a polka. In fact, they’re so good at carrying on these German traditions that USA Today has named New Ulm one of the “10 Great Places to Celebrate Oktoberfest.” You can experience New Ulm’s 30th annual Oktoberfest from Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8, 2011.
“Oktoberfest is definitely a great time. However, because it coincides with harvest in our area, we aren’t always able to attend. But when we go, we have fun!” says Tom Maiers (pronounced “Meyers”). “If you enjoy or think you’d enjoy the experience of a German festival, you’ll want to check this one out. It’s a great opportunity to meet new friends, visit with old friends, taste some wonderful German food and enjoy the local ethnic entertainment.”
Tom and his wife of 38 years, La Mae, farm about 40 miles north of New Ulm in Stewart. They also have a Latham® seed dealership. Tom is the primary salesman. La Mae handles the details of entering the customers’ orders into an online system that also tracks inventory and prints customer invoices.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people select the best products for their farm,” says Tom, who started making sales calls in the late 1960s with his father, who later became a district sales manager for a seed company. In the early 1970s, Tom became a dealer himself. As seed companies sold or brands changed hands throughout the years, the Maiers have stayed with family-owned, independent seed companies.
“One of the reasons La Mae and I are so excited about our new partnership with Latham is because we believe we can offer superior products to our customers,” says Tom. “Latham offers a diverse lineup with access to all of the industry’s latest traits and technologies.”
Tom is putting those technologies to the test this season with his own on-farm research. He and La Mae live on the Maiers’ home place, which was originally purchased in 1919 by Tom’s grandfather. “We feel so blessed that my grandfather settled where he did,” says Tom. “Our land is very productive and it’s adjacent to a gravel pit where our family likes to fish and hunt. Wildlife is abundant. It’s common to look out the window and see deer or turkeys in our yard. Plus, there is lots of room for kids to play and explore.”
If all goes according to plan, this beautiful farm place will stay in the Maiers family well after it becomes a Century Farm. All three of the Maiers’ sons live within a 10-mile radius and assist with the planting and harvest. Their oldest son, Nathan, is also the materials coordinator at Impressions, a printing company located in Hutchinson. He and his fiancée, Tammy, are busy planning their wedding for early 2012. Tammy is a speech therapist and also works in the Hutchinson area.
Matthew, the youngest of their four children, is the maintenance supervisor for the City of Stewart. Matt’s wife, Melissa, is employed with the State Farm Agency in Hector, Minn. They’re also the proud parents of a five-month-old son, Mason.
Jonathan has farmed full-time beside his parents for the past eight years. He and his wife, Kate, recently purchased an acreage within two miles of the home farm. They’re hoping they and their three children (10-year-old Dylan, 7-year-old Alexandra and 3-year-old Jack) are moved into the newly remodeled farm house well before it’s time to carve the jack-o-lanterns. Jon has been burning the candle at both ends, trying to finish up the carpentry work while preparing for fall harvest. When Kate isn’t working as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Hutchinson Area Health Care, she’s busy painting walls and staining woodwork as the family works together to finish this extensive project.
The Maiers’ oldest child, Kimberly, lives in Nashville. She and her husband, John Shaw III, released their first self- titled CD Drobac and Shaw in July. It’s a country album, but it includes the Personal Polka. This single is available as a download for just $.99 on Amazon.com, or the whole physical album at CDBaby.com. (I’m betting Drobac and Shaw’s version of the polka is distinctly different from the polkas that will be played at New Ulm’s Oktoberfest. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!)
In honor of their German heritage and the upcoming 30th Oktoberfest celebration, La Mae graciously treated me to a delicious homemade lunch including the Maiers’ family recipe for German Potato Salad. Her side dish was so delicious that I’m happy to add this recipe to my own collection! I’m also glad to have La Mae’s bread pudding recipe. There’s bread pudding – and then there’s La Mae’s bread pudding. Seriously, it’s that good. I’m guessing the secret is in the sauce. Try it and tell me if you agree!
Recipe: German Potato Salad
From the Kitchen of La Mae Maiers
- 3 lbs red potatoes
- 6-8 strips of bacon
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Wash and cook potatoes until tender, yet firm. Cool slightly. Peel and slice. Brown bacon with the onion. Drain some of the bacon grease (retaining some adds flavor to the salad). Break up the bacon into smaller pieces.
- In a large pan, boil together: water, sugar, vinegar and salt until clear, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Mix cornstarch with an additional amount of cold water to make thickening (as you would for gravy). Slowly stir into the water/sugar mixture, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.
- Add bacon/onions and potatoes to dressing. Simmer until potatoes are heated through. Mixture should be “soupy” but will thicken as potatoes soak up the dressing. This dish is much more flavorful if made a day ahead and then reheated on low in a crock pot.
Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce
- 6 slices day-old bread
- 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ cup seedless raisins
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups Almond milk (or regular milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Break bread into small pieces in a 1½ quart baking dish.
- Sprinkle cinnamon and raisins over bread.
- Drizzle with butter.
- Combine eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla.
- Add to bread mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm.
- Best served warm with Rum Sauce.
Butter Rum Sauce
(Makes 2 cups)
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Rum/Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to taste
- Place milk, butter and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil.
- Heat oil in small skillet and stir in flour to make a smooth paste.
- Add some of the milk mixture to flour mixture and blend well.
- Return flour mixture to milk mixture in pan.
- Cook and stir until thickened and smooth.
- Add nutmeg, vanilla and rum to taste.
- Serve over pudding.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream when serving.
(Original recipe found in Recipes from Minnesota…with love by Betty Malisow)
From the Kitchen of La Mae Maiers