After Mike’s 50th High School Class Reunion in Watertown, we headed for home – October 2. We left California on August 14, with a long list of people to visit and interests to pursue. After 50 days on the road, we needed a vacation from vacation.
The last stop of our trip was Vermillion, SD, where my High School friend, Ann, lives. I couldn’t leave South Dakota without visiting her. Ann told me about an article in the September Issue of South Dakota Magazine. The article, written by Katie Hunhoff, is about the Open Door Café in Menno, SD.
“I want to drive you to Menno. It is only 61 miles from here. We could have lunch,” Ann said.
Menno, population 780, was settled by Germans from Russia. The café, open seven days a week, is on Main Street. It is run by Rita and Jerome Hoff who have been serving German specialties since 1986. Rita makes her dishes from scratch and uses produce from local gardens.
Tuesday’s menu always includes one or more German dishes. Fleish Kuchle is the favorite. Thursdays she bakes Kuchen, and on Sunday they serve a big buffet for the church goers. Weekdays, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the Open Door Café serves food to the Senior Citizens of the town.
Even though it was Monday when we visited the café, Rita fried us some Fleish Kuchle so we could taste it. She offered her recipe.
Rita’s Fleish Kuchle
Ingredients: 1 stick margarine, 1 cup warm milk, 1 egg, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, and 4 cups flour.
Melt margarine and cool. Add milk, baking powder, salt and eggs. Mix. Add flour.
Filling: 4 pounds hamburger, salt, pepper, chopped onion.
Mix meat mixture. Roll out dough to thickness of pie dough. Cut into 4” x 4” squares. Put one heaping tablespoon hamburger filling in center. Fold in half. Seal edges Fry in 350 degrees oil for 7 minutes.
Ann and I ate lunch and visited with Rita and Jerome. Their families came from the Black Sea region of Russia. We discussed the similarities and differences of the foods from the Volga area and the Black Sea.
If you are ever in the southeastern part of South Dakota, stop at the café. Rita and Jerome are terrific people and cook good German Russian foods.
And, “thanks again, Ann. I would never have discovered this treasure without you!"