Angela Jostlein has called Naperville home for 30 years, but she hasn’t left behind her German origins.
She grew up in Munich and is a firm believer in Oktoberfest, the fall celebration featuring beer, food and fun. And she loves to share the many German traditions and foods at her German Language School in Naperville.
She has been teaching German to both children and adults for about 18 years.
“In Germany, children start to learn English in the third grade and take at least two foreign languages in high school,” she notes.
To help her students practice their German and socialize, Jostlein hosts a Stammtisch once a month.
“Stammtisch means ‘table of the commoners,’” she says. “It is a time for people to meet regularly. We meet at a local restaurant most of the time, and we try to speak German, but sometimes we speak English also.”
Some months the Stammtisch is at Jostlein’s home, and German dishes are shared.
“We only let the Germans cook for those dinners so the food is authentic,” she says.
Jostlein notes there are differences between American and German dining traditions.
“In Germany, the big meal is at lunch,” she says. “The children come home to eat at lunchtime. Dinner is usually bread, meats and cheese. And German bread is nothing like American white bread. It is darker with lots of grain. White bread is not used except for toast.”
One easy German dish she makes at home is rouladen, which is made with very thin-sliced beef. To make them, Jostlein first fries chopped onion and bacon. After draining, she adds chopped dill pickle to make a filling. Each thin meat slice is seasoned with salt and pepper, spread with mustard and filled with about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling. The meat is then rolled up and tied with string to hold it. The rolls are browned in olive oil. Then a little water is added into the pan along with favorite seasonings. The rouladens are simmered for about 30 minutes. The pan juices can be thickened and served with the rouladen with pasta or potatoes.
A common side dish in Germany is spätzle, a simple pasta.
“Many people have spätzle instead of potatoes,” Jostlein says. “They put gravy or sauce over them or just sprinkle on some cheese.”
Jostlein has a spätzle maker but says that a grater or colander with large holes also works. The spätzle maker can usually be found in kitchen specialty stores.
But Jostlein’s favorite treat when she goes home to Germany is a slice of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake. The rich chocolate cake filled with sour cherries and covered with real whipped cream is unbeatable. She has tried Black Forest Cake made by some bakeries but says “the biggest difference is using fresh whipped cream.”
When Jostlein makes the cake, she is sure to add sahnefestiger, a stabilizer made for whipped cream known as Dr. Oetker’s Whip It here in the states. It is sold at local grocery stores, including Jewel.
Jostlein shares the recipes for simple spätzle and Black Forest Cake.