If you have been following along in my Instagram stories this month, you have seen my Mother-in-Law working away in my kitchen-baking with the twins, playing her “Zither” in the background or crocheting blankets! Oma, who has been here visiting us since early December, will turn 90 next month and is an inspiration to all of us. Let me tell you a little about her!
The first time I walked into Oma’s house almost 30 years ago was like walking into a world where time stood still. The smell of homemade apple strudel filled the air, the coziness of her home wrapped around me like a great big hug. I could not help but shut my eyes and breathe deeply, taking in the sweet delicious scent of baked apples and cinnamon, and feeling the warmth of her home. There is no other place on earth that could feel and smell like this… It was Oma’s home.
This was a place that brought you back in time to old world traditions and simple things. That day we sat around her kitchen table and talked and ate- and by the time we left that evening, I felt like I had known her my whole life.
Oma’s Traditional Apfel Strudel (Apple Strudel)
3 cups Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Tblsp Vegetable oil
1/2 stick melted Butter
1/4 cup water
12 Apples (Fuji or Gala), peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup Sugar, for sprinkling on strudels
1/4-1/2 tsp Cinnamon for sprinkling on strudels
2 cups of Milk
Put flour, salt on baking board. Make a well in the middle. Put the egg, vegetable oil in the well and mix using a butter knife, carefully adding a bit of the water until it becomes a dough, adding more water as needed and continue to knead with your hands until smooth.
"Here's my secret tip! Once the dough is ready, wrap the ball in wax paper. Boil a cup of water in a small saucepan. Once the water boils, dump it out and place the wax paper covered dough ball in the steamy pot and cover! Let it sit in the pot covered for about 20 minutes. (This is a good time to peel, core and slice the apples!)"
Separate into 3 pieces. Roll each piece out with a rolling pin until very thin and somewhat round (Oma’s mother used to say, “you should be able to read a newspaper through it!”) Brush each round with the melted butter. Arrange the apple slices on the rounds, avoiding the edges. Sprinkle apples with some sugar (about 3 Tbsp) and cinnamon (and raisins). Carefully roll up each round into a log and tuck the ends under. Put the strudels side by side in a large roasting pan. Bake in oven at 350’ for 15 mins. Meanwhile add 2 Tbsp of sugar to 2 cups of milk and heat in a saucepan.
Pour the milk mixture over the strudels that have baked for 15 mins. Bake for an additional 30 mins and remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm with Ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
Oma means “Grandma” in German. Oma was born in the city of Regensburg (Bavaria), Germany in 1930. She has 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Growing up in Germany, she learned many skills which included sewing, knitting, cooking, and baking. She was raised with a firm hand, developed self discipline, and along the way she learned to love using these skills to create. She has maintained and expanded on these skills even today.
Oma lived through World War II, she saw and experienced first hand hand the atrocities and deprivation of war - there is a certain appreciation and zest for life in her spirit - nothing goes to waste and her industrious, creative approach to everything she does is impressive! She met my Father-in-law while he was an American GI and shortly after the war, when she was 20 years old, they married. She came to the US, just outside of Philadelphia in Buck’s County, to live with him and start a family. My kids grew up with handmade clothes and toys from Oma, she was always eager and ambitious to accomodate the whims of her grandchildren.
She has made each of us in the family our own personal afghan blankets, with a Irish Fisherman’s Sweater-knit design, chunky and intricate with the feel of a big cozy sweater. Every afghan requires hundreds of hours of work, and she weaves love and tradition into each stitch.
There is no better way to spend a snowy winter Monday than eating Oma’s Apfel Strudel and drinking some Gluhwein!
To quickly get some of the cooking items Oma used today go to my Amazon Baking with Oma List.