Sunday, November 12, 2017

More original WWII Wehrmacht field kitchen recipes

Last week I posted some simple original wartime German field kitchen recipes. Here are some more recipes from wartime cookbooks. Translations are mine.

There is a mix here of meat and vegetarian dishes, stuff that does and does not require refrigeration, that uses fresh or canned meat, that would be very simple to make in the field or that would require some more effort. These are all simple field type recipes for traditional German fare. You can see that the recipes are made to be flexible and can be varied and adapted depending on availability of ingredients, or just to add variety.

Translated from the book "Oestliche Speise nach deutscher Art":


Bayrisch-Kraut: Clean and quarter the cabbage, remove the core and slice into thin strips. In hot fat, cook 1 tablespoon of diced onions. Add the prepared cabbage and bring to a boil with a little water. Add salt and coriander, cook until done. Add a sweet and sour taste by browning a little sugar, add vinegar with water and season with pepper. Mix this well with the cabbage. Thicken with raw grated potatoes or stir in potato flour and bring to a boil again.

White cabbage, stewed brown: Chop and slice the cabbage as for Bayrisch-Kraut and cook in fat. In a little meat broth, add 1 small onion, 1 small carrot, a little thyme, bay leaves and crushed garlic. Cook this for 30-40 minutes. Heat some fat in a pan and add flour to make a gravy, use this to thicken the broth/seasoning mixture. Pour this through a sieve over the cabbage and boil until done. Add a shot of Crimean or Caucasian wine.

Kraut-Salat: Clean and quarter the cabbage, cut in fine strips. Blanch in boiling salt water. Drain and let cool. Mix with vinegar, oil, finely chopped onions, salt, pepper and coriander. Season to taste.

Translated from the book "Die Feldkuechengerichte - Nach dem Original-Feldkochbuch des OKW 1941.":


(Note: all indicated measurements are for 1 portion for 1 person)

With fresh, pickled, smoked, or frozen meat: Remove the bones and put them in cold water, add herbs or vegetable waste (such as cabbage cores, celery leaves, cabbage leaves or onion peel) in a linen or net bag. Bring to a boil to make a broth. Add salt. Cut the meat into 2-3 kg pieces and add to the boiling broth. Never put pickled or smoked meat in salt water because it releases salt during cooking. Cook the meat without vegetables until done, then remove the meat from the broth and keep warm.

Add vegetables to broth and cook until done.

Season depending on the type of dish.

Before serving, slice the meat into portions. Every soldier wants to see his portion of meat.
Using canned meat shortens the cooking time ,as canned meat is pre-cooked. When seasoning, keep in mind that canned meat is already salted and seasoned.


Put fresh meat, pickled meat, or smoked meat in boiling water and cook according to the above directions. Cook 1500 g potatoes in broth or water. If using canned meat, add to finished dish. Season with salt or chopped fresh herbs before serving. If you have dried herbs, cook them in the dish for only a short time. Or, add roasted onions to the finished dish.

Tomato potatoes: season the finished dish with up to 25 g tomato paste.
Potatoes with pickles: Dice 50 grams of pickles (about 1/2 a medium pickle) and mix into the finished dish just before serving, do not boil.
Onion potatoes: instead of using herbs, add up to 10 grams of fresh onions or 2 grams of dried onions, and cook together with the dish. Roast the onions before adding them if possible.
Celery potatoes: Add up to 50 grams of fresh celery or 5 grams of dried celery to the dish an cook together (reduce the portion of the other vegetables accordingly).
Sour potatoes: Boil the dish together with bay leaves and allspice, season the finished dish with vinegar.


For 90 g sauerkraut and 1200 g potatoes: add raw finely chopped sauerktraut to finished dish shortly before serving.
For 400 g cabbage or 400 g green beans or 400 g other vegetables and 1000 g potatoes: The vegetables can be pre-cooked in water or broth until done.


Put fresh meat, pickled meat, or smoked meat in boiling water and cook according to the above directions. Cook 600 g fresh vegetables or 30 g dried vegetables together with 750 g fresh potatoes in boiling broth or water. If using canned meat, add to finished dish. Season with salt or with onions cooked with the dish. If using fresh chopped herbs, add them to the finished dish.

800 g white cabbage and 500 g potatoes: cook with caraway seeds.
800 g carrots and 500 g potatoes: cook with marjoram
600 g rutebaga, 75 grams noodles, and pickles: Cook noodles, rinse, then add to the rutebega. Add the pickles to the finished dish.
600 g carrots, 250 g potatoes, 50 g dried peas: Soak the peas, cook in broth. Boil carrots and diced potatoes together with the peas. Add finely chopped parseley.
300 g sauerkraut with 500 g potatoes or 300 g sauerkraut with 50 g dried peas: Cook the potatoes or peas, add sauerkraut and boil together. Cook with juniper berries.

Pound out cuts of meat, coat with mustard, fill with ground beef, onions or pickles, roll them up, put them close together in a pan and fry. Remove from pan, roast some onions in the hot pan. Mix these with seasoned broth, return the Rouladen to the pan, cover with the broth and onions and braise. 20 minutes before done, thicken the broth with some flour. Thyme, or allspice, vegetables cut into strips and braised together with the meat, buttermilk and red wine improve the flavor.


The best combination for this is a mix of 2/3 lean beef and 1/3 medium-lean pork. Slice the lean meat into pieces, season with salt, pepper and marjoram and run through a meat grinder. Knead the meat together with some cold broth, water or milk. Then grind the pork together with some onions and mix that in.

You can extend ground meat with soybean meal. 4 parts meat to 1 part soybean meal. You could also use white bread or Zwieback. Soak 1 kg white bread or Zwieback in 3 liters of water, then press out excess water. 3 parts meat to 1 part soaked bread.

Koenigsberger Klops: Make the ground meat into meatballs, boil for 15 minutes. Make a white sauce using the broth and a roux made of flour and fat. Season with lemon or vinegar, pickle juice, white wine, capers, herring or sardines.

Fried meatballs: Form the ground meat into balls, press a bit flat and fry in hot fat. To make it easier and save fat you can just brown the meat on both sides and then allow to cook in a sauce.

Kohlrouladen: Blanch large cabbage leaves in salt water until they are flexible but not soft. Remove and spread on a cutting board. Cook the small cabbage leaves until done, chop, mix with ground meat. Make narrow long meatballs from this mixture, put them on the cabbage leaves, roll together and cook like meat Rouladen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Simple WWII German recipes for Schweinebraten, Gulasch, and meatballs

The Oberkommando des Heeres published a cookbook called "Oestliche Speisen nach deutscher Art" (Eastern Dishes in the German Style) for German personnel serving in the occupied East. The book included instructions on how to cook in Russian home kitchens and had a mix of German recipes that could be made with locally available ingredients, and local recipes. We have previously posted a Borscht recipe from this cookbook. Here are some meat recipes. Translations are mine. Note that these recipes are deliberately vague so as to be adaptable based on availability or simply taste. Any of these are easily prepared over a fire with very minimal equipment required.


Cut the meat into as big pieces as possible. Brown on all sides in hot oil, season with salt and pepper. Remove meat from pan and keep warm. Add coarsely chopped root vegetables to pan and brown well. Dust with flower and mix together. Add water or broth and bring to a boil. Put the meat back in and cook with gentle heat until it is done. Season with bay leaves, juniper berries, allspice and/or peppercorns. Add wine to taste.

Gulasch - Basic recipe with fresh meat

Dice the meat, add salt and pepper, fry in a little oil. While browning, add finely chopped onions, a teaspoon of tomato paste, a little paprika, and roast together. Cover with water and braise until done. Add flour to thicken and bring to a boil, simmer until done.

Variations on Gulasch:

1. Gulasch with bell peppers. Add 1 chopped bell pepper for the last 30 minutes of cook time. Or, add 1-2 canned peppers, sliced, to the dish at the end just until heated.

2. Szegediner Gulasch. Add 1/8 kg of sauerkraut per person to the dish at the end just until heated.

3. Gulasch with vegetables. Add fresh or dried vegetables, even pumpkin, and cook together. Soak dried vegetables before using. Canned vegetables can be added at the end just until heated.

4. Serbian Rice Meat. Use veal if possible, seasoned with paprika. Add 4-5 tablespoons of rice (about 100 grams) in the last 20-25 minutes of cooking. Or instead of rice you can use risotto, just mix it into the finished dish.

Gulasch from canned meat

Meat in cans is pre-cooked. Because it is usually very fatty, you can make it more productive with this sauce: Roast chopped onions and 1 teaspoon tomato paste in a little fat. Add 1/8 liter water and bring to a boil. Thicken with flour, use 10 grams of flour per 1/8 liter water. Bring to a boil again, cook until done. Season with pepper or paprika. In this sauce, add the canned meat just to heat it up.

Meatballs from fresh meat

Grind the meat in a meat grinder. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Add bread crumbs or soaked bread, finely chopped onions, egg or just egg whites or egg substitute. Mix well and form into balls. Coat with flour or bread crumbs and fry in hot fat until done. The meat mixture tastes best when the onions are cooked and it is seasoned with available herbs. The meat can be extended with finely clopped and mixed in cabbage cores or other vegetable waste, without sacrificing goodness.

Meatballs from canned meat

Finely chop the meat and leave it to dry in the air for a little while. To cook, use the same recipe as for fresh meat but you must add flour.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Perspectives on reproduction uniforms

The first WWII reenactors used original and converted postwar items. As originals became more expensive and more scarce, converted postwar uniform items came to dominate the hobby. The first reproductions, made in Germany and the USA, were a huge improvement over converted Swedish wool. The most authentic units soon began to stipulate that their members must wear reproduction uniforms (as opposed to Swedish). It was generally not necessary to stipulate what manufacturer the uniform had to be obtained from, because choices were extremely limited and the available choices were mostly roughly equivalent in quality. Because many sellers had long lead times, a reenactor's choice usually was determined by availability. 

In the late 90s and early 2000s, reenacting was in a period of rapid growth and demand for uniforms was extremely high. The pice for a new field blouse at that time was around $350. Starting around 2004 (give or take a few years) a number of suppliers began to have uniform items made in China, in an attempt to meet the burgeoning demand with a lower price option. Most of the Chinese made stuff was absolutely terrible, Halloween quality. The field blouses appeared to have been made from photos of originals, the details simply were not there, shirt weight wool/poly blend fabric with plastic buttons. For the first time, reenactment units had to specify which reproduction uniforms were and were not acceptable. More and more manufacturers were coming on line and the reenactor for the fist time was faced with a wide array of choices. A new hobby paradigm developed that heavily focused on what gear was acceptable and what was the best. 

Even a child could have seen that the first wave of China-made reproductions were not correct for WWII. But the product quickly improved. Sturm and other vendors began to offer cheap imported products that appeared very similar to those made in the USA. The existing sellers suddenly had to make the case that their field blouses were still worth $350 when you could buy a China made copy for $150 or less. In the rush to disparage the cheaper copies, much reenactor myth and lore was born- much of which echoes down to the present day. 

Let's look now at 2017. The Chinese made cheap uniforms have killed off some businesses, and the sellers that remain have had to turn to having their products largely made overseas. Constant improvements to the cheap uniforms over many manufacturing runs are yielding products that are in most cases superior to the high-end products of 2004 and earlier. The quality difference between the uniform items offered by most manufacturers is extremely small. None are exactly identical to originals but most are extremely close. And yet, the paradigm of obsession over "the best" and which manufacturer offers the most prestigious product still stands. It's an old model of thinking, it's outdated, and we need to get past it, because it is a pitfall for people. 

It was also a pitfall for me. Some USA vendors disparaged Sturm products by saying that they were based on a modern suit jacket and that the shoulders were wrong and the arm holes too big. I repeated this line, I took it as gospel. Only years later did I actually compare Sturm arm holes to originals and discover that they are the same size. It was wrong of me to parrot this bad information. It is still possible to find old posts of mine on the Axis History Forum in which I make statements that are uninformed. My erroneous conclusions were based on study of a tiny number of originals, and dealer propagated myth and lore that I was foolish enough to take as gospel. 

The best uniform is the decent copy that you buy and then tweak and break in and wear and make your own. The decent copy is a blank canvas for your effort to make something that looks realistic. Decent copies are available from almost any manufacturer nowadays. There are some specific exceptions to this, of course. But the old style hype about certain sellers and manufacturers is hype that is not based on fact, and I think it is well past time that we as a community acknowledge that. When we look at (for example) a Heer field blouse, the reality is that insignia choice and application method is almost certainly going to have a greater impact on overall realism, than who made the blouse! 

Original uniform items are in most cases not rare. Original M43 tunics are widely available and accessible. Lots of collectors are happy to share photos and information about the items they own. Unfortunately we are still stuck in a mindset of disparaging copies based on suppositions and lore. If the arm holes on a tunic are too big this is something that we can actually objectively measure and quantify. We can look at original tunics and determine if arm hole size is scaled and graded based on chest size or tunic length, and we can collect data on arm hole sizes and determine what size the arm hole should be on any given tunic size. Unfortunately nobody has ever collected data like this or really done anything like this at all and most of the assessments posted here or anywhere are based on comparing reproductions to other reproductions, or on repeated myth and lore. 

Fact: nobody has ever been able to list an objective reason why ATF tunics or caps are inferior to any other copy. The same can be said for many products made by many other manufacturers. If anyone has given one objective reason backed by data why Hessen field caps are wrong, or Gavin caps, or Sturm caps, or caps from 3_reich on eBay- I haven't seen it. 

I would put my field blouse against any other anywhere in terms of realism. It is made by Sturm. Is it better than an ATF blouse? It is, but only because of the work I have put in. I could have started with an ATF or custom Gavin and the end result would have been the same. In the absence of actual objective quantifiable data points to the contrary, they are all equally good.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Original equipment photo

This is an unattributed photo that I refer to, to help inform my equipment setup at events where I march in/out with my gear. The M34 Tornister by regulation was supposed to have the mess kit in the pouch inside, this worked great for gear kept in a barracks locker but obviously in the field it was impractical. The curled-under strap ends shown here were regulation. I use equipment straps rather than bits of string for my blanket roll.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Recipes from the "Kriegskochbuch" (war cookbook), 1915

The following recipes are from a German "war cookbook" of 1915. The idea behind this cookbook was to provide options for simple, cheap meals, with ingredients obtainable in austere wartime conditions. These recipes were not created from nothing in 1915, and they did not diappear afterward- they are rooted in German traditional cuisine, and simple meals like this were served before WWI and also during the depression, in WWII, and beyond.

All recipes serve 4 portions.

Cabbage Soup

One small head Savoy cabbage or white cabbage
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water
Pinch of pepper, salt

Clean cabbage, cut in strips, wash. Heat the fat, add cabbage and braise. Sprinkle with flour, stir well, add water and boil 1-1/2 to 2 hours, to taste.

Pickle Soup

1 small pickle or 1/2 a large pickle
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water
1-2 tbsp. vinegar, salt

Make a roux of fat and flour, slowly add water. When boiling, add diced pickle. Add salt and vinegar to taste.

Sauerkraut Soup

As pickle soup above, instead of pickle use sauerkraut.

Carrot Soup

3 large carrots
1 small onion
2 tbsp. fat
4 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 ltr. water from cooking carrots
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. sugar, salt

Peel the carrots, cut into small pieces, cook until done then push them through a strainer. Cook fat, onions and flour together, then pour in the carrot water. Add carrots, boil well, season with salt, parsley and sugar. If desired, you can replace half the carrots with potatoes; just use 1 less tablespoon of flour.

Baked carrot and potato dumplings

2 lbs. potatoes
2 lbs. carrots
2 tbsp. milk
salt, pepper
60 grams fat

For the sauce:
1 tbsp. fat
2 tbsp. flour
3/8 ltr. water from cooking the carrots, salt
1 tbsp. parsley, a little sugar

Boil the potatoes and carrots and push them through a strainer. Mix with salt and pepper, then form dumplings. Press them a bit flat, and fry in a frying pan until brown. To make the sauce, fry the flour and fat until yellow, pour in the carrot water, and bring to a boil. Season with salt, sugar and parsley.