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Celebrate German heritage with Oktoberfest

Posted October 27

Okoberfest began when King Ludwig I of Bavaria married his beloved Princess Therese on Oct. 12, 1810 (see muenchen.de). The wedding, held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, was followed by a public reception and a horse race on Oct. 17. Two hundred years later, we are still celebrating.

Here are a few notable native Germans and their contributions:

• King Charlemagne: Christian defender and developer of free public schools (see nobility.org).

• Johannes Gutenberg: inventor of the moveable press

• Martin Luther: originator of the Protestant Reformation

• Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger: artists

• Ludwig Von Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Lizst, Richard Strauss, Johann Pachabel: classical composers and musicians

• The Grimm Brothers: children's literature

• Immanuel Kant, Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche: philosophers

• Albert Einstein: physicist and author of the Theory of Relativity

• Johannes Kepler: mathematician, astronomer and astrologer; the laws of planetary motion

• Georg Ohm: physicist and mathematician; electrical currents.

• Karl Benz: engineer and inventor of the first "practical motorcar," according to biography.com.

We celebrate our German heritage every October with a family-style Oktoberfest; we enjoy hearty German foods, play Oktoberfest games and drink too much root beer with the gorgeous music of Beethoven, Wagner, Pachabel, Bach and Lizst playing. The original Oktoberfest featured horse racing; we give contestants stick horses and see who's fastest and try Skittles, a form of nine-pin lawn bowling. A smaller version requires only a wooden game board and spinners.

This is our admittedly Americanized and family friendly version of Oktoberfest with attempted authenticity from my husband, who lived in Germany for three years.

Our Oktoberfest menu includes large warm pretzels with dipping mustard, deviled eggs with dill, grilled bratwurst, rotisserie roasted chicken, oven-roasted potatoes with onions, dilled cucumbers, sauerkraut or sweet and spicy cabbage, apple apricot sauce, German chocolate pie and root beer for everyone.

*****

Soft Hot Pretzels

1 cup very warm water, almost hot

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

½ tablespoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

¾-1½ cup whole wheat flour

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon water

Coarse kosher salt, to taste

Heat oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a 10-inch-by-15-inch baking pan, set aside. Place water in a mixing bowl, add yeast and sugar. Stir, then leave alone until foam covers the surface. Add salt and 1 cup flour. Beat until smooth, add another cup of flour and beat again. Add whole wheat flour and beat until smooth.

Pinch off portions of dough and roll into long skinny ropes about ¾-inch thick. Place dough on the pan, twist into pretzel shapes and allow to rise in a warm, undisturbed location until doubled in size.

When you can poke the dough with your finger and a dent remains, the pretzels are proofed and ready to bake. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Mix egg and water together for the egg wash and brush the baked pretzel. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt. Return to oven briefly and bake until egg wash sets. Serve warm with Dijon or spicy honey mustard for dipping.

*****

Grilled Bratwurst

If you are watching your calories or fat, try the turkey variety, plan on a 4-6-ounce serving per person.

Purchase precooked bratwurst, sliced in half lengthwise and into 4-inch pieces.

Over medium coals, grill until heated through. For small bratwurst, grill about 10 minutes; for larger ones, grill 15-20 minutes.

Last euch gut schmecken! (Let it taste good to you)

Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent of 7, artist, designer, caterer and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching, drawing and painting. Her "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" is on Amazon.com and B&N.com and website: www.pammcmurtry.com

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