An Incomplete Gift

I have had this little booklet for many years, and always planned on posting it. But I had visions of translating it first so I could post the recipes for all to enjoy. Part of my challenge is that I don’t read German. Or speak it. Instead of sitting on this forever and not sharing, I finally have decided to just post what I have, and maybe someone out there can translate it for fun.  UPDATE: A site reader has translated it in the comments, be sure to click over to read!

The book covers are in rough shape. Whoever had it smoked heavily and I had to keep it inside a ziplock bag from the moment I received it. There really isn’t a way to get the smell out of paper goods, and you can see how yellowed it is from age and nicotine. I placed in the bag a couple dryer sheets, as that had been recommended to me as a way to absorb some of the foul odor.

The pages inside are less yellowed, but damaged all the same. Several of them were falling out of the binding, which was similar to a comb binding. The penmanship is lovely and reminds me of the days when we had to practice our writing in school. You can just see a shadow of a sketched angel on this page, just left of the writing. All the drawings were hand done. These inner pages have a texture to them, you can see horizontal lines in the paper, and each is a slight ridge on the page.

The recipes were written out and then line art and watercolors were added. This was clearly meant to be a Christmas gift for a loved one.

I once reached out to a local school German club, asking for some help with translation. The young lady who answered my ad was eager to do the work, but on the very first recipe she couldn’t move forward. She didn’t understand the measurements or instructions. I gave up after that, since free translation services from a local school, while well intended, might not be the best source.

It seems like an awful lot of text for one recipe!

This might be a recipe for Butter S, based on the little drawings. Maybe pretzels?

I stopped scanning at this point, as even though I had let the book sit for easily two or three months with the dryer sheets, it still smelled terrible and gave me a headache. After touching the pages, the residue left from all the years of cigarette smoke actually left a film on my hands. I put it away and have not taken it back out. I suppose a more determined person would, but right now, the thought of touching and smelling it again are disheartening. There are several more pages with the sweet folk art drawings, some of them incomplete but penciled in. I don’t want these recipes to be lost to the ages, so maybe someday I’ll go back.

5 thoughts on “An Incomplete Gift

  1. Hi!

    So I have a fair bit of free time because it’s summer, so for the past few days I sat down and translated these recipes because my mom shared them with me. It has been a delight!! I have just a few notes. Firstly, I’m not a native german speaker, but I’ve been taking it for almost 7 years, so I tried my best and looked up what I wasn’t sure about.

    Secondly, her handwriting is beautiful. And the dedication is written in the German cursive called Kurrent which I hadn’t encountered before so it was a cool learning experience (Though difficult to read). The rest was written in a combination of english writing and german which made some words a little harder to read.

    All notes in parentheses are mine. I tried to stay as close to the translations as possible, but some of it didn’t directly translate. Also if you would like the german in a more legible state, I can also give that to you.

    As for the units, its in older german measurements. A Pfund is translated as a pound but its really 500g (as stated in the first recipe). If you’re ever curious about german measurements, it was actually a really messy system that is interesting (to me because I’m a german nerd).

    If you would like to scan more recipes I would be more than happy to translate them! It’s been a great way for me to keep up my german these past few days. I’ve really enjoyed learning new german words for cooking.

    Sarah Hasker


    Weihnacten (Christmas) 1938

    In memory of all the good times – Elsè Brenem ?

    Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars/ First Stars)
    50-60 Pieces

    500g Ground Almonds
    625g Powder/Confectioners Sugar
    8 Large eggs, only the egg whites will be used
    1-2 Lemons, grated peel (zest) and juice
    15-20g Cinnamon

    Beat the egg whites to stiff white peaks.
    Then add the sugar, juice, and zest from the lemons. Stirr so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the spoon.

    (You’re making a meringue here, so she probably means glossy peaks at this point)

    At this point, set aside 1 cup for the icing.

    With the rest, mix in the cinnamon and the unpeeled, grated almonds. Cool the mixture.

    Then take small amounts from the mix and roll them out gently to a finger width. Sprinkle them with sugar — ordinary sugar can be used here. (There were a few words here that didn’t make sense but translated to “best udder board”).

    When awakening, push the dough back and forth to prevent accumulation. (Again not really sure what she’s talking about, but it sounds like you could reroll any offcuts from the stars to cut again).

    Cut a star out and set it on a wax coated sheet (wax paper/other covered baking sheet).
    Let them dry a little then cover with the icing (the set aside portion) and bake in the very low heat, like the Hazelnussschnitten (Hazelnut cuts).

    (No temperature is specified, recipes from online are anywhere from 200°F for 30 min to 375°F for 10. Considering she says a low heat, I would go more towards the lower side).

    When the icing is set and the star and edges are solidified (light brown), the stars are done.

    Butter “S”
    70-80 Pieces

    500g Flour
    250g Butter
    125g Sugar
    7 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs

    Work together the ingredients on the cutting board (counter) and keep the dough cold.

    After that, shape the dough into finger width and length rolls/strings, these can stand overnight — or you can leave the dough overnight before you shape the “S” and they bake the same.

    The next day (later) spread the “S”s with egg yolk or egg white. Submerge them in sugar — sugar and cinnamon → Hagelzucker (decorating sugar) — or grated, peeled almonds.

    Bake then in a moderate heat until nice and light. 310°F – 325°F.

    You can also do the “S” this way:

    250g Butter
    375g Flour
    125g Sugar
    6 Egg yolks


    • Oh my gosh, you are AMAZING!!! I will get out the little book and scan some more soon. As I recall the recipes are written out but the drawings were not finished. It does make me wonder why she stopped making the book. I cannot thank you enough!!


  2. Pingback: Vintage Recipe Blog | The Tromp Queen COOKS!

  3. What a beautiful gift for someone. How absolutely amazing that Sarah Hasker would translate the recipe. It’s hard translating the older German and often even modern German into English. Seems like there is a double given gift here. Thank you both from a fellow recipe lover.


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