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Mennonite Heritage and

Agricultural Museum

New Years cookies

Traditionally, these raisin fritters or Porzelke, were made especially for New Year's Day; today they will hit the spot any time of the year.  The term Porzelke means "tumbling over"; these treats turn over by themselves (when they are done on one side) after being dropped into hot oil.

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Low-German rhyme about New Years cookies

New Years cookie recipe | Goessel Museum

Eck sach dem Shornshstein Roacka.

Eck visst voll vaut ya moacke,

Ya backte Niejoash koaka.

Yave ye me eane

Dann bliev eck stoane

Yave ye me twea

Dann fang eck aun to goane

Yave ye me drea, fea, feef toaglick

Donn vensch eck you daut gaunse Himmelrick. 

Frying New Years cookies | Goessel Museum


I saw your chimney smoking.  

I knew what you were making. 

You were baking New Year's cookies.  

Give me one - I stand still.

Give me two - I start walking.

Give me three, four, five at once,

Then I wish you the Kingdom of Heaven.


Volunteers got up very early to 

produce over 1,200 New Years cookies for 2016 Country Threshing Days in August.   They were sold out by 3:00 p.m. on Sat.

Grandma's Hands | Goessel Museum Store

Grandma's Hands by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt  A Limited Edition photo essay book containing a recipe for New Years cookies and much more. 

2017 Lois and Shasta H. making NewYears cookies / Goessel Museum
 New Years cookies rolled in sugar while still warm
Volunteers making New Years cookies | Goessel Museum
New Years cookies cooling | Goessel Museum
Dipping dough for New Years cookies | Goessel Museum
2017 Making New Years cookies / Goessel Museum

Fritters, Fried Cakes and Biscuits  

as discribed by Norma Jost Voth in her (1990, 1994) cookbook




Fritters, doughnuts and crullers rate high on the list of satisfying morsls.  when fried in hot oil (formerly farm-fresh, home-rendered lard), these pastries undergo a transformation that is almost magical.  A wonderful burst of flavor goes with every bite.  Their golden crusty, sugared outside combined with a tender, warm inside has even inspired poetry.  

We probably have our Dutch ancestors to thank for the inspiration of New Years Eve fritters (Oliebollen) and crullers.  However, both were also common throughout the lowlands of northern Germany and the Vistula Delta.

The raisin fritter name changed to Portselkje (Low German) during the years in the Delta, though the product was the same.  So popular were the New Year's Eve fritters in Mennonite homes that polite young beggars chanted a familiar (Vistula Delta) Low German nursery rhyme (see the rhyme above) about fritters while their mothers stood frying them at the stove.  

The this, rectangular crullers of the Dutch were also made in West Prussia where they were labeled Raderkuchen. The Low German name was Rollkuake which is stil used today.  Mennonites met these thin dessert crullers again in the Ukraine where they are called khrusty and are served with jam.   ( . . . 

By today's standards batters fried in deep fat seem unnecessarily rich.  But, remember, these foods go back to a time when Mennonite men were clearing swamplands in the Vistula Delta, and to an era in Russia when men (also women and girls) worked in the fields, walked behind plows pulled by horses, stacked bundles while threshing, hunted, and rounded up cattle.  They worked hard physically and burned calories and carbohydrates without going to weight rooms or jogging several miles every day.  Even now, calorie-conscious eaters may occasionally indulge in these inviting, tempting treats.  They are worth it.

Rullcoka ( Crullers )

Rolling out the dough.

Rolling out the dough.

Denise Woelk rolls out the cruller dough.

Cutting the dough.

Cutting the dough.

Frying the rullcoka.

Frying the rullcoka.

Watermelon a wonderful summer treat

Watermelon a wonderful summer treat

Rullcoka and watermelon

Rullcoka and watermelon

Rullcoka (Crullers)

1/2 C. cream

1/2 C. milk

2 eggs

2t. baking powder

1t. salt

Flour, enough for soft dough


Mix cream, milk, and eggs.  Add baking powder, salt, and flour.  Knead in flour till soft dough. Roll out thin.  Cut in 2x4" pieces.  Fry in deep fat till brown.


Rullcoka are best when eaten warm and are usually served with watermelon.

Cookbook FROM PLUMA MOOS to PIE | Goessel Museum

Agatha Schmidt Duerksen

From the Mennonite Heritage Museum cookbook FROM PLUMA MOOS to PIE

Rullcoka means roll "cookies".  They are made much as doughnuts are.  The dough, however, is different and the finished product is much lighter and crisper than doughnuts are.  The dough is rolled out quite thin and cut into rectangular pieces, perhaps 2 by 5 inches or 1 by 3 inches.  Some cooks also cut a one-inch lengthwise slit along the center.  The crullers are then dropped into hot deep fat and fried until they are a rich golden brown.  They come out crisp with big holes from air bubbles in the inside.  

Fresh crullers eaten with waternelon are considered an especially good combination.


This disscription of "Rullcoka" is taken from the Mennonite cookbook OFF THE MOUNTAIN LAKE RANGE published in 1958.  ( No longer in print ).

These Low-German Mennonite immigrants came from the same Colony (area) of Russia (Ukraine) as the Goessel area Mennonites, but settled in Mountain Lake, Minnesota.

Crullers and Fritters 

This discription by Norma Jost Voth from her (1990, 1994) cookbook 



Watermelon and Rolkuake (crullers) bring back memories of Jost family picnics at the pond on Grandfather Jost's farm.  These occasions were spur-of-the-moment affairs arranged on a sultry summer afternoon as the heat bore down relentlessly -- as it often does on the Kansas prairie.  It was a blissful escape to gather after sundown under the cottonwood trees near the water.  

Such a picnic was easy enough.  Several of the aunts fried big dishpans of crullers.  The men looked after the melons.  Kids brought swimsuits and healthy appitites.  ( In those days few of us had fancy swimsuits. The boys often wore cutoff pants. )  

After much thumping and tapping, the best melons were cut open with a sharp ripping, cracking sound. There was no need for elaborate picnic equipment.  Children stood with a chunk of melon in one hand, crullers in the other.

Love of watermelon was in our family genes -- anyone not fond of melons was suspect.  Like the villagers from Lindenau (Russia) who were known politely as Rollkuake or more vividly as

Rollkuakeschluckasch (Rollkucken gulpers),  we were also cruller fans.

Crullers were made with eggs and rich cream, both abundant on the farm.  ( . . . )  The soft dough is rolled out, cut in rectangles, slit down the middle and fried in enough oil so the crullers cook quickly and form blisters and bubbles.  Some families make them thin, and dainty, sprinkled with sugar and served with a sauce or thin jam.  



Verenika (cottage cheese filled dough pockets)

verenika 2018.jpg

Verenika (there are many different spellings of this type of Russian Mennonite food).  Verenika came into the Mennonite diet from their time in Ukraine.  Their Russian neighbors used many different fillings for these dumpling but the one that caught on with the Low=German 

Mennonites was cottage cheese.

Verenika on a griddle | Goessel Museum
  • 5 cups flour

  • 1 t. salt 

  • 5 t. baking powder

  • 5 eggs

  • 1 to 1 1/2 c. milk

  • 5 T. shortening (oil or melted butter)



  • 4 cartons dry cottage cheese, made fine 

  • 2 eggs

  • salt and pepper

Add enough milk to eggs to make 1 1/2 cups. 

Beat. ( Measure before beating.)  Mix dry ingredients, add egg, milk and shortening mixture.  (More flour may be needed to make a soft rollable dough.)  

Roll out a portion of dough at a time on floured board.  Put about 2 T. filling about 2 in. from the edge, fold over and cut with a large doughnut cutter, pinch edges well.  Make sure they are sealed.  Fry in deep fat (turning once) until well browned.  Makes about 24.

Selma Duerksen

From the Mennonite Heritage Museum cookbook FROM PLUMA MOOS to PIE 

Ham gravy poured over verenika | Goessel Museum

Here you see the verenika being covered with a ham gravy.  Or they can be simply doused with pancake syrup.

Moos (rhymes with dose)

Moos (rhymes with dose) traditionally was served for dinner on Christmas Day, along with cold boiled ham, fried potatoes, bread and peppernuts, or other Christmas cookies.  Moos also was served on other holidays such as Easter and Pentecost.  Often it was cooked on Saturday and then served for Sunday dinner along with cold meat and zwieback.  Moos was served from a large bowl in the center of the table and eaten from individual bowls with a soup or dessert spoon.  It was eaten with the main meal as you would a salad.


Moos is easily prepared.  A thickening made of flour, sugar and cream or milk is added to some cooked fruit.  Some people add spices such as a stick of cinnamon, star anise or cloves, according to taste.  If spices are added, place a small spice bag and cook with the fruit, then remove the bag before thickening is added.


Any tart fruit may be used: sour cherries, plums, prunes, gooseberries, apples, articots or raisins.  The amount of flour, sugar or spices used varies according to taste and preference.  Cream can be sweet or sour.  If the finished product is too thick, dilute with sweet milk while the moos is still hot.  Moos should have the consistency of medium thick gravy.  Moos usually is derved cold but may also be served hot.

Cherry Moos

1 qt. fresh or canned sour cherries

1 cup sugar

5 cups water

1\2 cup flour

1\4 to 1\2 cup sugar

1\2 tsp. salt

3 cups milk


Bowls of cherry moos | Goessel Museum

Add water to cherries and cook until cherry skins crack.  If canned cherries, heat until boiling.  Add 1 cup sugar the last minute of boiling period.


Make a paste of the flour, salt, 1\2 cup sugar, and milk.  Add thickening to fruit slowly, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken or coats a spoon.  If soup seems too thick when cooled, add milk or a small amount of water.


Mother used gooseberries instead of cherries sometimes.  But then she added more sugar.  This was called Gooseberry Moos.  Good served with fried ham and fried potatoes. 

Cookbook FROM PLUMA MOOS to PIE | Goessel Museum

Mrs. Jacob S. Schmidt

From the Mennonite Heritage Museum cookbook FROM PLUMA MOOS to PIE

Zwieback / Goessel Museum


These two foods deserve their own pages.


Peppernuts for Xmas (5)_edited_edited_edited.jpg
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and Agricultural Museum

Created by Fern Bartel nee Schmidt


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