By Patti Diamond
While fall officially begins with the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22, Oktoberfest has already started.
Wait, what? Oktoberfest in September? Yes, and here’s why: Oktoberfest is not just a food and beer festival. Oktoberfest celebrates the weeks leading up to the marriage of Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810. They threw the most awesome pre-wedding reception ever, and the people liked it so much that it became an annual tradition. For 211 years, this floating 16-day festival has ended on the first Sunday in October.
While the official celebration in Munich is canceled this year due to the pandemic, through Sunday, Oct. 3, we can celebrate at home all we want.
Did somebody say party? Wunderbar! To throw an Oktoberfest celebration at your home, there are a few essentials to include. Namely beer, soft pretzels and sausage.
The beer aisle at the grocery store is awash in Oktoberfest-style lagers right now. Many grocery stores sell beer by the bottle, making it easy to choose a few for tasting.
EASY SOFT PRETZELS
Yield: 4 pretzels Time: 45 minutes
An easy method for homemade soft pretzels is to employ store-bought pizza dough.
1 pound pizza dough
1. Divide one pound of dough into four portions and twist each into an 18-inch-long rope. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush the pretzels with beaten egg and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool before serving with mustard.
GERMAN-STYLE SAUSAGE AND CABBAGE
Yield: 4 servings Time: 1 hour
It’s not Oktoberfest without German sausages, or wurst, and there’s a world of wurst out there. Choose the best of the wurst that comfortably fits within your budget. Depending on how carnivorous your family is, figure at least two sausages per person.
When I think about German comfort food, I think sausage and braised cabbage. Here’s a recipe that’s surprisingly light, zippy enough to stand up to sausage, and full of texture. It uses apple for the perfect autumn spin. The recipe can be doubled, just ensure you have a skillet big enough for the cabbage. But remember, cabbage cooks down a lot so you can add it to the pan in batches.
8 German-style sausages, like bratwurst, or your favorite smoked sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and chopped to make 8 to 10 cups
1 large sweet apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet with a lid, prepare the sausage according to package instructions. Set aside and keep warm.
2. In the same skillet, over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and cook until just softened. Add the cabbage and cook until it’s becoming tender. Add the apple and stir to combine.
3. In a small bowl, mix garlic, mustard, vinegar and 1 tablespoon water. Pour this over the cabbage mixture, stirring to combine. Cover with a lid, lower heat to low, and let braise until the cabbage and apple are softened to your liking, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serving suggestions: boiled red potatoes, mustard and German oompah music!
Oktoberfest is all about enjoying an occasion to eat, drink and be merry with others, and who wouldn’t love that right now? Prost! My friends!
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at email@example.com