COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten


WILLKOMMEN, Y’ALL! Cooking is a form of storytelling. “WUNDERGARTEN,” the Brothers Grimm-like folktale I wrote and The Cullman Tribune is serializing in its Community Matters quarterly magazine, is set on a strawberry farm in Colonial Cullman during the 1870s. To bring the story to life for readers who savor food, I told of tasty dishes cooked by the heroine, Frau Ruehl, a German widow who owned the farm. Daydreaming in the Wundergarten of the tale, I imagined a treasured recipe box Frau Ruehl brought to America from her native Germany.  

This cooking series, “Celebrating in the Wundergarten,” combines Cullman-grown garden bounty and imaginative recipes that salute Cullman’s German farm heritage. This year, we are celebrating the 150th birthday of Cullman. For 21st century cooks, the recipes embrace modern ease and have a greater array of ingredients than Frau Ruehl would have had in her pantry, but they promise those tantalizing flavors from the past. 

The Cullman Tribune, Alabama’s oldest continuously published weekly newspaper and Cullman County’s oldest business, is also celebrating a 150th birthday in 2023. CHEERS and MANY MORE!  




  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 6 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (butterflied) 
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbsp. ground paprika 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs 
  • 1 large lemon, zested 


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over foil. Place the baking sheet in the oven as it preheats. 
  1. Meanwhile, open the chicken breasts like a storybook and place between two sheets of plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper. 
  1. Mix flour and paprika together in a shallow bowl; whisk eggs, salt, and pepper together in a second shallow bowl; and mix breadcrumbs and lemon zest together in a third shallow bowl. 
  1. Dredge one piece of chicken in flour; shake off excess. Dip into beaten egg. Lift up so excess egg drips back into bowl. Press into breadcrumbs to coat both sides. Place the breaded chicken unstacked, onto a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. 
  1. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the hot sheet. Drizzle more olive oil over each piece. 
  1. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 5-6 minutes. Flip chicken and continue baking until it is no longer pink in the center and the breading is lightly browned. A thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165F. 
  1. Serve atop lettuces, chopped apple and a sprinkling of magical pecan bits. Drizzle with a blend of apple cider and honey.