COLUMN: Celebrating in the Wundergarten – Col. Cullmann’s 200th birthday party

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CULTIVATE CULLMAN: The Countywide Arts and Gardening Celebration is joining with the “sister city” group, “Friends of Frankweiler,” to salute Cullman County’s founder, Colonel John G. Cullmann, on the anniversary of his 200th birthday this Sunday, July 2, 2023.

Colonel Cullmann was born 200 years ago in the charming village of Frankweiler, Germany. Today, Frankweiler has about 800 residents, and all are celebrating the Colonel’s 200th birthday this weekend.

The Friends of Frankweiler is a fun-loving group of Cullman County folks who keep cultural links strong between the place of the colonel’s birth and the place he founded as a German colony in Alabama.

“FREE CUPCAKES with a little German flag for the first 200 people, and FREE PRIZES in the Festhalle Farmers Market” announces the Friends of Frankweiler party invitation.  The festivities start at 2 p.m. this Sunday, July 2, with a special presentation at 2:30 to the Cullman County Master Gardeners. The event is FREE and OPEN TO ALL.

Colonel Cullmann loved to party. Many Sunday afternoons, at his grand home where Berkeley Bob’s Coffee Shop continues the warm hospitality in downtown Cullman today, our fun-loving, founding partier welcomed friends to come enjoy local musicians and treats. Guests would explore the latest plants the colonel was cultivating in his home greenhouse, and for hours games of horseshoes and croquet entertained the hard-working and hard-playing German community.

CULTIVATE CULLMAN is celebrating Colonel Cullman’s special birthday with this array of delicious summertime sweets to savor from communities in Cullman County.

COLD SPRINGS PEACH PECAN COBBLER

This juicy, nutty combination of flavors has been a popular, fresh peach summer culinary tradition since the early days of Cullman County.

(Source: southernliving.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 12-15 fresh COLD SPRINGS peaches, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 packages (14.1-oz.) refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/2 cup chopped COLD SPRINGS pecans, toasted and divided
  • 5 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • Sweetened whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 475F. Stir together peaches, flour, nutmeg and 3 cups sugar in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium; reduce heat to low, simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon half of peach mixture into a lightly greased 13” x 9” baking dish.
  2. Unroll 2 pie crusts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pecans and 2 tablespoons sugar over 1 pie crust, top with other pie crust. Roll to a 14” x 10” rectangle. Trim sides to fit dish. Place pastry over peach mixture.
  3. Bake at 475F for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Unroll remaining, 2 pie crusts. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. sugar and remaining 1/4 cup pecans over 1 pie crust; top with remaining pie crust. Roll into a 12” circle. Cut into 1” strips, using a fluted pastry wheel. Spoon remaining peach mixture over baked pastry. Arrange pastry strips over peach mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. sugar. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

CULLMAN STRAWBERRY FOOL

“Fools,” pudding-y treats akin to trifles, became popular desserts during the Victorian era which coincides with the Colonial Cullman period of 1870-1890. Fresh fruit fools are especially flavorful with Cullman County’s famous German heritage strawberries.

(Source: foodnetwork.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups sliced CULLMAN strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Mint leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a blender, combine the strawberries (reserve a few slices for garnish), sugar and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Push the berry mixture through a sieve and discard the seeds.
  2. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. Take a large spoonful of the whipped cream and stir it into the strawberry puree to lighten the mix. Fold the strawberry mixture gently into the whipped cream. Gently spoon the fool into a chilled serving bowl and garnish with the reserved strawberries and with mint leaves. Refrigerate before serving, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

FAIRVIEW BAKED FIGS with GOAT CHEESE and LOCAL BEE HONEY

Dessert doesn’t have to be complicated to concoct, nor need it be overly rich. The natural sweetness of figs thriving in Alabama sunshine, a helping of goat cheese and a drizzle of Cullman County bee honey prove this, deliciously.

(Source: nytimes.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-o. goat cheese log
  • 4 fresh fig leaves, optional
  • 10 ripe, FAIRVIEW figs, stems on, halved lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • CULLMAN COUNTY honey to drizzle

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 400F. Cut goat cheese into 6 thick slices. Line an 8” x 12” baking dish with fig leaves (if using). Arrange goat cheese in center of dish and surround with fig halves. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with thyme. Drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, until both cheese and figs are softened. Run under broiler for 1 minute to brown. Let cool slightly and drizzle with Cullman County honey before serving.

GOOD HOPE SINGLE MAN’S SWEET POTATOES

Colonel Cullmann, an engineer and lawyer by training, was perpetually curious to embrace innovations in business and in his personal life. For the decades he lived in America, including twice crossing the Atlantic to lead, two large boats of German immigrants to the U.S., his wife never visited. He had a cook, but being a single man, he would have loved a microwave oven and this recipe:

  • Scrub clean a GOOD HOPE sweet potato. Punch holes across it a half-dozen places with the tines of a fork. Zap it in a microwave oven for 5 minutes.
  • Slice. Butter. Eat. Repeat. 

HANCEVILLE BENNE SEED SNAPS

This is a classic, 1800s sesame seed snapping cracker with a nutty, sweet flavor.

(Source: kingarthurbaking.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup HANCEVILLE sesame seeds, toasted

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking soda and egg.
  3. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds.
  4. Drop the dough by Tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets.
  5. Bake the wafers for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
  6. Remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for 1 minute on the pan, then transfer the wafers to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in a closed container for up to a week. Freeze for up to a month.

HOLLY POND SORGHUM MOLASSES and YEAST ROLLS

Sorghum molasses, made from a grain, is the perfect marriage with hot buttered biscuits, yeast rolls and with pork sausages. This is true today and sorghum certainly sweetened life for the hard-working folks in the early days of Cullman County. When a farm mule wasn’t pulling a plow, or hauling a wagonload of harvest, the cherished farmers’ friend could rest a bit and then help grind cane into sweet sorghum.

(Online source: sandmountainsorghum.com)

VINEMONT DESSERT WINE

The rolling hills of Vinemont reminded Colonel Cullmann of the Rhine Valley vineyards of his native Germany. During the colonel’s lifetime, Vinemont farmers grew grapes for Eiswein, German dessert wine. Eiswein is typically made from Riesling grapes and has a luscious flavor of fruits, honey and caramel—without being cloying. Chill a bottle of Riesling from a Cullman County grocer and toast the forward-thinking Colonel’s birthday this week.

WEST POINT APPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Apples have been cultivated in the west part of Cullman County since the early days. Steele Orchards continues this heritage fruit goodness in the 21st century.

(Source: tasteofhome.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 medium tart, West Point apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cake:

  • 3 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. apple brandy or rum, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour butter into an ungreased 9-inch, round baking pan; sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar. Arrange apples in a single layer over brown sugar; layer with walnuts and remaining brown sugar.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and sour cream, beating well after each addition. Beat in brandy if desired.
  3. Spoon batter over brown sugar layer. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

HAPPY 200th BIRTHDAY COLONEL CULLMANN! HAPPY 4th! AUF WIEDERSEHEN Y’ALL!

Find all columns in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/celebrating-in-the-wundergarten