I love September weather. As I write this, I’m sitting in my office with the air conditioning off, the windows wide open and a beautiful breeze wafting through the room.

There are things I always look forward to in September – a trip to Vala’s, decorating with fall colors, buying pumpkins, cooking soups and stews and baking.

This year, fall has an additional celebration for all Lutherans. We will recognize the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517. Celebrating 500 years of good theology, liturgy and worship deserves more than one Sunday of acknowledgment and there have been Reformation recognition events all year long.

Since I came to a great love of Lutheranism as an adult, I have been a fan of Martin Luther’s writings and his explanation of doctrine. I am so looking forward to tonight’s showing of the PBS movie on the life of Luther, called “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed The World.” According to my NET schedule, this documentary, narrated by Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville (for those of us who miss Downton Abbey yet another reason to watch!), will air tonight at 7 p.m.

I will definitely be watching tonight and then I will see this documentary again this Sunday. Lutheran congregations of the Fremont Circuit of the Nebraska District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) are sponsoring the movie’s showing on Sunday, September 17 at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church and School. So I’ll watch once with Gregg and then again with fellow Lutherans and other interested parties at my home church. Consider this column an invitation to join us!

After the showing of the film, the churches of the circuit that include St Paul of Arlington, Trinity of Blair, St. Matthew of Cedar Bluffs, Good Shepherd of Fremont, Trinity of Fremont, Immanuel of Hooper, Trinity of Howells, St Peter of North Bend, St Peter of Scribner and Our Redeemer of Wahoo, will host an ice cream social! Lutherans always like to eat after a special event.

Ice cream is great but the good folks of Trinity wanted to add a bit of additional German flair so we are serving a Black Forest Chocolate Cake. This recipe captures all of the flavors of this traditional cake and I am including it so you can enjoy it too.

For tonight’s showing of the movie, Gregg and I will enjoy another German-based recipe. The following meal is filled with ingredients that have their roots in German cuisine. Since it is slow cooker friendly, I can make it first thing in the morning and spend the rest of the day knowing dinner is done. That always makes me happy!

This dish is delicious with rye bread but I think it will be even better with Dilly Bread. I made this bread a time or two when Gregg and I were first married after a workmate shared a loaf and the recipe. I forgot all about it until I got out my copy of German Cooking that was a gift from my sister in 1979. I know it was 1979 because Jayne signed the book in her distinctive hand with best wishes for a Merry Christmas. I’m so glad it reminded me of this favorite recipe from our past with a distinctly German flair.

If you are so inclined, be sure to watch this documentary tonight or join us Sunday!Sausages, Potatoes and Sauerkraut Crock

18 small red potatoes cut in half

2 cups of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

1 onion, sliced thinly

1 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

8 bratwursts

1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the potatoes, sauerkraut, onion, broth and seasonings. Tuck the bratwurst in the vegetable mix. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Sprinkle the dish with parsley and serve with dark rye bread and spicy mustard.

Dill Bread

Dillbrot

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup creamed cottage cheese, heated to lukewarm

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons dill seed

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour

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Dissolve yeast in warm water. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl, except add flour a little at a time. Beat until well-mixed and mixture becomes a stiff dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down and put dough in a bread pan, or arrange in a round shape on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise again. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees. While warm, brush loaf with soft butter; sprinkle well with salt. Makes 1 loaf.

Black Forest Cake

1 dark chocolate cake mix

1 can (21-ounce) cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs, beaten

6 ounces chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients and bake in a well-greased pan in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until cake tests done. Recipe Note: I was reminded to tell you that the best way to blend these ingredients is by hand. You don’t want to lose the texture of the cherries. Thanks Janet!

Frost with the following:

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup milk

6 ounces chocolate chips

Heat until sugar is thoroughly dissolved in milk and butter. Stir in chocolate chips and beat until smooth and spreadable.

Quote of the Week: God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. — Martin Luther

Ellen Lund of Fremont is a freelance food columnist.

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