My ancestry consists of American Indian (Chippewa/Ojibway and Metis), Irish, Scotch, Dutch, English, Polish and, of course, German, specifically the once mighty kingdom of Prussia. As someone who chooses and prefers to be grounded and rooted in tradition, it is no surprise I observe customs, traditions and holidays of my ancestors.
Groundhog Day is one of those days. We have badgers here in Montana, but in my area in the North Central region, we also have rock chucks, which has given birth to the legend of Marmaduke the Rock Chuck. He's the one we either celebrate or curse, depending on whether or not he sees his shadow.
Regardless of whether or not we're mad at Marmaduke, we always celebrate with "brats and kraut". Sometimes I roast the dish in the oven, but this year because I was in and out of The Cottage that day, I put them in the Crock Pot to slowly cook. It's a simple dish; small red potatoes cut in half or quarters (whichever makes them the same size), sauerkraut (I use Claussen in the glass jar, sometimes we have some from a maker that puts it in a plastic bag and that is good, too, but was not available at the store at the time), and some kind of bratwurst. Our local grocery store makes several different kinds of bratwurst, and I chose the German ones. I put everything in the Crock Pot and it was ready in about 4 1/2-5 hours.
My table setting used my favorite German china-Blue Garland by Johann Haviland. Out of all the china I own, this is "my" pattern. When I first set up housekeeping back in 1991, I was given lots of things for my first apartment, among them the starter set of Golden Elegance from my mother, and a set of Melmac from my Grandma O'Donnell. However, I wanted my very own set of china and decided I wanted blue and white. I looked at all kinds of blue and white china and dinnerware and all were pretty but none "spoke" to me. Until one day, when I stopped at IGA (one of the local grocery stores and a rival of the one Dad worked in) to get some milk and, lo and behold, there it was-my china! Exactly what I had been looking for! The Wedgwood blue roses on white china with silver trim was what I had really wanted. It was a premium at the store, where there were coupons in their weekly flyer that I had to redeem in order to get the pieces at the coupon prices. The 5-piece place setting consisting of a dinner plate, bread and butter plate, cup, saucer and berry bowl was $4.99 each, so I started with a service for 4 and diligently collected the pieces for several months until I bought the whole set. I was so proud!
The set itself was made in Thailand, and it wasn't long before I kicked myself for not getting a service for 8. Then, a lucky find at a rummage sale brought home a whole bunch of Blue Garland, only this time made in Bavaria. I had a service for 12 with extra serving pieces and was I a happy lady!
Since that time, I have added pieces here and there that I didn't have, and my mother will bring over pieces she finds in the wild. One was an unopened boxed set of a service for 4 made in Bavaria. This, Fiesta and Golden Wheat by Homer Laughlin China Company, are the largest in my dinnerware collection.
I used Blue Garland for my Groundhog Day dinner, along with crystal goblets made in West Germany (there were stickers on the goblets that said "Made in West Germany" but no manufacturer's name), and my German Great-Grandmother's Coronation flatware by Oneida. The centerpiece is a cut glass compote made in West Germany; the label is still on it.