THE FIRST time the Trapp family was forced to flee its home, it gained in the process a book that was translated into countless languages and a musical heard round the world.
The second time the Trapps were forced to flee their home -- when the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt., burned to the ground last year -- they lost the cookbook Maria von Trapp and her chef, Yvon Robert, had been writing, along with more than a few of her favorite things, including all her family photographs and the books and theater programs of "The Sound of Music" from all over the world.
But, like the first time, the Trapps began rebuilding their life -- and their lodge. Constructed in the 1940s by family members, their home had evolved in the intervening years to be the first cross-country ski lodge in the East.
At the time of the fire on Dec. 21, 1980, Maria von Trapp's apartment was situated over the dining room, where she appeared every evening to make the rounds and greet the guests. (At age 76, she remains active enough to have flown over to London for the opening of the largest production ever of "The Sound of Music.") The lodge has been run for the last 10 years by Johannes von Trapp, Maria's youngest son, born when the family arrived in America in 1939 and now known in Vermont as John Trapp. Nephew George is the treasurer, Elizabeth Trapp is an assistant, Christopher Trapp does the landscaping, and Toby Trapp is the gardener.
The lodge's dining room typically served 150 people a night, and even at that often had to turn people away. The Austrian Tea Room, a chalet decorated with blueberry-colored wood trim and served by waitresses in dirndls, was a newer part of the 300-acre resort and survived the fire; it had been serving upwards of 500 people a day. Both offered a blend of the cuisines of Austria and Vermont, prepared by the Canadian chef.
Schnitzels were and are a specialty, and there are goulashes, as one might expect. All the veal is butchered on the premises. In summer the vegetables come from the Trapps' garden. The old lodge had a root cellar for storing onions, carrots and squash. The nuts for the linzertortes were roasted and ground in the kitchen, and the butter was whipped there.
Maria von Trapp is fond of dumplings -- especially liver dumplings -- and the smoked pork loin known as kasseler rippchen. Even when forced to feed her 10 children on buses that carried them to concerts during their 20 years of performing as the Trapp Family Singers, Maria served cold Wiener schnitzel and linzertorte -- with whipped cream from home. But in a Vermont ski lodge, one must also serve chili and quiche, apple cider and maple syrup (the basement is filled with it), not to mention Vermont cheddar and Vermont ham (bought from Harrington's nearby) and Vermont turkey for Thanksgiving. Vermont used to be lamb country, and shows signs of becoming so again, says chef Robert; the lodge's lamb always has been locally bought. After all, when they first settled in Vermont, the Trapps helped support themselves by tapping their maple trees and selling the syrup.
Within three days of the fire, the small tea room resumed service -- lunches only -- then began to produce three meals a day in a week. Immediately after the fire, Robert bought additional kitchen equipment in Boston and started tearing down walls to accommodate the tea room's added requirements. Now it is serving 250 people at lunch alone. And cross-country skiers, notes Robert, are hearty eaters who strain a kitchen's capacity. As general manager Tom Cosans put it, they are now just "trying to get by, get people fed, keep people reasonably happy."
Still the kitchen makes its own soups, though quick-cooking rather than long-simmering ones. The menu has been cut from the old lodge's 15 entrees to perhaps seven, and those limited to dishes that don't require much time, as stove and oven space are at a premium. Yet the mashed potatoes are real, and the spaetzle are made by hand. The breads are still homemade -- primarily white, caraway rye and whole wheat, plus muffins or croissants when time allows -- but they are made in a pastry shop rented out for a few hours each night. Black forest cake, linzertorte, sachertorte and apple strudel are still made by the Trapps' pastry chef, but not by Maria von Trapp's recipes or to the same standards as they were and will be when the new lodge is finished.
That will be around September. It might have been never, but according to Cosans -- who also lost a book-in-progress in the fire -- masses of letters convinced the Trapps to rebuild. The new lodge will have 73 rooms -- 2 1/2 times the number of the old one -- and will include concessions to modernity such as telephones, though television sets will be available only on insistence. Maria, who is now living with a friend in a nearby town, will return to her new apartment above the dining room in the rebuilt lodge. It will actually be the Trapp family's third dwelling on the property; the first farmhouse fell down on their heads soon after they bought it in 1941, though as Maria argued to her husband, Baron Georg von Trapp, when she showed him the ramshackle farm she wanted to buy, "We can build a house and barns, but we can never build a view like this!"
And she is proving it once again. The three valleys still stand below this mountain perch. And nine mountain ranges can still be seen on a good day. But now part of the view is the family cemetery in the meadow, where Georg von Trapp was buried in 1947. And now tourists from all over the world flock to see the family as well as the view. The Foxfire restaurant down in the valley that is Stowe, even jokes in its brochure about the frequently asked question: "Which way is the Trapp Family Lodge?" (Answer: "You can't get there from here.")
Music had, of course, always been part of the Trapp Family Lodge. Accordion playing, singing, music both planned and impromptu were nightly events. Some nights there were square dances, and often the guests contributed their own music to that of the Trapps. The music is expected to be important again in the new lodge, along with the food of Vermont and Vienna, returned to the Trapps' standards.
And Robert intends to start work again on Maria von Trapp's soups and pastries and his more eclectic specialties for the lodge cookbook. He will resume the recording and the testing of the recipes that is necessary to adjust them for home cooks. "This time," he said wistfully, "I'm going to copy everything."
CREAM OF BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP (6 servings) 1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 medium leeks (light part only), washed and minced 7 cups chicken stock 1 teaspoon oregano 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup flour 1 cup light cream 2 cups grated cheddar cheese Salt and pepper to taste
Cut off heads of broccoli, steam them and set aside. Peel the spears and cut them roughly. In a soup pot on medium heat, add vegetable oil. Put in leeks and broccoli spears and saute' a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and oregano. Simmer until broccoli is thoroughly cooked. Put broccoli mixture in blender and pure'e. In a pot over medium heat melt butter; stir in flour and mix well. Add broccoli mixture and stir with a wisk until soup comes to a simmer. Add cream and cheese, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add broccoli heads, bring soup back to a simmer and serve.
This recipe can be frozen before adding the cheese.
LIVER DUMPLINGS (Leberknodel) (Makes about 24 2-inch dumplings) 10 ounces beef or calves liver 4 ounces beef kidney suet 1/2 medium onion 2 cloves garlic 2 eggs beaten 5 ounces milk 9 tablespoons butter, softened 1 teaspoon marjoram 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley 2 quarts stale 1/2-inch bread cubes (from Vienna or French-style bread) 1/2 cup or more flour
Grind the liver, suet, onion and garlic finely in meat grinder or food processor. Beat eggs, milk and butter together in a large mixing bowl. Add and mix well the liver mixture, marjoram, pepper, salt and parsley. Add bread cubes and flour, mix well. Let mixture stand 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
Wet your hands and form mixture into 2-inch balls. If it is too soft to hold together add a little more flour. Poach dumplings in simmering chicken or beef broth for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let dumplings stand in broth another 10 minutes or more. Serve dumplings in broth they were cooked in or with sauerkraut. These dumplings freeze well.
TRAPP FAMILY LINZERTORTE 1/2 pound almond paste 1 1/4 cups sugar White of 1 small egg 1 1/2 cups butter 2 eggs 3 1/2 cups cake flour 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 2 ounces finely ground walnuts 10-ounce jar currant jelly (or half currant jelly and half raspberry jam) Slivered almonds Powdered sugar
Mix almond paste, sugar and egg white until well-blended. Mixture will be crumbly. Add butter and eggs and cream until smooth. Stir in flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ground walnuts.
Break off one-fourth of dough and set aside. Pat remaining dough into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the side of a greased 10-inch springform pan. Dough on bottom should be 1/2-inch thick. Spread jelly on dough.
Roll out remaining dough. Add more flour if dough is too sticky to handle. Cut into strips 1/2-inch wide and 1/4-inch thick. Form crisscross pattern on top of jelly. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Discard any excess dough. Bake at 375 degrees until jelly bubbles, about 35 minutes. Cool on cake rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
WIENER SCHNITZEL (2 servings) 2 veal steaks from milk-fed veal (about 4 to 5 ounces each, from round or other tender piece), pounded lightly to 1/4-inch thick Salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup flour 1 egg beaten 1 tablespoon milk 1/3 cup bread crumbs 4 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup vegetable oil Lemon wedges for garnish
Salt and pepper veal steaks lightly. Dip them in flour (both sides) then in egg beaten with milk and finish in bread crumbs, coating both sides of schnitzel well.
In a 10- to 12-inch oven-proof frying pan over medium heat add the butter and oil and melt until butter becomes foamy. Place schnitzels in frying pan and saute', moving them around to be sure they brown evenly. When schnitzels are golden brown on that side, turn them over and place pan in 425-degree oven. Cook approximately 4 minutes in oven. Remove schnitzels from pan and drain briefly on a paper towel. Serve immediately.
Schnitzels are served with a lemon wedge. German potato salad and tossed green salad are good accompaniments.