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Fried Chicken

This is a very quick post about fried chicken and a recipe offering. Summer is for fried chicken, in my opinion… Fourth of July, eating at a local park’s picnic table, and church picnics. I sadly can’t make it to this year’s Prazska Pout in Praha, Texas on August 15th (Praha picnic plate in photo above) and haven’t been able to attend any of the other many picnics that serve fried chicken, so I’ve been lamenting the loss of opportunity to eat one of my favorite summer dishes.
I live in a very small apartment – the smell of whatever I cook becomes my abode’s air freshener for half a day, so I rarely fry foods. So, I suppose I’ve been craving fried chicken, and writing about it helps. So does reading Jay Francis’s blog (The Fried Chicken Blog) which I recommend to anyone interested in the subject. He has fantastic photos and videos about the Praha picnic specifically here, but check out the rest of the blog, too. Clearly Texas Czechs love fried chicken from its appearance on so many c…
Recent posts

At Memory's Table

I am overwhelmingly grateful to have been sitting “at memory’s table” my entire life. By that I mean, though my parents had moved me and my siblings to several states and back to Texas by the time I was in 4th grade, the people in my life were stable and family connections were so strong that absorbing our shared history was unavoidable.  And food was inseparable from that.


My parents are fascinated by both history and food. My maternal grandmother lived in her house (and her kitchen) for over 70 years. All branches of my grandparents’ families have had reunions—for decades and decades—with fantastic food. Though my parents were adventurous eaters, we definitely grew up with weeknight staple meals that all my siblings can name and remember. Tradition is extremely important for us, resulting in a Christmas eve meal that includes dishes served continuously for over a century. Historically people have lived a long time in my family, so my parents and I and my children all grew up loving…

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

My summer-in-Texas food memories are chock full of homemade ice cream, devilled eggs, barbecued chicken and pinto beans, popsicles, potato salad, Dr. Pepper, peach pie, grilled vegetables, homemade sausage, and cucumber and tomato salad, among other tasty things. These dishes were consumed at chili cook-offs, family reunions, 4th of July get-togethers, siblings’ summer birthdays, and church picnics. I was inspired to make the cucumber and tomato salad this week after buying cucumbers at the community grocery store called Hoffer’s, in Hallettsville, and a friend gifting me with a large orangey-red Sungold Medley tomato from Austin’s Farm to Table company. Many stalls at my local Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market also had cucumbers and tomatoes on offer this morning. I love the vibrant colors of the dish, the spicy raw onion and crisp cucumbers, and the bright flavors that are so dependent on the summer Texas sun. 

I think of the salad as a Texas Czech thing. "Salad" in the Czech …

Soup Swap/ In Praise of Teachers

Last month, at the end of my son's third grade year, parents were asked to bring soup one day for teachers to swap and take home. I looked through the list of soups people had already committed to bringing, wanting to do something different, and decided on Czech Lentil Soup (recipe below).

At the same time, for months now actually, I've been working on illustrating and self publishing my great grandfather's memoirs--that is, illustrated with photographs and personal papers of his that I've scanned. (Link below to purchase it, if you're inclined.) He was a schoolteacher in Fayette and Lavaca Counties in Texas from the mid 1890s into the 1950s. His personal papers and memoirs are a rich trove of information about Texas rural schools in the early 20th century and the Czech community at the time. From student attendance rolls to his work contracts with trustees to poems written out for students to copy for practicing handwriting, he saved an amazing number of historical…

Razor Blade (Green Grape) Pie

Behind my grandmother's house in Hallettsville, TX grows an epic grape vine. As far as my mother knows, it's at least 70 years old since she's 71 and it's been there as long as she can remember. It's impossible to tell where the vine actually comes out of the ground or where the end of the vines reach, since they're draped and snaked around and through and over a chinaberry or hackberry tree and onto a huge oak in front of the barn. It's a source of wonder for my 9-year old who sees the mass of leaves and branches as a combination shady fort / animal graveyard (found an entire large animal's skeleton underneath) / potential snake lair.

I talked with the extremely nice Lavaca County A&M AgriLife Extension agent in hopes of identifying the variety of grapes. A quick internet search of photos of leaf shapes revealed that they're muscadine, not mustang grapes, but when they're ripe, they're white/green, not the bronze or purple named in A&…

Vánočka

Vánočka (braided Czech yeast bread made for Christmas) may be one of the least changed recipes in it’s 140 plus years in Texas. In fact, I found one recipe in the K.J.T. Centennial Cookbook of 1989 (included in both English and Czech) that states the recipe is over 100 years old (“Vanocka – Czech Christmas Twist” by Ella Orsak Evanicky, who wrote that she made the bread just like her mother, who died in 1949, did.) The vánočka I made this year looked exactly like that of a friend’s mother who immigrated from the Czech Republic with great knowledge of traditional baking and exactly like a picture in cookbook I bought in the Czech Republic called “Czech Cookery” by Slovart Publishing, 2000. Even the recipes I found in Czech-American cookbooks from Iowa mirror those I found in Texas Czech community cookbooks and the few English language Czech cookbooks I have. Interestingly the four cookbooks I have in Czech specifically from the Valašsko region of Moravia, from where so many Texas Czech…

Christmas Cookies, Hot Toddies, and Wishing I Was in Prague

Yesterday I spent the evening baking with a friend who is moving to Prague in a few months to teach English. (Actually I made dough that went into the freezer for baking off today, but he baked dozens and dozens of cookies and brownies until 4am.)  For Christmas, I gave him a copy of the book of essays by Ivan Klima called The Sprit of Prague. I thought that it would be good for him to have a native’s perspective on the city’s tragic and triumphant history.
I reread the title essay and thought how true this passage was... "A city is like a person: if we don't establish a genuine relationship with it, it remains a name, an external form that soon fades from our minds. To create this relationship, we must be able to observe the city and understand its peculiar personally, its "I", its spirit, its identity, the circumstances of its life as they evolved through space in time. " My friend's Prague will not be the same Prague I know because he'll have a differ…