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Showing posts from June, 2011


I have never made kolaches that I could call my own. I've helped other people, watched demonstrators, read a hundred recipes, and eaten countless pastries. Since my partner is a well-known pastry chef, you think I would have taken advantage of his knowledge and skill some time in the last four years of our relationship, but I hadn't... until yesterday. I'm not even sure how the topic came up, but when it did he declared that making kolaches was what he wanted to do with his Father's Day, God bless him.
We approached the project from polar opposite viewpoints, but both wanted the same thing... a beautiful, delicious kolach. I brought decades of baggage as a Texas-Czech that thought she knew how it must be done (but had never done it). He brought decades of baggage as a professional pastry chef who thought he knew how it must be done (but had never done it.) I made the traditional fillings - cream cheese and apricot - but the apricot wasn't sweet enough. He made the n…

Orsak Reunion 2011

Yesterday, I was at the annual Orsak reunion outside of Ganado, TX on Lake Texana... hot as blazes and we worried about alligators eating our small children, but we let them get in the water anyway. There are so many reasons to go to a family reunion that outweigh the difficulty of driving 8 hours out of 24 with a 2-year-old. For example, I hope my kids will be imprinted with the importance of keeping family ties tied. Also, going makes my Dad happy. We got to see my 91-year-old grandmother that lives north of Dallas. And I found out that another one of my relatives plays the accordion, Don Orsak, who strolled around the hall playing sweet waltzes and polkas that would make my grandmother spontaneously shuffle around in a circle dancing with herself and a smile on her face.
Then there's the food... tables and bowls and mounds and boxes and roasters and tin-foil-covered cardboard trays full of it.

This year there was a really good spread; mostly homemade and with lots of variety (…

"Thursday. 8:20am. Put the pickles in the fridge."

That's the message I got from my Dad on my cell phone May 15th - that and nothing else. No "Hello, Dawn, it's Dad." No nonsense. He forgets a lot of things, but remembered when MY pickles were supposed to be put into the fridge.
Four days before, I was in Hallettsville in Lavaca County visiting my grandmother in the nursing home. I'd stopped at a local mom-and-pop grocery store, Hoffer's, to see what local vegetables they had that day and I was pleased to find cucumbers. I didn't know how long ago they'd been picked but decided to take a chance and bought enough for a 1/2 gallon jar. My dad says "vine to brine in 24 hours" is the rule, but if you have to break it, just trim a tiny bit off each end of the cuc with a sharp knife and soak them overnight in plain water. Presumably, older cucumbers will plump back up.
I still needed a jar. My family doesn't eat anything in large enough quantities to collect 1/2 gallon jars. I was directed by my…