In my copy of a KJZT cookbook called "Sharing Our Best: Centennial Book of Recipes", a gift from my grandmother, she inscribed it with "To Dawn, my little Czech princess!" I love that she stressed the connection between my ethnic heritage and many of the recipes in the book. As many of you readers know, the KJZT is a fraternal organization begun in the late 19th century by Czechs who'd immigrated to Texas. So many of the recipes in "Sharing Our Best" reflect Czech and Texas-Czech foods. And like most community cookbooks, some of the recipes are just tried and true family favorites, or derivations of popular recipes from magazines or the ubiquitous New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 60s with the red and white checked cover.
I am part of the team that's working on the first community cookbook by the Texas Czech Genealogical Society (TCGS), so have been thinking about these types of cookbooks as I see submissions to the TCGS. Like most, our cookbook will also include family favorites, but we're hoping for submissions of more traditional recipes. To keep the book focused on people (it's a genealogical society after all,) the title will be "A Tribute to Czech Cooks." TCGS members are encouraged to send in photos of the cook to accompany a recipe as well as information about both. (If you are a member of the TCGS, the submission deadline is November 15, 2012. Please submit recipes, photos and tributes to Charlene Hurta at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to her at 1231 CR 201A, Angleton, TX 77515. Emailed photos should be high resolution (300 dpi.) Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you are submitting an original photo and would like it returned to you.)
Addie Broyles did a lovely blog piece for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance on community cookbooks as the organization works on their own. She used the cookbook “Czech Reflections" (1994) by the McLennan-Hill Chapter Czech Heritage Society in North Central Texas as her example. Her post is worth reading as an inspiration to submit recipes to community cookbooks, but also to pull out the cookbooks you have on your shelf and cook from them. She wrote to potential recipe submitters "As you are thinking about which recipes and stories to submit, consider the recipes that have meaning in your life because the generations that follow ours will hopefully be able to read our book and get a sense of who we are, what is important to us and how we live, including how we incorporate technology into our cooking." I would say the same to members of the TCGS who are considering submitting recipes.
I have relied heavily on community cookbooks the last 2 years for this blog as my ability to interview people directly (and collect recipes from them) has been limited. However, it ,too, is just one way of doing research about food in the Czech community. It's interesting to me to match up Czech last names (of submitters) with their Czech recipes. It's a good way to find out different methods of preparing an ingredient... like the okra patty recipe I found amongst a sea of fried okra and gumbo recipes. I can assume how popular a recipe might be by how many times it shows up in different books. And the variations in recipes are always fun to see.
I've compiled a list of the community cookbooks I've run across that reflect the Czech community... either coming straight from Czech organizations or coming from churches or societies with a high proportion of Czechs. The list is below (alphabetical by title) for posterity and in hopes that some of you readers will let me know about books I've not run across yet.
- 1995 Festival of American Folklife Cookbook, Smithsonian Institution
- A Book of Recipes", Blessing Altar Society of St. Peter's Catholic Church, 1968-1992
- "A Collection of Family Recipes", Victoria County Czech Heritage Society, 1992
- "A Key to Good Cooking", The Hillje Altar Society, no date
- "A Taste of Texas: Cooking with Beer from the Little Brewery in Shiner, TX", 1986
- "A Taste of Victoria", Nazareth Academy, 1974
- "Czech Heritage Collection", Most Holy Trinity Catholic Mission, no date
- "Czech Heritage Cookbook", Travis-Williamson Counties CHS, 1996
- "Czech Reflections: Recipes, Memories and History", McLennan-Hill Chapter of the CHS, 1994
- "Cesky Stopy: A Tribute to the Greatest Czech Cooks", Volume 7, December 2001, Number 4
- "Domaci Kucharstvi: The Art of Home Cooking", Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, Dubina, TX, 1990
- "Favorite Recipes", Catholic Daughters of America, Court Sacred Heart No. 797, Hallettsville, TX, no date
- "Frenstat's Favorites", Holy Rosary Altar Society, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Frenstat, TX, 1992
- "The Fruit of the Spirit", Holy Cross Altar Society, Bay City, 2002
- "Generation to Generation", Historical Society of the Czech Club of Dallas, 1980
- "Heaven Scent: Generations of Recipes", Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Sweet Home, TX and St. John the Baptists Catholic Church, Koerth, TX, 2003
- "Memorial Book and Recipes", Czech Catholic Home for the Aged, Hillje, 1957
- "Molly's Cookbook with Love", Molly Pesek, 1981
- "Nase Dejiny: The Magazine of Czech Genealogy and Culture", various volumes had recipes in them
- "Orsak Heritage Cookbook", Orsak family for a reunion, 2001
- "Our Favorite Recipes", Ft. Bend County Czech Heritage Society, 1991
- "Recipes Old and New", Catholic Union of Texas, The K.J.T., 1996
- "Sacred Heart Family Cookbook", Sacred Heart School, 1968-1990
- "Sharing Our Best: Centennial Book of Recipes", KJZT, 1994
- "St. Joseph's on the Brazos Catholic Church Cookbook", 1986
- "St. Paul's Anniversary Cookbook, Houston, 1978
- "Teachers' Tasteful Traditions", Members of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Alpha Phi Chapter, 1998
I've also found lots of recipes for (usually) kolaches or vanocka in "Texas" cookbooks and magazines - way too many to list here!