|Vegetables cooking on my grandmother's 1950s range...potatoes in one pot, butter and onions in another (to mix with the potatoes) with green beans in the back, also awaiting a coating of butter.|
It made me wonder about exactly how Czechs of my grandmother's or great-grandmother's generation were cooking the vegetables they brought in from their gardens (or home from the grocery store.) I sent an email out to family and Czech friends. I asked if they remembered eating as a child the same vegetables I had gotten from my Greenling delivery - cucumbers, okra, fresh pinto beans, summer squash, mint, a melon, oranges.
Some of the answers I got are below along with recipes I tried. Ultimately, I need a lot more first person data to decide. Please comment on this post about how you remember your Czech-Texas family having all manner of vegetables. I would be fascinated to hear.
My mom wrote "
Basic Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a Vinegar Dressing Dawn Orsak
2 cups of sliced cucumbers
2 small tomatoes, quartered and sliced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced onion
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine and let sit for a while so the flavors mingle and vegetables marinate a bit. You can vary the amounts of the ingredients, use more or less sugar, try cider or red wine vinegar, use white or red onion, add fresh dill or parsley or any combination of these ideas.
|A really, big cucumber ready to feed a family cut up as a salad.|
This recipe is based on the memories of Father Paul Chovanec – “Mom sliced the okra into small circles, rolled it in cornmeal, and fried it till it was crispy” - but then had to be saved from the garbage can by my partner, Mark, because I didn't know what I was doing. They were wonderful... a crispy batter on the outside and soft on the inside.
½ pound fresh okra
a handful of cornmeal
1/4 c. milk
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
Rinse the okra and slice into small circles. Beat the eggs and milk together with the salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place the cornmeal in another large bowl. Heat the oil - about a 1/4" deep - in a skillet over medium high heat. Drop handfuls of the okra into the milk/egg mixture. Then scoop them up, drop them into the cornmeal and roll them around until they're coated.
Sometimes Mother cooked yellow squash with onion, mashed it, and added beaten eggs, cracker crumbs and seasoning, and then baked it at 350 degrees until it was set and golden brown. I don't know if it was Czech, but it was mighty good.”
R. Vasek wrote "
This is based on my grandmother's recipe and experimenting.
5 cups of squash (I used zucchini), quartered and sliced
2 Tablespoons butter, plus some for greasing the casserole dish and dotting on top
1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup breadcrumbs plus more for sprinkling on top (or use saltine crackers)salt and pepper to taste
Steam or boil the squash - how tender is sort of up to you. I steamed it for about 8 minutes; it still had a bit of bite. I'm more used to the casseroles where the squash had the heck cooked out of it and by the time it's mixed with liquid and breadcrumbs, it's more of a homogenous mass. You can do as you please. Drain the squash and add the butter while still warm so it coats the veggies. Beat the eggs with the milk and combine with the squash and breadcrumbs. Season to taste and turn into the casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 1/2 an hour. A few minutes before you take it out, you can sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, dot with butter and put back into the oven to brown.
At the end of the recipe my grandmother wrote out for squash casserole (apparently at the urging of me or my mom), she wrote “I’m guessing at this because I never measure anything and don’t have any squash to test the recipe. Good luck.” I wish you the same, dear readers.
|Squash casserole ready to go into the oven.|