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150 Years in Texas


This month marks the 150th anniversary of my Orsak family being in Texas, according to my great-great-great grandfather's Record of Declaration, which notes that he "arrived at the port of Galveston on or about the 1st day of July 1866."

At our annual family reunion (for our downline of Orsaks) late last month, this momentous occasion was marked with a little speech from my father and signage in the door prize plants. We went about our usual reunion activities... sharing lots of food, children whacking a piñata, selling our baked goods to each other in the silent auction, telling embarrassing stories about when we were kids, listening to Don Orsak play the accordion, and visiting.

Czech foods were most abundant in the silent auction. People could outbid each other (for the good of next year's auction) to take home an apricot/cheese roll, kolaches by two different women, a cheese roll with pecans on top, a poppyseed roll, buttermilk pie, and five or six different kinds of canned goods.

There were, of course, varied and glumptious (to quote the new movie The BFG) dishes stretched out along the dinner and dessert tables. For posterity, I always make a list of what's brought each year and then walk around with my notebook looking like a canvaser for family traditions asking people what dish they brought. (Mostly in case I want to contact them for the recipe later.) My favorite comment this year was "Who brings lasagna to a Bohemian event?" (We're actually Moravian, and the lasagna was delicious.)

Me and my great aunt Marcella,
the oldest Orsak descendent and my grand-
father Orsak's only living sibling. She
brought barbecued brisket and
German potato salad.
This year, we could all partake of the following
savory dishes:

3 kinds of sauerkraut
broccoli-rice-chicken casserole
2 lasagnas
green beans with potatoes and bacon
green beans with dill sauce (recipe below)
green beans
corn on the cob
pulled pork sliders
pork loin with apricot sauce
pork roast with rice
3 other pork loins or roasts
2 dishes of baked ham
two pasta dishes
okra with bacon
sliced barbecued bricket
German potato salad
roast with potatoes and gravy
chicken wings
macaroni and cheese
red beans and rice
slices sausage from Novak's in El Campo
gumbo and rice
crawfish dressing
loaves of white and what bread
two plates of deviled eggs
canned peaches
kvasena (refrigerator pickles)
other pickles
fresh fruit platter
pasta salad
sauerkraut salad
creamed fruit salad
fruit salad
black bean-corn salad
cole slaw
couscous salad

Orsaks and food go together like vegetables and cream sauce. 

I brought sauerkraut salad and the green bean recipe below. It was given to me by an Orsak relative at the 2011 reunion, but this was the first year I'd brought it. The recipe notes that "Louise Orsak [my great aunt] makes this and so do some of her kids. It's a favorite of almost everyone." I checked with Aunt Louise's daughters who thought they recognized the recipe, but didn't remember the vinegar in it. I suppose is could be left out, but it balances the flavors nicely. You're on your own as far as quantities go, as I was. You can do it. 



Green Beans with Dill Sauce (typed below as written) 
Cook fresh green beans with onion and some salt til almost tender. Melt some margarine in pan 1/3 cup. Add 1/4 cup flour, fry til light brown. Drain some water from the beans with some milk to make a thick sauce. Add a little vinegar to taste and 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped dill. Drain beans. Add sauce to them and simmer briefly in sauce. 

The dill sauce recipe below is from The Czechoslovak Cookbook by Joza Brizova (Crown Publishers, 1965) and it is so similar to the one above, I like to assume my recipe was handed down from my Orsak relatives since coming from Moravia 150 years ago.

Dill Sauce (Koprová Omáčka) 
Prepare white sauce (below). Add 2 tablespoons minced dill. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste.  
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups stock
salt to taste
1 cup light cream or milk
1 or 2 egg yolks 
Melt butter and blend with flour. Add stock and salt; simmer for 30 minutes. Mix cream with egg yolks and pour into sauce, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Serve over vegetables. Makes about 3 cups. 


Dobré jméno, nejlepší dědictví. 
English equivalent: A good name is the best of all treasures.







Comments

  1. Thank you for having correct Czech Jana Riley

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