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Showing posts from December, 2017


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…