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How to Eat Texas Czech in October

October is Czech Heritage Month in Texas. What a fitting excuse to eat and learn about Czech and Texas Czech traditional foods. At the bottom of this post are several events at which you can do just that.

If you want to cook Czech food in October, by all means cook local and seasonal. In Texas in October, there are lots of fruits and vegetables to buy at your local farmers market that are widely used in the Texas Czech kitchen. Here are some suggestions.

  • apples and pears - make kolach fillings, pies, and bundt cakes, or pear preserves
  • cauliflower - make fried cauliflower or pickled cauliflower
  • cabbage - make sauerkraut, fried cabbage, zelniky (cabbage kolaches), slaw, or sauerkraut salad
  • okra - make stewed okra with tomatoes

Last weekend I tried yet another sauerkraut recipe (pictured above), this one with apples and potatoes. It was just the right balance of sweet and sour and rich and tangy. I used Granny Smith apples so things didn't get too sweet and served it with pan-fried sausages and a cucumber and tomato salad, since I can still get those ingredients at the farmers market, too. Below is my adaptation of a recipe I found in the Travis-Williamson Counties Czech Heritage Cookbook.

Company Sauerkraut

adapted from a recipe by Ginny Prasatik Dornoff

1 pound of sauerkraut

1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 large apple, grated
1 cup water
4 small red potatoes, boiled in skins, cut up in chunks or sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drain the juice from the sauerkraut. In a skillet, saute the onion in the bacon fat until golden. Stir in the sauerkraut, sugar, caraway seeds, apple, and water. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Add the cooked potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Ginny's note to this recipe - "Serve with Czech sausage for a quick drop-in Czech company meal."

October Events for Czech Food

Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20 - LA GRANGE

Heritage Demonstrations at the Heritage Festival and Muziky
at the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center

Start the weekend off on Friday night with chicken and dumplings. The organizers tell me the dumplings are a Czech bread/noodle version, not straight up Southern dumplings, and that the chicken and the dumplings are made separately and added together before serving so the dumplings aren't overcooked. Demonstrations at the festival will include noodle, butter, sausage, and wine making. What more could you want for a well-rounded Czech meal (i.e. garlicky smoked sausage with a side of buttered homemade noodles and a glass of wine.) Go learn how to old-school make the entire meal from scratch! You can also buy Weikel's kolaches at the Festival's concession stand and enjoy them while listening to this year's tribute to veteran polka band The Vrazel's. Aflred Vrazel is the ONLY Texas Czech to be inducted into the International Polka Association's Hall of Fame.

More info here.

Saturday October 20 - AUSTIN

Old School Kolaches popup
9-11am at Confituras Little Kitchen

Come and taste my latest project - Old School Kolaches - when I'm hosted by Confituras Little Kitchen. I'll have traditional flavors and some topped with Confituras' heavenly jams and jellies (which you can purchase at the shop). Kolaches will be sold singly or by the half dozen. Come have a cup of coffee and say hi. So grateful to Stephanie McClenny for the opportunity.

Sunday, October 21 - AUSTIN

Cesky Vecer
put on by the Austin Czech Historical Association
3-9:30pm at Saengerrunde Hall

Cesky Vecer, hosted by longstanding group the Austin Czech Historical Association, is like the Academy Awards of Czech dinners in Austin. Attendees dress up, volunteers decorate, Kovanda's Czech Band plays, and the meal is made by beloved Czech-born chef and pastry teacher Pavla Van Bibber. This year, Pavla will be serving bramboravá pórková polévka (potato leek soup), vepřová (pork roast), knedliky (dumplings), zelí (sauerkraut), houbový Štrůdl (mushroom strudel), salát (salad) rohlík, máslo (bread, butter), ledová Čaj (iced tea), and horká káva (hot coffee). The meal also includes a dessert plate with four or five different delicacies, such as a slice of strudel, bread pudding with slivovice sauce, some sort of cookie, perhaps a small kolacIt's really your only opportunity every year to eat traditional Czech food in Austin. Folks will gather from 3-4:30pm to visit and peruse the silent auction items. Dinner is served at 5pm and then you can polka and waltz the night away. Bring your own beer and wine (and Slivovic and Becharovka.)

More info here. Tickets s
old only until October 10th.

Pavla Van Bibber's dessert display at the 2013 Cesky Vecer dinner

Saturday, October 27 - HOUSTON

Annual Czech Soup Tasting
Czech Heritage Society Harris Co. Chapter
3-6pm at Episcopal Church of the Epiphany

Czechs love soup. Eat all you the soup, bread, and tea you can at this annual event where the CHS members are doing the cooking from family recipes. Menu will include really traditional offerings of 
chicken noodle, liver dumpling, creamy dill, mushroom barley, and lentil soups. You can also buy Czech beers and Czech, Texas Czech, and other pastries (all homemade!) and be serenaded by accordion music.

More info here.

Sunday, October 28 - SCHERTZ

Bexar County Czech /Slovak Festival
11:30am-4pm at Mikulski Hall

The Bexar County CHS Chapter serves the iconic Texas Czech event meal:
 sausage from Prasek's, along with potatoes made with onions, sauerkraut with caraway seed and onion rue, green beans with bacon and onions (all prepared with Czech recipes), and peach slices (that's right, canned peaches). If you are a folklorist trying to understand Texas Czech food or are an archaeologist 1,000 years from now trying to get a picture of Texas Czech foodways in the late 20th/early 21st centuries, this menu would be your Rosetta Stone. It's served at Czech church picnics, weddings, funerals, school fundraisers, and cultural preservation events. And you, too, can enjoy it on October 28th, the actual centennial anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia after World War 1.  You'll also enjoy the requisite culture and genealogy displays, polka music from Fritz Hodde, and be able to purchase kolaches and desserts.

More info here


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