In less than a year

One year, 365 days.  To some that amount of time is an eternity, and it very well has seemed like that to us in the past.  However, this wasn’t one of those years.  This time last year we had just moved into our Washington, DC, apartment and were settling in for what we thought would be a three year adventure in a city we had never dreamed of living.  Fast forward to today, and our Washington apartment has new tenants and we are long gone…  but with a wee little one in tow.  Little baby Pear made her arrival on May 9th!

baby feet

In less than a year we find ourselves on the move again, to a home we can finally call our very own, in a land we had always dreamed of living.  In less than a year our whole world has changed,  not just our address.  We now have the greatest adventure ahead of us….to raise this little miracle of life we’ve been graciously blessed with, in a land of glorious vistas, winding rivers, snow capped mountains, and beautiful beaches…from which killer whales can be viewed ;-)

pacific northwest orca

Quite possibly we’ll love it a little more than Maine???  Did I really just write that?  Only time will tell.  Now on to our new adventure.  Hopefully this one will be a little longer than the last.  We’ll return to blogging once the moving boxes have been unpacked and life settles once again.

Pacific Sunset

New Beginnings of Spring

Far too many months have elapsed since the last post, but it’s not because life has become uneventful, quite the opposite.  In fact, with the passing of winter into spring we’ve not only experienced the transformation of the landscapes around us, but we too have a our own transformation taking shape…in the form of a little bundle of joy, set to arrive when the blooms of peonies begin unfolding their delicate petals.  The Traveling Pear will become the The Traveling Trio sometime on or around the beginning of May…a baby girl, we’ll welcome into the world.  Couldn’t have planned a better arrival date…right in the middle of Spring!  The Chef will sure have his hands full now.  Two princesses under one roof! ;-) I see many Marie Antoinette macaroon baking sessions and tulle and chiffon dress-up parties in our future.

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maternity photoshoot DC cherry blossoms

DC Cherry Blossoms

DC Cherry Blossom maternity photoshoot

And soon after her arrival,  she’ll have her suitcases packed and ready for a cross country trip to Texas and then…. where the orca whales splash and the Goonies roam.  The western most explored area of the Lewis and Clark expedition… Astoria, Oregon! Yes, we are once again on the move, from the nation’s capital to the rugged lands of the Pacific Northwest.  I told the Chef when we left Washington state in June that I hoped one day we could call the region home, who knew it would be so soon!  Life sure has a way of surprising you.

Join us, as our life is about to get even more adventurous!

pacific northwest orca

Until then, we leave you with the beauty that is DC when in full bloom…

DC Cherry Blossoms Tidal Basin

DC Cherry Blossoms

Jefferson Memorial DC cherry blossoms

Tidal Basin DC cherry blossoms

Washington Monument DC cherry blossoms

DC cherry blossoms

DC cherry blossoms maternity photoshoot

Kolache…a food star of 2015? It’s always been a star to us!

What’s the first headline of the morning that grabs my attention before I’ve even cleared the sleep from my eyes?  Something about our beloved kolache being named the “It” food of 2015.  First an article by Texas Monthly about two Texas guys here in D.C. starting a kolache place named Republic Kolache Co. and then Bon Appetit’s restaurant and drinks editor Andrew Knowlton on the Today Show stating how the 2015 trend is “healthy becomes hip”, yet the first thing he shows is a ball of bread stuffed with sausage and cheese…he calls a kolache! The true term of this savory pastry is a klobasnek, not kolache, yet everyone just calls it a sausage kolache.  My backside and I beg to differ with Mr. Knowlton on how in the heck a kolache is healthy.  But, that’s OK…I’m just thrilled to see the US has finally been exposed to the one food the Chef and I are known to shove in the faces of our many friends around the globe and US to try.  But really, what’s not to love?  A sweet dough with a sweet fruit filling…YUM!

fruit kolache

Our Maine friends were a little skeptical over the Thanksgiving holidays when the Chef cranked out two dozen poppyseed, apple, keylime pie, and sausage kolaches.  With the first bite though, we had them hooked, at least with the sausage and keylime. The poppyseed are for experienced kolache eaters like myself.   And when in Maine, why not put a kolache spin on the traditional lobster roll?? The Chef indeed did and believe it or not…the Mainers actually liked it!  Traditional kolaches are made with fruit and covered with a butter, sugar, flour mixture called posipka, and they aren’t stuffed into a pocket like the sausage ones.

fruit kolaches

fruit filled kolaches without posipka

 

Here the Chef shows a fellow Coastie how to weigh each piece of dough, so each is the same.

Here the Chef shows a fellow Coastie how to weigh each piece of dough, so each is the same.

My story with the kolache begins in West (comma), Texas.  The unfortunate little town known recently to the world for its fertilizer plant explosion.  Not West Texas where the tumble weeds sway.  Totally different.  West is a small Czech community situated along I-35, which connects Waco to Dallas.  In the early 1980s my parents owned a janitorial supply company in downtown West, known as WestCo.  These were the days before big box stores existed and put the little guys out of business.

West Texas Kolache Capital

Building of where my parent’s business was located  photo:  Google Images

Just a few doors down from my parent’s business was Village Bakery, known as the “First All Czech Bakery In Texas”, yet that wasn’t where we purchased our kolaches, even though it had this title.  We frequented Nors Bakery, now called Gerik’s OleCzech Bakery.  Possibly my parents knew the Nors and that’s why we shopped there, I really don’t know.  What I do know is, we rarely if ever went anywhere else in town.  My favorite was their pecan roll, which wasn’t even a roll or a kolache, but a rectangular shaped pastry filled with a brown sugar pecan mixture that was covered in a pecan glaze.  I was introduced at a young age to the poppyseed filled kolache, but didn’t like it as I do today…it’s obviously an acquired taste.  My mother’s favorite was the traditional prune kolache.  I couldn’t stand the taste then or now.  Sorry Mom.  Most of those who stop in West for kolaches only get as far as Czech Stop because of it’s highly visible and easily accessible spot right off I-35.  On occasion we would stop in for sodas and such, but never for the kolaches.  All residents of West have their go to spot for kolaches, if they aren’t baking them in their own kitchens.  For instance, my babysitter of many years, a sweet Czech woman, only frequented the Village Bakery.

Geriks Kolache

Gerik’s Ole Czech Smokehouse and Bakery…former Nors Bakery  photo: Full Custom Gospel BBQ

And..the Chef, well…he’s a Czech boy! He’s been eating kolaches since he was in his Momma’s womb! Ha.. that’s weird.  When I asked him about his first memory of eating a kolache, he jokingly said his mom used them in lieu of a pacifier.  Apparently there was never a moment kolache dough wasn’t in the house…from dinner rolls, to tea rings, to kolaches!  His mother’s heavily guarded recipe was given to her by her mother, who in turn received it from her sister-in-law, who learned it from her mother… a Czechoslovakia immigrant straight off the boat!  That’s her in the photo… circa 1952, long after she and her husband left Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia immigrants

Everything about a kolache depends on the dough…the dough can make or break it.  It took me nearly five years of marriage (ten years total of being with the Chef) before I was ever able to “see” the recipe!!  In the early 2000s when the Chef and his Momma owned Holly Road Cafe in Corpus Christi, Texas; kolaches were a staple in their pastry counter.  Even though they sold out everyday and were requested by the dozen, the time of kolache just had not yet dawned, at least in South Texas.  Looking back now, they were way ahead of their time…like fifteen years ahead according to Bon Appetit!

A write up in the Corpus Christi Caller Times about Holly Road Cafe... 2002-2003

A write up in the Corpus Christi Caller Times about Holly Road Cafe… 2002-2003

So after the headlines it got me thinking…we’ve never done a post about kolaches.  The one food that occurs quite frequently in our home, my parent’s home, and the Chef’s Momma’s home.  The real “It” food of our background that’s been with both of us since we were wee little ones! How could we let such a thing slide?  I’m sorry to report though…no recipe or directions will be shared.  It’s a family secret!  However, a quick Google search and one can be baking within minutes…the key though is how you work the dough and that comes from either being born into it or taking the time to perfect the skill.  So, here’s to the year of the kolache…  a food “star” that’s always been in our families!

Easter 2011..Chef and his Momma working up dough

Easter 2011..Chef and his Momma working up dough

kolache dough

And here they are again...this past Christmas!

And once again this past Christmas…Chef and his Momma christening her new kitchen with kolaches!

sausage kolache

kolache

making a blueberry tearing that turned into a giant blueberry wreath

making a blueberry tea ring that turned into a giant blueberry wreath

Have you tried the kolache?  If so, what’s your favorite?  If not, you must seek them out…you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

First Snowfall in the District

There’s a first for everything… a first blog post seven days into the New Year (Happy 4th Blog Birthday to The Traveling Pear) and the first fall of winter’s white fluffy stuff, SNOW! The Traveling Pear loves snow days, a look back at our Maine adventure proves that.  :-)

Chef wasn’t home from work five minutes and he already had a shovel in hand, ready to clear our apartment’s parking lot, sidewalks and front steps…and where was I?  Bundled up like Nanook of the North, messing around with the camera as usual, there for support if he needed…he didn’t need any.  He enjoys shoveling snow…for now.  I’ll ask him again in ten years when we retire to our Maine forever farm and see what the reply is.

Washington DC snow fall

snowfall Washington DC

Shovel away dear, I’m up here if you need me.  

 

Cleveland Park DC

I look as though I have horns!

 

This New Year will be filled with many firsts for the Pear… a new adventure debuts sometime in May.  More on that a little later down the road.  ;-)  Until then… hope your year is filled with good fortune, fulfillment, love and above all else…happiness!  The world needs a lot of that today.

XOXO,

TTP

 

Thankful in Maine

It’s exactly eleven hours from our parking spot in DC to the Maine state line.  Because of the somewhat close proximity to our home away from home (we’re from Texas after all and driving eleven hours is nothing ;-) ) we found ourselves loading up the Jeep and heading north…to spend Thanksgiving with our Joyful Coastie friends.  Our first few days were spent in the MidCoast exploring our land, spending time with the folks at Oyster River Winegrowers and making new friends at our 5 star Airbnb, Villa Mojo.

For the first time since we purchased our land, we were able to walk the entire 50 acre perimeter.  At times I thought the game wardens from North Woods Law might have to come rescue us.  We literally have a back section of land covered with Christmas trees so thick and abundant that we will never go without a tree again in this lifetime or the next.  To keep the honest Mainers out, the Chef constructed a makeshift closure across our driveway… in the poring rain nonetheless.  He’s such a trooper.  I’m so thankful for him!

Maine land

We were thankful for arriving in time to catch this sunset.

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Our friends at Oyster River Winegrowers launched a new website and added a wine club to their offerings.  We stopped by to snap some photos of the wine, sample some of their new additions and say hello to Don.

Enological All-Stars wine

The wine club, known as Enological All-Stars, will offer only 40 members the opportunity to try some of their creative, experimental, handcrafted wines and ciders that aren’t made in abundance like the others.  We’re excited about the Wildman cider.  It’s been created using local apples from around the area, including a bushel or two from the tree on our land!   If interested in this unique opportunity, visit their new website for details.  Hard Cider

Maine apples

wine making

We found the most amazing Airbnb accommodation just minutes from the driveway of our property.  Villa Mojo is an unbelievable Airbnb.  In fact, it is by far the best Airbnb the Chef and I have ever experienced.  From the warm welcome and hospitality of Jane and David (who are now good friends) to the comfy cozy king size master suite to the oysters and champagne!  It was incredible.  There’s even turn down service with chocolates!  And…the breakfast…oh my.  Crab omelettes one morning to banana pancakes with bacon the next.  Until we build our own BnB, we’re staying with Jane and David at Villa Mojo and so should you…that is if you find yourself in the MidCoast region of Maine!  You’ll certainly be thankful you did!

Villa Mojo Airbnb

Villa Mojo Airbnb

There’s even a gorgeous water view of the St. George river.

Villa Mojo Airbnb

A trip to Maine wouldn’t be complete without seeing our Joyful Coastie friends who live near Bar Harbor.  We spent a few days tooling around there, then made our way in a blowing snow storm to our friend’s family home on a peninsula near Portland.  We celebrated my 35th birthday with oysters, lobsters and cake of course!  In fact, it was a pretty awesome birthday… I’ve always wished for snow and boy did I get a load of it!  The Jeep mastered the slushy mess like a pro with moi behind the wheel.

Maine snow storm

Maine oystersAfter a foot or more of snow fell along with many trees, we lost power…but no worries, it’s Maine and everyone who is a true Maine resident owns a generator or at least should!  With oysters and lobsters on the menu who really cares if there’s power or not! The next morning we awoke to a winter wonderland.

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Maine lobster boats

By mid-morning the Chef, my friend Stephanie and her mother had Thanksgiving dinner well underway.  I found a cozy chair to settle into and watched the lobster boats that were anchored just outside the window…feeling truly thankful for our time spent in Maine.

 

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