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.

1124141128

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.

_MG_0916

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.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

Sometimes the Chef and I come up with some rather oddball dinner ideas.  We combine what our taste buds get a hankering for and sometimes those combinations can be rather strange.  Like macaroni and cheese with sausage and kraut paired with a side of guacamole…eaten in no particular order.  Weirdness.

Last Sunday, while walking the isles of Whole Foods, we found ourselves thinking about fried green tomatoes, Cesar salad with fresh corn and pimento cheese crackers! Pimento cheese because as we passed the floor to ceiling cheese isle, I spotted the bright orange stuff and instantly had an image of my childhood flash before my eyes… 10 years old, sitting on the back porch with my dogs, eating the creamy cheese mixture, spread between two slices of incredibly soft Mrs. Baird’s white bread.  I was probably drinking a Pepsi too.

Now that I know what’s in the pre-made stuff, I shy away.  Thank goodness for the Chef.  He knows how to make it.

Did you know that pimento cheese is a Southern thing, also known as Caviar of the South?  Guess that’s why it was a staple in our fridge when I was a kid!

green tomato

fried green tomatoes

fresh corn

the cesar dressing is homemade...my favorite!

fried green tomatoes

pimento cheese

 

Cute cotton ball with legs…the Frizzle chicken

Have you ever seen a walking cotton ball?  No?  Me either…but I’ve seen something pretty darn close! A cute little chicken, known as a Frizzle with curled feathers.  She and I had a close, yet cheerful encounter this past weekend when the Chef and I escaped to the countryside of North Carolina to visit some of our Coastie friends.

Check out this frizzled ball of cuteness.

Frizzle chicken

frizzle chicken

 

She’s thinking… “you called me over here and you don’t have anything to eat…I’m outta here chick.”  Heading back to the gang.

frizzle chicken

 

 

 

And isn’t this guy gorgeous.  A Lavender Orpington Rooster.

Rooster with frizzle chicken

 

This Ameraucana hen became intrigued with the camera.  Aren’t chickens funny creatures?   Sorry, girl…no food here.

 

Ameraucana  Hen

 

He looks somewhat French…proud and arrogant.  ;-)  The rooster is one of France’s national emblems… makes perfect sense, no?

Ameraucana hen and Lavender Orpington Rooster

 

backyard hens

Goodbye Frizzle…

backyard hens

 

Oh, just one more pose for the camera huh…

Frizzle chicken

 

And now you too can say you’ve seen a cotton ball with legs!

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