Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

We're not particularly big with the Mother's and Father's Day celebrations although I usually get a pretty good deal out of both days. Paige is making Russ pad thai tonight. She's made it before, and it was great. She would even be willing to drive down to the store to get the the few ingredients we're missing, except that I have no cash to give her; so I'll have to go along. Those of you who know me personally know that I'm not always, shall we say, appreciative of Russ. He is better than your average husband by far though, and a really good dad. I'm especially happy with him this week because after living in our house for over ten years, he has finally put in nice baseboards. I am inordinantly happy about this; I'm talking ecstatic, because once Russ decides to do a project he does a meticulous job of it. I guess I'll put up with him for another twenty-four years. (LOL, he may not think that's such a great thing.) Sorry, but that's about as mushy as I get.

I have no knitting news to report, so I'lI share my culinary adventures. I made kolache yesterday. Kolache are of Czech or Polish origin. One of the focuses in my Master's thesis was the idea that food was one of the only avenues for immigrants to maintain a piece of their culture when they moved to America. I didn't write about this in my thesis, but I also think that the insight into a culture that people gain from reading ethnic literature is enhanced by actually preparing and eating some of the foods that are part of most stories.

I'm not sure when I first became aware of kolache. I suppose that my first exposure was in My Antonia, a novel about Czech immigrants, set in Nebraska. They're still popular in Nebraska where there are a large number of people of Czech and Polish descent. Lat summer we drove nearly an hour to Wilbur, Nebraska in search of the perfect kolache. I'd read that the Wilbur Bakery had wonderful kolache. They were closed, but we found some at the Karpisek Meat Market I wanted to love their kolache, but to tell the truth I didn't really. I did love their meat though, even though I'm not much of a meat eater. I continued my search for kolache throughout our visit, but I never really found any I loved.

So, this week when our plum tree was dropping fruit everywhere because we couldn't give it away fast enough, I thought about Antonia and how her children proudly showed Jim their spiced plums and told him that their mother used them in her kolache; and I decided to make my own kolache. It took me two days. After borrowing a Victorio Food Strainer from a friend, I picked a couple of buckets of plums, and then followed a recipe I found for plum butter from some history professor at North Dakota State University. It was pretty messy work and halfway through cooking them, I realized that the food press was not going to be happy to have all of those pits in there, so I had to pick them out by hand. It took about a gazillion cups of sugar to sweeten up my Santa Rosa plums, but I finally Iended up with a nice, thick "butter," which I planned to fill my kolache with.
I followed a recipe for kolache from Homesick Texan, a great food blog that I've enjoyed drooling over many times. I'm not sure how authentic they were. The original recipes probably used lard. I just know that I finally do love kolache. Mine were wonderful, soft and yeasty with just enough sweetness in the dough to offset the tart plum butter. I cheated and used my mixer to prepare the dough, but I still feel a greater connection to the characters in My Antonia, and I gave my family a nice little cultural experience too.

Maybe my next post, I'll get back to knitting...or not!


Russ said...

AWW wow, You are such a creative person, !!. And an outstanding cook, you should buy me another pair of lucky jeans:)

marit said...

Mmmmm-it looks soooo yummi!

Wool Winder said...

Now, those look delicious!

Anonymous said...

YEAH......the blog hasn't croked!! I so look forward to your tales of life (knitting?--not so much-LOL). Those looked as good or better than any kolaches I have seen here in the midwest....I only wish I could snack on one right now! You need to send me your arrival info for your trip here...can't WAIT!!
Ann from Lincoln

TheBlackSheep said...

I think I'm worried about myself. When confronted with someone's husband and their dog, it's always the dog I want to snatch (even though I'm sure yours is a keeper! - Looking at the baseboards, I would say he is :0)

Maybe this will help you appreciate the procrastination more: my aunt can randomly say something like "gee, the doors need repainting" and 2 min. later the doors are off, int eh garage and being prepared for sanding and painting. She didn't mean NOW. She hadn't even picked out the paint yet. There is such a thing as too quick.

The food looks good! I'm hungry now!

JayJay said...

I'm pretty sure I've heard of Kolaches before, and probably had them (I'm from the midwest). Yours look really tasty. Also, My Antonia is one of my favorite books. I think we have the same baseboards. Aren't they beautiful?