I’m super excited as shortly I’m going to embark on what I consider a “heritage” trip to both Poland (Krakow) and Czechoslovakia (Prague and hopefully a few outside cities). This is a bucket-list trip for me and came to pass via a friend traveling for work. Expenses on the low side (minus expensive flight there), knowing these countries are extremely affordable, yet rich in my ancestry history, my only choice was, how soon to book a flight? No but seriously, this trip has been on my mind since 2009- at least the Prague part, when I purchased a guidebook to Prague. I ended up going to Spain and England instead, but that’s a whole other story… Anyway, on one side of the family we are pretty much Polish and the other is between Czech and Slovak. My grandfather was actually born and raised in a small village outside of Prague and after both his parents passed away (how sad I can’t even imagine), his relatives took him on a boat to America and he worked hard to become a successful and proud American citizen. I never met him as my grandfather passed away right before my parents were married. So I don’t know much about him. But I’m fascinated by his determination and will to succeed. And I’m certain that part of that was because of how he was raised- in a rural town. Yeah so I’ve got some solid ground of history in Czech. I hardly can wait to go! I know that I’ll be adding to my collection of international cookbooks. Travel treasures!
My food influence, like most of us, is rooted in culture. And for the most part, as I’ve shared before, my grandmother’s cooking.- combo of the once united Czechoslovakia. As a child she would speak this language to me I could never understand (slovak) and usually my name would come up in the middle of it, while she rattled off conversations on her phone talking to friends when I would visit. My favorite time with her was spent in the kitchen.
So the long end of this introduction is that this Christmas I attempted the ultimate challenge. My grandmother’s kolaches. Since I’m super excited about my trip and have been wanting to share my kolache project journey, I figured now was a good enough time. The idea to make them started because of three things, well maybe four. And trust me, I’ve been thinking about attempting them for years. But remembering the painstakingly tedious work my grandmother did to make the magic happen, and that this was baking (not my forte) I shied away. Anyway, event one- my dad gave me this apron back in September when I was in Ohio from my grandmother’s church group. Two- I finally bit the bullet and bought the long awaited Kitchen Aid mixer (game changer! who knew?). Three- I just happened to have lunch with a friend who told me she had made 6 months ago a large amount of jarred, boozy fruit. So naturally we went back to her house and started to sample. Midway through plums, pluetts, and apricots… I thought all righty now, I can attempt to make kolaches reminiscent of grandmothers, but Jenn-ized. We sealed the jars and the creative “juices” began to flow. The fourth event was since I was going on a road trip to SoCal for the Christmas holiday (my other “home” besides Ohio) I wanted to bring a homemade touch into my trip instead of running around buying commercialized things nobody really needed or wanted. The kolache project was born.