Genealogy & Family History through Recipes: Lucky and Unlucky
One of my favorite aspects of genealogy and family history is continuing to prepare, cook, and serve old, family-favorite recipes from past generations.
As I think every genealogy fan will agree, there is something very special about opening a cookbook and finding a family recipe neatly (or not so neatly) written in the hand of one of our ancestors. I know my wife treasures those written by her mother and grandmother as do I.
Unfortunately in my family not all the recipes were handed down. My paternal grandmother made world-beating pasty! However when my mother asked for the recipe she was told “Sorry, you will never be a good enough cook for me to share my recipe with you.” True to her word, my grandmother Phillips took her fabulous pasty recipe to her grave with her.
Luckily this was not the case with the huge wealth of the family recipes of my wife’s Italian family and also with my maternal side of my family, which was Czech.
While I love many, many of the family food handed down through the generations my Czech ancestry leads me to rally love one particular Czech family favorite.
One of my favorite family recipes is for ‘thingies’. What are ‘thingies’ you might be asking? I am not surprised! You see when I was a youngster my Czech grandmother made a wonderful dessert for special occasions. She had a Czech name for them, but as young children we could never pronounce it, so we just called those marvelous and mouthwatering desserts ‘thingies’. Some were filled with prune, some with poppy seed, and some (my personal favorite) were filled with apricot. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to realize ‘thingies’ were actually the Czech icon, kolache!
I know my Czech grandmother would not only be proud of my work in Czech genealogy, but she would also be proud if I shared her recipe. No matter what kind of baker you might be, I know she would smile at you just trying! So here you go:
Kolache (Vicha style)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 C Crisco, 2 1/2 C flour, 1 t salt, 2 egg yolks, 3/4 C milk, 1 cake yeast, 1 1/2 T sugar
1 cup Crisco
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
Work these together as for pie crust. Cut the Crisco into the flour with 2 knives or pastry blender.
Heat, but do not boil:
¾ cup of whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons of sugar
Add 1 package of yeast
Let rise in a draft-free location for 10 minutes or so. Mixture will be a little bubbly.
2 egg yolks
Add eggs to raised milk
Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until creamy and not sticky
Add flour mixture
Divide dough into small balls and set at top of pastry cloth
One by one, pat a ball of dough so it is flat and square (about 2 to 2 ½ inches)
Put a teaspoon of Solo fruit filling (apricot, poppy seed, or prune) in center of each.
Wet two edges with a touch of water and fold over. Press lightly to insure they stay closed.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until very light gold.
Cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.
Dust with powdered sugar or put a little icing made with powdered sugar and condensed milk.
There you have it! Awesome, old style kolache!
At least the kind I had as a kid. My favorite? It was almost a tie between apricot and poppy seed, but I have to say apricot came out on top by a smidgeon. Plus when my grandmother iced them rather than using powdered sugar I was in HEAVEN!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I always do!
Cheers from Onward To Our Past®