Koláče:  many koláč

Yesterday, I helped my Grandma Schimek and aunt make a dozen pans of
kolaches (15 per pan).  We were doing 5 cottage cheeses, 3 prunes
and 7 apricots per pan, but someone called me while I was doing some
prune ones, and I was so distracted that I made the rest of the pan
prunes.  We weren’t really doing poppyseed ones, but she used some
leftover dough to make a few of those as well. 

My parents are taking care of a guest house in Ghana right now.  Here’s a random tidbit from one of my mother’s emails:

In case you were wondering, there are 202 window
screens in this building, and I washed them in January.  171 are on big
windows, and 31 are on small windows.  I didn’t do 4 because it would’ve
been too difficult to get to them.  A guest wanted to help and did 7
screens.  I also washed one of the screened porches and 6 screened
doors.  (The screens are just on the outside windows.  There are a lot
of inside windows, as well.  Cleaning windows is a constant job
that Mary and Adeline do.  I’m not sure when the screens were cleaned last,
but they are done periodically.)

I just realized after reading her email that I’ve never aspired
to being as domestic as either my mother or my father.  Is
domestic a good word there?  Maybe I mean hard-working.  I’ve
sometimes thought about how I might romanticize life in Africa, and
when I consider it realistically, the truth is that I enjoyed life over
there as a lazy kid who was playing all the time and didn’t have to
take care of all the stuff my parents did.  If you imagine how
much work people had to do with day-to-day life in the US in the 80s
(since we have a few more conveniences these days) and multiply that by
3.1, then that’ll be about how much extra work it took to take care of
what you’d consider mundane daily things in Nigeria.  Examples of
the extra work include extra cleaning during the dry season when the
Sahara dust blows down the continent and covers everything in the house
no matter what, electricity & water issues, shopping for food,
shopping for just about anything, remembering to iron clothes after
hanging them on the line so that mango worms don’t burrow into your
skin and cause a painful welt, finding fuel for your car during the
frequent shortages, going somewhere else to make a phone call when your
line is down or the internet decides to stop working for a few days,


To answer a question, no–it is not cream cheese.  It’s cottage
cheese.  It’s not really sweet, except for the sugary stuff we put
on top just like we do on the fruit ones.  And on the web you can
read about how many are fruit-FILLED, whereas my grandmother puts the
topping, uh, on top.  She said, “My mother would always put it
inside, but I’m not my mother.”  However, to defend my
grandmother, I should point out that my present-day relatives in the
Czech Republic also lazily put the “filling” on top. 

And about the meat…I was going to say that maybe the sausage ones were made up later, and this funny blog post
about someone stumbling upon kolaches in Houston for the first time
seems to imply that (well, the comments do), but given that Polish
folks have their own [lesser] form of kolaches and we know that Poles
and Czechs both like sausage, I don’t see why it can’t be one of the
original options. 

My Czech-English dictionary defines koláč as tart/pastry/pie.  Following is a description from Krásná Amerika: A Study of the Texas Czechs.

“Today, the only Czech word that many Texans know is koláč  –the
term for the famous circular tart made of double-risen dough whose
center is topped or filled with a sweet sauce made of “mák”
(poppyseed), cottage cheese, prunes, peaches, or other fruit filling.”


12 Responses to “”

  1. Prune and cottage cheese kolaches?
    That must be one mighty big guest house to have 202 windows!

  2. so, what makes a kolache a kolache?  I mean, sausage kolaches and fruit kolaches seem like totally different things.
    are you sure you don’t mean cream cheese?

  3. it’s so true about the whole romanticizing africa thing…i know i’m super guilty in regards to that, too. when you’re young, all you really think about it school and friends…except when NEPA went off…then it was just frustrating. tell your parents hello for me…if they remember me.  

  4. First an observation: your mom writes a lot like you do.. take a look at the kolache paragraph and then at the window paragraph.. using numerical descriptions to help paint a grand picture with words. fabulous! Odd, I know, but it stuck out to me as I was reading..Now a comment: yum yum.. apricot kolaches are my fav.. I used to buy them in West, TX as I was driving from Waco..

  5. My (Czech) grandma usually makes apricot, cream cheese, and sausage kolaches.  Sometimes she goes all out and includes pineapple and poppyseed too.  Yummm.  Oh, and I’ve been to the Czech Stop in West, TX a couple times…good stuff.  I usually get strawberry cream cheese or some other combo that I don’t usually get from my grandma.

  6. I love sausage kolaches! I’m not surprised that they’re not quite authentic, though. Oh well, I love them anyway. Also, I think your comments about romanticized versus real-life images of life in Africa are very wise…it makes me think about the way I once wanted to move to Jordan, and in my idealism forgetting what a difference it would be to actually live there as a permanent member of the village, for my whole life, rather than just as a visitor for a couple of weeks…well, of course, for lots of reasons, most importantly Dan, I’m glad I ended up staying here.

  7. so, they must not be called kolaches in prague. because it seems as though i would have remembered them. maybe not. i just remember it being an entirely new thing when i moved to texas.

  8. First of all, thanks for getting me craving  kolaches.
    Secondly…I am totally interesting in who you are…an African Czech?

  9. thanks for the info! i don’t know why, but living in africa has always been a dream of mine. if grad school doesn’t work out, then i’m joining the peace corps to go over there for two years- who knows, maybe i’ll get to do both!

  10. RYC:  Thanks!!  I’m the big dude with a goatee that sometimes runs the powerpoint at church.  Stop by and intro. one Sunday!!!  🙂

  11. i’m going to tyler, texas for training and such, but after training i don’t know where i’m going. and yah my brother did do ywam like two years ago? i don’t know something like that.

  12. That sounds like fun!

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