Sunday, December 4, 2011


"Show him the spiced plums, mother. Americans don't have those," said one of the older boys. "Mother uses them to make kolaches," he added.
Leo, in a low voice, tossed off some scornful remark in Bohemian.
I turned to him. "You don't think I know what kolaches are, eh? You're mistaken, young man. I've eaten your mother's kolaches long before that Easter day when you were born."
--Willa Cather, My Antonia--

Not long ago, I got to share one of my favorite Midwestern novels with my book club. My Antonia, by Willa Cather, describes the childhood of Bohemian immigrant Antonia Shimerda on the newly settled Nebraska prairie. Its a beautiful book, simultaneously depicting the vastness of the raw prairie and the intimate, detailed knowledge of the land held by those who lived there.

This meal is a nod to the rich Bohemian (Czech) heritage in Nebraska.

We started the kolaches first thing this morning. I used a dough recipe, found here. Other than using my mixer to bring the dough together, and letting it rise for about an hour and a half, I followed the recipe exactly.

Lucy blends the dough

Filling the kolaches was a team effort.

Ready to bake.

We used three separate fillings: traditional poppyseed, cream cheese and cherry. I bought canned poppyseed filling, though you can make your own. For the cherry, I used the last of some leftover cherry pie filling from Thanksgiving. For the cream cheese filling, I blended 4oz cream cheese, 1/8 cup sugar, 1 small egg yolk, lemon zest and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Other common fillings include peach, apricot and pineapple.

We did have an actual meal, too! I looked at the online menus of several Nebraska Czech restaurants, and they all included Polish sausage. Apparently, Polish sausage, or Kielbasa, is a fairly generic term for sausage in Eastern Europe. Since I spent all morning making kolaches, I didn't feel too bad about such a convenient main dish.

When I googled "traditional Czech side dishes," I found this site, where the first three listed were: boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes. How convenient! As you might know, we like potatoes around here.

For the grown-ups, our favorite Nebraska brew.

Everyone finished their meal in record time. We had kolaches to eat.

Thumbs up!

Next stop: Alaska!


  1. great photos of the girls.

  2. Hi - thank you for linking back to my kolache recipe! I'm happy to see you enjoyed them, and I like your cream cheese filling. Willa Cather is a favorite author of mine, too, and I love the quote you shared. I may have to pull My Antonia out to read again.

    Your theme of eating around the US is marvelous! I look forward to checking out more of your meals.

  3. Sure, Hannah! The dough came together perfectly--your grandma knew what she was doing! Thanks for posting it--