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Czechs in Virginia
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Quotes from Notes

A Czech Cook about 100 years agoPhoto credit: John L. Stoddard's Lectures, Vol. 15 ©MCMIX


"In the old days, women hardly finished one meal before it was time to begin another.  Being in the kitchen before sunup until after sundown was a normal way of life for them.  Not only did they prepare large meals for their tired and hardworking families, they fed the chickens, milked the cows, churned butter, and scooted the barn cats and yard dogs out of the way.  Also, they gathered eggs, made clothes for the family, quilts for the beds, and did their housework, all while taking care of the little ones who ran underfoot.

Generally, special-occasion baking such as birthday cakes, holiday breads, and company cooking was done on Saturdays when women did not work in the fields as they often did during the week.  During the growing and harvesting seasons, it frequently took everyone in the family to work outside in order to get their crops to market on time.  For example, when it was time to hoe peanuts both the women and the children were needed in the fields to dig up the stubborn wire-grass roots that loved to grow close and choke out the tender plants.  Only “Grandma” remained behind during those times to tend to the cooking, gardens, and babies. Here  is an old cookie recipe with a real old-fashioned taste. Not only that it’s easy to make and the house smells heavenly while they’re baking."

                                                                        Ginger Snaps

1 cup molasses

A piece of shortening the size of an egg*

2/3 tsp. soda

1 tsp. ginger

Pinch of salt

Flour (about 2 or more cups)

            Place the molasses in a saucepan.  To this, add shortening, salt, soda and ginger.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Remove from stovetop and allow the mixture to cool.  When cooled to room temperature, start adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, until the mixture is at a consistency that will roll out very thin. (The batter will be non-sticky and stiff when enough flour has been added.) Cut out the cookies on a floured board by using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a juice glass.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until done.  Do not over bake.  Makes five to six dozen gingersnaps.

*I have no magic measurement for this one so I’ll leave it up to you to decide “the size of an egg.”  (I use a heaping tablespoon and that works well.)

Gernik village 2006This photo was taken of Mrs. Peicek  by Joyce Pritchard in 2005 while visiting the family village.  This is the way the families bake their daily bread every day.  Really, not to different than in the photo above.


Although it takes a while to make the dumplings and bread shown here, it's still not as difficult for us to bake and cook as it is in the village.

 Here is a photograph of potato dumplings that are always made and served at our family gatherings. As far back as I can remember they have always been made and served by the cooks in our family with a cabbage/tomato sauce to accompany  them. Althought it is a three step process to make them, they are so delicious and well worth the effort.  If there are any leftovers, they are delicious sliced and sauteed in butter to go with eggs and ham for breakfast the next morning.

 A loaf of a delicious sweet braided bread has just been taken from the oven to cool.  Good eats!