…So now we have everything we need to make kolaches! My neighborhood farmers market opens in a week and a half, I think I’ll be looking for sweet things to bake into these. I’m kind of embarrassed that I’ve never tried to make kolaches before, since they were such a part of my childhood, and since they’re such a part of my heritage.
Actually, speaking of fillings, one of my personal favorite kolache fillings is poppy seed! Poppy seed is a pretty traditional filling for breads and cakes in central and eastern European cuisine. I know you can get giant poppy seed rolls at the Polish markets up the street from me, so I’m guessing you could probably also get the canned poppy seed filling for kolaches there. Just don’t try to pass any drug tests after eating one.
I’d like to say a HUGE thanks to Beckie!! Give Beckie a round of applause everyone, for being an awesome baker, for spending I don’t know how long testing and perfecting this recipe, and for being kind enough to write it all down for us. Everyone say thank you, Beckie!
So here’s Beckie’s recipe for kolaches, via Grandmommy Becan. I had to leave a few things out for space, which I’ll cover here – if you want to make klobasneky instead of kolache, it’s the same recipe for the dough. Just wrap it around your favorite meat instead of rolling it out into circles, and place them seam-down on the baking sheet. What else? Oh, Beckie sent me her version of our grandmother’s recipe, but she also sent me a variation that tastes a bit more like the donut shop version – it’s not as authentic, she says, but it’s just as delicious, but I’m tempted to just leave it at Grandmommy’s recipe and call it a day. Also, this recipe makes about 48 kolaches, she says.
Did I forget anything, Beckie? :)
NEXT UP: fillings!! Possibly the best part of the kolache!
So, I asked the youngest sister if she’d write me a kolache recipe. I have always kind of sucked at baking. Cooking, you can improvise, you can change what you’re doing mid-stream, you can make substitutions. But baking involves so much chemistry, if you forget something or do something wrong you can destroy the whole recipe. I might not be great at following instructions.
Anyway, Beckie has always been really great at baking, and she worked really hard on this kolache recipe. I thought it’d be a quick one page comic, but there’s so much information that it needs a full week to get through. First and foremost, I realized I’d probably have to explain what a kolache is! If you don’t live in Iowa or Nebraska or South Texas (where my parents are) or somewhere else the Czech diaspora settled, you might not be familiar with them. I suppose they’re kind of like danishes, but the dough is something really unique. It’s sweet and soft and pillowy, almost like a Hawaiian roll. There are cities that have annual kolache celebrations, there are bakeries that specialize in them, and in places with large Czech populations, even the regular donut shops will get in on the kolache game. These little guys are really good.
When I first moved to Chicago, my dad asked some of the ladies at his local KJT hall (that’s Katolická Jednota Texaská, or the Catholic Union of Texas in Czech) what neighborhood I should live in. “Where are all the Czechs in Chicago?” He asked them. “Bohemian National Cemetery,” they cackled. Chicago used to have a lot of Czechs (it’s how the neighborhood Pilsen got its name) but they all moved out of the city. I have no idea where to get kolaches in Chicago. Maybe out in Berwyn? So I’ll be learning how to make kolaches too, just so I can have some of my own.
In other news, I got glasses! I have to wear glasses now. But I’m not comfortable drawing myself in them yet. So when kolache week is done, there might be a glasses week.
Oh! in other, other news, I made a map of awesome Chicago food for all the people coming here for CAKE next month. I’m still making changes to it, but it’s a place to start. I’ll be exhibiting at CAKE too, so save the date!
It’s been a while! It’s definitely been a delightfully long time since I last had to wrestle with this little guy. But after spending two weeks stressed and traveling, and spending a significant amount of that time in a city full of glamorous, well-dressed, skinny, beautiful people with great hair, I guess he found some weak spots to attack.
It’s not really that bad, and it’s already pretty much passed. And now that I’m home for a while and things are calming down, I’m able to get back into a regular exercise routine, and it’s a lot easier to eat well. Which means my natural defenses against this little guy are back up. Just when you thought it was safe, huh?
When Corinne and I got to Toronto, we were wondering if we should hit one of the TCAF parties on Friday night, when Corinne looked up the St. Lawrence Market. Corinne has a habit of checking out the farmers market in whatever city she’s doing a convention in. Apparently, the market was closed Sundays and Mondays (the only other days we would be in Toronto) so if we wanted to see it, we’d have to go early, early Saturday morning, before TCAF opened.
TCAF opened at 9:00 am. We were expected to be there at 8:30. We’d have to get up and leave the hotel by 6:30 if we wanted to have at least an hour at the market. Fortunately, we were just crazy enough to do it. And when I told Lucy about our plans, she and her mom decided to come with! So we’re not the only crazy ones. And it was absolutely worth it – National Geographic says the St. Lawrence market is the best food market in the WORLD, and for good reason. At first we thought it was only the farmer’s market part, but even that was amazing. Caribou, elk, artisanal breads and pastries and sausages, whole pigs, farm fresh eggs, and gorgeous vegetables as far as the eye can see. And just when we thought we had gotten a good look at everything, we realized there was a WHOLE OTHER BUILDING. Which was much, much larger than the farmer’s market part.
Unfortunately I didn’t buy much – we had just gotten to Toronto, I didn’t have much Canadian money on me, and honestly I wasn’t sure how much I could bring back across the border, seeing as most of it was perishable. I did buy an assortment of delicious bread rolls, including a beet roll, a potato roll, a butternut squash roll, and more… and I got a stick of elk jerky too (tasty!) and a little pastry of sweet cherry tomatoes, pesto and prosciutto, which was delicious. I pretty much ate all of it during the convention. If this market had been open on Monday morning, I would have spent all my comics money on food, I can tell you that much.
Toronto, you guys should be proud. St. Lawrence Market is amazing!
On Sunday, after Okonomi dogs at Japadog, we headed to Forbidden Planet, and from there to Big Gay Ice Cream‘s shop (their food truck is in the garage until summer starts). That’s a cross-section of the “Salty Pimp” I drew there – the whole thing is drizzled in caramel, sprinkled with crunchy salt, and dipped in a delicious chocolate shell. It was just as amazing as it sounds, if a little unmanageably sloppy. After I ordered, Lucy reminded me that I could have gotten the inside of the cone coated with Biscoff spread. I regret not doing that, but I do wonder if it would have just made my head explode from sheer joy.
I should note that I’m back from MoCCA, and also back from TCAF, so I still have some catching up to do on travel comics here – but now that I’m home from two weeks of conventions and traveling and eating on buses and planes and behind tables, I find myself more than a little hungry for greens and veggies and fruits. And full nights of sleep.
Sunday night after Mocca we ended up at Japadog, in St. Mark’s Place. They apparently started as a humble hot dog cart in Vancouver, and now they have 6 locations, including the one we visited. They serve hot dogs with a delicious Japanese flair, including a yakiniku dog; a tonkatsu pork dog; one with teriyaki and mayo; daikon and shoyu; sliced onion and plum sauce. And then there’s this marvel of the modern world: the Okonomi Dog. Amazing Kurobuta pork, sweet and tangy okonomiyaki sauce, buttery Japanese style mayonnaise and a generous pile of delicate bonito flakes. It was phenomenal! Honestly, it tasted just like okonomiyaki, or takoyaki, only with a hot dog underneath it.
We got our dogs with a side of wasabi-dusted french fries, which were also amazing. In fact, the only flaw I can see in this restaurant is that they don’t have a Chicago location. I can’t be traipsing off to NYC or Vancouver every time I want one of these!
Hey, I’m back! My insane back-to-back conventions are over, and I’m not going anywhere for a while, so let’s get this comic back on track. We have a lot of catching up to do!
I’m kind of amazed at how much NYC (and specifically how much NYC food-eatin’) we packed into three tiny days during MoCCAfest. So Friday night was soft shell crab and Indian burritos, and Saturday was delicious, delicious baos at Baohaus (that’s the Chairman Bao, Chicken Adobo Bao, and Haus Bao), “sonic screwdrivers” at a Steampunk/Doctor Who bar in Brooklyn, and tasty foldy NYC pizza, at a place that was briefly in the first Spider-man movie, on our tipsy way back to Lucy’s place. (Have I mentioned how great Lucy is? because she’s pretty amazingly great.)
At the end of the night we had covered a lot of ground, and we were exhausted but sated and extremely happy, and we had peed inside a TARDIS-bathroom. Success!
Guys, I tried so hard to do another comic for you, but I fly out for Toronto early in the morning, and I need to finish packing for TCAF, and do laundry and another thousand little things. So again, I’ll be skipping a comic while I’m off trying to sell comics. At least I managed to squeeze this one out between cons, right? Guys, don’t let me ever try to do two conventions in a row again.
So MoCCA was lots of fun, I met some amazing new people at Drink and Draw, we had a phenomenal time staying with Lucy, and there was all sorts of excellent food to eat. It was a super brief trip, and I’m really amazed at how much we were able to fit into it.
Anyway, Niles has always been a night owl, and I have always been a morning person, and when we got back to Lucy’s place after Drink & Draw I could have fallen asleep right there. I was already pajamafied and my teeth were brushed! But I’m a pretty good sport, and Lucy and Niles convinced me that Indian burritos were worth investigating, and boy were they ever! Fingers crossed none of the smart looking fashionable people out having fun in the West Village on Friday night noticed my ratty sneakers, messy hair and pajama shirt under my coat.