12/25/14

Holiday eats - Czech style


Another wonderful holiday with my Czech hubby.
Karel has not celebrated Xmas with his family (who all live in Znojmo, Czech Republic) in over 15 years. It means so much to me to make this holiday all about Karel and his family who are not able to be with us in the US. Every year, Karel shares his memories with me and I never get tired of hearing the same stories over and over. I just love being married to a European because his up bringing was very different than mine, as well as his traditions around the holidays. 
This year was extra special because Karel and I welcomed my mom to enjoy our traditional Czech dinner on Dec 24th with us...this was the first time in 8 years that we had someone at our table to enjoy our spread of food with us! 

The traditional Czech Xmas dinner is very simple although each family can certainly add modifications. It is customary to eat this dinner on Christmas eve and after the meal, the Christmas tree is "revealed" with all the lights and ornaments, for the first time for all the children to see. After dinner, presents are opened.
Karel remembers no shortage of cookies on December 24th and 25th so this is something we always look forward to...Karel's mom's homemade cookies!
But sadly, our cookies from Czech have yet to arrive. It's been three weeks since they were shipped from Europe to the USA so hopefully they will be cleared from customs soon. Our Czech xmas is not complete without cookies. 

The first to-do for our Czech xmas dinner was to prepare the Vánočka. I must say, this year was my best attempt yet but I know it is still not as light and fluffy as it should be. One of these years we will hopefully be able to celebrate Xmas with Karel's family so the real pro - Karel's mom - will show me how it's done.
I started making the dough at 6am so that it could rise while we worked out. I enjoy braiding the bread but the best part is smelling the bread as it is baking in the oven. 



We like to eat the bread with butter and jam although it is also fantastic with honey. 


The traditional protein for the Czech Xmas dinner is Carpe. Rybí polévka is the name for fish soup which is traditional as well. Karel uses Tuna and then breads the fish and then fries is on the stove top (pic below). For my protein, I used tempeh and just like Karel's protein, I breaded my tempeh and then cooked it in the oven (tossed in olive oil as well). It was delicious!


Another delicious addition to our Czech meal is Sýrové tyčinky. This would be similar to breadsticks but with caraway seeds. Karel uses croissant roll dough and then rolls it out, slices it into sticks and then sprinkles with caraway seeds before baking. He also adds a little Parmesan cheese. YUM!


And last but absolutely not least is the Czech potato salad. Now, I don't even want you thinking traditional potato salad which, in its simple form is potatoes, eggs and lots of mayo.

The Czech potato salad tastes amazing and makes your tummy feel amazing. It is loaded with root vegetables and it gets its creaminess from a wonderful mixture of ingredients. The only ingredients cooked in this salad are eggs and potatoes.

For this potato salad, Karel shreds celery root, parsnips and carrots and adds in canned peas, chopped onions, pickles and chopped hard boiled eggs. He mixes in chopped potatoes (cooked) and seasons with salt and pepper. He uses a little mayo but it isn't too overpowering.
He makes this on the 23rd because the flavors are much better the next day. 


The final product - my plant strong, traditional Czech dinner.


Campy got "wasted" on fun last night with 4 new "bears" (that's what we call all his toys). 



It didn't take long for the de-stuffing to happen...that's Campy's favorite part. 


After 3 full days of non stop, cold rain, we finally got outside for a workout today!!
Over the Greenville mountains and through the woods, what a beautiful day for a long ride!


We hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. 
Wow, can you believe just one more week until 2015!!!