Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home for the holidays!

It feels so great to be back home. For some reason this year I was starting to get home sick. I mean I could have handled staying in Prague because I have family there and I could stay occupied by traveling, but in the end I'm so happy I bought my ticket and came home. I totally surprised everyone :D I only told my dad Ludek (who was kind enough to pick me up) and my sister Janet. And of course David knew too.

So the reason I decided to come back was because I didn't want to have to go through being by myself again for 3 whole months. It's nice to be able to hang out with David and close friends and family. I know the trade off is that I'll miss Prague night life and my Prague friends, but I think I will hopefully be able to study in peace here and start working out too. I think I'm going to go swimming with Tiffany and also use the gym. I also decided that in order to pay for the ticket to come back to the states I needed to move from our apartment where we paid 5,000 crowns a month and move in with Pepik. This way we don't have to pay any rent while I'm gone and when we come back.

My flight this time was a very good one because it was as direct as it could get. I went from Prague to Amsterdam to Portland. Total fly time was only 11 hours and altogether it was about 14 hours. There were a few times I was a little worried about missing a plane but everything went smoothly. One annoying thing was that everything was taking forever at every check point. Normally I go through check-in fast and even connecting flights are fast, but this time I had to wait in lines and cut it close to fly times... Thankfully there were no weather delays. I also brought the dogs with me because I've decided that they are going to stay with my mom while I'm in Prague. I feel bad because I know I'm going to miss them SO much. :'(

After my dad picked me up I had him drop me off at my mom's because I still had to surprise her. She wasn't home though, she was actually shopping in Portland. I had to wait until about 10pm when they came home. I was getting so tired waiting (I didn't get too much sleep on the flights) so I made myself busy with cookie baking. Finally when they arrived I ran to the door to unlock it and saw my mom peeking through the window. Her face was so shocked, it was funny. I was actually able to record some of her reaction since I grabbed the camera. I also surprised grandma, Tiffany and Jessica pretty good.Christmas dinner at my mom's was pretty good. We has a sweet tasting ham with rosemary potatoes. I also made some grog (which turned out a bit too strong). Surprisingly I recieved a bunch of presents even though I just showed up last minute! I don't know how they pulled it off but it was awesome. I recieved a Kohls card, money, clinque stuff, bath & body works stuff, and some other little goodies. :)

On the 25th we went to visit grandma. She still had no idea that I was coming, so to make things more fun I hide in the car are sneaked my way to the door and busted in. She was just as shocked as my mom was.Below is a picture of Tiffany and David a few days after New Years. We were coming home from Daniel's parents house.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Linecka Kolecka (LINZ TARTS)

One more recipe before Christmas... This is a classic one and is actually around most of the year, you can go into bakeries and pick these up.


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of soft, unsalted butter
  • 2/3 (5 oz) cup of sugar
  • 1 Tsp of grated lemon rind
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (18 oz) of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) or raspberry, strawberry or red currant jelly
  • 1/4 (2 oz) of powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven for 325 F
  2. In a big bowl, mix in the butter, sugar, lemon grind, vanilla extract and egg yolks.
  3. Slowly mix in the 1 and 3/4 cups of flour
  4. Work the mixture into a dough and place it in the fridge for about 2 hours (or overnight)
  5. Pull the dough out of the fridge and let it stand in the room temperature for a while until it is workable (about 1 hour)
  6. The hardest part: Roll out the dough onto a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick (coat the pin with flour as well; as you are rolling out the dough, keep sprinkling it with a little bit of flour at the time to prevent sticking)
  7. Use cookie cutters (circle-shaped ones are the most authentic) to cut out the cookies and in half of them cut out a smaller circle in the center.
  8. Transfer the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet (use spatula for the transfer if necessary) and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (see step 1 below)
  9. Once the cookies have cooled down spread half o them with jelly (see Step 2 below)
  10. Sprinkle the cookies “holed” cookies (i.e. cookies with holes) with with powdered sugar
  11. Put those powdered cookies on top of the jellied cookies
Recipe from czechmatediary.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

Must try! Svařák aka Hot mulled wine.

Today was my only break (because I discovered that I don't have to take an exam til later) so I decided to treat my self to a svařák! I could have gone to the Christmas market right across the street but thinking about it I realized that it would be cheap and tastier if I just made some myself. What I really love about the hot wine is that it is the EASIEST and most festive drink ever! This holiday I totally suggest you try to make it... the best is to bust if out at a family or friend's house to surprise then.

~1 liter red wine
~1-2 cinnamon sticks
~6-7 cloves
~lemon slices (can also add orange slices)
~sugar to taste

That's it! So simple!
Simmer/warm on stove for a bit. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Mikulas, St. Nicholas' day, is on the 5th December and marks the start of Christmas for Czech people.Late afternoon on the 5th December three figures move slowly around all the different city squares: St. Nicholas, an Angel and the Devil.

St. Nicholas asked all the kids if they have been a good kid during the past year and also asked them to sing a song. Then the kids would get candy treats from them if they sang or were good. Eric dressed up as a Cert (devil) and ran around trying to scare little kids and then gave them some candy.

Naughty children don't get sweets, they get a sack of black coal or potatoes. If they have been really naughty, they will be placed in the Devil's sack and taken to hell. As you can imagine, little kids are terrified of the Cert. My mom used the whole "Cert taking you away if you're bad" card many times. I used to think there was a cert living on the top floor of our building and would freak out when my mom tried to take me up there. I grabbed onto the railing and wouldn't go up there.

Check out some of the pictures I got:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Czech Thanksgiving Dinner Party

Thankgiving ended up being such a fun celebration! Friday evening we all gathered at Frank's home, eat and drank away with the best of company. Everyone brought a dish or two so that we'd have enough food for everyone. I ended up making some Czech cookies, 2 apple pies, and some mashed potatoes. It all turned out good (thank goodness it all tasted really great). The one thing that was missing was the turkey. We replaced it with 2 chickens and a pork knee (sound gross perhaps but it's a popular chunk of meat here and it's SO delicious!). Katie made some corn bread, stuffing and cookies. Sarah (a German friend) made hot wine and brought a pumpkin pie.

David and I were the first to arrive at about 6pm but it didn't take long for others to arrive. We ended up eating at about 8pm and hung out until about midnight. I think there were about 20 people that came. It was pretty chaotic. Last year we didn't have as many people so it was more of a sit down dinner where this one was all over the place.

We're missing some people in this group shot... but not many. :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winter Holiday: Vienna

We decided to go visit our friend in Vienna the 19th to the 21st of November. We waited until the last moment however to buy our bus tickets, so we had to catch the early 8am buses.
When we got there it was time for lunch, so Kara took us to this nice little place near her apartment where I had some traditional Austrian cuisine called Kasnocken. It's small dumplings (not like the Czech or American kind) combined with melted cheese. Mmm it was really good. David got a super long toasted bread with toppings (as you can see).

One thing that I loved about Vienna during the holidays was all the decorations. Christmas lights were put up all around the city. Since it gets so dark early, we'd be walking about with these amazing lights twinkling all around us. It felt like we were walking around in a fairytale!

Above is a picture of David and I sharing a Pretzel. It was SO good. I hate that I can't find these amazing Pretzels in the U.S. or Prague. Instead of eating bread I would always eat these.
The Christmas Markets in Vienna were so great. They are a really great tradition that started way back in 1298 when Albrecht I granted Vienna's citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or Krippenmarkt.

These markets were all around the city so as you walk around you end up running into many of them. David and I ended up trying a bunch of the different hot punches. My favorite ended up being the Amaretto one.
Below Kara and I are testing out the punch!

I didn't actually try out the Pretzels below, but they looked pretty interesting. I love how central Europeans put Marzipan on everything. I love Marzipan.

At one of the markets there was a hay field for all the kids to run around in and play. They would dig through it and roll around. I even caught 'several' moms doing the same thing. The moms even threw around the hay in the air (personally I think they liked it more than the kids).
The picture above is funny because I wasn't the only one who wore a panda hat!

Overall I really enjoyed our trip to Vienna and know we'll be back. Christmas time is such a beautiful time in Vienna. It was also so nice to see our friend finally and have her show us around.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Czech Christmas cookies!

Christmas is getting closer and closer. And in true Czech fashion, right now is the time to start baking! I've noticed that all Czechs bake the cookies at least one month before Christmas so that there's time for the cookies to get the perfect texture and softness. I've got to say, they turn out amazing!

I hope you enjoy these, because I know I do!

Seriously try this out, they are very easy and delicious to make. I'm going to a Thanksgiving dinner this Friday and have decided to make some of the beehive cookies, kind of like a test run. For the beehive ones there's actually a special mold you need to use, but if you make them into little balls and then follow the directions, I don't see why it shouldn't work.

Vosí hnízda (Beehive cookies)

300 g finely ground (piškoty) Nilla Wafers,
120 g powdered sugar,
120 g butter,
3 tablespoons milk,
6 tablespoons rum (tuzemák- a sweet rum),
2 tablespoons cocoa

120g powdered sugar,
120g butter,
2 egg yolks, drop or two of rum for flavour
Whole piškot/wafer cookie to cover bottom….

Process: Prepare a smooth dough from the specified ingredients. Press small pieces into the special forms that have been coated inside with sugar. Make an indentation in the dough and fill with the butter filling. Cover with whole biscuit. Remove from form. Let solidify in fridge.

And you're done!

Medvědí Tlapičky (Bear Paws)


  • 2 sticks + 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup ground filberts or almonds
  • 8 ounces good-quality chocolate
  • Blanched slivered almonds


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly coat 3 bear paw molds or madeleine pans (or make them in batches) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa powder, and nuts. Add to butter-sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly.

  2. Press dough into prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean and the edges are turning slightly brown. Cool completely.

  3. Melt chocolate and dip wide end of "paw" into chocolate, and place on waxed or parchment paper. Insert four almond "claws" into paw while the chocolate is still wet. Let dry completely. Store covered in an airtight container.

All for now! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Semester Madness

Things are pretty crazy right now, normally I don't worry so much but this year I've decided I want to do everything early, and let me tell ya, it's hard! I want to be able to have a nice carefree Christmas holiday and travel somewhere in January. I've organized and create some really helpful calendars that are already helping me stay on top of things. As you can see below, the calendars are packed with deadlines for 7 papers, 5 presentations, and 3 exams. I can handle all the exams and presentations but it the papers that just take forever! Today I'm going to work on a 'written presentation' for my European Economic Integration class and a presentation in East Asia Politics (due Monday).

This weekend we are going to Vienna, so I really have to kick my butt into gear. Today is actually a Czech holiday, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day (Den boje za svobodu a demokracii), so I have no classes. And so you know, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day is the date commemorating the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Student demonstrations on 17 November (International Students’ Day) marked the beginning of the end for the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. ;)

I also wanted to update everyone on some things we've done. Even though I didn't get to go with David to see our friend in Montpellier, France, I'm going to show you some of the pictures from his trip. He actually got to go to Barcelona for some days too because that's where his plane went. Then he had to take a bus to France.