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.