Czech and Slovak Flours in the US and UK (and substitutions)

Czech-Slovak flours
Hladká (smooth), polohrubá (semi-coarse), and hrubá (coarse) mouka

In the past, I have posted several Czech recipes on my blog. As an enthusiastic home cook and baker in the US, it is natural that I would make my native Czech husband foods that he grew up eating in Prague. My mother-in-law was an excellent home cook, and I’m lucky that she shared several recipes.

My husband and I have been together for almost 25 years now. Early in our marriage, I struggled to get some Czech dishes right, but have since mostly mastered them. In the early years, the flours I had access to in the US (or rather didn’t) were issues. In this post, I describe some of the most commonly used flours in Czech Republic – particularly wheat-based flours – and possible substitutions. The main wheat flours in Czech Republic are described according to coarseness, from smooth all the way to very coarse. Continue reading

Mazanec (Czech Easter Bread)

As a follow-up to my Christmas cookies of Czech Republic post, I decided to share my mother-in-law’s Easter bread recipe (“Mazanec”, in Czech). Mazanec is a slightly sweet bread with some fruit and nuts, and subtle vanilla and lemon flavor. My Czech husband has always preferred Mazanec over the similar, but differently shaped, Christmas bread, called “Vánočka”. Continue reading

Many forms of communication can give psychological relief

bird speaking
The bird speaks, sings, dances, writes, and flies.

I talk out loud to myself all of the time. I even do so in public, sometimes. What I say seems interesting to me, but maybe it wouldn’t to others. Often I just say odd-ball random things, or repeat phrases or make odd noises. Just yesterday, my hubby came into the bedroom from his office asking who I was talking to. I just told him not to worry and that I was talking to myself and to “Go back into your office and leave me be!” And only 20 minutes ago, I was in his office with him and started to talk to myself again. He became annoyed and told me to be quiet (he was working), so I just went to my bedroom and shut the door, and began talking to myself again, happily.

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Why I accept and value treatment for my bipolar disorder

Mental Health Treatment

Without proper treatment and efforts for wellness…

My bipolar manic behavior can become ‘out of control” and “scary”. It has led to the end of numerous relationships, prevented relationships, got me fired or threatened to be fired, made me quit jobs, affected my job performance, made me lose money, made me put my well-being at risk (in many ways), led to cops being called (or almost called), caused me extreme embarrassment and guilt after-the-fact, hurt and/or scared people I love/like, put my life and others’ in jeopardy, caused me some trauma…
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10 Varieties of Czech Christmas Cookies (České Vánoční Cukroví) and more

Christmas cookie platter 2018 metal (2)
My 2018 Christmas cookie platter. Not all Czech cookies in this post are shown above.

This post marks the end of my Czech Christmas cookie countdown. Phew! On November 11th, I posted my first of 10 Czech Christmas cookie/confection recipes, with my last posted yesterday, along with a bonus Czech sweet bread. According to my husband, my mother-in-law would make as many as 13 different varieties for their platter. Frankly, I can’t manage all of that baking! Continue reading

Bee Hive or Wasp Nests Cookies (Vosí Hnízda)

Vosi Hnizda final group finished photo
The Vosni Hnizda in the back are not coated with chocolate.

Vosi Hnizda are cute no-bake rum eggnog or custard filled 3-dimensional cookies. They generally require a special mold to make that’s available throughout Czech Republic, or can be found online, in the US. The traditional version includes a nut-based dough for the “nest” or “hive” part, though people with nut allergies can find no-nut versions online, elsewhere. My mother-in-law made them without cocoa, but those who like cocoa, can add it. They are traditionally filled with a rum-flavored eggnog or custard, but other flavors can be used. Continue reading

Marzipan Hedgehogs (Marcipánoví Ježci)

Marzipan M2 version
Marzipan hedgehogs with marzipan Christmas tree and marzipan candy star “gifts”

Czech Christmas Cookie/Confection #9

These cute little hedgehogs are not my mother-in-law’s creation, but I couldn’t resist including them in my Czech Christmas cookie countdown. Actually, they’re not really cookies either, but candy confections. Many Czechs (and other Europeans) love both marzipan confections and hedgehogs – animals that can occasionally be seen in rural areas of Europe. If you like, you can use some of the marzipan to make other shaped things, as I did in the photo above. Marzipan can be colored with gel food coloring, and decorated in many ways. It can also be used in recipes like sweet breads, baked cookies, and more. This recipe makes about 12 oz (350 g) of marzipan. These marzipan hedgehogs are not baked. Continue reading

Princess Cookies (Princezky)

Princezky Princess cookies finished
Filled Princezky. Pipe the filling to make slightly prettier. Sorry the otvírák is in the photo.

Czech Christmas Cookie #8

Bite into these chewy nutty meringue-style sandwich cookies to reach the bliss of a delicious chocolate buttercream filling. My mother-in-law usually used roasted hazelnuts or walnuts for the meringue cookie, but some Czechs use blanched almonds. The nut choice will affect the color, a bit. Meant to be a one or two-bite cookie – that is, if you can stop at only one cookie! These were my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie, as a child. The pictured Princezky were made using finely ground roasted hazelnuts, our favorite nut choice. This combination, with the chocolate buttercream, is a little reminiscent of Nutella. Even yummier, in my view. They do crisp up a little over time, but are still great. Continue reading

Flower Bouquet #4 of 4 – Things happen for a reason

flowers airplane better

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Parts 2 & 3, click here.

I remained college roommates with my friend Liz until her graduation, one year ahead of mine. In my sophomore year (her junior), I lived with her and two of our friends in a campus apartment. It wasn’t long before I realized that I preferred dormitory life. I felt frustrated with the apartment arrangement for various reasons, but mostly because it seemed isolating. Something else might have happened, or not, but I grew very depressed. That year, I had the second worst depression to that date, after one I had at 15 ½. I couldn’t leave my room, at times, and therefore missed many classes. I stopped eating. I was paralyzed! I went from getting all A’s and B’s to getting mostly C’s and a D one semester. I had dropped out of two classes, decreasing my credit load to 12, the minimum required to live in campus housing. But the depression eventually passed. Not slowly, but quite suddenly. Continue reading