My family is Catholic (with the stray Lutheran or two), so when my Grandfather Mike passed away back in ’76, a mass was said for him. That has turned into a yearly tradition which has been going strong ever since. As other relatives have passed away over the years, they have been added to the remembrance.
The mass is held at my parent’s church (which also used to be my grandparents) and afterwards, everyone heads over to the farm to BS and eat lunch. So I thought it would be fitting to use this as a post on the one year (-ish) anniversary of starting this blog. The reasoning is pretty simple. Family gatherings like these have been a major influence on my life, both culinarily and communally. I look forward to this event each and every year because it’s one of the few times that I get to see a large portion of my family. That and the food. The Czecks love to eat. And they love to eat good food.
I just want to point out that the food has been scaled back significantly as the years have gone by. The food this year completely covered the kitchen table and the desserts took up a decent portion of a counter.
As noted in a previous post, my nephew Cole helped me make a kale salad (I really promise this post is coming soon). My aunt Rosie (and hubby Gary) went to the State Fair this year and she sat through a twenty minute demonstration in order to get this wild rice salad recipe (at least I think this is the recipe). I’m glad she was patient because it was very good. It had avocado, steak, wild rice, and all sorts of other goodies in it. One of my other aunties, Mary Ann, had a freezer full of pheasant, so she used this opportunity to get rid of some of it. Much to everyone’s delight I might add. She fried off the pieces, made a pan gravy, and finished it off in the crockpot. She had some of the younger kids come up to her and tell her how good it was. It was really cute. Some of those kids have never had pheasant before. It warmed my heart that they were willing to try something completely new and even more that they liked it.
Mom was the one who made the sausages. She picked up five pounds of the polish at Thielen’s (as usual) and it all disappeared by the time everyone was through eating. It really is that good. I can’t talk up that meat locker enough.
I think there may have been a riot if my sis, Chell, didn’t make coffee cake. (I’ve posted the recipe before.) I don’t even care that she didn’t make the poppy seed version because she sent a whole apple one home with Lindz and me. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very easily bribed with food. It’s even easier when it’s really good homemade food.
I was joking with my cousin Jon about the popcorn balls that he brought. I asked him if he was trying to class up the Czeck gatherings by drizzling chocolate over them. He just smiled sheepishly and chuckled. Good enough of an answer because they were a chocolate-caramel delight.
I’ve tried for years to get Mom to sit down, relax for a minute, and grab a bite to eat. But she is having none of it. At this point, I ask the token question of if she needs help and then let her do her thing. For the record, I do gladly help when she asks for it.
As a final note, I am endlessly amused watching people on the farm. It started out many years ago with my cousins. They would run around like wild animals crawling over the hay bales, running through the woods, sitting on the tractors, chasing the cats, mooing at the cows, and spooking the chickens. Or what I would call a normal day. Now that my cousins are older and have kids of their own, I get to watch the next generation do the same thing. And you know what? It still hasn’t gotten old.
Yesterday I took a much needed break from the Cities. Unfortunately, Lindz couldn’t come along to Mom & Dad’s because she had to do TA work up at school. It just ended up being a day trip, but it was worth it. I know it sounds weird, but there are time I really miss the smells and activities of farm life. When I finally pulled into the yard, the first one to greet me was the new puppy, Lucy. She has an interesting story as to how she ended up on the farm. After the last dog, Blackie, died, Mom was looking for a new farm dog and she wasn’t willing to spend the $100 for a Sheltie or Border Collie pup (her preferred breeds). My uncle Art (Mom’s brother) really thought Mom should get a Red Heeler, but Mom wasn’t moving fast enough or something. So as you can guess, Art bought a Heeler puppy for Mom. That’s how Lucy came along:
And just for good measure:
You can’t see it in the photos, but Lucy has one blue eye and one black eye. Freaked me out the first time I saw it.
Also, I went to see my Grandma. If you’ve been paying attention, she’s the one who made the headcheese awhile ago. She’s doing good. Though she really, really wants to get out of the house and on her lawn tractor. Dad needs to change the oil first apparently. For the last decade or so, she’s had chickens that she’s always referred to as banty’s. But when I was looking up the spelling, it said that banty’s are a mini version of a larger breed. So I’m not sure what is going on here. But her chickens look like Welsummers from what I can tell.
And one more picture before I go. This one is of Art and his buddy, John, dragging one of the fields with Art’s team of horses.