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Loves Czech cooking

By Staff | Aug 6, 2010

Kay Kopacek frosts the kolaches in her kitchen of the new home she and her husband Don moved into after retiring from their farm.

BRITT – Three years ago, Don and Kay Kopacek retired from their farm southwest of Britt in Hancock County after 39 years of living there and moved into their new home they had built on a corner lot in town.

How has retirement been? “It is a good thing we are retired,” said Kay Kopacek. “If we were farming, I don’t know how we would get everything done.”

Activities abound in the Kopacek household. Last year, for example, Don Kopacek pedaled the entire RAGBRAI route at age 71. This year he rode part of it with his son as the route passed through Britt.

Kay Kopacek was busy at the recently completed Hancock County Fair where she helped organize the entries in the textiles, open quilts and arts categories for the fourth year. She entered nine items in the fair for judging that included quilts, pillow sham, pillow case, towels, knitted scarves, and flowers.

The Kopaecek’s are parents of five children who live in Des Moines, Winterset, Chicago, Atlanta and Portland, Ore. All five were active in 4-H growing up exhibiting beef cattle, furniture and baked goods, while Kay Kopacek managed the 4-H food stand for five years.

Don and Kay Kopacek have devoted much time to the flower bed that greets visitors to their home in Britt that they built after 39 years of farming southwest of Britt.

Both Kopacekes are active in St Patrick Catholic church in Britt and the Lions Club and Lioness Club, both of Britt. Kay Kopacek gives tours of the Larson-Armstrong Historical House, a large two-towered Victorian home in Britt built in 1896 at a cost of $15,000 that is owned by the historical society of Hancock County.

Kay Kopacek can be found doing interior painting of homes when not involved with her volunteer activities.

While living on the farm, Kay Kopacek helped with tillage and ran the chopper, chopping silage and haylage plus helping at harvest time. The Kopacek farm fed 500-600 head of beef cattle.

Don and Kay Kopacek have been married for 43 years.

The Kopacekes are both Czech in their heritage and Kay’s cooking includes Czech favorites such as rohlicky, a crescent dinner roll, and kolaches. Sauerkraut and dumplings are served at holiday meals.

Kay Kopacek credits her mother in law with developing her ability to cook Czech recipes.

Kay Kopacek will be serving the baked apple French toast, cheesy potatoes, kolaches, along with fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and tea at a family brunch at an upcoming family weekend.

Baked apple French toast

Kay Kopacek said this is a family favorite she has served at many different occasions.

20 slices of French bread, 1-inch thick

1 can of 21 ounce apple pie filling

8 eggs

2 cups milk

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cold (cubed) butter

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoon corn syrup

Arrange 10 slices of bread in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread with the pie filling. Top with the remaining bread. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over bread, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Meanwhile, place brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans and corn syrup. Sprinkle over French toast.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Yields 10 servings.

Note: Kay Kopacek said sometimes she uses 1 cans of apple pie filling and a loaf of Texas toast. This recipe can be served with whipped cream.

Kolaches

2 packages dried yeast (dissolved in cup warm water)

2 cups warm water (Kay said she uses 1 cup potato water)

1/2 cup mashed potatoes

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted shortening

2 beaten eggs

2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup powdered milk

6 to 7 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Put two cups water in a bowl. Add the mashed potatoes, sugar, melted shortening, beaten eggs, salt, powdered milk, and the yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour, enough to make a sticky dough, let sit in a bowl for 20 minutes to rest the dough. Knead the dough for five to seven minutes, adding a little more flour if necessary, and knead till smooth and satiny.

Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled. Work dough down and pat to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut kolaches to the desired size using a glass or a round cutter or roll in a long piece around 8 inches and coil, tucking the ends under.

Place kolaches on greased sheets, let rise; when almost risen, brush with egg yolk-milk mixture. Make indentations with thumb and fill with desired fillings (apricot, prune, cherry, poppy seed).

Again, let rise until light and airy. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and brush lightly with melted butter. Cool. May frost if desired. Makes approximately 6 dozen. These freeze well.

Melt In Your Mouth chocolate chip cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together shortening, oil, brown and white sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Sift and add flour, soda, salt, cream of tartar, and chocolate chips.

Drop by small dipper of teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

Dough is easier to crop if chilled a bit. Dough freezes well, then thaw and drop onto a cookie sheet. These are very good and easy, Kay Kopacek said.

Contact Clayton rye at crye@wctatel.net.

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