Meet Rita, Eat Kolache

I’m so thankful to Rachel Held Evans for including my story about my mom, Rita Brdicka, in her Women of Valor series today. Please click here to go to Rachel’s blog and meet Mom, and then come back to see her in action in her kitchen.

Mom at 80 celebrating.
photo by Jessi Lueck

If you’ve known my mom any length of time, say a week or so, you’ve likely tasted her sweet, flaky fruit- and nut-filled yeast horns. She’s been making them for 60 years and is asked to bring them to almost every lunch, dinner, party, picnic, quilting bee, baby shower and neighborhood meeting she’s invited to. She’s also mailed dozens of batches to me, my siblings and our kids who aren’t fortunate to live nearby and eat them straight from the oven. She and the recipe were even featured in the Chicago Tribune a few years ago. They’re that good, and she mixes, rolls, fills and bakes them with ease.

The recipe came from her good friend and neighbor Rose Kolenich, who got it from her Czech neighbor. Our whole family calls them kolache, but that’s not technically what they are. Kolache are made from a sweet bread dough cut the size of a dinner roll, flattened out with a dollop of fruit or poppy-seed filling in the center, like a puffy Danish. Mom’s kolache have a similar filling, but the dough is flaky like pie crust and rolled up like a crescent roll.

But why am I trying to explain them when Mom can show you herself how it’s done? Craig captured her in action during a visit we had with her and Dad at the beginning of the month. Click here for the recipe, as featured in the Chicago Tribune (scroll past the herb and cake tips). The recipe calls for 2 cups of butter, but Mom uses half butter and half margarine. 


  1. Just came to my wife; her name was Josephine.

  2. My wife Rosemarie(Rose), who is recognized in this blog, got the recipe from our next door neighbor, Mrs. Grecenik.(sorry I have forgotten her first name) She worked on the assembly line for batteries at National Carbon, my first job out of college as “management trainee”. She and the other ethnic women on the line brought in “goodies” that they used to heat up on the heaters of the assembly line that sealed the batteries. I used to eat my lunch at the 10:00 AM break and then gorge myself at lunchtime on the goodies that the women brought in. Result; went from 146 lbs. to 176 lbs. in three months. But I digress, this recipe has been widely distributed throughout these United States but I don’t know if it has been distributed internationally. Rose is aleays called on to bake these for wakes at our church.

    • Lee Lueck says:

      Thank you so much for adding your history to this story. As I was writing about Rose, I remembered all the fabulous hours – days – Linda and I spent at your house on Meadowbrook playing with Debbie and Laura, especially the fun we had in the woods at the back of your yard. I remember your yard being huge. I wonder what it would look like today through my adult eyes!

      • Debbie Richards says:

        I too remember great days playing in the yard and also remember it as being huge. I also remember a time my mom made a recipe of these, put them on a platter on the kitchen table, and got busy with other chores. Our dog Fritz ate almost the whole platter! I didn’t think he was long for this world – my mom was furious!

  3. Such love in pastry form. Such practiced hands. A master class in Kolache!

  4. I looks like we need to make a trip to Plainfield.

  5. Cindy Meyer says:

    Looks absolutely yummilicious! Can we anticipate you making some for Real Life sometime, Lee?

  6. I guess that was 2 Cups of butter, phew. Looks like my mom.

  7. The pictures are making my mouth water. I’ve had to give up making those 2lbs of butter recipes!

  8. Mary Chandler says:

    Ok. This is my new favorite post! Beautiful. Delicious. Memories.


  1. [...] read more about my mom, click here and [...]