The One with the Cookie Adventure.

Happy belated holidays all!

There has been a lot of “getting used” to and learning my new way of life without my dad. As you know, grief is never gone, and the holidays can always be a rough time. The amount of healing and re-learning I have done for myself is beyond measure. I have come a long way, I have a long way to go, but it’s been so freeing. It’s like the dust is settling and everything is much clearer.

I have been in therapy since my father’s passing (to be honest, I needed it long before). I truly have no idea where I would be had I not built up the courage to go. I know Dad would be proud to see how far I have come. Correction: He IS proud of how far I have come. I hope everyone has been doing well also.

My dogs, Elvis and Wilson.
My sister and I in NYC
This was the same tree I bought for my dad while he was in the hospital.
The light the Christmas tree gives off is like no other. I instantly smile.
My sister Megan, my mom Judy, and me on Thanksgiving .

We had a great holiday season that went by too quickly, but I wanted to share a holiday story below from this year. I decided to try to make my Great Aunt Peggy’s cookies she made so often, cold dough horns, aka kolache cookies. In 100% transparency, I never knew what they were called, but everyone knew what I meant when I said, “Aunt Peggy’s cookies.” This is something my dad said he always had at Christmas growing up. I remember specifically the apricot and poppy seed cold dough horns/kolache cookie (it feels so weird calling them that). And no, I never touched the poppy seed ones, blah! I also remember them always sitting out in her kitchen and me deciding which one to grab (most likely with the most filling) while talking to my Aunt Helen, Aunt Peggy, Uncle Joe, or Uncle Chin, whomever was hanging out at the kitchen table. There are so many memories I have of that house, but they seem so far away! Back when I had zero worries, other than…. you guessed it, which cookie to take. Ahh, to be a child again!

*Just a side story; one time we were leaving their house, there was a bad snowstorm. My family climbed into our van, and off we went. Of course, there were hills on her street. Sure enough, we started sliding down. It was like we were moving in slow motion. We had to basically just let it happen. Luckily, no one was hurt. The car wasn’t hurt, and there was no accident. Just a fun sled ride down the hill in a car. It was probably much more traumatizing for my parents in the front seat. Knowing my sister, she was probably screaming, “Weeeeee” from the third row seat.

My Aunt Helen (left) and Aunt Peggy (right) with the famous cookies!
Where the magic happened!
Their house!
Aunt Peggy and Uncle Chin

Now to where I got the recipe. We have a Volk family recipe book. I pulled it out and hoped they didn’t seem too hard to make. Below are some snippets from it. Please take note of Mike’s (Michael’s), it’s definitely a keeper, lol.

I decided to attempt the cold dough horns this Christmas. (*Please note that I am not a baker*)

My husband, David, and I went to the store 3 nights before Christmas to gather the ingredients. Now, I also needed a rolling pin because, like I said, I am not a baker. There was not one to be found.


That was just the start of our adventure making these. Yes, you read correctly. It was certainly an adventure making cookies. Who would have guessed?

This cookie adventure is a memory my husband and I will have forever.

*Again remember, I am not a baker at all!*

Let’s start at the beginning…..

After arriving home, we decided to start because the dough needed to chill overnight. We put our ingredients together and began to start to mix it with our electric hand mixer. Things were going well until I started smelling smoke. Something was burning.

The mixer. It died.


What were we supposed to do? This is not easy dough to just mix by hand, but we had to. As my husband said, “Let’s build up muscle like the women had to do before electric mixers!” I started laughing. Thank goodness for that because I was feeling a bit defeated already. 2 strikes, no rolling pin. No mixer.

We kept chugging along. After lots of complaining, we eventually mixed it completely and got it to the fridge.

We were so tired, how sad! Haha. The next morning, we started rolling the dough. It felt like cement at first, so we had to let it warm up.

Here we go…

Now, to find a makeshift rolling pin. Thank goodness I love tumblers. Ta-Da! That is what we used! It worked! Barely, but it worked! Of course, not forgetting to add the blood, sweat, and tears (from laughter and not over the food, of course).

Our “rolling pin”

Once the rolling was finished, we cut them into squares and added the filling. 125. It made one-HUNDRED-twenty-five. Oyi Vey. We filled each one with either strawberry or apricot preserves.

We put the first batch in, set the timer, and patiently waited.

DING! The timer went off, and we both looked at each other and took a deep breath. Here goes nothing!

Oh noooo……..

Okay, so we put toothpicks in them. We had loads of confidence with our idea. Of course, it would work!

Oh no, no, no, no. STRIKE #3.

They were too thick, and the strawberry filling was too runny. David and I laughed each time we pulled the pan out. 🤣 one by one, the worse they’d get, and the louder and harder we laughed. There was nothing else we could have done to salvage them at this point.

However, the most important part was left; the taste test. David and I grabbed a cookie, counted down. We looked at each other in shock. Woah, they were good, albeit ugly!

They were a hit at Christmas, maybe mainly because of the story, but a hits, a hit!

Now, to go back to the point where the mixer broke….. My husband must have been chomping at the bit. It fact, he had to leave the room at one point. This is all because he bought me a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for Christmas! It was just sitting upstairs while we worked so hard to mix by hand. I’m so proud of him for not caving and grabbing it. It made Christmas so much better with that story and laughing so hard when I opened it. I can’t wait to use this to make them next Christmas! I haven’t tried the mixer yet, I’m so nervous to get her dirty!

Below are some more pictures from the holidays. Thank you all for going on that wild ride with me trying to make a traditional cookie my dad always had growing up in West Mifflin!

Amazing picture of me (just kidding), my sister, and my mom
My sister and I’s trip to NYC. Nice face Megan!
My husband and I on Christmas Eve
My nephew, Mason, and I on Christmas Eve. He just got his Christmas jammies for this year!
Myself, my husband, David, my nephews, Mason and Jackson, and my newest niece, Nellie!

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32 Responses to The One with the Cookie Adventure.

  1. paulrsebastianphdblogspotcom says:

    All the Duquesne Hunky readers are proud of you for taking that therapy step.  I suggest also that you also consider the spiritual aspect from regular church attendance every Sunday to make your recovery complete.  A real trust in God can be a big help.  But that’s your call. We just bought two boxes of Kolacky at Walmart here in southeastern Ohio.  My Aunt Irene, sister of my mother Dr. Stephanie M.  Sebastian and daughter of Fr. Vladimir Mihalich, pastor of St. Peter & Paul Ruthanian Byzantine Catholic Church in  Duquesne 1928-1943, used to make them all the time.  Keep up your great comeback.  God bless. 

  2. CHERYL OXFORD says:

    Thank you for carrying

  3. Victoria Reese says:

    This reminds of my Christmas prep for 2022. After many years of not making lady locks and my kids bugging me each year to make them I decided to do it for Christmas. I have heard from some people that has made them that the crisco that you use and smear the dough with isn’t the same as it was years ago, but i thought it was just talk, well they were right. After making 25 lbs of chocolate candies the week leading up to Christmas day I was set on making lady locks and surprising my kids. I mixed up the dough and put it in the fridge, every hour for three times i Pulled it out and smeared it like i have always done in the past. I left it sit in the fridge overnight. Next morning i pulled it out, cut it in fours put all but 1/4 of it back in fridge. I rolled it out put it on my dowels and put them in the oven to bake, when time was up i pulled them out and they didn’t even look like lady locks they looked like a blob of greasy dough, of course by now i was bawling, Christmas time is always rough for me cause me and my mom always baked together needless to say the whole batch of raw dough went into the garbage. Note: While I was preparing the dough, taking it out each hour to smear it I DID notice it wasn’t flaking like it should have, i should have known something then but i was determined to make them, which didn’t happen. All my other cookies did turn out along with all the home-made candies I made.

  4. Sara V says:

    And I loved that you included Michael’s recipe lol!!!!

  5. Sara V says:

    Great job! Thanks for sharing the pics and story. So much love!! I’ve always wanted to make these but thought they looked difficult. Your misadventures really help me know what to do and not to lol. These are always one of my favorites on a cookie table. Keep up the amazing work here 🙂

  6. Dennis Kuzma says:

    Again, thank-you so much for keeping this going. Brings back many great memories!

    • Michael Novosel says:

      Is this the same Dennis Kuzma that had an electric blue GTO convertible and used to frequent Don’s American with Dave, Mario and Larry Suchta? If so, I remember you well from my days at Don’s.

  7. Genny says:

    I love the mixer story & all of the Christmas pictures! Miss you!

  8. You did a wonderful job with the Xmas koluche . You are healing you lost part of your heart it’s in heaven now. Pray to your dad as he spent Xmas with Jesus. Enjoy your family and cry if you have to. Healing takes time. God love you and your family From an Italian Croatian Hunkey

  9. Tom Yanichko says:

    That’s a great story or 2! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Carole Simmons says:

    Abby, that is such an ADORABLE story. I am sooo proud of you. I can definitely tell you patience is NOT one of my virtues. Give Dave several pats on the back for staying with you through all of this, too. I especially admire him holding off on the mixer! 🤩 Besides being adorable, the story is beautiful. Love you so much. 😘🤗😘🤗😘🤗

    Sent from my iPhone.


  11. RAYMOND Isadore says:

    Thank you for sharing the cookie making and the family recipes. Also, thank you for keeping the posts going.

  12. Suzanne Filotei says:

    LOL 😂 Next time buy Solo brand in a can at your supermarket! Great try, and thanks for my giggle😊 BTW love your new mixer, I also got one for Christmas and only just used it! Mine is turquoise. Have fun you’ll love it 😊

  13. Joe says:

    Next time you make the cookies try using pillsbury pie crust. It’s a lot easier and rolls out quicker. I did your way for years this saves a ton of time. Also try filling them with nut mix you find in the baking section. I learned to make the cookies back in high school when I worked at Jerry and Buds donut shop in Duquesne in 1955.

  14. Jane Roehrig says:

    I loved reading your story! I grew up in West Mifflin and my mom always made cookies similar to the ones you bake. Claudia is correct – do not use jam. You need to buy the filling. I live in California now (for the past 40 years) and I still miss my childhood and growing up in that area. My grandparents owned the trailer park at the top of Kennedy Avenue so I spent lots of time in Duquesne. I was devastated when they tore down the beautiful Carnegie library that I used to visit as a child. Thanks for posting this. It brought back memories and made me smile.

  15. Mary Ann McFarland says:

    Beautiful story, loved it! I am so sorry for your loss.

  16. Lou Andriko says:

    Jim is dead, let’s leave it at that.

    • Jim says:

      And you’re miserable.

    • Megan Schuster, Jim’s daughter says:

      Excuse me. I don’t know WHO you are or who you think you are, but you will not come on my father’s blog and be such a terrible person. This is my sister’s way of keeping my father’s passion going.

      I am appalled that you think this is an appropriate thing to comment.

      I will tell you this…it is taking everything I have to not unleash on you and say what I want to say, but I refuse to stoop to your level.

      Have the day you deserve, Lou.

    • Amelia Rounds says:

      We say their names for us. Their memories live on for us when we say their names. We will continue to say their names. ❤️

    • Jodi Goldman says:

      You must never had anyone you loved the way Jim was loved. You don’t want to hear all the words I want to say to you. But I won’t on here. Jim was an amazing man and my cousin. We all miss and love him very much.

    • Kelly Goldman says:

      Jimmy was my cousin who had a great passion for growing up in Duquesne and keeping its memory alive by telling all these stories through his blog. Abby, his daughter, is keeping his memory alive by continuing the blog.

      Lou, one day you will die. What will people say about you? What memories will they have about you?

      I suggest you take a good look at yourself and try to be a kinder person in the future. You need to think before you say such terrible things. You are hurting the people that love Jim Volk.

    • Missy says:

      And your apparently an asshole that still has never learned to keep your mouth shut if you have nothing nice to say.

    • Jen says:

      Jimmy was such a loving and caring person who really kept smiling no matter what. He lives on through his wife girls and grandsons. He has passed yes but he will never be forgotten. You never were forced to read this. If you have nothing nice to say keep the negativity to yourself. There is enough disrespect in the world this blog that was Jimmy’s and with Abby continuing is not a place for it.

    • Michael Volk says:

      Jim’s family is too good to have to deal with the likes of you but I ain’t. You’re the kind of person who gets off on this kind of thing, aren’t you? Any attention is good, right? Probably because Daddy didn’t give little Louie enough of his attention. Poor little Louie, jealous of a world full of loving fathers. I will pray for you and all those unfortunate enough to have to deal with you. You’ve upset good folks. You’re job is done here. Now go away.

    • Sara V says:

      Lou, you should be ashamed of yourself commenting such a thing on a beautiful post. Your comment only shows the world that you have a tremendous deficit of compassion and decency.

  17. G. Sovak says:

    I really enjoyed reading your story. Have a blessed year.

  18. Claudia Misage says:

    Hi loved reading and laughing at your story. The cookies, well looked perfect….before……putting them in the oven. Ok, first the filling it’s not jam, jelly, preserves, it a special filling and it’s made my Solo, or Bakers. Solo is in a can and Bakers a jar. Google them. Next when you put the points of the dough together I actually use a dab of water, my mom would have a whiskey shot glass that she would dab her finger into the water. Next half way through the baking, take a look at them, I actually pull mine out of the oven and use the back of a teaspoon to put the points together again, then back in the oven to finish. Oh besides all the fruit fillings you could do ground walnuts mixed with a little sugar and a little milk to make a paste. The left overs of these nuts are better than delicious, haha…. Girl you did good and you should be proud of yourself. Oh that picture of their home, was that on Homestead-Duquesne Rd?? I’m from Duquesne Place, now Austin Texas thanks to Westinghouse. Blessing to y’all….love 🙏🏻❤️🥶

  19. Michael Novosel says:

    I have a 7GB photo file which is a panorama of Duquesne from 1938 if you are interested. I’d have to share via the cloud. email and/or text won’t accommodate a file that big.

    • Maryann Smith says:

      Mike the file sounds interesting. Can you download and send it to my my dad came here in 1929 with his mom and sister and graduated from DHS1940 and became a police officer…joe Stavor.TI came across 2 roads they lived on over time— AshAlley and Patterson Ave. Any pictures? Thanks! Maryann Stavor Smith

  20. Debbie (Palchak) Weber says:

    I make these Christmas cookies each and every year. My great grandmother Palchak, grandmothers both maternal and paternal and my mother made these. Our recipe is almost identical, the difference being the yeast dough rests in the refrigerator overnight and we roll them out paper thin; make apricot and walnut varieties. I do remember my grandmothers making prune and poppyseed too.
    My children make them for their families and I am now teaching the grandchildren how to make them.
    Everyone helps, we play Christmas music, dance and laugh the whole time.
    Wonderful memories associated with these cookies.

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