When I teach baking classes, I prefer to do it for free. As a kid I grew up in a house that didn't have enough money to give me oppurtuninties that the majority of kids did.
I was one of those 4 kids in your 3rd grade class that got pulled aside by the teacher each Monday morning to collect your goverment issue lunch tickets. The thing that sucked about that is everybody else was so chill about it.
Often times you'll hear mothers sitting over coffee exchanging "Oh Georgina....can't children be so cruel?"
But I'll tell you what, even 3rd graders kinda get the whole karma a** bite thing.When you get something that you need, an essential, and you can't afford it......it is shaming.
Some people bury the shame and turn to making a career out of mooching, but most others who were raised in circumstances simular to mine seem to aqquire a special sensitivity to those around them that have not.
So theres Klecko, around 2004, he's tall, handsome, fit and w/o any silver hairs. around this time in my life I would do close to 100 free Baking Demo's a year.
Sure 48 of those were done at the State Fair, but none the less, I got to meet many people.
Baking is so different than cooking.
Cooking pulls in the crowd made up of hot chicks and metrosexual guys who seem to find more value in the BlackBerry app's than the previously mentioned hot chick.
Baking on the other hand will tend to throw magnetic pull out to people who have had some experience. People who aren't nessisarily Patton like confident, but typically they've experienced more in the past than they will in the future.
It's hard to be a Master Baker while you are young. You might have the chops, but your mentality really needs to be worn a bit.
I'd be willing to bet you a dollar to a monkey that Klecko has more 60 or older girlfriends than any other man in the state of Minnesota.
The guys who gravitate towards baking are not into fads or rep. Usually they were plaid shirts and ask questions about biscuits or sourdough.
Think of the favorite food in your life, or the best meal that you've ever had. Go ahead.....I'll wait ------------------------
Alright, if you came up with something, is that food attached to a certain person, place or event in your life? Often times it is.
Can you imagine what an honor it is for Klecko to meet 1000's of these people every year and have a chance to help them obtain or continue....who knows, maybe even improve that tradition?
I can't think of anything I'd rather do, and I wonder...did that seed get germinated in me because I was so-so shamed by taking hand outs throughout my youth?
Eventually I started getting middle aged groupies LOL,and one of the first was Jill Dahl, who now goes by the name "Thw Widow Dahl" or "The Scone Widow."
Jill had been coming to numorous events and asked a lot of short bread questions at first. So there goes Klecko...BLAH-BLAH-BLAH spewing his Greek God wisdom all over the place.
So next I tell the Widow Dahl to make a sample batch and bring it to the next bread club meeting, tick-tock goes the clock, and 3 months go by. The bakery doors open. Its early summer and Jill crosses my threshold cradling armfulls of disc shaped short breads, each one about the size of a 45 record. They are topped with pearl sugar, cross tied with satin ribbons and have small flowers, the the size of baby's breath slid between the ribbons and the crumb wall.
"The flowers are from my garden you know, its always good to find an excuse to pick those things. They end up cluttering a persons yard you know."
Next, she cocks her head at that angle that you use when you are going to wink with emphisis, but thats whats so cool about the Widow....she didn't wink. Instead she just flashed you just one of a full range of whimsical looks.
So now club members are filing in, and of course everybody is raving about how tremdous Jills short bread was. I was wicked embarrassed that I even dained to issue advise. It was like telling Ali how to punch, or Hitchcock how to make a film.
From that time on we became friends.
The statement "WE BECAME FRIENDS" can come across like white noise. It seems so typical, but when or if you've ever worked 3rd shifts for a decade, and ended up working in Hospitality, often times you aqquire an a** load of aqqaintances, but very few actual friends.
The Widow also obtained what few dare to dream for, she pierced the Sue McGleno bubble of trust and actually became a friend to my entire family, you know...like come over to our house for Thanksgiving kind of friend.
So now the next logical step of course was to sign the Widow up and take her on the road! For several years I dragged the Widow with me everywhere. While I did quickbread demo's, she would do scones. If I did yeast breads she's do intresting Romainian cookie recipes.
The chemistry was great, and as you can imagine, she was the star of the show. When we'd turn off the microphones 136 people would come up and ask for her recipe or further explanation on one of the techniques she utilized.
Klecko was stuck with that creepy old dude who wore a mustard stained T-shirt and wanted to know if bakers liked isolated fishing holidays.
Did I mention that the Widow had a lust for the grape? At first I had a tough time picturing her needing to turn to the hooch, she was so on the ball, so full of life. but the more she let me into her life, the more pain I saw exposed.
Years ago she was married to an artist, a man she paints as a tyrant, but you'll never see an ounce of sorrow in her face when she mention his suicide, sometimes I've even detected a smirk, and I know its not right, but I laughed and encouraged her hatred.
But now for the tough part, and I don't want to report this, not so much for you, but for me, I hate when my friends are subjected to pain and shame.
The Widow bore 3 kids,girl-boy-girl.
The eldest daughter died of a heroine overdose. Dead....and in some ways kind of forgotten. The Dahl house is open to pretty much any topic that you can think of, but they don't like to discuss the suicide, and I get that.
It's not that they didn't like her, I think they worshipped her, and years later they still have not found a way to process things.
One time the widow and I were cruising junk stores looking for religous trinkets and the 2 of had split up to scour the area in 1/2 the time, but when I came back....the Widow was crying, and crying just was'nt a trait attached to her. I could tell she was embaressed when I spied her, so I strolled up and whispered in her ear.....
"If somebody in this room is "F"ing with you'll, I'll crush their skull."
So she starts laughing but the tears don't stop flowing. She pointed to a picture, and then she tried to explain to me in those broken cry baby sentances that you are forced to use when you can't control your countenance......
"that-that.....picture, its my daughter. It looks like my daughter used to."
OMG, I got tears welling up in my eyes as I remember this because I felt so helpless.
Her son is an interesting cat. When you meet him, he has Bill Clinton charm. He's one of those people that has a gift on making everybody feel loved and welcomed, but the counter balance is 10 minutes later, he'll ask for your wallet, or grab you car keys, or pay this months (and last months) rent with a check that he pinched out of your checkbook.And when you come home from vacation, and you return your suitcase to the basement the following morning, don't be surprised if you have a nice miarijuana crop crowing next to the washer and dryer.
It got to the point where restraining orders were filed and for a couple of years, the sole male presence in the family was forced to stay away.
The widow doesn't attach fault to the actions of her offspring, instead she looks through you and explains......
"Its all genetic, they have that b****** DNA in them. There is really nothing they can do."
The youngest is Nico, and if Jesus asked me to name 10 people for him to come down and hug, she would be first on my list. I didn't mention that the Dahl's surfaced from NYC. In the heart of the beast. Their family shopped in the same Deli as Woody Allen.
Nico (like her departed sister and father) is an artist. In their little kitchen in Saint Paul you can see some of the most stunning art work ever displayed. Nico had a strong vibe going in Midtown. In a frame next to their front door is a cover shot from the New York Times Sunday editions insert.
Heroine......it bit Nico too. It didn't kill her, but it scarred her for life. As she continues living alone with the widow and seeing to her mothers needs, attention will first have to be pointed at her self. Daily trips to the methadone clinic will remain mandatory until the day she dies.
About 2 years ago the Widows mental facultys started slipping hard and fast. It seems like it all happened in about a 3 week period.
In the past, everytime I saw the Widow we would embrace and do one of the Eastern Euro kissing rituals. You've seen it on PBS or the BBC. Your kisses are dispenced on the right cheek, left cheek and finish back on the right.
We still do this, but now I have to direct the kisses instead of her, and when the process is completed, she doesn't finish it by squeezing me.It was always a hard squeeze. I think that was her way of telling me how thankful she was for me w/o having to use words. I too like to communicate in speechless codes.
I really hate being touched though. Fact. But there are several exceptions to this and that was one of them.
So a couple days ago I went over to the Widows house. Nico's dog Quee Queg recently died. Sometimes the Widow and Nico would decide to return to the coast on a last minute notice, they would call me and tell me to set up camp at their house.
Typically I wouldn't dig the arrangment because they don't have cable, but, you know...I didn't mind it. I would turn on the radio, and bring a chess board and ditch my family for a couple weeks. Me and Quee Queg would walk around the neighborhood,both of us would bark at small kids and I swear to Caesar you've never seen anything with a soul piss on so many inatimate objects.
Now that I think back, it was always winter time when they went home searching for ghosts, and the part I enjoy remembering the most is that cold air blasting my lungs. And their neighborhood.....totally blue collar. Have you ever noticed how neighborhoods that are poor or below the areas fiscal average sport more flag poles than the well off hoods?
Dude....every other house or yard had a Betsy Ross dangling off of it.It started to get me all Ronald Reagan patriotic! and BTW....before you diss my political views on this blogs comment board, just remember your snipes would have more power if you launched them off your own blog....just saying.
But as usual I digress. I digress because I so enjoy that period of my life.I don't want this story to end. I loved that family so much, but like I was saying, a couple of days ago I stopped by and Nico had gotten a new baby Pomeranian.
She named it Deedle (which is one of the 14 names of my chihuahua)and the things weighs like 6 ounces but ran back and forth-back and forth, zip-zip-zip-yap-yap-yap.
I'm telling ya, it burnt me out.
So while this took place Nico's boyfriend Matt has flown in from upstate New York. Matt deals with that thing where he scrubs his hands for an hour at a time or showers for 90 minutes.
He kinda has some of those Howard Hughs issues, he knows it, he's awesome.
He has to talk with his theripist each day that he's here for at least 60 minutes over the phone, but he never complains. Dude inspires me to the core.
And while these young lovers are doing their best to hold on, just to get through one more day.....
There sits the Widow. Her mind is 95% gone now. She kinda indacates she might remember you, but I don't think she does. While I visited, it was discovered that she was sitting in her own piss, and Nico had to stop what she was doing to resolve that.
As all of this whateverness took place, I was overcome with a wonderful feeling. All the consequences of circumstance had made this family live in a situation that might freak some people out, or maybe it makes the Dahl family feel an element of shame, like I did.
But they allow Klecko into their world, and they share their secrets and pizza with him.
All these treasures cast at my feet, just because I talked to a woman about her short bread.