Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lost in Canada with Kim Ode (contains recipe)

Have you ever stopped to think that you are not you?

Actually most of us are the compiltion of the advice and encouragement that we receave.

The "Last American Baker" that you have come to know wouldn't be a fraction of the charactor you read if it weren't for 2 people.

W/O them, I am certain my current life platform would be much closer to the ground.

I could break down statistics as to why they are wonderful, but that would get boring.

Instead I will tell you that #1 is Mike Finley who serves as not only my writing mentor, but also a set of eyes that watches to see if my freshly constructed paragraphs are headed into an alley of hoodlums.

The other is Kim Ode, sure she talks to me about writing as well, but more often than not we discuss baking, or simply gossip about many of you LOL.

So anyway, Mike and I were discussing Woody Allen the other day. I mentioned that his new movie, the Owen Wilson one that has the word "Paris" in the title, well it's currently playing at the Grandview, which is pretty close to our house.

I've pretty much just discovered Woody over the last 5 or 6 years. I think he writes dialogue better than anyone.....yes, even Quentin Tarantino.

So I was telling Mike how I had never seen a Woody Allen film at the show hall, and he just matter of factly pointed out that there was no reason to drop the coin.

I think he said something to the effect that Woody's works will eventually stumble across your path whether you want them to or not.

As the two us began comparing notes about this unique filmakers personality traits, Mike mentioned that in the real world Woody needed to be taken in small doses, apparently he is a very needy man.

Then the both of us began to laugh. I wouldn't dare to subject supposition as to why Mike was smiling out loud, but suffice it to say, I wouldn't be shocked if it was because like me,he realized by us pointing that finger at Woody was kinda like calling the kettle black.

I am incredibly high maintanace, I am a helium baloon that drifts in most air currents that cross my path. That's why its good to have friends with anchoring qualities.

Hanging out with Kim Ode is like hanging out with a Meryl Streep that knows how to bake.

If you go to an event and sit next to Kim Ode, your street cred goes up because she is "James Dean" cool. She is Sinatra, where I would be Dino.

Anyways, a few weeks ago she hopped onto a boat with her husband, and the two of them set out to sail across Lake Superior.

I can't even imagine what that entails.

During the first couple days she was gone, like a kid in a candy store, Klecko had a blast. He didn't puntuate 1/2 his sentances, he gossiped with "other girls", the whole dealio was great, but after 3 or 4 days. I felt the the Prodigal's Son.

I missed my friend and wished she was back!

Meanwhile, the Ode boat floated off it's course and Kim ended up pulling into some small Canadian port that was not on her travel itnerary.

The village,hamlet....whatever it is, it's called Tadoussac.

It's filled with a bunch of French speaking people and Kim told me that her surroundings were surreal. She felt like she had moved back into a lost era.

People walked around the dirt roads with torches so they could see.

Dude, I started thinking of those old Frankenstein movies. Remember how those people with torches, almost always owned pitch forks as well?

You could be at the Pub and accidentially knock over your goblet of ale and...that's right, a mob would form on the spot and chase you through darkness towards some delapitated castle.

During the first morning, Kim was being all Kim like, and walking around this new place, when out of the blue she noticed 2 wood fire stoves outside that were made out of stone. They had to be over a century old.

I guess they belonged to the bakery that was within 100 yards of this area.

So Kim walks in and the bakery was a tiny little hole in the wall joint, that just made simple white loaves for the locals.

However, these loaves were all basically 2 white rounds placed next to one another in a bread pan. when they were removed from the pans, they looked like breasts.

Blah-Blah-Blah, Kim told me more about the trip, but after saying BREAD and BREASTS in the same sentance....well, I won't lie. My brain froze.

I missed my friend terribly while she was gone. It seemed like her adventure was years in length, but in all actuality, it was like 12 days.

I can be so Woody Allen.

But it's good to give our friends breaks from our emotional grip. it's good for them to go into the world and experience new things, with that said......I don't have to like it!

Rustic White Bread

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 cup milk
1/8 cup eggs
6 cups bread flour

Remember, if you want to go hardcore Canadian, find a Patent flour, or one with a real low protien level. If you can't find Patent....just blend 20% Cake flour with 80% All Purpose, or Bread flour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2 Flags and a Lemon Poppy Quick Bread Recipe

Dear Polish Jesus,

I have to tell you that the Saints of Warsaw, Saint Faustina and John Paul Deuce will always come first in my heart, but you do need to realize that 1/2 the DNA in my body is Irish.

Bobby Fischer was Jewish and anti semitic, look where that got him. Dude ended up get extradited in Tokyo, beaten in a jail cell, and dieing a wicked lonely death.

The older I get, the more I realize that you have to honor your bloodlines.

Sure, you can run from your family, but you can't outrun that red stuff that flows through your veins.

When I was a kid, my mother always pushed the Polack angle. I think that's because she was ditched by her Irish husband and therefore she was determined to block him out mentally.

Every time I produced a potato or loaf of soda bread.....the poor woman recoiled in fear.

But with that said, Danny Klecko slid out of the womb, and over his crib were 2 flags.

One was Polish, and the other was Irish.

As you know Polish Jesus, I will bow to no deity that comes off the Emerald Isle, but I really feel I should pay my respects, or perhaps like the former world chess champion, I too may become tainted.

I will take the first step of this journey by confessing to you the intentions of what is currently laying dormant in my heart.

We are not all that far off from JFK's 50 year anniversary of his assasination.

Think about that, it has been 1/2 a century since Camelot's King has been slain, and to date, nobody has been held responsible for this.

The fact that one of the historys greatest visionaries was gunned down is upsetting enough, but the fact that "We the People" have never applied enough pressure on the goverment to aknowledge that some rouge element, within their own system was responsible......that makes me mad as hell.

So Polish Jesus, please hear my prayer.

Please comfort my former President as he sits by your side, and let him know that not all hope is lost.

Sometimes in this world a "GUY" just realizes, if nobody else can get the job done.....well, they just gotta do it themselves.

I don'r have a strategy yet P.J., but I am certain that through my mere confession, the starting gate has opened.

Help me to put President Kennedy's ghost to rest for good!

And in the mean time.....I'll leave a Polacks quick bread recipe for the Micks.

God only knows....they can't bake worth a lick...LOL

In the name of the Father-Son and Polish Jesus.


2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk
6 ounces salad oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup poppy seed (add more or less to taste)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 c. lemon juice (but if you can get lemon emulsion, thats even better. Use 2 capfulls.)

Fill your foil or muffin tin 66-75% full.

Place into an oven preheated to 400 "F" for 10 minutes.

At the 10 minute mark reduce your heat to 350 "F" and leave it their for the remainder of the bake.

Your bake time will be determined by your pieces size, a pound and a half loaf in a foils is roughly 45 minutes. But You will notice when the loaf is done it will pull away from the foils walls.

sometimes I will use a cake pin or wooden toothpick and stick it into the center. If it comes out are good to go!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

20 Cheesecakes to Omaha (Cheesecake Baking Tips Included)

Like many classic Klecko - tales, this story starts off with Sue McGleno and a shopping cart in Aisle 11 at Cub Foods.

Aisle 11 is that aisle that has all the home cleaning supplies and pet treats.

I've never figured out why they put this at the end of your shopping trip. If I have ribs,fresh fruit or a loaf of Wonder Bread in my shopping cart, do I really want to throw a gallon of Windex on top of these items?

So now we are in the bulk dog treat section. it's like a fricken puppy CO-OP. They have large plastic bins filled with items that you place into plastic bags which you will seal shut with a twist tie dealio that has a paper flag thing on it so you can write the product number for identification purposes.

Today however, they didn't have any of the twist ties, and there were no employees in sight. This enraged me because my dog pack goes crazy over these donut shaped bones, and I don't know of any of retailer that carry's them.

I used some negative language, and Sue McGleno just rolled her eyes.

"Whats the big deal. Just take the pen and write the number on your hand and show it to the cashier when we get checked out."

This is a Sue McGleno trait that freaks the demons out of me. On any given day you can find phone numbers, recipes or route directions written on her hands (and sometimes wrist) with ball point pen. She claims it's a "Nurse Thing."

When I illustrated how absolutely savage this was, she actually took her hands off the cart, threw them up to Christ and informed all the shoppers from the frozen food section to the paper products aisle......

"What the h*** are you talking about? Are you serious? My God, your entire body is covered with tattoos and you think 6 ink numbers will make you look stupid?"

She had a point, and I honestly didn't have an answer, so I shut up and assisted with cart pushing.

When we got to the sponge section, well....the drama flared up again.

Sue McGleno grabbed a package of sponges that had scrubbers attached to them. I don't remember the brand name, but they were light blue and green in color.

"Are you doing this to spite me? You simply can't buy that sponge. It has to be the Scotch brand sponge with the yellow sponge and green scrubber." I demanded.

At this point Sue McGleno accuses me of being the most anal person in the world, but I told her some purchases couldn't be negotiated due to practicality.

For instance, you gotta by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, even if it costs 3 times more than the generic... it's worth every penny.

The same can be said for Skippy Peanut Butter, Pace Piquante Sauce, Raisin Brand Cereal, Ruffles Potato Chips and of course....Coke Products.

Sue McGleno thought that saving 80 cents would be good for the Klecko Empire's family vault, but what does she know? She never washes the dishes. I do it every day....compulsively. It's almost therapy for me, but if you don't have the right tools for the job....Good night Irene!

The Scotch brand scrubby-sponge can clean sauces that have been welded onto your dining utensils, its the jack hammer of cleaning supplies.


Sure the light blue ones with the green sponges saves you money, but if you are trying to get the egg yokes off the plates that your family neglected to rinse after breakfast, it won't happen. The cheap wanna be sponge will just crumble in your hand.

We brought this conflict to the check out lane with us, and asked "Bev" our cashier if she wanted to offer an opinion, but you know how girls are, I should have never agreed to this.

Bev totally took Sue McGleno's side, and if it were just about winning an argument, or a big deal. But Bev's agreeing nature helped give Sue McGleno the courage to jump into that "Time Machine" that wives love to use to connect every single mistake that their husbands have ever made throughout the span of their life.

By the time I got into the bread mobile, I was breathless from the assault.

But then all of a sudden, Sue McGleno got quiet and started to smile. I turned on a Pearl Jam CD to act as a force field that might double as a sanctuary from further indictments.

Sue McGleno promptly shut the music off and mentioned the following.

"OK, I get it, sometimes in life it is really important to buy the best. What do you think, should somebody get the best for their daughters wedding?"

OMG.....I so knew where this was going.

A couple years ago, I was in the back seat of my daughters - boyfriends car.

We were on our way to Lincoln to see the Cornhusker's play their last out of conference opponent, I think it was New Mexico State.

But my daughter KiKi gets all excited and forces her love interest to pull over by the Missouri River.

The 4 of us get out of the car and the kids bring us down to a marina that had all kinds of pirate, and aquatic looking stuff. A huge paddle boat that could probably accommodate 500 people was secured to the dock, and that's when I got the news that Kiki and J.R. were going to get married on that paddle boat, exactly 1 year from this exact date.

The first thing that went through my head was that I wanted to die. I didn't want my little girl to marry anyone, her boy friend was the greatest, and according to brother Tydus....he didn't understand what J.R. saw in Kiki, or our family lol.

But the next thing I thought about as everybody grinned was.....

"Please Polish Christ in the Heavens of Warsaw and Krakow, please don't make me be in charge of the wedding cake!"

I swear to Caesar, that was my thought.

When you've worked in bakeries, you've heard a million stories where the baker messed up the couples cake and the bride and groom broke out the tar and feathers.

I wasn't necessarily afraid of getting lynched, I just didn't want to mess up and ruin the greatest day in my daughters life.

Ladies, let me tell you a "Guy Rule" that is secretive, in fact I could get kicked out of guy club for telling you this, but nothing terrifies a man as much as his daughter.

They are like a species from another planet, by the time Kiki was 14, she was already twice as smart as me. But none the less, I was still responsible for the last few practicality's and sensibilities that she would need to keep her secure.

Fathers know what can take place in this world, and they don't always care about being popular, this runs a distant second to keeping their daughter safe.

You might ask me.......

"Well Klecko, what about sons, don't they need the same attention?)"

To be honest, not really. By comparison, boys are stupid. With them, there is no problem that a 20 dollar bill or a pimp slap to the head can't solve.

Several months prior to the wedding, Sue McGleno informed me that it was my job to get 20 large cheesecakes from my girlfriend Tami Cabrera's - Muddy Paws Cheesecake shop.

It has the largest cheesecake menu in the nation, if not the world, and my daughter wanted to impress her guests, so why not get the best?

Well one of the reasons that ran through my head was that I would be heading down to Omaha 36 hours after the Minnesota State Fair ended. By this point I will have worked about 20 some consecutive days of 12-16 hour shifts.

Plus the weather would still be wicked hot, and in all my life, I've never transported cheesecakes from Saint Paul to Minneapolis.....let alone Omaha.

By the time I pulled into Nebraska, my little KiKi would be getting married in 18 hours.

Not to mention that Tydus was playing in a high school football game that would end 16 hours before the wedding, I had to fly him in, I didn't mind spending the money, but Tydus sleeps harder than Lazarus, so I had to spring for another airline ticket for J-Mo the linebacker on the squad. J-Mo's job was to make sure that my kid crawled out of bed.

So with all this stress, I asked Sue McGleno......

"Klecko knows peeps, why don't I just call a bakery in Omaha and outsource the cheesecakes? that way we will be certain that they don't get wrecked. I'll pay for the whole deal."

I didn't know how Sue McGleno would respond to this idea, but to be honest, all I was trying to do was to make sure that my daughter had nice product in front of her on her wedding day.

You know from my blog postings that Klecko doesn't like to use coarse language in his stories, but the following statement was pretty climatic and gave me complete clarity, so I would hate to censor it.

Like I said...Sue McGleno got this thoughtful look on her face and almost smiled when she said the following to me through lips pursed so tight, that you wouldn't be able to slide a dollar bill through them.

"Listen, it's your daughters wedding day.....WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP BEING SUCH A PUSSY? Muddy Paws Cheesecake is the best, that's what she wants, and that's what you will give her, and you will find a way to get those cakes to Omaha in pristine condition, do this you have to stop being afraid of failing!" was like me hearing me lecture to my family for the last couple of decades. These words really hit me hard. My daughter wanted those cheesecakes sure, but more than that, I'm hoping that she wanted to have something to be proud of, something positive about her father that she could share with the family she was about to marry into.

In case you are wondering, yes.....Klecko got the job done w/o any trouble. Tydus and J-Mo beat Johnson High 12-2 and made their flight, and the wedding on time.

It was a perfect day.

As we were a couple hours away from the ceremony, I sat in the basement watching Project Runway reruns on Bravo, and I wondered if I was supposed to say something in particular to my daughter, For the first time in my life....I didn't have a clue.

Now my focus was not crying when I walked her down the aisle. That single action was going to be the single greatest, and worst moment at the same time. You can imagine why it was great, but it really is horrible for a dad to give his daughter away, but sometimes I think it's even worse knowing that they no longer need their daddy.

So my daughter walks downstairs, not stressed at all. Instead she was barking out last minute orders to anyone that crossed her path. She reminded me of me, but only with more savvy.

When she saw her Pops she stopped, kinda cocked her head sideways and then informed me....

"Dad, you know this is a big day today right?"

I nodded my head in agreement.

"Then I'm going to need you to hold back on your opinions, and consider your conversation topics carefully, in might not be a bad idea to be a little quiet."

Now Sue McGleno looks across the room. I think she's wondering if I will be offended or hurt by KiKi's request, but even before I had time to shuffle it into my minds eye, the bride to be made one final request......

"But Dad, seriously, this day is huge, I've planned it forever and we've spent a ton of money so pleasssse, if anybody starts talking s***, put an end to it immediately."

Then wanting to make sure we were on the same page I reminded her....

"Baby girl, you know how I take care of things."

She nodded and said "Exactly."

so basically I got to double as the bouncer at my daughters wedding. I can't think of a greater honor in my entire life.



Most cracks come from over mixing. So make sure that you blend your cream cheese with your Kitchen Aid paddle, or mix well with a spoon to remove the lumps, but do this BEFORE you put the eggs in.

the eggs are where the bubbles will form and this will create the cracks.


For years people made cheesecakes between 9-12 inches. to get an even heat they would put them in a "Water Bath" which basically means that you put your pan into a pot of water and place it into your over.

I like to make small pieces. If you go on line, you can find pans that look like muffin tins. They make little individual cheese cake pieces which are about the size of shot glasses.


Often times people incorporate raspberry swirls or other such flavors through the "marbling technique", there is nothing wrong with this, but I think most people want a classic flavor.

However, adding alcohol into the recipe is FANTASTIC. At work, Gilson and I are huge fans of adding Calvados. This is a French Apple brandy that tasted like angels feathers inside of your mouth.

You can use of forms of booze as well, but just make sure that they have a higher flashpoint.


Fresh fruit, compotes or other reductions work well. In fact they can become essential if you have cracking.

Place added flavors on top of your cheese cake as opposed to inside will insure the the integrity of the interior remains in tact.


This should take place about 1-1/2 hours before serving. Remember....cheesecake is best when you serve it at room temperature.


1. In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt 6 tablespoons of butter.
2. Place about 24 graham crackers in a plastic bag. Roll with a rolling pin until finely crushed. This may be done in small batches.
3. Measure 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs into a medium bowl.
4. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the graham crackers.
5. Add the melted butter.
6. Stir or blend together with your hands.
7. Press into the pie plate or other pan.
8. To prebake the pie crust, bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F. oven.


If wrapped securely, a cheesecake can last for up to a couple months in your freezer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday Night Weddings / Chopped Off Fingers

Last night Klecko was in a wedding party. that's right, he wore a suit, drove across the ocean to Minneapolis to watch the son of his first Bread Master get remarried.

This wan't the bride or grooms first rodeo, both were close to 50, both had mulitple children (a total of 7 I think.)

Nobody, and I mean nobody gets invited to weddings as much as a baker for obvious reasons (Baker ='s Cake.)

The knot was to be tied in the back yard of a yard that literally was large enough that it had a gazebo and a soccer pitch.

During crunch time, the Pastor strolls out to main stage and I had to laugh a bit, dude looked like a handsome Fred Flinstone.

I really liked the guy. he was personable and made sure everybody realized the importance of the moment.

But....but, but, when he started his dealio, the marrige ceramony he stated...

"The Author of Ecclesiasties tells us in the 4th chapter that 2 are better than 1. When people traveled back in those days, they needed to have a companion. There were no Ramada's so it was good to have a warm body to lie next to. It was good to have somebody who could help encourage you, and fend off attackers as well."

Then the pastor talked about how rope was made and 3 strand was the perfect number for a rope that wouldn't snap.

OK, first off...why do clergy people think they are so cool that they have to say "The author of Ecclesiasties? Sure, its a 13 letter word, but just say Solomon. Most theologians agree on his authorship.

And the whole 2 is better than 1 deal, sure I get it, but dude, the grooms sister was in the wedding party and nobody has ever asked her to get married. it really bummed her out.She stared down in the grass for the remainder of the vows portion.

Then I thought of all my peeps from Klecko's Girlfriend nation, how many of them were cast aside by some letch that wanted to be "2", but with a new chick, a younger chick?

I would have dropped the whole 2 is better than 1 deal on the couple during counciling, not the ceramony. It just seemed so insensitive.

The groom was smart, he spent most of the evening making him self available to the brides family. I would have done the same thing. His political position in their clan was now starting.

I was OK, because I had my original Bread Master, and my wife to talk with, uh...wait, that's right....Sue McGleno got lost and couldn't find the venue LOL.

She came directly from work and apparently her sence of direction and Google maps couldn't find syncronisity.

Whenever I try to get her to use a Tom-Tom or any GPS system of her choice, she recoils in hatred.

Remember the time she was supposed to be home from Omaha in a couple minutes, but missed her turn off and called crying from Illinois?

Anyway, I regress.

He took her, and she took him, and they kissed for a long time. I've always been a short kiss guy myself, save the real stuff for the honeymoon right?

Master Zolick and I sat at a table with the Grooms 2 sons, they must be 14 and 12ish, and at this point my mentor noticed that I wasn't wearing my wedding ring and asked why.

I explained how on several occasions my ring had got caught on production equipment and I almost lost my finger. The boys thought this was cool so all of a sudden Master Zolick and I started swapping stories about people getting mauled in the work place.

Traditionally one person a year will get killed in a barrel mixer. these are the huge industrial mixers that have 3 agitator bars inside. Most barrel mixers have a capacity of 600 to 1500 pounds of dough.

Thay whole deal is kinda urban legend, you'll go into work on May 12th, and somebody will say....

"It happened at 4 a.m. our time."

And of course you have no idea of what they are talking about so you ask....what they are talking about....

"Dude in Dublin got eaten by a Peerless 1000# capacity mixer last night."

Of course there is supposed to be remorse for such a thing, but it is as inevitable as Christ's crucifixtion, it just has to go down, and if so....better some turd on the Emerald Island than you, huh?

Next I told the kids about Milo's Rackov. he was a gypsy baker that I went to school with. he had long hair, wore bracelets, smoked Lucky Strikes, and quoted Iggy Pop every chance he could.

Milos was about 10 years older than the rest of the students at Dunwoody.

One morning he was taking the dough hook off the 100 quart Hobart mixer. The mixer was turned off, but some idiot left the clutch it in 4th gear.

Then big ol' Johnny Lamonna leaned up against the start button and "SNAP" both sides of his arm shattered.

My gypsy comrade was hurled through the air, for i'll bet 35-40 feet.

But that snap sounded like a Sequoia Redwood being pulled out of the earth by its roots.

Sure, I could have discussed Jim Plourd's hands getting caught in the receaving end of the bread molder and them getting crushed so bad that somebody else had to wipe his butt during the months that followed.

Then their was the Wisconsin Farmboy who had an Identical twin. They were 17-18ish and loved to go into the city and buy the services of African American.....escorts?

Yeah, brother #1 got his 3 middle fingers ripped off when the door of a 2 ton dough trough slammed shut.

Juan Cruz had his middle finger torn off when down at the second knuckle of the middle finger. it didn't pull away clean either. It happened while he was changing pressure plates on the Blumhoff steak bun machine, he picked up the severed digit off the floor and put it in a bag and was about to drive himself to the hospital, but we opted to let the 911 chauffeurs take him instead.

Teenage boys love stories like these, but all my best maimings couldn't compare to what the master had witnessed.......

"I was at a grocery store in North Dokata on a sales call one winter. This was years ago. I was standing in the back, and trying to stay out of the way because the King Midas flour truck had pulled up.

The delivery guy had to open a trap door, and hump that order down in to the basement 2 bags at a time.

Now that trap door happened to be right next to the donut fryer, to close obviously as you'll hear, but the fryer was so focused on his donuts, he forgot the trap door was open.

The kid took one bad step, and started to fall into the hole. his instints were to grab the fryer to catch his balance.

It didn't work, the kid fell down to the cement floor, and if that wasn't bad enough, he tilted the fryer and can you imagine Dan? All that scalding grease came down on top of him.

He was only 15 years old."

Now Master Zolicks 2 grandsons looked at each other, then at their Granfather and asked.....

"Did the boy live?"

Master Zolick slowly shook his head on a swivel....

"No you guys, nobody lives through something like that!"

Then the boys smiled and said....



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Massacre of the Innocence and Kim Ode's Brownie Recipe

OK, heres the deal. I am going to tell you a story that has nothing to do with food, baking or any industry stuff, but it is a story that has turned my life upside down and it must be purged from my finger tips or my mind will simply crash.

If you indulge me just this once, I will not only return to my usual platform topic next posting, but I am also going to treat you to Kim Ode's brownie recipe.

You might say....

"But Klecko, I already have dozens of brownie recipes."

Oh many EMMY's for Baking have you won?

Ode practically brings hers everywhere LOL, in fact there are strong rumors that it was spotted in the passenger seat of her Lexus as she was making haste in the Taco Bell drive-thru line.


Ten years ago me and Tydus were at a Petco store doing something, I don't remember what, but we were walking by the cages that imprisioned the cats. Tydus was 10ish at the time, and he instructed me to join him over by that feline compound.

My son has never exhibited reactionary, or compulsive behavior, so on this occasion I was kinda startled when he said that we needed to bring one of these cats home.

So I ask if he meant one in particular, or one in general.

Here was his response....

"Look at the fat one over there. They named him Matt. Who would ever do something like that. It's cruel, Let's adopt him right now so we can change his name."

Within minutes the 2 of us were outside crossing an ocean sized parking lot. I asked my kid what we should name the newest addition to our family, and he assured me that problem was solved....

"We're going to name him Jeter, thats a real name for a cat."

I should have known right there, at that very moment that nothing good could ever happen by naming your cat after a New York Yankee.

Now we are going to fast forward a decade to the winter of 2011.

It's the Year of the Rabbit. Since I was born in 1963, this is my year. The plate mat at Golden Chow Mein assured me that the rabbit is the luckiest of all signs.

After counting on my fingers and toes, it occurs to me that I won't get another special year until I am close to 60, and lets face it, by that time Klecko won't even care anymore, right?

If you've followed this blog at all, you've heard numorous references to record snowfalls in Minnesota this past winter. Even for those of us that have spent lifetimes in this climate, Lasting out this years snowfall took some extra effort.

The one thing that I did this year was to spend time out in my yard watching the birds. I'd feed them and adjust the water levels on their heated bird bath.

Sometimes I'd spend hours just whistling and doing whatever I could to draw the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Woodpeckers my way.

During this courtship, I started to become aware that there was a warren of rabbits living under a Japanese shrub in my back yard.

As the winter wore on, I spent less time with the birds and more time hanging out with "Brother Rabbit".

As mentioned previously, Saint Francis would greet all animals with a salutation which included him refering to them as "brother" or "sister".

Over the years I adopted this philosiphy if for no other reason than it really pissed off my son.

Klecko would lift up his arm, extending the pointer and middle finger like the Pope does when blessing people, and call out to the small creatures in his neighborhood.

Tydus hated me for this, so as a had to continue, so eventually it became routine.

After what seemed like a thousand years the snow finally melted away and Sue McGleno and I were about to plant some annuals in the cottage garden when Lo and Behold, Sue McGleno shouted out....

"OMG-OMG-OMG, look at this over here, there are 9 tiny baby bunnies burrowed into our garden."

We have 6 gardens, and technically I am in charge of the cottage plot. So I suspended planting and told Sue McGleno that we would have to wait until the rabbits grew up and left.

Neither one of us really knew how long that would take so from that point on, I was dedicated to launching these furry souls into the world.

During the spring we had some monster rain storms, when this happened, I'd run out to the cottage plot and construct crude tarping systems to make sure that no flooding would drown the rabbits on my watch.

In the early evenings, Brother Rabbit would come out on patrol and do what ever it is that adult rabbits do for their little ones.

I'd talk to him, and he would hop over and hang out within feet of me, and the 2 of us would stand there in silence.

One day Sue McGleno saw that Jeter had walked by me and our new tenants and exhibited a curious eye. Jeter has a history of attacking and torturing small defenceless creatures.

Sue McGleno asked if this concerned me at all....but like usual, my vanity got in the way and I said something like......

"Jeter has no jurisdiction here kid, its the year of the rabbit and Klecko commands that-that cat and all other preditors stay away!"

Sue McGleno smiled asking if it was really that simple, and I replied (and Klecko now reveals this to you under a cloak of shame).....

"You've gotta learn to command your surroundings kid. Yes it is that simple. I have willed it!"

In my defence, I wasn't being cocky, I was just being optimistic and trying to drag my desires across the finish line.

The bunny growth process continued for a couple more weeks, and then came that fateful night. It was Thursday, and I had just come home from suffering the worst Little League defeat in 15 years of coaching.

We lost 27 to 1.

There was steak, green peas and cottage cheese on the table. Typically these are the componants of a Klecko celebration.

So after wolfing down my food, Tydus darted out of the kitchen and Sue McGleno had "that look" on her face, and I didn't know what was coming, but I knew I didn't want whatever it was.

"Jeter killed all your bunnies, I'm really sorry."

Then Sue McGleno looked as if she was about to cry, and by know thats not her style, but I can tell you for a fact, her tears were not shed for the slain.

They were for me, because she knew how effected I was, and was going to be.

The one thing I have learned from her that I never knew was how impressionable I can be.

I really didn't have anything to say.

Sue McGleno left the room and I started a dialogue that nobody else would hear.....

"Curses unto you Jeter, I should of named you Herod! Thanks for inflicting your stupid little massacre on my 9 rabbits."

Then I went outside and sat on the back steps to commiserate with Brother Rabbit, but he never showed. He hasn't since.

When that got boring, I sat on the couch until I passed out. At 4:30 I woke up to let the dogs outside to pee. When they came in, Jeter joined them.

As I turned the TV to ESPN and slumped back into my couch for 45 more minutes before the alarm would go off.

That stupic Jeter came up and used cat launguge to brag about his conquest from the day before. he was practically beating his fat cat chest.

Then who knows, maybe I have lost my mind, but it appeared to me that Jeter looked befuddled, as if he couldn't understand why I wasn't high fiving his cat paw.

Then it appeared to me that his sadness had matched mine.

So I rolled over grabbed the stupid jerk and spooned with him (as much as a human and cat can spoon) and told him that he was a good cat and he began to purr, and both of us fell asleep.

Here it is, as promised....KIM ODE'S BROWNIES

1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 sqaures (1 oz each) unsweetened choclate
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt Butter, shortening, and chocolate in a pan over low heat, then remove from heat and cool slightly.

In another bowl, beat 4 eggs. Beating briskly, ideally with a whisk, and add the eggs one 1/4 cup at a timeuntil they are combined.

Use a spoon to stir in the sugar and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients, mixing until they are well combined, and then add the nuts last.

Scrape batter into ungreased 9x13 inch pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, but don't overbake. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Men VS Women and Sue McGleno's Ice Cream Cone

I don't know, maybe it was a little over a year ago.

I took Sue McGleno to Omaha to visit my daughter, granddaughter and the clan that my kid married into.

As a father you are always happy to see your children, but when you have to cross vast rural landscapes to get there, and end up on unfamiliar turf....

That goes against a "real guys" internal compass.

Men and women are different, maybe you haven't noticed,often times our travel techniques, food purchasing and spending patterns can be launched from different universes.

Now we're standing in the progressive part of Omaha. This is where all the "Culinary Forward" concepts are happening.

It's summer, it's hot, bugs are screeching all high pitched like they do in biblical plagues while Klecko peels his sweaty T-shirt from his torso.

Then maybe the only thing that could eclipse that noise echo's out throughout the town sqaure.........

that's right, its Sue McGleno, and God has given her a mission...

"I spy Ice Cream!!!!!!"

So our pack crosses the cobblestone and makes their way into the ice cream parlor. The joint is air conditioned and I am tempted to hand the staff the entire contents of my wallet if they will kick out my family, but let me stay lol.

All across the walls are posters and banners declaring that this place has the #1 ice creams in Omaha as voted by whatever the local cities food rag is.

The women from our group start throwing elbows like an NBA center trying to pull down a rebound. Its as if somebody told them that only one person could stare into the 50 foot long ice cream case at a time, but nobody did.

Sue McGleno asks me once, twice, thrice as to what flavor I am going to get, whether or not I'll opt for a waffle cone, and what size will it be?

Now the bickering starts between my wife and daughter as to what flavor(s) they should get, and the whole process of them asking for freebie tastes on those tiny weeny plastic sample spoons starts.

After what seem to be a lifetime, Sue McGleno reaches across the counter to reel in her cone like a 6 year old grabs a Christmas present wrapped in Snoopy wrapping paper.

Sue McGleno has just purchased a Cherry-Mango-Nutted Ectasy Cone with some kind of Passion Fruit compote on top.

And me?

I ordered the same cone that I have ordered since kindergarten. A Vanilla 2 scoop in the sugar cone.

Thats why I find it hard to believe that Sue McGleno continues to ask me time after time, after time, after............

When men find a food they like, either they are extremely loyal, or the worlds biggest wusses, because a "Guy" will stick with that flavor or concept till he goes to the grave.

Why wouldn't he? He knows its served him well in the past.

I have pointed out on more than one occasion to Sue McGleno that when she trys new culinary concepts, it appears that she is dissapointed (which leads to her becoming an angry woman lol) about 75% of the time.

That's when she chimes in that I should shut up because if she was practical, she sure wouldn't have married me.

Good point I guess, but I don't don't critisize my little muffin to antagonize her. I do it for the same reason that I would yell at my kids when they danced around running chain saws, or played "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" on a cliffs edge.

Yes, Sue McGleno is that dissipointed when a culinary love dissapoints.

I ended up paying about $700 for my crews Ice cream cones, and the lot of us stumbled back onto the street.

Our family looked like dogs lapping water in Egypt, the temperture was so hot that our cones began melting like wicked witches.

Spending my lifes savings was almost worth it. for the first time that day everybody was silent. You could almost feel some kind of bliss penetrating the heat blast.

But then I looked up at Sue McGleno, her eyes were all Basset Houndish. Her tongue was moving slow. It was'nt keeping up with the pace of the melting.

When you've worshipped somebody long enough in this world, you can read their thoughts, and if something is bothering them, you don't even need to ask questions.

So being a "Guy", I walked over and extended my arm.

Sue McGleno didn't even offer up an obligatory "Are you sure?"

No, she just snatched that Vanilla cone from my hand and replaced it with her jilted choice knowing very well that I was simply going to disguard it.

Girls are weird, but I really do like them.

Out of curiosity, does this story line up with any of your families or friends experiences, or is my family just that bizarre?


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line with an Indian Monkey

You know.....when I was chained to that oven for 20 years, I used to spend your sleeping hours fantasizing about becoming emancipated and landing a standard 9-5 like a lot of you.

What's that careful what you wish for?

For the last few years I have sat behind a desk and taken on administrative responsibilities at the bakery, and yes.....most of the times I do like it.

When you run an's "Man VS Self". Each night your task lies before you, and either you accomplish it or you don't. Sure, July can be a drag, every time you open those oven doors.....a freaking dragon breathes on you with a heat blast that most people thankfully can't imagine.

But, if you can endure a little physical pain, better that than the incessant drip-drip-dripping that will barrage a desk jockey each day via the whining,lies and rumors that they will be subjected to them by a percentage of people that will cross their path.

Now Klecko's not alluding that most people or problematic, but how many pebbles do you need in your shoe to cause you discomfort on a days journey.

The first thing that my original Bread Master / Dick Kiwus taught me was that no matter how many problems you extinguished throughout the day, there were more just around the corner.

I've talked with several people who have worn both the blue and the white collar, and most of them agree that their life was more balanced when they were breaking stones instead of negotiating and cutting deals.

Sometimes when I talk with the Polish Christ I admit that I find hard to believe that my career or my life actually has a finish line......

But the cool thing about having a Christ that's a Pollack is sometimes he'll insert a memory into your simple mind, a memory like.......

When I was in 1st grade, Miss McDermitt set up a daily reading time where we would all sit in a semi circle on hard chairs that hurt your a**, and she would read to us from that book called Charlotte's Web.

Reading was a new concept to me. In the house where I grew up, my mother didn't read to us. Instead she would come into the room that I shared with my sister and put a Bob Dylan record onto our "Close and Play" phonograph, and we would rock back and forth singing until we fell asleep.

But this reading thing was cool. Books seemed to have targets of thought that were more concrete. When you are 5 and placed into a world that is subjective, finding answers can be a little more difficult.

After close to 50 years, I still don't know who the Tambourine Man is?

In this book Charlotte's web, everything was pretty much spelled out. The plot was basically revolving around the relationships between a young girl, pig and spider.

Wilbur was awesome.

But when you are 5, one disadvantage is that you have no sense of timing. I remember getting ready for my daily hit of literature and Miss McDermitt got this awkward look on her face.....

"I'm sorry Danny, today is the last day of school. I wish we had time to finish the story, but maybe you can read it at home this summer."

Yeah, and maybe I can go to summer camp with Jane Goodall.

W/O dragging this thing out, my second grade teacher, and my third grade teacher both pulled the exact same stunt, I swear to Caesar.

It's funny that I remember so little about my formative education, that is other than the fact that the first 1/2 of my elementary schooling was given to me by women who had no time management skills.

But in 4th grade I got Mrs Braun as a teacher. A lot of the kids didn't like her because she was kinda uptight (Probably a Lutheran.) I remember when we had a tornado drill at school and my class room was assigned to go into the girls bathroom, a kid named Ken Bailing (He failed the scoliosis exam each year) pointed to the Kotex machine on the wall and asked what it was.

Mrs Braun answered straight faced and said it was a "Girls Pinball Machine" but boys weren't allowed to play. some of the girls giggled, but us boys just furrowed our brows and realized this was a topic for another time.

Unlike my 1st-2nd and 3rd grade teachers, Mrs Braun started reading Charlotte's Web at the beginning of the year. Within 5 or 6 weeks we were done. Not only did I finally get some closure on a ending that had eluded me for far too long, but my class was also fortunate enough to read Song of the South and Old Yeller as well.

The moral is that sometimes a necessary task can sit at hand, but its finish is never-ever-ever determined by fate. It's conclusion rests in the organizational mind and the willful hands of the person who employees it cause.

Everything you do in your life rests under that umbrella, and if you believe like I do, that the human species is somewhat flawed, that the flesh body is kinda corrupt and by nature you will be pulled to pleasure than conflict or toil.....

How can one stay committed to their spiritual-family or career bound course?

Being on Team Jesus, most of my Born Again or Catholic friends tell me to set my eyes on Jesus, but I have to be honest....I don't.

I love Jesus, but Jesus is God (in my eyes), and I'm not going to attempt that because it impossible, I need a more practical influence.....

OK, this is where I might get in trouble, but oh well....the Christ from Warsaw totally gets it, I know he does....he told me LOL.

After all, I am imperfect, I don't want to be God, I just want to bake for God.

Around 25 years ago, my mother sold the house I grew up in, and everything else and moved to India. she was off on a spiritual Haj.

She didn't just sell her house, she sold all of her possessions and went off to pursue truth.

All of her friends and the rest of my family encouraged her, but I was kinda pissed because I didn't want my mother to end up the the Prodigals son, but she went to India and traveled extensively.

She ended up living in a small village and worked with the textile people by bringing their products back to America, selling them and giving the money to the villagers.

Knowing that her son has always been obsessed with monkeys and all things primate, my mom would take photo's of multi monkey species that would hang out at Hindu temples or in the busy cities as well.

But the coolest gift she gave me was actually a comic book about a monkey named Hanuman.

If you are not familiar with the Hindu faith (and I am not saying I am)there are tons of different Gods.

Hanuman isn't basically one of the few Hindu focal points that isn't a deity, I guess in my eyes he symbolizes all of us. People who are trying to find ways to serve their God.

The coolest story in the comic book was when some completely bad a** sea creature appeared in the ocean. This monster was messing things up for the people on the planet, and the God's were tired of hearing all the people whining.

So just like corporate America, a board meeting was called. All the
Gods argued as to how the threat would be contained, who was going to do it, so on and so forth.

The God's sat in their boardroom longer than the NFL owners during strike talks.

The problem continues, and there was no resolution in sight.

Then this simple monkey named Hanuman felt a sadness in his heart. He could not figure out why the Gods couldn't reach an agreement, but instead of complaining, or standing outside some liberal college in Calcutta holding a "Slay the Beast" sign over his head, the monkey grabbed a knife and walked straight into the water.

He swam for a real long time and then when he saw this monolithic creature, he just paddled his little monkey paws that much quicker, sidled up next to the demon and slit it's throat.

Meanwhile on cloud #9 the God's were having cocktails and catered food, I'm guessing they forgot the reason why they had been summoned and where probably discussing time shares in Bombay.

"BOOM" the door is kicked open and this wonderful little monkey rolls the serpents head across the floor.

From that moment on.....negotiations were suspended.

Now before I proceed, let me express to my Indian friends that I know I have painted a few new colors into this story, but it is meant not out of mere respect, but reverence as well.

Who would have thunk? an Indian comic book starring a monkey could make me live my life in a completely different accord?

The thing that is so charming about Hanuman is that he is a monkey, and I think we can all pretty much agree that in any culture, a monkey denotes "Smart A**."

But this little rascal understood something so primary that even the Gods forgot about it....Actions solve problems, not negotiations.

In my own life, in my own attempt to make the Polish Jesus like me better, I'll be honest, I mostly focus on actions.

Now the Born Again's and Catholics can get a little chippy with me on this.

" are being blasphemes, we are saved by grace! Actions can't get you to heaven!"

But to be honest, even though preachers tell me that salvation can be easy, it can be guaranteed, just pray this prayer and you will be saved.

I don't even want to hear those words out of a single humans mouth.

It's not their gift to give, so I want to be focused on the one thing I can control, how I live my life. Will I be a taker or a giver.

On the wall in my living room, right next to my humongous plasma television is an icon.

I look at it every morning and every night.

It is a picture of this noble monkey Hanuman hugging some blue-floaty kind of God. And Hanuman's eyes are closed, he's resting, you can tell he's at peace.

And the blue-floaty God has a look of pride that is unprecedented.

I don't know when the Klecko story will be over, but I sure hope I can stay the course, I sure hope that while the world destroys it's self that I can remain loyal to my family and all of you.

It is my dream that one day my and the Polish Christ can share an embrace in the truest Hanuman fashion.

Mad Love to all my peeps in India.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Win a Bake Off

Tomorrow morning Klecko will be hosting yet another Saint Paul Bread Club bake off. I've been sponsering these events for close to a decade and never tire of them, but before I get to the competition, I should probably give you some background on the club.

It started around a decade ago. The professional guild of bread bakers was getting weak, and I wanted to continue learning. what better way to do this than by surrounding yourself with experts.

My idea was to start a club that was open to the entire Twin Cities. I started off by contacting most of the bakeries in the metro and invited them to join me in building this bridge between professional bake shops and the home enthusiest, but the sad truth is not a single bakery in town showed any interest.

The reoccuring question that I was asked was.....

"How are we going to make money off of this?"

Klecko sighs.

All to often buisness people only look at the short dollar. If they don't see a pile of cash within arms reach, their minds vision isn't willing to get its plop a** off the couch.

Since starting the club, or rather because I started the club, I have been featured in publications locally and nationally.

The club and my bakery have been blessed to have been given many front page (top folds) in the different newspaper food sections, and with that kind of traction...Klecko was able to slip into his monkey suit and parly that attention into interviews in business sections, receaved cook book deals and has been given the oppurtunity to write for publications that carry some swag within his community.

In many ways the bread club has been a major componant in my career.

But you know what? I'll tell you this, and I'll say it in front of the Polish Christ.

Damn the accolades, the greatest thing that has transpired from starting the club is the people that I have met.

I have become friends with, and have learned from so many wonderful people, I can't tell you how humbling the experience has become.

In just a second I will tell you about some of these people, and what you can do to improve your chances as in a baking competition, but first let me tell you a few basic essentials that must take place when setting up a club of any sort.

The first thing that is crucial for a club that is going to obtain longevity is that is must be run by a dictator LOL.

I know that sounds brash, but I couldn't be more serious.

If you have ever joined a club, or sat on a board in any organization you had to have seen how the life/soul and intent of the original mission statement gets sucked out by weirdo's that try to compensate whatever is lacking in their lives through manipulating the club to meet their needs instead of the memberships.

When this happens, it always leads to fights, which will lead to hard feelings and a possible implosion in membership.

That's why you need to run it like a dictatator. If you implement rule #2 which is that there are no rules, or money allowed at the've just stripped every incentive for anybody but the purist to join you in championing your cause.

You know how when you're watching the Olympics and some guy from Egypt wins a silver medal in the high jump, and you don't really care all that much, but then they show a prerecorded piece that let's you into that athletes life?

You've seen it a million times. dude had a brother with no legs so he carried him on his back to the missionary school in the village each day, or the woman pole vaulter who was an orphan and trained by a group of Buddhist monks, when your get hipped to these back stories....its hard not to fall in love with these people.

Let me tell you about some of my champions.


I don't remember the womans name, but she came sporadically to club meetings during the first couple of years. she was middle aged, nice looking, but always seemed to be run down.

I remember thinking in a non perverted way how pretty this woman could have been if she did something more with her hair, accessorized her wardrobe a bit...blah-blah-blah, but whatever I didn't put a lot of thought into it.

I tried to be nice to her because she was a type B person that would never approach me or a person in charge of a situation, because I am guessing that she might of thought that she had nothing to contribute.

Well during the second bake off, she showed up to the bakery, and I receaved more clarity into her situation. she was mother to a daughter who was severly handicapped and bound to an electronic wheelchair.

The daughter couldn't speak, she made loud yelping noises and shrieked, but they were able to communicate.

During that bake off the woman won a second place ribbon for one of her entries and when she walked up to get it, the daughter made loud-high pitched noises and began shaking almost violently, she was that excited.

Mom looked like she was gonna cry because she was so happy, she got all Church Mouse and hung her head and returned to her seat with a smile on her face.

Later in the day, she got called back up to the stage, but this time for a first place entry. This time she simply could not contain her emotions and she sobbed openly.

I could tell that she wasn't even going to fight it. She was passed being embaressed. So I ran up and put my arms around her, held her tight and helped her glide back into the moment.

When the event was over. The mom was sitting next to her kid and I asked how she was able to create 2 winning entries.

She just grinned and turned to her daughter and replied.....

"She helped me!"

And the 2 girls giggled while I felt like crying.

Jody -

Jody Stee is a wonderful woman, I don't know much about her personal life, but she is one of those people who never wants to be the expert, but always wants to experiment and make samples, or what we call guinea pig loaves in the biz.

One day she calls me up and I hear thuds and bumping in the background and asked her what the "H" was going on and she responded.....

"Now you know my plight, I have to bake with a Hip-Hop son who refuses to leave the kitchen."

Jodi was working on a banana bread recipe for the bake off and I gave her some tips. Quick breads are w/o a doubt have the most entries in the bread category.

And 99 out of 100 times the biggest problem people have is they underbake their loaf.

When I told this to Jodi, I could feel her recoiling in fear, she didn't want to keep her loaf in any longer than usual, it was almost viewed as torture.

Well, she brought her submission to our contest and won 2nd place. I wasn't the judge, but I felt qualified to assure her that had she listened to me....she would have won.

Two months later, at the Minnesota State Fair, the Fair that offers the largest baking competition in the nation, she did take my advice, and out of over 200 entries....Jodi Stee took 2nd place.

The newspaper was there taking photo's and out of all the people, and all the baked goods present. They chose to put my friend on the front page.

Her life changed that day. I'm not kidding you.

There are other simular stories too, like Pat Robert's. She's a self professed house wife who was pretty much bankrupt of confidence, but after crushing at our bake off in the rye division, she went to State and destroyed some of the top bakers in the world.

Seriously....Pat has won this statewide division the last three years running.

But, don't think that Bread Club is all about the girlios, we have guys too. In fact I'll bet our gender demographic is about 50/50.

Ron Miller, our club President, he makes a wicked mean Challah. A couple years ago he took first at State, but you know....that's not even my fondest memory of his baking.

Ron is a Jewish man around 20 years older than me, and several years back I asked him to come to my demo kitchen at the State Fair and do a prestation of Jewish foods.

Not only did he come, his family flew in from across the entire nation to watch this presentation. His peeps were traveling in from as far as Flordia.

The joy on President Millers face, I'm telling you, you just can't put a price tag on that.

These a just a few of the many-many people that I have been so lucky to meet, and as you can imagine, I could rattle off dozens of more stories about my baking friends.

Not all of them have blue ribbons on their mantels, but I'm telling you it just doesn't matter.

Having a friend to bake with, a friend that understands the dynamics of what's taking place from the mixing bowl to the oven.....that's nothing short of glorius.

I wonder was legends will be created tomorrow?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Recipe that ended the Cold War.....(is contained in this post)

OK, here we go, on my honor........

This is the last time I am going to tell this story.

For those of you that have badges that allow you into the Klecko Party Tent, I apologize.

I know you've heard this story more times than you can bare, but this recipe is actually important. It does merit repeating.

Wouldn't it be a shame if it got lost?

Klecko want's the entire world to not only have access to this recipe, but to utilize it in times when reconciliation needs to take place in your life, or better yet.... in your heart.

Just over 20 years ago Presidents Reagan and President Gorbachev held a peace summit in my city.

The world was getting tired of going to sleep each night knowing that both of these world powers were leaning on big red buttons that were capable of launching nuclear warheads at strategic points across the planet.

When I heard that the pow-wow was coming to the Twin Cities I was ecstatic.

Gorby, the man who was quarterbacking the destruction of my country, and my friends was met with open arms.

Everybody in Saint Paul met him with cheers.

We thought the birthmark was sexy as h***, and even sold T-shirts with his image on every street corner across the metro.

I'm not kidding, dude had instant rock star status, and to think Klecko grew up in a house that came equipped with a bomb shelter in case the "Reds" dropped a big one on us.

As a kid in school, each year we had to go into the auditorium and watch films on how we should react if, or when the Ruskies bombed us.

Well, the shin-dig was gonna go down at the Saint Paul Hotel, this was an account of the bakery I was working for at the time.

I didn't know this, but one of their chefs called one of our office staff and told them that the event needed a loaf of bread that the 2 Presidents could break as a symbol of peace.

I guess they were curious if we had any Russian bakers on staff, or anybody who made Russian breads.

Well praise Polish Christ and the Saints of Bialystok, what's even better than having a Russian for an occasion like this?

Why a Pollack of course, we have been indentured servants to the Russians and Germans for generations.

So there you have it, little Danny Klecko got the nod.

In all seriousness, this may have been the first time ever that Klecko became the logical choice.

At this point in my life, my career, nobody outside of 1254 West 7th street knew who I was, and yet I was going to embark on an project that would literally change my existence on this planet.

When I think back to the opportunity....I kinda get emotional because it reminded me of the Bible story Daniel.

Like me, he was just a guy, but his services would have him placed at the feet of a king.

No disrespect, because Daniel is aces in my book and one of the first people I am going to request to meet in heaven (if I am permitted to enter), but I had 2 kings to not only please.....but to unite.

The one part of this story I have never told anybody up until this point is about the process of how I made the bread and how the process kinda tortured my soul.

First off, when you bake for a dignitary, it is customary to either bake a recipe from their homeland, or one that is indigenous of your own.

There were going to be tastings set up where chefs would critique the samples.

C.I.A. Spooks would could and go throughout our bakery unannounced and spy on us.

I felt a pressure like I had never felt before, or since.

Klecko wanted to nail this in the worst way.

Every night (or in the wee hours of the morning) I would walk home from work and pray to God.

I'm not kidding you, I'd walk down the dark city streets listing ingredients and then I would beg God to control my mind and hands so I could get this right.

I'll bet I looked like one of those crazy Old Testament Prophets, except with cooler hair and an absence of sandals.

I ended up doing a piece that was the quintessential Minnesota loaf.

It is a Wild Rice Sourdough.

I knew President Reagan was a cowboy at heart, and therefore I sent away to a Native American Rez for the rice, and got different grains and sweetening agents from across my state.

Now I'm not saying that 2 men as important as these Presidents have the time to inquire as to every ingredient that is in their loaf, or why they were selected, but you know Klecko.......I really wanted my end of this historic occasion to not add confusion.

Karma comes from every angle, and numerous instruments, even loaves of bread.

In case you just got out of a coma......these 2 world leaders broke Klecko's masterpiece bread, shook hands, and within weeks that Berlin Wall was ripped down and the world has never been the same.

Before I hand off the recipe. I would be remiss if I didn't report that I have worked across Russia many times since that day, and I have talked to many people over there.

Throughout the Cold War most of the common people of Russia felt the same way I did. They lived in fear, not so much of America, as much as knowing that humankind is a flawed species and if we are not careful, and do know how to coexist....

*BOOM*..........we are all going to have trouble!

Thank You Polish Jesus for that moment in my life, and may this recipe bless any set of hands that prepare it in the name of peace.

Wild Rice Sourdough

2 1/2 tablespoon yeast
2 3/4 cups water
1 1/3 cup brick starter (listed in a previous post)
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoon vinegar
2 1/4 wheat flour
6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup bran
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup cooked wild rice

bake at 400-450 "F" for close to 30 minutes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tag Along with the Bread Pimp

Recently when I was getting some ink work done at the tattoo shop, 2 dudes walked in off the street and asked to speak to the shops owner.

Both guys looked clean cut and almost had a Mormon Missionary G.Q.vibe.

Dudes had Ralph Lauren "Polo" shirts,khaki shorts and foot wear that you'd associate with a guy who spent most of his summer on a boat.

The guys had come to sell tattoo ink.

When the shop manager finally arrived, he looked at, or better yet....inspected the tandem.

When he realized that neither one of them had a single tattoo, he politely told then to get the "F" out, turned his back and walked away.

Bottom line......nobody wants to hear opinions, or give money to somebody who hasn't earned their stripes.

Several years ago the bakery I work for told me that they were moving me into the sales department. Basically my job was to bring bread and pastry samples (called a "promo") to different venues and try to get them to come aboard.

On my first day out, I got into the truck wearing a bakers uniform equipped with a white floppy chefs hat and a pair of Nike - hightopped Tim Duncan's.

When ownership saw this, they recoiled in fear.

I was brought back into the facility and given an encouraging lecture that demanded that Klecko sported more of a "preppy" look while representing the company.

So I did.

My first stop was to hit the hotels out along the hotel strip, out by the Mall of America.

In sales, it never hurts to have input, or an in, but it can't be too forced or the person with purchasing power will even hate you more.

My first stop was at a major chain hotel where the lobby was filled with nature photographs taken by the Executive Chef.

There were ducks, pine trees, all kinds of images that when you studied them, made you wonder if you were walking through Abe Lincoln's neighborhood.

So after snaking my way into the kitchen uninvited...the chef spies me and before I could even drop an official salesman salutation, the mockery began.

"OMG Klecko, what happened to you? Are you going to a funeral or a disco tech? Man, I don't think I dig seeing you in street clothes, it's creeping my a** out!"

And thus my friends was my baptism into sales.

From that day on I went back to my uniform, I always try to wear shorts so my leg tat's show.

If you have a Johnny Cash and Muhammad Ali tribute pieces like me....this will give you instant kitchen credibility.

However, if I am going into a CO OP or a coffee house, it might be in my best interest to roll a sleeve over Ronald Reagan.

Sales actually has little to do about the product.

Now I'm not saying that any slick Willie can unload a wagon of turds on hapless fools.

People with purchasing power typically have savvy, what I'm trying to say is that usually those people want plug into them.

If I walk into a kitchen unannounced, there might be a dozen people working in that space. If I hand my wares to one of the "Minion", some chefs will get hacked off.

You need to cold read when peddling your glass beads and trinkets.

For an account to come aboard, one of the first things the chef needs to do is get a "New Account Application" and fill it out. This "ap" will basically ask for credit history, let us know what time of the day they need their delivery, and how we are going to enter their building.

99% of sales people hand that "ap" and their business card immediately after shaking the chefs hands....bad move brah.

I never bring one in the building on the first visit, if they want to use us,this gives me a reason to stop back and build the bond stronger.

Sales people often times work on commission and strive for the quick buck,I get that, but in the Food Show you want to build long lasting relationships.

If you land some chef at a small concept, when she/he moves onto a bigger venue, chances are you will ride their coat tails.

Often times it's good to know who the concept is currently using as their purveyor's. If the chef has a long standing relationship, there's just no way you'll crack their system, but that's OK.

A couple years ago I wanted to get into the Westin Hotel in downtown Mpls. Their high end restaurant is called "Bank".

I've heard that this whole concept was owned by Minnesota Twins owners, the Pohlad family, but I can't verify that.

Hotels are interesting because the chefs seldom stay long. Either they get burnt out, or the hotel gets sold to a new ownership group.

Their chefs rotate like Paris Hilton's mardi gras lovers.

Often times when a hotel launches, they'll bring in some high end muckity-muck chef with name recognition to create the menu and draw the notice of the food critic community, but after the honeymoon...."POW" right in the kisser, The Executive Chef is sent packing and a functioning nobody will take their place for a pittance of the wage.

So sometimes it is more than worth is to take that $22 promo into a spot like this because the Executive Chef's replacement is probably standing in that same space, and guess what?

When that chef finally gets their opportunity to shine, do you think they want to use the same bakery as the predecessor?

Not usually.

So Klecko walks into the Westin's kitchen with 4 bread totes of products.

The Executive Chef is sitting in his office. It is the size of a toll booth, but has glass for walls.

I like to "Walk Hard" or slam my feet to gain my audiences attention.

When you work in a back room, it is natural instinct to view everybody who enters your space.

Typically when that person leaves everybody in the kitchen will list why they need to be hated, or die LOL.

So now I push the chefs office door open with my foot, drop the racks down on his floor with a "THUD" and say....

"Chef, I know you are busy, but Klecko is even busier than you. Sample my wares and you will find them divine."

Then I turned around (my back is to him) and roll my eyes at the staff. There is no quicker way to gain friends than hating whoever your friends hate.

Dare I say it?

Love gets you to heaven, but hate can get you wholesale accounts (I would LOL here, but have been cautioned that you only get to do that once a piece, and I have already burnt that bullet)

Then I placed a stack of Klecko business cards on the cooks line as I left.

5 months later....the phone rang.

I was in.

Last but not least, service is the number one way to keep clients, so many of these people have been told promises, but so few of them have ever been followed up on.

That's why in many respects, the most important people in a wholesale bakery are the route drivers, and the office people.

They are your day to day ambassadors.

Well that's all Klecko has for you now, holla at you later.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Christmas in the Monkey House, and the Recipe I will Bake for the Pope

Earlier this week an event took place in my city that split our populaces opinion down the middle.

On the outer suburbs of the Twin Cities is a Zoo (The Minnesota)that houses some Mexican Gray Wolves, and somehow one of them got out of their dwelling and ran amidst the spectators.

This Zoo has been around for about 30 years, and it has never had an animal escape before.

Although a precedent had never been set, the outcome was predetermined.

The wolf was shot to death.

Many folks (myself included) felt that the violence wasn't needed. We have the benefit of having one of, if not the top wolf observation institute in our state.

It is located in Ely Minnesota.

The guy who runs the joint was just sick about the shooting, but he says that even though his disagrees with the verdict, he understands how they came to it.

Dude said that public perception and insurance rates were what pulled the trigger.

In the StarTribune newspaper, they ran stories on this all week, and on Thursday they issued a photo of the wolf skipping over a pedestrian bridge.

His ears weren't back. The sun was shining and he was just checking things out much in the same manner that a German Sheppard would.

I don't really begrudge them for their "safety first" precautions, but none the less, wolves are majestic creatures, and to exterminate one, especially when it was smiling, it breaks the hearts of angels.

In Saint Paul we have another place where you can visit animals, it's called the Como Zoo.

Unlike the "Minnesota", there are no monorails or dancing dolphin exhibits, the place was built over a century ago and all of us in the Capitol City love it.

Most of the animal cages used to be the size of Nike shoe boxes when I was growing up, but now things have gotten more animal friendly.

The coolest part of the Como Zoo is that they have a primate building.

Attached to it is a submerged pit where the Lowland Gorillas run around in the warm weather months.

This Zoo is free so everybody who grows up east of the Mississippi has spent countless hours watching not only the gorillas, but they also have orangutans, lemurs,DeBrazza's,spider monkeys, 2 toed sloths and these little creepy things called emperor tamarins.

The tamarins are creepy as h***. They are no bigger than an outstretched hand, but you just know that God created them to hide under your bed and wait for you to fall asleep.

When you do this, I'll bet they'd swing up onto your pillow and go straight for your eye balls. Google them once, you'll see what I mean.

Of all the monkeys that have lived in that building, none have been as famous as Casey. He was the silver back, the alpha of all the Western Low Land Gorillas.

About a dozen years ago, during the summer he climbed out of the pit some how and got up onto the public walkways.

Me and Tydus had just been there the day previous and narrowly missed the excitement. They announced the emergency over the loud speaker and cautioned people that they should make their way into a building.

Every cop in Saint Paul, and many from Minneapolis fled to the site and made a human blockade around the zoo's perimeter.

The Como folks weren't in a hurry to blow this magnificent creature away, instead experts scoured the grounds with tranquilizer weapons.

The whole who-haw lacked climax however, Casey simply got bored and jumped back into his pit without any coaxing, sounds like a middle aged guy looking for HBO to me.

That Monkey House contains some of the greatest moments of my life. I'm gonna shift gears a little.

3-2-1 and action. OK, when Sue McGleno and I married, both of us had been married prior.

Both of us had parents that were divorced as well.

Our family tree looked like a tilted Cyprus with all kinds of rotten roots.

This can be easy to ignore if you're focused at work, or keep a full schedule, but when the holidays come around......all h*** breaks loose.

I never had a problem being with my wife and 2 kids, that was enough for me, but Sue McGleno????? LOL

She pretty much became determined that she was going to capture a Dickens Christmas experience, after all, didn't out kid deserve it?

I played along for a couple years, but when I realized that my wife didn't recover from the dysfunction until early June, I announced that I was out.

I would spend December 24th and 25th with my immediate family at home or a movie theater.

You would have thought I said I wanted to decorate the tree with Hitler! Sue McGleno was more than upset by my proclamation, she seethed.

So the following December, about a week before the holidays hit, our family had a pow wow to determine who was going to do what, where and with whom during Christ's birthday party.

Sue McGleno and my daughter painted bulls-eyes on their party dresses and put themselves back into the extended family circulation, while my son and I decided to go to the Como Zoo for Christmas.

Now you have to realize, the girls are leaving for the day, they won't be back till midnight, and you know for a fact that me and the boy aren't getting a plate with goose or plum pudding sent home, starvation is the price one pays for cutting off family ties during the holidays.

But you know Klecko, he's a resourceful guy, before pulling into the zoo, I stopped at the Super America gas station and secured our Christmas dinner.........

2 chuck-wagon sandwiches that had to be microwaved, 2 individual sized bags of potato chips, and what would Christmas be w/o Diet Mountain Dew?

Yes, I grabbed 2 of those as well.

The cool thing about the Como Zoo is that they are open 365 days a year, but I gotta tell you, me and the kid were the only non employee humans on the campus.

Part of me enjoyed having a private animal collection to ourselves on this most festive of days, but deep down....I felt like a loser because I too wished I had a celebration to go to like the Walton's had each year on CBS.

Or remember how every year on Little House on the Prairie how Charles would deflect blizzards or climb out of 1000 foot mine shafts to be with Caroline and the girls by dinner time?

I was about to enter into a fricken Monkey House with a crumbled plastic bag full of gas station food with a little boy, that is until he informed me.....

"Dad, look at the sign. It says no food or drinks in the building."

So I turn to my kid and mustered up a smile that was bankrupt of confidence and assured him we'd be OK, but I could tell he was nervous.

There is a bench right in front of the 25 X 20 foot picture window that allows you to look into the Gorillas living room. Tydus and I sat down and I made him tell me the names of each primate we could see, but the lights were dim because nobody was there, and every monkey in that structure laid there listless.

You would have thought it was New Years morning.

So since nothings going on, I pulled out our gas station food and prepared Christmas dinner.

As we ate our food in relative silence, I began to think how blessed I was to at least have a little boy and a monkey to share the holiday with, that's a lot more than what some people get in life.

Now, you guessed it, we aren't even 1/2 way into our feast and the Monkey House attendant enters the building, sees us eating and crisply marches over to inform us that we are breaking the rules.

The guy who did this was older, and he wasn't acting as if he enjoyed getting in peoples faces as much as he had a secret fear of not being efficient,so Klecko slowly stood up, towering over the guys mini frame and explained.....

"Sir, I'm guessing when you are done that you get to go home and celebrate today with people and food, for and my son, this is it. Gas station food and monkeys, that's all we got sir, are you going to take that from us? There's nobody else around."

The guy tossed off a nervous look, slowly turned around and exited the building. He never came back.

My son felt like we just got away with robbing Fort Knox.

"Dad, what would you of done if the guy said no, and made us throw the food away?"

I wasn't sure, I never thought of failure, so after a few seconds I told him the truth.

"I think I would of had to give him a Christmas Day A** Kicking!"

I know you might not like that answer, but an 8 year old sure does, and I was willing to concede etiquette for little boy smiles.

Parts of this story make me sad, for myself, my family and the lack of resources we once had, but things have gotten better over the years.

None of us travel during Christmas anymore. My wife gave up her desire to create something that simply never existed and joins us at the movies.

Last year she asked me if life could offer any scenario that would conclude with me spending Christmas day somewhere else other than within the confines of her and the children.

I thought about it and answered seriously.

Yeah, I would leave if I were called to the Vatican, but not just as a guest, I'd blow that off.

I'd want to bake for the Pope.

Sue McGleno rolled her eyes and hated herself for asking, but sense she did, she decided to run the gambit.....

If that happens, what would you bake for him?

Now that's the real question in life isn't it? What do you bake for a Pope on Christmas morning?


Step #1 Roasting the Mango's

Mango's don't ripen fast, so either you have to get them 3 or 4 days before roasting, or you can get champagne mango's. They are yellow and smaller in size, and their flavor is paramount.

These are what I use. When roasting, I make the following batch for the Macaroons, but it also leaves remnants that I use for Ice cream topping.

5 champagne mango's (or 3 regular red ones)
6 tablespoons of brown sugar
2/3 cup of Drambuie
juice of 3 oranges
2 tablespoons of grated ginger

Slice the mango lengthwise -
Place mangoes in a glass baking dish, sprinkle on the brown sugar and Drambuie -
Bake @ 350 "F" until it just turns soft -
Glaze the baking dish with the orange juice and ginger -

Step #2 Baking

Roasted Mango Coconut Macaroon Recipe

4 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1 cup of roasted mango
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
28 ounces shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 "F", then in a bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until it turns frothy. Set for 2 minutes and then fold in the coconut and mango with a spatula.

Next line 1/2 sheet pans with non stick parchment paper or Silpat liners.

Use a scoop or a spoon and your finger to form your pieces. Think golf ball, this is the perfect size. This will give you 2 good bites. Any more than that and you feel as if you are forced to finish it.

Keep 2" between pieces.

Bake until they turn golden brown.....depending on your oven, this should be in the neighborhood of 18-25 minutes.

You will love these, and I'll bet the Pope is going to as well.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Finally, Klecko Comes Out of the Closet (this post contains a stellar recipe)

Ten, June....2011, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After years of inner turmoil, I am finally going to come clean. I have to, or my soul won't rest.

I have been carrying a secret for far too long and today is the day I put it behind me.

Danny Klecko loves home Economics....there, I've said it.

Now to some of you kids in this fast paced world, my confession may seem muted, but you have to remember that not everybody alive today grew up in a "PC" world.

When I was a were men, and women were barefoot and pregnant.

The 60's drove away alot of these stero types, and in many ways this put culinary interest on it's ear.

Take my mother, her and her girlfriends smoked weed, burnt their bra's, spoke openly about what love making techniques they would apply to Tom Jones if they ever got the chance.

This behavior was deemed scandalous, but it was an important stand that needed to be made if women were going to gain equality and independence.

With this transformation in American family life, the first part of our life styles that took a hit was cooking.

Women no longer wanted to be viewed as an Aunt Bea or a Stepford Wife, so adios pot roast, and hello Swanson turkey pot pies!

I think when I was 3 my mom had me making my first Hungry man frozen dinner.

On the flip side however, we seldom hear how men have had to make sacrifices in the self actualization of todays society.

When I say Danny Klecko loves home economics, many of todays young men who watch the Food Network don't have a clue as to what price I had to pay to obtain my baking skill set.

Like Christ carried his cross up Golgotha, little Danny Klecko walked alone into uncharted territory.

This vast wasteland that I was about to enter was like the wild west. There were no rules. You had to literally be a warrior to survive.

I'll never forget the day I got the news. I had just graduated the 6th grade and was about to enter into middle school.

My neighbor Dougy Jermasek who was 3 years older tracked me down and blurted out.....

"Ha Ha loser, the school board just passed a new law and every kid from your grade on has to split time between Home Ec and Industrail Arts!"

He was correct, this happened, but people weren't clear as to whether or not this idea would get traction.

My class were the guinea pigs of District #281.

Before you new it, the news splashed all around the western suburbs.

People were outraged.

I remember greasing my bike chain in the garage of one of my friends and his dad came out and openly mocked this decision....

"Well, I suppose if you Mary's are ever going to learn how to drop an engine, I'm going to have to teach you, now that my tax dollars are gonna have you learning how to bake cakes!"

There were all kinds on associations between the tasks we were about to embark on, and being homosexual.

I didn't know what it meant to be homo, or hetero for than matter. I was 11 or 12 and naive.

But then it happened, my first day of classes commenced at Carl Sandburg Jr High.

I think on my first day, StarTribune TASTE Editor Lee Svitak Dean was finishing her last year.

As time has passed, I have kinda taken a pride that C.S.J.R. launched 2 of our community cornerstones, and even though only the 2 of us know it....It makes me proud to have gained my culinary passions in the same hallways as Ms. Dean.

So after all of us newbies finished navigating how to work a locker, and us boys had to hear the horror stories of how the gym teacher made you swim nude so he could watch you from and underground window in the diving section,I made my way throughout my day.

I had math first, english second, social studies third, but throughout all these classes, all that anybody wanted to talk about was how bad Home Ec was going to suck.

Well, I think it might have been 6th period, I know it was the last class of the day. I entered into Mrs. Williams cooking class.

Mrs. Williams was gentle and kind. Now that I look back, I am certain she had taken into account what each of us were going through.

On our very first day we had to sit in a semi circle and dialouge our feelings.

I don't remember exactly what I said, but I am sure I echoed the sentiments of the middle age men of my neighborhood......

Cooking was for girls, and shop was for boys.

Within minutes Mrs. Williams split us up into small groups and put me with 3 of the cutest young ladies you could imagine, and then she proceeded to give us Betty Crocker's recipe for Apple Crisp.

Throughout our project, me and the girls became friendly and I think they enjoyed having a boy with them.

This was the first time in my life I hade ever cooked or baked, and even though I wasn't the project leader, I took a great sense of pride in how our project turned out.

When everybody had their crisp in their bowl, Mrs williams got a huge grin on her face and asked "Who likes whip cream?"

I jumped up and exclaimed how I broke my arm when I was 4 crawling into a trash dumpster to eat disgarded Cool Whip, and this made my teached laugh.....

"Danny, tilt your head back."

And when I did she shot aerosol whip cream into my mouth, well part of it anyway, a bunch of it got into my nostrils so you can imagine, this won over a room filled with 7th grade kids.

By the time the bell rung, I had been converted. I knew I would rather be surrounded with woman and pastry than hanging out, sweating in my friends garages with their homophobe fathers.

They closed Carl Sandburg down a couple years ago, and Lee and I discussed our sadness over the phone.

I don't have many regrets in life, but I sure wish I could have told Mrs. Williams about the impact she has had on my life, and the lives of my family and community.

So thats it, I am out of the closet. I love Home Economics!

Enjoy the recipe.....................

Betty Crocker's Apple Crisp

4 medium tart cooking apples
(Greening,Rome, Granny Smith)
3/4 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup AP Flour
1/2 cup quick cooking old fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

#1 - Heat oven to 375 F, Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch sqaure pan with butter or spray

#2 Spread Apples in pan, In medium bowl, stri remaining ingredients until well mixed, then sprinkle over apples

#3 Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm......with tons of Whip Cream!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Bad Day - the Look & Why Canada is the Best

I know it seems weird.

Especially for somebody like me who talks so much, but I can tell you that the pinnacle moments in my life have happened without conversation.

The best moments take place when two people become so squished in agreement that all they have to do is exchange a look that conveys understanding.

A few examples are......

When the doctor informed me on Thanksgiving Day that my wife might die -

Holding onto my daughter and marching her down the aisle when she got married -

Watching my son lead the Highland Scots off the football field after winning the Twin Cities Championship -

These were just a few moments in my life where words would not suffice.

Many years ago I had a supervisor who was instrumental in teaching me advanced sourdough techniques.

In many respects he introduced me to my "Bride Dough."

I've had a career beyond wonderful, and most of that certainly wouldn't have come to pass had he not taken time to teach me his art.

For years we worked together. Like a puppy dog I followed him to different bakeries serving as his assistant.

Now that I think of it, one thing that might surprise some of you is that Klecko has never felt comfort sitting on top of the pyramid.

Over the years I have turned down more promotions than I have accepted.

Some people strive to become the King of Turd Island, but I can assure you that I have always preferred sweating to negotiating.

But anyways, me and this mentor got into an argument around 5 or 6 years ago.

It turned out bad.

Things were said (from my side at least) that were not meant, but I was angry and stressed out and lost control.

Sometimes one bad day has enough impact to cause irreparable damage, and in this came it almost did.

My mentor got smart, got out of baking and became a government worker where he gets a pension and benefits.

During the last year he has been taking the bus to work, and often times our paths would collide.

When I spied him....I would slam on the brakes of the bread mobile, pick him up and drop him at his place of business.

At first it was a little Awkward, but if 2 tribes can agree to disconnect from drama, and act civil....reconciliation can be achieved w/o too much effort.

On a recent commute together, my mentor explained to me that he has a new flour that he's been jerking with at home, its called Triticale.

He went on to explain that this flour was a hybrid or fusion between wheat and rye. The protein levels are superior, and for reasons unknown to me, the nutrients are much better than if you blended rye and wheat that had already been milled.

I asked where this stuff came from and in the voice of a college professor, or maybe even that kid in 8th grade study hall, he spilled his knowledge with delight.....

"Well like all good things, it comes from Canada. Not only is their crop selection advanced, but their milling is stellar, Have you ever noticed that the Canadians don't have drug wars on their borders. Their government is smart enough to see the value in having them grow hemp."

I didn't know the part about the "Weed", but I also chimed in that in addition to having the coolest national anthem and flag, the Canadian farmers were the ones who kick out all the patent flour to the French, Italian and American bakers for their lean doughs.

So I'm sitting at his dining room - butcher block table and my buddy leans in from the kitchen and tosses me a Triticale Batard.

Its wrapped in a see through plastic bag, and if I hadn't been told what it was, I might have been duped into thinking it was a honey wheat loaf.

So now I throw it a couple inches in the air, catch it and repeat the process several more times to determine the batard's weight.

"A pound 4 ounces?" I asked.

Then I get a huge smile....

"You are off by an ounce, they were scaled at 19 ounces."

Then that moment of silence came.

That defining moment where mending could take place.

I think both of us took a special pride that we understood each others "bread greatness" LOL.

I know that sounds ego driven, and I swear to Polish Christ, it is not meant to be.

All I am saying is both of us have worked a life time in a field that we care deeply about, and you know what....neither of us need a single other persons opinion to validate this.

Knowing you are the best eclipses vanity and accolades by a long shot.

This certainty shrouded us in a dining room that. The answer to a 5 year falling out was simply 2 bakers and 1 loaf of bread.

It just couldn't have gone down any other way.

I'm going to give you the recipe're welcome.

Ludke's Triticale Loaf

Sponge - (this will be liquid)

2 cups Bread Flour
2 cups Water
1/2 tsp Yeast.....blend together and leave in a Tupperware or glass receptacle at room temp for 8 hours.


2 1/2 cups Triticale
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat
1 cup Bread Flour
1 tbsp Oil
2 tsp Salt
1 1/4 tsp Yeast
3/4 cup Water
Also add the entire Sponge listed above.

Additional Comments.

First off, if you have trouble finding Triticale, look online or a co op, these are your best options.

Also, when you mix this dough, be prepared for it to bee just a wee bit soft.

Might I suggest that you bake them on one of those Chicago Metallic 1/2 baguette pans? They are the ones that fit two loaves of bread. The pan is almost shaped like a "W".

This is helpful because often times when bakers bake in bread pans or bread forms, they cannot have easy access to the bottoms of the loaf. That is not good, it is easy to wreck grain breads due to under developed bottoms.

Good Luck!