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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.

DON'T BE FOOLED BY IMITATIONS!!!

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 war....no 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, but....to do this you have to stop being afraid of failing!"

Wow....it 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 fact...it 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.

CHEESECAKE TIPS -

CRACKS -

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.

SIZE -

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.

FLAVOR -

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.

TOPPINGS -

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.

GARNISHING -

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

CRUST -

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.

STORAGE -

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

3 comments:

  1. I can sure relate to the remembering every mistake part, and just about everything else here. Great story telling and writing, DK. This bakery owner in Oregon is mentally calculating every goof and keeping a head log on me. Nerve racking...

    Havn't made it in a while but I came up with tres liquor cheesecake with amaretto, frangelica, and kahlua mixed into the sour cream topping; so I agree with the hooch assessment.

    One thing I tried last time was to put the additions (fruit, nuts, etc) on top of the solidified cheesecake part and then spread the sour cream topping, layering the darn thing like a cake.

    Peace, Paul

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  2. Baker Dude.

    Sorry that "Big Brother" is watching you with heavy eyes....just remember that there is Karma in the baking world, I feel as if somehow-somewhere.....you are about to embark on your "season in the sun."

    Best of Luck - K

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  3. Thia is a story of suffering and indignity. You bore both well.

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