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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Super Heros and Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Today was the day.

That's right, I'm not gonna lie.

There have been reports that I am not going to confirm or deny that Klecko may be part of the 2012 State Fair Television commercial.

I won't comment as to why those cameras were following me around while I did a demo by myself, the one where I discussed Savory Dutch quick breads.

If you've followed this blog, or ever had the chance to talk with me, you know that it's true. Klecko yearns for attention, always has - always will.

With that said, I decided when my first demo was complete, I'd troll the fan base to see if there was just one soul that would help me avoid loneliness.

So after the first show, an officer from the Midwest Baking Association,and maybe my favorite guy in the whole guild walks over to my booth.

He's older, early 70's, and he's wearing a baseball hat.

Could I be seeing this right? His head looked like it was shaved, but against my Klecko curiosity....I decided not to ask any questions.

Then I saw his wife entering from across the exhibit hall, she was weaving through Fairgoers like an Olympic skier on the slalom course, but by the way she navigated her entrance....I think it was safe to say she wasn't going to reach the medal platform.

When she finally reached us, I noted how dark and sunken her eyes were.

I've seen these eyes before, I've worn them.

She had the countenance of somebody who hadn't just finished crying, but HAD been crying a lot, for perhaps an entire season.

Her husband, my friend, a mentor, then revealed to me that he had cancer and had been undergoing treatments.

When I expressed my sorrow, he mustered up an explanation that assured me his recovery team was tremendous, and he was out of the woods.

But from the look in his eyes, and the tone of his voice, I'm not so sure. I wondered if perhaps that was a positive karma shot that he was trying to implant in his wife.

But my clock was ticking.....3-2-1

It was showtime. I had to go. I didn't see them after that.

At 3 O'Clock I had my only guest of the day. It was a woman who I have known for years and she is the Twin Cities token expert on Scottish Culinary.

Her name is Amy Goetz and her mission was to instruct our audience on how to make STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING.

Her daughter Sophia came with her, and her mere presence might have given me the biggest smile I've had in several weeks.

I hadn't seen her in 3 or 4 years since Sue McGleno and I ran into her and her mother in one of the Fairs cow barns.

Sue McGleno was carrying a big a** stuffed animal that she won on the midway. A stuffed animal that she was proud of, but when she saw Sophia, she handed it to her without hesitation.

Sophia was just a twerp back them, but now she was a young lady.

At 13 years old she gave me an image of who her mother must of been while she was growing up. In a way...I guess I was blending both of their personality's into the kid.

Amy is one of the reasons I wish I controlled my life better. Not only have I always respected her in the business world, but I must say, she seems really nice and I would be better if I had her around me more often.

I regret that I don't know her better.

Over the years when I've gone to trade shows, Amy is in the 1% of people that Sue McGleno will talk to for more than a split second.

It has been said that the Lord won't give you more than you can handle, but I don't know......Amy got a dose of sadness dropped on her that just doesn't seem fair.

Earlier this year, both her mother and father got cancer. Both were being treated at the same time, and both were being seen by the doctor who Sue McGleno works for.

What are the odds?

My wife had to assist and help usher Amy's parents out of this world.

I knew it was taking place, but I didn't really ask any details since the situation was personal.

It's only been a couple months since both parents left Amy, but maybe that's another reason why her daughter inspired me. I guess Amy's now been put in a position where everything is about going ahead.

When you work my demo kitchen at the Fair. It is really an interesting set up.

The kitchen has an oven, sink, microwave, walls.....the whole deal, but it's plopped in the middle of a space which could serve as a factory. Its huge.

So when I stand in that kitchen between shows, it is kinda like swimming in a fish bowl. I just do my thing, and hoards of people continue to pass by.

Some smile, others extend sarcasm, and then there is always the group which look battered down from their long day.

After years of being in this fish bowl....I have learned to keep my sanity by tuning the people out occasionally so I can recharge my mental batteries.

I did this when I was talking to Amy.

We were in the very back of the kitchen. 25 feet away from anybody. They could see us, but natural boundaries prevent them from getting to us.

After a moment of Silence, Amy asked how Sue McGleno was doing, and if anything was new with her and her Doc. I shared the following story.

"Let me tell ya Amy, last week I popped my head into her sewing room, and stretched out all across the tables and floors were a rainbow of satin fabric. There was red-green-blue-purple, and some of this stuff had been sewn into little capes.

To be honest, I was kinda freaked out and asked if we had some Hobbits coming to dinner, but Sue McGleno didn't laugh. She didn't even answer.

When I asked her again what the stuff was for, she told me that the women at her work had been really concerned for the children who have to come with their parents while they get treatments.

So they decided to help them find courage by sewing them super hero costumes."

Then I looked up at Amy and her eyes were filled with tears, and I'm not gonna lie, when I saw that look in her eyes....in the fishbowl, in front of an entire Fair, my eyes got moist as well.

Both of us have lived in an industry where people give you praise and accolades because you can cook a dish, but while that's taking place....there is a handful of women that are doing everything in their power to help your family either stay alive....or at least separate with some kind of dignity and hope.

That moment with Amy was brief, but I do care for her very much, and I will remember our time together, in the fish bowl...for a very long time.

The following is her recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding. and she told us that in Scotland, the word Pudding would translate to "Cake" in America.

And for the record, it was the best item I have eaten since I have entered the Fair this year.

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup chopped dates
1 tsp B-soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter, sugar and maple syrup together until fluffy. add beaten egg. Fold in flour. Add B-soda and vanilla. Pour boiling water over dates, stir and add butter to mixture. Split evenly into 6-8 lightly oiled custard cups. Put on a baking sheet and place in oven for 20-25 minutes.

SAUCE

1/3 cup butter
6 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup cream

Combine in a pan and heat slowly until sugar has melted.

Those Scottish people are really into their butter huh?






Monday, August 29, 2011

Chaucer - Shakespeare and an English Pasty Recipe

The only thing better than an underdog story, is a tale where a a fallen champion resurrects themselves and finds redemption.

Sampson had his eyes plucked out and was forced to turn a grain wheel until God let the Hebrew muscle head pull the pillars out from underneath his enemies, thus vanquishing them.

Patrick Pfundstein, an employee of the Mill City Museum, once did a demo at the Saint Agnes Kitchen during the Minnesota State Fair that was so epic.....people talked about it for years.

I don't even remember what the actual title or theme was, but I do remember that he came with several duffel bags of props, one of which was an 8 foot strand of rope that had the diameter of a telephone pole.

After using this to teach the crowd object lessons, he began ranting about how Twizzlers could not charge sales tax since licorice had flour in it.

I don't know.... I guess you had to be there, but I can assure you it was fab.

Patrick is a self proclaimed geek that in many ways sits on Klecko's hero mantel next to John the Baptist, Jane Goodall and Mike Finley.

I have always respected his ability to balance intelligence,humor, mercy and compassion.

In many ways I try to emulate how he lives his life.

The problem with hero's though, is sometimes they have feet made of clay.

This has never been more true than with Patrick.

Last year during our "Iconic American Recipes Tour" Patrick acted like he was the king of turd island and strutted all about the place eluding that he was going to drop perfection on anybody who saw themselves fit to enter the Creative Activities Building.

Mr. Pfundstein was still reveling in the fact that Klecko gave him the 2010 "Best Performance Demo Award" and who knows....maybe he decided to rest on his laurels and that's why he "mailed in" his 2011 performance?

The only thing worse than having to pass your scepter of excellence, is when you have to toss it into the lap of your Ex Wife LOL....and that's exactly what happened.

You see, just about this time last year Patrick rolled onto my stage with a smirk and a small back pack of unimpressive items. don't get me wrong...with his quick wit, a roll of quarters and a box of crackers, Patrick Pfundstein could present a demo 10 times better than you or I, but by his standards.....the bar just kinda sunk.

Paired with the fact that his audience was old (as in blue hair old) and the fact that some wicked breeze was blowing through the forest of reason....Patrick Pfundstein received a B minus at best from Klecko.

While he retreated to the bleachers to sulk and lick his wounds, his ex wife took the stage with her then current lover and business partner from Big Bell Ice Cream.

These are the peeps that send out the fleet of Ice cream trucks across the Twin Cities that blare that obnoxious calliope music.

Sue McGleno utilizes their services often on Hartford Avenue.

The Ex wife and her lover did a humorous presentation which discussed methods of making ice cream with things laying around the office.

They started off by yanking a kid onto the stage and having him place 8 coffee creamers into a bag of ice and shaking it violently, in an up and down motion.

Next they took vanilla ice cream and ran it through some weird extruders that you could possibly purchase at some old school hardware store.

When you applied maximum pressure, noodle looking ice cream fell onto the plate.

The kids who is tossing the creamer bag, now had noodle arms, and his hands were frozen and wet.

The ex wifes lover encouraged him though, in a "top 40 disc jockey" voice he told the kid to continue...or he would be removed from the stage.

As the kids arms went back to simulating jack hammers, the ex wife now put jelly onto the ice cream noodles. The jelly was meant to simulate tomato paste, and then Whopper's Malted Milk Balls doubled as meatballs.

The whole act had impeccable cadence and the ex wife and her lover were not only declared the New Millennium Fred and Ginger in Klecko's eyes, but they snatched the Best of Show Golden - Star out of Patrick's pathetic outstretched arms.

It was hard to watch.

The ex wife and her lover didn't relish humiliating Patrick Pfunstein, they both kept a fond place in their hearts for him.

But fact is fact. The ex wife and her ice cream making lover kicked Patricks a**.

So just like God took pity on Sampson, and gave him a platform from redemption.....Klecko contacted Patrick and encouraged him to swing for the fences one more time, but his offer was intercepted with an attitude that was bankrupt of confidence.

"I'm not sure I can't keep with the 2012 theme of EURO TABLE. I am the least Euro guy I know, nah, I'm not sure I can do it.....why don't you give me a day to think about it though, and I'll see if I can come up with something?"

At this point legions of angels must of held hands and sang John Denver songs or Kumbaya,because the next day when I spoke with Pfundstein, a new spirit was projected from his voice over the phone.

"You know what Klecko? I'm going to do English Pasty. I don't know a ton about the U.K. version, but my family wolfed them every chance we got while driving back and forth from the U.P., yeah....put me down for that."

And Just like Rocky's 1st fight with Mr. T, remember how he got his a** handed to him? Remember how Rocky moped and whined like a little Fop after his trainer Mickey died?

Well Patrick recommitted himself and stepped into the ring today and spoke with a new glow in his eyes.

His voice rolled like thunder, and truth be told.....he probably didn't need to wear the Madonna microphone head set.

In my minds eye, I honestly cant remember how he started out his set, but I remember the crowd got bigger, and bigger, until I think I may have seen the biggest crowd in the history of the 500 shows I have presented.

Dude was tossing out facts about Chaucer's Pasty references in literature.

Shakespearean recipes where the filling included the crushed bones of our enemies, and then after an interesting hands on tutorial, Patrick formed a smirk, because he knew that he had redeemed his crappy baked bean performance.

He knew that he would be a finalist for the Klecko Golden Star again.

But more importantly......Patrick is his own worst critic, and if my perception is correct, I think he satisfied the one person he wanted to the most.

Himself.

Then with the smile of Huck Finn, you know....when he hung his feet off the raft and submerged them into the Mississippi and watched his checkered past fade away into his minds rear view mirror, Patrick smiled and asked.........

"Would you like to hear the recipe?"

The crowd clamored and found satisfaction while this particular posts protagonist read a Mark Ryan poetic-recipe in a loud-clear voice..............

One and a half pounds of good plain flour -
8 ounces of fat and some muscle power -
Mix it together with both your hands -
Til looking like breadcrumbs the mixture stands -
Add some water and bind it up -
Tip it gently from a 1/2 pint cup -
If its to gooey, add some flour -
And stick in the fridge for about an hour -
Then roll it out to the size of your plate -
Fill with potato's to make it great -
A layer of turnip and onion as well -
Salt and Pepper make them smell -
Chip up some steak and chuck it in -
Add a little butter and crimp up the skin -
Polish with an egg and cook like cake -
And you'll have a pasty like momma can bake!

And for the record, they tasted fabulous!







Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sue McGleno's Birthday - God Leaves the State Fair

Each year while working the Fair,I like to develop new routines. I guess it doesn't have to be an official routine, small rituals work as well. The bottom line is I would hate for this experience to become a rut.

Now that I'm on my 9th consecutive one, I can decipher many of these undertakings by saying.........

"Oh yeah, that's the year when I studied chess problems." or "I think that was the year I hung out in the rabbit barn."

This year my deal is that I start off each day crossing the campus just to get a free "5 Hour Energy".

Typically I buy one everyday for $3.28 and pop it after drinking my morning espresso.

Klecko loves to start off the day strong.

So today as I began my little march, I did this with a sore neck, and a heavy heart.

My neck hurt because when I sleep, I don't "Go to Sleep", I don't lay my head down on a pillow and close my eyes....basically I sit upright and do whatever it is I am doing, and usually about 40-80 minutes later I wake up again and repeat the process.

If you ever saw the movie THE ELEPHANT MAN, I sleep in that same position that John Merrick did.

So my neck got wrenched and I'm slowly stretching it while lumbering down Dan Patch Avenue, and then I started to think how sad I was that I couldn't be with Sue McGleno for much of her birthday.

This is the only drawback of working the Great Minnesota Get Together.

I have tried to make some provisions however....

For the last 6 or 7 years, I have forfeited my July 8th birthday and given her a birthday cake on the day of my birth that says "Happy Birthday Sue McGleno"

I also buy her bad a** gifts on my birthday as well.

And on her August 27th birthday, I suffer the indignity of driving to Dairy Queen after working a 12-13 hour shift, just to get her a stupid ice cream cake LOL.

Can you imagine that, she's married to the CEO of a pretty big baking outfit and she still wants.....sigh, never mind.

So sadness fills my heart and I start suffering from a disease called depression.

Although I would bet my life that my lovely bride is still dead to the world, stretched out on her bed sleeping, I really-really wanted to be with her.

To make matters worse, I turn the corner, across the street from the Butter Fly Garden and the road is filled with an ocean of people so thick, I can't see a speck of asphalt for miles.

Bodies, bodies, and more bodies.

There must be a million people in front of my eyes, and it kind of amazes me how their mass almost seems to be moving as one.

That's when God started chucking daggers at my heart. I thought back to when my kids were little. When they were size appropriate, I would hoist them onto my shoulders and let them observe this miraculous populous.

They would usually make some comment like "I've never seen so many people." or "I'll bet 1/2 the state is here today!"

I would always receive these comments with a dour expression and empty eyes before responding.........

"Take a close look kid, this is what the road to Hell will look like."

This always unnerved my kids and they would in turn riggle off my torso and run down their mother to narc me out.

Sue McGleno would get really pissed, but the nice thing about my Jewish bride is her wraith can always be erased with a bucket of Mrs Fields Cookies or pink cotton candy.

Like a stalking Lion, I'd lay back in the weeds and let her get a 1/3 of the way into her sugar feast. When this occurred, she'd be so locked in, she no longer cared about her little cubs, so each time her attention was pulled away.......

I'd make Devil horns with my fingers, place them over my head, then point once again at the swarm of humanity and slowly mouth to my children.....

"R-O-A-D T-O H-E-L-L"

And then they would shriek.

I can't tell you why, but that is one of my favorite moments on the planet.

So now I arrive at the 5 HOUR ENERGY booth, but am surprised to see that the hot chicks with promiscuous attire are not there to give me my fix. Instead there is an older woman by herself standing next to 2 pallets of product boxes that I'm guessing are filled my my drug of choice.

The woman informs me that the freebies won't be dispensed for another 18 minutes.

So since I was in the general vicinity, I decided I would swing over to the Cross Roads Chapel.

The C.R.C. is a building that is shared by numerous sects of Christianity.

From 8-9 is Catholic Hour, 9-10 might be Episcopalian, 10-11 was Pentecostal and as kids, our parents would make us go there because they had volunteers that were forced to do religious coloring book stuff with us.

It took a long time because their collective goal was to save our souls, and our parents loved that because they could drink beer and smoke cigarettes outside on the patio.

A couple of years ago, I made the chapel my annual-daily routine. Each morning I would enter the house of God with a newspaper and an espresso.

I always went during Catholic hour, and usually I was the only soul to occupy one of the dozens of folding chairs.

On the stage was an old Buck with a cheap Casio keyboard and he would play hymns.

I don't know if it was ironic, but it sure as he** was something how out of a billion plus people running around that Fairgrounds, the house of God was the only place a guy could be alone.

So Klecko would plop down, take a sip, find the sports page and nonchalantly tell the piano man....

"Hey Brother, how bout playing some I AM THE RESURRECTION,followed by IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL and then finishing up with THIS IS MY STORY - THIS IS MY SONG?"

And just like that.....dude would start banging on the ivory's all excited like because now he had a purpose.

Klecko loves when other peoples purpose is to minister to him.

I'll never forget the one day my solitude was crushed by a stampede of woman who came in to witness a politician who was doing a special for KTIS the local Christian radio station.

That woman was today's Presidential hopeful Michelle Bachmann.

I was annoyed that these ladies cut into my prayer time, but when Bachmann came in, I found her attractive in a "Cougar" kinda way, so I stuck around.

The following quote is a "Klecko Paraphrase" but rest assured, the spirit of the message is legit, you just can't make something like this up.......

"Hello ladies, thank you so much for coming to see me today. You know...just several years ago, I was a stay at home mother like many of you, but within the last couple of years....God has placed me in the back of a Limo with the President of the United States!"

I thought it was some kind of raunchy joke and was surprised by her poor taste and timing, but before my confusion had time to get traction, the Republican spoke further.......

"Now I realize my path chosen by God was very special, and none of you will probably duplicate it, but that's not to say that none of you can't do some interesting things to serve the Lord."

It was the haughtiest comment I had ever-ever-ever heard in my life, but the assembly of suburban soccer moms broke out into cheers.

I was blown away. I've voted G.O.P. my entire life, but I have to be truthful, I found her comments off putting and shameful.

So now I have 6 minute before they will give my my entitled handout of 5 Hour Energy but for some reason, I began to think my wires were crossed because I couldn't find the Cross Roads Chapel.

But upon further investigation, I discovered that it had been raptured, resurrected or something, because after 117 years it was now gone.

The State Fairs lone Temple to an ecumenical God had been taken over by Fox Sports North.

I swear to Caesar that my jaw dropped to the pavement and for a moment, I considered rendering my garment, shaving my head and rubbing ashes on my body.

But then I remembered how much prayer has gone into my Pompadour, so I declined.

Out of nowhere an anger began to surface and all of a sudden, I pictured Klecko crossing the Midway, flailing a whip and kicking over Carney's equipment while calling them a Brood of Vipers.

God had left the Minnesota State Fair.........

Klecko was not only speechless, he didn't know how, or what to think.

Then ALAKAZAM........all the little hottie's at the 5 Hour Booth showed up and started to entice us to come to them for free samples.

I did.

But then for the briefest of moments I kinda got scared. A truth inside me announced itself before I even new it was in the same room.

Although my heart was sad for a loss of God after a century long run.

This sadness couldn't even compare to my separation from my wife on her birthday.

I truly hope God will understand.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

State Fair Day #1 - Lee Svitak Dean's Spaetzle Recipe

When the tenured host of a demo kitchen enters the Fairgrounds on day one, I'll bet it's a lot like being a marathon runner who approaches the starting line.

I've completed this course numerous times, and have no reason to believe I won't this year, but in the same breath I know that I will have to pass through at least a few levels of Dante's Hell before I cross the finish line and have a fresh laurel placed upon my head.

Each year promises to offer new challenges, and situations that simply don't jive with a middle aged guy who is anal and only feels comfortable while working within controlled systems, but if you are going to survive working an entire Fair, you simply have to learn to adapt.

A guy just has to come to terms with the fact that people will use their I-phones while utilizing the urinal, people will continue to use my perimeter counter space to discard their trash, even though there will be a dozen garbage cans within 20 yards.

Some of my employees will be tardy, and some of my "celebrity guests" will stiff me, forcing me into the awkwardness of an impromptu baking demo.

The Fair is also an outlet for every person with open hands to grab-grab-grab at their entitlement.

My friends at the Strib were handing out free Ketchup or Mustard lip balm, and after the throngs wiped out wave #1 of these goodies, the masses had to be informed that the next shipment wouldn't come in until 4 p.m.

Yep, like a Christ multitude, the populace hung out for over an hour. I get it if they are going to get loaves of bread and fish, but a condiment chap stick...really?

I decided to go in early, about 1 1/2 hours before the public were allowed into my building. This way I could cruise the Creative Activities and its adjoining annex.

Clean your wedding ring for a quarter guy was gone. His family had that booth for 60 some years. The 2 good ol' gals from Texas who sold armadillos made out of beer cans, and chihuahua salt & pepper shakers, well..... they were gone as well.

Now what will Sue McGleno get for her birthday?

Every year at the Fair is basically the same, but yet every year some major traditions fade away in silence if you don't take time to observe.

Now I popped a Diet Coke and sat in the bleachers where thousands of people will come and watch the 48 shows that I will be hosting.

I've always tried to observe the last moment of silence. I don't know why I hold it so sacred....its not like you can sell it on E-Bay, but none the less, it is important to me to start off in a reverent mood.

3-2-1......the doors open and hoards of baking competitors flood my space to see how they fared in the bake off.

Klecko watches and smiles.

Like most of the Fairs I have hosted, Kim Ode will be my first guest.

Today she is going to do a Norwegian rhubarb cake presentation.

Kim Ode is kinda like a baking lightening rod. People get into their cars and drive across state lines to hear whatever it is that she thinks is pertinent.

While she organizes her ingredients, the 2 of us are uncommonly quiet. I looked out into the audience and an older gentleman is reading her banana bread recipe that was run in the weekly TASTE section.

The recipe was her Grandmothers from South Dakota, and I smiled knowing how thrilled she must have been to share a family heirloom with her entire state on such a special day.

For bakers, the first day of the Fair is like Christmas morning. Everybody rushes around the building celebrating their blue ribbons, or bemoaning the fact that once again...the judges just didn't get it right.

At this point I started to realize that at this exact moment I, or Kim and me, are really no longer a novelty to this event, we are part of its fabric. Even if we ran off to a far away igloo, our participation in this event would at least warrant a chapter in a book, or maybe our toils would inspire some eccentric artist to commission some kind of cookie dough statue of us.

As usual, Kim takes the stage, and within moments, I felt like I was peeking over the shoulder of the Pope while he does Pope stuff on that Vatican balcony. Directly in front of me I see an ocean of smiles and I instantly locked this visual into my mental vault.

Have you ever had a moment like that with somebody who is special to you, a moment that you are so grateful to be a part of, but then you kinda get afraid to address it, because you know that no matter what you say, it won't capture the vibe and you'll just come across as a bigger idiot than you already are?

I kept my mouth shut.

As usual.....Kim crushed. I think she ended up giving out recipes cards for 30 minute after her microphone was shut off.

But the real star of the day, and probably the entire Fair (at least in my book) is Kim's colleague Lee Svitak Dean.

Lee is the editor of the TASTE section in the Strib.

I have done shows with Lee in the past, and I have also gone and watched her speak when she went on the road promoting cook books.

As an editor of such a reputable rag, you'd expect her to be good, but I gotta tell you.....today she was phenomenal.

Sure, we only knocked out 4 shows today, and there are 44 to go, but you have to remember, Klecko have sat through 500 of these things.

I'm willing to bet that her presentation will win the Klecko Gold Star for the best of the 48 presentations.

Lee did a spaetzle show that had people literally sitting on the edge of their seats.

Often times a guest will take a concept and show you one way to achieve its desired effect, but today our cities premiere editor strutted into my kitchen with 3 backpacks containing items that looked like those "Implements of Destruction" that I saw from the Chicago Museum of Whatever.

You know, they looked like torture weapons from the kings dungeon.

There was a spaetzle maker, potato ricer and who know what else.

The best way to know how well your presenter is doing is simple....just stare into the eyes of the audience.

Throughout the entire show people continued nodding their heads in approval, in fact, it almost got creepy, I thought I had stumbled into some kind of Bobblehead Nation.

In the Midwest, there are 2 surefire ways to kill a cooking demo.

#1 Read A Poem

#2 Ask Anybody If They Have A Question

Typically if you do the latter.........CRICKETS!

People in Minnesota don't like to speak over crowds, but turn the microphone off and watch out for a stampede.

Bing-Bang-Boom......the audience broke precedence by asking another question before Lee could finish the previous one.

But for me....the coolest part of it was that it appeared she was really having fun.

Nobody deserves it more than her. She spends countless hours steering our cities culinary trends and I'll bet her rewards a sparse compared to the thought and energy she puts into it.

Well.....Klecko needs to wake back up in a couple of hours, so let an old baker type up Lee Svitak Deans Spaetzle recipe.

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon (or more) water

DIRECTIONS -

In a medium bowl mix your flour,salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl beat eggs until foamy: mix in milk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture a little at a time.

Add 1 tablespoon water and mix batter well.

Bring water to a boil in a large-wide kettle. Place a colander with large holes over the boiling water. add the batter and press through the holes. The spaetzel will drop into the boiling water where you will let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

Spaetzle will rise to the surface when it is done

This is w/o a doubt one of the best side dishes ever.

Rumor has it that Lee likes hers with butter, where Klecko has been known to top his with gravy.






Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 MINESOTA STATE FAIR LINE UP

MINNESOTA STATE FAIR 2011


Thursday August 25th

11:00 Kim Ode / Norwegian Rhubarb Cake
1:00 Lee Svitak Dean / “TASTE” of Europe
3:00 John Michael Lerma / German Pretzel Bread
5:00 Chefs Abode Scottish / Shortbread

Friday August 26th

11:00 Laura Bender Polish / Kolaches
1:00 Mary Klecko Danish / Aebelskivers
3:00 Eversharp Knives / German Knife Skills
5:00 Chefs Abode / English Lemon Scones

Saturday August 27th

11:00 Nichole Mary Kelby / Escoffier’s French Cooking
1:00 Kim Ode / Icelandic Open Face Sandwiches
3:00 Donna Nowicki / German Black Forest Cake
5:00 Klecko / Vatican City Mango Macaroons

Sunday August 28th

11:00 John Michael Lerma / Italian Basil Pesto
1:00 John Michael Lerma / Spanish Shrimp Tapas & Smoked Paprika Aioli
3:00 John Michael Lerma / French Spiced Sausage & Puff Pastry
5:00 John Michael Lerma / Greek Bakl

Monday August 29th

11:00 Kid Mitch / Deluxe Italian Spaghetti
1:00 Dara Syrkin / Mediterranean Beet & Bean Salad
3:00 Patrick Pfundstein / England’s Cornish Pasties
5:00 Debora Drower / Italian Surprise

Tuesday August 30th

11:00 Klecko / Dutch Quickbreads
1:00 Klecko / Dutch Quickbreads
3:00 Amy Goetz / Scottish Shortbread
5:00 Klecko / French Quickbreads

Wednesday August 31st

11:00 Mill City / Euro Trends in the Pillsbury Bake Off
1:00 Mill City / Euro Trends in the Pillsbury Bake Off
3:00 Tami Cabrera / Irish Coffee Cheesecake
5:00 Mindy Kelly / Euro Union Teas

Thursday September 1st

11:00 Bill Middeke / German Stollen
1:00 Ann Pagel / French Orange Almond Tart
3:00 Katie Notivtny / Russian Tea Cakes
5:00 Klecko / Russian Borcht

Friday September 2nd

11:00 Deanna Sande / Denmark’s Smorrebord
1:00 Klecko / French Quickbreads
3:00 Maggie Schultz / Scottish Eggs
5:00 The Gypsy Chefs / Euro Tinfoil Meals

Saturday September 3rd

11:00 Klecko / French Quickbreads
1:00 Klecko / Dutch Quick Breads
3:00 Ron Miller / Eastern Euro Challah
5:00 The Gypsy Chefs / Euro Tin Foil Meals

Sunday September 4th

11:00 Klecko / Vatican City Mango Macaroons
1:00 Klecko / Vatican City Mango Macaroons
3:00 Klecko / French Quickbreads
5:00 Klecko / Dutch Quickbreads

Monday September 5th

11:00 Mike Mitchelson & Klecko / Best Euro Restaurants in the Twin Cities
1:00 John Michael Lerma / England’s Royal Wedding Pie
3:00 John Michael Lerma / Mini Pies
5:00 John Michael Lerma / Inside the Chef’s Studio

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Green Tomatoes - Green Peppers & Big A** Angels

Before the crucifixion, Jesus spent his last evening in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what was around the corner, and even though part of him was unnerved, I think part of him was jacked up as well.

He politely asked his crew if they could stay awake with him, but you guys know how friends can be.

So for a couple of hours I imagine his thoughts were pretty intense.

Tomorrow starts Klecko's State Fair experience. It's pre Fair set up day.

Although your favorite baker won't be subjected to questions,requests or insults...it will mark the official beginning of this marathon event.

Today was the last day off that I will have until I put in about 150 work hours.

A prudent person would probably use this time to complete a list of tasks that they won't have time to mess with for awhile, but like the Savior....I opted to sit in a garden, my garden.

I almost never "sit" in the garden, I am more of a "maintain" the garden guy. You know, you water it, pull some weeds. Throw down a little mulch etc. 8 minutes here,12 minutes there.

But today I decided I was going to sit in that garden,take time to look at all the miracles that came out of the soil and do a little reading.

If you've ever lived with a cat or certain breeds of small dogs, almost every time they bed down they go through a ritual where they claw at the ground, while rotating their body in an attempt to become comfortable.

For whatever reason, they simply can't just plop down.

That's how Klecko gets when he and silence are about to collide. It is an unnatural act, so some spastic ritual takes places where I kinda rock back and forth before I am able to open my mind.

OK....so now I'm looking around, and the first thing I focus on is the Spanish Moss Roses. Many young couples have songs that define their love, but me and Sue McGleno are bound together by this wonderful flower.

I have them pouring out of a huge cement rabbit planter that she donated to commemorate the massacre of my rabbit warren earlier this year.

Spanish Moss Roses are a good choice to signify my marriage. The are good looking, fun, but also very resilient. Even an idiot can't kill them.

Next I thumbed through a huge tomato bush that has 15...18 golf ball to tennis ball size fruits on it, but dude.....they seem to get greener by the day, for the first time this summer, I am starting to lose hope.

The David Austin Roses are doing good though, and for that matter, so are my Bell Peppers. I will actually use these throughout the Fair during my savory French quick bread demo's.

After surveying the bounty of my flowers, herbs and veggies, I pulled out a poetry book recently written by my writing mentor Mike Finley.

The book is called "Big Ass Angels" and it's title track is going to be my theme for this years Fair.

You see, no matter how much a person loves events....if you put TIME-PEOPLE-OPINIONS and MONEY into a Yahtzee cup, and shake it up, the sum can sometimes be disappointing.

20 wonderful conversations can quickly become nullified by the rantings of just 1 savage soul.

And as each day passes, the buildings seem to get a little hotter. The dirt seems to move faster than the janitorial staff. Enthusiasm becomes replaced with robotic actions and attitudes.

My biggest fear each year is that my crumpled energy might create a snarky retort that will send somebody home with a conception of me that has been altered by fatigue.

I just have to remember that everybody deserves equal attention.

BIG ASS ANGELS
By Mike Finley

Beauty has always distracted us from the truth
Adam in Eden was misled - deceived by Eve's eyes

Was she good or did she just look that way
A man never certainly knows

Artists likewise get taken in
Given a choice between naked beauties
To base saints on
And lumpy people from around the town
You know which way they are going to go

Women of the world, take heart!
From knowledge the masters were blind to
That no one is prettier than anyone else

Did you think that after wading through this life
with all the misery caking its sides
that heaven would taunt us with nubile starlets
With halos taped to their heads

The eyes tell lies, what we call beauty
Is just temptation
Is just a lie

Help is coming dearest friends
A bell will sound and all will know
What we hoped was true
But couldn't quite believe

We are beautiful,beautiful, so beautiful
And then we are beautiful
Beyond even that

Unpluck the eyes of the peevish heart
And all swims into view


I'll be at the Creative Activities Building

Show-times are 11-1-3 and 5 daily






Monday, August 22, 2011

Christmas with the Klecko's (Egg Nog - Poppyseed Quckbread Recipe)

Alright.....the clock is ticking and its showtime. While you and yours have been laughing, loving and enjoying the bounty that life has to offer.......

Poor Klecko sits alone, mending every-single-last-detail in regard to create a perfect State Fair.

In less than 36 hours your favorite baker will get slammed with wave upon wave of fair goers, baking enthusiests, and possibily a couple of freaks as well.

Each year I go through folders and lists in hopes that it will safe guard me from forgetting one of the thousand "things" I will need in my State Fair Demo kitchen.

Recently, while going through this, I saw a handout from several years back when our theme was Christmas at the Fair.

The handout was this tacky red & green piece of paper that has the recipe for Egg Nog quick bread.

Praise be to Saint Faustina, John Paul 2 and all the orphans from Warsaw....this recipe is to die for.

As I listed the ingredients in my minds eye, I smiled thinking about all the years that my family wolfed down this tradition building bread.

But.....there was that one year, the year I pissed my mother off.

It must have been 8 years ago in fact, because Tydas was 12 years old. He had recently received a "kinda promotion" and was allowed to moved downstairs into the cinder block basement.

All autumn, all my son would say was.......

"Tydus wants a mini fridge for Christmas....Papa!"

I'm always "Papa" when people want stuff.

So I went to Sears, or Best Buy and got what he wanted, but for 3 months I had to endure the rantings and lamentations of Sue McGleno.......

"What's wrong with that kid? Who wants a mini fridge for Christmas? What will he use it for? It's not even normal."

So as the weeks dwindled away, and we got closer to the Christ's birthday, Klecko started having fun with the mini fridge gift.

One evening when I was at the Booze-Mart stocking up on holiday spirits, I decided to get my kid a 12 pack of beer. I knew it might put the holiday on it's ear, but that was OK. When a father needs to do, what he needs to do....stand back Christian Soldiers!

One of the things I've observed is that alot of my friends who had never been allowed to do certain "Bad" or "Naughty" things kinda ended up getting wack.

If you monitor, and moderate most things in life, it's tough for a kid to go a stray.......

Demystify - Demystify - Demystify, I'm telling you guys, I believe in this with all of my heart.

Well....maybe you haven't noticed, but sometimes when Klecko gets on a roll, the show gets bigger & bigger.

So I starteded thinking, other than booze, what else can trip up a young man?

That's when I decided to add on a Baywatch calender (featuring Pamela Anderson.)

I didn't tell anybody about the booze or girlie pix, I placed them inside the fridge and wrapped it with the aid of an entire Sunday paper and 1/2 a roll of duck tape.

So Christmas morning comes, and I'm guessing Jesus and the angels were peeking through the air vents, even heaven was talking about the "gift of the year."

So Kiki gets a sweater, Sue McGleno got something for quilting, Klecko got the Johnny Cash bio, my mother open a stupid $4 candle and cried. She cried like mom's do because it must be in her "mom contract."

"Oh I love this candle. It is the perfect color. I wanted a candle just like this in fact......"

The ranting and tears were certain to go on for at least another 1/2 hour, so Tydas bypassed etiquette and ripped apart his gifts packaging.

He knew what he was getting, but little dude was still really jacked when he saw the words "mini fridge" printed on the box.

"Thats not all boy, why don't you open up the fridge and see what Polish Santa left you?"

When he did, it was one of those cloud parting moments, you know....like in the religous post cards were a beam of light engulfs a newly baptized guy.

But my mother and Sue McGleno couldnt see the contents because they were looking from the back of the fridge.

When Tydus lifted up the twelve pack. I joked that they were to signify the disciples, nobody laughed though. In fact....I could see that look in my moms eyes. It was the same look that she had when she found out I got a mohawk 3 days prior to my sisters wedding.

I was about to explain the rules of the gift, you know....just one beer a day, and you can't give a single drop to your friends, but by that time Pamela Anderson was staring us down...lol, and I gotta tell ya, she was looking pretty good.

That was it. my mother became unglued and once again we had another epic holiday throwdown.

I am a "problem solver" for a living. I realize the value in negotiatons, but sometimes a cowboy simply can't back down.

My boy was just around the corner from becoming a man, and I have to tell ya.....do what you want with yours, but Klecko is Klecko, and he will always take bullets for his offspring if he deems it necessary.

Holidays, they can make or break a family huh?

Eventuallly as the day went on, I realized my tribute to my son really upset my mother. Sue McGleno wasn't thrilled, but I think I saw her crossing herself and giving thanks that there wasn't any weapons involved.

But know matter what takes place at a Pollack celebration, everything-everything-everthing must be put behind when you sit at the table and sample the following............

EGG NOG

4 Fresh Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Rum
1 1/2 Cup Whiskey
1 1/2 Cup 1% Milk
1 Cup Whipping Cream

Seperate eggs into yokes and whites in seperate bowls

Beat egg-yokes with 1/2 the sugar set aside

Beat egg-whites until stiff, then mix in second 1/2 of the sugar

Pour the yokes into the whites and blend together

Then add your liquids and stir

Finally, carefully fold in your cream

Its best to serve at room temp and topped with nutmeg. I think this batch serves 8 Germans....but only 4 Pollacks!

EGGNOG QUICKBREAD

2 eggs beaten
1 cup egg nog (from previous recipe)
2 tsp rum extract
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup of butter (soft)
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp B-Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 poppy seed

Don't forget.....bake at 400 degrees for the first 8-10 minutes, and then finish off the bake at 350 degrees.

BTW.....the following July, uncle Chuck stopped by during the MLB All Star game and before he sat down, like most uncles he demanded a beer.

The Klecko Casa isn't that big of a beer house, and since Uncle Chuck stopped in unannounced, I wasn't able to do him a solid, but thats when Tydas used his moment, and his gift to come up big.

My son and his Uncle submerged into the unkown for about 1/2 an inning, when they resurfaced....Uncle Chuck was holding 11 beers.

Tydas tried one beer and decided he liked Diet Coke better.

Demystify!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Manna / Food for the Angels (Recipe Included)

Christians and Jews alike, celebrate the hope of one day having an opportunity to go to a place where God will reveal God's culinary musings, musings like the manna which was cast down from heaven.

If you skipped Sunday school or are an atheist and are not hip to the story, might I share it with you a story with my pledge that at the end of this post nobody will try to convert you, or ask you for money?

I certainly am no theologian, but let me do my best to create at least a comic book like explanation of the event while they occurred.

Moses was an interesting dude, many scholars think he lived to 120 years of age. Professor like people usually break his life into 3 - 40 year segments.

Most of you know about the 1st and last......

The first 40 years he lived in the house of Pharaoh, and battled against a brother (played by Yul Brynner - LOL) for the throne, but Moses somehow found out that he was actually a Jew and freaked out against Egypt and murdered a guard.

The last 40 years he led the people across the sand dunes looking for the promise land.

But the middle 3rd, what was he doing.....do you know?

He actually lived as a Sheppard amongst the Kenites. These people were deemed uncivil, uncouth, but Moses had to stay with them because there was a bounty on him.

Anyways.....I digress.

During the 3rd stint, the exodus, Moses felt a great burden upon his soul. He wondered how he could lead a nation throughout the wilderness w/o any food.

That's when God stepped in and said.........

"Moses, why do you doubt me? I have this awesome bread called manna. The angels eat it every day and its the bomb. I will send some down to our Hebrew nation and they will be sustained by the best bread ever.

But....they are not allowed to hoard it, or sell it off of food trucks or farmers markets. They are only to take enough for themselves. If they try to tuck a stash away, I will fill it with maggots and triple their carbs."

Now I don't know if you guys have ever noticed, but I never assign a gender to God. I am not certain God is a man as mentioned by biblical writers. In my life I have found women to be much smarter, and they typically practice compassion and mercy far more often.

But-But-But.....I've made one observation that nullifies my logic and almost proves with complete certainty that God is a man.

Have you ever noticed before God gives a gift to the Jews, Gentiles or the rest of the world that there is always-always-always a condition attached to it?

That is so guy like.

A woman would never do that. She would simply say ..........

"Here's salvation, if you want some help yourself, I am off to yoga."

And there it would be, like a platter of crackers and cheese, if you are hungry you'd take it, if not.......

3-2-1......and their off.

The Jews age heading over here, going over their, and each day as the dew left the soil "BANG" their it was.......manna.

The part that makes me like the Israelites as much as I do is they are so much like you and I.

Think about it. for years they were humping pyramid stones up large sand hills, getting crushed, getting hernia's from all the heavy lifting.

If they were having an off day or lost focus, some Vincent Price looking dude would come by and whip you, then have his way with your life partner.

But God offers an escape route, God tells you to believe, and everybody gets as excited as 2 weeks before an Obama election.

But after the 3rd or 4th week of freedom, the peeps learned that they were going to have to pitch in, and you know what? They whined because contributing faith just isn't sexy.

I swear to the Polish trinity that I don't get this. If you offered me a route to paradise and provided me the #2 lunch plate from Golden Chow Mei each and every day.....I would be set for eternity.

Remember that Charlie Daniels song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"?

It's where the hillbilly gets into a fiddle contest with the devil for cash prizes and hot chicks?

I would never bet my soul. I would never even take it out of its box unless I needed to lend it to Sue McGleno.

But thats another post in itself, because just like Beaver cleaver, you know she's return it with a dent or....nevermind.

But instead of dueling againt the Prince of Darkness, I would respectfully like to have a manna bakeoff against God.

I got the idea a couple weeks ago after making the greatest loaf of bread that I have ever tasted in my personal or professional career.

All bull**** aside, this loaf is epic (at least within my palates alignment) and I hope you like it.

Feel free to make variations or add your own twist to it.........

KLECKO'S MANNA

2 PACKS OF DRY ACTIVE YEAST
1 CUP of HARP BEER
1/2 CUP WATER
2 1/2 WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
2 CUP ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
* 3/4 CUP BRICK STARTER
1 TABLESPOON VINEGAR
1 TABLESPOON SALT
1 TABLESPOON CARAWAY POWDER
1 HANDFUL OF POTATO FLOUR (FOR DUSTING)

* If you are going to make hearty-authentic bread that will satisfy nuns and monks alike....you have to have a brick starter. It adds density and prolongs "natural shelf life" by having the potatoes hold in the moisture.

I have blogged about this technology, so look in the back longs or just Facebook "Danny Klecko" and he will talk you through. Starters are wicked EZ, but people freak out over them.

There is no need for it.

1 1/2 cup water
1 3/4 cup bread flour
1 3/4 cup rye
2 cups potato (or potato flakes)

INSTRUCTIONS -

Dissolve the yeast into the beer/water until foamy for about 5 minutes. Next, toss in your starter and dry ingredients and mix into a pliable ball, this ball should be firm (hence brick) but contain some moistness, basically it should feel like heavy Play Doh.

When the dough is mixed, toss it into an oiled container and let it double in size. Most people will punch and let it rise a 2nd time (creating additional fermentation) but Klecko subscribes to single rise strategies.

After your loaves are formed,take some egg wash / egg whites and paint the outside of the loaf, then roll it in potato flour. This isn't essential, but this accessory has the same kind of swag as a Gucci belt.

The potato flour pairs great with the beer / liquid content, and if thats not enough....it also traps the moisture in.

I like to shape 20 ounce batards (mini footballs)for this style of dough. It will give you the perfect balance between crumbwall and interior.

It rocks.

Good luck with this.....and BTW, on a pimp note, you if go to the bottom of my blogsite, I now have a slot to pop in your E-Mail so Klecko can come directly to you.....or even better, your I-Phone (or any smart phone for that matter)

Bake well kids, and try to do better than the Israelites of old and be thankful for every loaf you have.






Friday, August 19, 2011

BEAR BAIT - A Topic of Sorrow

I can pretty much gaurentee you that within the last 48 hours, every bakery in Minnesota has been hit up by a myriad of requests, all at the hands of hunters.

You see, mid August is when sportman (or has that turned to "sportsperson" with the escalating number of female hunters?) scour their world looking for free stuff with ripe odors to bait bears with.

For those of you who follow this Blog, you know by now that Klecko always roots for the animal.

I don't want to be a hater, but I simply never understood "Hunter Guy."

When boys grow up, they have 4 main camps where they can go if they want to learn a skill that will help stengthen their confidence and skill sets.

They are as follows..........

#1 - JOCK

You all know this camp, it can be inclusive as long as you have the personality type that allows you to plug into other people. You set goals against other squads or yourself.

Being mentored at how to channel competitive juices can really be helpful down a young jocks life course, but I think the biggest advantage to this camp is that they don't get depressed as much as other camps since they are lacking in world event knowledge LOL, it's hard to know what CNN is reporting when your TV is always set to ESPN.

#2 - MOTORHEAD

This guy is typically a loner, he has the skill to not only drop engines, but dude can build a house if need be.

It's all in the genetic wiring,I hate this guy more than anything else. I think the main reason is because I am not only in awe of him....but I am jealous of him as well.

I would totally be great at getting all FAST & FURIOUS with stream line street rods and hot chick girl friends.

Have you ever noticed in those movies how Vin Diesel never has to work out, but he is totally ripped, he never seems to have a job, but he stumbles into $80 000 cars like my recycle box collects empty Diet Coke cans.

And the women, now I'm not complaining, Sue McGleno covers that department well, but she doesn't conveniently fade out of my life w/o heartbreak or reason, thusly setting up a total bombshell chick for Klecko's life sequel.

Yeah....Motorheads got it good.

#3 - GEEK

This camp can be actor guy, poet guy, I love numbers guy, computer guy. Anything that basically has a focus that drifts around the perimeter of intelligence.

These boys get mocked, and often times slugged during their formitive years, but w/o a doubt...they always get the last laugh. They are bright, realistic and well organized, these gentlemen will inevitably become the employer of the 3 other camps.

#4 - Hunter Guy

Hunter guy dreams out taking down a rhino, duck or squirrel like I dream about girls-soup and Scotch. If you watch him go fishing, he will throw his recently caught fish back into the water and brag how much of a good soul he is for practicing "catch and release."

Could you imagine me pulling 3 random peeps off a bus with hooks that I thrust through their mouth, and after ripping said hooks out and watching the blood gush out of their cleft lip, turning to you and making a "Good Samaritian" claim?

I know - I know, you are going to say.........

"But Klecko, it is good to shoot deer, it thins out their population, otherwise they would starve to death."

Funny, we have entire countries starving on our planet, but if I went over their and tried to "thin them out with discretion", this would be called a crime against humanity, trust me....its been attempted.

So with all that said, I will hop into my public confessinal and announce to you that nobody is as full of crap as me.

Today I will give away food for my 3rd year, food that will be used to entice a living creature into potential gunfire.

I do it, because the request has come from my wifes, sisters son.

He is a young man who recently got married and got a job as a North Dakota State Trooper.

This kid likes me a lot, and he knows how to pay respect to his elders, I really appreciate that about him.

He knows my stance on killing, but when he originally asked me, he said if his request offended me, he was sorry, and would never ask again.

I do love animals, I kinda (kinda...) support the PETA deal, but I love my family more.

I really do.

It is easy for me to get caught up in my own personal laws, morals...stuff like that, but I have to tell you, at the end of the day....it is really important for me to check my heart.

Bear Bait pick up is today, so even if you disagree with my stance, I get it, if you want to hate on me, I get that too.

but as the world keeps on spinning, I realize that most of you will return your focus on yourself before the sun sets, and while that is taking place......

I will be praying for the bears to elude harm.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Bull Attack @ the 2009 Minnesota State Fair

OK Kiddo,

You know we're getting close to Fair time here in the land of 10,000 lakes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Minnesota State Fair, it is arguably the most attended of State Fairs in the Untied States.

However, Texas will make an identital claim, I'm not going to fight over it, I'm down with the Lone Star state, but some of my fellow Minnesotan's are a little chapped because in the midst of the Texas Fair Grounds is the stadium were the Longhorns play college football, and it has been passed onto me that they count their football fanbase into their totals.

Either way, the Minnesota version is wonderful, more often than not people drive in from Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakota's to partake of these festivities.

This will be my 8th or 9th year where I will host a 48 culinary shows.

Each year we have a different theme, and each of my guest's will have to plug a recipe into said theme and the 2 of us will banter with our audience.

Over the years we've had mayors, food writers, people who supply NFL teams with food, people who feed the army, and chefs & bakers from every corner of the state.

As I get older, I find myself talking to people like an old man who loiters outside a hardware store......

"Yeah, I remember the Fair of 04, that was the year that the woman with blue hair passed out during my cookie demo. And while the medics were doing their best to revive her....some news station dude actually stepped over her slumped body to try to sneak an interview with my B-level co host.

And then there was the Fair of 07, sweet Jesus of Warsaw, not only did it rain throughout the entire Fair, but the water heater burst and the demo kitchen was flooded. That turned a 13 hour day, into a 19 hour crawl.

But if I had to pick which Fair sticks out in my mind....w/o a doubt it had to be the 09 Fair. From the very first second of the very first day I should have known things were going to be crazy.

Right in front of the main entry gate, 2 cars collided and one flipped upsidedown, while the other leaned against it and appeared to be doing a handstand on its grill.

It looked like something from a sculpture garden that was built with a 1.2 million dollar grant.

This was also the summer where those ultra-ultra low rider jeans were in vogue. I'll bet 25% of the women under 25 were wearing them. The back belt line sunk so low that 4 to 5 inches of butt crack protruded over the belt loop.

It was more than unnerving, it really was offputting. I get it, people are trying to express themselves, and a forward person shouldn't be ashamed to stare at God's creation, but c'mon.....butt cracks have there own set of rules, there never has, nor never will be a time when the general populace adopts a philosophy where "butt crack acceptance" becomes the norm.

If this wasn't enough to give us Midwestern Fairgoers something to discuss all winter, what occured on the last day of the Fair would for certain.

Some cowboy guy entered his bull into one of those farmyard beaty contest and his bull won first place. I forget the bulls name, but it was big and black, and looked like one of the demons from hell in the Dante's Inferno book.

Dude, was feeling all slick, cuz he was bringing this beast to its trailor with a blue ribbon in his hand. I don't know how cowboys think, or what they think about, but I imagine that in addition to a sence of pride, after the adrenaline rush dissipated it would be normal to consider breeding this stud out for some hard coin.

I don't know, but as the cowboy accompanied the bull across the Fair grounds, the leash thing slipped out of his hands and the horned creature was on the loose.

The cowboy's heart sunk to his spurs because after the instant relization that his prize was switching from a jog to a sprint, he noticed that this multi ton animal was headed directly towards a baby carrige.

The mother of the baby carrige was like 10 feet away, I can't remember if she was washing her hands, throwing away a diaper, I guess it doesn't matter, but her back was turned to this oncoming train wreck.

From all accounts, people who witnessed this said at that exact moment, everything just kinda turned slow motion, for one split-split-split second, they all shared an abject helplessness.

W/O time or ability to share conversation, the crowd were in telepathic agreement that the babys fate was within seconds of being snuffed out by this heavy breathing steam roller.

Then on a dime, as if gaurdian angels deflected the course like a goalie steers away a weak shot, the unthinkable happened, the bull stopped in its tracks.

The cowboy barked out instructions to the crowd to remain still, while the bull surveyed further target options.

Then almost turning 180 degrees, the bull twisted around, hit 0-40 quicker than a Corvette and lowered its head and buried the crown of his skull flush into a fire hydrant.

One second - two seconds - thr......

The bull didn't even make it to 3, it fell over dead.

While the cattle corpse lay on the pavement, security and media rushed in quickly in hopes of presenting a new Fair angle to the millions of viewers who follow our states premiere event on television.

NEWS REPORTER -
"Hey cowboy guy, are you pissed off that your award winning bull is dead?"

COWBOY -
"If you were here and seen how that babies life was spared, all I can do is apoligize to the crowd, and ecspecially the babies parents for this unfortunate accident. All that matters tonight is that-that baby is going home safe."

Cowboys are cool.

Remember kids, exactly one week from this moment, I will be putting the final touches on the Saint Agnes Demo Kitchen.....I look forward to seeing you there.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2011 Irish Fair's Winning Scone Recipe

When you are a wholesale baker by trade, inevitably you end up attending a ton of events.

For the last 5 years I would say that w/o a doubt, my favorite of these has been the Irish Fair which is held down on Harriet Island.

You have to love the fact that the events promoters have bypassed a gate fee. By doing so, each one of us has a couple extra shekels to buy that one last mug of Guinness or Harp.

I'll was serving several accounts, so I typically get to the island just about the time the cock crows. After dumping off my wares, I'll have a couple hours to spare before the Irish Soda Bread / Scone contest takes place.

I've been a judge on their panel for years, and in fact....it was brought to my attention that Dick Trotter (Trotters Cafe) had a scheduling conflift, so Klecko was going to be the judge with tenure for the first time.

The event site has the Mississippi River forming a natural boundary on its west side. This served as an ample backdrop while I while guzzling espresso and becoming mentally prepared for what was ahead.

I stopped to marvel at the spectacular paddleboats which had to be painted by an ex circus employee. Their red railings and porthole shudders practically "POPPED" off the side of the VESSEL.

Drip.....Drip......DRIP........BOOM

Yeah, just like the last 4 previous Saturdays of Irish Fair, God had decided to either send a plague of wetness, or who knows? Maybe clean up the joint by hosing the venue down with sugar cube sized rain drops.

Klecko doesn't care though, he's been wet before, so now he turns 180 degrees and begins watching some of the early purvayors and volunteers cross the spacious fields, all of which are dotted with monolitic tents.

So now I'm starting to see a bunch of guys congregating along the sidewalk, and most of them are wearing kilts.

Remember, I'm alone, it's early and I have nobody to talk to, so my mind started to drift a bit.

Immediately I flashback to the day I was walking to elementry school and a kid named Brooks crossed my path and was wearing a kilt.

I slugged him in the head for this. I've blogged about this before, and surely will again, because anytime I see kilts, I think of his dad the preacher, flying home, carrying his son a present, and when the child is elated....Klecko punches him im the head.

That was 40 years ago, and I am still scarred.

Tick Tock goes the clock, and through the Magic of blog timing, we are now at the soda bread / scone contest.

The other judges are chef Eric from Longfellow Grill, and a Tea Room lady who has lived across the U.K.

Eric judged with me last year, and I really liked working with him. he is a lot of fun and not afraid to make decisions. However, he is a chef by trade and not a baker, so eventhough the competition is only for pride...and Blue Ribbons. I started to actually feel a little pressure begin to mount.

There was around 50 entries, and most of these people made special efforts to wake up very early so their submitted entries would still be warm.

I have to believe that each contestant secretly hoped that their recipe would win the grand prize.

If it were me, I'd have practiced my victory speech while throwing my dry ingredients into the mixing bowl.

3-2-1.......the contest starts, the administrator brings the first entry and sets it down in front of me.

A lot of times when your entry gets viewed or tasted can have a huge bearing on your final outcome.

If your scone is first, and it is epic, its hard to know how great it is because you have nothing else to compare it to, and in most cases, it won't receive the marks it merits.

If your scone is last, you are really screwed. How can you expect to impress the judges when their palates are fried, their stomachs are full, and their nerves are tweaking from a preexisting sugar buzz?

So now I can smell cheese slowly floating like drunken ghosts into my nostrils.

O-M-G, it smelt great.

I cut sample pieces for my colleagues, but shoved a slice into my mouth before they did.

Within moments I knew we had trouble. I knew myself, and my preference enough to be certain that none of the other 49 baked goods would come close to this.

I shared this info with the other judges and told them that I wasn't handing out high marks lightly. I thought this savory scone was tops.

After a couple hours of sampling all these labors of love, the chief administrator tallied the scores and sure enough, the first entry won.

At this point, I had about 7 minutes to get over to "THE TABLE OF KNOWLEDGE" where I was going to talk about Celtic bread history, so I'm hurrying.....and the winner interrupted my course by asking me to pose in a photo with her.

What a honor.

The womans name is Patty McCann and she rambled on server times how she simply couldn't believe that she won.

this isn't all that uncommon in contests. The people who enjoy their victories the most, are the people who don't feel entitled to them.

Patty told me that she was feeling a little uncertain as to whether or not she should even enter the contest, but now she was thilled that she did.

The recipe was a savory one that used Dubliner cheese. Working with Dubliner can be like walking the razors edge. If you go light, you won't pick up the flavor and the taste bakes out, but if you go heavy, well your piece ends up tossing off a pungent odor.

The window between these to camps is slight. I've always found it hard to balance this cheese, but Patty nailed it spot on.

I loved this recipe so much, I actually asked her if she would send it to me, so I could make it at home.

Anybody who know Klecko knows this is not him doing a very good imitation of himself, he typically doesn't like to ask for recipes.

After sending it via E-Mail, I asked her if I could share it with you guys and she enthusiastically agreed.

Congrat's one last time McCann and on behalf of the L.A.B. viewership, thanks for sharing.

IRISH FAIR - DUBLINER SCONE

3 cups cake flour
1 t. soda
wee bit salt
wee bit sugar
1/3rd cup of grated Kerrygold butter
1 - 1 1/2 cup(s) buttermilk
grated Dubliner 3 ounces
fresh rosemary, sage & thyme
425 about 5 minutes, then drop to 375 until done.

ENJOY






Monday, August 15, 2011

Minnesota State Fair Recipe Handout #3

UKRAINIAN BORSCHT –

adapted from THE ART OF RUSSIAN CUISINE (Anne Volokh)

1 soup bone (broiled)
1 pound boneless beef chuck
1 ½ pounds sausage
2 medium white onions
1 carrot
1 small handful of celery root or celery seed
1 pinch salt
2 medium beets
3 diced tomatoes
2 diced potatoes (already boiled 75%)
1/3rd head cabbage
1 dash of pepper
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of any white bean
1 tablespoon fresh dill
½ cup mushroom
3 cloves garlic
Add water as needed

*topped with chopped parsley and sour cream

** If you stick a wooden spoon into the borscht, and it stands erect, it is Ukrainian

***Always remember the majority of your flavors in soups-stews and chili comes in at the beginning of the cooking process, not the end.

Don’t forget to visit Klecko each month at the Saint Agnes Retail. It is always the first Saturday of the month between 10 a.m. & noon

Feel free to become Facebook friends with Saint Agnes Baking Company and / or Danny Klecko

Would you like some more baking resources?
Then try Baking 101 or “Star Tribune Taste” on Facebook, and leave your questions for their staff baker Kim Ode

If you enjoy reading stories or collecting “Master Recipes” just go to Google and sign in on Klecko’s “Last American Baker” blog site. He has used this platform to exchange baking concepts with bakers from 90 countries.




The Most Important Ingredients in my Career

"If small town America didn't exist, I wouldn't even care!" Tydas Pharaoh

DATELINE CHATFIELD MINNESOTA -

It seems like just yesterday I was blogging to you guys about my excitement when I was able to drive to Iowa to bring my son home from college.

Well,today it was time to bring him back.

I have mixed feelings about this. I always wish the family I raised would remain in tact, but I know it is in everybody's best interest if we follow the conventional pathway of maturity.

So once again, I'm driving down a road which will lead us all to a new stepping stone, the bread truck is packed from bumper to bumper with fitted baseball caps and over 50 pairs of Nike's which are all packed in their original boxes.

Tydus is wearing his Dre Beats (head phones) and like every other Father in America, I navigate a course to a destination that will have no direct bearing on my personal life. While the destinations featured character listens to hip hop with heavy eye lids.

Don't get me wrong, this is a fathers job, chauffeuring is one of the few roles left in my sons life where he will concede I am dominate.

When you drive an almost 20 year old who was raised in a metropolis through little hick towns, and you realize chances are that he's going to remain in an institution which is nestled in a corn field for several more years, it kinda gets you thinking.

Man rule #528 declares that once a child turns 18 and becomes an adult, it is in the fathers best interest to no longer dole out advise. Now this is not to say that a dad can't administer rules, you can do that until your kids 50, if they live under your roof, but....you still should not give them advise.

It simply falls upon deaf ears.

So now we pull into Chatfield, this is a nice little rube town in southeast Minnesota,If you left the city limits and continued south, if you smoked 4 cigs while driving, you'd cross Iowa as you lit the 5th.

I always pull into the Greenway Cenex for gas on the route, and I can see my son invisibly rolling his eyes at my predictability.

After gassing up, I always go into the restroom and wash my hands, I hate sweaty gas hands on a road trip, and the cool thing about the Greenway Cenex bathroom is it is decorated as if you were at a tea party.

When you see this unique washroom, you know for a fact it wasn't the ownerships idea, somebody put so much work into it that it had to be a young grandmother of a cashier or something like that.

The walls are actually wall papered, and I have to wonder if this beautiful aesthetic is what has warded off graffiti, or maybe farmers simply don't tag the room that they poo in.

On the woman's wall, there is a large framed lithograph of what I'm guessing is a famous French painting. It appeared to be from the impressionism period, you know....the piece had that whole Monet vibe rolling.

In the picture was a woman outside her cottage and the landscape was filled with orange dots (which represented flowers) further than the eye could see.

My Pastry chef Gilson is in France as we speak, she is living on a goat farm on an island which floats off the western coast.She met these people on Facebook, and now she's actually living the dream.

To Gilson, France is a reality,but to many of the women who pee on that toilet in Chatfield, I'll bet France seems as realistic as Venus.

This is not-not-not a judgment by any means, simply an observation.

Success can only be grasped if it shows you it's handle.

Are there really any handles to Paris in Chatfield?.........maybe, but I doubt it.

As I popped back into the truck, apparently my kid is decided to do something unprecedented, he's torn down the musical barricade and is going to talk to me.

As we pulled out of the lot, straight ahead of us was a dwarfed Ferris Wheel and a slide for people who rode potato sacks. I'm guessing they were remnants left over from the previous evenings Hooting Annie.

We looked at the shoddy craftsmanship of the Ferris wheel, and before I mentioned that kids in our neighborhood would bypass this ride for 5 minutes on a X-Box, Tydus threw out a clever quip about it belong to gerbils on steroids.

95% of the time Tydus and I have discussions out of Sue McGleno's earshot, we're usually talking about things that are irreverent, things that would make you like me less if you knew...LOL, so I'll simply keep my mouth shut, but if you are a father, and have/had a 20 year old son.....you know exactly what I'm talking about.

This went on for a bit, and then we turned off the last highway onto the dirt roads that took us through Amish country.

I don't know where it came from, but all of a sudden I felt compelled. I felt like I needed to impart some wisdom on my kid, and to be truthful....it kinda freaked me out.

I guess the bottom line was even if my kid thought my topic or conversation was lame, maybe one day when I'm dead he will look back and get that I just wanted him to know that I wanted to do the "Little Drummer Boy" deal and share with him one of the few gifts I have.

He's not a dog guy, he's twice as good at baseball as I was in my prime, so all I really had left was my junk drawer of savvy.

Klecko -

"If you do get your teaching degree, if you end up coaching sports, no matter what your career is, whats the best way to separate from your colleagues? How will you raise your personal visibility?"

TYDUS -

" "

Klecko -

"Its not a trick question kid. Life is a competition, but the smartest or most qualified person doesn't always win. What is the quickest past to the largest pile of money in your field?"

TYDUS -

" "

Klecko -

"I think w/o a doubt, it is conflict resolution. I never knew until I got older how fearful the majority of humans are to effectively and expediently resolve conflict.
Peoples careers or entire departments can travel off course if somebody in their work place doesn't have a vision.

but, but.....even if somebody in a department has vision, perception is a funny thing, greed, ego, and moral beliefs (or lack of them) will all contribute to pulling people away from one another.

So how do you get into a position where you can do this? You just do it. Don't wait to be asked. Read as much as you can by experts on conflict resolution, but then attach your Tydus swag to it, throw down your own version.

The main reason people fear conflict is that they don't want to be attacked themselves. Even in the most cleverly calculated situations, you're gonna get some shrapnel in your a**.

You actually have to train yourself how to become bulletproof. I've brought unions into huge plants. I've been in the midst of heated legal battles, and I've always been able to disconnect from it the second I get home.

You have to, if you are going to be effective.

Every company, every concept, every project that has people running it will be flawed, why? because humans are a flawed species."

TYDUS -

"Laughs"

Klecko -

"And the key to your presentation, your conversations, your revelations..........
It all boils down to confidence. If you don't have any....fake it.
I swear to the Polish Christ, a subscription to false confidence is the fastest way to the power podium.

Once you see the fruitful results of your efforts, you will buy into yourself. If you are going to be a leader, you have to have someplace to lead people to."

When I was elevated to CEO of the baking company I currently work for in Capitol City, I was called into a room and told that in some respects the position was being handed to me somewhat reluctantly.

Ownership told me that it was the hope that the company would be run by somebody with a college degree in business, I appreciated the honesty, but for reason not told to me. I was informed at least for awhile, they were going with me.

Have a vision,rush to the roar of conflict, and make people believe in you.

Its a flawless template.

Around this point, he caught my flavor so I terminated the topic before he began to find it droll.

Even at 20, or maybe especially at 20, I find my self issuing wisdom in baby-steps.

Alright, the soap box is starting to wobble under my feet, and I can see the hook coming in from stage left, but before I sign off, my next post will discuss adventures at the Irish Fair, and it will include a scone recipe so bad a** that it will change the way you eat for the rest of your life.





Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Love a Man in a Uniform....

Before you get to be the King of Turd Island, they start you off as the Prince of Turd Island.

I think Klecko's greatest memory while holding that youthful position, was the first arbitrary decision he made.

Everybody in the shop was going to wear brand new uniforms.

We were at the West 7th Location back in those days, 4 tin walls on a concrete slab, and if you rated our professionalism on a scale of 1 to 10.....it would have read "OUCH."

That's right, we were a rag tag unit, and truth be told....I was the greatest sinner of them all.

Back in those days, I wore sleeveless V-neck T-shirt's, Red Wing work boots and a pair of plastic shorts that Sue McGleno bought off the dollar rack as a joke.

In addition to being plastic, these shorts had modest Hula Girls which were strategically positioned to look like they were resting on the outsides of my thighs.

Each night / morning, when my shift ended, I'd take those shorts into the alley, turn on the hose, rinse-lather and repeat the process.

When Autumn rolled around I was given the title of "Production Manager", and that's when I decided to strut my swag.

During my first shift wearing the "Princes" crown, I called G&K uniforms and had them send out an area rep.

When people dress in a uniform, you'd be staggered by how much more their production will increase. Most people really do feel proud to be on a team. The key however is to give them a uniform that accentuates their skill set, not mock it.

I've never gotten how anybody could step into a McDonald's and take themselves serious. I'm not gonna be a hater and drop all that "Super Size" doctrine on you.

Go ahead....eat their fries everyday for a month, I can't say I blame you. Very few sins give me the abject delight that a large red cardboard container of deep fried potatoes does.

But their uniforms......

It's like they purposely want their employees to feel an element of shame, if not, why would they clad them in apparel that appears to have come from some kind of clowns consignment boutique?

When the G&K rep came, he had catalog upon catalog, and many of them were dog eared to pages of outfits that he best felt would represent the spirit of my crew.

When I looked at them, I didn't want to be rude, but much of what he was throwing at us was "dainty"......checkered pants, coats with fancy cloth buttons.

But the worst mistake he made was to call me "Chef" in front of my crew.

You'll never know how common this is, and I do have mad love for many chefs, but I am a baker.

So now the crew begins hissing and jeering and the guy recoils in fear. I toss the well meaning coot a red carpet of retreat by pointing out our uniform shirt i might be interested in.

I selected white shirts, with dish washer snap buttons.

Some might think I chose this to be thrifty, but that had nothing to do with it.

I wanted our main garment to strangle us with humility.

There is nothing uglier in God's world than a Food Service Worker that thinks they merit gold tassels and bronze epaulets.

Well with my staff, I wanted to allot the largest portion of our uniform budget into out hats.

We weren't going to wear those crude paper hats.

I didn't like the idea of matching white baseball caps with the companies logo stitched on.

What I wanted more than anything was the floppy cloth Chey Boy R Dee hat.

When we matched them to the shirt......dude, we were fashion forward.

So now the sales rep guy automatically turns his catalog to pants, and in the section he was thumbing through, there was like 192 straight pages of white pants.

My crew howled.

Sure this "was" traditional in commercial baking from the book of Genesis until 1995, but at that point the commercial baker resented looking like the Ice Cream Man.

So w/o getting too weird, my posse collectively chose navy blue shorts.

Ownership was kinda pissed, for awhile at least.

They thought that we should have gone the more traditional route and worn all white, but I mentioned that we didn't want to look like something that lurked in a retro snow globe.

So there you have it, we all had new threads, we looked good, we worked hard, and we made money.

3 or 4 years later, our business had outgrown the bakery. So when we moved, one of the things on the "To Do" list was to check with reps from numerous uniform company's.

I contacted 5 or 6, and within days, every one of them gave us bids and engaged me with such excitement that spittle would form in the corners of their collective mouths.

Well I take that back, not all of them jumped through hoops, our purveyor at the time (G&K) never got back to me.

I was a little annoyed. I was never crazy about our sales rep, but you can't judge an entire company by one employee.

So I called the HQ, left a message with some talking head.....but "no go", nobody wanted to dance with Klecko.

Ironically, when our bakery moved to it's new neighborhood, an artful industrial area, guess who my new neighbor was?

Guess who sent out a billion route trucks on the same street as my delivery fleet?

Uh Huh......G&K.

Isn't it funny how on the first Monday that a Ameripride delivery truck parked in my lot that all of a sudden my new neighbors kinda went spastic? LOL

I don't know, I guess it would be like Pepsi servicing the break room at Coca Cola Bottling, but I gotta tell ya, it kinda got weird.

During my first year at the new place, they contacted me 1/2 dozen times, begging-begging-begging for the biz back, but I told them you have to be careful when dissing a Pollack, we remember longer than elephants.

5 weeks pass, and then some Heidi Klum looking super model chick bangs on my production office door. I can see her angelic face through the glass. The oven guy was in such disbelief I think he may have soiled himself.

So I asked my newest friend to what I owed this fateful visit, but she remained aloof. She started rattling off stats about me and all my dogs. She swore to forfeit her life for Chihuahua's if necessary, and then she went on to tell me that she was rededicating her life to the Jack Russell nation.

LOL, within the first 5 minutes she mentioned a dozen things that I was ultra passionate about.

Most people would immediately demand to know who the person was or the pretense of their visit, but Klecko doesn't work like that.

Just ask Sue McGleno about the time we went to Vegas and a smoking hot chick came up and started a discussion. Sue McGleno kept giving me the evil eye, and I couldn't figure out why she was being rude.

When that conversation had its first awkward pause, the hot Vegas chick matter of factly mentioned that she specialized in couples, packages started at around a grand.

It may be the only time I blushed.

When I asked Sue McGleno if she knew the chick was a pro....she just shook her head and told me I was a child.

So anyway, the chick in my work office gets on the topic of Little League, and now I had just had enough. I cut her off mid sentence and said.....

"I am prepared to divorce for you, but who are you?"

It was at this point she revealed she was a sales rep for G&K.

I ushered her out without saying a single word.

I would be thrilled to hear about your guys experiences with uniforms......

Is it fashion before function?

Has anybody forced you to dress as a lobster or mermaid?

Inquiring mind want to know.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Into the Arms.......of Babylon (The Nicollet Mall Farmers Market)

My alarm was set for 4:12 a.m., but my internal man clock woke me @ 4:06.

Don't by fooled by the ego driven stories that people who work outside the 9 to 5 tell you, a guy never gets used to a 4 a.m. wake up.

Not even a baker.

Today I was going to fill in for "J", a middle aged women who has anchored our downtown Minneapolis farmers market for what....maybe a decade?

Sure, I've been by the market for a hour here, or a hour there, but pulling an entire shift is a little different.

Every Thursday morning "J" and a young college kid hop into a banged up Ford Econoline van at 5 a.m. and haul a full jag of bread and pastry down to the Nicollet Mall.

If you are not familiar with the Twin Cities, this area is trafficked harder than maybe any other part of the city.

When me and the kid pulled up to our sidewalk stall, it was just about the time of morning when vampires have their last cigarette before going to bed.

The first hour was basically comprised of me humping heavy bread crates to improper places while my college aged supervisor respectfully corrected my misgivings while simultaneously letting me know what a tool I was.

For every ounce of flesh that a pre 7 a.m. alarm clock rips off your back, the dividends are repaid tenfold the instant you witness a metropolitan sunrise.

When everything was in place, the kid gave me instructions and went off to find a Starbucks.

The first wave of people that crossed my sight line were staggered waves of guys in suits.

O-M-G, I don't know what I'd do if Klecko had to dress up like them every day.

Sure, I like nice attire like anybody else, but to be honest....I'm only willing to endure the discomfort if the suit is acting as a "Date Uniform."

Sue McGleno has been known to be "nicer" to Klecko when he takes her to epic venues w/o wearing his FUBU's or Springsteen V-neck T-shirts.

But what a lot of people don't realize is that suits often times are designed for little guys. 99 out of 100 times if a suit coat has an Armani label, the dude wearing it is typically under 6 feet tall and is 20 pounds lighter than a Brit rythem guitar player.

Pollacks on the other hand, we're large and lurch like, half the battle for us is to find a jacket where our arms don't protrude 18 inches past the cuffs like Frankenstein's.

On the rare occasion that a Pollack runs across a suit coat that fits...lol, it usually has a George Foreman label on the inside and comes from the fat man store.

Sure, they call them "Big & Tall" stores, but if you've ever past by one and looked in the window, lets just say there is 10 hippo's for every 1 giraffe.

OK, back to the story..... now the street people came out. My definition of "street people" is basically peeps who just hang on the Mall all day but don't have any purpose for being there other than hanging out.

When the business world and the street people fuse together, I swear to Caesar they resemble the comic book study guides we used to get in Sunday school.

Downtown Minneapolis and Babylon are 2 brothers from the same mother.

Our Bankers and CEO's were pretty much imitating high priests and brothel attendants.

Whenever I witness this, I would be a liar if I didn't admit that part of me wanted to go "Jesus" on them and whip things while kicking tables over.

Not out of hatred, but just because it seems fun.

When the market starts to take off, I'll bet you have people from 100 different countries participating. it's really something else to see.

Each group is renting a dream.

Each person who has invested in a stall is a chance taker.

Sure, some concepts will make money hand over fist, while other will vanish like seeds tossed amongst the thistles.

But if nothing else, none of these participants can be accused of being overly cautious.

We have many-many other farmers markets across the TC's, but for whatever reason, the Nicollet Mall market is the Cadillac in my book.

I don't think many markets anywhere have such a perfect mixture of diversity and economic viability.

As a buisness person, the one thing that's nice about this location is that there is a lot of expendable income. If your price tag isn't ridiculous, for the most part people will pay w/o flinching.

About 30 minutes after the first early morning office workers circled our booth to purchase pastry for their cubical, the drug dealers start walking the perimeter of the market to sell their wares as well.

The kid who is basically supervising me, points over to one of them and mentions that their mark up is certainly higher than ours.

A couple of things have changed since I last took money out of anyones hand down here.

For starters, and maybe I'm naive, but I guess it is considered "Not Rude" for the purchaser to conduct a transaction while being plugged into their I-Pod.

Sure, I'm grateful that they have selected our stand, there are other bakeries down there, but I do weep for a persons soul that decides to become exclusive in society.

And then, then comes this striking woman, I'm guessing she's around my daughters age, mid 20's, and she walks up wearing spandex shorts and a jogging bra.

Her body is covered with sweat, and as her muscles begin to glisten in the early morning sun light, my booth partner is practically ready to faint from fear that this Goddess might talk to him, but she doesn't, she talks to Klecko.

While this young temptress scans our pastry cases, she begins asking me ingredient questions, but while she is doing this....she is also fidgeting with her navel piercing.

Twist-Twist-Twist...... "These have goat cheese in them huh?"

Twist-Twist-Twist...... "Is that apricot?"

I'm telling ya, what ever happened to the days when girls simply wrapped their hair around their index finger?

I'll tell you one thing that hasn't changed though. And you can disagree with me all that you want, it's just one mans observations.

For 8 hours as I stood on one spot, I noticed that Caucasians seemed to be afraid of the African Americans.

I mean there is so many different races represented at the market, and most of these groups melt in the pot with each other, but whenever a couple of young black men step into a space, if there are white inhabidents there, they quietly recoil and forfiet the territory.

I don't get it, I really don't.

I have been at this location over 50 times and never once witnessed, or even heard of any kind of debauchery.

You don't have to take my word for it. If you know any young African American men, just ask them if they feel as if the general populace is afraid of them, if they agree with me.....ask them why?

I think dialouge is the only way this can change.

After 10 a.m. we go through a lull, but during lunch rush I saw the one thing that might have made me smile the hardest.

Some chick was wearing a tank top, I'm guessing she did this so we could see her bad a** dragon tattoo that almost qualified as a full sleeve.

She ran the point and held a long rope that had rubber rings attached to it.

The rope was 8-10 feet long, and each of the rubber rings were used as handles for some Kinder aged kid to hold onto, basically this item served as a P.C. leash.

It wasn't the dragon tattoo that brought my attention to this "Field Trip" but instead I heard wailing.

One of the kids (and their was 6 or 7) had fallen to the pavement.

The dude at the other end of the rope looked like he either was a Pearl Jam roadie or active in some kind of "Save the (insert favorite cause here)program"

So since left wing dude, was closer than the tattoo girl, I assumed he'd help the fallen child to his feet, but instead, another kid let go of her rubber doughnut extended a helping hand.

When the injured kid rose, he wailed....and wailed.

And then, all of the children let go of their handles, formed a circle around the kid as he kept crying. Nobody touched him, nobody said a word to him, they just waited while staring.

At first, this incident totally tripped me out. Like they were shooting a sequel for "The Boy's from Brazil", but after the sobbing stopped, and the train began rolling again, and then I saw how the Dragon Lady and the Tree Hugger dude met eyes, and how their stares were soaked with pride, or approval.

I think they were working on teaching these children mercy w/o involving any drama.

although this moment didn't exceed 1/2 minute, it hit me like an anvil dropped from a tower.

Mercy w/o Drama......awesome.

In closing, sure.....Farmers markets are great because they enable us to buy local, and work within a more diversifed envirement, but sometimes I things the best part of the whole deal is watching the people.

Klecko would sure love to hear about some of the markets you attend, and your experiences there.