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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Secret German Mission and Klecko's Kvass Recipe #1

Throughout this summer, Klecko has shared a theme with a few of his confidants.

Through the course of natural timing it has become apparent that this particular part of my personal and professional life have hit a plateau.

Without vision....people perish.

I love to have goals, or even more than that....I love opportunities.

The one thing I assured the people whose advice I respect the most was......

"Klecko is about to embark on trolling for a whale!"

According to statistics, It's not like my mortal coil is begging to be shed, but let's face it.

Brilliance takes time, and lets not forget a platform.

I got time for one last hurrah!

I really would like to "set the hook" into something that will be the final chapter in my baking legacy.

For a long while I believed that I would one day return to Russia and resume some of the ideals that I have been lucky enough to sew.

But, lately a dream monkey has been following me in my sleep.......

It crashes its symbols "BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG", but before I have a chance to strangle the little furry twerp....the crashing stops, and in a voice of invisible musings, I hear this monkey whispering that just keeps repeating Germany......Germany.

That's all I'm going to say for the moment, but Germany....I think "You Next". I think that you will become my finish line

With that said, I do owe a big thank you to my L.A.B. Blog followers from the Fatherland who have been so supportive.

To date, other than the United States, Germany reads this crazy Pollacks rants more than any other country.

In fact, I have had more German hits than #3 Canada and #4 United Kingdom combined.

In September of 2012 the I.B.E. is having the largest international baking show in the world in Munich, who knows....if the Saints of Warsaw still have me breathing and baking...I just might be there.

But there you go, I said it. I tossed intentions into the Cosmo's, now I just need the vision.......

I'm uniting the rope, casting off, so wave to my shrinking silhouette as I drift out to sea. I am going to find me a whale.

KVASS -

Let's talk Kvass for a second peoples, are you familiar with it?

Kvass is a process where you basically make bootleg alcohol which can be used for drinking or cooking.

If you've ever baked sourdough, Kvass is to soup, what starter or ferment is to sourdough......it adds flavor.

Like many concepts, Kvass has dozens of basic recipes and handling instructions, but tonight.....I am going to give you the "Klecko Family Soup Recipe"

I is simply Christ like.

The first thing you want to do is get a glass jar and fill it with the following...

2 1/2 cups of water
3 ounces of rye flour
1/4 clove of garlic

Make sure you don't place these contents in aluminum, it messes with the ripening of the fermentation process, so glass or plastic work best.

Once the contents are in......stir with a whisk, and then place cheese cloth and place it over the top of your receptacle.

Once this is done, place it in a part of your home/business where the temperature is moderate and leave it there 4 to 5 days.

Throughout this process you should check on your Kvass 3-4-5 times per day, always stirring the contents, scraping residue off the walls and floor of your jar.

I kinda like to pretend I am Jane Goodall's boyfriend and I am tending to a baby chimp.

Typically as this process imitates itself, you will find the rye particles resting on the bottom of the jar, then a cloudy / muddy / milky middle, and finally a clear - pungent clear layer on the top.

I never make soup the day I want to eat it, I cook it a day prior, and then I place the cooled pot into the fridge and let the flavors build over night.

So with that said.....If you want to eat on day 5, Do a 4 day Kvass.

Alright......I'm going to list the ingredients and then tell you how to make this marvel.

1 soup bone
3 1/4 cups beef stock
4 ounces bacon
1 medium white onion
1 container of fresh mushrooms
1 1/2 cups of finished Kvass
12 ounces sour cream
5 or 6 small red potatoes
6 ounces cubed / cooked ham

Step #1
Toss soup bone into the oven and set broiler to high......
You want the bone flesh to cook and the marrow to ooze through the bone.

Step #2
Boil some water and then take your baby red potatoes, dice them and boil them about 75% of the way through. Don't bake them, your heat distribution will be uneven. Boil-boil-boil.

Step #3
Fry your bacon in a covered frying pan. when it is done, drain the grease into your soup kettle.

Step #4
Add a small chunk of butter into the soup kettle along with the grease and start to saute the diced onion (remember white onions saute best - yellow and red get soggy)and diced mushrooms as well.

Step #5
Take soup bone out of oven/broiler and insert into the soup pot.

Step #6
Now add your 3 1/4 cups of beef stock (making sure you use you water reserved from boiling those potato's and then just add beef cube granules) and your 1 1/2 cup of finished Kvass (by this point you have run it through a sieve or strainer) and then your sour cream.

You want to bring this to a 10 minute boil, while you turn up the heat, toss in your potatoes, ham and bacon.

After the boiling is done, just simmer for another 1/2 hour.

You are going to find that the Potato Water Beef Broth, Kvass, and Sour Cream together are like the Father - son and Polish Ghost.

Good luck with this.

Good night Berlin

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Pope's Cream Cake Recipe & Kim Ode's Adventure.

Polish Jesus,

Verily-Verily, I say unto thee, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Usually when other people get really cool stuff, like many of you guys. I covet their spoils or oppurtunities.

However, today on this rare occasion, I won't.

I've already had my "God Payback" as I like to refer to it, when I was able to go and work in Russia.

Throughout that time, nobody was more supportive than my friend Kim Ode.

She sent me video links to where I would be going,filled my head with sensless facts about the Motherland, and even gave me a 4 leaf clover for good luck.

Well.... time has past, and often times I have wished (and said Polish Jesus prayers)that my friend could have a simular experience.

Any chump with a credit card can book an international ticket, no big deal there, but to go abroad and have the oppurtunity to work.....O-M-G, it doesn't get better than that.

But, if truth be told.....Ode isn't volatile enough to blend in the eastern part of europe.

Her DNA is a little more laid back, I've been told it is traced back to Scandinavia. her lineage is a product of Norway.

So yesterday, I call Kim Ode (who had just come back from vacation)and in a "Deer with its head caught in the headlights" voice she tells me.....

"I miight be going to Oslo."

For the briefest of seconds I waited for a punchline, but it never came.

Kim Ode continued.........

"The paper wants me to do a story about modern Norway, I'll have acsess to the King & Queen. As a matter of fact Klecko, not long after my return, the King and Queen will be coming to America, and one of the first stops they'll be making is at your son's Lutheran college."

The last comment forced me to witness JP2 spinning in his burial vault, but no kidding huh? My bestest best friend gets to go to Oslo and experience....oh, I don't know, a sort of homecoming I guess.

Polish Jesus....I give thanks to thee.

In the past, when oppurtunity has come my way, there was nothing I loved more than hashing out the small details, forcing others to become irritated with my exsessive glee.

but today...today...today......

"Excuse me Klecko, do you have a second?"

I did.

"If you were going to fly into Oslo, would you transfer in Reykjazik or Frankfurt?"

Remembering the Fischer / Spassky match in 72, I opted for Iceland.

Kim agreed.

"Yes, that's what I selected."

When I asked if she would have any free time, I basically did so flinching, like a old softball pitcher who hangs a meatball over the middle of the plate......

"Well, we'll just have to see. You do know I will be spending a great deal of time with the Minister of Foreign Affairs right"?

And now I can hear her chuckling, because Kim is far too modest to brag to most people, but when she started to unviel her purpose to me, I think the oppurtunity made her giddy from disbelief and forced her to do phone smiles.

She also reported that she would be checking out the new opera house, and the huge ski jump that was recently constructed in the middle of downtown Oslo's metropolitan area.

Polish Jesus I give thanks to thee!

Her plane will be lifting off in 4 short days.

For those of you who are inclined to saying prayers, or tossing out mega karma, please keep her in mind as a favor to me.

And Polish Jesus.....I really want to do more than thank you. Nobody wants to hear the graditude of a parasite, so in the tradition of The Little Drummer Boy, I will offer up tribute.

Today I am going to post something that has been kinda secretive to me, something i have kept close to my heart.

It is the favorite pastry recipe of John Paul the 2nd.

In 1999 when he visited his old hometown of Wadowice, he mentioned to the press corps matter of fact like, that as a kid he was really fond of kremowka cakes.

Within days every bakery in Vatican City, and many bakeries across Italy adopted the Popes favorite recipe and put it into production.

Remember, JP2 grew up poor, so in some respects this pastry was considered "peasant".

Most of the ingredients in this treat were scraps that the Polish bakers had at the end of their workshift, and wanting to be a good steward of the products made available, they would basically make a sandwich that had puff pastry as the two bread slices that held in the custard cream filling.

For the record....some people use a shortbread, but most people can agree that puff pastry was the far more common version.

So while your puff pastry squares are baking in the oven, scale up the following......

2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
a pinch of salt
6 egg yolks

Scald the milk and vanilla in a saucepan and combine the sugar, flour, salt and egg yolks. Stir until it is blended. You would like it to not have any lumps. Slowly add your milk, cook over a low flame, and always stir.

When the custard is done, spread between the to squares of puff pastry, and some people will sift powdered sugar over the top layer of laminate.

Polish Jesus.....I really do love Kim Ode, take care of her while she is away from us and provide her with cool adventures where she doesn't get hurt, but....oh yeah, thy will be done.

Polish Jesus.....I give thanks unto thee

Monday, September 26, 2011

Klecko's Recipe for Love & Pumpkin Brioche

I don't care if its uncool, I'll come out and say it straight out......

Danny Klecko has an insatiable need to be loved.

In todays fast paced world, often times its easy to forget our wiring, our basic needs.

Instead of listening to cupid (who sits on the shoulder oppisite of your Guardian Angel), we listen to concepts that have been marketed at us through movies, music and 1000 other information catapults.

You are strong - you can make it on your own - you are cool.

As much as I hate to give props to John Lennon, I will have to agree with his quote that.....

"Only the fool plays it cool."

Why?

Well....I guess I'll have to finish it with another quote, but this time from Julia Roberts.

Remember in the movie "Pretty Woman" when Richard Gere was outsourcing Julia's love for a week?

Some kinda chemistry happened, and Gere was too much of a wuss to just flat out share his feelings that he had fallen in love with an escort.

So what does he do? He trys to continue to buy love.

Pretty Woman didn't fall for it though, because she too had feelings, she didn't want to compromise.

That's when she states what I believe is the obvious. That's when she sheeplishy said what I know everybody's heart screams out.........

"I want the fairytale!"

I can't believe that anybody would ever settle for less.

Well, now that I've lost 220 street cred points for quoting Lennon & Julia Roberts, I'll just segue back into this posts theme.

Just the other day was mine and Sue McGleno's wedding annaversary.

I really wanted to give her something that she would love.

So I asked myself, what is the one thing Sue McGleno covets? I mean does this earth hold one tangible item that she would trade her soul for?

Duh......French Toast.

And that's when I decided I would go "Escoffier" and design her - her own personal Pumpkin Brioche.

The following isn't the "Secret Loaf of Love" but it is a tested recipe that you can play with.

SPONGE

1/4 CUP WHOLE MILK (ROOM TEMP)
2 1/2 TSP ACTIVE YEAST
1 CUP PUMKIN PUREE
1/3 CUP SUGAR
1 CUP BREAD FLOUR

REMIX

5 CUP BREAD FLOUR
2 TSP SALT
6 LARGE EGGS
1/2 POUND (2 STICKS) BUTTER

For the sponge,combine the ingredients and if using a Kitchen Aid, use your paddle. Just mix a couple of minutes until all the ingredients become incorperated. it will have a mud like consistancy.

Place the slur into a lightly greased tub and cover, then place into a "warm" area.

Remix

When the slur doubles and gets tacky (usually a couple of hours on a moderate weather day, scrape it into your mixing bowl.

Then add your flour. salt, eggs and mix. Once again...if you are using a Kitchen Aid, switch over to the dough hook.

While the ingredients are mixing, toss in your butter in small chunks, one piece at a time.

Brioche is tricky, often times it's consistancy is DRAMATICALLY altered by humidity. So just watch the remix. Basically at about the 5 minute mark you want the dough to come together.

if it is still tacky, by all means put more flour in one small handful at a time untill it picks up.

when the dough is mixed. I don't give it any fermentation time, or resting time. I scale it, shape it, and put it directly into its form and start the proofing process.

Additional Tips -

BASE RECIPE

Many people will tweek this recipe and add spices to it...w/e, but if you are not a complete savage, you will try it clean just this one time. That way you will understand your base.

SUGAR

Often times people will put their sugar in during the sponge, and then there is another camp that thinks it should go in on the remix instead. i guess I don't believe in one way strong enough to put up a fight.

Oh yeah....there is a 3rd camp that subsitutes sugar for honey.

FLOUR

If you want to become a complete Brioche geek, you might want to try mixing your sponge with a patant flour (or flour of a lower protien level), just this small adjustment will turn your final interior into angel feathers.

Good Luck

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cake Au Saumon / Salmon Quick Bread Recipe

When I started off Home Ec in the 11th grade, I was really quite a sight to behold. It was 1980 and Klecko had heavy metal hair that lurched past his shoulder blades.

My wardrobe was pretty simple as well. A pair of Levi's straight legs, a white Springsteen V-neck T-shirt and a black leather jacket.

In 1980 there was no diversity in the western suburbs high schools of Minneapolis. The student population was entirely white.

About 80% of these kids were "jocks" and the other 20% were "freaks".

Jocks were the clean cut kids that cheered rah-rah and wore Members Only jackets. Freaks smoked 2 packs a day and almost always had 1/2 ounce of weed tucked into their S*** Kickers.

Klecko was in a curious position because he had-had a heart to heart with the Polish Christ and wanted to stand in line with the other dolts who always wanted to taste and touch, and feel as much, as a man can.....before he repents.

So I was living on the clean. I think at this time, I know at this time I was dating Sue McGleno.

My problem was difficult however. I didn't want to add to my singed brain cell count, but at the same time.....I wasn't about to go Wally Cleaver either.

So for that entire year, all I did was cook/bake and carve an 8 foot totem pole.

My Home Ec group was different than it had been in Jr High, back in middle school everybody knew one another so cooking was always social.

But at Armstrong Senior High, our student population was like 1/2 a million kids. You didn't know many people in your classes.

I do remember we got placed into pods of 4, and I don't remember 1/2 that pod, but I do remember Terra. Terra was smoking hot with that puffy 1980 hair style, and she had a collection of pastel sweaters that almost drove me as crazy as her Calvin Kleins that she painted on each morning.

During our first class it was apparent that she was going to ignore me, I mean she had to, jungle law declared this. I was a former freak who still looked like a freak, and she was a Molly Ringwald "Breakfast Club" princess.

As the year progressed I didn't think anymore about her than I would think of JLO today, I mean sometimes a girlio's just out of your league.

But as time passed, and Terra watched my mad culinary skills, I think she was intrigued and had one of those forbidden love things going on.

Often times she would cast off our leper partners and the 2 of us would cook alone in our space of tranquil bliss.

It was so Westside Story because we kinda grew crushes on one another.

One of the quickest ways for a boy to expedite love, is to make sure that you don't let the girl touch the dishes after dining, washing plates is a mans job.

I know - I know, you Sue McGleno fans are thinking....."I thought you were dating Sue McGleno at the time. well...I was, but when you are a 16-17 year old boy, you always need a "who next?" on a back burner.You don't envision that you will be lucky enough to plug into a lifetime partner.

When the school year got to close to the Christmas break, Terra started asking me if I was really a burn out. She said she had heard stories about how I had done some illegal things with chemicals, instatuted a bookie service, and participated in some physical altercations that her friends classified as beat downs.......

"Terra, that was then, and this is now kid, ya just gotta trust me."

She also lobbied for me to consider a haircut and wardrobe change, and I always assured her that was just around the corner.

Danny Klecko's coplete life makeover was a progress in work.

But the one thing that Terra really needed to know, the one thing that made her uncomfortable, the only thing that constituted a complete deal breaker was whether or not I smoked weed, because with her....it was evil, a product of the devil himself.

I really was clean at the time (like maybe 10 weeks) and assured her she had nothing to worry about. Her concern was strange because we never talked of dating, we had never done anything social, but who knows....maybe I was on her back burner as well.

Deck the Halls with bows of Holly, Fa La La La La, La La La La

The Christmas Holidays kicked in, and sure enough....all of a sudden my Jewish girlfriend got all Christian since there was presents involved.

I don't remember what I got Sue McGleno, but I do remember what she got me. One of her friends gave me the heads up that she bought us a pair of those God awful necklaces where the pendant is severed in 1/2 like 2 jigsaw puzzle peices, and each one of you wear your 1/2, indacating that when you are apart, you are worthless, but together...you were whole.

I would have sooner died that wear that thing. Can you imagine? Wearing something like that is an automatic reduction of 250 street cred points....daily.

So, Sue McGleno lived 10 miles away, I didn't have a car, so almost everyday I hitchiked over to her house.

Dude, I have a whole series of hitchiking Blog posts I could talk about LOL, but when you hitch everyday, around the same time, often times people who are running a simular scheadule will pick you up out of habit.

One such case was a trio of guys who often times were my Saturday ride. I don't remember any of their names, but I do remember that everytime I hopped into the back of their station wagon that the whole car was engulfed in smoke, just like a Cheech and Chong movie.

These guys were always-always crisp. When we first met, I was known to "partake" of a little medicine with these cats, but Danny Klecko was a changed man.....God - Country - Self...heh heh.

So on this particular day these guys were heading out to the "range" where they would take out their muskets and fire "black powder" guns.

You know, like in the Thomas Jefferson movies.

The thought of these guys being waisted and pointing primitive fire arms actually made me laugh. On more than one occasion they invited me to go along, but I just lied and said I was a pacifist.

So now today, on that day, it was really cold out. I was numb when I piled in. One of the guys told me that before they bumped me off on 63rd, that they would have to make a quick stop to some Gander Mountain kinda place took restock on black powder.

Beggers can't be choosers, I tagged along.

When I look back, I don't know why, but I went into to the store with them.

In the car these guys were comedic and actually kinda funny, but in public....Dear Lord of Bialystok, they were like chimps that had been released from the circus cage.

Up and down the aisles, up and down the aisles, the boys were racing shopping carts, accidently bumping products off of shelves and laughing so hard that even the redneck store employees coulndn't help but smile.

Nobody likes a taker right?

So keeping in the spirit of things. Klecko picks up some gnarly looking bear trap, turns to the trio and says......

"Dude, you'd have to smoke a pretty big blunt to deal with the pain that this boy would pass out huh?"

The guys starting laughing, I continued laughing, then all of a sudden my 3 buddies kinda shut up and stared over my shoulder.

When I turned around to see what they were looking at, it was Terra, and her father.

"Merry Christmas Danny McGleno" she said, but deep down I knew she didn't mean it.

I got busted celebrating smoking weed and stepping into a bear trap amongst my peers (all of whom looked like Charles Manson clones), and now I knew there would be a penance to pay.

Mine was that Terra started cooking with the cast offs from our pod, and little Danny Klecko went to the corner, with little Jack Horner, and finished his 11th grade Home Ec class without the benefit of companionship.

Often times I've thought about looking up Terra just for kicks. If I did, she'd probably think I was some kind of junkie, but if she just gave me one short hour.....I know I could win back her attention with this recipe.

Cake Au Saumon

1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of shredded gruyere chese
6 ounces of cooked flaked salmon
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix the flour,b-powder and eggs into a stiff dough.

In another bowl, mix milk,oil,garlic,lemon juice,and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Pour this liquid mixture on top of the flour and mix until smooth

Stir in cheese, salmon and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, and then reduce the bake temp to 350 for the remainder of the bake.

If you are using 1# foils, your complete bake time should be close to 40 minutes.

*Remember, as this piece finishes it's bake, it will pull away from the form.

** Also, most forms don't need to be sprayed or greased. This loaf has enough oil to let it slide out on it's own, if you add more....you risk deep frying.

Good Luck

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bad Restaurants - Good Poems

If you are a wholesale baker, often times all you have to do when a new concept opens is to look at what entnicity the concept is to know if you are going to sell them much bread.

If the place dangles a flag from England, Ireland, Poland, France, or Italy....

You can pretty much make book that these kitchens will be incorperating a lot of loaves, baguettes and bread sticks into their menu.

But of all the Euro countries the Greeks usually use the least ammount of bread.

The Scandinavian chefs aren't much better, shoot....if you're lucky you might be able to get them to throw down an open face sandwhich, but as mentioned, from my experience, the Greeks do the least to contribute to Klecko's Bread Empire.

You can thank the pita for that.

Its getting to the point where I have written so many of these Blog posts that they have become intertwined with my barstool and church pew stories that I can't always remember what I've told whom, and when.

If you've heard the following before, my apoligies.....just scroll down to the closing poem then and be done with me.

But, the first dishrat (dishwasher) job I had as a kid was at a Greek restaurant, the place was called Nicklow's on Hwy 100 in the western suburbs.

Being a "rat" in a Greek kitchen was horrible because everything was served on metal platters with all kinds of melted cheese.

Have you ever rubbed steel wool across metal steak plates?

I'd sooner look at your collection of hang nails and dead skin wads.

SCREECHHHHHHHHHHHHHH goes the sound as the hairs on the back of your neck pop up like G.O.P. soldiers on steroids.

SCREECHHHHHHHHHHHHHH goes the steel wool as you clench your eyes so tight that if your'e not careful, you might end up sharting.

As if this wasn't enough peril for a soggy suburban kid, each night around 6 p.m. the belly dancers would enter the restaurant through the back door, go downstairs into the dry storage area to change, and then they would resurface wearing a make shift thong and transparent viels that only covered about 8% of their athletic, muscular, Greek bodies.

There was nothing that these Greek Goddesses loved more than trolling by my self contained swamp area so they could "accidently" press a pound of flesh against the little white kid who had just crossed the puberty line hours prior.

Polish Christ, in my many trials that life has given me, I thank you for the memory of those women. They have provided unmeassurable levels of solace throughout the years.

The real reason I even got on this rant in the first place, is because I recently read a wonderful book entitled YUKON GOLD.

It is a book of poems that span a 40 year period of Saint Paul's own Mike Finley. if you Google it online, I do believe there is an online version for you to browse through.

Recently I spent an entire day going through the 300 some poems and I gotta tell ya, It was kinda like listening to all the Beatles albums in succesion w/o a break.

The following poem brought me back to what were truly the happiest-happiest day of my life.

The years of swamping with my rat buddies in those west suburban restaurants.

DISHWASHER

It's by far the best job in the restaurant
The cooks are up to their elbows in anguish
Racing to meet their exacting requirments

The waitstaff are scribbling salad orders
The barkeep's pretending to listen to stories
The coat check stares from her darkened box

But the dishwasher warms his blood at the wrists
And it goes to his heart like wonderful liquor
Everyone yelling, but he doesn't hear

Amen Mr. Finley...you sure nailed that one.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baby Landon & the best Curry Potato Salad Recipe

Mother Mary, home schooling the Christ....if you ever are in need of good food, don't hang out at a nurses party.

Yesterday, I was one of the few guys that tagged along with their wife/girlfriends that attended the MOPHA going away party for one of their nurses who was moving away to Arizona.

The party started at 3 p.m. which rests smack dab in the middle of a guys day off, so I just decided to flow with the current and do whatever I was told.

Of course I was ready to leave at 2:30 but Sue McGleno still wasn't home yet, she was at the grocery store deli, buying items for the pot luck.

At 3:17,as she emptied cardboard boxes of General Tsao's chicken wings into a fancy looking plastic receptacle, Klecko started to laugh.

Upon noticing this, my Russian/Jew wife didn't start throwing eye daggers at me, but I could hear the infantry in her head starting the loading process.......

"What's wrongs with you?" I was asked.

Sometimes I can't help it, It's not that I am being a smart a**, its not that I am trying to shame, but seriously.....deli chicken wings at a work related event?

"Sorry Mr. I Feed the world, but not all of us have time to cook wonderful dishes. Some of us have more important things to do!"

While I tried to figure out exactly what those things of higher importance were, I could tell that baby doll was stressed so I actually did keep my mouth shut and even agreed to drive.

Sometimes I think the thing that astonishes me the most is we are all given the exact same time to do what we gotta do in a day, we each get 24 hours right?

So as I steered our ride on the crosstown, I pondered why Sue McGleno has had to apply her make up in mirror of a bread truck 9 out of 10 times that we go out.

We do have a vanity ya know.......

Of course our street cred shot up because we got to the destination fashionably late.

The party took place in the back yard on an elevated deck the lorded over a series of bird feeding stations in the back yard.

Along the garage door were lined up 11-12-13-14 coolers.

Can you believe that? Only 33 people were currently in attendance and that meant there were "drinks" for all, in fact a full coolers worth for every 2.5 people.

Sue McGleno ditched my a** immediately, and just like getting stuck at an airport, or waiting in the doctors office, I was going to have to find a way to entertain myself.

In husband terms, we call this floating, and the formula for surviving social events like this is trying to determine how long you are going to be there, and then you just try to set up an itinerary.

OK, we'll be here 3 hours, so if I spend 45 minutes shooting free throws in the driveway, 30 minutes talking to cute nurses, 1 hour watching a "den" TV....and so on.

But there was no basketball, there was no TV available, there were really no ancillary recreational outlets.

Apparently I would have to actually socialize.

Anne, the host, a woman in her mid 70's (?) set the pot luck dishes up in her kitchen so people just had to cross the patio threshold and grab their eats w/o fear of bugs, rain or cold.

So I figured would go and observe how ashamed Sue McGleno would/should be for bringing Cub Food Deli wings, sure there might not be any caviar present today but.......

But nothing!!!!! LOL, O-M-G.......I have never seen more cracker plates and pre made deli chicken wings and meat balls in my life.

Dude, these people didn't have deviled eggs, they didn't have a fruit bowl, nobody even brought the obligatory vegetable plate.

Crackers and chicken wings.................

Part of me wanted to laugh, but then part of me was sad.....so I walked over to the sliding glass door and stared into the crowd.

I guess for those on the outside looking in, I might have looked like a caged gorilla.

In some respect's I'll bet that was an amusing sight, but as I surveyed the party guests wondering who was it that didn't have time to cook, I spied a large group of women.

Many of these ladies were young, and many of these kids were holding kids of their own.

Not 2 or 4 years old kids, but I'll bet there was 1/2 dozen babies under 6 months old being passed around the crowd like bobbers on a windy lake.

Now I got it.

These women work more or less the same shift as Sue McGleno....8 a.m. till they are done. More often than not, that is 6 p.m.ish, and by the time these women get home....they are exhausted.

Remember, these beautiful lasses haven't just been away from their homes for 12 hours, they've been fighting people cancer.

So even as I mentally gave these chicks a red carpet of retreat in my mind, I couldn't help it.......I kinda got flummoxed.

Really? Really?

You can't even do something a little s-e-x-y with potato salad?

You can never-ever-ever go wrong bringing high quality potato salad to a life event.

So now I splashed back into the crowd. I raced up next to Sue McGleno, held her hand and mentioned how striking she looked in a voice that was loud enough to embarrass her, but also remind her that she was lucky enough to be in that 10% of women that had a date.

The second I witnessed her eyes register my quick witted praise, I headed to the corner of the patio and started talking to the young mothers.

The thing that I'm finding out recently is today's young mothers aren't 21 or 23 like when I was a kid, now days they troll around the 30 years of age.

So none of them knew me that well, but most of them had heard stories, so within minutes I began erasing my boredom by talking about babies.

One young woman named Emily, I think she's a chemo nurse, she was leaning back hard into a lawn chair and holding her bundle of joy as if he was a football.

I quietly laughed, because Sue McGleno LOVES to come home and share experiences with me about her colleagues and their personal lives, but c'mon.....I'm a middle aged man.......I don't even want to hear about my friends, let alone her workmates.

But it was funny, because Emily was adorable, and in some ways reminded me of my daughter. Sue had mentioned to me on a couple of occasions that "M" had-had a newborn that was colicky and never slept.

Poor Emily just sat there with this non descript attitude and eyes of a 3rd shift baker at 10 a.m.

Her baby was 12 weeks old and his name was Landon.

Klecko -
"You named him after Landon Donovan the U.S. World Cup striker huh?"

Emily -
"Well kinda..we wer"

Klecko interupts -
"Kinda means yes. you know....I'm not sure anybody has told you this, but when somebody has a kid, we are compelled to tell you how attractive they are, even if they are really ugly, but I give you my pledge, that's one good looking kid!"

Like all mothers, even though she viewed her kid as the most handsome, you could tell that she would never tire of 1st baby compliments.

So people are rotating, and Sue McGleno so seldom asks anything from me socially, so even though I was bored I tried to look like I wasn't.

I mean, she doesn't so much mind me being bored, but if her friends pick up on it, that's when a husband will feel the wraith.

Typically I would go in the kitchen and clean things up, or stir pots of whatever....and if nothing else, I would even wash dishes, but it's hard to do much with cracker plates. They sit there and nobody touches them.

For a brief moment, Klecko didn't know what to do.

But then all of a sudden, out of the blue came this cannon shot, this bomb shelter siren.....well actually it was baby Landon, and that kid was screaming like he meant it.

All the women smiled as if to say......

"See, that's what Emily has been contending with. He certainly is an active fellow."

But then 5 minutes passed, then 8, and finally 15.

I am not a baby expert, you've heard me say it before....Klecko doesn't dig kids until their 4th birthday, but even I knew this kids fit of rage was extraordinary.

Typically a baby will get pissed off and drop fire on you, but usually around the 15 minute mark those demonic cries will dissipate.

Not Landon, and I think that's why I liked him.

I'm not kidding you, you could honest to St Peter see it in the eyes of all the gray haired women, they were looking at the baby wondering what the "H" was wrong with it.......he was getting louder, and louder and LOUDER!

Poor Emily looked defeated, and the second I saw this, and I'm not kidding....I looked to the heavens and told Polish Christ......

"If you recall Sir, my daughter is in Omaha, I can't always be there for her. But for what it's worth, I'll fix this kid, but if you could throw some attention my daughters way, I would be grateful."

So now I walk over to the table where Emily and 4 other women are circled and they all look perplexed.

So enter stage left, the baker swoops in and says.......

"Give me your child, I will fix him with prayer, song (and then under my breath) or exorcism."

Emily was ecstatic, Sue McGleno didn't believe it, and the other women were silently thinking that there was no way in heck that they'd carry a womb child for nine months just to hand it off to the delinquent baker.

But people do crazy things when they are sleep deprived, but hanging with Sue McGleno offers some street cred for a thug, but I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I was just a little disappointed when I overheard my wife say......

"I think he might be able to do it, but I'll check up on his in a few minutes "M", so don't worry.

Then over the next 30 minutes, Landon kept screaming, and screaming, his head was vibrating and you could tell he was more than a kid in a diva mood, something was wrong.

I noticed earlier outside that he was barfing up milk like babies do, so I figured he just had extra gas.

As I patted his back, the kid burped, not once, not twice but thrice.

While I tried to extract all this air out of him, all the blue hairs came into the living room and circled me like vultures.

Landon was now officially the star of the party.

3 or 4 of these senior women meant well, and I get it, I don't know squat about babies compared to them, but I had this under control.

But when results weren't immediate, the mothers of yesteryear took turns bumrushing me and taking their best shot at pacifying the kid.

Lay him on his stomach, lay him on his back, put a pacifier in his mouth, check to see if he is teething, check his diapers for acidic poo.

No-No-No-No and No.

Now the Old Guard collectively exchanged looks of fear.

I'm not kidding ya, this is no embellishment to make an average story a little more readable.

Old women were freaked out, Landon was shrieking.

But now that they left, I walked him into the front room where we could be alone.

So now I cradle him in the fetal position facing face up looking at me, and I rocked from left to right, singing him my guaranteed "Knock Out" song that pushed my unwilling kids into slumberland thousands of times.

And while I did this, I softly pumped his knees into his chest, playing his baby torso like an accordion...

"Sleep-sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
And if the thunder cloud
Passes rain
Oh let it rain
Rain down on me
Ohhhhhhhh
So let it be
Oooooooh Oooooooh
So let it be
Sleep-sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized."

And as I did this, that little kid stopped screaming, but I could see in his eyes that he was still terrified.

When you are a dad, you learn quicker than anything else that you should never show your fear, instead you exude confidence, against whatever odds.

So as we rocked, and rocked, and rocked, Landon starts flapping those heavy eye lids.

And we rocked, and rocked, and rocked, and then I started to look around Annie's home. I've never been there before, and at the moment my feet were nailed to the floor.

She lost her husband several years back and now inhabited this large home by herself.

As my eyes scanned from left to right, I spied clocks, and mantel photo's of people wearing dated fashions that make a young person laugh.

To be honest, even a couple of years ago, I would have chuckled at some of these photos and wondered why they weren't put away in boxes or albums and replaced with some more fashion forward photos.

But then like a lightening bolt that comes out of the sky....BANG, not only did it hit me, it struck me in the a** as if to tell me what a fool I had been.

When you are young, you look at seniors homes and view them as outdated, but their not....they a memory vaults.

I got goosebumps thinking about this and I rocked, and rocked and then finally, on about the ten thousandth time of pushing that kids knees to his chest.......

It was like the kettle drums of heaven exploded, little man dropped a 26 second fart.

That fart had a might foul odor to accompany it, but I couldn't have been more thrilled.

All the tenseness left that 12 week old body, and little baby Landon laid happy in my arms, the fear had gone away.

I think as I am getting older, I am getting soft.

For years all I worried about was kicking tail and crushing skulls, but now that I am older, and my role in society has changed, I am seeing certain things for the first time in my life.

As I continued to rock the monkey boy in my arms, i really-really wanted to suspend time. I know how life works, we have epic moments and like cigarette smoke rings they vanish, not just the content, but unfortunately the deep feelings that we have attached to them will eventually lose their luster too.

At this point I could hear the girlios stirring and I knew it was just a matter of time before somebody came and swiped baby Landon from me, and rightfully so.

Hopefully in 25-30 years Emily will be in a similar situation where she will hold somebody elses kid, and it will make her mind race back to Landon like my mind was now brought back to an era where I held my own babies.

I miss this days.

But with that said, if you are going to a pot luck, there's no excuse for store bought, so just take a minute and toss this together..........

Klecko's Curry Potato Salad

Ingredients

* 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 10 eggs
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 (24 ounce) jar sweet pickles, drained and chopped
* 2 cups mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons curry
* 1 Tablespoon white pepper

Directions

1. Place the potatoes in a large pan of water and boil over medium-low heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

2. Place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water over medium heat, and bring to a full boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes. Cool the eggs thoroughly under cold running water and shell them. Chop the cooled eggs and place them in a large salad bowl.

3. Stir the onion, sweet pickles,curry, white pepper and mayonnaise into the eggs, and let the mixture chill in the refrigerator at least l/2 hour to blend the flavors. Mix in the chilled chopped potatoes, and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Serve cold.

Its a lot better than a cracker plate....trust me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Talking with Connie Chung and Kim Ode's Historical Rhubard Recipes

Like many days, yesterday started off with a phone call to Kim Ode.

There was a point when I used to do this out of friendship, or desire to learn what was new in her world, but now she has become a daily routine much like a morning shower, or a double shot of espresso.

Some might feel that becoming "routine" is in some weird way kinda a demotion since this denotes that there is no spontaneity left in this series of communication.

I disagree, for Klecko....the one thing I love more this anything is knowing that I am needed.

Kim Ode is an essential in the Klecko lifestyle......

Klecko -
"Hey, did I tell you that Axel and Slash have become friends again and there is going to be a Guns & Roses reunion here on November 15th?"

KIM ODE -
"Neat (said in level 10 sarcasm).......is Sue McGleno going?"

Klecko -
"No,it's boys only."

KIM ODE -
"But at least you'll invite her right?"

Klecko -
"No, we got in a fight over this last time they came through town, but c'mon...I sat through Simon and Garfunkel, that Siberian Railway Orchestra thing......I even flew her to Vegas to watch Bono out in the sand dunes."

KIM ODE -
"A girl still likes to be asked."

Klecko -
"Yeah, you know I know that Kim, but a Guns & Roses show is different. It's the definition of Boy's Only, seriously....as a middle aged man, this is my last opportunity to play with army men in the sand box.

Sue McGleno doesn't want to do that, she wants to play hop scotch."

Now I hear a sigh, not a Klecko sigh, those are meant to manipulate and cause low levels of shame, no....this was a Kim Ode sigh which in her world means she is bored, and the topic must rotate or she will replace you in pursuit of some cutting edge news that she can shill to her minions.

KIM ODE -
"I suppose I should go, I have to prepare for an interview with Connie Chung."

Kim says stuff like that and then throws up brick walls, I mean she'll toss a statement out like that and then she'll pull the rug out and start a new topic where she will comment on the weather....at least when she talks to me she knows she's in charge simply because she knows how to push my buttons.

Klecko -

What do you mean you get to talk with Connie Chung, really...about what? is she even doing anything today.....I guess it doesn't matter, I hate you Kim Ode, I want to talk with Connie Chung!"

Now most people who know Kim Ode have her painted as a dignified woman. She is the matriarchal voice of our State in fact, but Klecko can shed a little light on that, she does have a perverse side to her, a side that loves to watch her best friend squirm helpless LOL.

KIM ODE -
"Yeah, I won't actually be interviewing her as much as having an opportunity to ask her 5 questions, wouldn't you like to ask Connie Chung 5 questions Klecko?"

Touche my Scandinavian / journalist friend, you are in rare form today. You know I don't know more than the obvious about Connie Chung, but it's just kinda in my wiring to want to be "the person" who gets to determine the 5 questions!

Klecko -
"OK, I'll bite....whats the 5 questions you are going to ask?"

KIM ODE -
"In 1993, when you were anchoring the CBS Evening News, people still really were tuning in to three major networks. Now there are roughly a bazillion sources of news through all sorts of channels. Are people better informed today, or do you have concerns about the proliferation of news outlets?

It was almost 30 years ago that you made news by talking about the importance of pursuing a better balance between career and family. Sarah Jessica Parker's new movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,’ explores the same issue. Why is this still seen as something novel, even courageous, and unaddressed by society?

WomenVenture helps women set up businesses and become better manages of finances. What will you be telling the gathering on October? Anything from your own experience?

You helped judge the Miss Universe pageant earlier this week, an event largely understood, or perhaps misunderstood as a beauty pageant. What can we learn from such events?

What projects are you working on these days?"

I guess these are pretty good questions, but Klecko mentioned that he thought Connie might stumble on #4. Talking about your participation in a Miss Universe beauty pageant is a lot like Jesus waving a hand gun in your face.

If you say "Lord of Lords, this pistol is making me nervous" well the world will claim that you lack faith, who knows????? If he's having a hard day, maybe this will upset the Messiah and some Old Testament plague will befall your clan.

If you say "Thanks Jesus....next time point a bazooka at me....in the name of the Father,Son and Holy Ghost" well, I guess you deserve to get shot.

Basically some issues cannot be answered w/o pissing off large volumes of peeps.

Miss Universe huh, it is so patriotic, so American Iconic, but lets face it.....it is so savage as well.

Daughter of mine, you should aspire to have really big breasts, always smile and make sure you practice answering questions as to how you would change the world.

I won't even get into the tiara...sigh.

KIM ODE -
"By the way, I heard from my publisher, and it appears that I have to come up with 10 more recipes for my rhubarb cookbook."

I laughed, because if you've ever done a cookbook, you know that when your publisher says you will need 120...you better have 150 ready to go.

It's not that publishers are dishonest, but its really hard to know an authors voice well enough to know how many pages it will turn into.

So Kim e-mailed me her manuscript and asked me to be an extra set of eyes to check her flavor combinations and if I had any suggestions.......

I don't think I mentioned that Kim is doing this book for the Minnesota Historical Society, and if you ask me, they are a nice fit.

The M.H.S. is responsible for preserving the history and traditions of Minnesota, where Ode is responsible for keeping the Land of 10 000 Lakes privy to the News of the World.......every single day.

So Kim hangs up, and pastry chef Deborah Gilson walks into the office. She has been gone for 5 weeks working/vacationing by herself in Europe.

From my vantage point she looks to have dropped some weight and her thinner body is engulfed in a dress that I just know she bought in some expensive Parisian shop.

So the 2 of us go out to lunch so we can catch up.

Originally the deal was that she was to live on a goat island off the west coast of France. And that's exactly what happened, but...well why don't I let her explain it?

"Danny, you wouldn't have believed it. In France people have their homes and they also rent out extra rooms to vacationers.

My job was to teach the the kids English, so I would do that, but I had to sleep in a loft, with the kids, and the Father would stay up all night smoking cigarettes and drinking with an ever changing cast.

One of the little creeps I took care of was Sinbad, and he never shut off his lamp at night. I hated Sinbad, I could never sleep.

Then at meal time, well the original deal was they would take me out to a restaurant and buy me one meal a day. They never did this. Instead, you got a scoop of rice, or a scoop of pasta.

No toppings, no side dishes, just one scoop....PLOP, that's it, no more."

Gilson is so Sue McGleno, that's why I value her. She works best alone, and fears absolutely nothing.

When I asked how she survived 5 weeks of that, well her little demon smile started to curl upward. With a sense of pride because she was happy to boast......

"I didn't, I fled the goat farm, I left the goat island, and then I just hopped a bus for 22 hours and headed for Spain, I feel comfortable there, and I had some time to kill before my lodgings in Paris would be open."

OOOOOH-OOOOOOH AHHHHHHH-AHHHHHHHHH

The monkey scream on my Droid alerted me I had an incoming Kim Ode call.

I decided to interrupt my Gilson convo because Ode never calls me, that's my job.

Klecko -
"What's Up?"

KIM ODE -
"How many phone conversations have you had with a celebrity today, and if any, how many times did they tell you that your voice was wonderful and then start badgering you to know how much voice over work you'd done?"

Well played KIM ODE - well played.

The following is a recipe from the Kim Ode / Minnesota Historical Society's Rhubarb cook book.

Let me turn it over to Kim........

Ah, Klecko speaks of a recipe I came up with for - ta da ! - my upcoming cookbook about rhubarb (next spring; save the date) Here's the deal: Saute a chopped onion in some olive oil, then stir in about a half cup each of chopped dates and chopped rhubarb. Add a cup of couscous, some chicken stock, then season with a bit of cinnamon and cloves. Top with slivered almonds that you've toasted. The tart of the rhubarb works really well with the sweet dates.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Give the Perfect Food Demo

The following is an advanced view of my monthly column I wrote for Food Service News. I was gladly accept any feedback you may have.

THE ART OF PERFORMING THE PERFECT FOOD DEMO

“I’ve seen a million faces, and I rocked them all” - Jon Bon Jovi

That’s right; now days pretty much everybody wants to be a rock star, or at least the next Food Network host.

Without putting too much thought into it, I’ll bet 10% of the e-mails or Face book messages I receive are questions asking about how to put together a successful food demo.

Industry professionals, media personalities, personal chefs, cook book authors…..everybody is trying to get a little piece of the limelight.

Nobody believes in the value of specialized presentations more than I do. Over the years I have witnessed this unique platform serve as stepping stones for many people’s careers.

However, this forum is becoming more crowded than ever, so if you’re going to jump into the pool….you better bring your “A” game.

I can’t tell you how many times I have worked forums where a notable chef will take the podium and think that their amassed wisdom alone is going to be enough to win over an audience.

Sure, people might appreciate it, but just watch how chef’s life experiences will pale in comparison when the following act is a circus monkey that has been trained to decorate cupcakes.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do a cooking demonstration. Listed below are some helpful tips, and if you adhere to them, I guarantee that not only will your demo flourish, but you’ll be certain to get an invite back.

Rule #1 – SHOW UP 30 MINUTES BEFORE SHOW TIME

It doesn’t matter if you are demoing waffles at a cooking school or making borscht on the channel 4 news. Somebody other than you is responsible for the success of this event. The last thing a host wants to worry about is if their talent is going to arrive.

I’ve been stiffed by “NO SHOWS” over the years, and although I’m not vindictive by nature, I really do end up being more than annoyed with them and almost never give them another invite.

Rule #2 – KNOW YOUR SPACE

If I am going to do a demo in an area I have never worked before, I always try to do some recon before the day of the gig. There is nothing worse than letting somebody’s perception determine your fate. Nine out of 10 times the person hosting your platform won’t know what your needs are, or what techniques you will employee throughout your show.

If the venue is in town, drop in and survey the kitchen. If there are appliances, test them out. You’d be amazed how many glitches can be worked out beforehand. You really want to minimize your mistakes.
Audiences simply will not accept ignorance as an excuse. In their minds, if you are credible enough to anchor that slot, you better execute flawlessly.

Rule #3 – PICK A GENERIC TOPIC

Basically, there are two camps of Demo Chefs. The first camp is the exotic artist that just gets so thrilled to show you some Albanian, or Bulgarian recipe. So much so that when doing this, they almost brag about how cool they are because only they know how to resource the special ingredients that are required to make that particular item.
These people never succeed.

Trust me, very few people are intrigued with presentations that they cannot relate to. A presenter should always remember to design their shows for their audience, not their ego.

The second camp is the thoughtful technician. This chef will demonstrate a timeless recipe that will always be en vogue.

Pie Crusts, Croissants, Soups, Stew or Chili are just some of the classic standards that just scratch the surface of pertinent topics .
With that said, you can always add some sexy ingredients to these if you like.

But the bottom line is, if you are a professional, it’s easy to intimidate your audience.
A good orator always makes certain that their medium is wanted and assessable.

Rule #4 – PICK A TOPIC YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH

Whether it is fair or not, crowds will anoint you as an expert just as long as you don’t get in the way of your topic .
You don’t have to make the expert claim; they will define you this way whether you want them to or not. Let’s face it, what you are doing is entertainment, and people love to set alliances with different types of entertainment camps….even culinary.

To date, I can’t remember ever hearing somebody saying…….

“I just saw the 12th best cheesecake baker in the world giving a raspberry swirl demo and it was great.”

There is no middle ground people, you will be the best or the worst. They will either worship you or want your head on a platter.

Rule #5 – ALWAYS GO UNDER YOUR TIME

Without a doubt, this is where the newbie messes up the most often.
When people get a little taste of attention, often times they are not willing to relinquish the stage.

If the crowd is led to believe that you are going to give them 30 minutes, give them 25.

Audiences have internal clocks and when they realize that your show is coming to an end, they get distracted. Most of the time around the 27 minute mark, your fan base will mentally unplug and start thinking about what’s next on their agenda.

The seasoned vet will pull the plug before the audience even knows it. Don’t forget the oldest adage in show biz…..

“Leave the crowd wanting more!”

That’s right, there can be powering in retreating.

I remember several years back, I was asked to do 40 minutes at a Chocolate Expo. The event center had a built in crowd, and when each presenter started their demo there would be 300-400 people in the audience.
Some speakers droned on for their entire time allotment, but ended up with less than a dozen people left in attendance at their shows conclusion.
This defeats the purpose friends. The purpose of doing demos is to send the masses back into the world with a buzz in their ears that continues to whisper our concepts to them.

I on the other hand opened my presentation by saying…….

“Hi my name is Klecko, and I’m not sure why I am here. I pretty much hate chocolate. Ya know….I should probably do my demo at the salt convention (people laughed at that) but since I am here, I’m going to show you a simple scone recipe, and after that I have 3 grocery bags of free stuff to give you guys.”

I’m laughing as I write this, because 90% of the people in attendance were not only smarter than me, but wealthier as well.
The scone demo only took around 15 minutes, but to be honest, nobody cared. They were sitting on the edge of their chairs like vultures hanging over a carcass.

When you say “Free-Free-Free”, this is the quickest way to form bonds and make friendships.
The bags contents had nothing to do with chocolate. I had sugar free Jello, cup cake liners, salt and pepper shakers, Trident gum and who knows what else.

You’d have thought I was handing over the key to the city the way these people mobbed the stage.
From the time I was announced, to the time I exited……I’ll bet I did 28 minutes tops.

If you want to measure the branding impact that experience had, just ask my wife how many times we’ve been stopped in public over the last few years by somebody who was proud to declare…..

“Hey Klecko, do you remember me? You gave me that free bag of Kitty Litter at the Chocolate show.”

I swear to Caesar, you can’t make stuff like that up.
In closing one other thing you can do that is invaluable is watch people who are tremendous speakers.

Listed below are just a few people in the Twin Cities that I have learned boatloads from watching.

Lee Svitak Dean
Kim Ode
Beth Dooley
Meredith Deeds
Raghavan Iyer
Patrick Pfundstein

Good luck, and don’t forget to drop me a line if you are about to do a demo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Restaurant Named 2 - Ronald Reagan's Chili Recipe

You know how when you slow down your car and roll down your window, you know how the people on the sidewalk or streets will slowly gravitate towards your vehicle to see what you want?

Most of these souls will be trusting right? Most of these people will flash a thoughtful smile and peek their head into your fishbowl to see if you need help with directions or any such thing.

Thats not how it works for Klecko, maybe it's my intimidating stature. Perhaps it's my fashion forward hair...I don't know, but what I do know is people kinda recoil a bit when the passenger windows slides down and the Last American Baker explains he is lost.

Yesterday was my first day back at the plant since the Fair and before I even had a chance to sit down in my chair, our office receptionist informed me that we had a problem over at "The Muffin Man" and somebody was going to have to run them out some bread.

So Klecko real quick changes into his monkey suit and floppy hat, then goes into the shop and pulls the items that are needed and tosses them into the baby bread truck.

"Muffin Man" I asked myself.....are they serious?

Our company is getting large enough that our client base can grow quickly or rotate in unpredictable intervals.

But how does a place called Muffin Man really exist? Cuz is really doesn't ring any bells?

So I look on the invoice, and this place is on the exact oppisite side of town, and worse yet, I will have to travel through downtown during rush hour to fix their problem.

If I haven't mentioned it, I am by far the most directionally challenged person you have ever met. I can hardly navigate my own house w/o a G.P.S.

Drive-Drive-Drive, and Drive a little more. What seemed to be a century passed, and I found myself in Saint Louis Park. I was within striking distance of my desired location.

The address on my invoice was 6800 Excelsior, but my Tom - Tom started blinking and shouting out at me "Recalculating-Recalculating".

The adresses's on the avenue went from 6600 to 7000 all in one jump, could this be a ruse? Was this bread incident a cruel joke?

I swear to the orphans of Warsaw, I had no options left, so I began circling the strip, and everytime I saw a pedestrian I'd cautiously pull up, roll down the window and ask....

"Excuse me Mam....do you know the Muffin Man? I'm trying to hook him up."

You can imagine the responces right...LOL?

So the place ended up being in a hospital and when I unloaded the product in their kitchen, I shared the story of my plight with a crew of 20 something girls with tattoo's.

They roared.

One of the girlio's, the one who was washing some of the prep utensils examined the invoice and smiled while informing me that the Muffin Man had changed addresses a lifetime ago.

We were now on Louisiana Avenue.

The rest of my day followed suit, so by mid afternoon, I was mentally and emotionally spent.

I decided I was going home and unplugging from life for the evening,I do this 3 or 4 times a year, but one thing I've learned is to run it by Sue McGleno before getting my heart set, cuz there is nothing worse than crashing onto your couch in your underwear, and then having a wife drop a list of immediate demands on you.

So it's after 7 p.m., Klecko didn't lift any weights, none of the dogs got walked, and just as he slid into his coach groove, his mind was set on watching the season debut of Monday Night Football but......

But, wouldn't you know it, Sue McGleno plopped on the coach as well informing me and every Angel of our Lord, that she too was taking the night off.

Sigh.

Sue McGleno isn't a huge football fan, so she took the TV remote and tuned in Turner Classic Movies.

The second 1/2 od "Don't Bother To Knock" was on. Thats the movie where Marilyn Monroe plays a whacked out babysitter who ties a kid up so she can shack up with Richard Widmark.

The movie was filmed in 51-52-53ish so the blond bombshell was still pretty young.

While I surveyed the attributes of her youth, Sue McGleno continued popping my fantasy bubble by making comments about how Richard Widmark liked to hike up his trousers and secure his belt just at his nipple level.

At this point, I had to forego my own fantasies to inform my wife that mentioning men and their nipples in a single sentance was not just breaking Man Rule #289, but it was also a Cardinal sin and could land her a** in hell.

When the film finished, and the T.C.M. host came out to run a postmortem on the film Sue McGleno asked me if I knew how Marilyn got discovered.

I've always heard that one day when Ronald Reagan was on some Hollywood set, he noticed her putting together an airplane with a rivot gun.

Reagan was no dummy, he knew excellence when he saw it.

As Sue McGleno questioned the authenticity of this claim, the T.C.M. host announced that the next film they would show would be "NIAGARA".

That's the one where she plays and adulterous who likes to make out with boys around the waterfalls.

In the opening scene, Marilyn is laying in bed buck naked, there is nothing but a thin sheet that covers her decency, a thin sheet that will act as a protective veil which might entice me beyond reproach, or save me from eternal damnation.

Sue McGleno knows me pretty well. She could see the fog horns and sirens spinning in my mind, and in her best Sue McGleno tone she reminded me.....

"Don't forget, tonight you are unplugging from everything, that includes Sue McGleno, so if this movie is going to be too much for you, maybe you should go back to football!"

Klecko knows restraint, kinda.

As I continued watching the movie and framed the beauty of those waterfalls, it occured to me that my destination for my lifes final goal had just become complete.

Listen Mister when the lottery I win, I ain't ever gonna work in no bakery again.

You know why? One of Klecko's secret dreams is to open a restaurant, let me tell you about it.

The concept would be called "2".

It would be a small raunt that only had 2 tables with 4 chairs each.

Each day I would would wake up and prepare soup-stew or chili, and bake fresh bread.

The people who attended (after making reservations months in advance) would not have any input in the ordering of their meal because they would simply get what Klecko served them.

Because my place would be trendy, and on everybody's bucket list, I would have to add high end cheese to accompany the bread.

The "2" bar would pour Scotch, Vodka, Whiskey or Milk.

The only hitch is that since Sue McGleno would be my server, you know she'd get pissed if she didn't get her sweets, so who knows?

Maybe I would ask Gilson to move to New York with us.

I think the Niagra Falls area would be perfect.

People honeymoon there year round. Klecko would love to be surrounded with that young-love-karma.

Wouldn't it be great to have water falls an an aesthetic for your diners to focus on.

Then when the love birds finished their romantic meal, they could conclude their evening with Klecko reading them love poems on the Maidens of the Mist boat tour.

I'll bet I would look fetch in a yellow slicker

Anyways, I got a girl friend (we'll just call her Krissy Baywatch) who resides from that part of the country, and she has assured me that the location would be great.

I guess like the White House or Graceland, this is just another American landmark that is plopped in the midst of a seedy ghetto like neighborhood.

Bottom line is that your audience is captive and more than likely to throw their coins, time and attention at you.

About the time the plot thickened, Sue McGleno dismissed herself, but before doing so, she dangled the clicker over my head, then looked at the buxom vixen on the television screen and asked me if I was going to behave.

The answer was obvious........

"Baby, you can always trust me!"

I didn't receave the parting look of assurance I was looking for though.

whi is it that brunette wives never trust their husbands in the company of blondes?

Ronald Reagan's Chili Recipe
(Modified with respect by Klecko)1/2 cup bacon drippings

1 soupbone (hambone is preferred)
2 cups chopped onions
4 chopped garlic cloves
2 pounds coarsely ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 cups red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon beef base
4 cups canned whole tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups of cooked black beans
2 cups of cooked white beans


PREPARATION:

Soup Bone -
Stick your soup bone in the broiler and torch that sucker. The key here is to get the marrow flowing out of the bone. This usually takes 15-20 minutes. If you get it a little scorched, it's no big deal, scrape the ash off and throw the finished bone into the kettle.

Using a 1 1/2-gallon heavy pot, melt bacon drippings. When hot, sauté onions and garlic cloves. Add ground beef and chili powder. Stir until meat is well browned. Add red wine (optional). Add salt, beef base, tomatoes, bay leaf and sugar. Simmer chili meat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Add your black & white beans to the meat. Simmer chili con carne for 1 hour, covered over low heat, stirring gently from time to time. Test for flavor.

P.S. Don't forget that Klecko has added a pinball machine to this Blogsite, feel free to scroll down and see if you can top his high score.

Monday, September 12, 2011

There is a Pinball Machine in the L.A.B. Site, Can you beat Klecko's high score?

Forgetting 9/11 - A Night with Richard Broderick

I wasn't going to blog tonight.

I haven't slept more than a few minutes this weekend, and I wanted to be somewhat rested for the new work week.

But then I made that fatal mistake, I checked Facebook and Blogger before brushing my teeth and opening a defective book that I could pass out to.

And there they were, comments from Klecko's Girlfriend Nation.

Expressions of commiseration from international devotees of the Last American Baker.

Belgium wondered if I was going to post anything specific to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Germany mentioned that I and we (Americans) were in her prayers.

Australia simply wrote "God Bless".

I can't tell you how much these comments touched me.

As a story teller, I do kinda feel bad, cuz to be truthful...I had nothing for you.

I intentionally tried to avoid rehashing the past.

Some would say that burying my head in the sand won't make the worlds problems, my problems, go away........but I don't recall ever signing up to be a universial problem solver.

Klecko is as optimistic and anybody you've ever met....but he's also realistic as well.

I've studied history, and I've observed people, and if I've learned only one thing its........

MAN CANNOT GOVERN MAN -

For most of my life I have lived in an ignorant bliss.

Growing up Catholic, I never once went to confession. I always figured it was a waste of time, I mean do we know for sure that God doesn't get distracted? Do I really want to cop to something may have slipped off the Almighty's radar?

Let's face it, if you are busted - you're busted, and there really isn't much that a Priest or anything other than a repentant heart can do to fix things.

As a Pollack, I never go to the doctor. I know modern minds will scorn my reasoning, but less face it, If I don't take medical tests, they cannot come back negative.

People flatter themselves by thinking that their ideas and actions have impact, but I got to tell you, if you are honest, if you follow the course of the world......

You begin to realize that our species is wonderful, a work of art, but it is flawed.

How can you use logic to combat a planet where people basically look out for themselves.

Religions, volunteers and non profits have all attempted to tackle this issue, but positive solutions never seem to hold any traction.

People are a flawed species.

So what can a person do to battle corruption? How can a person minister to a planet that is spinning off it's axis?

You can't.

But.....you can feed them.

If you read any of the 200 some postings I have in this site, and if you had to find one common denominator, it's not even close.....the crux of the Last American Bakers existence has been to preach the gospel of living in the immediate.

To preach the gospel of putting food onto plates and getting it into the hands of your friends, and better yet, your enemies.

THERE IS SIMPLY NO PROBLEM THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED OVER A WELL PREPARED DINNER TABLE.

If John Lennon would of adopted this philosophy instead of "IMAGINE"...who knows?

Maybe he'd have gotten the result he was looking for.

So my plan for this weekend was to avoid television stations that would run film loops of the twin towers burning and so forth.

I had a book release party to cater at Mike Finley's house this afternoon.

Mike didn't write the book however, it was his friends, our friends book.

The poets name is Richard Broderick.

As excited as I was to attend this event and hear Richard recite passages from his book entitled RAIN DANCE, part of me just wanted to close my eyes and open them the moment it became September 12th.

At 1 a.m. this morning, I decided to drive into work and make tart cherry / goat cheese scones to finish off our events menu, and as I stood alone, in the silence of an empty bakery, my mind went back to my son Tydus.

Each year before his homecoming football game, he'd get annoyed at the fact that they were not allowed to play until Saturday evening.

This meant that he had to occupy his Friday night and Saturday morning with something, anything to keep his mind off of the fact that he wasn't allowed to hit somebody for hours.

So my kid would put on his jersey and head phones and stand in the middle of the kitchen, eyes closed rocking back and forth to the music.

I swear to Caesar that this ritual went on for close to 24 hours.

Sue McGleno would become livid and thought that the kid was insane.

I never go against my wife, but in this one instance. I totally got what my kid was doing.

He was suspending time and planning for victory.

The only way I know to do that, the only way I've found that any of us can guarantee success is through feeding people.

I know it sounds simplistic, but shouldn't truth be just that, simple?

So the party starts, and 90% of the Twin Cities literary moguls came.

For a large part of the evening, I just sat back and fed the throngs.

So dear friends, like so many things that occur in my life, I use food to bandage, fuel, cop out......or even heal.

I guess it just depends on your vantage point and perception.

In closing, I would love to leave you with a poem that Richard presented.

Sometimes one poem can be equal compensation for a dozen hours of cooking, this is one of those poems.

The Fathers

by Richard Broderick

Down in the basement
Dead fathers move about
Bumping their heads on exposed beams
Trying without success to pick up tools from the dusty workbench
If their words could reach us
They'd ask for coffee and a smoke
If their words could reach us
They'd tell us how much they regret having deployed the squadron of bombers
That drones overhead in our dreams every night
They long to upgrade the circuit breaker
Replace the stained tile
Paint the foundation red
But instead
All they can do is eye an empty pack of cigarettes crumpled in the corner
Then go back to searching for the blueprints
To the family room that never got built

Once again, thank you world for the kindness you have shown me.

Good Night.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Doll House Murders, Wiffle Balls and Authors at a Picnic

Truth be told, and maybe you can picture this, but once there was a time when I made my city nervous.

I'm not certain what contributed to this the most.......

Some might speculate that 276 pounds of monkey, dog and nun tattoo's might have something to do with it.

Others might add that it may be my hair goals which have ranged between skinhead to an Ezra Pound pompadour.

But to be honest, I really don't care anymore.

Sure, the Polish Christ redeemed me when I asked for his blessings as a young man, but my city never considered me 100% legit until I was a published author.

And to that I have to give props to the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

At that particular time in my life, getting the hook up from M.H.S. lent more credibility to my career and social standing than if I had been signed on by one of the publishing moguls.

If you've never written a book, let me tell you this much, unless you are a former President, or maybe former Presidents mistress, you just don't get a lot of money for your efforts.

So unless a guy gets signed by Random House or Harper Collins, you are better off going with the publisher that will give you street cred.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to get signed on by M.H.S.

When these folks release a book, the topic and author automatically can't be scrutinized.

Let's face it, when your book gets placed on a schools book shelf with other M.H.S. titles that feature the plight of the Ojibwa, African Americans contribution to the state of Minnesota, or even anything that says Kevin Kling.........

Nobody can mess with you after that because........

If the Minnesota Historical Society signs off on you, then so must the people of Minnesota.

From the second my book was launched, people from both east and west of the Mississippi started to broaden their opinion of who Klecko was.

So that in turn helped my professional career, I got to do cameo's in N.Y.C. on Martha Stewart radio, and numorous other venues that were really only viable options to....how shall I phrase it? The acedemically minded?

Being literary is cool.

Today was the 3rd annual "Author's Picnic" and the best thing about this event is that it takes place less than a mile from my house.

So me and Sue McGleno decided to drop in and see what bright minds would be present.

Last year I attended, but I made the mistake of locking in on only one author, it was some guy who did a book about the golden years of All Star Wrestling.

When dude started telling me stories about the Crusher and Mad Dog throwing kegs, or how the scene changed when Macho Man and Jesse the Body came onto the scene, I didn't feel there was really any reason to talk with anybody else.

But often times if you don't mingle, it is considered rude.

So Sue McGleno and I are walking up this long Hansel and Gretel path and my publicist A-10 spotted my better 1/2 and the 2 of them went off to giggle about whatever.

So now Klecko sees a woman, she looks familiar, but who doesn't at this point in my life.

Her name was Susan Marks and she was the chick who wrote the "Looking for Betty Crocker" book, or something like that. I actually read it several years back so I was kinda stoked to meet her.

When I asked her what she was working on thes.........

I couldn't even get the sentence out of my mouth before she stuck a postcard in front of my face LOL.

I liked this chick.

The post card said...............

"Of Dolls & Murder" and had a picture of a plastic doll laying in dark shadows, with it's eyes closed.

Susan started to tell me (and this is in my words, not hers) that she was America's leading expert in CREEPY POP CULTURE.

What a cool thing to specialize in huh?

Her film will crush, and not just because it's promoted with bad a** post cards, but this girlio has savvy, she talked John Waters into being the films narrator.

The premise of the deal goes back to when cops actually used doll houses to reenact murders or acts of violence.

Barring tragedy, Its going to the debut on the 28th of this month at the Heights Theater.

So as if that wasn't enough, next comes along this guy wearing a wiffle ball T-shirt, and to be honest, the guy didn't really look like a writer.

Dude looked more like a rock star.

Very seldom will you meet a writer that follows fashion or is coincidentally blessed with high levels of swag.

God doesn't work that way, you can't have your cake and it it too.

That was until now at least, Dude turned out to be Brad Zellar.

If you live in the Twin Cities, I don't need to say anything else, but if you are from Helsinki or Lithuania, let me give you a clue.

Brad used to be in a band called the Gear Daddies.

The sounds they dropped on America were iconic, but music in itself wasn't Zellar's soul muse, he also enjoyed writing.

For years he wrote for City Pages which used to be the only viable news source for everyone in the TC's ranging from hipsters to business people.

I think he mentioned his book to me today, but to be honest.....

I was kinda freaked out that he knew as much about wiffle ball as he did.

For over a 1/2 hour, Brad told me stories ranging from having one of the official wooden wiffle ball bats from the 50's, to how his father put it in his will that it was mandatory that wiffle ball and chili dogs were present at his funeral.

He also has made several spiritual Hajj's to the east coast to fellowship with the wiffle ball factory workers. When describing this to me I had to laugh...Picture John Bon Jovi hanging out with factory workers in Mayberry R.F.D. and that might just scratch the reality surface of his experience.

I can't tell you how much I respect any man or family that forms their own personal religion around a slotted plastic sphere.

But the best part of the day, the part that made me smile the most was watching the M.H.S. Director Pam McClanahan.

Most people know her as the director or quarterback of the M.H.S. Press, but to me....I'll always remember her as the woman who went out on a branch for me.

Think about it............

This woman puts out books about the history and people of the state of Minnesota, and to let Klecko sit in the ranks or archives with some of Minnesota's brightest minds ever......

It simply blows me away.

Klecko will always have mad love for her, and forever be in her debt.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sue McGleno Puts Klecko in Jail (Contains a killer Mustard recipe)

You would think she would know after 31 years.

You would think if she valued our love, she would try to remember.

But, last night while you and yours were enjoying dinner......Sue McGleno brought me out sausages....... but they were covered with ketchup.

It might not sound like that big of a deal to you, but if you were a Pollack, you would understand.

Ketchup on Polish, Beer Brats or Andioulles is nothing short of blasphemy.

On top of that, this miscalculation landed me in jail over 20 years ago, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Over the decades we've had this conversation, this debate, dozens of times in fact, but for whatever reason....my wife doesn't see the value of condiments and forgets my mustard needs.

I do love her, and most of you realize this, but I swear to Caesar that - that woman doesn't know how to accessorize food.

If the Christ came to our house and handed her his cloak, Sue McGleno would toss it on her bed, and after a night of drinks, dice games and pleasant conversation, our Lord & Savior would eventually get ready to leave.

At this point.....Sue McGleno would resurface from our room with a windbreaker from Old Navy or an Adidas hoody, and If the Son of God questioned this by saying something like....

"I'm sorry dear child, this is not my wrap, I do believe I entered your home wearing the Shroud of Turin."

Sue McGleno would just roll her eyes and say.....

"Oh that's right, you're Jesus, so I guess that means you can never be wrong."

And then after exhaling a loud, dramatic sigh, she'd walk out on the 2 of us and the Lamb of God would say.......

"OK Danny....I'm feeling you. When those angels brought those prayer requests to me, I thought you were just being a whiner."

Russians have borscht, Jews have challah, but with Pollacks.....it is sausage that is holy.

I'm never going to tell other people how to eat, but I will tell you that you can tell a persons sophistication level by digging through their cupboards to see what kind of condiments they are using.

Sausages and hot dogs were designed to go with mustard. It is the most noble of all hot dog toppings.

Records show that civilizations used it centuries before the Christ was even born.

People with sophisticated palates from all across the planet have agreed on this.

Ketchup on the other hand, it was designed in Pittsburgh P.A. by a German immigrant that realized little kids preferred candy to food.

So Herr Heinz put aside his normal horse radish chores and started monkeying around with ketchup recipes.

Tomato's and Sugar......Sugar and Sugar.

At American baseball stadiums, hot dogs became all the rage and vendors sold them, but the difference back then was that hot dogs weren't served in buns.

Instead each customer was issued a set of white gloves and they would grab their "Red Hot" with their covered hands. Adults would dip theirs into mustard, while the little unsophisticated brats would drench theirs in ketchup.

As time went on.......women were converted to the insensibility of ketchup as well.

Either way...whatever!

My point is, well here.....let me take you back to the summer of 1989.

Back then my family was young, we had no money, and 1 broken down car.

Oftentimes I would ride a bike to work (about 8 miles away), but on the day of our story, the car broke down, and Sue McGleno needed the bike.

I wasn't sure how I was going to get home, my shift ended about 2 or 3 in the morning, but I figured I'd leave this to the Saints of Warsaw to figure out.

About 10 p.m. Sue McGleno called me up before she went to bed and requested that I stop at the Rainbow Foods on Arcade to get some ketchup.

I didn't ask why, I still wasn't sure how I was going to get home, but the timer on the Roto-Matic oven was singing, and if I didn't pull the racks of hamburger buns out within seconds......I'd have 60 dozen burnt rolls.

So after hanging up, and as my shift began to wind down, I began to wonder about how I would in fact get to my house.

I relayed my quandary to my colleagues and wouldn't you know it, the only person with a solution was Jeffy who more often was referred to as Tat Bro.

Tat Bro was the youngest guy on our crew.

He had blond hair way past his shoulders, adorned an assortment of tattoos and loved to do that backwards Axel Rose shuffle-strut while his doughs were mixing.

Tat Bro mentioned that since transportation at the Klecko house was unpredictable, that maybe I should consider purchasing a new-used mountain bike that he had parked outside.

I didn't want to be insulting, but I told Tat Bro that I didn't want to buy a "hot" bike.

After turning on the mixer, he sidled up next to me and said........

"Big Papi would never sell anything that was stolen. I bought that bike new."

When I asked for the receipt, he smiled and told me to stop being such a loser. According to him, only A-holes saved receipts.

I was in no position to argue.

So Klecko peddles 1 mile, 4 miles, 6-7 and 8 miles, until i arrived at my destination. The Rainbow Foods super market, and Praise Polish Christ that they were open 24 hours since it had to be close to 3 a.m.

So all of a sudden it occurs to me that I don't have a lock.

That sucked, my neighborhood was about a level 8 ghetto and it didn't matter what time of the day or night it was...if it wasn't nailed down, somebody would steal it.

So Klecko looks around, and finally notices that there are some shrubs on the side of the building, so cautiously I wheeled the bike over and launched it into the bushes.

I remember I just-just-just barely had enough coin in my pockets to get that ketchup.

I bypassed the bag, and headed back out to the parking lot. When I walked over to the bike and fished it out of the foliage....yeah, that's right. I got doused with a flood light.

"Drop the bike and put your hands in the air."

I followed Johnny Law's instructions, and then they told me to slowly walk to their vehicle and place my hands on the trunk.

I did this and then the chick cop asked if I owned the bike.

I responded......

"It's a friends."

Chick cop looked at dude cop, and then back at me.

"So...if you are borrowing your friends bike, why don't you lock it so it doesn't get stolen?"

And while the interrogation continued, the guy cop walks over to the bike, picks it up, and then looks underneath the seat.

"Hmmmmmm there's a serial number here. Let's check it out."

I don't need to tell you, it came up stolen, and they took me off to jail.

Back then I was too poor to be able to get bailed out, and I was too embarrassed to telling anybody other than Sue McGleno what happened.

So Klecko just sat in jail.

I don't remember how long they kept me, but I do remember that they gave me my bottle of ketchup back before they released me.

So when I finally got home, I slammed the bottle on the kitchen table and exclaimed....

"Here's your blankety-blank ketchup, I hope it was worth me rotting in prison for!"

I'm not kidding ya, Sue McGleno passed briskly through the room,and then she gave me "that" look, and replied.

"What are you complaining about? That's your ketchup. It was for the hot dogs that I made you for when you got home last night."

I kinda spazzed out and in a loutish voice and pointed out the flaw in her condiment protocol, but before I had a chance to line up my facts, Sue McGleno tossed that cold Russian / Jew stare at me and closed out the conversation with.......

"what are you saying? If I had you buy mustard instead...your loser a** wouldn't of gotten locked up?"

Then she exited the room, leaving me with cold wieners, soggy buns and ketchup.

I wanted to die.

Anyways....several years ago I was running around with a woman from Paris who showed me how easy it is to make your own mustard.

I gotta tell ya, It just isn't that hard, and for the little extra work you do, you really get paid back 10 fold.

Most people make their mustard recipes in a food processor, but I don't own one....yet, so I make mine in my blender.

I'm going to throw out one recipe that I really like, but if you get a chance, go online and surf the different recipes available.

The Germans do some really interesting things with sweet spices, so if that's your scene....just Google "German Mustard Recipes" and that should take you up a notch.

Ingredients

* 1 cup mustard seeds
* 2 cups lager beer
* 1 1/3 cups malt vinegar
* 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 1/4 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon dry mustard
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic


Directions

In a small bowl combine the mustard seeds, lager, and malt vinegar. Cover and soak overnight.

Strain the liquid and reserve in a separate container. Place the soaked seeds in a food processor and pulse 7 to 8 times. In a double boiler, place the cracked seeds and add the strained liquid, pepper, salt, sugar, dry mustard and garlic. Cook about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

When it reaches room temp, place it in the jar and tighten the lid. I let mine sit on the kitchen counter for 3 days and then put it in the fridge.

When you make mustard, don't be tempted to sample it immediately. It might not taste bad, but it won't be divine. Mustard needs to "set up".

Anyways......thanks for letting a Pollack vent.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Top 10 Countries that view Last American Baker

#1 USA
#2 Germany
#3 Canada
#4 United Kingdom
#5 Belgium
#6 France
#7 Australia
#8 Denmark
#9 Malaysia
#10 Russia

Interesting Footnotes -

Until 11 days ago, Canada had always been #2, however....there is a strong pocket of happening cats in Berlin that have been pledging their Mad Love for Danny Klecko, and the baker wants you to know how much he appreciates the German support.

#4 The United Kingdom is the only country in the top 10 that has not sent Klecko a personal message.....hmmmmmm

#6 Dear France, after all the pokes I've taken at you in jest (as well as New York) and you still keep coming back, I guess it goes to show who the real adults in the Blog Room are....Merci and you guys are wonderful.

#8 Denmark, I just did a 48 show showcase at the State Fair entitled "At the Euro Table." We had culinary themed shows that focused on every Euro country. Although the census reports that there is not a lot of Danes in my state, your peeps showed up in the largest number....and in costume none the less.

You guys are my dark horse in the L.A.B. site, and Klecko wants to party with each and every one of you.

#10 Russia, you are number 1 in my heart even though you are number 10 in web site hits, although I wished you guys were higher on the ladder....I shouldn't complain, at least you made the list. I don't see Poland in the top 10 - Sploseeba

OK guys, now you know who your neighbors are, so since we've gotten to become family.....feel free to shout at one another.