Friday, March 30, 2012

Poppy Seed Roll Recipe, and the Soviet Union

One week ago today, my son Tydas was sitting in my house finishing up spring break. I could tell he was bored.

"Spring break sucks when you don't have enough money to go someplace cool." he mentioned....

"Where would you like to go?" I asked.

"Moscow." was his matter of fact response.

Although he was joking, I got it....

The kid goes to school, in Iowa, in the middle of a cornfield, amongst the Amish....

My son is a lot like his father in respect that he really doesn't appreciate having to "buy his time."

He wants what he wants, when he wants it.

The saving grace for him is that his college offers some really fabulous Russian study courses, so once again, like his father....squire Tydus finds himself studying Russian language, history and modern culture.

Sue McGleno has reported that it is the only course that he has tackled with enthusiasm.

Well, it just so happens that in south Minneapolis there is a arguably the finest Russian museum in America.

So I asked my kid if he wanted to go on a field trip over to check out some dissident art work, and to my surprise...he seemed enthused.

Plop, we hop into the bread truck, drive to 5500 Stevens Avenue South, and before you know it, we are about to embark on the "FROM THAW TO MELTDOWN" exhibit.

It was comprised of painting from the 1950's through the 80's.

I've been to the Museum of Russian Art before, and I know my way around, but usually when I go, I've always been with a woman.

When I think back, some of the shows I've seen were really cool.

When Mosha my interpreter from the Siberian arctic came to live with me, we saw the plates and service ware from the Kremlin. It was stunning, and then there was a show featuring Russian farm workers from the south west part of the country during the "Wheat Campaign".

I can't remember the artists name, but the pamphlet to guide us through that collection insisted that dude who painted the series was the #1 "capturing sunlight" painter in the world.

Then there is the numerous times I'd go with Kim Ode, usually prior to one of my government scopes.

What I'm trying to get at I guess is when you go with kinda have to examine each piece of work thoughtfully.

A guy is forced to pause, stare hard, reflect and figure out why what he is seeing is meaningful.

The museum also has a gift shop.

So you guessed it, there's a whole different etiquette that needs to be followed in there.

"Would you like chai sir....mam?"

And then they pour you some green tea and shove you amidst glass cases filled with trinkets that have been grossly marked up.

But with a boy....LOL, the whole experience is so different.

You don't have to go in a specific order.

You don't have to talk in your library voice.

"Hey Tydus....back in that corner is a sculpture room if...." then Tydus interrupts....

"Paintings are cool, but do you really think I'm going to go in a little room to look at carved rocks?"

I'm not sure if I'd ever been prouder in my entire life.

The main theme of this whole dealio was Socialist labor.

Many of the pieces depicted day in the life moments that took place in factory's or areas that employed large machines.

But one of the other themes that Tydus and I noticed was how such a large percentage of this (and many other Russian exhibits) featured women as hero's, or in the least, equals.

I applaud Russian painters for not getting caught up in the exploitation of their women.

It just seems to me that American, French and German painters shroud their female subjects in sex appeal.

Don't get me wrong...I like girls, and I like girls bodies, but c' shouldn't be too difficult to realize that a woman in lingerie pales in comparison to a woman with broad shoulders, a rifle and a look of sincere confidence.

Tydus and I got through the entire show in 50 minutes.

That's about 1/2 of what it takes when I go with a girl.

I did wonder if he was disappointed that there was nothing left to see and asked if he wanted to take another lap.....

"Nah, I'm cool.....I really liked it, thanks for taking me Pa. Did you like it as much as some of the other exhibits you've seen here?"

As we made our way to the door I answered....

"I enjoyed it too, but I will's hard to beat a painting with tanks!"

No further explanation was needed, Tydus smiled most of the way home.

For those of you who are about to celebrate Easter, your dining tradition will not be complete until you learn how to make a Poppy Seed roll.

Poppy Seed rolls are very Eastern Euro, and is a food that binds together neighbors (and neighboring countries that don't exactly love each other).

I've baked numerous recipes over the years, but the recipe I'm posting today comes from "THE FRESH LOAF" Blog site, so after you make this, eat it..and love it, you might want to send them a shout of gratitude.

OK, Easters around the corner...get baking.


1 lb. poppy seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped almnods
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 egg whites


1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

To prepare the filling: Put poppy seeds in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cool. Strain the poppy seeds through a fine strainer.

Combine the poppy seeds, walnuts, and almonds in a blender or food processor and grind.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the poppy seed mixture and sugar to the skillet and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the egg, honey, orange peel, lemon peel, and raisins. Whip the egg whites until stiff and then folk into the poppy seed mixture. Let cool.

To make the dough: Prime the yeast in the warm water. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the salt, and sugar, then mix in the yeast, eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon rind. Once the ingredients are mixed and can form a ball of dough, turn out onto a work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes (or use a stand mixer to knead for 5-8 minutes) until the dough is smooth and satiny.

To make the rolls: Divide the dough in two. Roll out each piece into a thin, roughly square shape.

Spread half of the filling onto each piece and then roll the dough up, sealing the seam and ends as tightly as you can

Place each roll onto a baking sheet.

Cover with a damp towel or place the baking sheets into plastic garbage bags and set aside to rise for approximately 90 minutes.

Bake in an oven heated to 350 for 30-35 minutes, until the exterior is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes then glaze.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

17th Century Dutch Bread / The UCLA Project

If every city could be defined by just one the 80's, my beloved Twin Cities would have been represented by Sarah Beadle.

Mentioning her beauty would almost be insulting, because in addition to stating the obvious....that observation would only be scratching the package.

Sarah Beadle crossed into every social camp that comprised our fair metropolis.

Everybody loved her.

Everybody coveted her time.

You could go to a venues where punk rock, fashion, intellects, idealists were hanging out,and at the top of your lungs cry out........

"Has anybody seen my Sarah Beadle?"

Within moments people would join together...almost magnetically to compare "Beadle stories."

However....these conversations always ended the same way....

To quote Lou Reed .....

"We were still doing things that she gave up years ago."

In simplest terms.....Sarah Beadle really was/is just too cool for my little Midwestern pit stop.

So like most Level 10 people....she was drawn away to to California.

Not too long ago I got a Facebook message from Sarah and she said she was working on some kind of thesis project...her Facebook wall has her listed at UCLA, so I'll just assume that the 2 are connected, but truth be told...I don't care. I just like being in the "Beadle Loop."

Her focus will be 17th century Dutch breads......

Before I state my thoughts/recipes I will say for the record that I simply don't have "concrete" answers.....but I do have strong-strong ideas as to what the Dutch were baking during that period of time.

With that said, as soon as this post is complete, I will send it to my friend Freerk at the "Breadlab" (see on Facebook).

Freerk is based out of Amsterdam, and of all the bakers I have met through social media outposts, I respect and value his opinion the most.

He's a clever and artistic man, perhaps he may be gracious enough to lend his wisdom on this topic.

The Dutch have never been to far from my heart.

My first "Master" if you will, was Bread Master Mel, and he ran the bakery at Golden Valley Super Valu.

When I was 12, I bagged groceries there, and that's where I got my first exposure to baking. When things got slow they'd throw me into the bake shop where I would clean, do prep, or just think I was cool because I was allowed to smoke cigarettes with the bakers out by the dumpster.

Then there is always my main Master.....Master Zolick who signed off on me.

His son Mikey married a woman from Rotterdam and she passed on traditions and baking culture all the time.

So now that this lengthy intro is over......3-2-1.......


To understand the bread of Holland in the 17th century, one first needs to understand the Dutch's place in the world at the time. Most culinary historians will agree that Holland was the #1 place on the planet to be during this periode since the Dutch VOC ruled the seas.

I'm not sure if they were navy or merchant marines, but I do know that they were the strongest presence of floating transports.

The Dutch set up outposts on all the "Spice Islands", and that really pissed off the British navy because every time they found a new island....that's right, the Dutch had been there, and they let it be known that if the islanders did any business with any other traders....not only would their new staples that they found them self becoming dependent on, would get cut off...but their island might get torched as well.

The Dutch ruled the water ways with an iron fist.

So all these ships collected all sorts of spices and everything was brought back to Holland.

Back at home, the Dutch government was very proactive concerning food.

Back in these days, much of the bread doughs (especially the rye) where mixed by foot.

The ingredients were placed in a "Stomping Area" where the baker would walk back and forth,dragging their bare feet through the ingredients until they became incorporated.

To date, nobody in the world was regulating those feet that were wading in your loaves.....

Can you imagine that? some dudes 17th century - skanky toe jam feet oozing all over your table loaf?

The Dutch government made it mandatory that foot washing stations were present at all baking sites, and violators got thumped.

Holland's soil wasn't conducive to growing grains, so most of that was outsourced from who else...LOL, that's right Poland.

When the wheat and rye was brought back home, it was taken to silo's in either Amsterdam, or Rotterdam.

The Dutch kept healthy reserves to stave off price gouging which was common in those days.

Also another thing that the Dutch introduced to the world was the "Expiration Date."

Now I'm not saying that they had little ink guns and marked dates on their packages, but they did have a system in place where market vendors were not allowed to sell produce or meat that was old.

As you can imagine, in a world with limited refrigeration options....people were often getting duped and paying top dollar for items that were close to expiration....if not past.

With all that said...these ordinances had paved the way to create a venue where the greatest bread on the planet was being made.

Greater than France.

Greater than Italy....and yes, even greater than Germany.

The 2 breads we will discuss will be a white bread and a dark bread.

Bread culture was inverted from where it is today, and during the 17th century...the decadent ate the white bread, while the common place and poor ate the dark.

White bread was called Herenbrood, while the dark was referred to as Semelbrood.


I won't lie. I've Googled "herenbrood recipes" and found very little information available. However.....I have talked to several of my peeps, and as we gathered our collective knowledge in the old "Think Tank." the following can be summarized about the Dutch white bread.

First off, even though they where using wheat in this loaf, it still had a low protein level, even lower than today's patent flour I imagine.

Then the second thing to take into consideration would be its fermentation source.

What were the bakers in this time frame striving for?

Did they want to make a pretty artisan bread that would land them a reality TV show?

Or were they looking for a system that would milk every last second of shelf life out of their products?

I banking on the latter.

Most bakers who have passed on traditions orally would agree that a brick starter would have been implemented here.

In addition to making the crumb wall more durable, this concept would hold moisture in longer.






Working with bricks is a whole post in itself, so Sarah..... I would mix this starter, place it in a greased Tupperware and then store it in your fridge 3-7 days before baking for your project.

Now for the Herenbrood..........









Dissolve your yeast in warm water, set aside until foamy, maybe 5 minutes. Combine starter with remaining water, and then gradually add flour until dough comes together in a stiff ball. Now add your vinegar and salt, dates and clove and continue kneading (or stomping).

Once your dough has come together, place it into a lightly oiled container, cover it and let it rest until it doubles in size.

You won't have to "Double Punch" this bread, the "Brick" already has your fermentation process covered.

When the dough is doubled, scale into individual pieces 12 ounces to 1 pound, and form into rounds.

The rounds were the predominant shape of this era because if done loosely....they would proof more rapid than largest load sizes.

During the 17th century....these loaves would have been baked in wood fires ovens for roughly 15-18 minutes, but if baked in a conventional oven, you'll want to bake at 425 (F) for 30-40 minutes.

Thump the bottoms and you should hear a hollow thud when they are done.

This loaf would be considered the Cadillac of Dutch loaves from this era, which is to say....this would have been the best bread on Planet Earth.

In present day, I have heard accusations that Dutch cuisine is bland. I won't address that today, but I will say in the 17th century, nobody was utilizing, experimenting with spice more.

It seems to me that the Brits often get props for modernizing this technology. That couldn't be further from the truth. The Dutch were the true Spice Ambassadors.

Back then....Nutmeg was the Saffron of the day. Its cost was three times that of pepper, but clove....although exotic in nature, it was still affordable to the middle class who left some "Splurging Room" in their grocery budget.

Before moving on to the next bread. I will close this section out by saying, if for whatever reason a person from this period didn't want to accept "Brick" concepts, and were more comfortable with stomping "Straight Doughs", I would suppose the standard source for drawing in the fermentation would have been through a KVASS.

In simplest terms, Kvass is equal parts of rye with water. It is allowed to sit in a moderate temperature cover for 3-5 days.

Some people stir their Kvass, and other strain and only use the liquid.

I just let mine fester and plop the whole kitten caboodle and leave it at that.

But however you approach it....kvass really adds flavor. The ferment creates funky flavorful sugars.

Many cultures use kvass as a product to get drunk on.

I've tried it, but I think I'd sooner drink Listerine.










Follow the same mixing,make up and baking instructions as you did with the herenbrood. Just note that this bread will be far looser, and on certain days (pending the flours humidity) liquid like. This is common amongst euro-rye.

Often times this "Batter" like substance is simply poured into the mold.

I do have one other observation to make before closing out.

Urban legend has it that as a whole....the Dutch are penny pinchers in the kitchen.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

History shows that the Dutch culture, the Dutch people are committed to the best, however.....they are a superior controller of resources.

We've talked earlier about what lengths the Dutch will go secure the best, but being well organized and methodical should never be confused with cheap.

Subscribing to that theory would be a disservice to the worlds culinary history.

So Sarah Beadle, I am at your service....if you need more, please feel free to rattle my branches and I will do what I can for you, but do know that an entire city of people misses you, loves you, and keeps you in their prayers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Shift, Universities and Pitbull Concerts

Ahoy Mates,

Tis I....your surly captain reporting from the bakery on a Saturday morning.

Working the Saturday shift in our plant (like many) is either complete chaos....or perfect tranquility.

Saturdays the only day of the week where our production is shut down, and although there is no need to have bakers around....
You still need one person to answer the phones in case of emergencies.

I don't have any scientific date to base this on, but I've found that once one account calls in with a messed up might want to batten down the hatches, cuz more than likely the levy is about to break.

Many of the times this shift is occupied by our companies CFO, but today he has adventure on his mind.

Last night, as soon as his shift was completed, his wife picked him up and the two of them drove to Canada to catch a "Pitbull" concert that is taking place tonight.

When he told me about this romantic interlude, how could I not volunteer to help out.

I had a situation this week, and I wanted to write to you guys about this earlier, but I wasn't sure which angle to address it from...LOL, could it be that the Last American Baker has become prudent?

Several weeks ago, I receaved a phone call from a guy who ran the bake shop at a major university.

He told me that he wanted to learn more about bread and wondered if I would ever have time to stop by,perhaps I could take a tour of his new - upgraded bake shop.

At no time was there mention of recompense, or some kind of consultant fee, so I figured dude just wanted to network and show off his toys.

Well...we set up a date during the Spring break, and early one morning, in the middle of last week, I tossed Hennessy into my bread truck to come along as well.

If theres one major difference I learned over the years, pastry chefs love field trips, where as bread bakers would sooner be left to their routine.

So eventually we pull into the campus, park.... and then make our way into the building.

This structure is new, it glistens, and as I entered the foyer...I couldn't help but feel as if I were goinging into some state of the art Mall in Vegas, Paris or Moscow.

If you tilted your head back and looked upward, there were multiple levels.

Coffee shops, drug stores, gift shops, postal centers and who knows what else.

The student at the check in center tells us that the bake shop was underground, so we'd have to take the elevator to floor minus one.

I just started to laugh and asked Hennessy if she ever noticed that engineers do everything in their power to isolate bakers from the rest of the world.

So now we meet the baker guy, he tours us around his shop, and then he asks whats the best way to make a 6 ounce bread round.

In baking, most dough cutting machines are set up for rolls (1 1/2 to 3 ounces), steak buns (4-41/2 ounces) or pan breads which run between 1 1/2 - 2 pounds.

I'm guessing that somewhere in the world,if you need a 6 ounce dough divider, maybe in the Yucatan such a piece of equipment exsists, but in most shops it would'nt be utilized often, and in most bakeries space is a precious commodity.

So I tell the guy they'd have to go old school and run plates of 3 ounce pieces on the Rondo (bun rounder) and double the pieces up and round them by hand.

Dude says.....

They'd freak out, they just spent a fortune on this shop and want our production to be automated.

I asked if he got to sit in on the planning sessions for the new layout and now he looks down at the floor....

"Nope, neither the bake staff or the kitchen were allowed to attend the meetings, the board decided how to set up our space.

Ha-Ha-Ha.....whenever somebody mentions a "board", I always laugh. Can you imagine a room full of suits sitting around figuring out what equipment was to be needed in a facility that demands mass ammounts of top level products for their students and staff?

Much of their equipment was new, but off brands from companies I've never heard of.

Most of you know that Klecko isnt a motorhead, but I have been going to industry and trade shows for 30 years. It's rare that I walk into a shop and most of the brands are unfamiliar.

Odds are that somebody on the board had a brother in law from a kitchen equipment store, and they unloaded some inventory they that got stuck with.

That's just how life works.

So anyways...I regress, I tell "guy" that they will have to double round their 3 ounce pieces by hand whether the managment gets upset or not, and then he responds.....

"Well, my bake staff doesn't want to do it, they said they could get carpal tunnel from repetitive motion."

Hennessy and I look at each other as if we're in a Twilight Zone episode...then I stated the obvious...

"So if the crew won't do their job, fire them and get somebody who will."

Now the bake shop guy begins to explain there is more to it...

"You can't just fire people here. it's harder to get rid of a University employee than a Union worker. My staff are all related to people. People on the board of trustees, people of esteem. The job here really is a good gig. We all get high wages, a stellar 4-1K and medical & full dental. Nobody can afford to lose this job."

Klecko stands befuddled, at this point it would have been easy to say "Thanks for the tour." unplug and take off, but I couldn't resist....

"Wait, so you're telling me that the Chef gives you orders of what you need to make to support his menu (6 oz bread bowls) and the board says they won't buy you the proper equipment, and your bakers are engaged in mutiny, and won't take your instruction?"

This my friends is the plight of the institutional baker.

I know it's hard to walk away from the gravy train, but as we made our way through the main kitchen and satellite kitchens, everybody looked miserable, even the janitor came over to b**** about how he was being treated.

I don't know how long I could endure that enviroment for any price.

As I was walking back to the bread truck, my mind went back to an artical that I read in the waiting room at the dentist.

It was written by some food columnist who interviewed Paul Newman shortly before his death.

The journalist asked how a movie star could create food products that were not only popular, but profitable.

Newman said something like......

"We've never had a single meeting, everybody just shuts up and does their job."

Those are words I don't want to forget.....OK, the phones are starting to ring...which means Big Papi will need to put out some fires.

Have a good weekend friendo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rice Crispy Bars

Before most of my city was even out of bed this morning, I had to go to one of my biggest accounts to look at their Rice Crispy bars. They have been making them in house, but he said recently he's thinking maybe he should let his cooks-cook, and leave the baking to the kids with the floppy white caps.

I'm always thrilled at the oppurtunity to outsource products for people, but to date.....we don't do Rice Crispy bars unless it is a rare Retail situation.

When Chef's ask you to fill an existing product, I have learned that it is mandatory to get a sample of what they are using.

I don't care if it is a pound of butter,sourdough loaves or a cup cake....PERCECTION IS A FUNNY WORD.

Everybody seems to look at singular objects with different eyes.

It's a good thing I made the trip this morning because the samples I saw were different than what I envisioned.

Each piece was the size of a Cinder Block Brick, and in addition to that.....they had 4 flavors.

#1 - Traditional

#2 - M&M

#3 - Black & White (where 1/2 the bar gets dipped in dark chocolate, and then you drizzle white chocolate over the dark)

#4 - Peanut Butter / Chocolate Chunk.

So now the Chef places samples into indavidual plastic bags for me, and while he's doing this, I ask for a breakdown on flavors.....

"So what are we looking at here? I'll bet 50% of the volume is plain, Black & White is 25% and the other 2 round off the menu."

Chef is tired, looks like he might want to process this for a second, but then tiredly submits.....

"Nah, its pretty even across the board. You can bank on an equal division."

Now I've known this Chef for many years, it's not like we hang out at the hitting cages together, but I've studied him (and his practices) enough to know that he is truthful.

But as I hopped back into my bread truck to run the samples back to the bakery for Hennessy to inspect, I didn't want to buy into his expert advice.

Surely 1/2 the volume had to be plain Rice Krispy bars.....don't you think?

A smart baker always listens to chefs, ecspecially when they are clients....but I sure would like to get your opinion.


Which would you choose?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Klecko's Tattoo Inventory

I think, you think, or if not you others.....

That people who have a large amount of tattoo's across their body are screaming for attention.

I think I would have disagreed with that 24 hours ago, but then I got in a conversation with Capitol Cities Rebel Poet Mike Finley.

He told me that the legendary poet/writer Oscar Wilde always walked around carrying a flower, and he always made certain that he had one in hand, clutched tightly to his breast whenever he read his work(s) publicly.

When I asked why??? It was explained to me that Mr. Wilde struggled with his sexuality, not so much that he was gay, but maybe he didn't want to have angry minds beating him for a life style that wasn't received with the same level of respect as it is today.

But with that said.....everybody knew Wilde liked boys, and he knew... that they knew, so according to Finley......the flower acted as a buffer, it was like maybe he was making a joke on his terms to avoid the horrible comments that would have most certainly been tossed in his direction.

Maybe that's why I get tattoo's I guess, to be honest....I really haven't thought to hard about it.

But I guess in my own "Klecko Way" going to the tattoo shop is kinda like going to church or confession.

You can mock me as much as you like, and truth be told...I wouldn't blame you, but sitting in the chair and getting drilled is me...being in my element of comfort.

It's like therapy.

So this morning, I woke up early, and had the day off so I decided to stop at the coffee shop and get a depth charge, and then head over to the gym to pray for your souls while running on that blasted treadmill.

OK, I'm at the coffee shop, standing in line, and I'm wearing Lebron gym shorts and a T-Shirt that has the sleeves hacked off.

The coffee shop is busy, busier than I like, but I decided to stand in line anyway.

In front of me is a guy, and the guy, I want to say he was "rotund", but he wasn't...he was fat.

And this fat guy was clean shaven bald, wore wire rimmed glasses, and dude was also sporting a bright orange pair of Croc's.

Tick-Tock went the clock, and the line crawled, and crawled even slower.

During this waiting period, I would catch "Guy" staring at me out of the corner of his eye.

This was the same "sideways" stare that 60 year old men would give me, just before they offered me sex when I hitch hiked across America in 1980.

The line obviously wasn't going to dent soon, so my "friend" struck up the courage to ask....

"What does $87 mean?

Daddio was looking at my newest tattoo, so new in fact that it is still raw and pissed off looking.

If you have a lot of tattoo's you'll get this, if you don' might not, but when your body is covered with art work, sometimes you enjoy discussing your ink, but other times you simply don't, you feel as if you have to defend it.

I didn't want to defend anything this morning.

Klecko responded....

"Jack Kerouac had eighty seven dollars in his checking account when he died."

The fat man squinted with a face that resembled an animated hippo....

"Who is Kerouac?" he asked.

O-M-G....I just crawled out of bed, and now I just know its just gonna be one of those days.

So I gave the man a history lesson and hoped me being cordial would put a clamp on his curiosity.

It didn't.

The "Guy" looked at my left bicep, the one covered with Ronald Reagan's portrait and said.......

I see you have a tattoo of the worst person that ever lived in America.

Although I was stunned at this guys lack of social filter I responded be telling his to shut his ******* mouth, and to get away from me, a second warning wasn't going to be issued.

I almost never swear in business or at people I have never met.

I do use bad words on occasion, but I would be the first to admit....swearing is a sign of stupidity in my book, and definition, I am stupid.

The guy looked shocked, he stepped back and then explained.....

"Hey I make 285 thousand dollars a year, so it would be in my best interest to vote Republican,but I do the right thing....I vote Democrat."

You could see the smoke floating out of my ears, I did the stop and count to 10 thing....but I only made it to 4 before blurting out.....

"How on earth can a person make $285 000 dollars annually, and not know who Kerouac is, and show up in florescent Crocs?"

Some of our line mates heard this comment and started to laugh, and my moment began to spiral.

You guys should know by now that Klecko is glad when he can say he's sorry, it means that there is closure on conflict. That is always the best solution.

But right or wrong, I like Ronald Reagan, he is my guy, and I just didn't feel like I should have been put into that position when all I wanted was coffee.

I'll have to admit, by the time I got to the gym. I ended up praying for my soul...not yours.

In no certain order....welcome to the Klecko Tattoo Inventory

#1 Woody Woodpecker (Left Shoulder Blade)

This was my first tat ever, I got it at the old Rainbow Tattoo on Rice Street back when only bikers tatted. Back then, there was only 3 tattoo parlors in the Twin Towns, now there's more like 300. Back in those days, it wasn't like getting a tattoo from Kat Von "D" on L.A. Ink. you weren't allowed to bring in a portrait of a dead relative and whine while the artist inked your tribute. Back then everything was "Flash".

Flash is basically a series of pre drawn pictures that the artist already had, basically stencils. I liked the Woody Woodpecker image because Woody was fun, not smart...but clever, and in this picture, he was p-i-s-s-e-d.

#2 Skull / Top Hat (Left Shoulder)

When your first tattoo is fun, the second one better be a "Bad Boy" tat or the boys in the hood will tromp your a**. I got this one at ACME

#3 Skeleton Popping Out of a Jack in the Box (Outside-Left Calve)

I got this one down in Newport with my friend Brutus, he knew a guy named Papa Mike, I forget what the shops name was, but it only lasted a summer. This tat also qualifies as "Bad Boy" and is "Black Art) which is the practice of using different shades of black and gray. That was like 1986ish, and back the TC's, you didn't see many leg tats, but my calves were as big as fire hydrants...and my vanity wanted you to notice.

#4 Angry Rabbit / Top Hat (Right Shoulder)

This was done at Mystic Moon Tattoo and that shop (along with Condom Kingdom) sponsored mine and Brutus's grunge magic show. This tat brings back memories of sadness as well. On the night I got it, I had a gig at the Mirage (a Metal head bar) and that was the night ownership changed their mind at pulled us off as the opening act for the Dio show.

#5 Saint Faustina (Right Thigh)

when I broke into the baking big leagues, most bakers came from the army....or prison. Either way, both camps had an ample amount of tattoo's. Baking was very ethnic in those days as well, you baked with people of your own blood line, and many bakers selected a saint from their camp. Faustina wasn't the first female saint canonized in the new millennium...she was the first human being. That's how much JP2 loved her.

She was/is the pride of Poland. During the 30's-40's she was a Nun, and she was smoking hot and the ugly Nuns hated her, so they forced her into the kitchen and made her bake bread.

Faustina was thought to be mentally unstable, but in fact....the only-only-only thing she wanted from life was to love God and serve God.

She died tragically from lung issues and her "Saint Day" is always the Sunday that follows Easter.

I once found her prayer card when I was in Moscow's Red Square, I took it as a sign.

Good looking, Pollack, bread baker and crazy....who else does that remind you of?

#6 5/23 (Back of Neck)

On May 23rd, 2002 my son Tydus hit his first home run. He was 9 years old, and he hit it off of Tommy Bockman (Joe Mauers cousin) and it was our teams first home run of the new season. If you could of seen his expression when he crossed home plate.....I mean if I were in a P.O.W. camp, this would be one of the few images I would lock into my minds vault.

We won the game and went home that night, and I'll never forget. I called Domino's pizza and told the guy on the other line......

"My son hit his first home run ever...a monster shot, give us a pepperoni pie and heavy on the pepperoni.

In less than 30 minutes, I swear to Polish Christ....when I flipped the cardboard box couldn't see cheese or sauce, Pizza man completely-completely covered the top as if it was one pepperoni.

To this day, Tydus will call me each may 23rd, on home run day and say...."PaPa, mother won't be buying me anything for the celebration...but you can if you like.

#7 KIKI / Star (Right Shoulder Top)

As you can imagine, after getting one kid tatted, the next come kid must get done. I tatted Kiki in a star (Starr being her middle name) and it is purple, cuz that was her favorite color and it has her September 22nd birthday date. For those of you who delve into "Middle Earth"...that means Kiki shares a birthday with both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

#8 Susie (Left Bicep)

Its Old English script and it's black lettering. The artist at Fluid Ink informed me...."Its never smart to get your bit**** name inked, what if she dumps you?"

I assured him it would be OK and if fate had us splitting, I'd simply get a dog and name it Susie within minutes of the break up. Artist guy laughed, and said he'd have to remember that one.

#9 Ronald Reagan (Left Bicep)

This tattoo is actually famous. The Huffington Post ran an issue of the worst political tattoo's...EVER, and even though their was stick people jumping out of the burning Twin Towers buildings, Lincolns portrait with a bullet hole in his skull, George W acting as Dracula and sinking vampire fangs into the Statue of Liberty's neck.....the readership voted my tat, the 40th American president as the most offensive.

You should actually run a Google search on that.

Maybe one of my top ten life highlights was riding the subways through Moscow in the spring, T-Shirt sleeve rolled up, and every Ivan in the transport grinning at Ronnie's mug.

#10 Family-Heart (Right Calve - Inside)

Inside of the calve hurts much worst than outside. I remember I had this chick named "Cat" tatting me at Fluid Ink. I called her on a Friday at 2 p.m. and said I'll be in at 6 for a TAT. She asked what I wanted, and I responded anything w/o Satan...and then I hung up. She did my Reagan tat, kinda knew me and therefore decided to draw a heart, but not a Valentines heart, but a body heart and in the middle of it was the word "FAMILY".

She said her perception of me was I was a "Family Guy".

I hope she was correct.

#11 Gracie (Right Bicep - Inside)

Gracie is my Sheltie / American Eskimo mix. somebody once told me that was the mix that the circus used for their "Dancing Dogs" know, the ones that stood up and ran pranced around in ballet skirts. Gracie went to agility classes when she was little and angered the instructor when her time topped the instructors best...LOL

#12 P-Nut (Left Bicep - Inside)

P-Nut by law (or certificate) was born Peanut Van Halen and is the Pack Alpha at 1311. she is a wire coat Jack Russell and would take a bullet for me...but nobody else. Klecko has always been a fan of such qualities.

#13 Romeo (Right Bicep - Back)

The thing that's different about Romeo's tribute is that his name is placed inside a bone, but the bone also has spider webs on it, as if to denote Romeo's demise, but actually the red spider web was just a signature of "Cat's" tattoo's during her "Fluid Ink" years. Romeo is the smooth coat Jack Russell, brother to Peanut...same dad, different mother, and this skid-dish mutt has smitten Sue McGleno like no other living creature ever has. She carries him in a swaddling cloth as if he were the Christ child.

#14 Chili Davis (Left Calve - Back)

Chili Davis was a Miniature Schnauzer that made a career out of hating me. As you can imagine, my young children and their mother loved nothing better than have their "Childhood Dog" hate their father. If anybody in the family called, he ran to them and plopped onto his back so he could receive belly rubs, when I called his name....he just flipped me the paw. To get me last time, he died of a breathing disorder at 3:13 a.m. on July 8th 2003, the morning of my 40th birthday.

Even though he hated me. I loved him, because my family worshiped him and I was thankful for that.

It was raining like a siv when I brought him in on that fatal night/morning, and when the vet sunk the needle....he was gone....POW, just like that. Chili Davis slumped dead and I began to howl. I stood in the parking lot, in the pouring rain howling. It sounds horrible to say this, but it hurt worse than when my father died.

The vet people must have thought I was something, cuz they sent me info on where I could get professional help to grieve my loss.

So on the back of my leg is a big tattoo of that mutt framed by a stain glass that I look at heart is breaking.

#15 Johnny Cash (Right Calve Inside)

On the day Johnny Cash died...I called up Cat, told her it was me, I didn't even have to say what I wanted. she just asked what time. When I showed up, there was a vertical guitar with banners and floral stuff. It says R.I.P. Johnny Cash and gives his birth and death date.

This tat might have the widest range of fans of all of my tats....teenage girls to old men....they all respect this tattoo.

#15 Spy VS Spy / White Bird with Bomb (Right Chest)

It is traditional to get birds tatted on the left and right sides of your chest, towards the top.

Keeping with the tradition, I chose the "Good Bird" from Mad Magazines Spy VS. Spy.

Breaking tradition, I never followed though and got the Black Bird.

#16 Deedle-Deedle Chihuahua (Right Bicep - Center)

Inside of a heart you will find the torso portrait of my black chihuahua Deedle-Deedle (A.K.A. Bud, Meatball,Chico, Frito) I voted against him living with us, and with that said mas familia vetoed me. Deedle-Deedle moved in....he was very sick, almost dead, and I dropped 2 or 3 mortgage payments on him, and nursed him around the clock for over a month.

That dog knows I saved him and he shows me his gratitude everyday.

Danny Klecko has never once laid down to go to sleep.....but every time he wakes up....Deedle-Deedle is with him.

I love this dog more than my children...just ask them.

#17 Japanese Writing for Baseball / Left Elbow

#18 Russian Propaganda Poster #1 "Peace-Bread-Land" (Left Forearm - Inside)

Forearms are like "Boardwalk" real estate in tattoo terms, and I had a poster that was placed over the time clock in the bakery I worked at in Siberia placed on my primo spot.. It says Peace-Bread-Land, the mantra of the Bolsheviks,and it also has a hot-tough looking Russian woman who looks sexy and militant. And yes.....the #1 focus spot on my body contains a Hammer & Sickle. I guess you could call that a commitment huh?

This tat was done by Sarah, she took over my work after Cat got fired. Sarah came to Fluid Ink by the way of Sex World.

Sex World is an adult store that sells "Stuff" and "Experiences" and Sarah has told me more *Blush* stories than I care to remember.

#19 Russian Propaganda Poster #2 (Right Forearm - Inside)

Basically a lot like #1, but this one has a dude instead of a woman, and the scene was inspired by a picture I brought back from Sochi (by the Black Sea) in 2007 when everybody was working on the Olympic bid.

#20 ISBN (Right Forearm - Elbow to Wrist)

An ISBN is like a license plate for a book. Every published book has one, and they are sent to Library of congress. Back in the day they were 8 or 9 digits, but my book "K-9 Nation - Baking For My Best Friend" (MHS PRESS) had a 13 digit ISBN.

I got this tat at Trust Fate from Jason Walstrom who has gone on to do more tats for me than anyone.

#21 #52 (Left Arm - Over Wrist)

This was Tydus's high school football number. My son was the Captain of the Highland Park Scots, and they ended up winning the city championship his senior year.

#22 Madison Rose (Left Calve - Inside)

When my Granddaughter was born, I got a baby bottle crossing a rattle with her name....Madison Rose. The main colors are light blue and pink. Tydus wondered if anybody would give me grief over the color selection. I responded..."Grow Up!, and if they do....I'll crush their skull."

#23 Dutch Girl (Right Leg - Over Ankle)

I have a girlfriend from Holland who married a close friend of mine. They had kids together and were married for 23 years. Their kids were 13 and 10 the day I stopped over to their house and she had packed her bags to move away. She went to Florida and moved in with another man.

I cried really hard because I love this woman very much, and I didn't know what to do.

So I just got a tattoo.

#24 Lucky 13 (Left Leg - Outside over Ankle)

When Kansas City Bob's Dad got cancer, he moved back home to be with him. Kansas City Bob has a Hillary 08 tat, and a Buffy the Vampire one too. But his father spent 3 bucks and got the old Sailor Jerry arched black cat over the number 13 during the Korean war. When Kansas City Bob's dad passed away. People from the Food Industry also got this tat and sent it to Bob's Facebook wall to show their sympathy.

#25 King Kong - (BACK)

This is not only my Mona Lisa, but Jason Walstrom's as well. It took 12 0r 13 appointments over 1 year in a half. The tat started at the Trust Fate shop and moved over to the NorthEast Tattoo shop where he is currently working.

The outline took 6 hours. At the end of that session I was in so much pain I was trying to do Jedi Mind tricks.

The monkey is bigger than a month old baby and every-every-every single monkey hair was etched little line at a time....Father, hear our prayers.

This was my pinnacle tattoo experience, and on the day it was done......I felt a great sense of relief.

But I think Jason was even happier it was over.

I didn't run a tally, but it was around 2 grand.

#26 #58 (Right Forearm - Above Wrist)

This was Tydus's College Football number. He played linebacker for 1 year for Luther, a D3 school in Decorah Iowa.

#27 Augsburg Eagle (Right Wrist - (Inside Forearm - Above Wrist)

Kiki went to college here and graduated with a business degree. The day I saw her toss that square cap into the might of been the proudest day of my life.

#28 Muhammad Ali (Right Calve - Back)

Ali is the greatest that ever was-is, or will be. I went to the first Ali VS. Frazier fight at the old Met where the North Stars played with my old man. It was on satellite and pa burnt his second ticket on a second grade boy instead of a date. My tat is the image of Ali standing over Sonny Liston in 1961.

#29 Finley & Kerouac (Left Fore Arm - Top - Over Wrist)

Mike Finley and Jack Kerouac are simply the 2 most talented American Poet/Writers that I have read. I wear this tattoo with pride. Most times when I write, when I'm at the point that every column or poem gets to, when you look back at yourself and ask...."Is this my voice?" That's when I look at this tattoo and it tells me to not be a coward and just throw fireballs.

#30 Poets Are Lame (Right Elbow - Back)

One time my publicist Alison Aten was talking to me about some evening poetry reading and wondered if I was going. I responded...."Poets are lame." and she laughed and said she's by me lunch once a month for a year if I tattooed that. 2 day later I was doing a story on "Mojo Monkey Donuts" and next to there shop was West 7th Tattoo. Needless to say.....the bet was over.

#31 KIKI (Left Forearm - Outside - Top)

One day my daughter called me and told me she was sad. My Kiki complains less than anybody in our family. I knew she was driving up from Omaha in 4 I ran to the Tat Shop and had Jason put her name in big letters across my arm. When she walked into the house, she looked...saw it, and smiled really big.

#32 Merry Christmas Tanaya Jade (Left Forearm - Outside)

Of all my 700 Facebook friends, I get along best with Tanaya Jade. Many people assume I like her because she is smoking hot, sure...that doesn't hurt, but even more than that....I like her quick wit, clever mind and ability to be vulnerable without being needy or dramatic.

So I walked into the Tat shop and told Jason I wanted to get a "Merry Christmas Tanaya Jade" tattoo with a Holly accent. He asked why? I told him that when he was done....he would take a picture of it, and put it on her Facebook wall in New Zeland. All 4 of the artists in the shop got big-big smiles and hovered over my arm.

The crew was so stoked, when I pulled out my wallet...Jason told me to "F" off, this one was free and Merry Christmas.

This may of been my favorite gift I've ever given to anybody.

When some people heard about this, they chastised me and said I was crazy to do this for a woman I never met.

I laughed, agreed I might be crazy, but you don't have to meet somebody to know them. I've communicated with "T.J." every other day for years......

I'm mad about her.

#33 Nurse & Rose (Right Forearm - Outside)

This was more flash art from Walstrom, he loved this piece, it has some weird name, but basically it pays tribute to the nurses that dragged the soldiers of the battle fields of WW1. A guy can never go wrong with pretty girl tattoo's, just ask Axel Rose.

#34 Stag - (Right Bicep - Back)

More Walstrom flash art. This Deer torso has a wreath like deal around its neck, basically it kinda looks like the image on the Jagermeister bottle.

#35 $87 (Right Forearm - Inside -Under Elbow)

This is how much money Kerouac had in his checking account when he died, I got it on what would have been his 90th birthday.....and this brings this posting back to the beginning, full circle.

From here on out......if I get more tattoo's, I will use this as my Ink Vault......because doesn't everybody want to know what's on Klecko's body?

#36 Cry Baby (inside left wrist)

My Tattoo guy Jason Walstom became a man today and opened his own shop. It's called Sea Wolf Tattoo Company and is located in South Minneapolis, kaddy corner from Matt's Bar (Home of the Juicy Lucy). Anyway, I figured I really needed to stop by and pay my respects, almost like a mafia thing LOL, I figured there could be 50 people there, or zero. If a crowd was there, I'd wave hi, letting "My Guy" know I was representing, and then duck out. If the shop was empty....well I guess I'd get some ink. I got there moments after they opened, and Jason had peeps in there, family, well wishers, but nobody was in the chair. I could see my buddy wondering if I was visiting, or spending. I hopped in the chair, told him to pick out anything he pleased, and my boy just laughed and stenciled a cry baby. It's a flash piece, and Jason said he'd been waiting forever for somebody to let him do it.

Congrats Brah!

#37 Torch / forearm- Left Bicep

So while Jason was tattooing me on the first day of the shop, his employee MiMi sat at her station waiting patiently for her first client at this new location. The shop was running a $50 special if you picked certain flash art pieces of the "Sailor Board". It was still early in the day, but I bad would it suck if MiMi got shut out on her first day. While Jason bandaged me up, I asked the kid if she wanted to have a go. MiMi totally got that it was a "Sympathy Tat", but hey...a tat is a tat huh? During our session, 4 of her friends came in. One of them was going to get some work done after I was out. BTW....MiMi has a big light up accordion hanging over her work station, chick isn't a poser....she actually plays.

#38 Cartoon Wolf / Back Left Bicep

My boy Jason finally became a man, and opened his new tattoo shop. It is called Sea Wolf Tattoo Company and is located in South Mpls kaddy corner from the Matt's Bar where they sell those Juicy Lucy's.

The theme of his shop is kinda nautical, after all, it is named after the Jack London book (Sea Wolf)

So I went in and had Jason ink my arm so I could billboard for his vision.

It says SEA WOLF TATTOO COMPANY, and underneath the banner of letter is that cartoon wolf from those cartoons in the 40's or 50's. He was in a dozen different cartoon concepts, but he was always causing mayhem.

#38 Star of David / Left Forearm

Actually, me and my son Tydus went to Sea Wolf Tattoo Company together to get our first "Father / Son impulse tat" Jason was booked, so we had Mimi and Dylan do them. Although Klecko subscribes to the Polish Christ, and to a Catholic Church where Nuns will replace Priests........he still is married to a woman who was anchored in a Jewish family.

I have to hope that the God of Israel and the God of Warsaw respects a man and his son who get tats that pay homage to the ancestry of the wife/mother. arms are starting to run out of empty canvas, and because this one is that "Jewish Blue" color, it kinda pops out from my other pieces which are mostly red & black.

Either way, this tat may me look like a global citizen....LOL, take that Bono.

#39 Gulag Wolf / Back Left Bicep

In Siberia, I had a body Guard named Sasha. His job was to keep me alive. One day he took me to a dirt field the smoke cigs and drink Jack Daniels. The sun was shining, so he took off his shirt. On his back were tattoo's of diplomats, religious figures and wolves....all framed with rifle scopes.

When I asked who these images were, he responded......

"These are the people that put me in prison."

Sasha is cool.

btw....JASON WALSTROM inked this one.

#40 Clipper Ship / Over Left Elbow

When the State Fair was over, I slept for 3 days. When I woke up, it was Thursday, everybody was at work, so I went over to what was up at Seawolf. I had a couple coins in my pocket, but Jason was busy. He was finishing his last appointments before his wedding.

But then Mimi and Dilly walked in, and Dylan said she would ink me, so I just plopped myself into the chair.

When she asked what I wanted, I told her not much.....I was just looking to kill time and she could draw anything on me that wasn't satanic or a butterfly.

She chose a Christopher Columbus looking ship with a wreath of roses framing it.

It's pretty dope for an elbow tat.

#41 Muttnik / Right Shin

Some people who collect tattoo's only go to pro's, people like Peter Shakman, these are the kind of guys that walk around in public wearing a kimono with a chihuahua under each arm.

Klecko likes to encourage the up and comers in the tattoo industry, so that's one of the reasons I went back to the S-Wolf, I figured I'd let Dilly get a crack at the big leagues.

If you don't know much about the world of tattoo's, let me fill you in on Rule #71.........

If You Haven't Inked A Bad A** Russian Tattoo, by artist are kinda a puke.

I wanted Dilly to get her moment, and Father-Son-Holy Ghost.....she hit a homerun.

In addidtion to attaching Laika - Russia's all time favorite dog to my leg.....I was also entertained by the UPS man entering the shop while I was getting drilled.

The package carrier dude was almost Peter Shakman scary himself, but he brought Dilly a large parcel that he called a "Fun Box". it was sent across state lines from Dilly's mom.

While Dylan continued working on my tattoo, Mimi pulled random item after item out of the box.

I think if young Dilly should meet an untimely demise......I am claiming dibs on her white gloves which are to be used for tea drinking.

In closing, I gotta tell ya......Klecko's peeps have been more than impressed with this newest tattoo.

Way to go Dylan!

#42 Woman Dancing with Tiger / Side of Right Thigh

Sometimes random tattoo's can be the most rewarding, the DANCING WOMAN / TIGER is no exception. Jason Walstrom inked this epic piece which will certainly be talked about for ages. Some have rumored the "Woman" to be a brothel attendant, while others think she may be a circus performer....I like to think she may be both.

#43 Dilly - Ghost Baker / Inside Left Bicep

Earlier this week I got a call telling me that there was some kind of fashion show at Sea Wolf Tattoo and dilly wanted me to be her model. Dilly is famous for her line of "Dilly Ghosts" tattoo's which in many ways are too advanced for me to explain.

However, I got a Baking Dilly Ghost, and Dilly Ghost that she inked was her 100th Dilly Ghost, at the end of the competition.....Dilly was voted top InkMaster and I received Top Model award.   

#44 Dilly - Ghost Nurse (Tribute of Love) Inside right Bicep

It seems that all the ink hipsters are getting Dylan's ghost tattoo's, with good reason...they are epic. sue McGleno loved the baker ghost, and kinda insisted I consider getting a companion for it. I mentioned Heidi Klum but was denied, so back to Sea World Tattoo. The Dilly Nurse Ghost is equipped with a syringe that flicks a bead of blood off the tip. Also...Sue McGleno loves the girly eyelashes.

#45 (Klecko's Mantra) Inside left Leg - Above Ankle

Yesterday I stopped by Sea Wolf Tattoo to drop off some baked goods for the staff and MiMi showed me a wonderful font of Klecko's Mantra..................


MiMi is interesting, because she moves quick and has a strong focus, I am guessing should would make a good surgeon. While so many tattoo artists rave about doing spectacular pictures....MiMi rages against common opinion, she prefers script.

MiMi is cool.

#46 Finley's Writing Mantra #1 - Right Bicep (just over the inner arm hinge).

#47 Finley's Writing Mantra #2 - Left Bicep (just over the inner arm hinge).

Jason Walstrom did these 2 tattoo's, in a way....they combine into one sentence, and just so I don't thwart karma, it should be stated for the record that these tattoo's were given to me as a Christmas present from my friends @ Sea Wolf Tattoo.

The right arm (your left when looking at me) says .....


The left arm says.....


So when both arms are placed together, it says


This is Finley's ancient poetry mantra that has all kinds of stealth-ninja vibes attached to it, if he wants to post in this Blog what it means, he is welcome to, however....I won't.

It's not my story to tell.

#48 Organ Grinder Monkey - Left Outer Thigh

This is another Jason Walstrom original, "I researched it" Jason siad, and told me what kind of monkey it was, but I can't pronounce it, let alone spell it. We did get to use a new color for its fave, according to J.W. "Monkeys have different skin tones than humans."
Therefore....that tube he used is now dubbed....MONKEY FLESH.
And is wearing a red fez.

#49 JFK - Inner Right Arm / between elbow and bicep

Today is Saint Patrick's Day, and while so many of my Irish brethren are downtown congregating around mugs of green beer....I wanted to really celebrate my Irish heritage. so I ended up driving over to Sea Wolf Tattoo Company to get a JFK tattoo. I will spare you politics, but I must this day I am still really pissed that the only Catholic President my country has ever blown away and everybody seems comfortable buying into the fact Oswald killed him.

Today was a special treat for me because today's ink came from the hands of J Christopher Rode himself.

J Christopher owned the shop where I first met Jason Walstrom. It was the TRUST FATE shop off of Snelling Avenue in St Paul.

J Christopher might have the most professional demeanor of any artist I have ever met.

He had a chest piece booked this afternoon, but he took the time to squeal me in, and even though I have sat through dozens of tattoo's over decades, this didn't deter him from asking.........

"Are you comfortable?"

"Does that feel OK?"

"Is there anything else we need to do here?"

And with that said....I should throw in, dude has one of the lighted hands I've ever scene.

Klecko doesn't mind pain so that might be irrelevant.......but if you are a wuss, and want somebody who will drop some sic ink, w/o hurting you....J Christopher Rode is your guy.

Top of the evening to you can go back to your green beer now.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Posers Vs. the Process

When Jack Kerouac died, he had $87 in his checking account.

When Gandhi got shot, all he owned was a spinning wheel and a loin cloth.

Judy Garland, the woman who acted as tour guide and ushered the world into Oz, yep...penniless too at the time of her death.

Wolfgang Amadeus....they tossed his sorry corpse into a commoners grave.

Edger Allen Poe......same kinda deal.

The list goes on an on.

The one thing that these dead celebrities have in common is that they exited the world w/o money or prestige (well Gandhi got a big funeral I guess....)

But why is it that some of the personalities that the world tries to emulate, are personalities that became famous AFTER they died?

Do you think Kerouac really had his choice of poetry venues?

No, he wasn't into fame, accolades and praise, but yet people get crazy, and further more, do crazy things to obtain the status that these past icons obtained.

In case you haven't noticed, the same thing is going on in the Culinary field today.

All one needs to do, is scan Facebook or You Tube to find out that to date......there are about 94 trillion people trying to be "Foodie Personalities."

Now before I get to ranting, let be be clear.....I adore people who are enthusiasts in all forms of life.

I've never pitched in the M.L.B. but I have spent the last 20 summers teaching Capitol Cities 10-12 year olds......but I'm not trying to get a show, or worse yet....make money off of it.

But the world is changing, everybody is an expert now days, everybody has all the answers...right?

And this doesn't apply to just the accountants and plumbers that are teaching Thai cooking classes or Pie Baking 101....but even the industry professionals are exploiting the system.

How many recipes has Martha Stewart put into publication over the last decade?

Do you think she has tested each one of these, and if by a miracle she has, how many times?

But yet she wants you to worship her....after opening your purse.

I've done shows with pastry chefs that have written bread baking cookbooks, and during the presentation it was said that they invented the techniques of building loaves in 5 minutes a day.


Those concepts weren't around thousands of years ago?

I wonder if they were originated by pastry people LOL?

It is important for you realize that at the moment, I don't have an ounce of anger in my body as I pen these remarks, I'm simply stating that anybody that bypasses puberty will form into a freakish figure.

The reason people live vicariously through Kerouac is because he was able to live w/o material items,what was his quote?????

"If you own a have too much."

For Jack, it was about the process. By shedding the day to day luxurious items that many of us have framed with entitlement, Jack was able to find deeper truths that may have been more tangible.

But I think its really very important to realize that its the process that makes your skill set sharp.....and with a sharpened skill set, only then can a person take self pride.

When desires are handed out before you've broken bones, cried, or suffered loss....I just don't think it means that much.

As we speak, I'd be willing to bet that there are people all across America teaching Irish cooking courses,when they in fact know nothing on the topic.

It wasn't all that long ago when people simply wouldn't have tolerated this behavior, let alone finance it.

As we speak, there are thousands and thousands of people paying 30,40,50 grand a year to receive professional training in the Hospitality Industry.....come back in 5 years and see how many of them are left, why?

Because while they are getting soaked financially in these institutions, there are high school drop outs and illegals that are welded to cooking lines and they are simply exchanging sweat equity for a paycheck and the opportunity to work underneath a mentor.

These people don't want TV shows....they want paychecks.

So Klecko....are there any exceptions to this rule?

Of course there are, there are exceptions to everything, but the moral of today's story is.....................

If Kerouac spent more time on Twitter than hopping box cars, we'd all think he was a total dweeb.

I'll sign off with that.....

Signed - The Last American Baker

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Finley Tribute / Cherry Granola Bar Recipe

If I have ever written anything that has inspired you, or brought you joy.....90% of the accolades would have to go to my writing mentor/master Mike Finley.

Over the years i've popped over to his house to hit him up for advise, or wisdom on different things I've worked on.

Under his tutelage,I have secured book deals, written hundreds of columns and basically opened my world to all the freaks that one only meets through literature LOL.

My favorate time to go to Mike's house is around 11 a.m. because often times he'll offer a guy, what he calls "Pollack Breakfast."

Finley's step father was a Pollack who worked in the Food Show, and Mike often celebrates his memory by making a late breakfast that incorperates eggs, sausages, bacon, little red potatoes, onions and hash browns.

Everything just gets swirled around in a cauldron and then after plating it...well lets just say it wouldn't been unheard of if an Irish beer get cracked open.

Well Mr does one thank their Master?

How can a recipient of such a priceless gift return the favor.

When I think back on the volumes of advise and correction you have so graciously dispenced throughout my "career" I am always on the lookout to find ways to....not repay the debt, but more appropriatly offer tribute.

The following is submitted for your approval.........

Several weeks ago I teamed up with Saint Paul's Poet Laureate Carol Connolly.

We met at an inner city high school were we were asked to discuss poetry with the students.

When the gig was brought to our friend Carol advised me....

"Expose as many tattoo's as possible, it might buy us some credibility."

Then the 2 of us went, discussed our work, and I was really moved at how open these 17-20 year olds were.

Yesterday I receaved an envelope in the mail.

It was large and thick, when I tore it open and dumped its contents onto my desk, I was thrilled to see that each young person sent me a "Thank You" letter that seemed more than the generic ones that your teacher forces you to write....

But this one that I'm going to show you now is the very first one I read.........






Can you believe that Mike?

A kid a the height of "coolness" daring to say something like that.

I sat in my office stunned, for like 10 minutes.....your Goodwill has moved down the line, and I thought it was important that you get a return on your investment.

In closing.....let me throw back at you another Pollack recipe that you may want to implement during the upcoming summer months.

Cherry Granola Bars

Granola -

Rolled Oats 1 pound

Canola Oil 2 ounces

Combine together

Batter -

Brown Sugar 10 ounces

Canola Oil 4 ounces

Eggs 5 ounces

Vanilla Extract dash

Cinnamon pinch

Salt pinch

Mix together, with soft hands, or in low gear until smooth.

Whole Wheat Flour 6 1/2 ounces

Add: mix with soft hands, or in low until smooth.

Granola 1 pound 2 ounces

Stir into mixture.

Cherries (not thawed) 1 pound

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 12-15 minutes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Columbine,Hitler's Birthday...and Garbage Loaves

Me and my peeps are sitting in the restaurant of a nice hotel in Saint Paul.

We are there to review a new pastry program.

Like most meetings, everybody sits down, stretches out, and then the ritual starts....

We're gonna start off this event with small talk.

On the drive over, I was tempted to B-Line in a totally different direction. The sun was out, shining....and the temperture is 25-30 degrees warmer than its been for around 1/2 a year.

Hennessy was with us, and she hasn't been to a lot of our shindigz so I use this oppurtunity to recycle some neighborhood legends.

"Listen Kris, in the foyer they have a really big...oh I don't know what you'd call it, a fountain, or a pond, but the pond thing they actually keep live ducks, so if you want to have some fun, you should down a couple Rusty Nails and go over there and quack at them.

A couple years ago, some dude got really waisted and picked up a rock, threw it...and the rock struck a mallard and broke its neck. The poor thing drowned since it couldn't raise its head out of the water.

The jerk who did this got busted and was sent to court, but they let the guy off with 40 hours of community service and 2 years of probation.

If it were up to me.....electric chair city!"

Hennessy rolls her eyes as if she was annoyed, but that may have been more energy than she wanted to exert.....

"Yeah, I know. Kevin (Hennessy's husband) used to work here. In fact we spent our wedding night here. When we walked into the hotel, we were still dressed in our wedding clothes and the counter staff looked at us like we were ghosts....

One of the braver women behind the counter asked....

"Were you in that wedding party tonight where people were shot?"

So now those of us hearing Hennessy's story are waiting as anxiously as I'm guessing the counter woman were, but when Kris realized we were'nt certain her wedding wasn't the "drive by" one.....she became annoyed and hid her mug behind a menu.

Our server hadn't come to get our order yet, and since there was a brief silence, my mind began to wander.

Would you like to enter the pathway of Klecko's thought process?

After hearing about a wedding were people got shot up.............

(Thought #1 - Columbine Massacre)

I remember the day the whole Columbine deal went down because it was on April 20th. Whenever anybody mentions April 20th...I am always quick to ask...."Hmmmm Hitler's Birthday?" and of course you can imagine most people give you a second look, one of those....."I never thought Klecko was one of those nazi guys, isn't he married to a Jew? Well...either way it wouldn't suprise me if he was into something weird" kinda looks.

LOL - but the real reason I remember April 20th is The Fuhr's day of birth is because one of my sisters, my oldest sister in fact was also born on April 20th.

I remember when she was 10ish or twelve and I was forced to join in on singing her birthday song, I'd chime in......

"Happy Birthday dear Hitler.....Happy Birthday to you."

Remember, I was only 8 years old, and when it came time to say the name, I'd say it soft enough that nobody else could hear it,but my sis did...everytime, and she would get so pissed. Why are little brothers like that? My sister was nice to me and certainly didn't deserve such hazing, but I thought this "tribute" was epic at the time.

(Thought #2 - Whole Grain Breads)

After reliving that part of my life, almost as if I was starring in a Klecko-HBO version of Scrooge....the ghost of Death took me back to the day of the Columbine shootings. I was at work, and we were hearing the events on the radio. All kinds of people were calling the station and blaming video games for molding the cortex of the shooters.

As if Nintendo was at fault now. Many of us in the bakery were young men, and gamers, so typically a topic like this would have been enough to get us worked up all night, but didn't. We had troubles of our own.

Earlier in the evening a full oven load of Honey Whole Wheat bread turned to s*** and the rest of the crew was pissed off. This meant we would all have to work at least 1 more additional hour. somebody pinned the fault on the oven man and said he over proofed it and the crumbwall collapsed in the bake.

Oven-Dude denied it vehemently.

But when things go wrong.....sobody always has to take the wrap.

So everybody went back to work, the next time we ran the Honey Wheat, everybody was really attentive and used extreme caution throughout the production process.

Lo and Behold....batch #2 turned to crap as well.

The mixer, oven guy and bench hands all stood in a circle mystified.

Our shift supervisor told the rest of us......

"Yeah, every couple of years you'll see this happen, one specific dough will just decide it doesn't want to work. it ALWAYS happens during a season change. I ain't no scientist, but ya know a guy never does know where that flour was before he got it.

Some of this stuff comes in on freight cars from trains and shoot....some of these bags may have been on the bottom of some multi ton stack inside a box car where the temperture gets really high, so who knows? Maybe theres too much, or not enough moisture in this flour.
I've seen this in the past, and I should have known when that first batch fell like that, but Billy was running the ovens so I just figured he was being his typical dumb a** self."

Even Billy laughed.

The lead man continued.....

"But usually these things sort them selves out in a couple of days, so lets just try it one more time, only we'll use the patent flour instead of the high glutem and we'll add some vital wheat gluten to strengthen the protien level."

Often times you'll find that bakers don't know the actual science of their craft, but they do know how to remedy the situation.

Recently I saw something posted by Dr. Klaus Tenbergen who is a Master Baker that works out of Cal State. The following was reported in Modern Baking magizine.

Q: After our latest delivery of flour, our breads have been unequal in volume. We have checked the formula, make up procedures and proofing times, but cannot pin point the problem. What do you think is happening.
C.P. Helena Montana

A: It could be starch damage in the flour. This causes the starch to gelatinize at different intervales and the bread retain more water and caramelize faster. The finished loaves will have more volume, as the yeast has more sugars available to use to convert into carbon dioxide; therefore loaves will be unequal in sizes.

As usual....if you ever have a serious baking question....go to the Germans.

They are miles ahead of the rest.

Be safe out there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sue McGleno's Beagle & Jack Kerouac's Birthday

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac.......I think you would have been 90 today.

One of my favorite Keroisms is......

"If you own a rug, you have too much."

True Dat brother, so to commemorate your life and ideals, I would like to honor you with a little story that I think you would like, and if my little L.A.B. Rats sit patiently, there will be a recipe posted at the conclusion of todays story.

The protagonist in todays tale is a woman who is a doctor, and yeah....doc's usually make a bundle of cash, but just hang tight for a second and we'll address why Jack wouldn't find that offensive.

So yesterday was my day off, and Sue McGleno tells me I am going to spend it driving to the burbs to check up on a beagle.

Around a year ago my wife was taking care of an elderly woman who was dying from cancer.

Sue McGleno works with these people everyday, and typically has a pretty good handle on when they are about to shed their mortal coil.

I still remember this because we were eating taco's, and Sue McGleno got up 1/2 way through her meal and made a phonecall.

She had been kinda bit**y all night, but when she hung up the receaver, her countenance had changed, she was happy.

It turns out that she was cranky because that old woman should have been dead, she wanted to die, and w/o sounding like a jerk....she needed to die, it was her time, but she simply wouldnt because...she needed to find a home for her lifetime companion, a beagle named Honey.

The following day was a Tuesday, and Sue McGleno had it off, so she drove across town, picked up the womans beagle, and then drove back across town to the outskirts to drop the dog off at Dr. M's.

Dr M is kinda famous amongst the medical world, because she is an Oncology doctor, as well as an advocate for animals.

During her career she has taken in many-many pets that have outlived their human conpanions.

So now let's shift back to yesterday....

After a lengthy drive, Sue McGleno pulled into the driveway of the doctors home,this driveway was like a mile long....but before we even went 50 yards, a 1/2 dozen hounds came flying across the the estate forcing my wife to stop her Volkswagen.

It was kinda like that scene in Cujo, we were pinned inside our car wondering if we dared to hop out.

Off in the distance, I could see the doctors house, but I'm not when a house stops being a house, and then turns into a castle, but this place qualified as the latter.

As I stepped out of the car and began letting some "Marmaduke" looking mutt sniff me in a personal area...I almost had to laugh.

This house looked like one of those Swiss Chalet's that you always see in WW2 movies. In Hollywood, they overan those chalet's with nazi officers that would eventually fall at the hands of Lee Marvin....but this space was under canine dominion.

After a few seconds, the scratched up front door opened, and Dr. M passed through with another wave of dogs.

There was coon hounds, poodles, dachshunds, terriers....and last but not least a dumpy little beagle, Sue McGleno's beagle.

As you can imagine, by this point my wife has COMEPLETLY wiped me off her radar and is engaged in her beagle reunion, so Dr. M noting this takes me for a stroll across the estates campus.

On the south side of the estate was an acre and a 1/2...comepletly fenced in. This is where the big dogs are allowed to run.

The smaller dogs all wear those invisible fence collars, jokingly I asked how much she spent each month on batteries, but it wasn't exactly a joke to the doc....

"Funny you should ask, I have a full time associate that I hire out to work with the animals 11 out of every 14 days, and I give her a budget to work with. She's the one who purchases the batteries, but for one reason or another, I ended up having to get some for the pack recently and it cost a little over 800 dollars."

O-M-G......800 bucks each month on collar batteries?

It shouldn't of surprised me though, not after walking through her home. As we entered...everywhere you looked was artwork and animals. It really was like a hotel for dogs. I think she said she was currently housing 22 or 23, whatever the legal kennel limit is, but if that weren't enough....

When you walked upstairs, you entered into "Bird Land" LOL, I kid you not....

One room had 2 African Greys, and 4 or 5 Indian Ringnecks,and 3 more Cockatiels just for giggles, but then as we moved down the hall we entered the Master Bedroom (which doubled as Cat Land) because on the other side of the bedroom was another door that lead you into the main aviary.

I paused a couple moments to spot one of the cats, but they must have been hiding, but one thing that I witnessed kinda freaked me out in a queer kind of way......

Dr. M had what almost looked like a workbench in her room, and it was covered underneath a tower of boxes filled with puzzles.

You know what kind of puzzles I'm talking about...the one's with the water wheels on foamy rivers or barns under an autumn sky. The nature-landscape dealios.

On the ride home, Sue McGleno told me that she estimated that there was "at least" 170 of those puzzle boxes, but the creepy part about this is......EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS STILL WRAPPED IN ITS ORIGINAL PLASTIC SHRINK WRAP.

Sue McGleno and I love Dr. M as Christ loves the Church, but when our eyes locked on the puzzles and then on each other....

We both got the E-B Jeebies.

But I suppose,you wake up, feed 20 some dogs, 20 some parrots and then head off to work to deal with people who are fighting for their'd have to have some compulsive behavior, or at least some kind of ritual like system to cope with whatever demons stare into your eyes.

OK, now we open the aviary door, and a blast of hot air comes rolling out,within minutes I had to peel off my Adidas hoodie.The temp was over 80, imagine those heating bills.

3 African Greys, one huge Red Parrot, one big Blue Macaw, and then there was 2 Peach colored Cockatoo's. I swear to Caesar when they screamed, they were louder than elephants.

Then the last part of the tour arrived, we were about to embark on Dr. M's pride and joy....her tiny dog room.

Before my second foot crossed the threshold a little chihuahua came out of nowhere and bit me. Sue McGleno had never been happier...she laughed and laughed, but then there was 2 small black poodle like dogs.

The boy (who I tagged Mustafa) had an underbite, and sat next to his sister (who I tagged Helen) as if he were guarding her.

Upon further investigation....thats exactly what Mustafa was doing.....Helen was born with no eyes!

Now I'm not saying she had eyes that didn't work....she literally didn't have eye balls.

How precious the 2 of them together were.

How precious the threesome was when Dr. M kneeled down next to them.

So let me close this story by alerting all my beatnik, socialist and blue collar brethren.....

Just because a person has money or status...that doesn't neccasarily mean they are pretentious or pious.

Sometimes the greatest things accomplished, come from the finger tips and purses of those who are good stewards.

As Dr. M and Sue McGleno participated in a prolonged good bye, I went against my A.D.D. instincts and decided to let them have their moment.

As the 2 of them talked softly and smiled....I just watched Honey the Beagle and wondered how the woman who had been dead for a year now was doing in heaven, and then it made me feel good that the angels were able to report to her that her mutt was in such loving hands.

This was a humbling moment for me Mr Kerouac, and just for the record....I miss you as well.


1 CUP PEANUT BUTTER (real dogs prefer chunky)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F)

In a bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, and b-soda, then use your hands to loosely mix these ingredients.

Add the egg, milk, and peanut butter to dry ingredients, mixing with a sturdy spoon until the dough becomes pliable.

Place beef broth in a bowl and set aside for later basting.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch. Using a pizza cutter, make horizontal and vertical slices to form cube shapes. The size of the cube will depend on the size of your dog's jaw.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet with parchment paper, making sure to allow adequate space between the biscuits.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, remove the biscuits and reset the oven's temp to 375 (F), then dip a pastry brush into the beef stock and paint biscuits heavily. Place the biscuits back into the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and baste again.

Remove from the oven after a total bake time of 35 minutes (or golden brown).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Kitchen Poets Vault

Yesterday, I woke up at 5 a.m. and I kinda felt weak and my head was in a surreal state.

Within the last few days I had crashed a bread truck, squabbled with insurance agents.... and was subjected to scientific experimentations.

If that wasn't enough stress to top off some kind of nervous cocktail....there was always the knowledge that at 11 a.m. I would be opening the doors to the bakery, and would be sponsoring.....


Basically how this works is you get 6 acts, bring them into the bakery, invite Slow Food Minnesota, The Saint Paul Bread Club, the Twin Cities literary scene, and anybody else that is hard up enough to endure 75 minutes of poems to get the opportunity to design their own pizza, and have it baked by a professional in a huge brick oven.

This day meant so much to me, not just because it symbolized what I love so much, as much as that this event represents the people who I adore, and w/o their involvement or participation.....there just wouldn't be any way for me to pull this off.

I've been involved in this event for years, but this year was different......last year we created some buzz, so this year the media really supported us.

So I guess it's not so much that I wanted to conquer the world as much as make certain that this event wouldn't be lightly attended...I simply didn't want to let my comrades down.

Every detail had been attended to, but there still was the matter of transforming a production plant into a kitchen / theater.

Kim Ode was the first person to show up.

Her car was packed to the hilt because she brought our P.A. system, but it was wedged between all kinds of cardboard boxes, so I just kinda furled a brow.....she grinned and opened one and pulled free a book as if she were a magician pulling a rabbits out of a hat.

"Rhubarb Renaissance" was the title.....this was Kim's newest cookbook, and I could see how good the final product made her feel. (Minnesota Historical Press)

Next came Mike Finley, he was gracious enough to act as master of ceremony' while our band of literary raodies began increasing rapidly....Mike paced the bakery like a caged lion.

So now there's 20ish people scurrying around the bakery, everybody doing their own assignment, then it occurred to me how Gilson wouldn't be attending. She had a shift of pastry baking at Heartland and with all this anticipation of this being the grandest of all events.....I missed her - alot, in many ways she kinda launchpadded what was about to take place, for years she and I would meet at different restaurants, bars and coffee shops and discuss writing.

Gilson has always been an inspiration to me.

15 minutes before the event started, there was about 30, maybe 35 people there.....Finley and I just kinda looked at each other with a...."We're gonna have to at least double this within 10 minutes or we might become the laughing stocks of not only the literary world....but the hospitality scene too.

But the Saint of Warsaw rewarded somebody for deeds unknown, it turns out that well over 100 people came.

As the show began.......I just thought how limitless life can be, we were surrounded by some of the most beautiful people our city had to offer.

Literature and Food.....fused together.

As many of you know, the highlight of this event is when the K.P.V. hands out is Jack Kerouac award.

This honor can't be bought, its recipient has to have a life time body of work that is honest and unbridled.

If you've won grants or academic awards...this trophy probably won't find its way into your hands, it only goes to peeps who exemplify Kerouac's mantra of....

"If you own a have to much." just have to Rock & Roll and be a Rebel Poet.

I suppose for posterity sake, I should list the presenters........


Kevin O'Rourke (Kerouac Winner)

Sarah Stonich

Gary Lee Joyner

Kim Ode

Mike Finley (Master Of Ceremonies)

I know that in a baking blog many of you might want me to add recipes or baking instructions in all of my posts, but in fairness to me...being me, I just think that there is so much more to my craft than just putting food into peoples mouth.....

I think there is an added value in sharing the observations that a Master Bread Baker witnesses over the course of a year, and I gotta tell ya......what I saw yesterday was glorious.



When Kerouac and Japhy

Climbed a mountain to find Buddha

A universal truth became unveiled

At the bottom of the trail

They barked out orders to each other

It was thought this would help them navigate

But the altitude increased

And the peak pressed down upon them

Their preconceived notions were cast aside

Silence was the compass

That would steer them towards enlightenment

Since words are wasted on what is already known

So welcome to the Oven Room

A space that nourishes your city

It to is traveled by the silent

Knowing labor will bear fruit

Only when a crew realizes

To be a cog

Is a place of honor


B.T.W.....for those of you keep stats, we made up 86 pizza pies.

See Ya Next Year -

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snow Owls - Borgs and Red Cabbage

I guess it had to happen.

After 30 years of getting shuffled between 3rd shift, PM's, 3 a.m. start times, and now...bankers hours.....Klecko's sleep is messed up.

I'll spare you guys the "ISH" details, I hate when people get technical about medical.

Medical freaks me out, In my own mind....I leave medical to God,the Angels and Nurses.

As a life long Pollack, I have always believed that if you stay away from the doctor...She/He can't tell you that you are going to die.

But then a month sleep got worse. I couldn't breath out of my all.

At night my throat got all crusted out from breathing through my mouth...EWWWWW.

So I did it, I went to the Doc....she sent me to EYES/EARS and NOSE...and they looked at me and said I have a deviated septum, maybe sleep apnia and for sure an inner nose infection that looked like it had been there for over a year.

For Klecko...and many other bakers and 3rd shift workers...the normal standards to sleep do not apply.

My sleep routine consists of bright lights, plasma TV's and at least 2 dogs contributing to my sleep pile.

So last night was my appointment with the sleep clinic. It kinda unerved me that it took place in an off wing of a Best Western Hotel.

They have you show up at 8:45 p.m., and you walk through that hotel foyer, and those foyers are always filled with kids running by swimming pools, kids that are screaming.

I usually hate those kids, but last night I so bad wanted to sit on the pool deck and be left alone, but wasn't my fate.

When I entered room #236, it looked like a normal hotel room, but there were 2 major differences.....

#1 -

On top of my bed was a pile of electrodes, circut boards and enough wires to fill a grocery bag.

#2 -

They only had 1 HBO station...not the 10 I am accustomed to.

So the staff comes in and hooks me up. Technician chick was really very nice.

But then she told me that I would have to shut off my TV, and I would have to be asleep by 11 p.m.

First things first......during the summer of 1969, my Grandfather gave me my own black and white TV.

I don't know why he didn't give it to my Mom or Sister, but for whatever reason, I was the lucky recipient.

From that day on, I can only think of one night in my life that I've slept w/o my electronic companion.

That was the night I slept in the womans dorm at the University of Moscow Cooperation (Perhaps a story for a future post).

So me and the technician chick argued a bit, I hate to be "That Guy".

She looked at me and asked....

"Come on, its not like you sleep when you are camping...right?"

You had to be me, to totally appreciate my Klecko response.......

"Do I look like I've ever been camping?"

Anyways, I've never really laid my head on a pillow and closed my eyes to pursue sleep.

I feel in my element when sleep just sucker punches me.

I don't ever want to stare it in the face.

So after the lights were shut off, I pulled out a newspaper from Warsaw Missourri called the Missourri Chigger and read it from the TV's glow.

It's a "Down Home" publication that my friends from Greenwood Mizzou subscribe to, and there was a column written about phrases that "Church Fathers" used to torture their kids, as you can imagine...a topic I embrace....

"Children in Hell don't get ice water!" was in there, and that made my snort because I've dropped that one on my kids about a billion times, but then there was a new one I read that was almost epic......

"Novices build Arks...while Professionals built the Titanic."

I laughed out loud so hard that the nurse stationed in her virtual crows nest chimed in over the intercom to ask if I was OK.

Then my mind drifted to just before heading over to the torture chamber.

I was at the gym on the dreadmill hoping that a cardio fix would help me to fall asleep....and slowly, first one by one, and then in pairs, people started walking out of the gym and simply stood in the middle of the parking lot.

I could see their reflection in the mirrored wall and everybody was looking into the sky, they had wonderment on their face, and when I say wonderment, I mean the most abject kind.

From their collective expression, I swear to Caesar I thought Christ was returning in his glory, or maybe Aliens were cruising the Highland Park neighborhood looking for people to probe.

My rule (Guy Rule #226) is that you can never leave the tread mill untill your pre determined mileage has been accrued, but that yeah, I hopped off and joined the mob.......

Then I saw it, in all its glory, there perched on top of Cheapo Records was a huge Snow Owl.

I had just heard earlier in the week that they had entered the Twin Cities, but bird people didn't know why. I guess Snow Owls have never traveled to my town.

I've seen owls before, and they are pretty cool, but this was different, first was 5 times the size I had imagined.

Immediately I gave thanks to the Polish Christ, to be in the presence of this creature. The moment was majestic.

That old bird sat there like royalty looking down on us.

Dude from the record store said that it had been perched there for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

So there I laid in my "Sleep Testers" bed all Borged out thinking....

"How many things in this world can unite people w/o even trying?"

There was rich guy, slob guy, all skins of the pigment spectrum were represented, and everybody enjoyed this moment in unison.

The packet that the sleep instatute sends you tells you that you must feed yourself before coming, if you "must" have a snack you should bring one.

I chose not to, but now I was getting hungry.

I could tell I was getting sleepy, so instead of driving the mild hunger pangs from my thoughts, I decided to race towards the roar.

I decided if I could eat anything, I'd want sausage and red cabbage.

If you read my last post about my poet friend Dara, one thing I didn't mention is that she has a killer-killer red cabbage recipe.

The "bait" ingredient in it is juniper, and I know that's a "Love it or Hate it" kind of ingredient, but I'm a fan.

In fact when Dara handed me the recipe, she also gave me a zip lock baggie filled with junipers.

Poet Girlfriends can be so thoughtful.

(Recipe based on 1/2 head of cabbage)










Mix the ingredients into a pan, steam them and stir until crisp turns to soft.

The "Year of the Dragon" has pretty much been a kick in the groin to me....but when you see a Snow Owl in Saint Paul, its gotta be a sign huh?

Things just have to go better for the Last American Baker.