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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Best Baking Blog Of 2012 Is..................

If I had a dime for every baking blog I've run across over the last few years....monkeys would fly.

Sure, there are a 1/2 billion cupcake sites alone.

In todays world of social media, everybody gets a chance to be a baking rock star....right?

Well let me tell ya, there are rock stars...and there are rock stars.

The Blog Post I am about to share with you comes by way of Holland, the the guy who busts these masterpieces out, one after another is w/o a doubt the "Elvis" of the baking Blog community.

In addition to being a "Kleckoesque" story teller, this Site's emcee ( a crazy Dutch cat named Freerk Bos) has put together some of the most beautiful and well produced baking videos I've ever seen.

If I had to pick between my Blog and his, well.....LOL, It wouldn't be close.

On behalf of the K.P.V., and the Saint Paul Bread Club....I would like to bestow the honor of "Best Baking Blog of 2012" to our friends at......

THE BREAD LAB -

Today I am just going to print some narrative from their most recent post, but "PLEASE", for the love of all that's holy....check out this guys Site.

3-2-1...and ACTION -


Boxty -

Irish Poor Man's bread


(Gullible Geek)


The geeky Caucasian male in line behind me at the cash register in my dreary neighborhood supermarket moves with me towards check out aisle #2, in anticipation of the arrival of the supermarket manager, jumping in to slash the queue in half.


I've seen the geek's face before. Like Pavlov's dog we both respond to the manager's rattling key chain approaching from some distance. The store has just opened, and against all logic, it invariably is the worst time to come here for my quick breakfast fix: coffee and croissants. The kids working here, pretty much process customers the way I suspect they have been ripping open cardboard boxes and flinging their contents onto the shelves before opening hours. The store still belongs to them, and it will be at least another hour before they'll even be willing to pretend we could be anything else than deaf, mute walking pieces of meat.


The manager, a tiny overweight woman in her thirties, snugly filling the cashier's cubicle, routinely opens up cash register #2. She has changed her hair to platinum blond. It was black before. She dyed it December 5th 2011. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas that day, a precursor to modern day Christmas, that is why I remember.


That day she was walking around the store fully dressed like 'Zwarte Piet'; a somewhat questionable, character appearing in the festivities at hand. She trotted around wearing a colorful hat with a contrasting feather and matching knickerbockers. Her face (and hair) painted black, her lips painted red. Think minstrel show.


Weary looks from all of us were her part. The rest of the staff, all Muslim girls, didn't dress up. She clearly didn't bother about this; she was going to have her fun, whether her subordinates liked it or not.


Blind Finches
The geek has one item, and as I am still struggling to put my stuff on the moving belt, I signal him to go ahead and jump the line.


After he pays the manager asks him if she can have a look into his shopping bag. He refuses. Immediately the fuzzy, just-out-of-bed attitude of all people waiting in line focuses on the geek. "There is nothing in there" he mutters. The obligatory "so if there's nothing in it, I can have a peek?" is met with a cornered look from the geek, whose voice goes into a whisper as he says: "okay, I'll pay for it".


When the manager's hand comes out of the linen shopping bag, it contains the loot. It is meat. To be more precise it is two "blinde vinken" ("blind finches"), basically two meatballs with a piece of bacon wrapped around it. The cheapest meat product on the shelf.


Being so close to all that is happening I start feeling embarrassed. It is nothing compared to the shame that is emanating from every pore in the geek's sorry body by now. "Why are you doing this?" the manager shrieks, realizing there is no way back now any more and she will have to sit with the geek in the employer's canteen, holding him until the law arrives.


I am still with the meat. Maybe it is because I am an actor and always look for the story behind the story. The only thing I'm thinking now is: "why on earth did he go for mince meat, and not for the fattest steak he could find?" Something along the lines of: 'if you gonna do it, do it right'.


The manager screams a girl's name into the intercom system and wanders off with the very docile culprit. We, the other customers, don't seem to exist any more by now.


After a few minutes the girl whose name was shouted arrives. She sits down and takes over where her manager left off.


"Could I...." I start asking, but the newly arrived interrupts."Who's been stealing?" she shouts. She hasn't acknowledged my existence yet, so I'm not really sure who this question is directed at. The girl at check out #1 responds; "some white guy"


Her blank gaze turns to where her manager just left with the thief as she hisses "whore mother"... It takes a few baffled seconds before I realize she is talking about the manager.


I pay for my coffee and croissants, by now making sure to mirror the girl's behavior, by far the best way to confront people with their own, I find. So, I do not acknowledge her existence and instead of answering her robot question "do you want a printed receipt with that" I make sure to turn away from her and start talking to the customer behind me, smack in the middle of her question. Sometimes it pays to be an actor.


Walking out of the supermarket, there is a guy standing there with two cans of beer. He asks: "I'm waiting for the guy that was in front of you in line, where did he go?"


I tell him it will take a while before his friend will be done, and from his reaction I can tell he is in on it.


I'm confused. The 2€ thief is the bad guy, but "whore mother"-girl is cramping my style way beyond my tolerance levels. The guy at the door looks like the kind of guy the gullible geek would wrongly put his trust in. The manager is probably the reason why her staff take so much pleasure in ignoring their customers.


Walking home I think back to the most successful shoplift I ever witnessed. In this same supermarket in fact. Scrupulous, yet genius in its manipulation of human behavior and prejudice. Even though I saw it happening right in front of my eyes I decided not to act on it. Maybe when you read the story you'll understand why.


Successful Shoplifting

Enter 2 mothers and 5 little kids. They are doing serious groceries. Two big shopping carts, filled to the hilt with hundreds of items arrive at the register. The cashier girl sighs at the prospect of this daunting task. The kids of course, are running around, screaming, shouting, playing and being obnoxious.


One of them isn't, though. The oldest kid, around 5 years of age, is dragging along a trolley, and positions himself at the end of the conveyor belt. The groceries are starting to pile up. The mothers make the cashier work hard. The amount of groceries is going to surpass the capacity at the end of the conveyor belt. Chaos is every where, most of all with the cashier.


The oldest kid helps out. He has put four cardboard boxes next to his trolley and starts loading. Cheeses and meats, coffee and more meat are carefully wrapped and placed into the trolley. The cashier gives him a thankful smile. With the end in sight, the cashier has to get up to scan the beer crates on the shopping cart. All went well. The job has been done. A hefty 350 € worth of groceries is rung up.


The mothers start squabbling in a foreign language, pointing at each other. Even the kids seem impressed. The cashier looks on blankly, not sure what is going to happen next.


Then the finale. "Ever so sorry, but we forgot to take our wallet". The cashier is not happy. What do they want? If it is okay to pack the groceries, leave them here and come back in 20 minutes to pay?


Yes, that is okay to the reluctant cashier (and a growing line of impatient customers). The mothers set the kids to work to get the last of the stuff out of the way. 4 Kids do as they are told.


The 5th one has already left the building, taking the trolley with the most expensive groceries with him...


I guess this one is for all the kids who wonder whether they maybe shouldn't be doing what their parents tell them to do.


END OF STORY


Boxty (Irish Potato Bread)


Ingredients
350 gr / 12.3 oz potatoes, peeled & grated
350 gr / 12.3 oz potatoes, boiled & mashed
350 gr / 12.3 oz AP flour
10 gr / 0.3 oz baking powder
1 egg
6 gr / 0.2 oz salt
pinch of white pepper
Preheat your oven to 190°C / 375°F



Boil half of the potatoes, mash them and leave them to cool. Grate the other half raw and squeeze as much moisture out of them as you can with the help of a tea towel or cotton cloth.


Combine the flour, the baking powder, salt, pepper, grated - and mashed potatoes. Add the egg and knead by hand for a short time to make the dough come together. If the dough seems very dry, add a little (butter)milk. Form into a loaf and make a nice deep slash at a 45° angle to make the loaf open up nicely on top.


Bake in a preheated oven for about 40 - 45 minutes until golden brown. Make sure to rotate the loaf halfway through the bake for even browning.


Right after the Boxty comes out of the oven, I like to brush it with butter. That must have been considered an ultimate luxury, back in the days. This bread performs particularly well under the grill or on the griddle. The coarser you grate your potatoes, the closer you get to a perfect cross over between a potato bread and a hash brown.


Make sure to follow BreadLab on Facebook or Twitter as well.


Well done Freerk Bos and Bread Love. congrats on winning the Best Baking Blogsite of 2012, and Mad Love at ya from the USA.


The Newest Cake Fad

Wow....so it's true huh?

Even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut huh?

Let me back up.

In my Twin Cities area, we have 2 newspapers.

#1 is the StarTribune which is located out of Minneapolis. This paper wins journalistic awards every year and is thought to be one of the last prestigious newpapers in America.

I believe they are just one of 4 papers that still carry a "book" section.

Their "Taste" section also wins prizes every year, and instead of just grabbing recipes off the A.P. wire, they actually have a team that consists of an editor, restaurant critic, event writers and a baking department that releases "How To" videos, in an attempt to give their readership confidence when placing masterpieces in the oven.

#2 is the Pioneer Press. You know it's not my style to be negative....but this is the Saint Paul based paper. When Klecko moved into the (651), for the first couple of years he wanted to support the hometown rag, but after a short spell...this became hard to do.

First off, Klecko has no love loss for the woman who heads up their "Food" section, I could tell you story after story about my dealings with her, but maybe I'll save that for a future post.

However, times might be tough for the Capitol City publication. during the last 3 months, they have been dropping off free newspapers at my doorstep Thursday through Sunday.

I am not aware of this marketing strategy, I'm guessing that they are trying to seduce me with their product.

Truth be told, I still buy the "Strib" even on the days I get the St Paul freebie.

However, yesterday I took a section from the Pioneer's Sunday edition to line the Chihuahua litter box located in my pantry and noticed that there was an artical about cakes in their "Local" section.

The artical was wonderful, informitive and then I had to chuckle thinking..."Sure,probably because it wasn't written by one of their food writers."

The story was about "Reveal Parties", and I don't know.....maybe you guys have heard about these, but in a way...I am so embaressed that I havent, because its my job to know my industry, and this is news to me.

Basically this is how it works.

You are a pregnant woman, you go in for your ultra sound.

When the medical staff determines your kids sex, you hand them an envelope, the staff writes the kids gender down on a peice of paper, inserts it into an enevlope, and that envelope is brought to the village baker who in turn will bake a cake that has a gender neutral frosting.

So now you have a big party, invite a million people, and then mom pushes a knife through the cake, when the first wedge is removed...you guessed it, its either going to be pink or blue.

The artical said that the Dorothy Ann bakery in Woodbury Minnesota has been making these cakes since 2010, and word of mouth has turned this novelty into a certified tradition.

Anyways, I am happy to say that for the first time I can recall, the Pioneer Press beat both Klecko and the Strib to the punch on a topical baking story....well done guys.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gifts from Paul Hatch


My youngest son is Tydus.

He is 20 years old, goes to college in Iowa, and secretly dreams of being a Hip Hop God.

However, over the last year, he has found it in himself to experiment musically, and sometimes while home on breaks, I find him digging through my music.

Growing up during the 60's, I rebelled against my mothers Hippie music.

Other than Bob Dylan, all the music from that period made/makes me ill.

Klecko didn't find his sound...

Klecko wasn't liberated until the mid to late 70's when he discovered punk rock.

The Sex Pistols, Ramone's, Iggy Pop and Blondie.....

They were the JACKPOT I had waited for my entire life.

At 16 years old, I spent an entire autumn standing in a convenience store parking lot, smoking cigarettes, and wearing a Walkman than was set on continuous loop to David Bowie's Hero's album.

Girls would pass by, and I would talk to them thinking I was all cool, as if Bowie wrote that album as my own personal soundtrack.

Well this morning, after I finished working out, I exited the gym and went next door to Cheapo Records to find discs from my past. Discs that I thought my son would like.

As I browsed, I ran into Husker Du (Candy Apple Grey).

Immediately I picked it up and smiled warmly.

Husker Du came from the Twin Cities, like so many of the premiere mid 80's punk / new wave bands.

I'll bet it was 1984 or 85 when that album was released.

I first heard it at Sherman's Bakery.

This was my first official baking job where I actually was more than a pot scrubber.

With that said, during this period, I was what the industry fondly refers to as a "Roll Mole".

This means I pretty much, just worked the bench.

All the guys who worked there were older than me.

All the guys that worked there had personalities that were loud, colorful and in my 30 year career, I don't know if I ever saw a group of bakers that was so opinionated.

These guys loved each other, but they fought like step brothers.

I have fond memories of this crew, but If I were Dorothy boarding that balloon back to Kansas, you know where she says her good byes.......

My "Scare Crow", or the guy I ended up missing the most was Paul Hatch.

Paul wasn't necessarily a punk rocker, he knew every genre of music, and he introduced me to so many things.

In some ways he was the crews dark horse because not only was he more intelligent than anybody who worked there, management included, but he was an outsider.

Interlopers are never welcome in kitchens or bake shops, at least not at for awhile, and Paul I assume knew that, but none the less he'd be scaling French baguettes and then he'd scream out....

"I danced with Patty Smith, in Detroit....on the dance floor!"

Then he would get a huge grin knowing how much these types of comments rubbed his colleagues raw.

When you work in the Food Industry, music is everything.

The bands you liked were almost like a badge that signified who you were.

All the men that worked there were so much more proficient than I was, and certainly more confident, and although most of the people who worked there liked me......

It was Paul Hatch who slowed down and looked over his shoulder to make sure I didn't fall too far behind.

I remember being that I wasn't mechanically inclined back then, the automated parts of baking intimidated me.

I did every thing I could to take the hard, crappy-grunt jobs, anything...just as long as I didn't have to figure out some of the equipment.

Paul noticed this, asked me about it, and I made up some feeble lie.

I still remember, like it was yesterday, how he told me not to be such a pussy, and them he forced me to learn everything about the French line, from mixing the dough to baking it off.

He even made it possible for me to bake off the French baguettes one night.

That meant I was the last person there, and this was the first time in my life I had the chance to work by myself.

I felt closing the bakery might have been the biggest responsibility I had ever had!

I was terrified, I was thrilled.

After that night, my life changed, I attacked machines, automated concepts and opportunity as well.

This would have never-ever-ever happened, in fact...I might not have stuck it out if it wasn't for Paul Hatch, and I don't know if I've ever told him that.

As time marched on....Paul turned me on to Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp" album, This is Big Audio Dynamite....and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

On one album Cave does nothing but covers, and one of these cuts was Johnny Cash's Wanted Man.

O-M-G.....the tempo and tension in that song builds and builds, and about the time Nick would scream.......

"Wanted man in the Minnesota woods", Paul would be frothing at the mouth and going into convulsions LOL.

So now that I look back at my life, and when I think how I really didn't have a father, or strong male presence during my formative years, I don't know if its ironic, but I do think it's worth noting, that the music that is most important to me, the music that represents who I have become.....it was given to me by a guy who danced with Patti Smith, in Detroit....on the dance floor.





Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Biggest Bagel Chump - You Choose

I've said it before, but I will say it again.

If you want to follow the world of the baking pro's....there is no source more credible than "Modern Baking".

This magizine is now released on the internet, so just go do that "Google Thing" and you will be set.

So here's the deal....I just read a brief artical of theirs, and I will post it for you.

The artical is a story of conflict.

This conflict has 2 parties with opposing views, however.....

I'm not sure which camp is more wacked...

I'll let you be the judge.

The following is the story from Modern Baking......

NY bakery takes legal action against Dunkin’s ‘artisan bagel’ line
Apr 25, 2012 11:27 AM, by Modern Baking staff


Earlier this month, Dunkin' Donuts rolled out its "artisan bagel" line, noting it had reinvented its recipe to feature a soft, chewy texture. Now a bagel company in Queens, N.Y., is taking legal action in an effort to force Dunkin' to drop the word "artisan" from its marketing strategy, arguing that it's false advertising, according to an article on forbes.com.


Marc Fintz, the director of business development for Davidovitch Bakery, has filed motions with the Federal Trade Commission and New York State Attorney General, as well as the Better Business Bureau national advertising board. The company alleges that Dunkin' Donuts artisan bagels "creates the perception that their products are produced by hand, using traditional methods in small quantities. This is not the case."


Fintz argues that his bagels are truly artisan, meaning they are produced by hand—kettle boiled and plank baked—using traditional formulas.

END OF STORY -

So tell me peeps...who is being a bigger goon here?

Does Dunkin Donuts really think we the people will think for a second that they are releasing any products that are actually "artisan"? LOL-LOL

In a way, I kinda give this Marc Fintz guy props for "Raging Against the Machine", but.....

Why is Mr. Fintz "really" going through all the trouble?

Does he think his client base is that doltish that they can't tell the difference between his bagels and the corporate monsters?

Or maybe he's "that guy" who continues to piss in the wind because he got cut from the 8th grade baseball team.....

Or-Or-Or..........maybe Mr. Fintz realized that for the price of filing a lawsuit, a bakery/restaurant can get alot of media coverage.

You can't buy that kind of press from a marketing firm.

Anyways, I trust you kids can tell a good bagel from a bad one, so I'll leave it at that.

If you want to vent on which side you think is on the correct side of the fence...hop in, and for you quiet folks....

Later Skater - Klecko Out

*Don't forget, Klecko has launched a second Blog Site on Blogger entitled

POETS ARE LAME (and other things Mike Finley taught me)




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"The Bakers Final Exam" can you pass?

Earlier this week Kim Ode and I were working on our Grooms Cake collection.

I think we were baking a batch of Mickey Mantle cakes.......(Johnny Walker-Drambuie-Honey and secret spices)

We poured about 3 1/2 pounds of batter into several 3-strap Vieanna bread pans and tossed them into a Revent oven.

The caked "Popped" much like quick breads do, however....the breaks came at the side of the cakes, not on the tops like a quick bread.

After 50 minutes, the cakes were baked through and Kim and I set them on bread racks to cool.

The odor of the Drambuie drowned out all the other bread fragrances that filled an afternoon bakery which was loaded to the hilt with morning projects.

Hennessy has played devils advocate during some of these baking sessions.

But most recently she remarked.......

"Why don't you call these Grooms Loaves instead of cakes?"

Klecko stood motionless while returning an Archie Bunker glare and explanation.....

"I call them Grooms Cakes because......THEY ARE CAKES!"

Now Hennessy counters with Sue McGleno logic, I don't know if those 2 have joined the same bowling team, but some of their reasoning charactoristics are matching is such a befuddling manner.

Hennessy quips.....

"If it is a cake, why is it in the shape of a loaf? Why does it have the same crumbwall as a yeasted bread? Why is the inner more loaf than cake?"

As much as I am grateful to have people respectfully challenging me, I responded.....

"I have seen cakes in all kinds of shapes. Sure there are circular cakes, but there is also rectangles, and cakes shaped like monkeys and kittys. Shape never qualifys whether an item is a bread or a cake."

Then I wanted to travel down a path of logic that said if it has yeast...it is bread, but if the energy source is B-Powder or B-Soda it is cake.

But then I remembered quick breads.

They are powered by soda and powder....not by yeast, and yet they remain in the "bread" camp, and they too are batter...like a cake mixture.

Either way, I will call my Grooms Cakes - cake, if for no other reason, because tradition gives me liscense to do so.

But w/o going to Google for your resource people, think about this for a second......

What makes up the definiton of bread, and cake?

What are the qualifictions of these items to fit with their specific mediums.

Is there a definitive answer?

These 2 items can't really be linked together can they, after all....we are talking bread......and cake.

That is it, this is the final question on your Master Baker quiz, and your answer will result in 1/2 of your final score for this semester.

Take your time, and answer thoughtfully please.

Professor Klecko



Monday, April 23, 2012

Do you have the right to refuse the Hitlers?

L.A.B. Rats,

As most of you know, I seldom like to take other peoples writings and put them up on my site.

A Blog is a lot like a diary,or a body of work that represents the writers persona.

I'm breaking the rule today with something a baking collegue sent to me out of disbelief.

What you are about to read was pulled off the A.P, press, and it involves "People's Rights."

Perception is a funny word isn't it?

Some people believe with all of there heart, that if they make a request in "The Business Place", they are entitled to have desires met.

OK....take a deep breath, put on a seat belt and try to figure out what you would do if you were the shop owner that had to deal with the following...................


EASTON, Pa.

The father of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell, denied a birthday cake with the child's full name on it by one New Jersey supermarket, is asking for a little tolerance. Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the Greenwich ShopRite, but with an outpouring of angry Internet postings in response to a local newspaper article over the weekend on their flare-up over frosting.

"I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they've been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past," Heath Campbell said Tuesday in an interview conducted in Easton, on the other side of the Delaware River from where the family lives in Hunterdon County, N.J.

"There's a new president and he says it's time for a change; well, then it's time for a change," the 35-year-old continued. "They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did."

Deborah Campbell, 25, said she phoned in her order last week to the ShopRite. When she told the bakery department she wanted her son's name spelled out, she was told to talk to a supervisor, who denied the request.

Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, defended the supermarket. She said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.

"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate," Meleta said. "We considered this inappropriate."

The Campbells ultimately got their cake decorated at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Deborah Campbell said.

A Wal-Mart spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that in light of the incident, the company would review its guidelines regarding cake decorations and other requests.

About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell.

"If we're so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?" he asked.

The Campbells' other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April.

Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because "no one else in the world would have that name." He sounded surprised by all the controversy the dispute had generated.

Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived his entire life in Hunterdon County. On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he said were worn by a German soldier during World War II.

He said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.

"Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That's fine, I don't really care," he said. "That's his choice."

END OF STORY.......

In closing, don't you just love the fact that those friendly folks at Walmart saved the day and made the guys cake? LOL....Oh the world I live in, i just wonder if they used candied Swastikas.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trial of the Decade / Amy Senser

For those of you who read this Blog across the globe, tomorrow is a big day in my city.

Last August a man was struck dead on a freeway exit ramp in Minneapolis, and the driver who hit him fled the scene of the incident.

The man killed was Anousone Phanthavong.

He was the lead chef at the True Thai restaurant.

At 38 years old, Anousone had worked his way up the ladder the old fashion way...by exerting plenty of elbow grease.

He was a leader in his work place, enjoyed in his community, and from what I've heard....was a hell of a chef.

Anyways, he was heading back to work even though it was his day off, but he wanted to give the cleaning crew rides home.

But his car ran out of gas and began to sputter so he had to pull off the side of the ramp.

When his vehicle was placed in what was thought to be a safe spot, he jogged a little over 100 yards where a gas station attendant who had just shut down his pumps, found pity on him and reopened them so he would be able to move his car off the ramp and get to safety.

Anousone went back and while pouring the petro in.....the police estimated he was hit at 55 miles an hour.

His body was dragged leaving a visual that I don't want to consider...let alone describe.

It was after 11 pm so not many people were aware of the tragedy until the next morning.

The Laotian community was in despair because there was no information as to who hit this emerging presence in their community.

Tick-Tock goes the clock and the Talking Heads news flashed the Twin Cities that Amy Senser, wife of former Minnesota Vikings legend Joe had gone into questioning with her husband and lawyer.

Now I have a tough enough time baking bread, I would never try to pass myself off a a journalist or a lawyer.

I'm just reporting the facts to you as I know them so you can hop on the internet and follow this case with us in the Twin Cities.

As you can imagine, quite a bit of controversy is brewing.

Apparently Amy fled the scene of the crime and said it isn't breaking the law if you didn't realize that you hit somebody.

Then reports hit the media airwaves that Anousone had some issues with chemical dependency, and supposition was cast out that perhaps he was (and these are my words) ALL COKED OUT and moving with an unpredictability on the ramp.

Many people feel that information was tossed into the air to buffer the fact that she bolted.

Our local newspapers have unveiled information slowly, but today I read that after the crash, over the next 1 hour and 19 minutes (and remember, this is around midnight and she is a 45 year old wife and mother) that she made 1 outgoing call and received 15.

Why would somebody call a mom on her way home 15 times????

Other reports declared that Amy mentioned to one of her daughters that she had been drinking that night.

Most of the people in my income bracket think Amy is at fault and because she is married to a local legend, she just might skate on this one. I mean lets face it, after the OJ trial, would any verdict surprise you?

However, friends and colleagues of mine in a higher income brackets have tossed the Hmong chef in with all the other minority / food service riff raff. They are claiming that Amy is being picked on by a liberal media.

Hear me well L.A.B. RATS -

I don't know if Amy Senser actually killed the dude while she was drunk and then bolted, but "O-M-G"... if she is innocent, it would of been in every bodies best interest for her to stay until the cops arrived.

So like I said, tomorrow the trial starts. I hope you will join me in paying attention to this case and if you are persons of faith....I am guessing that the family and friends of Anousone Phanthavong would be grateful for your prayers.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Day in Novosibirsk

Dateline 2006/Novosibirsk

If you took a ruler, protractor, or whatever device is needed to find the very center of something, and placed it into Russia....you would end up striking a big a** cathedral in the center of a city called Novosibirsk.

This isn't a geography fact that I would bet my life on, however...the church has a bronze marker plastered to its wall that indicates this.

Even after the Soviet Union parted ways with the Ukraine, Georgia and the other countries, it still has bragging rights for being the country with the greatest amount of land mass.

There was a time when the Motherland had 16 time zones, but for reasons unknown to me, they have whittled that number down to 9.

So Klecko has just finished a month long stint at the Kaaskad CO-OP in Aikhal (a city in the Asiatic Arctic) and strictly for monetary reasons, the Federation wants me to layover in Novosibirsk for 28 hours before returning to Moscow.

Novosibirsk is actually in some government program where it is "Sister Cities" with the town I am currently living in...Saint Paul.

At this point in my journey, I am worn out, but I certainly don't want to lay around at the hotel, my bed was designed for somebody no taller than 5 1/2 feet tall.
The elevator that hoists my Shrek like frame up 4 stories is the size of a small coffin, and when I step into it, I can feel a tension on the cable.

At night my phone rings at unchristian hours, and although I don't speak the native language, I am pretty certain it is special girls that hire out friendship.

In the morning, if you stare out the window, from my view...I can see a dozen babushka's sweeping the streets with crude brooms that are constructed from tree branches.

Novosibirsk is nothing short of intoxicating.

I love every aspect about it.

So during my one afternoon of free time, my people from the Moscow office have lined up a guy to show me around, serve as my guide, and hopefully help me to enjoy my travel day w/o drama or incident.

I've forgotten the guys name, but it might have been Jurgis, so that's what we'll go with.

Russians love to walk, perhaps this is why the majority of their nation is so fit. Jurgis tells me to make sure I have shoes to accommodate hiking, and before you know it, we are gone.

It was springtime, the sun was out and since we were located in the center of the city, our tour started at the nexus and headed towards the city line.

Jurgis had to have been 23 or 25 and he was fluent in English and Japanese as well as his native language. His goal was to serve state diplomats in with business interpretation abroad.

"Daniel....produce your camera please. To your left, yes there, that tall building. It was to be an important bumpiness hub. All 18 stories were to have offices of commerce not only for our city, but much of the Siberian region, however...do you see how it sags? It was built with such a foundation that would not hold it, and now it falls beneath the ground."

The building looked like an Industrial version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

"What will they do with the building now that it is useless?" I asked.

"It will be left to decay" answered my guide "but the saddest part of the story is this....look at all those buildings surrounding it."

There were strip malls, gas stations, souvenir and clothing shops.

"They all built these businesses with the promise that they would have built in customers from this huge building, it was supposed to have the most square footage of any building in Novosibirsk, but when the main building never got off the ground, the ancillary businesses fell as well. It is how do you say, so ghost town?"

The 2 of us chuckled.

Throughout the day I was exposed to many sites. Our tour lasted over 6 hours, so at least 3 times we stopped in cafe's to refuel with beer.

But if there is one image that sticks out in my head concerning Russia, it would have to be how every city, no matter how big or small, had beautiful parks that were always groomed meticulously.

Every park seems to have a dozen statues as well. Not tiny boundary marker statues, or modest sized statues, but Huge-Bold-Statement statues.

As you stroll by these fantastic pieces of art, you can't help but feel a surge of patriotism.

This particular park that Jurgis took me to was cool because it also had actual jeeps, tanks, rocket launchers and even fighter jets incorporated into the landscape.

As Jurgis explained each piece of equipment to me...in lengthy detail, he smiled and said.....

"I have never been to America, but for your country to have the ability to win the Cold War is impressive. We believe our weapon technology to be second to none, but yet the U.S. prevailed."

I kinda smirked being that I don't even under how to navigate a sling shot, and wondered out loud if maybe the USA intimidates the Ruskie's after we kicked their a** in the most important Olympic Hockey game ever.

"Yes, this is true" Jurgis replied "I had wonder if you would mention this event, but on a serious note, if I may return to the topic of the Cold War, most Russians are certain that the only reason we lost was because of the silly man Gorbachev."

At this point I mentioned to my host how I had the unique opportunity to bake for him when he visited the Twin Cities.

Jurgis didn't seem like the type of guy who just blurted out ideas,so I was confused because I thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union couldn't be place on the shoulder of just one man, so I asked him if he could explain his supposition with more clarity.....

Although Jurgis is more than a decade younger than me, when he answered....it was as if he was explaining elementary concepts to a youth.

"My country is old Daniel. Empires rise, fall...and then rise again, but America is a new world. You don't have a lengthy time line yet. One day when you do, you will see that sometimes the ineptitude of just one person is enough to crash a country. I will ask you to try to remember these words in 5 years. Right now...your George W is a silly man, much like Mikhail Gorbachev was. In 5 years I am willing to bet that America will find itself is a similar position."

That was 6 years ago, and I haven't forgotten my friends challenge.

Jurgis was practically a prophet.

*Don't forget to check out Klecko's newest Blog Site (on Blogger)

POETS ARE LAME (and other thing Mike Finley taught me)




Friday, April 20, 2012

Is the Jimmy John's Driver Dead?

Before I get going here.....what can I say to my friends in Russia and Ukraine other than thank you for visiting this Blog Site so often.

You know the Last American Baker loves nothing more than when he was adopted as The Honorary Russian Baker.

I've been paying attention to all the hits that have been coming from the Motherland recently, it warms my heart so let me assure you, after this post....the next one will account for a Klecko adventure that took place in Novosibirsk.


OK...on to today.

I promised a friend I would meet them at Golden Chow Mien for lunch today at 12:30.

So after running a few errands, I headed over, taking West 7th street.

This route starts in the downtown area of Saint Paul and stretches southward out past the airport.

I like this route better than the freeway because I get to cruise past The X-Cel Center, The old Pigs Eye Brewery, The homeless mission, and of course the old Custom Bakery building located at 1254 West 7th.

Every time I take this route, I am traveling back through time, remembering the finest days of my life.

Every time I take this route, I add new chapters to my life's catalog.

My date today was Linda White, amongst being a literary publicist, she too is a poet and all around literary geek.

I love her to death.

About 1/2 way between Point "A" and Point "B", I noticed twirling lights, red & blue on top of emergency vehicles.

There were fire engines, cop cars and ambulances protecting 2 smashed up cars in an intersection.

The first car I passed was a baby S.U.V. that was crushed like an aluminum can.

The second....

Well it was a Jimmy Johns delivery car.

This Jimmy John's car looked like an accordion.

I did my best to gooseneck to check for collateral damage.

I didn't see any bodies though...(Polish Christ, Saint Faustina and Angels of Warsaw be with the people and the families of the people that were involved in this accident), and it's not like there was a lot of time to look.

Johnny Law kept twirling his arm like Pete Townsend during a "Teenage Wasteland" encore.

Now the accident was behind me.

As I inched closer towards Linda White, I put my focus on the Jimmy Johns driver.

When you drive for a sandwich outfit, typically they don't have a delivery fleet.

The drivers use their own car, receive wages / tips and mileage reimbursements.

Dudes car was totaled.

So assuming she/he was able to walk away unscathed, I wondered how this single moment in the intersection would change this persons life.


NEW CHOICES -

*GO BACK TO COLLEGE

*GET A JOB WHERE THERE IS BENEFITS

*WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT

*GET A JOB IN THE HEALTH INDUSTRY

*JOIN THE ARMY

*OPEN YOUR OWN BUISNESS


When Food Service Workers are forced out of their jobs, often times they view this as fate, like God is telling them that the "Pit Stop" is over, and now it is time to get on with their real life.

I'd be willing to bet you that if those drivers walked away with their health, there is a really good chance that if you track down that Jimmy Johns driver in a couple years, they might tell you that today's accident was the best thing that could have happened.

Had it not happened....perhaps they may have never moved on.

As much as I discuss my Polish traits, I am 1/2 Irish too.

Maybe that's why I've never had such a defining moment.

Us Irish are like cockroaches....once our our course is set, an elephant can't push us off the line.

However.....not everyone is Irish, so this "Blessing/Curse" is seldom implemented.

For the general populace, it only takes one split second, and the outcome of your life can turn huh?

Have any of you L.A.B. Rats had a moment like that.

If so....do tell, the rest of us our curious.

Prevet Comrades.






Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rhubarb


This morning Hennessy told me that we needed to get a shipment of rhubarb in.

When you purchase this unique ingredient for springtime fare you have to be careful.

Produce companies will never warn you with.....

"Be careful, this is the last shipment of rhubarb we'll have for the season."

Instead they'll simply say something more like....

"Huh? let me look....nah, I guess we're out. Sorry, maybe next year."

Rhubarb freezes pretty well though, so it never hurts to order it in large jags if you have the freezer space.

So after placing my order, in the back of my mind I started to think......

"What was that Kim Ode rhubarb poem?"

But then I stopped for a second, and kinda recoiled in fear.

My mind flashed back to the Klecko of 10 years, and 20 years past.

What would 28 or 38 year old Klecko think if he saw todays bumbling buffoon pondering garden poems?

38 year old Klecko would roll his eyes in disgust.

28 year old Klecko would simply fall on his sword to save future embarressment.

But I guess this is how the maturation process works huh?

There are other quirks that I've viewed as pathetic in my life, that I have later grown to embrace.

Pulling crabgrass on Sunday afternoons.

Planting Moss Roses.

Eating asparagus.

Listening to WCCO....real radio for real people.

O-M-G.......now I see why we immortalize people like Cobain and James Dean.

When you die young...you end up leaving behind a template of perception that remains raw, with sharp edges.

Well....now that I've surrendured to my new me....won't you join me in celebrating my Minnesota springtime with a poem written by my friend Kim Ode?

Enjoy.......


RHUBARB


Come midmorning, my sister and I

Would be shooed from the sandbox

To pick a dozen stalks of rhubarb

For that day’s pie.

There is a knack to picking rhubarb.

Grab too high and you snap the stalk.

Grab too low and you lose the leverage

For that crucial tug from the root,

Like pulling a boot from spring’s muddy gumbo.

Then we would take our lives in our hands

Lopping off leaves coursing with enough poison

To kill a congregation –

Or so we’d come to believe

Given the stern order never to taste them.

The work was both gratifying and disconcerting,

Entrusted to wield foliage so deadly

We could not feed it even to the hogs,

Bur heaved the leaves into the ditch

Onto a wilting mound that grew with every pie.

So, if I hesitate over that first bite,

It’s only a flicker of remembering how it felt

To bring those stalks into the house,

Hoping we had not been trusted too much.


THE END


*Don't forget...Klecko has a new blog entitled......

Poets Are Lame (and other things Mike Finley has taught me)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grocery Store Baking Aisle


Every other Sunday, Sue McGleno and I spend the afternoon at the grocery store.

The two of us enter together, pass the butcher, baker and deli together, but when we hit aisle #2...the baking aisle, that's when my wife will cut the chord and head out on her own.

I could stand in the grocery store baking aisle forever.

I love to look at all the fun ingredients that come in the Suzy Homemaker sizes.

When you've spent 1/2 your career humping 100# bags of flour across a mixing area, the prospect of lifting 1# bags of powdered sugar are alluring.

Speaking of powder sugar....does your baking aisle have 4 different brands like mine?

Every single one of them is a different price.

Sue McGleno gets pissed because she buys brown sugar fairly often to go with her morning oat meal.

Our store has 3 different light brown sugars, and one dark brown sugar.

Sue McGleno will usually grab for the cheapest version, but then when she forges ahead....I swap it for the most expensive version, and slide that one under the pile of food in the cart.

When we hit the check out line, my job is to unload the cart.

When the brown sugar surfaces, I make a big deal and accuse my wife of being a culinary diva.

It cracks me up because each time she doesn't see it coming.

The cashier never thinks its funny though. they don't know my routine. They just think Klecko is a jerk.

Then there is all the 5# flour bags.

Don't they make you feel like you are in a time machine while you look at them.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I like Robin Hood Flour, mostly because it is milled in Minnesota, and I am a boy.

Boys like Robin Hood anything.

But my favorite reason for hanging in the baking aisle is because I get to talk about baking with old ladies.

For whatever reason....old ladies aren't afraid of me there.

Maybe its just too hard to be intimidated by a 268# tattooed guy when he has cup cake holders and a spatula in hand.

But truth be told, I have learned more about my craft from talking to older women in aisle #2 than anywhere else.

I don't think people are willing to spark up conversations in the produce department, and if you try to talk with somebody in the frozen food aisle...they'll call the cops.

Yeah....the baking aisle has is a zen jackpot.

In a world of modern living, where the pace of life can be so fast, many people avoid the baking aisle all together.

I hope I never enter that world

Am I the only one who feels this way....comment please.


*DON'T FORGET....KLECKO HAS A NEW BLOG ON BLOOGER CALLED......

POETS ARE LAME "And other things Mike Finley taught me."









Saturday, April 14, 2012

Seriously, Does Bread Talk?

Recently I was reading Arnold Schwarzenegger's encyclopedia of body building, and to be honest, I was surprised to hear how profound...almost spiritual his approach to weight lifting was.

In one of the chapters he talks about his "Mental Approach" to his craft.

I am going to totally Klecko - paraphrase here, but he said that every time he enters the gym, after a series of stretching or warm ups, he then sits down, closes his eyes, and then he tries to visualize what he is going to accomplish during this current work out session.

When the work out officially begins, the two things he really tries to do is....

#1 Block out the surrounding environment. That means he not only rejects socializing, but he drowned out those around him who are.

Music isn't welcome. Television is forbidden.

Everything in the external world must be made to vanish.

According to Arnold, it is not only impossible to be a champion if you don't apply this strategy, but without complete separation, you won't even meet modest goals.


#2 Listen to what your body is saying. According to Mr. Universe, he just kinda prepares the method, but then he let's the object of his focus steer him.

When I read this, I felt a sense of relief, because during my best baking sessions, that was exactly what I have done.

So why don't all my baking sessions turn out A+ then?

Probably because after most of us clear the first few hurdles, and have a little success under our belt, it is fairly natural to loose focus, we know that we know the system, so maybe we'll start to multitask, or worse yet...get bored.

Me.....maybe I will set up a rye dough while that sourdough is mixing....

You, perhaps you'll talk to your daughter about her trip to Texas while your loaf of brioche jostles around in your Kitchen Maid.

Baking bread has so many variables.

Variables - Variables - Variables - Variables - Variables - Variables - Variables.

Baking bread is extremely complex if you approach it through science and theory, but I have found that my results have turned out considerably better when I close my mouth and listen to the bread while it is mixing.

Yes...it is true, bread does talk.

It doesn't matter if you have 600 pounds of dough in a Peerless barrel mixer, or if you are blending the ingredients by hand in a stainless steel bowl....

That dough will talk to you.

Am I starting to get a little too Zen for you?

Alright, I'll get to the point......these are just some of the conversations FLOUR-DOUGH & BREAD can have with you.

When the water hit that flour, did you pay attention to how quickly it absorbed?

Humidity is such a bid deal.

Your kitchen may be quite cool, but if the previous day (or even week) it was hot & sticky, you can bet that this will have a huge effect on how your flour accepts its liquid base.

How quick did your ingredients come together on the dough hook?

Are you paying attention to how long it takes?

Often times when I am about 90 seconds in, I know exactly where my moisture level is. This is pivotal because although you can add liquid to doughs in later stages, it will take longer to mix.

When you over mix, you can still make a loaf worth eating, but your final products integrity will suffer.

Always try to have every bit of that water in between 90 seconds or 2 minute tops.

Development is next.

How does God warn us that it's time to despise our children?

They get squeaky voices and hair under their arm pits.

In my opinion, puberty is nothing more than a siren for parents to warn them that their kids are about to turn insane for the next 36 months.

Well....bread dough has a puberty of its own as well.

Many of you L.A.B. Rats understand what the "Windowpane Test is", once the ingredients are completely incorporated, how do you know when the dough is done.

Well, many old timers go by their timers on their mixer.

2 minutes on low - 10 minutes on high, and they'll do it like that, day after day, after day.

I guess Arnold would tell you that he sees people who go to the gym everyday, and they simply don't see noticeable gains, even though they show up so often.

Repetition is only 1/2 of it people.

When dough comes together, and a windowpane come into affect, it can keep its integrity or "Hold the Pane" for 4-4 1/2 minutes.

So at what part of that 4 minute stretch should we stop the mixing process for good?

It isn't an answer of time, but an answer of sound.

Most doughs will actually talk when their mix has been completed, but when dough talks....it doesn't scream.

It whispers.

Thousands of microscopic bubbles forms when the gluten has developed and your dough is done mixing.

Those itty-bitty bubbles make tiny little popping sounds as they burst, but it's not even as loud as a bowl of Rice Krispie's Snap-Crackle and Popping.

Bread speaks in a voice that won't offend Nuns or Librarians.

Bread already knows the truth, but if you want to too.....you have to give 100% focus.

I know some of this sounds kinda New Agey.....but w/e.

It's true, not just in body building and bread baking, but pretty much any task we jump into.

If our effort is going to be of a champion caliber, we simply have to surrender to our object of focus.

THE END

*BY THE WAY, DON'T FORGET THAT KLECKO HAS A SECOND BLOG SITE......................

Poets Are Lame (and other things Mike Finley taught me)

Its also on Blogger - enjoy




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Choosing a Bread Truck Color

So there I am, standing on the showroom floor of the bread truck store.

I am waiting for my sales rep to surface.

His name is Tyler, and he is from Loas.

My company has been working with him for years.

There are two things you can count on when you have a transaction with Tyler....

#1 - he is always on time.

#2 - he will find a way to work the word "Buddy" into 75% of the sentances that pass his lips.

Today rule #1 isn't true, my favorite truck pimp is nowhere to be seen.....

So Klecko slowly paces the showroom floor.

At the far end, I see this rotund middle age white guy.

He's sporting the Glenn Gary - Glenn Rossey $79 buisness suit.

The guys head is bald, except for the Friar Tuck horseshoe ring thing that wraps shaggily from ear to ear.

Obviously the guy has too much time on his hands because....in one hand he is holding a string that is tied to a balloon filled with helium.

This balloon has wads of masking tape on it to act like a magnet.

The ceiling is really high, like an auditoriums.

And towards the corner of it is an escaped balloon that hovers in place like a frightened cat.

Its string was broken so now the guys trolls the taped balloon in its vicinity, snags it, and pulls it down to safety.

I almost felt sorry for this guy.

When he finally clutched the stray balloon, he had such a look of satisfaction in his eyes, suddenly he turns, notices me and says....

"This might be my greatest accomplishment of the day."

I would hate to see his dissapointments.

Tyler now surfaces and apoligizes for his tardiness, but he is quick to relay that.....

"Today is your lucky day buddy, we have incentives galore, but since you are my buddy...I will get you a greater deal."

Truth be told, I just thought I was getting an inspection for when my lease that expires in Novemeber, but my buddy wants to put me in a new unit in 3-2-1.

"We have red, we have blue, we have black, we have gold....what does my buddy want?"

I mentioned that in the world of bread trucks....white is this years (and every years) black.

So now my buddy is excited and runs off to check his inventory.

Could you respect a blue bakery truck? I certainly couldnt.

Waiting in a bread truck show room isn't much better than waiting in the lobby of an allergy doctor.

Klecko was bored.

So thinking about vehicles, I wondered why Sue McGleno hates it so much that I refuse to take the freeway to work.

"You'd save 8-10 minutes each way, thats 1 1/2 hours a week."

We've had this conversation about a million times.

I prefer drudgery with a view to expediting routes that have no soul.

Every morning I snail my way through downtown thinking about what breads to bake or what 2 songs I would sing on Saturday Night Live if they let my band MEOW headline. Theres a lot to be said for setting your mindset on your way to work.

Now Tyler comes back and reports tomorrow is going to be my lucky day.

Tomorrow the white bread truck would be ready.

As I pulled out of the lot in the Golden Goose, I couldn't help but smirk as I recalled her highlights.

Moments like the time the Mishek kid up the street, when his pick up slipped gear with no driver in it, and it smashed my son Tydus's car, totallying it into an accordian while slamming into my ride.

2 grand worth of damage there.

Or the time that women ran the intersection and almost sent Klecko home to bakers heaven.

What adventures will lie ahead as Klecko forms yet another relationship with a new bread truck....stay tuned.


*DON'T FORGET...KLECKO HAS A NEW BLOG (ON BLOGGER) CALLED.....

POETS ARE LAME (and other things Mike Finley taught me)

It has been declared to be the "Bible of Literary Blogs" by the Apostle Paul.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Allergy Test, Monkey Tattoo's and Savory Scones

Like many of you, often times when I go somewhere for an appoinment, I like to take a book with me so I won't die from boredom.

However, unlike many of you (I'm Guessing), often times the reading materials that I bring along are cookbooks.

Yesterday I has an appointment at St Paul Allergy.

I have never been to an allergy doctor before, so I wasn't sure what the waiting system was.

Like most medical places you've never been to, I was banking on sitting in a general waiting room and being forced to answer a clipboard worth of questions, but what about after that?

I mean would they make me wear a paper gown?

Would I be left alone in a tiny examination room?

Well, whatever the case, I was prepared. I had Michel Suas's "ADVANCED BREAD AND PASTRY BOOK" with me.

I am such a huge fan of this collection of recipes.

It is comprehensive, and shares some features which are unique in cookbook terms.

But the one thing that I find most valuble, and have often wondered why it hasn't been implemented before.....

This book lists recipes in commercial sizes, and then breaks them down to home enthusiest batch sizes as well.

Well, now that my clipboard assignment is done so now I decide to surf the table of contents and see what is available for scone recipes....

Butter Scone.... check -

Cream Scone.... check -

And then I see it....Savory Scone.

We've talked about this more than once throughout the past year, very few trends are climbing the charts quite like savory.

Just as my pointer finger began running down the ingredient column, the waiting room door opens..

"Daniel."

Thats me, I am up and past the first wall.

Two women usher me over the the scale, and get your height station. When these objectives are met, they brought me down a long narrow hallway, and for whatever reason, the doors seemed kinda tiny so I almost felt as if I were walking through a stable barn.

In the room we go.

When I entered, the room was quite steril and professional looking. The walls, flooring and medical devices made this space cop a George Orwell - 1984 vibe.

But then up on the wall over the massage table, the very table that could have been borrowed from a Las Vegas brothel (not that I would know what those look like) was a picture.

The picture was actually a drawing, and the drawing was of a sad girl slouching.

I can't be positive, but this drawing looked as if it was done in pencil, and the unmatted frame that supported this expression, well it had to have been purchased at Michael's or Super Target.

The 2 women that assisted me, one was black...and one was white.

The black chick seemed to value my early morning Kleckoism's, but I think the white chick just took one look at me and thought.....

"I really don't want to start off my work week with this lout."

However, after taking my vitals, black chick leaves, and white chick decides to hang so she can vampire some blood samples.....

Father - Son - Holy Ghost.....I'll never get used to those needles, but when she is done, she gives me the oldest line in the book.....

"The Doctor will be in with you shortly."

Hah, the second they say that, it's usually time to break out the pillow and quilt, but then "BANG"...within 2 minutes, who walks in?

Doctor Geller.

The Doctor must have been mid to late 50's.

Thr top of his head "might" have been level with my sternum.

His hair was curly,he wore wire rimmed glasses, this guy looked like a doctor.

Then across the room, sitting on the "massage table" was this Big Ol' Shreck looking dude that was twice his size, wearing his fanciest Vin Diesel T-shirt, cargo shorts and bright red Jordon hightops.

I had more ink exposed than this man had flesh covering his entire body.

For a split second, he looked at me, and I think the sight of me stunned him.

So now I'm secretly thinking in that splittest of seconds.....

"Great, just what I need, another person of power in the world to hate me!"

But 3 or 4 seconds passed, and the Doctor asked me some questions, and as our interview progressed, the guy was more than nice to me. He was actually very kind.

I very much liked and was impresed by Dr. Geller.

So now he tells me to remove my shirt.

I do as I'm told, but my back is turned to him.

So I can't see his face or the expression on it,

A stethascope is strategically placed on different parts of my torso and I am told to breath deep and slow.

B---R---E---A---T---H once, twice thrice.

The stethoscope is removed and the room is silent for several seconds.

Finally Dr. Geller speaks.....

"That monkey is going to present a problem. Typically the gold test is done on the patients back, but I just don't think you have enough exposed flesh."

Then he dropped that "pondering" look, you know the look, when a person rests their chin in the palm of their hand....

"Perhaps I will call the techs in and get their opinion."

So now a couple other girlios enter my shoe box sized room, and theres Klecko standing 1/2 naked, spiraling these women into a world of lust from fantasizing about a weekend in Miami with the man with a monkey tattoo.

I held this freak show pose for about 30 more seconds until my medical team concurred and the game plan was to hit my arms with Dog-Cat-Pollen-Mold, and then we'd draw blood work for the other 2 billion dealios.

So is Klecko allergic to his mutts, flour....Sue McGleno.....

Details Pending...........


BTW - here is the Savory Scone recipe I was reading in Suas's book...Enjoy


SAVORY SCONE

Bread Flour 8 7/8 ounces

Semolina Flour 2 1/2 ounces

Durum Flour 3 3/8 ounces

B-Powder 5/8 ounces

Salt 1/2 tsp

Butter-cold 3 1/2 ounces

Cream 5 1/8 ounces

Honey 2 5/8 ounces

Scallion 1 5/8 ounces

Eggs 1 3/4 ounces

Pine Nuts 2 1/2 ounces

Goat Cheese 2 1/4 ounces

Total Weight 2 lb 3 oz

For those of you who don't live by a co op or someplace that has semolina or durham, you could replace that with something else. I might add the 2 1/2 semolina ounces to the bread flour, and then I'd sub out the durum with whole wheat.

The pine nuts, I would so roast those bad boys. I know - I know that strips the nutrients out...but they sure would taste divine.

Bake well L.A.B. Rats!


*DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT KLECKO'S NEW BLOG "POETS ARE LAME (AND OTHER THINGS MIKE FINLEY TAUGHT ME)". Critics are raving about this sight.....

"If you think Klecko thinks he should be taken serious when talking about food, you should hear his thought on literature, he practically thinks he's Bono, but none the less...I keep going back for another hit."

JIM MEYER / WORDS ON OUR PLANET







Saturday, April 7, 2012

AN EASTER CONFESSION (Hamantaschen Recipe)

On Monday of this week I got a phone call from a non profit bakery in the inner city that wanted me to swing by and talk with them.

This organization has been around for years.

The concept was started years ago by a nun and a baker who pulled together their resources and began ministering to a neighborhood.

Today, the dream of these 2 Samaritans has prospered into a huge deal, so much so....now they are looking towards expansion.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of kids have used this facility as a launching pad towards success.

Wednesday / 8:30 a.m. was when I was scheduled to meet with these folks, so me being me.....I showed up 35 minutes early,parked in a vacant lot behind the bakery and pulled out a novel to read before our pow wow commenced.

I don't believe I even flipped a single page before I heard.....

"POP.....POP-POP."

I sat there for a second and wondered....

"Were those gunshots?"

Then I heard screaming, which was closely followed by swearing, and finally a set of tires screeching, like I hadn't heard since the last time I saw the introduction to Starsky and Hutch.

I was positioned in the middle of the parking lot.

There were no vehicles around me.

Basically I was an open target if somebody thought I needed to be eliminated from this happenings equation.

After a couple of seconds, I wouldn't say I was scared, but I was concerned for my safety,my survival.

But then a couple of seconds passed, and I realized.....

"Bull****, I am scared."

I'm not sure what bothered me more, the situation that took place, or being honest with myself and realizing I was afraid.

Several moments passed, and then other people, people not related to this previous incident entered a side street and began swearing at each other, and one guy chucked his cell phone in anger.

I went in, took the meeting and...BLAH-BLAH-BLAH.

I haven't told anybody - any of this, not Sue McGleno, my friends....nobody.

You are the first to hear about this.

So its Easter week and I am about to embark on one of my years biggest projects (Our Saturday before Easter Retail Sale)and while I began getting that together Thursday and Friday....in the back of my mind, I was kinda freaked out that I had been frightened.

I didn't really want to confess any of this because, to be honest, I felt like a coward.

I've had a couple of guns pointed at me in my life, wrestled knives out of a guys grip, and taken some legendary a** thumping's.

But during those moments...even though I didn't enjoy them, I was never afraid, or at least all that much.

But then this morning, I woke up at 3 a.m. and headed towards the plant. The streets were dark, nobody was on the road.....and then all of a sudden a thought crossed my mind.

In the past, I think I didn't experience fear because I was young, and in my minds eye.....I thought I was bulletproof.

I thought I was untouchable.

If being 6'3" 273#'s wasn't enough, I knew that I was anointed by the Polish Christ, which is another way of saying....you or any other anti Klecko force can't scratch me a bit.

When I realized this has been my mindset for so long, I actually began to laugh out loud, by myself, all alone in the pitch dark cab of a bread truck.

I laughed because I realized the only reason why I have had that mind set was because I hadn't slid passed the ignorance of my youth.

Girls....boys mature at a slower rate than you, so maybe this is hard to grasp, but it took me until I was 48 to realize, and verbalize that I am mortal.

That although the God in my mind loves me....there are no special deals.

No gender,race or religions are immune.

Bad things happen to everybody, no exceptions.

As I drove a little further, I also realized another big difference is that I have been humbled by love.

When I was young, I worried about myself and little else, I think that is common.

But especially in the last 5 years, I have been given EVERYTHING. I have been given friendship-love-health and purpose.

That is a lot to lose.

Tomorrow is the celebration of the resurrection of the Polish Christ, I wanted to make sure that my bakery was chalk full of wonderful products that would satisfy families, and assist them in building traditions that might be remembered for generations.

Hennessy and I worked our tails off (and I'll be the first to admit she works harder than me, or most of you. LOL)and made Pickle bread for leftover ham sandwiches, pretzel bread, Chocolate Babka's, Lemon Fluff, Hot Cross Buns, Coconut Tartlets and dozens of other items.

But then I thought of my wife, and wondered what she thought about all this being that she grew up Jewish.

The last thing I wanted was to shove my ideas down anybody's throat. Least of all, my wife.

She also loves the Polish Messiah, but deep down...I think you can't change your genetics.

Sue McGleno was born a Jew of Jewish blood, and if nothing else, I wanted her to know that I hadn't forgot that.

In fact, we are going over to spend the holidays with my little league commissioner who also is Jewish, so of all the things we made this year, I was really excited about the Hanantaschen.

I had never made them before.

They are triangle cookies that are filled with prunes, poppy, almond, chocolate or apricot......

I like apricot!

HANANTASCHEN -

Lets start with the Apricot Compote first.

Ingredients -

2 lb. fresh apricots, washed and halved
Sugar, 1/4 cup
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean (optional)

Preparation:

Put the apricots in a pan, add 1/4 cup of water and about 1/4 cup of sugar and your cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil and cook for 8- 10 minutes.

Some people use their compote(s) warm, but I like to make this the night before, or at least far enough ahead to make sure it is chilled when I use it.


Now let's move onto the dough.


I am using a version that was modified a bit, but for the record, I am flattering Sylvia Lav's recipe by mimicking it. She has made them for years, and I am not qualified to carry her Hanataschen sandals.

Ingredients -

4 cups of All Purpose Flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon B-Powder
1 pinch salt
1 cup of oil
3 tablespoon of water
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup of sugar

Sylvia goes into a production with flour walls and gently mixing partial percentages with a fork, while adding the remaining ingredients

I just toss all the ingredients above into a metal bowl and mix them with my hands, a Kitchen Aid would suffice too.

then when the dough comes together, and is silky. It is best to put into the fridge overnight.

This dough works better after it has had a chance to set up and is cool.

MAKE UP -

So now it is the next morning, you grab the dough and compote out of your fridge.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (F) so it will be ready for your cookies when they are made up.

Cut this dough into 3rds, then pin them out on a floured surface until they are about 1/8th and inch thick.

Next I like to use a glass-glass to cut circular pieces. If you've never done this, the open end of the glass is your cutting edge. If it starts to stick, lightly tamp it in flour.

You don't have to zip through this stage, but do remember, warm cookie dough has toppled more than one cookie empire.

Next insert 2 teaspoons of the apricot compote into the middle of each cookie circle. If you place more than that in...it may be too much and your seams will burst.

Lift the edges to form a triangle and pinch the edges.

Now onto the sheet pan.

I like the pans with no edges, and I also like to line mine with a parchment paper.

Toss them into that oven (@ 375)and bake them until the corners are golden brown.

That usually takes around 12-13 minutes.

Alright, for all of you who celebrate the holiday tomorrow. I wish you well, and for those of you who don't, I thank you for indulging what is important to me.

I will do me best to return the favor.

Good night.

P.S. For those of you who are not aware. Klecko now has a second blog called......

POETS ARE LAME (and other things Mike Finley taught me)

It's on BLOGGER, all the pretty people seem to love it, check it out.




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SPECIAL ANNOUNCMENT !!!!!!!

KLECKO IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT HE HAS STARTED A SECOND BLOG SITE.

IT IS CALLED "POETS ARE LAME (and other stuff Mike Finley taught me)

The blog will follow the Twin Cities literary and underground poetry scenes, as well as document the relationship between me and my writing mentor.

And lastly, I will post poems from people across that planet that have inspired me.

Finley's Rule #1......

"How do you get people to NOT read your blog? Focus on poetry!"

LOL

If you are interested......it is on Blogger

Chocolate Babka Bread

As I get older....

I find myself spending as much time looking in the rear view mirror as I do watching the road in front of me.

Sometimes the choices I've made in the past shock me more than events that lie ahead of me.

EXAMPLE -

When my kids were kids....I never once made reference to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

My reasoning behind this was I simply didn't want to lie to them.

During Christmas, I let them know it was me that purchased their presents, and often times I'd tape the receipt to their gift,then I'd alter the total to look like I spent more than I actually did.

This is now a practice that my children have adopted, and Sue McGleno is not all that keen about it.

During Easter, I'm usually happy enough because its springtime, baseball has started, and if possible, I like to watch the 10 Commandments. I root for Yul Brenner every year, but he never wins.

If you are on the Jesus team...Easter is kinda a big day.

But now that I look back, it wouldn't of killed my children to give them some jelly beans or Peeps, but sometimes all you can do is try.

But to me, the best part of Easter is dinner.

If you live with people that love you.....you get to have ham.

If they just kinda like you....well, theres always lamb, isn't there?

Anyway, no matter whether you observe a God or not, Klecko still loves you and is hopeful that you will enjoy his Babka recipe.


KLECKO POLISH BABKA BREAD

2 CUPS MILK

1/4 CUP EGGS

1 TABLESPOON BUTTER

2 TABLESPOON SUGAR

2 TEASPOON SALT

1 PINCH CINNAMON


Blend or whisk all of this together.

Next add......


5 1/2 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

2 PACKAGES OF ACTIVE DRY YEAST


Mix these items in, and when the dough starts to pull together......



1 CUP / CHOPPED SEMI SWEET CHOCOLATE CHUNKS


Once the chocolate get incorperated evenly, place your Babka into a form and bake at 375 (F)


*FOOTNOTE -

For all you real Pollacks out there, this recipe would be 1 1/2 CUP Milk and 1/2 CUP Whiskey, I just didnt want to say anything in front of the Lutheran's


P.S., don't forget its good luck, to feed a duck, on Easter morning.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Twin Cities 2012 Salesperson of the Year

Hello Friends,

The following is the draft of my column for Food Service News that hit the streets of Minnesota today. If you haven't been turned onto "Food Service News" you should really check it out online. It is w/o a doubt the most comprehensive Hospitality trade publication north of Chicago.



2012 Sales Person of the Year
DATELINE - BROTHERS BAR & GRILL / DOWNTOWN MPLS

With close to forty minutes before the Wolves tip off, a friend and I decided to head into the “B.B.G.” to take advantage of their 2 for 1 Stella’s. As we stood in the entryway, the two of us couldn’t believe what we saw.

Not only was every table packed, but the lengthy “O” shaped bar was surrounded with waves of patrons three or four deep.

The staff raced to pluck the credit cards and wads of cash that kept popping up.

As I continued watching the transfer of currency, my attention was shifted to a guy in a Beasley jersey who looked up at me and said…

“All this commotion for a tilt against the Pacers? Can you imagine how crazy it’s going to be when the Celtics or Lakers come to town?”

I totally got the guys point. Like him, I had tickets last season, and there were evenings when you could have walked around the Target Center with shovels in your outstretched arms, and you wouldn’t have hit a soul.

But take it from me Minnesota, those days are gone.

While I stood in the midst of this beer guzzling brood, there was excitement in the air. People were speculating as to how the home town squad had turned it around. Some suggested that it was the addition of coach Adelman, while others chalked it up to the brilliant play of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

I just rolled my eyes and thought to myself….

“It’s obvious that these people don’t run a business. If they did, they’d know that success comes from energy, and energy is created by the sales department. Without bodies, it’s impossible to create excitement.”

If you’ve been to a Wolves home game during this 2011/2012 season, you know what I’m talking about. During the home opener against Oklahoma City, there was a point in the third quarter when my 20 year old son looked at me and said…
“You know, this doesn’t seem like a typical Twin Cities crowd. You’d think we were at a Knicks game or something.”

That’s pretty high praise when you consider it’s coming from a kid who is that point in life where he associates compliments with weakness.

To be honest, I don’t know the Wolves business structure that well, but I’d be willing to bet that their Marketing and Sales staff spent most of last summer’s labor strike working overtime. This year’s brand is as tight of a product as I’ve seen in this city in a long time.

Last year when they launched their UNITED WE RUN mantra, the new slogan didn’t exactly coincide with what I was witnessing on the court.

I remember bringing that point up with Mike Fuhrman “the Wolves inside Sales Supervisor” and he just flashed me a look of confidence before doling out some reassurance.

“I hear you Klecko, the boys have a way to go, but this organization is committed, mark my words, next year we’re not going to simply settle for improvement, we are going to compete!”

And when he said this, I realized it wasn’t one of those obligatory boasts that a salesperson learns at some Dale Carnegie seminar. I could tell that Mike really believed this.
I’ve always felt that if you are going to flourish in Sales that the most important weapons in your arsenal have to be language, promptness and the ability to create “Win-Win” situations for your spending demographic.
Nobody does this better than Mike Fuhrman.

And truth be told, recently I’ve been noticing how many of his techniques have worked their way into my sales repertoire.
For years when I’d go to present a bakery promo, I had a standard speech that was memorized. My pitch focused heavily on product quality and service.

In many ways my presentation was effective, but when I took the time to study this aspect of my job, I began to realize that my delivery was kind of mechanical.

Why wouldn’t it be? Basically I was just repeating the shtick that my bread mentors used.
So when I came to the point where I decided I was going to construct my own pitch, the first thing that popped into my head was….
“Who should I steal it from?”

The answer was obvious, Mike Fuhrman of course.

One of the slipperiest slopes that any sales person has to navigate is figuring out how to plug into a potential client without looking like a “suck up.”

I never really felt comfortable becoming “friendly” with potential clients, and maybe it’s just me, but I can’t think of anything more humiliating than for somebody to view you as a “typical” salesperson.
There’s safety in delivering a pitch that’s void of emotion, if it fails….the failure can be attached to the system, not the person who is delivering it.

But the more I’ve thought about it, I really think that’s a cowardly approach.
If you want your ceiling of success to remain high, I think the best approach is to strike with tenacity, but then don’t hover over the client.

Dangle options in their sightline, retreat, and then if you don’t hear from them, repeat the process the following quarter.
People who are considering signing your dotted line don’t actually want to be your friend, but it sure does mean a lot when they come to realize that you have their best interests in mind.

For those of you who have followed this column, you know that baseball is a religion at my house. With that said, even I have to chuckle at the fact that I haven’t spent a penny on a Twins package in years.

Trust me, I’m not proud to admit this, but it just goes to show what a sheep I am, and how good of a job that Fuhrman has done.

Over the last few years he’s got me to contribute thousands of dollars to the NBA while my primary choice the MLB is lucky to get table scraps from my recreation allowance.

Providing continuous options is the heart and soul of sales.

Listed below are just some of the perks that Mike offered up without demanding a future commitment……….
*A night in a V.I.P. suite during a Lakers game
*Seats good enough that Mark Cuban came over and posed with my kid for his Facebook status photo
*Availability to sit in the “Back Court Club” with the Miami Heat during Lebron’s 27th birthday
*Breakfast, and the opportunity to express my opinions with management before the draft
The list goes on, but I guess the point I’d like to make is that through the opportunities that Mr. Fuhrman has delivered, basketball may have replaced baseball as favorite sport.

If the Wolves sales approach has had enough power to change the things in my life that I’m most passionate about, then I at least need to consider mimicking their template and attaching these methods to the way I represent my bread empire.
So look out Twin Cities, Klecko may be paying a call on you soon!

Thanks Mike for all that you do for our city, and congratulations for being named Klecko’s 2012 Sales Person of the Year.
If you would like to meet Mike yourself, here are his digits.

MIKE FUHRMAN
INSIDE SALES SUPERVISOR / TIMBERWOLVES & LYNX
P – 612 673 8417
F - 612 673 1699
fuhrman@timberwolves.com