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.....
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!
Lets start with the Apricot Compote first.
2 lb. fresh apricots, washed and halved
Sugar, 1/4 cup
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean (optional)
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.
4 cups of All Purpose Flour
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.
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.