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Friday, March 29, 2013

New Grandson's and Old Polish Pavlova Recipes

Today is the day huh?

The anniversary of the world crucifying my Lord.

Let me tell you Polish Jesus, for once...it is I Danny Klecko that have words to encourage you.......

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING!

Did you hear that Lord?

Last night, the night before your day of peril, a new voice surfaced into this world.

A voice that was loud - angry.......authoritative.

A voice much like yours may have been when you were flipping tables in front of the money changers. 

A voice that belongs to my grandson Bennett Daniel........

But I'm thinking the Angels of heaven will simply call his by his new moniker Benny-D.

As he grows up under the hot Omaha skies, I have every confidence that the Saints will clear a path for this kid.

I'm telling ya Polish Jesus........this kid is going to change the world.

Today, on the day you hung on the cross.....

Klecko is going to figuratively untie his apron, and simply give thanks to all the many-many-many blessing that surround him.

David was cool, because he dared to fight Goliath..........

But as he got older....dude just whined.

Dude was unfaithful to his house.

Help guide me, Saints of Warsaw to pass on wisdom to this millenniums next King of Kings......

Benny - D

As tribute, I will leave a psalm and a Polish Easter recipe....................


                    

                                     UP ALL NIGHT
                                     (WITH BENNY – D)
If I end up losing my job
I think I'll switch careers
And apply to be a guardian angel
I'll bet they'd start me on the third shift
Hovering over headboards
Fulfilling my responsibilities in stillness
 And should this solitude become daunting
I would simply regain focus
By issuing prayers, poems and dreams
Amidst moonlight and nightlights
 And If I should grow weary
I would rock ever so slow
Humming psalms of protection
To the squeaking of a hamster wheel
And when the daylight finally breaks
I'll probably wonder why I was needed
As I stare into the waking eyes
Of a child born so pure
 That there is no reason yet
For them to renounce evil
-   the end   -

Pavlova with Rhubarb and Pistachios



It’s hard to believe that a dessert this elevated is made from such basic ingredients: sugar, egg whites, and vanilla. It is also a lovely study in contrasts: the delicate, crisp exterior; the ephemeral interior; and here, soft, sweet-tart rhubarb and crunchy pistachios. Happy spring.
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), divided
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and sliced on the bias into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Chopped roasted unsalted pistachios, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Stir together 1 cup sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Beat together egg whites, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with a mixer on low speed until very frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar mixture, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, 12 to 15 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through.
  2. Mound meringue onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and gently spread into a 7-inch circle, leaving a well 3 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch deep in the center. Bake until meringue is crisp on the outside and the texture of marshmallow on the inside, about 2 1/2 hours. (If meringue starts to brown, reduce oven temperature to 175 degrees.) Turn off heat and let meringue cool in oven at least 2 1/2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine rhubarb, water, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Bake until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes, spooning juices over halfway through.
  4. Carefully transfer rhubarb pieces (they will be very soft) to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet with a spatula; reserve juices. Let cool completely.
  5. Just before serving, beat together cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Place meringue on a serving platter and fill with whipped cream. Top with rhubarb, and garnish with pistachios. Spoon over pavlova and rhubarb juices, and serve immediately.

Cook's Note

Meringue can be made 1 day ahead and kept uncovered in a cool, dry place. Rhubarb can be baked up to 6 hours ahead.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grief-Ex Wive's and Polish Butter Lambs

Earlier Today............................

The bread truck was gassed, my depth charge received an additional shot of espresso....and just like Jack Kerouac, Klecko was on the road.....again.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, my music turned on. I had David Bowie's "HERO'S" in the deck.

I think I had-had that disc in there for over a month, so promptly....I pulled it out and replaced it with Lou Reed's "ECSTACY'.

Zoom-Zoom-Vroom.......Klecko buzzes across the metro.

My first stop was a country club that had hired a new chef.

When I pulled into the parking lot, the first thing I did was check the dumpsters because that's usually the general area the chefs will place the plastic bread racks they've emptied.....

Yep.....this former account had replaced us with some clone bakery that isn't even worthy to rub perfume on my feet.

So I pop in the back door, and the chef is on the other side of a kitchen that is easily the size of a football pitch...I proceeded and we met in the middle.

This guy had to be mid 30's, and I had never seen him before.

"What part of the world are you from kid?" I asked.

"Originally Boston, but now Wisconsin, I make the commute each day."

When you meet chef's on business calls, one of two things happens.

Either they give you a mere 1/2 second of their time, or they troll you around their space and describe what their vision is.

Daddio did the latter.

Towards the end of my visit, the both of us stood outside and stared over a golf course that was doing everything in it's control to melt the final remnants of snow, and as this was taking place, I'm not even sure how the topic turned to family stuff, and my new bud told me how him and his wife recently lost a baby to illness, and how part of this move was to kick-start their family.

I'm not sure why this cat told me this, but I am glad he did. You could tell he felt better.

If you are going to be in sales......you have to understand that life trumps accounts.

Even if this guy didn't want to come aboard, I was glad I got to share some of his time.

So now it's time to drive across town to the Polish Bakery and talk with them about rye breads.

Sometimes during the Easter season, small ethnic concepts get overwhelmed with business, so they end up outsourcing from us for 2 or 3 days to get over the hump.

Back in the truck I go, on the freeway I am....and then Lou Reed starts singing a song entitled Baton Rouge.

It is a story about young love.

It is a story about young love lost.

I have listened to this song, oh....I dunno, like 10 000 times, but today, for no particular reason......

My mind drifted back to my first wife.

Our chapter was only a few pages in the Klecko manifesto.

Those few pages of my life ended in a manner that wasn't conducive to me feeling good.

I like to feel good, but you know.....I always just assumed that I would simply run across her again one day.

I haven't.

I haven't seen her -

Talked to her -

Truth be told I'm not even sure I would recognize her if we were seated at the same table.

It's been over 25 years.

So now my mind begins swimming.

Klecko starts asking himself.......

"Should I contact her to put closure on existing closure?"

I think the bottom line is I really went a long time being angry because this woman dumped me...

And you know, the whole thing was a disaster from the start, and she should get a medal, because me-being me......I wouldn't have known how to unplug.

It's not in my nature.

I wonder if that's the Irish in me?

But the whole thing just ended u-g-l-y and I'll bet she has forgotten me, but I think I would like her to know that now that I am old. I don't even remember my anger, but I do remember how much I adored that woman.

All of this is taking place while Sue McGleno is preparing to leave to go to Nebraska to visit our daughter.

Our daughter who is about to give birth to my grandson any second right?

So being Polish, being exempt from therapy, I pop chatted my newest girlfriend "V".

She too is a baker, but she is a woman of the world.

She is academic.

She is married to some cat who traded in street smarts for a thing called a Harvard Diploma.

Anyways......"V" gave me some ideas to ponder.

It never hurts having an array of smart women in your world.

So now I pull up the the Pollack Bakery, and Saints of Warsaw, if that parking lot wasn't full.

Blah-Blah-Blah.....me and my Pollacks did our dance, but then as I walked by the cooler.....

There it was -

Like Christ in a manger -

A little Butter Lamb.

If you've never seen them......I don't blame ya, it's a Pollack thing.

You put the Butter Lamb on your Easter Table as an ornament.

As a badge that proves you are Polish.

As a reminder to the world that you are one of God's "Elect" - LOL.

And a couple things remain universal concerning this wonderful sculpture.

Every little girl will fight over who gets the ribbon around the neck.

If there are multiple girls, their mom will say.....

"That bow is covered in butter. Its going in the trash."

If there is only 1 little girl...well, mom pretty much says the exact same thing.

Little boys on the other hand.

All they care about is cutting into the butter first.

And if that kid is a true-blue boy.......

He'll lop of the head with a swift stroke of the butter knife, and when that comes to pass....

The adults should just slouch in their chairs with a smile on their face, knowing that their dysfunction wasn't influenced by their surroundings or actions.......

Somethings are simply genetic.

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it.






THE POLISH EASTER BUTTER LAMBS
  Schrambling_110409_butter lambs at broadway market buffaloIMG_1010

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hot Cross Bun Secrets

Earlier today, I ran a promo out to a Christian college.

The college that used to be run be the Jesuit Priests.

The college that ended up being sold to "Born Again's" who dubbed this place nondenominational, even though it was filled with 90 some percent Baptists.

The college that Danny Klecko spent his one and only quarter of non vocational training at.

It was weird crossing that campus.

I hadn't been back in 30 some years, but you know what.....it all kinda looked the same, but fresh...maintained.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the cafeteria, I remember how I was assessed demerits and monetary fines for taking a lunch tray outside and using it to snowboard down an icy sidewalk.

Yeah....even then, Klecko was Klecko.

So now i make my way into the kitchen.....

Sit down........

And then I start up a conversation about bread with the Sous Chef.

This guy is sharp, he covets bread, and pretty much everything that runs through his kitchen.

Sometimes in institutional kitchens, the Sous is actually the top-dog of production, because the Executive Chef's are actually more of a purchasing person.

My contact had to be between 25-28ish, and I had to smile knowing that every bit of body fuel that enters every person on this campus......all of those items were selected by this one guy.

As our brief meeting came to a close, my new friends asked me a question ask I made my way for the door...

"Hey Klecko, We have Easter in less than a week, and you do a brother a solid and give me some Hot-Cross Bun secrets?"

Well...............first things firsts.

Klecko has no secrets.....just observations.

Whenever I bake a holiday loaf, I realize I will never satisfy everybody, so I just try to make something that will pacify the majority.

Often times people who bake seasonal can mess things up, because they find themselves preparing something that they are only making once a year.....

I've made Hot Cross for decades.

The first problem, the biggest problem that bakers make is that they use the wrong type of bread.

Most Hot Cross recipes are formulated from white breads or enriched breads......these choices are counter productive.

Let's discuss what we need to put into a Hot Cross bun.

In Klecko Land...........

Raisins

Craisins

Lemon Zest

Orange Zest

The End -

In the old school.....bakers use citron or that nasty nuclear fruit.....Ewwww and Ish.

I like the balance of the raisins with the frosted X that will go on top of the bun.

You get such better "mouth feel" from raisins than you do citron.

In the past, I have mixed Golden Raisins with Craisins, but some of my peeps found that combo just a tad to tart.

The "key" ingredient in this recipe is the zest.

If you zest in a bread with a thick interior......the flavor and aroma will get stonewalled.

You want that smell of citrus to punch you in the jaw while you are chewing.

Oranges and lemons should clog your Post-Passover nostril's.

To do that, the bakers needs a bun dough....not a bread dough.

And-And-And.......................when you look for that bun dough....try to get one that uses oil for fat instead of shortening, once again.....this will free up and liberate your flavors.

I'm pretty sure most "Hawaiian Bub Dough" recipes would meet your needs.

Anyways................

As the day goes on.........

As my life goes on...........

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I entered the ministry instead of the kitchen.

One thing for sure.....I'm willing to bet my carb intake would have been less, and who knows......

Was a skinny Klecko ever an option?

I love most of you L.A.B. Rat's -

Happy Easter.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the Road with Danny Klecko (Kummelweck Recipe)

As of late, Klecko has been out on the road.

When I first entered this field 1000 years ago, i never would have envisioned myself being a sales rep.

During my career....standing in front of the oven, I would cringe every time a "suit" entered our shop.

Most people, in most kitchens hate sales reps, many times sales people have 2 obvious traits attached to them that diminishes their value amongst the eyes of 20 to 30 year old set that make up the majority of most American kitchen workers.

#1 - They couldn't cut it in the show, and had to take an easier way out.

#2 - They are old.

I never figured I'd fit into either category, but funny.....no matter how strong of a skill set one has....sooner or later option #2 will catch up.

I'm not saying I'm totally old....

Just kinda.

So a couple of weeks ago, I'm out on a call.

In my field, you are either pimping products to potential accounts, or rectifying some kinda problem with an existing account.

I was rectifying.

There I am, on the "tough" side of town, at a little ethnic joint. The woman who runs this place kinda-kinda has a Klecko-Crush right?

Within moment's, our problem is resolved, so now I tell her to make me something for lunch.

As Klecko sits down, his girlfriend asks....

"What do you want to eat?"

Whenever I am a guest at a restaurant, I always give the same answer......

"Whatever the pretty people are eating."

She laughs, and then smiles....."Turn around Klecko and say "Hi" to Shelly, she is my U.S. Food's Rep, she brings me almost everything we use here...but I told her that bread is hands off."

Klecko turns around, smiles at Shelly and within seconds the 2 of us are running down verbal check lists, comparing notes on sales,chefs and how lonely it can be on the road.

My unexpected lunch mate's plate was clean, but she said she had 30-40 minutes before her next drop-by. She was going to a deli, and she asked me if I had any hints on how she could kiss up.

I told her that when Klecko kisses a**....he always likes to do so inadvertently.

"Here's what I would do if I were you" I said "Look around to see if you can find a hamburger sized roll topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt. alot of deli's carry these, they're called Kummulweck rolls (pronounced Kimmelweck).
If they don't have them, ask why not? They are totally New York...west side I think. but if they do have them, chances are the bun will be topped with just the salt and caraway...but not the rye. People in Minnesota fear rye. A true-blue Kummelweck roll is topped with, and must contain all three ingredients in equal parts. If the rye isn't incorporated....the baker is a total poser.
Then, after you say that....change the subject before they corner you with 50 things you don't know."

We both laughed,

So now Shelly and I sat there in silence, the lunch rush had passed, but if life has forced you to "Go Kerouac" and exist alone on the road, sometimes it's nice to sit in silence with another like minded person who understands your plight.

Now the woman from the restaurant comes out with a feast on a tray (and I should report....she comped me....Saints be with her) and as she began to describe each course, I interrupted and told her how I went to pre-op to talk with the doctor about my surgery.

I have done this before, you go in for 5 minutes, answer 5 questions and then you are gone...right?

Well today they gave me this Harry Potter looking intern who made me take an EKG and then said since my father died of a heart attack, I should go to the "heart stress center" and shell out a wad of cash just to have the Doc tell me that Klecko runs like a top.

Dude....my old man died from blunt trauma in a car wreck, where are you getting your P.O.V???

So as I began shoveling in my lunch, the female restaurant owner in sitting all close like and says how sorry she is......and in true Klecko form, I did a good imitation of myself by alerting her.......

"I don't give a rats a** about being healed....I was just looking forward to the pain meds."

Girlfriend chuckles, resumes her duties, and about 9 hours later...when my meal was finally 1/2 finished, I got up to pay the bill, and  Girlio crumpled up the check and motioned for me to extend my arm, placing my palm upward.

I did.

I thought she was going to give me 5.......but she didn't.

Instead she slipped some percocets in my hand and sent me away with the knowledge that I had at least one friend who was willing to take the pain away.

Hah.....this Hospitality Industry never ceases to amaze me.

Nuff said..........................................................................

Wanna know how to make Kummelweck?

This is the King Arthur version, in my opinion...this is spot on.

Enjoy.

KUMMELWECK



Dough
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups Sir Lancelot Hi-Gluten Flour
1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour
2 tablespoons Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons potato flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg

Topping
equal parts caraway seeds, coarse salt and pumpernickel flour, mixed until well-combined
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the topping, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough, by hand or by machine, for 10 minutes. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then knead for an additional 10 minutes, till it's smooth and supple. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk. You may also use your bread machine, set on the Dough cycle, to prepare the dough to this point.

Divide the dough into six 3 1/4-ounce pieces, and shape them into smooth, slightly flattened rounds. Place them on a baking sheet, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until they're good and puffy.

Brush the rolls with a bit of melted butter, and sprinkle lightly* with the topping. Bake them in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack; they're best served the same day they're made, though they do reheat nicely. Yield: Six large rolls.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Cakes

Well.......they didn't pick a Pollack............... again.

I guess I should become content with the fact that I got to see the Vatican run by a humble man from God's favorite people......and under the authority of the Saints of Warsaw, at least once in my life.

Also, if I were a mature adult, I would take solace in the fact that a new country, a new continent gets to experience the joy of boasting papal roots.

Anyways, I don't follow the church much anymore, as many of you know, I have unplugged from the politics of Catholicism years ago, but I do realize what a big day this is for the world.

It can be my tendency to embrace change with sarcasm, but maybe just this once.....

Klecko will tip his hat..... and wish Pope Francis good luck.

In my heart, there is a special chamber that I have left empty, a chamber where one can sit and contemplate a Catholic Church that no longer remains dysfunctional (FYI....this chamber is located next door to the room where we catch the culprits that assassinated the Kennedy brothers.)

I didn't hear why the Pontiff selected the name Francis.....but I do like his choice.

Yesterday on Facebook, I sent a shout out to KleckoNation that I had missed becoming the Pope by a mere 4 votes.

In response, a L.A.B. Rat asked........

"If elected Klecko, what would your Pope name be?"

Duh.....does one really need to ask?

Pope John Paul the 3rd.

Alright kids, I'm off the soap box, so sit back and take a look at this recipe that was a favorite of Pollack Pope's everywhere.

(The following post is from the EUROPEAN CUISINE site)


 
Poland: Kremówka Papieska / "Papal" Cream Cake

Kremowka papieska (Papal Cream Cake)


It was apparently during a visit to his old home town Wadowice in 1999 that Pope John Paul II mentioned casually how fond he was of the cream cake or kremówka that he and his school friends had often pooled their funds to buy from a baker in the town's market square. More or less inevitably, the next day the entire town was coming down with kremówka, suddenly rebranded as Kremówka papieska, the "Papal Cream Cake."

Before it went so high-profile, kremówka probably started out as a confection devised by some smart town baker as a way to thriftily exploit extra or unsold ingredients left over at the end of the day. Even a careful baker would occasionally wind up with unsold plain sheet cake, shortcrust pastry, and sometimes even the pastry cream also called custard cream or créme patissiére -- which is full of egg yolks and way too expensive to just throw away.

When the improvised sandwich of pastry cream and cake or pastry proved popular, someone undoubtedly started making it on purpose in flats and selling it by the square piece -- which is one reason why the boy-who-would-be-Pope and his friends would have been able to afford it. (At least one Polish source says that kremówka sometimes might contain a local brandy called winiak, but the Pope apparently made it known that this wasn't the version he was interested in, but the simpler version that came from the bakery run by the father of one of his friends.)

The version of kremówka which has become standard for professional Polish bakers is simple. It calls for sheets of baked puff pastry on top and bottom -- or in the less formal or less expensive versions of the cake, just on the top: the bottom is sometimes just regular short-crust pastry. Of course, when the recipe started to migrate into the home baking repertoire, change started setting in.
Some versions of kremówka don't use puff pastry at all, just short-crust pastry on both top and bottom, the pastry often enriched with egg yolks. Other versions substitute thin layers of a plain sheet cake.

 Some recipes use a fast version of the rich filling based on pudding mix. You can even find the occasional rare double decker kremówka, with both whipped cream and créme patissiére. And on its home turf in Poland, the Gellwe people (among others) market a kremówka mix. (Their TV ad is here if you feel like taking a look at it.) In any case, the pastry-cum-cake is popular enough with Polish people to have been voted one of the two Polish "national birthday cakes" for the EU's 50th birthday celebrations.
We give both the puff-pastry and cake versions of the recipe below. As regards the pastry cream filling, please note: the amounts given below result in a cream layer that stands about half an inch thick in a nine=inch=square baking pan. We wanted more cream in our own version, so we doubled the cream part of the recipe when making the kremówka you see in the photograph at the top.
Directions:

Preparing the puff pastry for baking: wire rack underneath,
another one on top to keep the puff pastry under control
If you're making kremówka with puff pastry: buy (or make) enough unbaked puff pastry to cover the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch baking pan twice.
When ready to bake, trim each piece to fit your cake pan: then score lightly where you will be cutting it later for individual servings. Be very cautious about this, as if you score the puff pastry too deeply, it will split apart while baking. But don't be tempted to omit the scoring: if you do, you're going to have serious trouble when you try to cut the finished pastry into separate servings later.
(A note here to home bakers who might feel inclined to make their own puff pastry for this: EuroCuisineLady did, and her experience suggests that a "rough paste" puff pastry might actually work better for this than the more complex puff pastry version; the top and bottom layers of the kremówka would be a little more controllable, and the flavor won't really be impaired. The full puff pastry we used for our example above actually rose too high, even under the rack weighing it down, and got all over the place when we were slicing the kremówka up. A word to the wise...)
Place each trimmed piece of puff pastry between two sheets of baking parchment, place on a wire cooking rack, and place another cooling rack upside down on top of the upper piece of baking parchment. (This will keep the puff pastry under control while it bakes.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200 degrees C and put the puff pastry in to bake. After fifteen minutes, remove the top cooling rack and the top layer of baking parchment. Bake for another fifteen minutes until the puff pastry is golden. Remove from the oven, remove the second layer of baking parchment, and cool completely.
If you're making kremówka with cake:
Grease well 2 8- or 9-inch baking pans / tins: coat with bread crumbs and set aside.
Then make the cake mixture:
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • A pinch of salt
Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender. Beat the egg yolks into the water: mix into the flour. Mix well. Divide in halves and spread/press each half to completely cover the bottom of one of the baking pans. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in a medium-low oven (325F / 160C): remove and let cool. Remove from pans when cooled.
...Whichever version you're making, the custard cream filling is the same.
Custard cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 egg yolks
Scald the milk and vanilla. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Stir until very well blended (ideally, whisk to make sure there are no lumps). Add milk gradually. Cook over low flame, stirring constantly, being careful to scrape bottom of pan.
Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. When finished cooking, remove from heat and pour cream into a bowl; allow to cool, stirring occasionally until cold.
When the custard cream is cold:
Whether you're using puff pastry or cake, spread the custard cream thickly over the bottom layer. (If the custard is at all runny, put one baked layer back into a baking pan of the appropriate size and then do the spreading.) Then top with the second baked layer.
Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut and serve (possibly with thick whipped cream on top, if you like). A note about cutting: This is where calling this dessert a "cake" comes slightly into question, as it doesn't handle like a cake at all: the thick pastry cream center makes that impossible. The kremówka will always squish down somewhat when you slice it. However, it tastes so good that no one's going to care...



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Let's Talk About E-Z Bake Ovens

Every commercial baker in the world is past slender -

Every commercial baker has gone through divorce -

Every commercial baker has suffered a hernia.....and in some cases, twice.

Alright, there may be exceptions to these claims, but Klecko is writing this with  Oxycodone pulsing through his veins.

My first hernia, over 20 years ago, was the groin version, but this time around....I'm sporting the umbilical.

That's right, for about a year I have had my inners, popping out of my belly button like a pregnant woman.

But that's over now.

Last Tuesday, Sue McGleno took me to the surgery place, the doc's strapped me in and within moments...I was an insy again instead of an outsy.

When my knock out drugs began to fade, and the my mind started to drift back into consciousness, I heard the strangest thing.

Several nurses at their charge station were looking across the room at this big Pollack with tattoo's that cascaded out of one of those humiliating gowns that patients get subjected to.

"That's Klecko" one of the nurses says "He's the baker guy. Have you ever been to one of his first of the month Retails?"

Hah.....this question, this timing seemed so surreal, this could only happen in Saint Paul.

Nurse #2 responded.....

"Yeah, we just went this last weekend. They had Scandinavian items. We usually go for the pretzel bread, but we got some Cardamom bread that was really good."

Like Lazarus..... Klecko rises from the dead, the ladies smile.....and before you know it, I'm talking baking with the loving nursing staff at Untied.

One of the questions people often ask me is how I got started, or if I got started as a kid.

One of these RN's routed this conversation down that path and asked me if I baked as a child and........

"Klecko, did you have an E-Z Bake Oven?"

Immediately my mind shifted back to what....about 5 years ago?

I don't recall exactly, but I do recall Kim Ode telling me that the E-Z Bake Oven was being retired.

Not forever, but for awhile.

They had determined that the "light bulb" technology was no longer safe, and now they were trying to come up with a new heat source for the classic toy / kitchen fixture.

Eventually when an answer was found, and the oven was back into production, Kim was assigned to write a story about this hullabaloo for the StarTribune.

So now Kim decides to take an interesting P.O.V. by calling Twin Cities professional bakers to ask if they had any attachment to this iconic toy during their childhood.

Most of the people Kim called were pastry chefs.

All of the people Kim called were women.....that is until she called me.

"Klecko, did you have an E-Z Bake Oven growing up?"

O-M-G................I know Kim was doing her job, and I know she was trying to add diversity to her story, but didn't she know????????

Boy's couldn't play with an E-Z Bake Oven in the 60's (or 70's)...they were for girls!

At least that was "Boy Rules on Georgia Avenue".

This has nothing to do with straight VS gay, or anything like that.......

It's just that back in those days, boys wouldn't have thought about it.

It wasn't even an option.

How the world has changed........................

Nurse #1, who by this point is hovering over my head, begins telling Nurse #2 how now days E-Z Bake Ovens have "Masculine Colors" so boys don't have to feel weird playing with pink toys.

Nurse #1 didn't seem to be a liar, but really?

I was determined to go home and Google such matters.

As these beautiful ladies wheeled me out of the recovery area, I assured them.......

When you come to your next Retail, remind me who you are (I was pretty stoned remember) and I will push you to the front of the line....V.I.P. treatment you know.  

"Won't your other client's get upset Klecko?" Nurse #2 asked.................

"Maybe" I said....."But it's the least I can do for 2 pretty women that took the time to patch up a Pollack."

Sue McGleno rolled her eyes, and off we went.

With that said...................here's what Google had to say about the nurses claim.

Enjoy.

Hasbro to unveil black and silver Easy-Bake Oven after teen's petition

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
updated 12:12 PM EST, Tue December 18, 2012
McKenna Pope (right) delivers petition signatures to Hasbro's headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with mother Erica Boscio and brothers Gavyn and Matthew Boscio (left to right).
McKenna Pope (right) delivers petition signatures to Hasbro's headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with mother Erica Boscio and brothers Gavyn and Matthew Boscio (left to right).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hasbro invites teen who launched Easy-Bake oven petition to view new prototype
  • McKenna Pope, 13, said pink and purple packaging discourages boys from kitchen play
  • Hasbro says black and silver Easy-Bake oven has been in the works for the 18 months
(CNN) -- Hasbro announced plans Monday to unveil a black and silver Easy-Bake Oven after meeting with the New Jersey teen who started a campaign asking the toy maker to offer the product in gender-neutral packaging.
McKenna Pope's Change.org petition earned more than 40,000 signatures and the support of celebrity chefs who backed her request to change the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven's girl-centric pink and purple packaging to include boys, too. She also asked Hasbro offer the product in different "non-gender-specific" colors that appeal to boys and girls.
Hasbro said the black and silver design has been in development for 18 months and pointed out that the oven has been offered in a variety of colors since 1963, including teal, green, yellow, silver, blue and purple.
"We value input from our consumers and given the widespread interest in McKenna Pope's story, we extended an invitation to McKenna and her family to visit Hasbro and meet with our Easy-Bake team," Hasbro said in a statement. The company did not say whether it would change the packaging to include boys in its marketing.
Gender-neutral toy marketing
The 13-year-old launched the petition after on behalf of her 4-year-old brother, who wanted an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas. She could find them only in pink and purple, which she felt would discourage him and other boys from using them.
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On Monday, McKenna delivered boxes filled with petition signatures to Hasbro's headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
"I was so excited when Hasbro asked to meet with me. I wanted to make sure they were hearing the feedback from 40,000 people who supported my campaign," McKenna said in a statement from Change.org. "I'm thrilled that they not only recognize the importance of a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven, but also, they've committed to launching one in 2013. Now, boys and girls can choose any color oven they want!"
The new design will be unveiled at the New York Toy Fair in February with the rest of Hasbro's new products for the year, the company said.
McKenna's petition generated national conversation about how packaging and marketing might enforce gender stereotypes and discourage children from playing with particular toys. Others, including the Toy Industry Association, said toys come in different colors based on feedback from consumers and retailers.

-   the end  -

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hello Kitty - Baking with Siberian Cats

Hah.......

I have a friend named Sandy who lives in New York.

The 2 of us have much in common........

We both have worked in bakeries -

We both are quite attractive -

We both enjoy the company of animals -

Although Sandy and I have much in common...............

She would be considered a "Cat Woman"

While I might be classified as  "Dog Boy"

Anyways, today she sent me a blog link from...what was it called?????

LIVING WITH CAT'S?

Anyways, before I start my mad-capped tale, let me defer to my friend first.

3-2-1 and........................

Investigators say a woman picked up a kitchen knife in a fit of rage and desperation to stop her husband from killing a cat she wanted to keep after it came to the couple’s farm in need of a new home.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports today that a 56 year old woman in East Siberia’s Buryatia republic is under investigation for allegedly killing her husband after he threatened the life of her cat.
Investigators said woman and her husband “drank alcohol together, and then started arguing over the cat, which had moved to their livestock farm in the republic’s Zakamensky district after its owner from a nearby farm died.”
According to the story, the woman wanted to keep the cat but the husband did not like it and kept trying to scare it away. During the argument, he picked up a rake with the intent of killing the cat.
“In a move to protect the animal, the woman seized the rake from his hands and then snatched a knife from the table in a fit of rage, and stabbed the man three times in the chest,” a spokesman for the Investigative Committee said.
The woman may face up to 15 years in jail if convicted of murder, but the charge could be downgraded to manslaughter if she is determined to have acted in the heat of passion.
These are the only details on the incident and the case that are readily available at this time.
The case is reminiscent of that of the Texas woman who shot and wounded her husband last September after the man threatened to shoot her cat during an early morning argument. See  Texas Woman Shoots Husband to Protect Cat.

-   the end   -

I'm not gonna even try to one up this story.

How can a guy upstage a moment where a Russian woman wields a rake and a knife?

But let me tell you about the first night I spent in the Siberian Arctic.

I flew from Minneapolis to Atlanta -

From Atlanta I flew to Moscow.

I was given a room in a hotel that was reported to be owned by the mafia, I don't know how true that is....but I am grateful for mob hospitality.

I was allowed to sleep for 4-5 hours, then I was taken back to the airport and shuttled to Novosibirsk.

This city is the center point of Russia.

Like Moscow, I was given a room for several hours, and when my alarm went off, I headed to a tiny airport that put me in a plane that looked like a tennis ball canister and then catapulted me to Polarny.

The airport in Polarny was the size of a Nike shoe box.

From there they put me on a truck, and for hours i drove into the north...............

Into the white nights.................

Into the diamond city of Aikhal.

When I got there, it was close to midnight there time, but the sun was high in the sky, as if it were noontime in Vegas.

My hosts were wide awake.

People in the Arctic often lose concept of time.

I was so-so-so worn out.

But I brought Jack Daniel's and they had Vodka..........

When the bottles managed to empty themselves, I was escorted to a hut.

This dwelling was interesting, because it was basically walls with a roof and located across from a pig barn.

Oink-Oink-Oink goes the pigs............

As Klecko's head swims is delirium.

It must have been 3:30 a.m., I had to be up for work in 3 1/2 hours, and the sun was pounding through my make shift windows.

Just when I had one foot into the land of slumber, and the other dragging behind in an intoxicated stupor......

A warm sensation engulfed my left hand.

It was warm -

It was wet -

and although I was tempted to just sleep through it, I opened my eyes......

Only to find a cat straddling my hand -
Squatting over my hand -

Let me tell you, there may be no worse odor on God's green earth, that the mixture of vodka breath and cat piss.

Although I was in a somewhat state of grogginess, I did almost laugh as I ushered this Russian feline out of my domicile.  

The next morning, I went into the business office, sat down and put my head on a swivel. I was looking for my interpreter, but she hadn't showed up yet.

There was 2 women in this office, and they viewed my presence almost as unlikely as hanging out with a martian.

But they were kind.

They gave me tea.

And for the better part of 45 minutes we exchanged stories by pantomiming.

Eventually I acted out the story of the cat pissing on my hand.

The woman HOWLED with laughter.

Klecko goes to work -

Klecko goes to sleep -

I think it was 1:30 a.m. when I heard a mob going at it.

I peeked out of my hut, and there stood Sasha my body guard, with his back turned to me, right arm raised high in the air.....as he shook a dangling - dead cat. My cat, or rather.....the cat that peed on me.

The town workers were in an uproar.

People were screaming, I swear to Caesar, these people resembled one of those mobs that bum-rushed the castle of Dr. Frankenstein.

My interpreter was not present.

I was drunk from jet lag

Drunk from Sumegone (Russian Moonshine).

I was very upset that Sasha killed the cat, but even w/o an interpreter, I got his message loud and clear.

He was sending a message to this group of ruffians that if any slight accident happened to the "Americone", there would be hell to pay.

The world is a crazy place people, and if you ever find yourself a stranger in a strange land, keep your head low, and never second guess your body guard.

In closing, I want to state that my heart truly goes out to the cat's mentioned in this story, and the people that loved them.

Cats really are majestic creatures aren't they?  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Grandma Fed Grandpa

Last night I laid in bed knowing if I fell asleep at that exact moment, I was going to get 3 hours and 10 minutes of sleep before I had to be back at work for our Scandinavian Bake Sale.

Tick-Tock
Tick-Tock
etc...right?

So after waiting 10 more minutes, I think the angels whispered in my ear that I was screwed, so I just got up instead.

It's like 1 O'Clock a.m.ish, Klecko has nothing much to do.........So I ended up digging through old baking formulas.

I think it is kinda funny how we imagine our Grandparents in the kitchen.

We envision them cooking and baking high end items with healthy ingredients.

Items w/o preservatives.....

But then every once in awhile you run into a recipe/formula that makes you furl your brow.......

Recipes like.................PEANUT BUTTER FILLING?

Peanut Butter Filling
Job Sheet 140
Dunwoody Industrial Instatute

7# 8 oz brown sugar
4# 8 oz shortening
     1 1/2 oz salt
6# peanut butter
2# 4 oz eggs
6# cake crumbs
4 1/2# - 6# water

Cream brown sugar-shortening, salt and peanut butter. Add eggs. Add cake crumbs and water. Sufficient water must be added to spread to a spreading consistency.

LOL.....no wonder grampa was kinda pudgy, and kinda cranky.

I'm off to the bake sale kids.

Ciao