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Friday, July 12, 2013

Leah Nesbitt's Cornbread Recipe

Let it go on record that Danny Klecko loves Sarah Beadle, so whenever she requires my services....the rest of you will need to wait.

Recently when I was in my prayer closet, sending supplications to my Father in Heaven, I saw the Beadle signal flashing over the sky of Gotham.


So now I pick up my Beadle phone and call Sarah, and she informs me that she loves Leah Nesbitt, and Leah Nesbitt needs a killer corn bread recipe.

Polish Jesus........give your humble servant a moment of wisdom and clarity.

Well Leah, the first thing you need to know about cornbread is....................

The cooler you try to get with it -

The further from its origins you get -

The higher likelihood you'll have of producing a crappy product.

I am guessing you are wanting a personal size batch instead of a commercial formula, so I decided to start our journey in Marjorie Johnsons cookbook.

If you don't know who she is Leah, you can read my previous post (where a full description is included) or simply trust me when I tell you she had won more Blue Ribbons and Baking Sweepstakes awards than anybody ever-ever.

Let's get started.........................

BATTER

1 CUP ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

1 CUP YELLOW CORNMEAL

1/4 SUGAR

1 TEASPOON SALT

3 TEASPOON B-POWDER

2 EGGS

1/4 CUP BUTTER / MELTED

1 CUP MILK

preheat your over to 425. remember....your batter doesn't take long to put together. B-Powder loses energy fast so make sure that oven is at its proper temp as soon as you fill your foil.

grease / spray a 9" foil -

in a bowl -

flour - cornmeal - sugar - salt - b-powder -

beat eggs add butter and milk to eggs -

now add wet to dry -

stir ,  incorporate.....but don't mix, you will overwork it. I really suggest hand or whisk or spatula....not a kitchen aid.

pour into pan -

bake for 20-25 minutes -

bake until golden brown -

you can use the "toothpick" trick, or wait for the cornbread to pull away from the foils walls -

OTHER POINTS TO NOTE ......................

Blue Corn Meal - Ewwwww, it is nasty. It lacks grit and gets soggy. You lose mouth feel, but if you are a hippy or have religious reasons.....well, I guess........

MODIFICATIONS ....................................

That cup of milk, well Klecko would split that to 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup sour cream. I just think it tightens the product up, giving if more heft and a prettier crumbwall.

HOT ?

Some peeps throw jalapeno's into their corn bread.

If so, here is a couple things to remember.....

Strain those peppers. If you have a bunch of juice, your product will have less strength. Also....jalapeƱos will attack the b-powder. it's like pointing a gun on a fat man and forcing him to run....within moment....BOOM....heart attack city.

If you add peppers, add a pinch more of the b-powder to compensate.

Good luck Leah, if you need any other help....Klecko is 651 329 4321 
 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Biggest Cake Secret a man needs to know

Dateline - Dairy Queen (on the afternoon of the Last American Bakers 50th birthday)

After a week long parade of attention, little Danny Klecko finds himself in the foyer, in front of the ordering counter of the Dairy Queen.

As the staff scurries about, I thought about what I was about to embark on.

I thought about this actual post and if I really wanted to reveal one of my secrets that have brought me constant gold.

Recently I was at the funeral of Lee Roy Johnson, husband to the worlds utmost Blue Ribbon baker Marjorie Johnson.

If you live on a different planet and don't know her, she is the 4 and a 1/2 foot woman that has won over 10 000 baking ribbons.

She is the woman that has won more Blur Ribbons than Aunt Bea, Clara and the women of Mayberry put together.

She is the baking god that has accumulated more sweepstakes ribbons than breaths exhaled by an entire class of 3rd graders.

Marjorie Johnson is beautiful, and perhaps that's why her larger than life skillset has landed her on the Tonight Show dozens of times where she has handed over her baked goods to the likes of Derek Jeter, Ringo Starr and Tony Hawk.

The service for her husband took place in a Lutheran church.

A church that didn't have a basement.

Klecko sat in the pew wondering how there could be a reception (with snacks) if there wasn't a basement for a kitchen.

Leave it to those Lutherans, they are a crafty bunch........

A light lunch was held in.....

A ground level "Lounge".

So we're sitting there, and although the family and friends grieved, it really was a celebration of life because Lee Roy lived 95 years.

95 years where he had placed his wife before himself.

At one point Marjorie cornered me and asked why I wasn't going to do the State Fair this year, and as I offered my explanation, her eyes kinda glazed over and it appeared as if she was staring through my big Polish frame.

"Yeah Klecko" she said "I don't have the same incentive to compete at the Fair anymore. After writing my cookbook, I pretty much gave away all my best secrets, so in some respects it would just kind of be like me baking against myself."

"Do you regret giving away those secrets Marjorie?" I asked.....

"No, not at all. There comes a time when helping others along becomes more rewarding."

OK, so the reason I'm at Dairy Queen is to get a cake, and I'll tell you more about that in a second, but while my ice cream cake was in back receiving its special inscription, a lone man steps up the ordering counter.

The guy orders a chicken tender meal, the kid at the register rings it up, and then turns and passes it through a window to the guy who is going to prepare it.

The cook (like the customer) appears to be in his late 30's - early 40's, and since the other 6 or 7 employees looked to be teenagers, I'm guessing its safe to say the guy must have been a manager or some sort of shift leader.

When you go to Dairy Queen, and place your order, the person who cooks it is standing on the other side of a wall.

A wall that has a hole cut into it so you can watch the kitchen staff prepare your food.

Its kinda like watching them cook for you on a jumbo screen TV.

So there we are, me the cake guy, and he the chicken tender guy.....waiting.

I'm rocking slowly back and forth trying to get used to passing the 1/2 century marker, when all of a sudden the chicken tender orderer says in a low voice......

"Hey, you just touched your hair and then proceeded to touch my food."

Everything stopped.

The cook looked back and reported.......

"No, I didn't do that."

So the guy who ordered remains real calm, much like I would expect Steve McQueen to do in the opening scene of a film where eventually this discourse would lead up to total mayhem.

"Yeah, I'm standing here. I'm watching you. You touched your hair....then my food."

At this point the young woman who decorated the pink and purple cake laced with princess rings surfaces and I view the flavorful font......

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUE MCGLENO."

Guys, if I have ever contributed anything to the bettering of our gender, this gesture would be it.

You don't have to be prayed for, or read "HOW TO PICK UP CHICKS".

Just realize that pastry pierces a woman heart quicker than love.

Pastry stays in a woman's soul......longer than love.

You only get one birthday a year Daddy-O.

Gave some bang for the buck.

All you have to do is simply forfeit your cake to your wife (or partner)........it will come across with more impact to her than Abraham offering up Isaac.

Trust me......the gesture may seem somewhat surreal, but if you adopt it, and implement it on an annual basis.......the payback will be like you've never seen.

So now I have my cake in hand, and its July, and its hot, and I have "X" amount of time to travel from "A" to "B" before my token of love melts......but it's high noon now at the "DQ" and Klecko wants to see how this mishap is gonna play out.

The Customer guy is still standing there. He's stated his point, his demeanor is chill, and the entire crew is looking on with apprehension.

Finally, the cook comes around the corner (through a door) and steps into the front room.

Were these cats gonna come to blows?

The cook finally looks up and says something like......

"I'm sorry, I'm really embarrassed. I'll go get you some new food. I really am sorry."

So as I took the same route to my house that Batman takes back to the bat cave, it impressed me how this customer had his situation rectified....with an apology.

Sometime I wonder why people don't realize you can defuse tension by admitting you are human and prone to making mistakes.

 And the coolest part about this customers approach.... he didn't need to employee threat or sarcasm.

Dude really was Steve McQueen cool.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Klecko's 50th Birthday Message

On the eve of ones 50th birthday, I imagine it is relevant to reflect.

To reflect on the circumstances and systems that keep a person afloat for half a century.

To reflect on fate and even geography that serve as influences.

Of course one shouldn't forget those who have mentored and inspired. Those contributions mean so much because they usually are selfless acts that come at pivotal junctures in our lives.

But other than the obvious....was there any other contributing factors?

Any intangible that makes a person who they are after the typical God-Parents and State?

For me, there is nothing to think about.

My answer can be summed up in two letters.

T and V.

In the summer of 1969, the world was witnessing Woodstock, Vietnam and and additudes that questioned values and authority.

I was six years old at the time, and I followed all these experiences on a nineteen inch Magnavox black and white television.

As long as I live, I will never be the benefactor of a gift that will have the impact on me, than that TV did.

Even at an earlier age, while my family laid asleep, it wasn't uncommon for me to wake up at four or five in the morning.

Per usual, I just set camp in the middle of the living room with my Matchbox cars and baseball cards.

I sat patiently (in my footy pajamas) waiting for that fantastic voice to blurt out that we were about to commence with another day of broadcasting.

Oftentimes, throughout this process I would use the test pattern on the television screen as a race track and conduct countless races (all which were three laps) until the American flag magically appeared, washing away my raceway.

To me, TV was not real, it was better than than reality.

I still don't know where that idea came from, but I was smitten.

I recall how my sister and I raced to the TV for the introduction of Lassie.

When that mutt rushed to the forefront of the screen, we'd actually pet the glass crying out....

"Lassie, I love you Lassie."

And like many of my TV rituals, this never seemed to get old.

About a decade before I hit puberty...I had such a Doris Day crush. I had it bad for her.

When you're a child, time seems to pass so slow.

In my minds eye, I loved Doris Day for years, when in all actuality, it may have been weeks.

But then the unthinkable happened.

A beautiful young nun dressed in a white habit got her own show.

Sally Field more than knocked Doris to the curb, she stomped on her.

To this day I still have Nun thoughts that may get me in trouble if I should reach the pearly gates.

Perhaps the single program that I spent the most time with during my youth was the road runner.

I'm not sure why I always was glued to that show, but I do remember how patient I was in waiting for the coyote to catch that bird and throttle it.

I literally waited for a decade to see this happen before abandoning hope.

TV was interesting when I was a kid because we only had four major channels, and then there was always PBS.

But Channel 2 didn't really count because it never had cartoons or sports, and the shows that were programmed to youth were educational.

I still remember how in second grade I had to skip morning recess to sit in with a select few to watch a PBS show (that launched a young Morgan Freeman) called The Electric Company.

When news of this got around, some of my older neighbors told me that only the retarded kids had to do this, and for the longest time.....I wondered and worried if I was "retarded".

In my fourth grade report card, there were comments of concern from Mrs Braun. She overheard me discussing Frankenstein VS the Wolfman. The problem was started at midnight, on a school night, and I had watched the entire movie.

Throughout life two characteristics have contributed to my love of television.

#1 -

I have never been able to stay asleep for more than a couple hours at a time

#2 -

I loathe being alone

TV can rectify both of these.

As I grew into a young man, guys like Baretta and Jim Rockford served as templates for the kind of man I wanted to become.

I don't think anybody views themselves as easily influenced, but any woman I have ever spent consecutive hours with has made reference that-that may be one of my strengths and weaknesses.

In my late teens, or early twenties I watched a movie called......

DOGS OF WAR

And it starred Christopher Walken.

Walken plays the role of a mercenary / hit-man that travels the world whacking rulers that might be deemed as problematic by Uncle Sam.

But the part that inspired me to no end was that when Walken left to whack some presidential guy in Africa, he didn't bother to turn off the television.

I wondered if perhaps this guy didn't have a mother like me who would constantly announce.............

"Turn off your television, do you want to burn the house down?"

Well....Walken traveled to the "Dark Continent" under the guise of being a journalist for a bird watching publication.

His intentions were suspect at first, but he weathered the beating and eventually terminated the dictator, and when he got home....he stumbled in that grimy little apartment and that television glowed through the evenings darkness.

After witnessing this, I became liberated.

I can't tell you how or why, but something about living my life in the world, and knowing my TV was on back home kinda made me bulletproof.

This neurosis incidentally, has been passed on to my son whose clicker doesn't have a power off button.

Throughout life -

Throughout love -

TV has created interesting dynamics in my relationships.

I think every woman in KleckoLand has been a cave sleeper, which in layman terms is a persons that prefers slumber in darkness and quiet.

It's not possible for me.

When I flew to NYC to do the Martha Stewart show, Sue McGleno couldn't accompany me because she had burned all her vacation on the birth of our first grandchild.

So not wanting to go alone, I invited Mike Mitchelson who was the editor of Food Service News at the time.

The monkey wrench in this scenario was.....we had to share a room.

We had separate beds, but they were right next to each other.

Even on the flight over I remember thinking......

"O-M-G.....I can just tell, Mitchelson is gonna be a TV-Off guy."

And true enough, my prophecy came to pass.

We stumbled into our room after closing down the Russian-Vodka Room, and after brushing our teeth and hitting the sack, I turned on the sole HBO channel that the Hilton offered and it was that espionage movie starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

Mitchelson laughed because it was such a bad film, but in my opinion.....

Bad films beat silence every time.

Mitchelson helped himself to the clicker and shut the TV off, and there laid Klecko, pensive in the Big Apple.

I had to be on the radio in four hours, but I knew I couldn't whether the silence even with the help of numerous vodka shots.

So I laid there, in silence......much like Walken waited in the bushes to whack that dictator, and the second Mitchelson began to snore, I turned the set back on for the movies conclusion.   

To this day, I often put on what I call "GO TO SLEEP" movies.

Some movies are simply better for enhancing slumber than others.

My son is quick to point out that dialog is the most important component in the "GTSM"

"You never want to put in Breakfast Club, because your mind will always wait the the next punchline, this will  make sleep impossible." he says each summer when returning from college.

Action films are bad as well.

One summer I slept to "Jaws " 100 nights in a row.

"JFK" is another film that serves as the soundtrack to my dreams.

The great thing is when you get into a groove where you can wake up just prior to the films conclusion.

On a good night, a film should never complete its loop.

Recently I have been looking for films that range between 90-110 minutes.

Most nights I will wake up throughout the 4 cycles that make up a sleeping period.

Sue McGleno finds it unnerving, but I find it calming, soothing to be in a controlled environment.

Recently in a road trip with Sue McGleno U2's "With or Without You" came on the radio, and she was so surprised to see me get excited.

"You have the disc right here. You've only heard it a million times, whats the big deal?"

Well, a favorite song always sounds the best when you don't know it's coming on.

This rule apply s to TV as well.

If I am walking by a set and Rifleman or Perry Mason are on, it doesent matter what obligations stand before me......I'm gonna make camp until it is finished.

The Pinnacle TV experience I can have personally is to wake up in the middle of the night to one of those Sherlock Holmes movies that star Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

It doeskin matter if it is 2 a.m., I'm going let out the dogs to go pee, and then close out that film.

You can't beat Sherlock Holmes.

I'm gonna tell you guys the truth, tomorrow when I tun 50, I will be freaked out.

I know it's not the end of the line, but you're no longer young, and you can actually see the finish line.

Those jerks at AARP even sent me a membership card last week.

Its all so daunting.

Klecko has had a wonderful life, and doesn't fear crossing over for a second, but when he does......

Man I hope there is HBO in heaven.

Thanks to all you you that have been so gracious to me during this special moment in my life.