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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Have the French Gone Soft?

LAB RATS -
 
SO MUCH OF WHAT TAKES PLACE IN PURCHASING FOOD IS PREDICATED BY PERCEPTION. AS CONSUMERS MANY OF US FALL GUILTY OF ROMANTICIZING WHAT IT IS WE THINK OUR MOST COVETED FOODS SHOULD BE.
 
BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM A BRIEF E-MAIL THAT WAS SENT TO ME BY ONE OF MY BREAD MASTERS.
 
I WILL LET YOU READ HIS STATEMENT, THEN THE ARTICLE......AND AFTER THAT IS DONE, I WILL CONCLUDE WITH MY OWN OBSERVATIONS,
 
HOWEVER.....I WOULD REALLY BE MORE INTERESTED IN HEARING YOUR OPINIONS.
 
3-2-1 AND.............................
 
Dan
 
 
Interesting article about a change in bread culture in France.
Who would see the day when the basic ‘baguette’ would be turned into ‘wonder bread ‘ mush.
The only thing, maybe the baker’s in France were getting lazy and over baking the baguette, and now are demanding the soft version.
 
Interesting tid bit about baking laws in France and little science included as well.
 
Pete
 

 

France's Bread Lovers Have A New Idea—and It's Half-Baked

The Famously Crusty Baguette Goes Soft As Customers Demand a Doughier Loaf



    By
  • DAVID MARCELIS
PARIS—Dominique Anract, a baker in Paris's 16th arrondissement, sells about 1,500 baguettes every day, and most of them he wouldn't want to eat himself.
The vast majority of his customers, he says, choose the whitest, least-baked baguette on display. So he and his team take 90% of the loaves out of the oven before they are done.

How to Bake A Proper Baguette

David Marcelis/The Wall Street Journal

"If those were for me, we'd keep them all in two to three minutes longer," he says. "But that's not my call—it's the customer's."
One of the great symbols of French gastronomy is under siege. Renowned for its distinctive shape and crusty exterior, the baguette risks becoming known for something else, too: being undercooked and doughy.
Rémi Héluin, the founder of Painrisien, a blog about Parisian bakeries, estimates that 80% of the 230 shops he has reviewed underbake most of their baguettes. "They've got to keep the customer satisfied," he says.
Patrons have plenty of reasons for their preference—and they're not necessarily half-baked. For Camille Oger, a 30-year-old freelance reporter, eating a well-baked baguette can be a painful experience. "It's hard to munch," she says, "and it hurts your gums and palate." Less-baked loaves "won't break your teeth," she adds.
Pura Garcia, a retiree and a regular at Mr. Anract's bakery, says a well-done baguette gets stale way too quickly. "If you don't eat it within the hour, it'll feel like it's a day old," she says. Many other customers say they ask for a "white baguette" because it will taste better reheated at home.
The shift in public taste has sparked some outrage in a country so synonymous with the thin, elongated stick.
"Crustiness is the trademark of French bread," says Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, a French writer and bread enthusiast. "It won't be as good if it's not well baked."
Steven Kaplan, a Cornell University professor of history and author of several books on French bread, says the baguette's distinctive texture and flavor come from a chemical reaction—called the Maillard effect—that occurs toward the end of the baking process. Without it, a baguette is no more than a tasteless mush, which sometimes—counterintuitively—can be harder to chew.
"The baguette is gradually morphing into something else," says Mr. Kaplan. "I'm seeing in front of my eyes, the eclipse of one of the great objects of French national heritage."
Bakers say proper baking time allows for an exchange of flavor between the crumb (the inside of the bread) and the crust, and creates the perfect balance that makes the baguette so special: a crisp, caramelized crust enveloping a soft, airy crumb.
 
Though consumption of bread in France has been declining since the 1950s, bread is still a staple. Many people eat bread with most meals, viewing it almost as an extension of the knife and fork in pushing food around the plate. French research center Crédoc found that 98% of the French eat bread every day.
The French are particular fans of the baguette, which accounts for three-quarters of all bread consumption, according to France's National Bread Observatory, which studies and promotes bread.
Despite its honored status, the ubiquitous loaf isn't even a century old.
The baguette as we know it dates to the 1920s and was a byproduct of a protective labor law that prevented French bakers from working between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. That made it impossible to prepare traditional round loaves by breakfast time. Bakers had to turn to a new kind of bread, whose thin shape made it faster to prepare and bake. The baguette—French for "little stick"—quickly became a breakfast essential throughout France.
In recent years, the corner shop baker has had to adapt, amid growing competition from industrial food companies and supermarkets, which can sell a baguette for about a third of the price. They have also tweaked their product line to attract new customers, rolling out the more artisanal "baguette de tradition," at a price of $1.30 to $1.90.
In a bid to protect the industry, French law dictates what ingredients can be used to make these baguettes (essentially, wheat flour, water, salt and yeast) and limits the use of the name boulangerie—or bakery—to shops where bread is made and baked on the premises.
But the law doesn't weigh in on one key diktat: how long the baguette should stay in the oven.
Though cooking time can be influenced by such things as weather and humidity, bakers agree that a typical baguette takes about 20 to 25 minutes to bake. Mr. Kaplan says he doubts the pale, lifeless loaves he sees in so many Parisian bakeries sat in the oven for more than 17 minutes.
Eating undercooked bread can have unglamorous side effects, experts say. Laurence Sailliet, a Paris nutritionist, says warm, underbaked bread can cause heartburn and flatulence, in part because its crumb isn't airy enough for digestive enzymes to penetrate it effectively during chewing. That thick, elastic crumb is a bit like chewing gum, she says, "but the difference is, you don't swallow the gum."
Mr. Anract, the baker in the 16th arrondissement—an administrative district of Paris and a largely wealthy neighborhood famous for its museums, 19th-century buildings and impressive avenues—says he realizes that a few minutes more would result in the ideal crust, but he doesn't want to risk insulting his customers. "People are in and out of the bakery in seconds—you don't really have time to give them a lecture," he says.
Some boulangers, however, are determined.
Frédéric Pichard, a Parisian baker famous for his thin, extremely crusty baguette, regularly opens his bakehouse to patrons. He shows them how the bread is formed and baked, and he tells customers how to taste it. "Everybody in France at least knows the basics of wine-tasting, but people have never really been taught how to taste bread," he says. Bread tasting usually involves cutting a baguette lengthwise, smelling its crumb (which often has hints of nuts, raisins or dried apricot), feeling its texture, tearing off a piece and chewing it slowly.
Franck Debieu, who runs a bakery in Sceaux, a small town south of Paris, tries to be in his shop as often as possible to gently coax his clientele toward a more bronzed baguette. His sales staff, which always includes a baker at the counter, is trained on how to handle requests for "white" baguettes, usually by handing customers a properly baked loaf and suggesting they try it.
Mr. Debieu says his peers who underbake their bread are delusional. "The customer doesn't know what's best…It's the baker's job to educate him."

- END -

SO LAB RATS, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I'M GUESSING THAT THE FRENCH CONSUMERS PERCEPTION OF WHAT A TRUE BAGUETTE ACTUALLY IS.

RECENTLY, I STOPPED IN THE TOP FRENCH BAKERY OF MY CAPITOL CITY AND SPOKE WITH THE DAVID FHIMA, WHO HAPPENS TO BE ONE OF THE BEST BAKERS OF FRENCH BREAD IN OUR ENTIRE STATE.

HE HANDED ME A LONG LOAF, AND I THANKED HIM FOR THE "BAGUETTE", BUT W/O TRYING TO COME OFF AS A KNOW IT ALL, DAVID CORRECTED ME.

"KLECKO, THIS IS NOT A BAGUETTE IN ANY FASHION, THIS IS WHAT REFER TO AS A "FLUTE". THE FLUTE IS MUCH SOFTER THAN THE BAGUETTE."

I READ RECENTLY THAT MUCH OF THE BAKED GOODS SERVED IN THE CAFES OF PARIS ARE SHIPPED IN FROM THE OUTER SUBURBS.

THOSE WONDERFUL FRENCH MACAROONS ARE ACTUALLY SITTING IN THE BED OF A HOT STICKY TRUCK AND CROSSING MANY MILES BEFORE GETTING TOSSED INTO THOSE ROMANTIC DISPLAY CASES.

FRENCH BAGUETTES.......ARE THEY, OR ARE THEY NOT THE GREATEST SYMBOL OF ROMANCE BETWEEN HUMANS AND THEIR LOVE FOR FOOD.

I THINK THE FRENCH BAGUETTE IS LIKE A COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND HUMANS.

BUT REMEMBER........EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD IS ATTACHED TO SOME KIND OF SET BACK.

THE FRENCH BAGUETTE IS AT IT'S BEST WHEN IT COMES RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN.

FRENCH DOUGHS TEND TO BE "LEAN" DOUGHS WHICH PRETTY MUCH CONSIST OF WATER-FLOUR-YEAST AND SALT.

THEIR IS NO FAT.

SOME BAKERS WILL PUT AN OIL IN THEIR FRENCH DOUGH, BUT WITHOUT A STARTER, BUTTER OR SHORTENING.......THAT LOAFS LIFE EXPECTANCY IS GOING TO BE REDUCED DRAMATICALLY.

MANY PARTS OF FRANCE ARE GETTING PROGRAMMED TO NOT JUST (ACCEPT) INFERIOR BREAD, BUT TO DEVELOP LOVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH IT.

O-M-G........

IT REMINDS ME OF THE MOVIES WHERE THE SMOKING HOT MERMAIDS FALL IN LOVE WITH THE GARGOYLE INSTEAD OF THE HANDSOME PRINCE.

SO WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY PEOPLE?

IF THE FRENCH HAVE GIVEN UP THEIR PASSION FOR CIVILIZED BREAD........

ARE THE BARBARIANS AT THE GATES?

MY NAME IS KLECKO, AND I AM ........

THE LAST AMERICAN BAKER.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH BOX?

Hey Lab Rats, just a little something I wrote for an Industry pub, I would be curious to know what your best lunch box was.
                                                                  
                                                                  LUNCHBOX

In 1935 a Milwaukee company named Geuder, Paeschke and Frey licensed the likeness of a new cartoon character named Mickey Mouse for their oblong shaped lunch kit. This metal container was sealed at the top with a loop of stiff wire that doubled as a handle. From that moment on, kids have used their lunchbox as a means to acquire street credibility and social status.

When I was a child attending elementary school, I remember we didn’t have assigned seating in the cafeteria, but for whatever reason, all the boys sat together isolated from the girls. If this segregation wasn’t bad enough, we also upped the ante by making Catholics sit across from the Lutherans.

God forbid you’d sit next to a kid from a rival religion, if you got caught doing this you wouldn’t be run out of town, but you sure wouldn’t get picked first while divvying up teams for kickball.

Even at a young age I had my eye on obtaining authority. I wanted to be selected to be in charge of the entire second grade, but all of that came to a screeching halt the day Ron Est transferred to our school.

Up until that day, I was for all practical purposes the go to guy in the Catholic camp, but the first day Ron joined us for lunch all that changed.

Our popularity wasn’t measured by looks or intelligence, if it were, I would have been king. But our table leader was predicated by who had the coolest lunchbox, and Ron Est won this hands down. He sported an Evel Knievel lunchbox that had a matching Thermos bearing the Harley Davidson logo.

There I stood, helpless in the line of ridicule because my lunch was stored in a facsimile of Snoopy’s dog house, and yes, it was the one adorned with Woodstock the baby bird.

Looking back, I can see how important the school lunch hour is. Not just for nutrition, but social development as well. That’s why I reached out to some of my colleagues and ask them if they would be brave enough to speculate on the lunch hours of their youth.

DIANE SAVINO / MANAGER

ROMOLO’S PIZZA RESTAURANT

“I was always torn between my lunchbox and brown bagging it. I mean, I liked my lunchbox a lot. Mine was Barbie, and when you opened it up, it always seemed to smell like bread, but it had rust dots on it. Somehow my PBJ didn’t seem as appetizing when I had to look at rust. I mostly went with the brown bag.”

JESSICA FLEMING / FOOD WRITER

SAINT PAUL PIONEER PRESS

“I went to Catholic school, and I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but our highlight was the one time a month we were served McDonald’s. But my lunchbox was Hello Kitty, and to be honest, I don’t remember if it was mine or my sisters, but we both used it that’s for sure. Each day we were given either turkey and cheese sandwiches or PBJ’s. On special occasions, my mom filled the thermos with chicken noodle soup or macaroni and cheese that always remained warm right up until lunchtime.”

GENA EKBOM / GENERAL MANAGER

THE DAY BY DAY CAFÉ

“I got my favorite lunchbox in kindergarten. It had Rainbow Brite characters on it. We pretty much had PBJ’s every day, but when nobody was looking, I’d sneak extra cookies into it and eat them at school.

RICK NELSON / FOOD WRITER

STARTRIBUNE

“I had the same lunch every day from 65 to 72. It was always a sandwich and an apple. My mother wasn’t a very good cook (p-a-u-s-e). Well she would agree with that since its true, but I always wanted a Peanuts lunchbox in the worst way. I can’t recall why we never had lunchboxes. We always used brown bags.”

JOAN IDA / EXECUTIVE CHEF

SCUSI

“My mom was one of the lunch ladies at the elementary school I attended. Every day when I passed through the line, her and her friends would wave at me while calling out my name. Of course this embarrassed me. My lunchbucket was Barbie, and I remember it was really pink. Oh, before I let you go, I wanted to tell you I was thinking of you. Recently I was in Rome doing some research for an upcoming menu. And one afternoon while I was in my room, a helicopter sounded like it was going to land on my roof. When I looked out the window, it was the Pope. I waved at him and he waved back. I was told that he flies over the city and prays for all the people.”

Alright folks, I’m starting to run out of column space, but before I go, note the emotional duress that some of my peers were exposed to by not having premium lunchboxes. The couple extra dollars you’ll invest in a “platinum upgrade” will be returned tenfold.

And finally, I love a great PBJ as much as the next guy, but it wouldn’t kill you cats to throw a salami or egg salad sandwich into the rotation every now and then. 

Until next month…..

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Big Bird, Baking and is Klecko off to Hollywood? (Conclusion)

DAY 2 / HOURS 25-50

So this day is a Saturday, pretty much the only weekend day off I'll have in a long time. Sue McGleno had committed to dropping our granddaughter off at a 1/2 way point between our home and Omaha -

in a parking lot -

at a McDonald's -

somewhere, deep in the bowels of Iowa.

But funny......Sue McGleno has got strep throat, and you know what that means...

Grandpa K gets to chauffeur his little M-Rose across America.

Klecko looks to the heavens -

The suns breaking through the clouds, just like it does in religious post cards, and there's yours truly...

trapped in a Toyota.

When we pulled out of Dodge, my little monkey had a bag of toys, and before we left, her sick grandmother warned her....

"Be careful and don't drop them, Grandpa won't pull over to pick them up.

In the rear view mirror I saw how much M-Rose looked like her mother all those years ago, and then I kinda became overwhelmed, and thankful that this kid was trapped with me.

I was going to get 4 hours of uninterrupted time.

Most of this period was filled with singing.

At first we started with Christmas carols, but then we shifted over into 2 other themes.

#1 - We did free fly - improvising songs about cats pooping on the bed. This easily killed 90 minutes.

#2 - Then we finished up with Jesus songs.

If I've learned one thing in life, often times...in the moment, we seem to think we'll most value the moments that appear to offer us the most personal opportunity.

But now that I'm old, and after I run down this bizarre 100 hour sequence, I can tell ya w/o even flinching.

That 4 hour ride might have been the highlight of my year.

DAY 3 / HOURS 51-75

Sue McGleno is still messed up and I kinda feel bad, because I am committed to this TPT baking expo / fund raiser down at the TV station.

So I glided out the door broken hearted.....

But......the event was really a blast.

It was set up with the same type of swag you'd see at the Oscar's.

When the gig was over, I was enthralled at how many of the audience members were complete baking geeks.

I talked with employees of General Mills, Gold Medal Flour, lunch ladies from within the Twin Cities school systems.

The event capped off this quirky-unusual weekend.

That night as I waited to pass out on the couch, I thought how lucky I was to have a platform that allowed me to discuss the things I love the most.

DAY 4 / HOURS 75-100

So........about 5 years ago, I was on a book tour, where my path kept connecting with this woman who was pimping some paranormal book. The girlio's name is Annie Wilder, and this chick is easily one of the top GHOST COMMUNICATORS on planet Earth.

Anyways, I kinda got crushed on her vibe since our initial meeting, and the 2 of us have remained in contact.

Recently she sent me some info, info that talked about some media jackals that put together reality shows for some of the biggest networks on television.

"Klecko, you should just send them your info." the ghost whisperer tells me.

So I did, and then bang, on Monday morning when I checked my e-mails.......

Dude from Hollywood says he is "INTRUIGUED" by Klecko and would like to hear more.

I was sure this had to be some lamo catfishing me, but then I looked at the address.......

Daddy-O was contacting me from Sunset Blvd........

Klecko stops -

Klecko sits -

Klecko thinks-

Prays, then gets a big wise a** grin -

I guess maybe I'll call.

The odds of striking it big in Hollywood are what.....like 1 in a billion?

But I am willing to bet that each person who has ever got a sit down has thought the same thing.....

"When I make it big I'll".....................................

How can you not?

Why is flesh so vulnerable to potential accolades?

Nobody wants attention more than Klecko, and you know that's true......but at what cost right?

After a brief moment of thought I asked the question that frightens me every time it crosses my mind.....

WHICH KLECKO IS GOING TO PLACE THIS CALL?

Anyways, I talked to the guy, and our conversation surpassed pleasant. I was either under a microscope, or possibly in a London tea house with a swell gent.

Little naïve Klecko -

Little Klecko the rube actually liked this guy.

Here is the closing comment that what tossed my way.......

"OK Klecko, I would like to move forward with you. I would like to have a SKYPE interview with you and my entire team. Let's do it Wednesday......and when we do, you are going to be asked, what show would YOU like to do?"

Klecko Nation -

It's a long shot,

But so was Daniel escaping a night in a den of starving lions right?

As the clock keeps ticking, I realize my interview has the ability to shift gears not only in my life, but the life of others.

Realizing this, I am going to cling to the advise that my Spiritual Guru and writing mentor Mike Finley has beat me over the head with for years.

"Throw fire balls Klecko, one after another, you are good at that, but when you create anything, don't honor yourself, point the camera at others and make sure that you walk away leaving joy in their hearts."

So there you have it,

 I have specifics that I will drag into the arena tomorrow, and if I stay true to my mentors advice........how can I lose

Mike Finley has reminded me time after time.........

Value happiness over success. 





Monday, August 19, 2013

Big Bird, Baking and is Klecko off to Hollywood? (Part 1)

Funny,

Funny how 100 hours can impact your life.

Just 8 days ago I was basking in my opportunity to work with God's favorite baker's on their soda bread at the Irish festival.....but that wonderful moment has practically drifted off my rear view mirror.

In the last 100 hours Klecko has slalomed through more interesting experiences than he has in awhile.

DAY 1 / HOURS 1-25

T.P.T. is our local P.B.S. affiliate here in the Capitol City. I shouldn't try to come off like I know too much about it, because I really don't, but I do know that anytime they broadcast Jane Goodall......they own my attention.

Ken Burns on the other hand....not so much.

Anyways, they decided to put together a baking fund raiser, and I was invited to be one of the speakers.
Klecko on Channel 2.....I like the sound of that.

Anyways, the dealio was put together by their event coordinator Justin Madel.

 Justin is a multi talented guy who can sing opera, cook.....and plan one of a kind media events.

Recently he has been converting the T.P.T. studio's into a multi media lecture hall, where station contributors get to listen to experts talk about their passions (at a discounted price).

So Justin starts with his former colleague Susan Marks. She was a natural choice. This woman is tremendous. Susan's connection to baking was her book FINDING BETTY CROCKER (University of Minnesota Press).

This work is without a doubt the most comprehensive title that has broached the topic of who Betty actually was, or is......or could be?

When Sue McGleno read it (and as most of you know, my wife hates the kitchen) she laughed so hard she made grunting noises (which I will deny if you tell her).

But on a foot note, Marks also has worked on movies as well, in fact.....around the time I first met her, she was doing this creepy doll documentary....and she had the swag to get Baltimore's own John Waters to narrate it.  

So if Marks is in....Klecko is in.

Now for the final piece of the puzzle....

Will Marjorie Johnson join us?

As mentioned is past posts. Marjorie has won more Fair ribbons than any living human.

She's been on Leno 20 times, Oprah....Rosie, and now days she kinda has a thing for Dr. Oz.

M.J. lives in Mpls however, so the rest of us decided to go to her.

Justin suggests that everybody meet at the studio, when we do.......

Holy Christ of Warsaw.....Madel comes rolling through the underground parking ramp in a Channel 2 van that has a 10 foot Big Bird plastered across it.

The meeting went well, Marjorie signed on, so the next step was to promote the Sunday event with a Friday night cooking demo on T.P.T.'s Almanac.

If you have never done a TV cooking demo, you might find it hard to believe that it takes 8 - 10 hours to prepare for a 3 minute bit.....but it truly does.

First you have to figure out what your audience would like to see.

Shop for the ingredients.

Set up shop.

Bake it.

Decorate it.

Then find a safe way to transport it to the studio.

Moving cakes crosstown in the summer is like, uh...oh I don't know, like maybe transporting nitroglycerine across the plains on a buckboard.

Then you show up.

Meet the crew.

Talk to the producers...then the host.

So when I finally got to go on.....I started thinking........

You see, I had my granddaughter M-Rose up from Omaha, and I knew she was watching me on TV, and I don't know....I wanted to remain professional, but I wanted to say "HI" to my little monkey w/o seeming like a hack.

I squeezed it in, it seemed natural.

When I got home (after a 14 day), Sue McGleno said that my little Granddaughter did cart wheels when she heard me say hi.

She said that it was a lifetime memory....which of course is code for......

SHE'LL TOTALLY REMEMBER THIS WHEN YOU ARE DEAD.

Next....

DAY 2 HOURS 26-50

Monday, August 12, 2013

Do You Like Bones


                                                                    BONES

Recently, when my son returned home for spring break, the two of us sat down to watch the new On the Road with Jack Kerouac movie. As this was taking place my wife was on her way out the door and asked if she needed to pick us up anything to eat. Before I could respond, the kid shouts across the house…

“I want Buffalo Wild Wings, make them boneless please.”

Well, at least he said please, but boneless…really?

We have been over this topic countless times before. In fact, we have been engaged in The Great Bone Debate pretty much from the time he surfaced from the womb.

I felt so ashamed. I felt as if I had failed him as a father, but as the years passed, I realized that I wasn’t isolated.

Other people my age had taken me into their confidence and shared howtheir children were refusing bones as well.

Like many pet peeves of mine, this tragedy got buried by more current nuisances, and life went on as usual when my sons break was over, and I brought him back to a corn field in Iowa to finish off his junior year.

However, I’ll bet I didn’t even make it 48 hours until this maddening topic reared its ugly head once more.

I was in Minneapolis, on a loading dock, with a young chef, pimping bread while a semi pulled in and the driver began to drag pallets of product past us.

Wouldn’t you know it; one of the first things that caught my eye was a stack of boxes. Boxes filled with boneless chicken.

The chef was nice, and I didn’t want to offend, but I couldn’t resist and asked…

“Are those for a special? You guys still sell meat on the bone, right?”

Now the young guy smiles and jokingly responds…

“Well, if we get a large party of older clients…we’ve been known to outsource.”

I began to laugh and told the chef about the tension that meat bones had created within my clan.

Then he said something that caught me by surprise, it actually was quite brilliant…

“I know you might have been in this industry longer than I’ve been alive, and I don’t doubt that you’ve learned a lot of stuff, but just because something makes sense, that doesn’t make it relevant.”  

True Dat, I thought as it occurred to me that the entire generation that followed mine has been marketed to differently concerning food options.

And even though our city, our state has strong initiatives that educate Minnesota’s youth on how important nutrition is, everything eventually boils down to corporations and marketing, doesn’t it?

Recently I received one of the food industry publications that I never signed up for, but somebody - somewhere thought it I was important enough to send it my way to scan it real quick before tossing it in the trash. Often times the majority of content in these rags are speculations as to what will be the next wave concerning all things food.

One quote that stuck out in my mind was from Christopher Muller who is Dean at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration.

“If it can’t be held in one hand, or a cup holder, don’t bother making it.”

I’ve heard this theory before. It usually comes up when I’m sharing cocktails with somebody else who works in hospitality. Usually somebody will mention how they have a friend or relative that works in some realm of food development ideation and although nobody is supposed to be privy to this inside information, it’s a fact; Big Brother is going to have America consuming 75% of its meals in gas stations.

Now the young chef on the loading dock starts handling a loaf of my mustard dill bread as if it were the Baby Jesus. Carefully he cradles this delicacy in his arms. As his lips slowly prepare to part, I am prepared to thanks him for the accolades, but my most recent recipe didn’t even get a mention.

“You know that KFC is moving to boneless chicken right?”

I tilted my head sideways for a second, kind of like your dog does when you pretend to throw a chunk of meat but actually you palm it instead.

“Yeah-yeah, I know that the Colonel makes chicken strips but…”

The was no buts, my young colleague interrupted….

“No, I’m not talking about ancillary items or menu safe harbors. They’re going to commit, it’s official, the bone is getting tossed.’

When I asked for a source, my bone hating friend smiled with pride when he announced (almost as if he was friends with the guy) that it was covered by USA TODAY.

Later that day when I returned to the plant, I hit Google and there it was, a lengthy story written by Bruce Horovitz.

To paraphrase the piece, it pretty much highlighted how KFC is going to shift its focus from family meals to individual meals, and most of their sales are projected to be boneless chicken.

But the part that sunk the dagger into my heart was when I read their new ad slogan…

“I ATE THE BONES!”

I’m not even sure if I know what that means, or if I want to, but I don’t think I like it.

So I’m still in my office right? And I began pulling up data. I start listing quotes like the one from Professor Jeffrey W. Savell / Leader of the Meat Science Section in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University…

“I believe that cooking these steaks with the bone helps to form them so that they are more uniform in thickness when cooked and protects the lean from being overcooked.”

Then there’s always Steven L. Moore, Director of Innovation at Brand Formula.

“Bone, in many cases seals the muscle from losing meat juices as it is cooked. So when a muscle is deboned there is usually a large area now that is exposed muscle, no longer sealed to help maintain juices through cooking.”

So all of a sudden, in the midst of compiling these quotes to defend my point, I’m pretty sure I received an epiphany, hand delivered by the saints themselves.

“Why do you toil Klecko? The kid was right… just because something makes sense, that doesn’t make it relevant.”

Who can argue with the saints, or Americas youth?

Sigh.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Soda Bread and Scone Winners of 2013

 SCONE DIVISION

Hi Guys......

It's been awhile.

But sometimes it takes separation to create fondness of content.

Once again, Klecko followed routine and went down to the island to judge the best soda breads and scones at The Irish Fair of Minnesota.

I was one of 3 judges.

This is typical.

This is good.

A person should always feel better about winning an award when it is given by consensus.

A couple of years ago, I blogged about Patti McCann.

Patti won the scone division with a DublinerScone that was to die for.

Even better than the flavor that this scone produced.....was the confidence that winning gave to McCann.

I am proud of her.

I have grown to have a fond place in my heart for her.

Patti came back the following year and repeated.

This is no simple feat.

I wasn't at that event, so I was impressed that another set of judges valued her work.

I'm sure it validated in Patti's mind, how accomplished she has become in scone baking.

So here I am, there I am.....plop a**ed at the 2013 table, wondering if she was competing.

We judges - judged this scone, that scone, everywhere a scone scone......but a funny thing happened.

The last two entries were miles ahead of the other entries.

The second to the last one was m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t .

The scones were tall-strong, and had great separation.

The flavor had an element of sweetness. Sweet enough where they would satisfy the morning consumer, but yet.......

They were even keeled enough that you could have done anything from adding apricot jam to setting pastrami between the scone layers and it would have been the perfect medium.

These scones were rustic-slightly scorched, battered......but in such a sexy way.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.......this was the baked good of the day for me.

Then the next scone came along.

They were uniformed.

They were dainty.

They were buttery.

They were so tender.

They were so girly-girl.

My judging partners seemed to love this one, but I felt that they were squeamish to give it winning marks.

They knew that I preferred the previous rustic one, but I told them.....don't follow Klecko.....

Follow your heart.

The dainty scone ended up winning the blue ribbon.

So after the judging was over, my judging colleagues had left, but I stuck around a bit to talk with the bakers and see if I could give them some tips, or answer any questions on the totals they were issued.

So who walks up and collects that Blue Ribbon for the scone division?????

Yep - Patti McCann.

She did it again, but now the woman who baked the scones that I rated higher was standing next to her, and both ladies were in high spirits.

Both ladies began to run a scone postmortem.

I congratulated both of them, but then I confessed to Patti....for the first time, I voted against her.

This seemed to serve as some kind of minor solace to the runner up.

BTW....for the record her name is Sandra K. Scollon-Bruggemann.

After a couple more minutes of musing passed, I found out that she went to high school in rural South Dakota with Baking 101 Director and StarTribune food writer Kim Ode.

"Kim was a couple years older, she might not remember me, but I knew her younger sister well. They were a quality family."

I started to laugh and asked for some dirt.......

"Was her family (that family)....the rich farm family that lorded over the entire countryside?"

Sandra chuckled.....

"No, not at all"

pause-----pause------pause

"But.......her farm was bigger than ours."

Only in St Paul.

Here's McCann's award winning scone recipe from a couple years back, and in my opinion....the best scone I have ever eaten.

IRISH FAIR - DUBLINER SCONE

3 cups cake flour
1 t. soda
wee bit salt
wee bit sugar
1/3rd cup of grated Kerrygold butter
1 - 1 1/2 cup(s) buttermilk
grated Dubliner 3 ounces
fresh rosemary, sage & thyme
425 about 5 minutes, then drop to 375 until done.

 SODA BREAD DIVISION -

The soda bread competition gets broken into two categories, brown bread.....and white bread.

After the all the ribbons were handed out, a young girl (9ish) approaches my station with her mother.

The kid whispers in her ear, the mom responds......

"Ask him yourself."

Then the mom goes on to tell me that the daughter feels awkward because she speaks with a stutter.

I sat and waited for a minute, then the girl asks......

"What do I have to do to make a better soda bread? When I grow up, I want to own a bakery."

Well I said, lets take a look at your loaf and I'll see what I can see.

So the entry was wrapped up in parchment right?

The kid hands it across the table and as I pulled the layers of paper back.....there it was.

The Blue Ribbon was sitting on top of the loaf.

This kid had made one of the nicer soda breads I had ever seen.

But yet.......even winning didn't satisfy her.

She wanted more.

I want to be like her.