A Challenge For Bakers

Monday is the day the agency I work for makes ...

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This special recipe for chocolate chip cookies is for the bakers in the world.  This flavorful cookie guarantees to make you the hit of any small town. The assembly of the recipe will present a challenge to even the most experienced baker, i.e. unless you cook for large groups. I discovered the recipe while touring on a vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. The ingredients are simple, and easily accessible from any grocery store.

These cookies will make your taste buds jump for joy. They will bring you satisfaction for  a long time, and they freeze well too. The chocolate speckled wafers make a wonderful treat for great grandfathers who served in the Navy during WWII. No doubt, the taste will awaken a memory cell tucked deep within the recesses of  a sailor’s brain.

If you decide to bake up a batch using this recipe, send me a few dozen, I love them

Pea Pod Prototype

Black and White image of Delibike in Buenos Aires

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The Pea Pod Prototype

During the second semester of freshman year I befriended a boy named Frank, who lived in Roseland. He also rode his bike to school every day. He told me about a really great after school job he had delivering groceries for Tumey’s grocery store at 115th and Wentworth. Frank said the store owner could always use help on a part time basis. He probably wanted to quit his job and needed to recruit his replacement.

At home, I approached Mom with the idea of allowing me to work at Tumey’s after school. I already rode my bike to school, and the store was just another half mile further. She agreed and I went to Tumey’s with Frank to apply for the job.

My bike had a big basket mounted on the front from my paper route, and it was ready for the job. Mr. Tumey hired me for two days a week. At first I didn’t get to deliver anything. Mr. Tumey handed me a broom, and told me to sweep the floor. I did a great job of it. Next, he asked me to stack cereal boxes on the top shelf. I used the tongs on the end of a long pole to put them up there. The next time, he gave me a bucket of ammonia water, a brush on a pole, and a large squeegee. He took me outside and showed me how to wash the windows. Each day I went, he had another job for me.

Eventually, a telephone order came for groceries. Mrs. Tumey made a list on a paper-bag. When the list was done she wrote the address on the same bag. The Tumey’s knew all of the phone customers very well because the same people also shopped in the store when they could.

Mrs. Tumey ran around the little store collecting all of the items on the list and put them into a box. Mr. Tumey cut the meat items and wrapped them. Once she completed the list, she added the bill and recorded the amount on a receipt in her book. One copy went to the customer, the other stayed in the book.

It was time for delivery, and they called me from my sweeping job to take the order. Finally, after a couple of weeks at work I would be delivering groceries on my trusty bike.

The box looked very large, but I put both arms around it and lifted. Wow! That box was heavy. I could barely make it out the front door. Outside, I stood in front of the bike holding a box which made the veins pop out of my head. How do I get the box into the basket when the bike is leaning over on the kickstand? I took the box back in, then came out and propped the bike against the building. I wrestled the box up into the basket. It hung up on the wires half way in. That’s stupid, I told myself, the next time I’ll fit the empty box into the basket before she loads it up.

During the next challenge I rode three blocks with this huge load up front. My Sunday newspaper loads were heavy too, and I was accustomed to a loaded front wheel, but this box was at least double the heaviest paper load.

With every bump I heard bottles clinking against each other. Now, I know why Schwinn sells a delivery bike with the small front wheel and the huge basket. I wished I had one right then and there! My basket stood high above the wheel and made the bike unstable with a high center of gravity. On a delivery bike the load is low to the ground. A delivery bike also has a kick stand that holds the front wheel straight and off the ground. It keeps the bike rock solid. The basket is lower and wider making it much easier to load and unload.

My first delivery went to a customer who lived on a block of two and three flats. This lady lived on the third floor. I had to use the open back stairway for delivery. Somehow, I wrestled the box out of the basket. The road vibration had settled it in place. Miraculously, the bike didn’t tip over while I pried the box from the basket, and nothing fell out.

The box weighed at least thirty pounds, and I weighed ninety. The climb up the stairs was like climbing Mount Everest. By the time I got to the last landing my arms were tired, my legs were shaking, and I could feel the box slipping out of my fingers. What did I get myself into, I kept thinking?

God was with me all the way because I made it. I pressed the bell with a knuckle and then rested by pushing the box against the building. The lady took her sweet time to answer the door but finally came. She told me to place the box on the kitchen table. I politely handed her the bill and she paid. Ceremoniously, she awarded me with a quarter.

As I rode back, I felt a cold breeze drying the hot sweat from my back.

That first trip taught me a lot about packing boxes, and making them lighter. It made sense to split a large heavy load into a couple of trips.

The Tumey’s had a son named Gil. He didn’t work in the store. Gill came home from school in his baseball uniform. He played on the Fenger High School team and practiced after school. He came in, kissed his mom, said hi to his dad, grabbed a snack, and disappeared to the apartment upstairs.

When the store closed at 5:30 I rode home taking every short cut I knew and rolled in at 6:00 p.m. just as Mom put supper on the table.

Greasy Donut Recall

Selfridges has a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop wh...

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This morning the devil made me eat a greasy Krispy Creme donut. I savored it with great enthusiasm. I know it is bad for me, but how long can one live anyway? Grandma Peggy read the advertising on the box and was surprised to learn that the company has been making donuts since 1937. That means Krispy Creme has been selling heart plugging fat loaded tasty sugary treats one year longer than I have been on this planet.

When Krispy Creme became a rage back in the ninety’s I followed the crowds to a local store to learn what it was all about. I also wanted to buy a dozen of the freshly made donuts. My friends were explaining the automated machine they used to make the donuts right in the store. It is a tradition at the office to bring donuts on your birthday.  I especially loved birthdays when we celebrated with Krispy Cremes. When I bit into my very first one, my brains cells awakened from deep within. The taste brought back childhood memories.

On the day I first walked into the Krispy Creme store in Oak Forest, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, right in the center of the store, was an automated donut making machine.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the process. Wait a minute, my brain told me. You’ve seen this machine before.

When I was seven years old, my mom went shopping on 63rd and Halstead. There was a cluster of large stores there, Sears, Wieboldt’s, Goldblatt’s. It was the shopping center of its time. To get there we took the streetcar. Two transfers, and an hour got us to the commercial center of the south-side.  She loved to window shop and never bought anything she didn’t absolutely need. One of her favorite stores was Hillman’s. A large grocery store on the lower level of another large store. Hillman’s was unique, because she got foods there that were not available in our community of Burnside. It was in that store, that I saw my first Krispy Creme donut machine. I was fascinated by the thing. I could spend hours watching the thing spit out raw donut dough and turn the glob into a glazed donut. Mom saw this quickly, and realized that she could shop while I watched the donuts.  The donut machine became my baby sitter.  Every once in a while, Mom bought some donuts to treat us for being good.

The whole memory came alive this morning when I bit into that sumptuous sweet glazed donut.

Jackin Up The “A”

One of Grampa Jim’s closest friends was Mr Toth, a Hungarian farmer from down the road. His friend worked in the pickle canning factory in Coloma, and he farmed too. Mr. Toth was a character who excited easily, and cursed incessantly in Hungarian. I never understood what he was saying, but I knew he was swearing. He ranted and raved and called people names.  The crowd at Fish Corners knew him well. They often played tricks on him just to see him get excited.

I remember watching a prank played on him.  Grampa Jim and his buddy arrived at Fish Corners in Mr. Toth’s Model A: a daily ritual for the two of them.  He pulled up next to the gas pump, ran a gallon of gas into the tank, and went in the store to pay. Of course they had to have a beer too.

Fish Corners was a 1950’s version of today’s Gas City.  This family run business consisted of a small grocery store, an auto service station, and a tavern. Grampa walked through the store into the tavern, and sat at his favorite table on the edge of the dance floor. They nursed a beer, and cajoled with friends.

While they talked, the pranksters went to work. Two older boys put a jack under the rear axle of the Model-A. They lifted it  just enough so the wheels would spin without grabbing. Everyone, at the store, saw what was happening, and many of them waited around to see the outcome.

They came out and got into car; started it up, put it in gear, and let out the clutch.  The car didn’t move. Mr. Toth got out swearing to himself. He looked around. Everything seemed okay so he tried again. The swearing got stronger. The motor was running, but the car didn’t move.  Mr. Toth sent Grampa Jim  to watch the wheels. He put the car in gear again. Gramps bent over to watch. He saw the wheels turning. The swearing got really loud. A very red-faced, Mr. Toth jumped out of the car ranting, and kicking the gravel.  I picked out Hungarian words like Jesus, God, mother, saint, and heaven. All were mixed with words I heard often, but didn’t understand. This time, he found the jack. He raised his arm and shook his fist as he ran toward the store. All the while he ranted in Hungarian. His face was purple, and the veins in his jugular stuck out; boy was he mad. Everyone at Fish Corners laughed hysterically. Grampa Jim stood back and laughed too.

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