A good friend wrote a poem which fits into the Cooky Cat oeuvre.

It was "... inspired by [her uncle the well known actor] Kim Chan's life as a young man in New York City."

We're thinking here a Cooky Cat Central that it fits perfectly into the "Beat Poet Open Mike Slam" genre.


 A Poem by Judith Mary Gee

Hair slicked down extra, the maître d’

bribed and swore to secrecy

busboys and waiters,

leaving to their discretion

the House of Exquisite Taste

while he slithered away

to the Center of the Universe

so he could worship Duke Ellington.

After the show came the showdown.

An umbrella smacked his back;

 spokes splintered and fabric tattered.

 Then said umbrella thudded to the floor, a carcass

transmogrifying: Peking duck for those

who wouldn’t know the difference

between opium and monosodium glutamate.

 But so what? Sure as anything, he’d visited Heaven,

grooving to such as that “Creole Love Call”

like anybody else who could buck and wing.


National Burrito Day

Mark that as the first Thursday of April, every year from now on.

David D. Wronski writes ...

Yesterday April 4, 2019 was National Burrito day. It was approaching dinner time, and we were in the neighborhood; so we stopped at a favorite Mexican restaurant for a few to go. San Antonio in Passaic, New Jersey es muy auténtico restaurante Mexicano

When we got our take out Burritos home. Wow! One Bistec, the other Carnitas. Each one loaded with Rice, Beans, and lots of Onions, fresh Cilantro and diced Tomatoes. Topped with Crema. A simple chopped Lettuce salad to accompany. And, of course, a wedge of Lime and some Tomatillo Salsa.

While we were waiting for our order to be prepared in come a small Mariachi troupe. I got their consent for a photo, and here they are singing a soulful and happy Guantanamera.

Here's their beautiful, healthy window dressing.

And, Our Lady presides over everything ...


My Stone Soup©

Read what our very good friend David Wronski has to say before we get to the definitive recipe for My Stone Soup© (yes, it’s copyrighted, so you know we’re talking something altogether different than your everyday stone soup like what for example Martha Stewart or that Bittman guy might try to foist off on you.)

Cooky Cat is my very good friend and I am happy to have the task of writing a forward to his
book on stone soup, entitled My Stone Soup©. [Cooky Cat here: David wrote this under the impression that he was writing for a book and we won’t let him be the wiser. He needed the extra motivation, otherwise he might not have written so well and glowingly for just a blog entry.] His recipe from My Stone Soup© is, to use a modifier that one of his loyal fans gushed, “Frightfully” simple.

Yet, yet . . . I would have to say that while the recipe is indeed très simplicato it brings some serious umami to the party. It has even made a culinary dolt such as me to understand the true meaning and sense of the term “terroir”. It makes the Japanese Tea Ceremony look like child’s play. It is imbued with a depth of meaning and philosophical insight such that in comparison Diderot and Foucault look like dithering idiotic blabbermouths. But then, we have come to expect such from Cooky Cat, and once again he delivers. (It would help if you dust off that copy of The Phenomenon of Man by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ. Particularly to brush up on his development of the notion that all in creation is conscious, even the lowly rock; but, of course, in its own rocky way.)

Thank you David. As usual, more than necessary.

Now to My Stone Soup©.

Get yourself a nice stone. Natural, but of course. Now that sounds maybe too simple. But it’s in the getting that the necessary fuss comes in. Try to go to as remote a place as your budget and schedule permit. If you have hired help, then those factors don’t apply and you can send them off for as long as you please. As far as where to trek for that stone, we demure on suggestions. Our experience is that stones from different locals give an essence of the local situation that is each unique. Just like the famous geologist and Nobel Laureate, M. B. Prufnagel von Brunt und Fefferschnikel PhD, JD, DD, DVD, MSNBC has so famously (and definitively stated) “there are stones, and then there are stones.” Enough said. We’ll leave it at that (besides, any more and it would get really silly).

Also, as large a stone as you can. How large? Partly is depends, of course, on the size of your recipe; how many it’s going to serve. And the size and load rating of your truck. But also, in this regard, size does matter. The bigger the stone the bigger the flavor. (The new wave chefs are experimenting with a variant using large numbers of small stones claiming that the admixture of different types brings a whole another flavor layer, even layers, to the end result. We say, as always with all food preparation: HEY, THE INDGREDIENTS EACH HAVE THEIR OWN ESSENTIAL FLAVOR. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT. EVERYTHING DOESN’T NEED A SAUCE BASED ON AN ARM'S LENGTH OF HARD TO FIND AND RARE INGREDIENTS. Got that, Frenchy! You know who you are.)

So now you have your big stone and you don’t have a pot to cook it in. Our good friends at Lehman’s can crate you off a nice big 15 gallon cast iron cauldron and you can go Medieval and cook on your front lawn over an open fire. Again, choice of wood for the fire is critical also. Don’t worry about the neighbors, once they discover that you are making stone soup, they will surely approve. Or, run you out of town. Just kitting.

Then the water. Well . . . (Get it? Well. Well water.) A well near a leprechaun’s domicile is best, but who sees those creatures any more. Just to mention, because that is the best. Magical, in fact. Next best is Acqua della Madonna from Italy. Beatific. That may sound overly fussy; but, hey, you’ve already broken your back to get the stone and the pot. Break a leg. Crack open the wallet too.

The other quintessential ingredient for your delicious soup will be Dehydrated Water. Sounds like a joke, no? But, it's traditional and, in our opinion, indispensable.

As far as cooking is concerned, we always prefer good wood fire. And, besides, if you are going large scale, you will probably be outdoors anyway. The soup will be ready as soon as the rock is heated to exactly 212° Fahrenheit. (You should get a tester for that. It’s rather expensive and only good for getting the temperature of rocks. But Martha has one, so stop thinking.)

Last, concerning so called additionals. Those who have never tasted true stone soup will be tempted to toss in some vegetables, meats, noodles, what have you. Go ahead. But the true experience is a good rock cooked to the right temperature in good water. Serve straight away. Salt (if you must); but at the table, please.

As ever, you are welcome to a nice bowl of My Stone Soup©.


The Pączki Adventure* Continues ...

Our favorite Polish specialty store is Piast, the one in Passaic, New Jersey. We frequent that shop because the quality is excellent and the service friendly.

The other day we went shopping there and had this really interesting cultural experience. 

All the staff at Piast speak Polish. With some it's their native tongue; but English is not always the second language. That day we were waited on by someone who spoke no English. Well, a little; enough to know what amounts of this and that we wanted. Also, numbers; they place your order in a basket and give you its number to tell the cashier. And enough to convey that she didn't speak English.

So far so good. Excellent service. "Number 9."

While our previous experience was with a non-English speaking person, our next would be quite the opposite. Surprisingly, and fascinatingly so.

We approached the check out counter lingering and drooling over all the fancy pastries and baked goods. The cashier commented on how everything was so tempting. I agreed. I said we wanted to buy everything, it looked so good. Adding, that in fact the real challenge was to decide what not to buy.

This is what the cashier said: "The struggle is real"

I've heard that expression before, but never in my own person to person exchange. It was so apropos and so hip at the same time. Such a savvy command of the idiom. 

The Polish store is indeed full of so many delights.

* Read about our Pączki Adventure the other day ... CLICK


Our  Excellent Pączki Adventure 2019

[STATUS UPDATE: "Pączkied Out"*]

*Pączkied Out: As in, "We have had a sufficiency, any more would be a super abundance."

{What follows (and ... follows ... and follows) comes from one David D. Wronski. He's infamous for Wronski's Wramblings website. To say he wrambles, is perhaps even putting it too mildly. He does. But, bear with him. He'll get you there. Enjoy the scenic route.}

Today, February 28, 2019 — all day — is Pączki Day in the Catholic Polish Canon.

Pączki Day, if you look at your calendar, is always marked on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, which starts next week on March 6.

It's funny to reminisce to my grade school days at the Immaculate Conception School in the now disappeared section of Detroit called Poletown. I looked forward to Pączki Day every year. Just never had it put together that it was a feasting treat prior to Lent. Only figured that one out later in my adult years. Much later. My Lady suggested that my Catholic education may have had some shortcomings. Ouch! 

Well, by now you may be asking just what are Pączki. That's a plural word. The singular is Pączek. Pronounced respectively "Poonchkey", and "Pooncheck".

In the name of Jesus The Most Holy and Precious Redeemer of All Humanity Past, Present, and Future, you say ... what is it!!!

Pączki are jelly filled Donuts. But, don't call them jelly Donuts. Pączki are, well, Pączki. It really doesn't translate. It's a thing apart.

They are available year round at any self respecting Polish Bakery. But, on Fat Thursday it's, well, a thing unto itself. Just like on Fat Tuesday before Lent, the idea is to feast, feast, feast before the Lenten abstinence.  

Pączki are made of all the good things. Fine flour, eggs, delectable jellies, sweet frostings.

When I was in high school I had a job at my Polish Uncle Phil's Nortown Bakery in Detroit. I would faithfully show up after school on Fridays, and work round the clock until around 6 in the morning. The last task was to assist with the frying of the Pączki. 

Once the baker to impress the green teenager that I was spit into the large oil vat to test for temperature. Then, after the hot, hot oil destroyed all his cooties, he would lower in a wire rack loaded with three or so dozen proofed circles of dough. Flip each one with a long wood stick to fry both sides; then lift out and set aside to cool. For the big Saturday selling day we regularly made something like maybe twelve dozen in total. Two trays each filled with Raspberry jelly and Prune [Powidla] Butter, and a tray of Bavarian Cream.

After the donuts were fried my job was to transform them into Pączki. That meant sticking each one onto the injector tip of a dispenser and giving a generous squirt of filling. We added the jelly after frying. Others, as you will see if you read on, are made with the jelly fried-in. I liked lots of filling, so I was very generous with that. Next a plop into a large bowl of hot, hot icing. Ouch, ouch on the fingertips. Then on to a rack for the day's selling.

Just today I remembered, as much as I adored Pączki, it never occurred to me to take some home with me at the end of my work period. Probably because my senses were so filled with the aromas of baking I couldn't even imagine actually eating any baked goods.

So ... today ...

We set off mid-morning to get some Pączki. At the mecca of such things, Polonia Bakery in Passaic, New Jersey. It's heavily Hispanic there, with Polish mixed in for a true melting pot melange. I went in to buy a half dozen Pączki and a loaf of their most excellent sour dough Rye Bread. The customer space measures something like 12 X 12 feet. In the line ahead of me were no less than 24 people, and the line had to spiral inwards to fit everyone in.

While on line I shared with my fellow shoppers that Olde Polish saying, "You would have to be Polish to wait on line for a jelly Donut." 

While waiting there I noticed what seemed like 36 flat pastry boxes each holding two dozen Pączki. On each box was marked, "LOT". First thought: yes, that is a lot! Second thought, maybe for the Polish LOT Airline. 

Eventually someone came in to take those boxes away. I asked the gentleman helping with those boxes about where they were going. "New York City." Later I asked him where in NYC; "Lot Airlines." Not too shabby a guess on my part, I guess.

As you can see from the photo at the head of this piece, the Polonia Bakery Pączki are those on the right. Smallish, always filled with Prune Butter fried-in; and topped with a white, Orange zest flecked glaze. Most delectable and delicious in the whole wide world.

There's another type of Pączki. Much larger than from Polonia Bakery. 

We decided to go to another bakery a few clicks away. Pieklo Bakery in Garfield, New Jersey. This time Michele went in to buy a few of their Pączki. Waiting in line a long time might be a traditional part of the Pączki Day experience. After a 45 minute wait Michele came out smiling with a box of three, Blueberry filled. 

The store staff spoke only Polish. Michele got someone to translate. "Who wants Blueberry?" Michele called me from inside the shop and I said to go for the red [Raspberry] filled. It turns out that with some more translation Michele learned that the Raspberry and Rose jelly Pączki would take another 20 minutes. They were a bit behind the eight ball at Pielko. The line was already about 24 deep when Michele went there. So, we settled for Blueberry.

It's the first time in my life that I ate a Pączek warm, almost hot, from the fryer. Delicious. When it comes to Pączki, the motto should always be "best when fresh". By late afternoon they turn to dry, spongy rocks. Not good.

While I was waiting for my Pączki to arrive in a prime spot right at the entrance to the bakery, I had a Babcha sighting. 

Babcha is the affectionate name for a Polish Grandmother. This one was de rigueur short and fat. Walking with a natural stick cane, and wearing a Babushka. I have not seen a woman wearing a Babushka in I don't know how long. It's a large scarf — her's with a floral print — draped over the head and tied under the chin. In my Polish neighborhood youth it was so common a thing to see, you didn't even notice. 

Thank you, Babcha.

Here's a Babcha we would all recognize wearing her Babushka. Hermes, probably. Not too shabby.

CLICK to read a priorly written companion piece on the Pączki ...