Al Sicherman is a very funny man. For years–32 of them, in fact–he wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. For some of those years, he had a weekly food column that was perhaps informed less by his cooking abilities than by his background as an electrical engineer. The meals were wildly experimental–a meal with chocolate in every course, for example. One column particularly stands out. He’d written a column about how easy it is to make popovers. He provided a foolproof recipe. He arrived at work the following morning (Monday) to find a paper bag filled with hockey pucks on his desk. The note inside said the pucks were the result of following, to the letter, Sicherman’s foolproof recipe.

Al Sicherman is, from what I understand, a very nice man. The hockey pucks–made to serve to guests–disturbed him. He contacted his reader to help determine what had gone wrong. Over the course of the next few weeks. Sicherman discovered that the reader had done almost nothing the recipe called for. Whole milk? No, he used skim. Butter? Nah, he used margarine. Fresh eggs? No, they were a few weeks old. Pre-heated over? Nope, he didn’t believe in it. Yet after every conversation, Sicherman would replicate the reader’s process and wind up with a batch of perfect popovers.

If you want to know how the story ends, you need to get your hands on Caramel Knowledge, where the column is reprinted.

Meanwhile, I learned from Sicherman’s nephew, who happens to be a former student of mine, that the Star Tribune cancelled the Mr. Tidbit column. So Mr. Tidbit has now taken to the blogosphere. For new product information and food tips, subscribe at