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Love At First Sip: Beer Bread With An Apricot Twist Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Mon, Oct 15, 2007, 12:01 PM
I’ve never been a beer drinker.

Why bother, I always thought, especially after watching the “Laverne and Shirley” television show as a teenager.

Laverne and Shirley were bottle cappers at the fictional Shotz brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This Yiddish hop-scotch ditty from the show’s opening scene forever cemented in my mind that beer makers and beer drinkers were a crowd that perhaps I’d prefer to not hang out with:

“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

“An inept, clumsy person! A chronically unlucky person! A German stew made from marinated rabbit!”

I’m not sure where the “Incorporated!” plays into it, but you get the picture.

My tastebud's translation on the whole beer scene: there is no taste, no body, might as swill water flavored with alcohol.

That is until I was introduced to craft beer maker Pyramid Brewery in Seattle and had my first taste of Pyramid’s Apricot Weizen.

It was love at first sip.

Lovely, not too sweet, with just enough apricot for my tastebuds to take notice.

And I had a revelation.

All beers and brew masters are not created equal.

Craft beer makers, like Pyramid, are artisans who are small, independent, and adhere to traditional brewing methods and ingredients. On a personal tour of Pyramid's brewery in Seattle I learned that taste is Pyramid's ultimate pursuit and they don’t cut corners on the process or the ingredients.

Pyramid’s flagship beer, Hefe Weizen, is a wheat beer brewed with two-row barley, wheat, and caramel. It’s an unfiltered beer true to the hefe weizen style which means your eyeballs will notice some cloudiness in the liquid, but your tastebuds will benefit from the flavor of the yeast left in the beer.

Even when a style of beer calls for filtration Pyramid filters only once to catch lingering solids.

Beer making is an art and a science. Lean too much to the science side of beer making and the result is the mass-produced, colorless, mostly tasteless liquid that the majority of Americans call beer because their palates don’t know the difference.

These beer makers use less expensive adjunct grains like corn and rice which add no flavor and serve only to sugar and thin the beer. In addition, multiple filtrations leave the beverage with coloring more akin to water than beer.

Some historians speculate that before mankind learned to bake bread we had mastered beer.

Smart bunch we are. Except it’s taken a very long time, domestically that is, to learn to make it tasty.

But we’re catching on.

Craft brewers’ supermarket sales increased 17.8% in 2006 while large domestic breweries sales continued to lag behind a 2004 peak. The total craft beer market increased by 12% in 2006.

Pyramid Breweries is a leader of the craft brewer's pack and there's a reason.

Their brews make your taste buds dance.

Mazal tov to us all.

This recipe combines the best of both worlds -- beer used in bread making.

Beer Batter Bread
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle beer, unopened and at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Open the beer and add it all at once; it will foam up. Stir briskly just until combined, about 20 strokes. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle the melted butter.

Bake until the top is crusty and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a rack. Serve wam or at room temperature the day it is made. Cut into thick slices and accompany with plenty of butter.

Sandra's Cooking Notes:
- From "Bread" published by Williams-Sonoma.
- I used a bottle of Pyramid's Apricot Weizen which imparted its lovely apricot flavor to the bread.
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Ebby Halliday, Rayfield Wright at 2007 Lions Sight & Tissue Foundation Humanitarian Award Event Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Thu, Oct 11, 2007, 04:59 PM

Dallas real estate icon Ebby Halliday and former Dallas Cowboy and NFL Hall of Fame Inductee Rayfield Wright will be the recipients of the 2007 Lions Sight & Tissue Foundation's “Humanitarian Award” at a come-and-go reception on Thursday, October 18th from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. at the Communities Foundation of Texas, Mabel Peters Caruth Center, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane at Central Expressway, Dallas, Texas 75225.    The Humanitarian Award Presentation is scheduled for 6:30 P.M.  

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5th Annual Sky Ball sponsored by American Airlines and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Sun, Oct 7, 2007, 04:47 PM

Funds Will Support Local Military Families in Need

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General Colin L. Powell and Wayne Doran to Be Awarded Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Sun, Oct 7, 2007, 02:33 PM

- 3rd Annual Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Dinner  - Patriot’s Award and Distinguished Citizen’s Award to be Presented at Four Seasons

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Dancing With Marinated and Grilled Pork Filet Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Wed, Sep 26, 2007, 01:31 PM
Hello. My name is Sandra and I’m a “Dancing With The Stars” addict.

Even before local-boy, uh, risk-taking entrepreneur and billionaire, as he was described on the show last night, Mark Cuban, made his debut

Just for the record, I don’t tape it, record it, Tivo it, or otherwise plan my social calendar around it, but I will make a point to read the next day Internet reviews and get the lowdown from my mother should I miss an episode.

It’s a perplexing complex because those who know me well know that I rarely watch TV, though Saturday afternoon PBS cooking shows do catch my eye.

So why “Dancing With The Stars”?

Good question. I’ve asked myself that too.

Maybe it’s the beauty of the dance; the costumes, the rhythm, the creativity of the choreography set to music.

I spontaneously clapped approval following one performance last night.

Glad I was alone; I felt like a nerd.

My fascination with the show goes beyond the fun of the performance for me. It’s the intrigue of watching successful people journey through a challenge completely foreign to how they gained their fame and fortune.

While many contestants make it look effortless, ballroom dancing is not an easy challenge.

But they ante up in front of millions of viewers on live television and pour themselves into the task just for the thrill of it.

It’s a nice parallel to how I want to live my life; ante up and give it all I have.

And when I take the occasional break from chasing my own dreams I like to watch others chasing theirs.

Dance, Mark, dance.

Grilled Marinated Pork Filet
I couldn’t think of clever (or polite) tie-in with this pork recipe and “Dancing With the Stars,” other than to say it’s what I had for dinner and it’s worth sharing.

1 small piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 clove garlic peeled
1 tablespoon honey
1 piece jalapeno pepper, size depending on your tolerance for hotness (from 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons nuoc mam, or fish sauce
3 tablespoons water

1 large pork filet (about 1 1/2 pounds), trimmed of all fat and silver skin
1 teaspoon canola oil

1. Place all the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed. Pour the marinade into a plastic food bag, and add the trimmed pork fillet. Seal the bag tightly, and shake it until the meat is well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.

2. About 30 minutes before cooking time, heat grill until it is hot. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

3. Remove the pork filet from the marinade, and reserve the marinade in an ovenproof skillet or metal gratin dish. Sprinkle the fillet with the oil, and place it on the hot grill. Cook, covered about 6 minutes, then turn the filet over. Cook, covered for 6 minutes on the second side, until the meat is nicely grilled on all sides.

4. Bring the reserved marinade to a boil on top of the stove. Return the meat to the marinade and place it in 200-degree oven for at least 10 minutes but as long as 40 minutes to rest. Slice the filet, and serve it with some of the juices.

Sandra’s Cooking Notes:
• Recipe is from “Jacques Pepin’s Kitchen: Encore with Claudine”.
• I substituted molasses for honey. Who knows what happened to my honey jar.
• I used center cut pork chops and didn’t return them to the marinade after grilling. It was tasty and quick.
• I will give this recipe another try, this time with the whole filet and time in the oven.
• I served it with a kale side dish.
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