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A Pound Cake and A Happy Face Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Thu, May 31, 2007, 03:45 PM
I never had a sweet tooth as kid. This was much to my mother’s chagrin I’m sure.

She would pour forth as much or more effort on her desserts as the main dish. Sometimes I would indulge in a forkful or two of the ooey gooey sweet ending, but more often than not I would take an extra helping of vegetables or a piece of bread instead.

She was never at a loss for takers though. My older brother began every meal by asking what was for dessert and still does. Some things never change.

Sweets will never rank high on my list of cooking or eating priorities although there is something quite alluring about brownies just out of the oven. So my dessert repertoire is less than stellar. I’m content to throw together some tossed fruit with a dab of whipped cream on top as a subtle finish.

I would like to develop more skill in this area, but for now I’m content with a handful of standby recipes, mostly classic with a twist or two – amaretto cheesecake, amaretto bundt cake, (I seem to have a thing for amaretto), and key lime pie.

The true classic is pound cake.



My favorite recipe is simple and the ingredient list aligns with the staples that I’m likely to have on hand. In a pinch, it is easy to whip together without a trip to the grocery store.

In keeping with the request "bring something sweet," pound cake was my contribution to a BBQ with friends on Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed it warm, just out of the oven after a feast of ribs, brisket, beans, corn bread, and pasta salad. The simplicity of the pound cake taste and texture was a nice finish to a full-flavored meal.

Ariel and I each had a slice of left over pound cake for breakfast on Monday morning. While she waited for me to join her at the table, she got creative with the fruit and bacon. She’s going to be twenty years old this summer, but some things just never change. And I'm glad they don't.



Buttery Pound Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
5 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and butter in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping down bowl often, until creamy (2 to 3 minutes). Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, until well mixed (2 to 3 minutes). Add sour cream, milk, and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes).

Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt; beat until just moistened.

Spoon batter into greased and floured 12-cup bundt or 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes our clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

12 servings

Sandra’s Cooking Notes:
- This recipe is printed on the back of a Land O Lakes butter carton that’s been hanging around my recipe collection for years. I made it for the first time three years ago. My family loves it and so did my Sunday night BBQ fellow diners. You can also find it here.
- The cake stands alone with a little powdered sugar on top or you can serve it with whipped cream (please don't by the fake stuff) and fruit.
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Ahhh, The Slow Life and Lucca-Style Olives Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Fri, May 25, 2007, 11:23 AM
As a child my favorite piece of playground equipment was the merry-go-round. I would grab on, run as fast as I could, jump on, and then hang on for dear life especially if the merry-go-round had the momentum of several kids giving it a go.

With every dizzying rotation it was a battle; gravity versus me. Sometimes gravity won; sometimes I triumphed making my way to the center and standing triumphantly.

Transition to adult life. It’s busy, hectic, and fast. Traffic. Alarms. Appointments. Meetings. Deadlines. Plane schedules. Rental cars. Rental car shuttles. Airport security lines. Double-booked calendars. Email and the incessant cell phone. Constant noise. Radios. Loudspeakers. Slot machine’s dinging (that one’s random, but I’m in Vegas at the moment).

Sometimes it’s too much. And I feel like that little girl on the merry-go-round losing my grip, one knuckle, two knuckle, three knuckes. Gone!

Except I never really fall off, just down. And without my help the merry-go-round of life just keeps on spinning.

Yet there are moments for me, spent mostly in the kitchen and around the dining table with friends and family when I feel I’m defying the gravitational pull of the fast life.

Fresh ingredients. Alluring aromas. Pleasing tastes. Enchanting wine. Fantastic conversation. Laughs. Smiles. Memories. Refreshing.

Yes, I need more of these slow moments, see the smile?



A year and a half ago I joined Slow Food – an international organization with 80,000 members who share my sentiment. Founded in 1989, Slow Food’s mission is to revive the joy of eating with an emphasis on taste, promote diversity in our food chain, and link artisanal producers with consumers.

It’s a growing movement. The Slow Food Dallas chapter now has more than 200 members.



It takes a slower life to reconnect with our tastebuds, understand where our food comes from, and care about how our food choices affect our planet and ourselves.

So I joined with eight other Slow Food Dallas members for a communal supper this past Saturday night, each of us contributing a dish to complement an Italian-themed meal.

My contribution to the meal was the antipasta: marinated chickpeas, peppered, sliced salami alongside sliced parmigana reggiano, and Lucca-Style Roasted Olives.




My dinner mates’ contributions were a green salad served in individual homemade parmesan crisp bowls, “Braised Pork to Taste Like Wild Boar,” white cannelloni beans with rosemary, and homemade panna cotta with hazelnut praline caramel sauce, and bit of violin music ala Ariel between the main course and dessert.

It felt like we took a step back in time with food, music, and fellowship.



The supper was slow, the conversation engaging, and the food divine.

And on one more evening I triumphed.

I beat back everything that is fast about my life to stand triumphantly and serenely in the middle of the merry-go-round.

Lucca-Style Roasted Olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled, lightly crushed
5 or 6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 pint (about 2 cups) oil-cured black olives
1/2 pint (about 1 cup) Nicoise or Alberquina olives
4 orange zest strips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the olive oil and garlic cloves in an ovenproof skillet over moderate heat until the cloves begin to sizzle and carmelize slightly. Add the thyme sprigs and let them sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the olives and stir until they are hot throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the orange zest.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until the olives start to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve warm.

Sandra’s Cooking Notes:
- This is Michael Chiarello’s recipe from his book, Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking.
- If the pork recipe sounds intriguing it can be found in Marlene De Blasi's “A Thousand Days in Tuscany.” I’ve never had wild boar so I can’t compare, but the flavors made my tastebuds dance.
- The rest of the evening's photos can be found here.
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Ultimate Garlic Mashed Potatoes Print E-mail
by Sandra Lewis    Tue, May 15, 2007, 08:32 PM
Having grown up with a mother who was a solid southern cook, there was nothing remotely French about the food on our family dining table except for the fries, usually presented with a steak masterfully grilled by my father.

Never venturing far from their Southern cuisine roots my parents rarely dined out, and if they did it was never French. Mexican, absolutely, French, no way.

As captain of my own personal cuisine expedition in adulthood, I dismissed French fare as expensive (anything French is expensive), form over function (beautiful presentation over fill me up), amazingly difficult (it must be), and mysterious (besides croissants, just exactly what was French food?).

Then I booked a trip to Paris so I sought to better understand this baffling cuisine.

I picked up a copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” just before my departure to the City of Lights this past March.

It’s as big as a family Bible and is considered a holy book in some cooking circles; certainly it’s a classic. I lugged all 3.2 lbs. of it with me on a recent business trip and pulled it out on the plane. The man sitting next to me asked if I was a chef.

Ah, ha! I wasn’t alone in my twisted thinking that only those with formal culinary training can reckon with French cuisine!

As I read, absorbed, and explored its 752 pages, that which I had once considered beyond reach of my simple, American kitchen skills seemed surprisingly doable and delectable.

With “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” as their guide, Ariel and Emily (below) took on the task of cooking dinner on a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago. It was the first run anyone had made at French cuisine in my kitchen.



There was a buzz of activity in the kitchen. And, oh, the aroma that wafted up the stairs that drew me down the stairs. My tastebuds danced in anticipation and were not disappointed when we gathered around the dining room table.

Flavorful, Flavorful. Flavorful. And delightful.



It was a steak and potatoes night French style – “Biftek Saute Bercy and Puree De Pommes De Terre a L’Ail” – simply translated - “Pan-broiled steak with Shallot and White Wine Sauce and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.” English peas flavored with rosemary rounded out the meal and made for a beautiful presentation.

It was like Julia’s words leaping to life from the pages of her book, “’Mastering the Art of French Cooking’” is just what the title says. It is how to produce really wonderful food – food that tastes good, looks good, and is a delight to eat.”

My standard for garlic mashed potatoes was ratcheted up several notches that evening; it’s going to have to be Julia’s way or no way in my kitchen.

No longer baffling or mysterious, my affection and respect for French cuisine began when the first crumbs of a crusty baguette fell to my plate in Paris. With Julia's help, I'm looking forward to a life long love affair.

Puree De Pommes De Terre A L’ail
(Garlic Mashed Potatoes)

2 heads garlic (about 30 cloves)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup boiling milk
1/4 teaspoon Salt
pinch of pepper
2 1/2 lb. baking potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons whipping cream
4 tablespoons minced parsley

Separate the garlic cloves. Drop into boiling water, and boil two minutes. Drain. Peel

Cook the garlic slowly with 4 tablespoon of butter for about 20 minutes or until very tender but not browned. Blend in the flour and stir over low heat until it froths with the butter for 2 minutes without browning. Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and 1/4 tablespoon salt and pinch of pepper. Boil, stirring, for one minute. Rub the sauce through a sieve or puree it in a blender. Simmer for 2 minutes more.

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Drop in boiling salted water to cover, and boil until tender. Drain immediately and put through a potato ricer. Place the hot puree in a saucepan and beat with a spatula or spoon for several minutes over moderate heat to evaporate moisture. As soon as the puree begins to form a film on the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and beat in 4 tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat in salt and pepper to taste.

Shortly before serving, beat the hot garlic sauce vigorously into the hot potatoes. Beat in the cream by spoonfuls, but do not thin out the puree too much. Beat in the parsley. Correct the seasoning if needed.

Sandra’s Cooking Notes:
- I’ve taken some liberties with Julia’s recipe. The ingredient list is complete but I’ve pared down her instructions. Almost overwhelming at first read, she mixes excruciating details of the size and type of pots, pans, and cooking instruments along with the basic recipe instructions. But remember that her original audience was the 1961 American cook and you’ll love her for the attention to detail.
- This dinner is a fond memory. It was the last meal Emily (pictured below) prepared in my kitchen before she returned to Utah, her home state. After she finished her nursing degree at Baylor this spring, her family, and her first nursing job beckoned her home.



- Hannah and I had a lovely time in Paris. It is a beautiful city filled with never-ending wonder at each twist and turn of its lovely streets. If you’re interested in seeing our photos, click here for a video montage.

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Lennox Lewis Goes the Distance at Fight Night Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Sun, Apr 29, 2007, 12:28 PM
The Real Estate Council’s 19th Annual FightNight: 007 on May 3, 2007 benefits The Real Estate Council Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by The Real Estate Council, dedicated to community development.
Lennox Lewis courtesy The Real Estate Council
 
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A Special Evening with Dionne Warwick presented by Alliance Data Print E-mail
by Sharon Adams    Wed, Mar 28, 2007, 04:46 PM

Join us for an evening of favorites with musical icon Dionne Warwick

Her luminous voice will fill the Meyerson Symphony Center

at A Special Evening with Dionne Warwick hosted by Alliance Data benefiting Special Care & Career Services

warwick_dionne_1_v2.JpgDon’t miss the legendary Dionne Warwick perform at the upcoming A Special Evening with Dionne Warwick hosted by Alliance Data. This songstress will bring an entourage of musicians and fill the stage with energy as she sings your favorite tunes. Her luminous voice will be complemented with strings and other beautiful instruments that will make the evening truly magical.

On April 1st, sponsors will join co-chairs Nicole Kapioltas and Angie Hubach, along with honorary chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill, and kick-off the evening with a pre-concert reception. The Meyerson’s lobby will be transformed into an orchestration of sensory and culinary delights – a fresh, fun elegant venue in which you will enjoy tasting savory food offerings, sipping refreshing wine and mingling with friends.

Just before the concert begins, experience a fervor that will surround the live auction of an original work of art, created especially for this event, by artist Deanna Kienast. The live auction will follow the presentation of the Milton P. Levy, Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Award to Jim Hanophy, MS, CRC. This award is given annually to an individual who has exhibited leadership in supporting the mission of building independence for children and adults with disabilities, in the community.

Jim is volunteer Executive Director of Special Needs Assistance Partners, and Program Specialist in charge of the new outcomes-based payment system for supported employment launched this year by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. Past recipients include Robert G. Pollock, Nancy Ann Hunt, Robert L. Blumenthal and former Presidents of the Board of Trustees of this evening’s beneficiary, Special Care & Career Services (SCCS).

Co-chairs Nicole Kapioltas and Angie Hubach are honored to be aligned with such a valuable community agency.

“Angie and I became involved with SCCS because we believe in the valuable services that the agency provides to children and young adults with cognitive disabilities and developmental delays,” Nicole said. “The agency has done an amazing job of working with and developing young adults with cognitive disabilities, and transforming them into vibrant, capable individuals that can find and hold good jobs within the community. And, seeing the smile of an individual who realizes his or her true value is beautiful.”

Angie’s interest in the agency and the Special Evening event also stems from her commitment to and passion for working with children and families. As a Child and Family Therapist employed by Early Childhood Intervention (ECI), she serves families with children who have developmental delays. "I know first hand through my work with ECI the world of opportunity and hope that SCCS provides to these individuals and to their families,” Angie said. “We strive for the same goals, to help our clients lead fulfilling, independent lives. There is great joy in seeing these dreams realized."

Dallas-based Alliance Data has come on board again as host sponsor as A Special Evening celebrates its sixth year as the major fundraiser for Special Care & Career Services, a Dallas United Way Agency. Past featured entertainers include: Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, k.d. lang, Tom Jones and the Doobie Brothers.

“Angie and I are truly appreciative of the continued generous support received from our Host Sponsor, Alliance Data,” Nicole said. “We would also like to recognize the efforts of the SCCS Board, SCCS staff, our fabulous event committee and our illustrious honorary chairs, Anne and Steve Stodghill. And, we would be remiss if we didn’t also thank 98.7 KLUV, The Dallas Morning News, Amegy Bank of Texas, AMS Production Group, Just Brakes, La Quinta Corporation, Park Place Motorcars of Dallas, Mr. L. Frank Pitts, Mr. and Mrs. George Ellison Hurt III and Marinelle and Kip Sowden.”

With the generosity of all supporters, SCCS can continue to provide valuable services to its clients and families, and in turn positively impact their lives and the community.

The concert is open to the public. Tickets begin at $50 and are available at

www.ticketweb.com. Or, contact Susan Spradlin, Director of Development (SCCS) for sponsor opportunities at (972) 991-6777 ext. 121, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or www.specialcarecareer.org

Dallas-based Alliance Data, host sponsor :
Alliance Data (NYSE: ADS) is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services, managing over 105 million consumer relationships for some of North America's most recognizable companies. Alliance Data creates and manages customized solutions that change consumer behavior and that enable its clients to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with their customers. The company is an active corporate citizen through its "Neighbor of Choice" Program and is committed to initiatives that support education, health and welfare and civic enrichment. For more information about the company, visit its website,
http://www.AllianceData.com.

Special Care & Career Services:

Special Care & Career Services (SCCS) has always been on the forefront in developing programs that promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of the community – where we live, work, and play.

The SCCS mission is to provide services to children and adults with developmental disabilities so that they can lead fulfilling lives in their communities. To that end they provide education, therapy and training to help their clients reach their full potential.

Chartered in 1963, services include Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for children birth to 3 years old and Supported Employment Services for adults. Both are regarded as model programs by the community.

The ECI program is recognized as a “Best Practices” study site by the Early Childhood Intervention Services Division of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

Through the Supported Employment Services program, adults with mental retardation, traumatic brain injury and other cognitive disabilities participate in comprehensive employment services to obtain and keep jobs in the local community.

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