Friday, October 31, 2008

Food for Inspiration

Growing up there was a framed poem on the wall outside of my bedroom, and my sisters and I memorized it after 18 years of walking past. What I didn't realize was that it was only the first verse, and two others followed. If this can't bring a smile to your face, well, good thing it's the weekend.

IT COULDN'T BE DONE, By Edgar A. Guest
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn't be done", and you'll do it.

Have a great Halloween and weekend. Amy S.

Dining With the Stars - Coming To Dallas Someday?

San Francisco area restaurants with 2 Michelin stars forming a "cartel" for a dining package? Restaurant Hospitality magazine certainly thinks something similar could happen across the country, citing Dallas as one of those cities.

Would it bring more business to Dallas? Probably not, but those who are already visiting might be enticed to include this in their travel package.

The Post That Didn't Happen

I had this great idea for a weekly post a while back and had even contacted friend John R. over at Sigel's about assisting me with the information. As a reader of The Wall Street Journal, I've always enjoyed their Friday edition wine reviews and thought it would be helpful to list Dallas shops or restaurants that carry the wines The WSJ liked.

But on the very day when I was working on said post, in my mail arrived a large, glossy sales brochure featuring WSJwine - and everything stopped. Because even I could see the possibility of a conflict of interest between what they recommend and what they will be selling. While the disclaimer says they "operate independently from The Wall Street Journal's news department", it still opens a door of distrust for a publication that has an enviable reputation for integrity in reporting.

Today's article about "The Dow Jones Lamb Chop Challenge" brought this back to mind. While it anonymously solicits wine recommendations from wine retailers in six cities, the actual judgement of what "worked" was still done by WSJ writers. None of the 10 wines that were tasted were located on the WSJwine website as being for sale. But that doesn't mean that tomorrow the "partnership" might not sell it, after all some were recommended by the writers of The WSJ, isn't this what the partnership was formed for?

This very blog cross-markets, you see Sevy's Grill news every so often. But I disclose co-ownership on my profile (as well as in many posts), and I don't consider this a news venue - more of a "stories" venue. I try to be factually accurate, but have never represented myself as a journalist.

So that leaves me with two new questions: 1) to The WSJ - why do this?, and 2) to friend John R. at Sigel's - why even carry these wines that are cutting out the local business?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sigh, Another Post About Free Booze (and Food)

Thanks to a sponsorship by Chivas Regal, Sevy's Grill will be offering some free tasty treats on election night from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, (next Tuesday, just in case you hadn't heard). Among them is a complimentary "taster" of 18 year old Chivas, as well as Crispy Calamari Rings, Tomato Basil Crostini and Chocolate Mousse cups for those patrons in the bar watching the early election returns. We'll also have tables set up in the private dining room for those who want to only check the TV for updates, and as usual we'll be politically neutral so all are welcome.

We're at 8201 Preston Road, 3 blocks south of Northwest Highway at Sherry Lane, (214) 265-7389, - vote early and come by.

Order In! 70 Smiles - To Go!

The Days of Taste/Hexter Elementary day down at the Farmer's Market Resource Center was a huge success. Volunteer forces from the Baylor Hospital nutritional team showed up in force, some had done this gig before - others were new. But every one of us left with smiles, mine lasted even after I got home and saw what the dogs had eaten in my absence.

I was assigned to a group of five 4th graders and teamed with a great Hexter mom, it turned out we had some things in common. Her daughter was on Math team with the same coach my kids had at Kramer, she helped with book fair like I did back in the day - making new friends was like a whipped cream topping to the day.

But the kids, boy, they were sharp and well behaved. And curious. They listened patiently to Meaders Orazow talk about making bread. How the yeast works, different flavors of bread, and of course they loved it when they got to sample the sourdough, wheat and rye breads she brought to share. Then chef Tina Wasserman took them on an exploration of flavors; salt, sugar, citric acid and cocoa (salty, sweet, sour and bitter) and they had "tasters" of cheese, chocolate, pickles, rosemary on a plate for them to try individually and in combinations.

We were the Green Pepper team, and headed out to the market - each child received $1 to purchase their vegetable(s) of choice. Many of the vendors were kind enough to split baskets, or let kids buy only one of something. By the end, we had: corn, cucumber, banana pepper, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries, apple, watermelon slices (a very nice man let us have some "samples" which we threw in a bag), banana.

Returning to the resource center, the staff washed the veggies while the kids washed their hands, then the chopping and trading began. One group wanted some of our corn, which we traded for half a red pepper, another group traded a few strawberries for an orange, and I don't remember what we traded for some brussels sprouts and carrots. IJS, one of the boys, "Mr. J" showed amazing trading skills, we would send him off with half of something and he'd come back with something else.

While I chopped, "Miss A." helped her mom with the dressing. Buttermilk mixed with mayonnaise (which all the kids thought looked gross), and each one got to add an element - garlic, pepper, cayenne, until we had......Buttermilk Ranch dressing, which they thought was very cool. Everyone had a part in making a pasta and veggie salad which was devoured, the fruit salad was for dessert and we had enough to share with others.

"Big D" said it was the best he ever had as he gave me a gigantic hug on his way out. My smile's still there, I hope his is too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today I'll Be Cooking

Down at the Dallas Farmer's Market - Days of Taste. To see what's on the menu, try here.

Update: Tomorrow I'll be cooking, forgot to change the date on my calendar. Will be working with friends Paula and Meaders greeting students from Hexter Elementary. Looking at the bright side (as I laugh at myself), at least it was a beautiful day for a drive - and at least it wasn't a drive to Canton on the wrong date (been there, done that).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Holiday Gifting: Amy's "Absolut"-ely Outrageous Bloody Mary Vodka

I know it's October, but if you're going to make something of quality it takes time - like about a month. A few years ago a magazine article I read touted the making of infused vodkas to give away as a "homemade" gift. Yeah, you can add berries, or mixed fruit, sugar and get something that would make a tasty drink, but I'm more of a Bloody Mary drinker. After the kids have ripped open their gifts and wrapping paper is everywhere, nothing says "Good Morning" on Christmas Day like an 80 proof drink while you make breakfast.

So I've pulled out my vodka jar, a large glass sealed "barrel" that holds three large bottles of Absolut. While things are marinating, I'll start looking for some smaller vintage bottles (in Canton this weekend) to pour the finished product into. Along with the vodka, the gift bag will include 2 small cans of V-8 for mixing, and some homemade hot chocolate mix for the kids to enjoy.

And of course you don't have to use Absolut, but "Amy's Monopolova Outrageous Bloody Mary Vodka" just doesn't sound as catchy.

3 1.75 bottles of Absolut vodka
2 bunches of fresh dill
1 large horseradish root
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno
6 whole black peppercorns

Peel the exterior of the horseradish root to remove dirt and exterior skin. Score (do not cut open) the jalapeno 2 - 3 times to release flavors. Place all ingredients in jar and keep in the refrigerator. Periodically taste - if the jalapeno has added enough heat for you, remove it (conversely, if it's not hot enough, throw another one in). Same with the other ingredients. The flavor of the output is determined by what you like - but be forewarned, this stuff by itself tastes pretty nasty, it "blossoms" once added to a mixer.

I make my potion very strong, and then cut it with unflavored vodka to increase the yield. I have a lot of friends to give it away to and only so much production capacity.

But Is It Worth $12.50?

Yesterday at Central Market I noticed a food magazine I had not encountered before - but maybe you've seen it. They call themselves AoE for short so I'll use that here too, I can only type so much before the boss comes around and wonders what I'm doing. According to the information page, AoE has been published since 1986 on a quarterly basis, a one year subscription drops the price from $12.50 to $12.00 (or it drops to $10.666666 for a three year commitment of $128). They also have a website,, on which they quote "Erudite" from the NY Times, but I did not find it enlightening in the least.

The interior print is black and white as are photos and sketches, all on a heavy paper stock which totaled 48 pages. The writers, well they use the word "I" even more than you'll find in this very blog, and the publisher (Edward Behr) wrote a 12 page report on his personal selection of 9 "mostly French and Italian cookbooks" called Throwing The Rest Out. Hell, Edward, I'd need a couple of semi-trucks to take my collection away. But thanks for showing me a couple more that I need.

Articles? Well take your choice, from "Medlar: The Rotten Fruit", yum, to "Brown Sugar From Okinawa", to a restaurant review of Da Maria, located in Fano, Italy (in the Marche region of Italy - I had to get a map, did they assume I knew?) who's tag-line was "Come if you're prepared to make do with what we've got". From letters to the editor, previous articles have included the merits of Andouillette and Blue Star vs. Lancanche ranges. A common factor in the articles - the length, I lost interest in the subjects after more than 12 paragraphs of detail.

So a word for improvement, because I did like the cover art enough to make this initial purchase, it was just a disappointment inside. Take the advertising money you shun, it will help you hire a good editor, maybe Bethany?

The Eagle Prepares To Fly

Last night I went to my first ever Eagle Court of Honor ceremony for "Mijo", one of the Cub Scout/Webelo's from Pack 733 at Kramer Elementary. A moving ceremony for a great kid, who between his grades and athletics will be headed off to some wonderful university (that has a LaCrosse team) next fall. His Eagle project consisted of constructing four training tables for Hillcrest High School, which we put to good use this football season alone. Wow, what a spread of food; quesadillas, flautas, guacamole, somebody went to a great deal of work to prepare a delicious buffet.

The ceremony followed a menu of tradition that typifies scouting - Call to Order, Presentation of Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Scouting Oath. While formal, it serves a purpose of signifying the elevation of one's station through achievement. There was an invocation by Father Etheridge of St. Luke's, and several scoutmasters came forward to speak for "Mijo" and his hard work. Then it was time for his remarks.

I was not prepared for his honest expression of how very hard it had been to make this climb, how growing up in a single parent (grandmother) family with younger siblings had undermined his belief in his abilities. How every other Webelo from his pack gradually dropped scouting, which seemed like a good idea to him at the time because he didn't want to be alone in the group. But people came to him, encouraged him to stick with it, see it through, kept reminding him that he COULD do this. Some even welcomed him into their own families and helped him see a future beyond his life now. I was not the only one unable to stop crying.

I was prepared for him to fly, even at a young age he understood honor; he honored his family by his achievements and he honored the time many have spent with him by completing his scouting endeavor.

By the Numbers - Dallas' Restaurant Scene

The news of Ounce Prime Steakhouse closing came to me last night from my husband, he happened to be driving down Montfort yesterday and noticed two paper signs on the door. This coincided with research I was doing about how the industry is doing since the economy soured. An evaluation of August vs. September Mixed Beverage Gross Receipts tax (a 14% tax paid by restaurants, bars and clubs on all liquor, beer and wine served) as reported by the TABC. This is what I do - I'm an accountant.

Take the currently released report (10/27/08) which covers August's sales - but some early payers have September data included as well. I've included in my calculations every Dallas licensee who has both September and August 2008 figures available - which means only those who paid their September taxes early. I didn't break down by size or classification ("upscale", "clubs", or "topless bars" - who appear to be doing EXCEEDINGLY WELL in this economy). Nor will I specify information about any specific licensee - except to say that Ounce did pay their August taxes - early.

August to September sales data represents in this industry the end of the summer "drought", when many patrons are traveling on vacation. The kids are returning to school and everyone wants to enjoy the end of the 100 degree temperatures. So one would normally see tax receipts rise as sales increase. Sad to say, it's just not so.

Of the 119 Dallas licensee figures that are available for both August and September there was a drop of $67,475 in taxes paid, or a decrease of 9.5%. This translates into a decrease in (beverage) sales at these locations of $481,964, plus change just based on August-to-September numbers, imagine what the September '07-to-September '08 numbers will end up. These early payers represent approximately 11% of Dallas's licensed purveyors, and only those that could send in their taxes early.

So of course, my next question is who is going to be making up the tax shortfall? You guess.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Canton Trade Days This Week - Plan Accordingly

My August trip to First Monday in Canton produced three posts (Meet the Cocker, Walking & Talking and Who Needs the State Fair?). And I noticed that while this is also Halloween weekend, it's time to visit Canton and shop again. The vendors will begin displaying December holiday wares, and since one of my many job titles for the restaurant is "Holiday Decorator/Wreath Maker", I'll be visiting to stock up on goodies.

With the weather much cooler, I'm anticipating large crowds, meaning lots of those mechanized scooters blocking the shed alleys. To avoid this, I've got a secret plan - shhhh, I'll share it if you don't tell everyone. I'm going out there on Thursday to avoid the crowds. While there won't be as many vendors in the flea market area, the shed vendors pay more rent - so they'll be present and selling their goods.

My other recommendation? Buy - don't wait, there's no guarantee that any items will be around at the next Trade Days in November/December (let alone later in the day), they are looking to sell out their stock this weekend. Several times I've gotten home, wishing I'd bought a second, third or fourth of something only to return later to find it all gone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'll Take Mine Shaken

If only I could go, but maybe you can! A Cocktail Showdown shake-off between the bartenders of Abacus, Jaspers (Plano, Woodlands and Austin), and Shinsei restaurants on Sunday, November 23rd at Abacus Restaurant.

Bartenders will make one drink with Grey Goose Vodka, and one drink from their choice of any other Bacardi (sponsor) product in their portfolio. Guests vote for the winner, assuming they can after tasting all these delicacies - prizes for the bartenders include a trip to Mexico and a featured drink on the menus of all three restaurants.

Cost of the evening, $75, includes an Abacus Style Texas BBQ buffet - I want to know if they're serving Elk. Contact "Girl Friday" Donna Tanner at 469-867-3681 or to reserve your fun today.

How To Cook A Community Event

On the few occasions that I watched TV's "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump, the thought kept popping up, "If he had the PTA ladies of Hillcrest High School on his show, they'd blow this competition out of New York." IJS, over the last 13 years I've seen these women produce some incredibly unbelievable results. At today's 4th Annual Hillcrest Baseball Hit-A-Rama I was reminded of how excellent these mommies are at pulling off something that our community responds to.

By far the busiest of the annual competitions, today's huge showing of alumni meant we had enough "kids" for 4 teams playing in a championship baseball game. Meeting the challenge against old friends were grads stretching from 1982 to 2002. Chris Mann ('01) was there, as were the Scovell boys ('92, '97, '99) , and a couple of guys whose Hillcrest sports experience led to careers in journalism: John Engleman ('92) and Jason King ('93). Some alumni parents came, there were even families with three generations present since several graduates have made the choice to raise their kids in the same neighborhoods they grew up in.

The player program highlights their accomplishments since graduation, as well as highlighting the detail that these ladies went to in order to make the day special. Besides the player's years at Hillcrest and the Honors they earned while there, it updated their current lives and included favorite memories of their time playing baseball for the great Coach Mike Tovar. A number of them mentioned their favorite memories came at the expense of perennial rival W.T. White in a district championship game. Looking at where these boys have ended up has cemented my belief in the public schools in Dallas, especially when I look at my own senior's class of students.

Besides the games there was a silent auction with autographed baseball memorabilia: a Derek Jeter baseball, a Roger Clemens jersey, and some items signed by Hillcrest grad Matt Sulentic. Woodlands Grill and Royal Thai generously donated gift certificates, and this was the time to buy if looking for unique "Panther" themed items. Photo buttons were being made to order, the cheerleaders were painting faces, little kids had a bounce house, the new concession stand was grilling dogs, brisket and cheeseburgers, so much to choose from!

It was crazy fun. So much so, that while I was manning the silent auction I bid on a Mark Cuban talking doll - I absolutely had to have it - it was crazy and fun and worth all the $XXX it cost me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lunch With T. Boone? Well I Wasn't Really Doing Anything Else.....

So I'm sitting in my jammies at 10:00 am this morning (one of the benefits of having an office at home), working hard, when a call comes in to invite Jim and I to today's luncheon at the Hilton Anatole "T. Boone Pickens, A Conversation With A Living Legend." Well I happen to think that this man will give God good advice when he is elevated from this world, so the answer was of course, "Yeah, you betcha!" Second thought, "I'd better get in the shower"; third thought, "Sorry Boone, not wearing pantyhose, not even for you."

Benefitting the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, today's event raised $1 million dollars for their goal of "Making Cancer History". The underwriting and seat sales brought in just over $905,000, and before Boone began his conversation with interviewer Evan Smith, Mrs. Pickens let them know she'd be kicking in the balance to make it a "cool" million.

Now hubby has seen Boone plenty of times down at the restaurant, but the "Office Wench" misses out on all the fun people who come in. So when he began talking I was too enthralled to eat. I did try everything, fresh vegetables al dente, a fried chicken breast that was very tender and a salad, all well executed for so many people in the ballroom. But the main course, T. Boone, was done to perfection.

He talked about politics, todays economy and what he sees the future holding for us, our children, and our grandchildren. I'm in the process of reading a book (for the second time in two years) that parallels his projections, and we are facing changes to our society. We can either make the changes ourselves or have some other entity make them for us. He recounted discussions he had with Obama, McCain, Giuliani over the past year and their responses. His overall conclusion? Neither candidate has a policy in place to effectively change our national dependence on foreign oil, which he sees as a greater threat than a war on terrorism. We've gone from 55% dependence on foreign oil, now approaching 70%, and at some point our suppliers are going to start calling the shots. Free market economy, right?

His hopes are that whomever is elected will put a policy plan in place within the first 100 days in office that will create a path towards energy independence for the United States. We can drill all we want, but it won't be sufficient to satisfy our high usage, we'd have to produce more additional oil than the Middle East currently produces to make that happen. And a million natural gas cars will not make a dent in the 250 million cars out there running on gasoline (not to mention the trucks that haul our food and products cross-country). He ended with one thing that he wanted us all to take away from today's talk, "I'm for anything American, oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, as long as it is something produced by America."

Thanks for the wonderful lunch Boone, next time I'll get the check.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Tammy Harbin Made My Day Positively Radiant

Great news from Tammy Harbin, owner of Texas Cash Register which supplies many, many Dallas restaurants with the Aloha point-of-sales systems. Aloha's parent company, Radiant Systems and Texas Cash Register will be donating to the Conrad High School Restaurant Management magnet the software, a terminal, a printer and the installation/wire running/etc. for the restaurant operations.

Huge advantages all the way around - since I'm familiar with this system, they'll have an on-hand programming trainer, the kids become familiar with a system that is popular and widely used in restaurants, and Radiant and TCR (besides being excellent corporate citizens) have a group of kids who will be graduating familiar with their system (y'go with what y'know, IJS).

I'm glowing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Wine and Food Dinner at Sevy's Grill

Join us on Monday, October 27th at 6:30 pm for "Tastes of Nantucket", a four course (plus reception) feast featuring the autumn bounty of the east coast. Wines selected to especially compliment each course, $59.95 per person. Seating for this event is limited, reservations required, please contact (214) 265-7389 or to save your place.

Oh, the menu? Here it is:

Cod Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
(Cava Cristalino)
"Stuffies" - Cherrystone Clams Stuffed with Pumpkin and Andouille Sausage
(McGuigan Chardonnay)
Herb Crusted Quail on Wild Rice
(Finca Antigua Tempranillo)
New England Style Kobe Pot Roast
(Chateau LaGarosse Bordeaux)
Cranberry-Raspberry Pie
(Lava Cap Muscat Canelli)

How To Cook A Homecoming Parade

Miracles happen in my kitchen every time I cook, just ask my husband. And it's not about the food - but that the house didn't burn down during my efforts. Just the other morning, I put some bread under the broiler, and happened to (briefly) check my emails in the other room. Well, let's just say the dogs like their toast beyond well done.

This parade thing ended up being a miracle. Myself a newbee to the job, with a co-chair who was new as well, we managed to get it done, make it fun, and it all went off at the right time. There were a few last minute additions, deletions and some extra convertibles had to be sourced - who knew we handled flowers for the homecoming court as well? But the community came through, the City of Dallas Special Events handled all the police and permit stuff (this is a really well run department from my perspective), and kids in the neighborhood came to catch candy and wave. And our Parade Marshal? None other than Hillcrest fave dad, Kevin Sherrington, writer extraordinaire for the Dallas Morning News.

Here's the recipe, as requested by Anjelica Gonzales of the Hillcrest HS (award winning) yearbook:

1. What are the challenges of getting ready for the parade? - Probably the greatest challenge is you don't know until right before the parade how many VIP's, groups and floats will be participating. You sometimes have to beg, borrow and get creative to get everyone a ride in a convertible, but we were very fortunate to have had several cars loaned by our neighborhood community.
2. What was the most stressful part of organizing the parade? This was my first year co-chairing the parade (with Ms. Atwell), and it's no different than any new job or task you take on, the first time is always the hardest because you are learning an entirely new thing. We were very fortunate that we had the Voice of Knowledge (and former parade coordinator, Ms. Bailey) to help us through the beginning steps.
3. What are the steps of putting the Hillcrest Homecoming parade together? You have to get a special permit from the City of Dallas Special Events office at least 45 days before the event, then once the theme of the event has been decided you begin contacting feeder schools for floats and neighborhood VIP's to ride in the cars. The parade would not be a success without the help of the numerous volunteers who help with handouts, invitations, RSVP's, float building, convertible driving, truck hauling, trailer pick up/drop off, and VIP reception room "goodies" cooking.
4. How do the parents and students meet the deadlines for the parade? We try to be flexible, many groups weren't sure what they were going to have in the parade until the last minute, and one VIP let us know he could make it the day before the parade. However many groups, like band, Panaders and the class floats can always be counted on to be participants. For most volunteers the only deadline is showing up to drive or direct traffic the day of the parade.
5. How do you plan a float? As a parent who has hosted the float building in previous years, I let the kids do all of the building and construction themselves. That having been said, they probably could have made a more professional looking float if I'd given them a little advice before cutting wood: "Measure twice, cut once" comes to mind.
6. Where do most of the materials come from for the floats? The only necessary part is a trailer with a truck to pull it. You can use almost anything depending on the theme that is set for that year. A constructed backdrop is nice but not necessary.
7. What is the most important reason to have a parade? Parades seem kind of cheesy until you get to ride in one, or stand next to one, or help put one on. Then you can't stop smiling because it really is fun to watch and wave.
8. How do you decide the order for the floats for the parade? This year I kept the "best for last" and put the floats at the end, with the class floats right before the feeder school's. This gave them the maximum amount of time in the parking lot pre-parade to get the final touches (and minor fixes) done.

A special shout of "THANK YOU" to Sewell Auto Group, who provided us with some tremendous Hummers, convertibles and a hot little car for our honored guest, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions. And another big thank you to the HHS parents of Lightning Motor Sports for sharing their convertibles with us as well.

The only downside? Unfortunately in the excitement of conclusion (with no major incidents), I volunteered to do this again next year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanksgiving - Like 150 Years Ago

I purchased a cook book, Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book and Young Housekeepers' Assistant (New and Enlarged Edition, 1867) at the Limited Unlimited (or was it Unlimited Limited?) Antique Store, formerly on Midway just north of Beltline. The Boy would go for batting practice at DBAT, and I would run down to check out what the excellent book dealer had in stock. It was not an inexpensive book at $85.00, but when scraps of old hand-written recipes and newspaper clippings started falling from between it's aged pages, you might as well have stamped "Sold" on my forehead.

So with Thanksgiving coming up, how was a turkey prepared 141 years ago? Well if you were lucky enough to live in a home that could afford a book on cooking, you likely had a spit and could roast a bird over the fire. For those less fortunate a recipe for boiling said bird is also included.


A turkey should be well singed and cleaned of pin-feathers; then draw the inwards. Be sure you take everything out that is inside. Lay the turkey into cold water; clean the gizzards, liver, heart, and neck; let all soak one hour if you have time. Wash all very clean, wipe the turkey very dry, inside and out. Make a dressing of two cups of bread-crums (sic), one teaspoon of salt, two large spoonfuls of sweet marjoram, two spoonfuls of butter, one egg, and mix them well together. Cut the skin of the turkey in the back part of the neck, that the breast may look plump; fill the breast with the forecemeat, and sew it up. If you have any more forcemeat than is required for the breast, put the remainder into the body, and skewer the vent; tie the legs down very tight, skewer the wings down to the sides, and turn the neck on to the back with a strong skewer. Baste with salt and water once, then frequently with butter; fifteen minutes before dishing, dredge with a little salt and flour, and baste with butter for the last time. This will give a fine frothy appearance, and add to the flavor of the turkey.

To make the gravy, put the gizzard, neck, and liver, into a saucepan with a quart of water, a little pepper, salt and mace; put it on the fire, and let it boil to about half pint. When done, braid up the liver very fine with a knife, and put it back into the water it has boiled in; then add the drippings of the turkey and a little flour, and give it one boil, stirring it all the time. Dish the gizzard with the turkey. Allow twelves minutes to a pound for the time to roast turkey.

A turkey weighing ten pounds requires two hours to roast with a clear fire, not too hot. Turn the spit very often.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cabernet? Get The Fuqua!

Thinly sliced apple, a baguette, some Belletoile (triple cream) brie, and a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon makes for the perfect at-home happy hour. It just so happened that while visiting Fuqua Winery last weekend I picked up a bottle of their 2002 vintage, and while doing my Iron Mom post I picked up some brie, apples and a baguette. So Sunday night, pre-Cowboys we were good to go for a Wine Tasting.

I'm the first to admit that I'm no wine expert, but I like a lot of wines. And if a place doesn't sell a decent wine, you may as well stick with beer, at least that's my motto. Still, after all these years in the business the jargon of wine remains as foreign to me as the Spanish my kids speak fluently. So, as they say, pardon my French as I explain.

Of a clear beautiful deep garnet color, the wine contained no sediments. It smelled sweet, unidentifiably, like when you smell alyssum or abelia in bloom and wonder what it would taste like. The flavor, well it was, well, sweet, but it was not a sweet wine - see this is where I get into trouble. In fact it was rich and peppery, but mainly it lit up the "sweet zones" of my tongue without tasting like a sweet wine. Neither Jim nor I could place a description to it's flavor, not cherry, not grapey, just full and delicious. And at $28.95 a bottle a far better value than more expensive California Cabernets.

I found out while I was there that they will do private wine tastings for groups (up to 16 people, includes light appetizers, approximately $20 - $35 per person depending on what you want) . I think I'm going to have to get a Mommy Monday Wine Tasting over there before the holidays.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Home Kitchen - THE Sandwich

There's THE Hotel, THE Burger, but in our house, there is only one THE Sandwich. I've been making it for school lunches since the kids were in elementary school. Sister used to have a schedule of which friends got to share it on which days, now they're old enough to make it themselves.

Simple yet delicious, to me it is the essence of comfort food. So while this isn't a cooking blog, we're about to get a cold front through and this would be a quick, warm meal - add a cup of soup and make it perfect.

THE Sandwich
2 slices Tom Thumb Country French Deli-Style sliced bread
2 slices thinly sliced smoked ham
2 slices thinly sliced roasted turkey breast
3 slices Oscar Mayer hard salami
2 slices mozzarella

Turn oven broiler on high, and place bread directly on oven rack. Once a nice light brown, remove and on the uncooked side layer ham, then turkey, then salami on top. On the other slice (uncooked side), layer the mozzarella slices to cover. Place both back under the broiler until the salami edges are curled and crunchy and the cheese is speckled with caramelization. Remove, put halves together and allow to cool on a little on a rack (or else the bread gets soggy) - but not too long - this is best warm.

Don't Let This Happen To You

'Nuff said. (Thanks Lisa)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How To Cook For Inspiration

I don't plan these posts, they just happen. But I was reading posts on a site today that made me wonder what has happened to humanity in our society. It's more than the recent economy, it's more than what is going on with the city (and it's schools). Lately I've heard many call out for "anonymous others" to volunteer their time and step in and save things, like it would be the easiest thing in the world to do, but these same "callers" are unwilling to see themselves in any role to help make a better world.

Do your worst, call me an optimist, but I believe that things can be different. Every day I read my favorite calendar quotes that I've torn off and stuck to my bulletin board next to my computer. I really think I need to share them.

* "One person can make a difference, and every man should try." John F. Kennedy
* "Some people look at the way it is and say why, others look at the way it could be and say why not." George Bernard Shaw
* "Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it". Dwight D. Eisenhower
* "Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne
* "Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." Anthony J. D'Angelo
* "A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn." Unattributed
* "Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
* "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
* "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." Dolly Parton

IJS, Amy S.

Update: Many of the comments on the linked web log above were removed by the publisher. Good.

Busy Week? Me Too.

This being parade week, it's an endless list of things to accomplish. So today's blog links some of the "series" posts I've made on this website in case you've missed any. (Note to self - stress is good, stress is good, stress is good).

The "How To Cook" series has really nothing to do with actually cooking:

How To Cook An Eagle
How To Cook For Kids
How To Cook For Your Wife
How To Cook For Dogs
How To Cook A Smile
How To Cook For Old Friends
How To Cook For The Boys

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Iron Mom Shop Off - Sprouts vs. Whole Foods

So yesterday at the Boy's double header a fellow baseball mom (Hey Susan!) was extolling the produce and meats of Sprouts Farmer's Market, which opened a while ago on Forest Lane. Not having visited it yet, and today being a marketing day, it made sense to go - and of course blog about it.

I was surprised how compact it was, it reminded me more of a Trader Joe's - a lot of a little. Like Whole Foods, many but not all produce items are organic, and also like WF they do not carry Diet Dr. Pepper, which means hitting another store to stock up on my addiction fulfillment. The natural supplement area takes up about 20% of the floor space, with very few canned grocery items. They do have a small prepared foods case with innovative selections, and the meats did look fresh (especially the ground chicken breast) as did the fruits and veggies.

Price-wise, Sprouts was the winner: both boneless-skinless chicken breasts and their ground chicken breast was $4.49/lb (WF $6.49 for breasts, $6.99 for ground), lemons were 3/$1 (WF 2/$1), conventional broccoli crowns $1.49/lb (WF $2.49), 1 lb. organic peeled carrots $1.50 (vs. $1.99 at WF). They also had some lovely yellow cherry tomatoes (from Mexico), that Whole Foods didn't have, 10.5 oz. for $2.50. Both stores had a special on Driscoll strawberries, $2.50 per pound.

But Sprouts bakery items were sadly lacking, sub-quality compared to Whole Food's daily freshly baked offerings, and their cheeses do not have nearly the depth that WF offers. They have a packaged "house brand" flatbread, which looked very much like matzoh, and the seeds had all fallen off the multigrain flavor. Whole Foods also gave me a bag refund of $.10 vs. Sprouts $.05 per bag. And Whole Foods conveniently had some hot pizza-by-the-slice to take home to a starving teenager. Sprouts does have a bulk item section, but was missing Whole Food's item #8778 (Berry Nutty Trail Mix), a Severson household favorite.

I live closer to Whole Foods, and if I wasn't worried about helmet hair and becoming Feherty-style-road-kill I could ride my bike, the basket detaches just for shopping - when it's full you're done. Oh, and I have funny kids who hum the theme song to the Wicked Witch of Oz whenever I head out.

How To Cook For The Boys

Growing up in a house with three girls (not including my mom), there wasn't a huge amount of Sunday football, maybe it had to do with living in Michigan and the Lions.
But moments ago, downstairs, the Boy and his dad were going freaking nuts. Screaming, yelling, and when I went downstairs, hubby was actually jumping up and down. I'm not sure which boys are cooking for which boys, but it is HOT in the kitchen right now.

Later, they can hear me scream, new episodes of True Blood and Entourage.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Bad Economy? Friday Night At Mi Cocina

Same as it ever was.

That having been said, I'm very glad I read this book two years ago for my Investment Club.

October In Dallas - What A Great Night

6 pm Friday evening, a beautiful dry 80 degrees, but it's Texas-OU weekend which means Hubby is pulling a double shift. A girl's got to be a little independent when married to a guy who works nights (or have a deep addiction to HBO), besides Sheryl Crow was enticing me to take my top off and enjoy a drive. Needing something to wash the taste of Disillusionment with Humanity from my mouth, I had a destination in mind, Dallas' Fuqua Winery in the Love Field area.

I've had a visit to this place on my to-do list since Lobster Boy and I enjoyed their Texas Red Reserve with friends at the Mercury one evening. Lately the "drink local" inspirational stories about Texas Wine Month (October) by the ladies at DallasEats have been a nagging reminder to go and visit. So since today was High School Fair Day at the State Fair, and hubby was busy, I decided to make a quick trip to check the place out.

So I went, I visited, I purchased, and then I decided to wait to taste. Stopping on the way home for some Tex-Mex take-out and a frozen margarita, I don't think I can do this wine the flavor judgement perspective it deserves, so I'm saving my purchases to share with my hard-working better half. Besides, I want to get some killer cheeses at the new cheese store at Preston-Royal to compliment the tasting.

Chew On This Talmadge Heflin

This made me so mad, I haven't been able to think of anything else to post all day.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cattle Baron's - I Can't Believe I Missed It

Well I confess, I was having a bit of fun at my high school reunion. Still this is a traditional get-together for "The Boys" in the annual Chef's package, and as a tag-along, I've always enjoyed their spirited banter and stories. Oh, and apparently I also missed out on stage-side seats to Sugarland. But thanks to my husband, the end-of-evening "Treat Bag" was waiting on the kitchen counter for my dissection.

Inside the black nylon bag (Inwood Bank), were the traditional T-shirts (his 'n hers, Sinacola & Sons Excavating), blanket (WinStar Casino), umbrella (Tenet), boot jack (Cavender's), hat (Carter Eye Center), travel mug (Cooper Life), silver drink coozy (Brinkmann Ranch), watch (Bickel & Brewer), grill lighter (Doris Jacobs), wine opener (Park Cities Bank), multi-tool thingee (Texans Credit Union), and a Shiseido facial massage certificate (Nordstrom-that would be all mine, sorry Sister).

Well "The Boys" package this year (Chefs Kevin Garvin, David Holben, Richard Chamberlain, "Sevy" Severson, and Kent "Flay Slayer" Rathbun), an Iron Chef Cook-Off/Barbeque for 30 friends (at the purchaser's home or ranch) sold for $52,500. A generous amount in the fight against cancer.

Christmas In October - and May, and February

My favorite job at the restaurant is sending out donations each month for charities that are holding fund raisers. Yesterday I mailed out (probably) the last batch for events in 2008, lately we've only been getting requests for 2009 shindigs.

Having spent time soliciting as well as solicited (without sounding illicit?), I would like to share a few tips for success for new solicitors who are following the time honored tradition of asking for donations.

1) Personalize the request, take the time to research the owner or manager's names. Requests addressed to former managers, or worse just "Manager" often end up in the trash.

2) Support the business you're asking. Nothing imprints a "Yes" on a manager's mind firmer than someone who has just made a purchase at their establishment.

3) Time your request, at least 3 month ahead of event - but not more than 6 months ahead. The holiday season is not a good time to follow up on your request, businesses are focused on their busy season.

4) Specify what you would like, but don't expect it. Be ready to pair up underwriting funds to help offset a portion of the expense of the package you are requesting.

Above all, don't be afraid to ask. In my many years of asking, I've only been chased out of one neighborhood establishment - and that restaurant is no longer in business. Many businesses have allowances for "trade out" public relations, it is a very cost effective tool for getting their name out in their community.

At Sevy's we feel fortunate to be able to help our community, here's the list of our 2008 donors: American Cancer Society, American Heart Assoc., Dallas Zoo, CAP Center, March of Dimes, Crystal Charity Ball, North Texas Food Bank, Dallas SW Osteopathic, Parish Episcopal School, St. Mark School of Dallas, United Negro College Fund, St. Rita Catholic School, Callier School, Greenhill School, Children's Cancer Fund, Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Lamplighter Academy, Temple Emanu-El PreSchool, Ursuline Academy, Cambridge School of Dallas, Prince of Peace - Plano, DeGolyer Dads Club, Arthritis Foundation, Jesuit College Prep School, Junior Charity League, Del Frisco/Cystic Fibrosis Golf Classic, Ronald McDonald House/Young Friends, Moss Haven Elementary, Temple Shalom Sisterhood, Retina Foundation of the SW, Preston Royal Preschool, Spring Creek Elementary, North Dallas Early Childhood PTA, UP United Methodist Church, DIFFA Dallas, The Weekday School, Bradfield Elementary, Dallas Country Dental Society, Dallas Symphony Derby, Hillcrest High School, Franklin Middle School, Buckner International/Frost Shoot Out, DFW Breast Cancer 3-day, Galaxy Counseling Center, Hillcrest Athletic Association, Highland Belles, Scottish Rite Hospital/Tartan Golf Classic, St. Jude/Derek Harper Celeb Golf Classic, Prevent Blindness Texas, KidneyTexas, AIWF/Caesar Salad Competition, Sewell Classic/Buckner Children & Family Services, Genesis Women's Shelter, Ronald McDonald House/Southwest LUV Classic, Stephens College Alumni, Library at Cedar Creek Lake, Shearith Israel Sisterhood, DOT Annual Fund Raiser, Love 4 Children, Northwood Women's Club, Race for the Cure, Friends of the Dallas Police, Special Olympics, Hispanic College Fund, Highland Park Cheerleaders/Scotsmen, Heroes for Children/Hold 'Em, Joey's Dream Builders, Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, Creative Arts Center, Women's Museum, Texas Youth Camp, and whew - Team Yogi/Cancer Sucks.

The Things Puppies Eat

I'm stumped - exactly what about this looked delicious? And which one of you (Deuce, Tres), had a case of midnight munchies?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Updates - Cheerleader Chocolates and Conrad Cook Book Drive

Remember our cheerleader's fundraising plan? They've sold about $350 in chocolate suckers at about $2 each (students get a discount). They'll be making more inventory this weekend, Hillcrest Homecoming is next week!

The cook book drive for Conrad High School is about wrapped up, total donations came in around 300 books! A big huge thank you to the Dallas community who helped, some book clubs kept giving, and giving, and giving. These resources are being put to use at Conrad High School's Restaurant Management magnet as I speak (write?).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October Wine and Food Dinner At Sevy's

Monday October 27th, featuring "Tastes From Nantucket", a champagne reception at 6:30 followed by four courses paired with specially selected wines to compliment each course. $59.95 per person (plus tax, tip).

The menu for this event is finalized around mid-month, if you would like it emailed to you, please let me know at . Reservations are required for this dinner and may be made at .

Help Name A Restaurant Contest

Current restaurant buzz has the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant concept in Reunion Tower soliciting name recommendations (for those readers not from Dallas - that's our round globe on the city skyline). Alibaster K. Abthernabther has a few suggestions, here.

My recommendation? D'Orb.

You have one too? Post it here, or to actually enter the contest, email The winner gets a free dinner for four each month of 2009.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On The Road - Golumpki Soup

Arriving home, Sister asked "Where'd y'eat?". "Flap Jack Shack, 3 times", my reply, as it is my Dad's regular haunt. "Did you have the soup?", and I immediately knew she meant Golumpki soup, which her Grandpa had turned her onto last year. While yesterday was a warm 88 degrees, today the skies are crying (to my vegetable garden's delight) and it seems like an appropriate day for soup, so I'm going out to get the ingredients to make it for her tonight.

Well, there is not much on the internet about Golumpki soup, but in my Polish Cookery Book (by Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa), there is a Stuffed Cabbage Roll recipe called "Golqbki de Slodkiej", Bingo! Also called Golabki, it is a Polish dish of cabbage stuffed with ground beef, chopped onions, rice and tomatoes. So I'm marrying various recipes together to create something new, going to vet it by my personal chef first, of course.

1 qt. beef stock
1 qt. water
1 TBL. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
3 strips bacon, chopped
2 TBL. butter
2 c. chopped fresh cabbage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 c. cooked rice
Salt and pepper

In frying pan, cook bacon until crisp, reserving 1 TBL. bacon fat. Clean pan and brown beef in reserved bacon fat, drain and set aside. In large pot, melt butter and saute cabbage, onion and garlic. When softened, add stock, water, beef, bacon, tomatoes, and rice. Let simmer 45 minutes and season to taste.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How To Cook For Old Friends

30th class reunion. Go (can I lose 30 lbs. in 2 months?) - Don't Go - Go (whatever to wear?) - Don't Go - GO! I skipped the diet, booked my flight, packed my little black dress and walked into a room full of people who have been strangers for the last several decades.

You could say that the Trojan Class of '78 was "well aged", a term indicating an improvement of flavor and texture over time. Some had worked hard, to unbelievable levels of success, but there were no pretentions of grandeur - too many of us had humiliating stories that could snap a person back to earth. But the evening wasn't about those tales, it was a reconnection to an earlier time, sad and painful events remained in our blurred histories. Memories of childhood friends, teenage friends and old beaus gave the evening an unanticipated bittersweet flavor, but the main ingredients of laughter and sharing provided a rich nostalgic mix.

Some in attendance had not crossed my mind over the past years, but face-to-face, stories of times we'd shared suddenly re-appeared. We all looked the same and different simultaneously, tho' a few looked like they'd graduated yesterday. I must have changed a great deal, only one of the (few) boys I'd kissed recognized me - guess my lips just aren't what they used to be.

Many friends were missing, a few had passed away and about half of the class was not able to attend. A shout out to those who weren't there (Eileen, Craig, Kim, Wendy, Krista, Chrissy, MaryAnn), please, please come to the next one, this dish is all about pleasure.

The evening ended earlier than I had anticipated, my heart was full, it was time to push away from the table before emotions took over the good-byes. But the meal is still with me, in my mind I'm re-tasting every bite. I'll be back for more in a few years, and while the recipe will be different, it will still be delicious.