Thursday, February 24, 2011


Winter time is no less entertaining than summer when it comes to theater and concerts in the Akron area. Sometimes they cost a bit more since the venues are inside rather than in the great outdoors, but trust me, there are no end to the options to keep me running hither and yon over the snow covered roads.

Sixth floor theater at Greystone - new
home to the Actor's Summit Theater
Last week I took in my first play at the new home of the Actor’s Summit Theater on the sixth floor of Greystone in downtown Akron. Friends and I went for a ride in “Becky’s New Car”. This new play, commissioned just two years ago, takes place in Seattle where Becky lives and works for a local auto dealer. Although happily married, Becky accidentally becomes entangled with a recently widowed, well-to-do gentleman who gets the mistaken impression that Becky is also widowed. The confusion goes from there and Becky takes us on a sometimes amusing, but still thought-provoking journey as she finds her way through this dilemma, at times with a little help from the audience. Telling you more would be giving away the plotline and frankly I think you should see this yourself.

As always, Actor’s Summit puts on a nice show and the new location adds a touch of ambiance to the performance compared to their last location.  

After our matinee performance on Sunday, dinner was served in the third floor Garden Room. I’m used to eating lunch here on Tuesdays, so having an opportunity to try out their prix fixe menu for dinner was too good to pass up. For $25 (all inclusive, except alcohol) we had our choice of four entrĂ©es. Between the six of us we tried them all and declared all main courses delicious. Although the vegetable sides seemed under seasoned and most likely directly from a can, the rest of the meals were quite good.

GREASE is the Word!

Wednesday evening completed my third in a ticket series for the season at Kent State Theater with a performance of Grease. The Kent State Theater department does a terrific job and this was no exception.  The students were energetic and most carried off the singing and dancing terrifically.  My toes tapped along to songs like "Greased Lightning", "Summer Love" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and I could hardly keep my hands still during the rendition of "We GoTogether" when they started with Ramala Ding Dong, Boogity Boogity, Boogity.  What fun!

Hand jive baby!
Although the live band was a bit loud and at times we had difficulties hearing the lead singers over the music, in general it was a very delightful performance.  Only having ever seen Grease in its big screen version, the stage production was an adjustment.  With limited scenery and no fancy gimmicks like car races in the waterways, the stage crew still did very well and after a while I stopped drawing comparisons to the movie version. 

I'm already looking forward to seeing some of these kids in the summer productions out at Porthouse. 

What is there to do when you’re stuck in the house during a snow storm? Well, aside from go out and run the snow blower I choose to get into the kitchen and turn out something yummy to eat.

King Arthur Flour did it again by providing me with a recipe in their catalog that made my mouth water. What could possibly be better than a combination of bread and chocolate! Oddly enough, when I visited their website, the Pain au Chocolat recipe posted there is not the same as in the catalog. However, both featured their mini-chocolate logs (which I did not have), so I substituted some Ghirardelli chocolate squares instead. With a combination of raspberry or caramel filled, or just plain dark chocolate, these turned out to be a great choice inside these little bundles of dough.

Best eaten while still warm, the one or two that lasted until afternoon were still terrific.  I had compliments from everyone in the office that tried one.  Thank you KAF, you've made me look like a baking genius yet again!  Here is the recipe as I made it (not quite as published, but very, very close.

Pain au Chocolat - a favorite breakfast or
after school snack in France and a
BIG hit here in Akron at my office.
1 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1/3 cup dried potato flakes
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast

12 squares of individually wrapped Ghirardelli chocolates, unwrapped*

2 tablespoons milk

Combine all of the dough ingredients.  Allow to rest for 20 minutes, then mix and knead to make a soft, sticky dough.  Allow dough to rise, covered, for about 90 minutes, until puffy.

Gently deflate the dough.  Divide in half.  On a lightly oiled surface, roll each half into an 8x9 inch rectangle.  Cut each rectangle into 6 even pieces.  Place 1 chocolate square on each dough piece. Wrap the square in the dough and place seam side down onto a greased or silpat lined baking sheet.  Let rise again for 90 minutes until puffed up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush each roll with milk.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack to cool and dust with powdered sugar.

* I used a combination of flavored and plain chocolate candy.  Some had caramel centers or raspberry filling.  All were fantastic!  Change it up as you wish or order the real chocolate pieces from KAF here along with a different recipe for the same sort of bread.

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