Sunday, March 10, 2013


 Combine two loves--coffee cake and pound cake--for a memorable dessert that'd delicious any time of day. Bake the cake for your next brunch gathering and secure your spot in history as the World's Best Hostess.

Coffee Cake Pound Cake


  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. 1. Prepare Pecan Streusel: Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in 3/4 cup pecans.
  2. 2. Prepare Pound Cake Batter: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 1 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
  3. 3. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  4. 4. Stir together flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  5. 5. Pour half of batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (12-cup) tube pan. Stir together toasted pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon; sprinkle over batter. Spoon remaining batter over pecan mixture; sprinkle with Pecan Streusel.
  6. 6. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).


Pet as art

The Canine Collection

   Transport your pet to another time with a "hilariously tongue-in-cheek" oil painting. For $950 and up, Dutch Touch Art uses a digital photo of your cat or dog to incorporate his or her regal visage into a hand-painted Old World–style portrait, using a stock background image or your suggestion. Should you wish, the image of your pet can include "personal effects, such as favorite toys."

Kusa flip-flops

Feel The Turf Between Your Toes

   You can get the feeling of walking barefoot in a grassy field wherever you go with Kusa flip-flops ($32), Australian-made knockabouts lined with high-quality synthetic turf that has "the look and feel" of the real thing. Their designer says that sporting the shoes is a way to rebel against "imposed conformity." But feel free to wear them just to start conversations when you're out strolling on a city street, along a beach, "or — if you're into irony — on an actual lawn."

Chase platinum credit card

Swipe dreams

   If American Express' Centurion "Black Card" is meant for the 1 percent, then JP Morgan Chase's Palladium Card caters to the .0001 percent. Only a couple thousand copies of the ultra-elite credit cards exist, and it costs a reported $1,000 just to make one of the etched palladium and 23-karat gold cards. Not just anyone can apply. For starters, Palladium cardholders must invest at least $25 million with JP Morgan. "We have probably half the world's billionaires as clients," an unnamed insider tells Bloomberg.

Bling beats

Bling Beats

   Why make do with a regular pair of $200 "Beats by Dr. Dre" headphones, when you can buy a custom-made, diamond-studded version ($1 million)? You might not find the precious headwear — produced in collaboration with Graff Diamonds — at your local RadioShack. But the headphones have been spotted on the rapper Lil' Wayne at the NBA All-Star Game. Maybe you could ask him?

For those who have everything: Customized infant rattles

For The Child of Model Parents

   Don't let the new parents feel forgotten when you buy a gift for a baby. Every Cameo by RUX infant rattle ($180) immortalizes the facial profiles of Mom and Dad in its two barbell-like ends. Using profile photos of both parents to guide a lathe, the company's Queens, N.Y., workshop carves each one-of-a-kind toy from fine maple. Designer Russell Greenberg, a new father himself, says "this is intended to be a family heirloom that's very special."

For those who have everything: Aston Martin's new office furniture collection

The Driver's Seat

   Almost every item in Aston Martin's new office furniture collection "looks like it's doing 150 mph just sitting there." You'll find a touch of fine automotive craftsmanship in every detail, from the aniline leather of the chairs to the desk made from a single folded sheet of aluminum. ($26,300 for desk and chair.) "Sure, the desk's slanted sides are going to encourage things to roll off the edge." But if you can afford the desk, "you can probably also afford to have multiple assistants on hand" for tidying.

Blue shotgun shells

 The Bullet Burial

   Years before the Alabama firm Holy Smoke LLC began offering to pack its customers' cremated remains into shotgun shells ($850), one of its two co-founders revealed that enjoying such a sendoff was his dream. "I will rest in peace," he told his friend, "knowing that the last thing that one turkey will see is me — screaming at him at about 900 feet a second." Each customer's ashes, once divided, fill 100 rifle cartridges or 250 shot shells. "Should you decide that you don't want to pump slugs full of Grandpa into the local fauna all at once," you can have the ammo delivered in a "mantle-worthy" wooden box.


Love Bug

   New York's Bronx Zoo is hoping "to start a new lover's tradition: Giving the gift of a cockroach." With a $10 donation to the zoo, you can have one of the sanctuary's 58,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches named after your beloved, and for $15 more, the zoo will also send out a Cocoa-Roach with a card. Each of these artisanal sweets is made of 100 percent dark chocolate — no roach guts. So this Valentine's Day, remember that "diamonds may be forever, but a cockroach can survive a nuclear disaster."

Scratch and sniff jeans

Scratch and Sniff and Wear

   The self-proclaimed "crazy Canadian denim nerds" at Naked & Famous Denim have a solution in need of a problem with their new line of "Scratch-n-Sniff" jeans ($150). The men's jeans are covered in micro-capsules of perfume that activate when scratched — releasing "the very manly scent of raspberry," says Rina Raphael at NBC's Today. The smell lasts at least five turns through the laundry, says co-founder Brandon Svarc. But "many of our male customers don't wash their jeans very often anyways. In fact, some 'denimheads' don’t ever wash their jeans at all."


The Frequent Flier's Furniture

   The pleasures of flying commercial can now be yours at home. Skypak airline trolleys are the same slim, sturdy rolling carts that flight attendants swear by, only now they've been restyled for use in your "living room, bedroom, kitchen, or man cave." Starting at $1,771, the trolleys offer a variety of interior fittings, from clothes drawers to wine racks. The exterior can even be studded with Swarovski Elements crystals or plated with 24-karat gold. Merely having such a jet-set totem around, the manufacturer promises, will "give you itchy feet."


   The Carnival of Binche is an event that takes place each year in the Belgian town of Binche, during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday.  The carnival is best known of all the others that take place in Belgium,  at the same time and has been proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  Its history dates back to approximately the 14th century.

   Events related to the carnival begin up to 7 weeks prior to the primary celebrations.  Street performances and public displays traditionally occur on the Sundays approaching Ash Wednesday, consisting of prescribed musical acts, dancing  and marching.  Large numbers of Binche's inhabitants spend the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday in costume.

   The centerpiece of the carnival,  are clown like performers,  known as Gilles.  Appearing, for the most part, on  "Shrove" Tuesday, the Giles are characterised by their vibrant dress, wax masks and wooden footwear.  They number up to 1,000 at any given time, ranging in age from 3 to 60 years old, and are customarily male.  The honor of being a Gille at the carnival is something that is aspired to by local men.  From dawn on the morning of the carnival's final day, Gilles appear in the center of Binche, to dance to the sound of drums and ward off evils spirits by slapping sticks together.  Later, during the day, they don large hats adorned with Ostrich plums, which can cost upward of $300 dollars to rent, and march through town carrying baskets of oranges.  These oranges are thrown to, and sometimes at, members of the crowd that gather to view the procession.  The vigor and longevity of the orange throwing event has in the past, caused damage to property...some residents choose to seal windows to prevent this.

   On Shrove Tuesday townspeople don their fancy costumes that were imagined and made months before and created by each participant.  In the morning at approximately 8 a.m. the drums go from  house to house to gather up the participants.  At about 10 a.m., the small groups collected by the drums meet in the heart of Binche.  It is the moment the townspeople prefer, when they discover the marvelous, original costumes.  At about 3:30 p.m., people gather at the station area.  The societies go back to the center of Binche, dancing to the music of the drums and the brass bands, forming a living multicolored ribbon.

  On Shrove Monday, the feast is a  traditional,  more private gathering of locals.  To the tune of the viols and the hurdy-gurdies, they all go from pub to pub, and from pub to friends and neighbors houses, as they get ready to invite the voil, who are dancing in the streets.
   At about 3 p.m. the children gather, just like the adults had done the day before.  The younger ones dance to the music of the drums and brass bands.  They then convene in the Town Square, they all dance to the "rondeau de l'amite."  Then after hours of dancing and singing until about 8 p.m., they leave to enjoy fireworks at the stationing area.