The Food Column: Former Pitt football players team up for a cause

Three former University of Pittsburgh football teammates are teaming up again.

Their "Dessert Tasting for a Cause" will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. April 14 at Larrimor's, Downtown. Proceeds will benefit charitable foundations operated by three Pitt players who went on to the NFL:

Torrie Cox, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Kris Wilson, who is now a Baltimore Raven; and Lousaka Polite, who played last season for the New England Patriots.

This will be the fourth year Mr. Cox and Mr. Wilson have teamed up for a Pittsburgh-area fundraiser. Mr. Polite is joining them this time.

Mr. Polite roomed with Mr. Cox during his freshman year and with Mr. Wilson during his junior and senior years, and he has attended his teammates' previous fundraisers. This is the second year he has operated his Polite Way Foundation, a charitable organization benefiting single mothers.

"Children need help, but there are a lot of organizations out there that are working with children," he said. "I wanted to help the people who are running these households."

Until now, he's funded his foundation himself. His main beneficiary thus far has been a child care center in Florida, where he lives. He has also helped families in crisis by paying bills and buying Christmas gifts. He dreams of building houses for needy families.

In Pittsburgh, he has funded youth programs for his childhood church, Just Right Ministries in Wilmerding, and has served as a mentor there when he's in town. He attended Woodland Hills High School, went on to Pitt from 2000 to 2003 and returns often to visit family.

Businesses providing food for the event include Dave and Andy's Homemade Ice Cream, The DoubleTree, ManneyCakes, Donato's, Capital Grille and Godiva. Wines will be paired with the desserts. The event also will include a silent auction and live jazz. Jay Harris of ESPN will emcee.

Tickets are $60 for general admission or $100 for VIP access. To register:


Tomorrow: Alice Julier, director of Chatham University's Master of Arts in Food Studies program, discusses sustainably sourced and fair-trade chocolate, 4 p.m. at Chatham's Eden Hall Campus, Richland. Chocolate samples and treats included. Free, but register at

Monday: They're going to be having a lot of fun with their food at Chatham University's Shadyside campus.

At 5 p.m. at Sanger Hall, visiting scholar Donald Bruckner will give a talk titled, "Why Strict Vegetarianism Might Be Ethically Wrong, or Roadkill: It's What's for Dinner." Information here.

Then, food writer Molly O'Neill speaks on "One Big Table: How Food Stories Bear Witness to Daily Life and Create a Bridge Between Culture and Agriculture," 7:30 p.m. at Eddy Theatre. Ms. O'Neill will discuss food stories she collected during 10 years of cross-country travel researching her book, "One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking." A book signing will follow, during which guests will eat entries in Chatham's competition for the International Edible Book Festival ( Register:

Monday: Leslie J. Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, speaks on "Nutrition: The New, the True, What Works for You" at Cafe Scientifique, 7 p.m. at Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. The talk will examine food myths, wellness habits, supplements and more.

Lecture is free; dinner is available for $8. Register ahead at (click "Programs," then "Cafe Scientifique"). 412-237-1821.

More food and fun

Sunday: Cookies with Coppelia, a children's activity based on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's upcoming production of "Coppelia," noon to 3 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Studios, 2900 Liberty Ave., Strip District. Visit Dr. Coppelius' workshop to craft toy-themed creations, learn steps from the ballet, enjoy cookies and take photos with the professional dancers. Free. Information:

Monday: 10th Anniversary Celebration, 4 to 10 p.m. at 17th Street Cafe, South Side. The restaurant will cook up the most popular dishes served during the past decade, and owners Pat and Brigitte Joyce, who bought the cafe in April 2002, will offer cake and giveaways.

Charitable projects

Easter bread sale: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral Ladies Philoptochos will sell fresh-made Easter bread April 6 and 7 in front of Stamoolis Brothers, Strip District. $7 per loaf benefits the organization's charitable activities.

Contribute to a cookbook: Ernie Ricci, owner of Ricci's Italian Sausage in McKees Rocks, is writing a cookbook of sausage recipes dedicated to the memory of KDKA Radio's John Cigna. The book will feature sausage-based recipes from Ricci family members, friends and customers, as well as local residents, chefs and celebrities.

To contribute a recipe to the book, e-mail it to or mail it to Ricci's Italian Sausage, 5888 Steubenville Pike, McKees Rocks, PA 15136.

Proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will be donated to the late Mr. Cigna's favorite charity, The Little Sisters of the Poor.

Speaking of sausage recipes, here's a good one.

Whole-Grain Raisin Bread and Sausage Bake

PG tested

Good luck finding whole-grain raisin bread. I subbed regular raisin bread but wish I'd used whole-grain bread plus some raisins. I used a nonstick skillet so I didn't need the canola oil.

-- Rebecca Sodergren

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound low-fat chicken sausage, casings removed, crumbled
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups 2-percent milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 1-pound loaf whole-grain raisin bread, cut into strips
  • Maple syrup

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper.

Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the bread in the prepared dish. Sprinkle half of the sausage over bread. Layer remaining bread over sausage. Sprinkle with remaining sausage.

Pour eggs over bread and shake dish to distribute egg throughout. Press bread down and set aside to soak for 30 minutes or cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set baking dish on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour or until set. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Serves 8.

-- "Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy" by Michele Borboa (Fair Winds, 2011)

Rebecca Sodergren: .


Hot Topic