Wrist Watching

Bold and splashy with a tick of their own, this season’s watches can’t keep a straight face. (Clockwise, from bottom left) ● The black and gray lines of stainless steel add flair to this Swiss-made design. $80 at Vertu, 7803 Inwood. ● Bulova goes Hawaiian with this fluorescent jumble of colors. $39.95. Available at Sanger Harris. ● Here’s a watchdog to stand guard over the time on your hand. $34 at Southwest Mountain, 5719 W Lovers Lane. ● Called the “Klod Watch” (far right), this Dallas design makes it hard not to notice the passing of time-it’s twice the size of most others. $35 at Heart’s Desire, 5216 W Lovers Lane. ● The subtle pastels and slate-gray band go easy on the eye while adding just enough pizazz. $31 at Nightingale’s, 4354 Lovers Lane. ● From the makers of “Swatch” comes the “Rock-Watch,” made of granite chiseled from the Swiss Alps. $199. To order, call 1-800-FOR-WATCH. ● Time really does fly-the second hand, a tiny silver airplane, jets its way across a map of the USA. $21. Available at Cotton Island, 6601 Hillcrest. ● “Exactly Quartz” is set so that the revolving moon on its face coincides with the actual phases of the moon. $70 at Sanger Harris. ● It’s easy to block out time with a face full of black, white, and blue squares. $50 at Ruccus, 3024 Mockingbird. ● And Italy comes in strong this season with its patriotic mix of red, green, and white. $110. Available at Arresta, 3900 Cedar Springs.

Nuts for Peanut Butter

The pate of childhood grows up Most people are subject to some sort of food-related monomania. Mine is peanut butter. So, when my copy of Tastings: The Best from Ketchup to Caviar by Jenifer Harvey Lang (Crown Publishers; paperback, $14.95, to be published in January) arrived, I flipped past the ratings of caviar and canned tuna to get to the low-down on PB.

For the true peanut-butter believer, there is enough information and evaluation of the leguminous puree in Tastings to justify purchase.

I learned, for instance, that the biggest users of peanut butter are children between the ages of six and eight (followed closely by restaurant critics between the ages of twenty-seven and twenty-nine).

I learned that 73 percent of the peanut butter used in the U.S. is made into sandwiches.

I learned that 60 percent of the peanut butter sold in this country is smooth and 40 percent is crunchy, though the balance is approaching fifty-fifty.

I learned that it takes 540 peanuts, give or take a few, to make a twelve-ounce jar of peanut butter.

I learned that there are four varieties of peanuts grown in the U.S.-from largest to smallest: Virginia, Runner, Spanish, and Valencia.

The results of Lang’s panel’s peanut-butter comparison: Deaf Smith Arrowhead Mills Creamy (“intense flavor, dense”), made in Deaf Smith County, Texas, was the preferred smooth peanut butter, followed by Neiman-Marcus’s house brand (“excellent, not too sweet”). In the crunchy category, Smucker’s Natural Chunky (“giant chunks”) won, and Jif Extra Crunchy (“soft with big soft chunks”) came in second.

Most important of all, I learned from Tastings what causes peanut-butter panic, the dread condition that results when the stuff sticks to the roof of the mouth: “Fred Kuras-iewicz, the manager of technical services for Best Foods, which makes Skippy, explains that peanut butter has a ’sticky mouth feel’ because of the ’hydration of the peanut protein.’ In other words, the high protein level of peanut butter draws moisture away from your mouth when you eat it, in much the same way that a sponge soaks up water. For the record, ’arachi-butyrophobia’ is the psychological term given to an irrational fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.”

All of this peanut butter-related thought inspired me to draw up a list of peanut butter’s greatest hits in local restaurants: the peanut butter pie at Rosemarie’s in Oak Cliff (you must, however, scrape off the “whipped topping”); the peanut sauce served with the moo satay (that’s broiled, skewered pork) at Siam; the stir-fried shrimp with spicy peanut sauce, pineapple chutney, and fried pasta at the Mansion; and all three of the PB-based ice cream flavors available (though not at the same time; flavors rotate)-peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, and Fluffer-nutter-at Steve’s Ice Cream.



An Educated Guess

Stopping around far a public school3? In the Data Independent School District alone Out mans choosing among some 180 public schools, (In fort Worth, the Mid-Gities, and ten Dallas suburbs yoa can add an additional 499 to the list.) Fortunately, Stapp Education Resources has already done the legwork. lnitially designed for use by area receive the Stapp Color Grapaics Package, which illustrates, among other things, in-fomation on the school’s capacity and enrollment, student/teacher ratio, student bodymakeup, the degrees lad experience level of the teachers, the students’ perfonaaacelevel on staadardized tests as well as athletic programs and other extra-carricularactivities. the service also compares area schools statistically and will even castoaazea school search to sack specifics as fiadiag a Grand Prairie school that has a championship soccer team or one that offers a strong compete science program. To enroll,call 960-9680. -L.N..

Ironmen Of Dallas

Triathlon fever hits local athletes

These days, it’s no longer enough to be an indoor-spa athlete. In growing numbers, the truly gritty are muscling into a fast-growing sport called the triathlon.

Texas is the third most popular state in the country for triathlons, behind California and Florida. The Dallas area supports seven.

The four-year-old President’s Triathlon Dallas is generally considered the catalyst for the local movement. This year, race director George Dallam and President’s Health Clubs expect 1,500 participants for the short course and 800 for the long course. The short course is a 0.6-mile swim, 21-mile bike race, and a 10-mile run; the long course is a 1.2-mile swim, 41-mile bike race, and 10-mile run.

Steve Pennington, adult fitness director for the Town North YMCA, directs two local races: the Dallas YMCA Labor Day Triathlon and the St. Patrick’s Day Triathlon. Last year, the debut of the Labor Day event, Pennington expected perhaps 200 participants to show up; more than 400 finished the race. This year, the Labor Day race will be staged at Lake Lewis-ville, and he’s planning for 1000 contestants.

Triathlon supporters say a three-part sport offers more diversity than a marathon. And, because each sport works a different muscle group, training for a triathlon develops an athlete’s body more completely than a marathon does.

So, watch out, weekend warriors. Just looking slim in neon spandex leotards and bench-pressing 280 pounds once a week no longer gives you athletic status. Now you really have to tri for it.

To enter this year’s Labor Day triathlon, call Steve Pennington or Margaret Mullen at the Town North YMCA, 357-8431. The race will have ten age categories, with separate categories for men and women. Costs for the triathlon are $40 for individuals, $100 for a three-person relay team, or $150 for a three-person corporate relay team.

-Sharon Simonson


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