When a financial adviser discusses "sweetening the pot," he's seldom talking about candy--unless he happens to be Joe Conway, executive vice president and part-owner of Diversified Securities Inc.
Conway, 58, has become a bit of a local hero among his large family, friends and Villa Park neighbors with the items he probably likes least to cook--peanut brittle, white chocolate-covered fresh strawberries and a peanut brittle laced with shaved coconut.
"I'm more into preparations of main dishes, not desserts," he says, "although I enjoy cooking anything, really.
"Some people relax with a book; I relax in the kitchen. When I get home from work, I generally mix a drink and head for the kitchen to see what's going on. I usually wind up in the middle of it."
Both he and his wife, Marge, were from large families ("I'm from a family of 12 kids; there were nine in her family") and have seven children of their own, ranging in age from 15 to 31.
"One of my problems now is that I've spent my life cooking for big gangs of people and our family is shrinking as the kids get out on their own, but I can't get out of the habit of putting together huge meals. So, there's always a lot of food in case someone drops in."
" 'Gee, do you think there's enough here, Dad?' is a sarcastic remark I get all the time, but old habits are hard to break."
Conway particularly looks forward to the holidays, when "I do all the cooking, items like my mother's recipe for turkey stuffing, and, of course, with the family around there's no way in the world I can make too much."
He does most of the cooking around their home, he says, and also most of the shopping. "I may not be all that popular with the husbands in the neighborhood because the wives are always running into me at the market, where we trade recipes. In all honesty, and modesty, they envy Marge."
Conway's company, a full-service stock brokerage house, has offices around the state, but he works mainly out if the company's Tustin office, so he's close to home.
Of his many recipes, he recommends the chocolate-covered strawberries because they are "so easy and so delicious."
"Just melt some white chocolate in a double-boiler and dip large, fresh stemmed strawberries in it. Make sure the fruit is washed and completely dry . . . and that's all there is to it." The peanut brittles are a bit more complicated, "but just as wonderful."
Each week, Orange County Life will feature a man who enjoys cooking and a favorite recipe. Tell us about your candidate. Write to: Guys & Galleys, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.
3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups white syrup
1 cup water
3 cups raw peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
Bring sugar, water and syrup to boil, cooking until candy thermometer registers 244 degrees.
Add peanuts and continue cooking until temperature reaches 300 degrees.
Remove from heat, add soda, salt and butter, stir and pour into greased cookie sheet.
For coconut variation, use only two cups of peanuts and 8 ounces of shaved coconut.