Savvy Shopper Facebook chatter recently centered on one of mom's patented phrases, 'You have to spend a dollar to save a dollar.'
Mom's adage means a lot at the family dinner table. An inexpensive cut of meat can be transformed into a delectable dish with the right spicing. A homemade dessert puts a smile on everyone's face - and that is worth any price. Savvy Shopper recently spoke with the good folks at Penzeys Spices. This national company, founded by a second generation spice aficionado, Bill Penzey, sells aromatic spices and spice blends online and in retail stores - with the closest location to Hampton Roads on Cary St. in Richmond. Take a look on the penzeys.com Web site and request a catalog - Savvy Shoppers have found that every once in a while, the print catalog will also include an offer for a free spice sample. Another nice touch - packing slips with your online orders always have a quick note of thanks for your order handwritten by the packer.
From the Penzey's team:
Q. In my recent Penzey's shipment, a packed bumper sticker states, 'Love People. Cook them tasty food.' What does this mean to Penzeys?
A. So much good happens when people cook for each other. We like to encourage everyone who cooks to be happy and comfortable with whatever their cooking interests and experiences might be; one of the many very cool things about cooking is that there's really no one "right" answer. Caring enough to cook for yourself and those around you adds so much to our lives and our physical, social, and emotional well-being. If you cook for a day, you'll get thanks. If you cook for a lifetime, you'll have so much to give thanks for. So we share a simple, yet important message love the people in your life by cooking them food just the way they like it.
The bumper sticker is just a little way to help people remember what's important. It's not about doing fancy stuff, celebrity chef -type stuff. Very few people actually cook or eat that way. It's about caring enough to pick up the utensils and get involved. So many of the best things in life really happen because someone cooked for someone else.
Q. Savvy Sopper has found that the often the most economical meals require a 'from scratch' component something that might have been lost with the post-war, mid 1900's generation (but an integral part of a Sunday at grandma's and grandpa's home). What does Penzeys offer to help the home cook get back to this approach to cooking and family time ?
A. We offer over 250 kinds of spices and seasoning that add wonderful flavors to all kinds of 'from scratch' foods. But what we really provide is non-judgmental support and complete and total enthusiasm for wherever a cook might be on their own personal 'cooking pathway.' Whether you're new to cooking, or visit us with lots of experience, you're welcome at Penzeys, and your cooking is worth celebrating.
There is some romance to the notion of a long-ago Sunday dinner at grandma's, and it can be fun to try to recapture some of those good feelings. But maybe the point isn't so much to turn back the clock as it is to bring forward the same love families and friends have always been sharing around the table.
The truth is that making things 'from scratch' isn't complicated or intimidating; really, if you can make a hamburger, you can make spaghetti. And if you can make spaghetti, you can feed a crowd!
Q. Can you share a favorite family-style recipe?
A. With pleasure! Here's the recipe for Gram's Banana Cake, a favorite from Bill Penzey's childhood, and mentioned a recent catalog: 'Not only was Gram a great cook, she was a great baker as well and for us kids it was always her tradition to bake our choice of cake with our choice of frosting for our birthdays.'
'Gram was amazing, it was her love every night at dinner that opened our eyes to where cooking really lives, in the heart. Gram's love unlocked many doors for us, and I believe our inclusiveness is the continuation of the warmth and hospitality that radiated from her kitchen every day.'
Gram's Banana Cake Bill Penzey: 'This is a most awesome cake, you should give it a try'
Every year when those April birthdays rolled around, Gram would make our special requestbanana cake with chocolate frosting. This cake is just the best, and it is pretty darn easy, too. Make sure those bananas are really ripe. Ripe bananas store well in the freezer, just cut the tip off and squeeze into the measuring cup!
21/2 Cups sugar
1 Cup butter (2 sticks)
1 Cup sour cream
2 tsp. baking soda
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 TB. pure vanilla extract
21/2 Cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 6 fresh, 8 if using previously frozen bananas)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans and set aside.
Mash the bananas and place in a measuring cup. If using previously frozen bananas, just cut the tip off and squeeze the thawed bananas into a measuring cup, pouring off any watery liquid.
Cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed.
Add the eggs and beat well.
Mix in the sour cream.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda.
Add to the creamed mixture and beat well.
Add the mashed bananas and pure vanilla extract and mix well.
Divide evenly among the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool a few minutes and remove from pans. Cool completely before frosting.
5 Cups powdered sugar
1/3 Cup natural cocoa powder
1/3 Cup butter, softened
2-4 TB. brewed black coffee
Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together into a large bowl.
Add the softened butter and mix on very low speed until they are incorporated.
Add the coffee starting with 2 TB., and mix until it reaches your desired spreading consistency.
Prep. time: 15 minutes + 10 to frost
Baking time: 30-35 minutes
Nutritional Information: Servings 16; Serving Size 1 piece (163g);
Calories 560; Calories from fat 180; Total fat 20g; Cholesterol 95mg;
Sodium 290mg; Carbohydrate 93g; Dietary Fiber 2g.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun