Posts Tagged ‘Penzeys Spices’

What My Cinnamon Coffeecake and Your Love Life Have In Common

Cinnamon Coffeecake with Oranges, Peaches, and Japanese Wineberries -- on a backdrop of Firebird Nasturtiums!

Cinnamon Coffeecake with Oranges, Peaches, and Japanese Wineberries — on a backdrop of Firebird Nasturtiums!


Written by Terri Crosby for In Care of Relationships

My Cinnamon Coffeecake is really good.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s epic, or a million dollar coffeecake, or the coffeecake of the century, but when I hand it to people, and they taste it…  well, I have to admit, sometimes they say it.

Which counts, yes?

Cinnamon SticksWhen tasters sigh and swoon and sit down, and a little later there is not one crumb left on the plate — well that’s enough evidence for me that it hit the spot.

It’s nice when this happens with love, too!

What do you suppose it is about Coffeecake?  It’s just Coffeecake, after all.

Maybe the aroma reminds people of their childhood, or their Grandmother’s baking.

Maybe it’s the Vietnamese cinnamon (the strongest, richest, sweetest around) or China Tung Hing cinnamon (extra sweet, spicy and strong), or Kornintje cinnamon from Indonesia (sweet and mellow), or Ceylon cinnamon (complex and fragrant with citrus overtones). 

Spices matter and Penzey’s  knows what they’re doing.  Their cinnamon leaves grocery store varieties in the dust.  If you try Penzeys, you’ll never go back.

So, maybe it’s the cinnamon that makes them swoon and sigh!  Maybe it’s the instant vacation to another land when Ceylon cinnamon hits your taste buds.

Mace — outer lacy covering of nutmeg

Or maybe it’s the Blade Mace. 

Did you know…

Mace is the lacy, yellow covering of nutmeg, removed by hand (yes, by hand!) and dried.  Nutmeg grows on an evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia, and now in other places as well — for instance, Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean (particularly Grenada), in the southern state of Karela in India, and on the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania.

Who knew?

Mace is usually ground, but the kind I put in my coffeecake topping is called blade mace, peeled straight from the nutmeg.  It’s chewy and the flavor pops.  It’s pretty heavenly.

So the taste of Cinnamon Coffeecake is an international affair for sure.  When you dive into that first bite, your taste buds visit other far away lands.  

In anything, ingredients matter, quality matters, freshness matters whether we’re talking coffeecake or relationships.

So what does my cinnamon coffeecake have in common with your good love life?


Here’s what I mean.


My Cinnamon Coffeecake recipe was passed down.  The way we are in relationships with others is often passed down as well.  We watch, learn, listen, and we may choose to do things the way our parents or grandparents did.   Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes, well, not as good as Cinnamon Coffeecake!

But every recipe  — whether we’re talking Food or Relationships or anything else — is, of course, adjustable in our capable and creative hands.  Over the years, I have modified my family’s versions of just about everything, and you probably have, too.  It’s natural to tweak, adjust, re-think, and revamp.

Relationships have to work for you.  Your relationships don’t require the approval of anyone else — the King, the Queen, or your family.  Your relationships just have to work for you. 

And so does a simple recipe for something you produce in your very own kitchen.  So I took my mom’s recipe for Sunday morning Cinnamon Coffeecake, and changed it over the years to suit me. 


My Coffeecake is light, but has body.  It’s not a white-bread version, it has deeper flavor.  It’s nice when a relationship has that, too — it’s light-hearted, but has plenty of substance.  You laugh, have meaningful conversations and use your combined abilities to work out the details of relating.  You’re creative about problem-solving.  You try new things, see what works and do more of that.  You create a relationship recipe that works for you.

With love or crumble cake, there is also the matter of substitutions.   Maybe you ran out of patience or cinnamon?  Then what?  

If you’re plumb out of patience, try taking a break.  Walk away, even for 30 seconds.  Get your bearings, think of something that eases your mind (this is not the end of the world, this is no big deal even though it feels like it, this too shall pass…)

And in place of cinnamon, try the pumpkin pie spice you haven’t used since last Thanksgiving — it’s deep and rich and lovely.


Lord knows Recipes and Relationships are ever-evolving.  Goodness.  The changes I’ve been through with Eric, and the changes I’ve made to the Coffeecake — so many parallels, you know?  I’ve learned what I like.  I’ve deliberately added and subtracted to make love and cake work for me.

And — big deal — it’s important to remember that preferences and needs change with time.  I don’t have the same life with Eric that I did 15 years ago, and my Coffeecake has followed suit.

Food  and tradition are such great partners.  In my family growing up, we had coffeecake on Sunday morning with scrambled eggs.  On Christmas morning, we added Texas grapefruit, which was a big-deal, out-of-season treat when it was 20 below.

In relationships, we can follow tradition — or create our own as we go.  We can find a way to relate that creates a light, delicious  tender crumb.  For instance, if I’m clearly causing Eric a little frustration I often say “Eric, do you love me?” which is my way of acknowledging that I know I just threw him a curve ball and I know he’s frustrated.  It’s my way of saying, “I see it.” 

On cue, he hesitates, looks at me (with whatever facial expression he feels at the moment) and says “Mostly!” and we laugh.  That’s a pattern.  It works for us, and it has become a tradition. 

Or I walk into the room where he’s watching TV, and without hesitation, he pauses the program.  It’s a small tradition with big impact and it works.  I love love love that he does that.  In turn, he loves that I am conscious about interrupting.  I’m not assuming that I can initiate a big long conversation about the state of the world or talk about vacation plans for next summer while he’s watching the Dodger game.  I ask a question, get some needed info, and I’m on my way.  Aretha calls it a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

See?  My Cinnamon Coffeecake and Your Good Love Life are practically the same!  Delicious and Ever-Evolving!

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Cooking When You’re Home for Hours

divider1 When it’s a work-at-home-day or when other reasons beckon you to stay home in the warmth and comfort of your fuzzy slippers, when you want to hunker down, or batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm (real or imagined or emotional), it’s good to put something tasty in the oven.  Hopefully, it will take hours to cook and fill your home with delectable smells of what’s to come. There is a very easy way to do this.  Buy a chicken — a roaster.  Not one of those itty- bitty fryers, even if you’re cooking for one.  (I’ll give you easy ideas for freezing and/or using the leftovers.) Roasters take longer to cook.  This is the whole idea! Also get some baking potatoes, organic preferably. Scrub them and set them aside to dry a bit. So you’ve got a chicken and potatoes.  Rinse the bird under the faucet, put it in the baking pan and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Make sure you’ve removed any giblets in the main cavity of the bird.  Rub the chicken with olive oil. Then rub, slather or sprinkle the chicken with ANY ONE of the following: 1. A spice-rub that you might have on hand.  Penzey’s Spices has many of these.  BiCentennial, Southwest, and Northwoods Seasoning are just three of my many favorites. I love this company and there’s nothing better than opening an order from them and indulging in opening the jar of nutmeg for a whiff!! Their spices are so fresh!  (Did you know that a spice you buy in a grocery store can already be a year old??? Yikes.)   You won’t believe the difference.  You’re so welcome. 2. OR Fresh or dried herbs you have on hand.  Again, check out Penzey’s for the dried herbs — they have heavenly Tarragon! herbs-growingIf you have a Rosemary bush outside your door or down the street, all the better.  Take a few big sprigs, rinse under running water and shake off.  Strip the leaves off (hold the sprig at the top and strip from top to bottom.) Chop. Put all over the outside of the chicken and throw a generous size sprig or two into the cavity. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. 3.  OR Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of sour cream.  Slather it all over the chicken.  Yes, I know it looks gross at this stage, but wait until it bakes.  Yum. 4. OR Tuck leaves of fresh Sage and about 10 chopped cloves of garlic under the skin on the breast.  Simply separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding one finger between the skin and the meat.  Loosen and clear away the connective tissue and voila!  You’ve got room for spices. Put the Sage and garlic there.  Squeeze lemon juice mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil all over.   Add salt and pepper. Put the baking potatoes rubbed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper around the bird. Put all into a preheated 350 degree oven. Many recipes say 20-25  minutes per pound  for roasting a chicken, but I find for a 5-6  lb roaster, it takes longer than that per pound, about 2-1/4 to 2-1/2  hours total.  If the legs move easily, and the juices run clear (or almost) you’re good to go.  Always let the bird sit about 10 minutes before carving. SAVE the drippings.  Put the bird on a plate to carve and pour all the drippings into a glass container and put in the refrigerator.  Tomorrow you’ll skim off the grease that rises to the top and you have the most delicious ready-made sauce in the world.  See below for uses.
Final Product!

Final Product!

Oh, and the leftovers! 1. If you don’t have hungry mouths around to finish up the chicken, take several servings and put in separate freezer ziplock bags, label them with the contents and date and freeze.  Put a little of the defatted drippings into the bag, like a tablespoon or two. 2. Make any kind of pasta (wheat, kamut, rice) and add the chicken and a veggie and a little of the pan drippings (without the fat).  Delicious. 3. Buy a cheese or vegetable  pizza and add the chicken to it and bake. Or use a tortilla (corn, wheat, spelt, Ezekiel) and make a baby pizza. pizza3Start with pizza sauce or fresh tomatoes. Then add a little garlic, leftover veggies, the chicken and ANY kind of cheese –crumbled feta, small dollops of soft goat (chevre) cheese, grated cheddar, parmesan, fresh or regular mozzarella. The possibilities and taste sensations are endless. 4. Have a warm chicken salad.  Warm the chicken gently, then add it to your favorite purchased or homemade Vegetable salad. 5. Put chicken in your morning omelette or have breakfast for dinner! What’s your favorite way to use leftover chicken?  Let me know! To all things gustatory, Terri Crosby Continue Reading

Intimacy Is Everywhere

Hello Everyone,

Today, intimacy.

Love to you all,

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Friday Love: Bam! Gate Breaking, Anyone?

Good Friday, Everyone!

Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!

Let me know if you relate…

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Enough with the Name-Calling

It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.
Much love,

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Terri Crosby

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