The nose knows.
You walk into a room, and instantly a smell connects you to a memory. And when that smell is connected to food, it's often a family memory. "Smell is such a powerful sense, and it lives in the base of your neck, where all your memories are stored," says chef Shellie Kark. "The smells of food bring you back to places you were years ago. They tie us to our history, and allow those who are gone to still be with us in the kitchen."
But you don't have to rely on your nose alone to bring back those memories: Kark is teaching a two-part class at the Denver Public Library titled "Rooted: Heirloom Recipes as Family History."
The first session is Monday, September 9, and will focus on converting family recipes that are often vague - a handful of flour here, a pinch of salt there - into actual formulas that anyone can follow. That's the class devoted to the head; on September 23, students will add the heart, using Microsoft Word to turn those recipes into a spiral-bound cookbook filled with good thoughts as well as good recipes.
The sessions run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Level 4 Community Technology Center at the Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway; the workshop fee of $15 includes two copies of a keepsake cookbook that could be priceless. "It becomes a family heirloom," Kark says. To sign up, go to denverlibrary.org.
And to whet your appetite, here's Kark's recipe for her grandmother's banana bread.
Nana's Banana Bread courtesy Chef Shellie Kark of KitchenCUE
1 c. sugar 2 eggs 1 c. (2) mashed ripe bananas 3/4 c. black coffee plus 1 T. instant coffee 1/2 c. oil 1 t. vanilla 2 c. flour 1 t. baking powder 1/2 t. baking soda 1/2 t. salt 1/2 c. walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a small bundt pan
Cream sugar and eggs together. Add bananas, coffee, oil and vanilla.
Sift flour baking powder and soda and salt. Add to liquid ingredients. Stir just to combine. Stir in walnuts.
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Bake 35-45 minutes until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.