Tales of the Dinner Belle

Culinary reflections on the emotive power of food

Published online: Jul 30, 2018 Articles, Dining, Family Fun Guide Brenda Stanley
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My husband is convinced my life revolves around food. If you’re having a bad day, I can fix it by making you my pot roast. The time of day isn’t measured by my watch but what meal I’m planning to serve. The holidays and seasons are centered on what traditional treat or dish I’m looking forward to make.

I show love through food. I love to be in the kitchen preparing meals, but more specifically I love to cook for people I care about. My husband gets sweets, my sons-in-law get homemade salsa every summer, I bake biscotti for my friends, and my neighbors receive regular deliveries of my banana bread. I think it’s a genetic trait. My mother and grandmother are both that way. My mother doesn’t dare come to visit without bringing my husband cookies. My grandmother loved to make her famous spaghetti every time we visited and always gave us gifts of fudge, jam, and numerous other homemade goodies.

There is something about feeding the ones I care about that simply feeds my soul. I started cooking and baking when I was very young. I’ve always enjoyed it. Even as a working mother with five children, I still enjoyed making dinner for my family each night. It wasn’t fancy. It required a different type of cooking than what you find at nice restaurants, but my quick and easy dishes are something I’ve refined over the years and I’ve amassed a trove of tasty recipes. As the years past and my children started to have families of their own, I began getting text messages saying, “Mom, send me the recipe for your toffee cookies” or “your Cashew Chicken” or “meatloaf”. I found myself texting or emailing recipes to them so often, I finally started a blog titled “Tales of the Dinner Belle”. I called it “Belle” because my mother was born in Savanah, Georgia and a lot of the cooking I grew up on has delicious southern flavors.

The blog eventually evolved into several cookbooks, a newspaper column, and now video tutorials of my recipes. My most recent cookbook “The Dinner Belle” includes my many of my original blog recipes. There are dozens of simple and tasty dishes that I’ve made over the years. Many of the recipes have five ingredients or less, including my bread pudding, Mexican chicken, sweet and spicy salmon, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Like my recipes, the cookbook isn’t fancy. It is simple, easy to follow, and perfect for busy people who still want to cook for the ones they love.

Below is a good example. It is my recipe for Banana Bread. My granddaughter, Berlin loves it, and because I love her, she gets to enjoy it often.

Belle’s Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 box spice cake mix

3 eggs

½ cup chopped glazed pecans

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together well and then divide batter evenly into two medium sized loaf pans that have been greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

For more information visit Brenda’s website at www.brendastanleybooks.com.


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