OK, amateur food detectives, I'm sending out a message: Anyone who has been involved in preparing the spaghetti sauce for the Lent fish fries at St. Henry's Catholic Church in Belleville, I need your help. I'm trying to track down whether the following information is true or not: The owner of a restaurant called Charlie Ravioli's in west Belleville, Charlie Schroeder, supposedly gave his very popular red sauce recipe to St. Henry's many moons ago, and it was or is still being used today to make great spaghetti sold by the parish. I got this information from a reader who knew his son, John. She also told me that Charlie was a member of the church and there was a daughter, Pauline.
If you can help, please give me a call or send an email. I'm trying to track down this sauce recipe for a reader and it has provoked a great deal of fond memories of the restaurant from many readers. And now, they want the recipe, too! I spoke to someone at the church, but was told that no recipes from the fish fry would be given out and there was no additional information about the origins of the sauce.
Want a free mini pumpkin? Norm Geolat wants to give them away to "ladies and kids" at the Swansea Farmers Market. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday on the parking lot of Rural King on Illinois 159.
A reader reminded me that there is a very fast way to make banana bread. She uses a cake mix.
Blogger Brooke McLay from Cheeky Kitchen shares a favorite recipe online at bettycrocker.com. Eight easy variations on one simple recipe for basic banana bread.
Easy Cake Mix Banana Bread
1 box cake mix
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3 to 4 medium)
Additional ingredients as required for variations below
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray 2 (8-by-4-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray; lightly flour pans.
2. Select your favorite banana bread recipe variation from those below.
3. In large bowl, beat all ingredients above plus ingredients from selected variation below until well mixed. Divide batter evenly between pans.
4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean and inside of cracks do not look wet. Cool 15 minutes in pans on cooling racks. Remove loaves from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 2 hours, to prevent crumbling when slicing. For easier slicing, store loaves tightly covered 24 hours. Cut with serrated knife, using a light sawing motion.
Makes 2 loaves; 12 slices each.
Tips: Freeze overripe bananas until you have enough to make this luscious banana bread. Just pop them, peel and all, into the freezer. They can stay there for up to 3 months.
Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread: Chocolate cake mix, 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips.
Chocolate Chip-Banana Bread: Yellow cake mix, 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips.
Banana Split Bread: Cherry chip cake mix, 1 jar (6 ounces) maraschino cherries, each cut in half and 1/2 cup chopped almonds. Serve slices of bread with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.
Banana-Butterscotch Bread: Butter pecan cake mix, 2 cups butterscotch chips.
Cinnamon-Sugar Banana Bread: White cake mix, 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Before baking, sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over batter in pans.
Strawberry-Banana Bread: Strawberry cake mix 1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed, drained and chopped.
Spiced Banana-Cream Cheese Swirl Bread: Spice cake mix, 8 ounces cream cheese mixed with 1 egg and 1/2 cup sugar. Spread one-quarter of batter in each loaf pan. Spread half of cream cheese mixture over batter in each pan. Swirl remaining batter over cream cheese layer in pans.
Hawaiian Banana Bread: White cake mix, 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped, 1 cup shredded coconut.
Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, email@example.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.