Colleen Houck

“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

Colleen's blog

  • Mr. Kadam’s Spice Kitchen

    September 19, 2014


    Welcome to Mr. Kadam’s Spice Kitchen

    featuring the spice



    Welcome back to Mr. Kadam’s Spice Kitchen! Last month he shared some of his wisdom on both medicinal and culinary uses of the spice ginger. In addition to being the royal military adviser to Houck’s fictional character King Rajaram, Anik Kadam has a passion for spices and cooking. For those of you unfamiliar with who Mr. Kadam is, you can learn more in an earlier blog from August (or you can check out Houck’s New York Times bestselling Tiger’s Curse Series).

    For this month, he’d like to share the spice CINNAMON!

    First, he’ll share some history and uses of the spice and at the end he’ll share 2 recipes that are simply DELICIOUS!!!

    So, without further delay, introducing Mr. Kadam.

    To understand and fully appreciate cinnamon (in the voice of Mr. Kadam), we must first explore its properties and origins. As you may already know, cinnamon is one of the more popular spices due to its sweet, warm and strong flavor rendering it suitable for a wide variety of dishes. How many of you actually know where cinnamon comes from?

    For those who might be lacking in this area, may I have the honor of enlightening you. Let’s begin with a little history.

    The cinnamon spice has been a highly prized spice since biblical times for both medicinal and culinary properties. This delightfully sweet spice stick is traditionally obtained from the inner bark of a cinnamon tree. The Cinnamomum trees, which when dried, rolls into a tubular-form, known commercially as “quill.”

    cinnamon sticks

    This evergreen bushy tree is native to Sri Lanka and 80% or more cinnamon is exported from this island. It is also grown in many other countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.


    There are two types of trees, Cassia and Ceylon. Ceylon Cinnamon is more expensive than Cassia Cinnamon. The taste of Ceylon Cinnamon is much lighter and sweeter than its Cassia counterpart, and its levels of coumarin are almost non-existent, making it much better in taste and safer to ingest.

    Cassia Cinnamon Tree


    Ceylon Cinnamon Tree

    tree cinnamon

    When a cinnamon tree is around two years old, cultivators cut the plant back to the size of a stump and cover it with soil. This technique causes it to grow like a bush, with new shoots emerging out of the sides by the following year. It’s these shoots that are used to make cinnamon. Once cut, the shoots are stripped of their bark and the peels are set out to dry in the sun. 


    Here is a picture of Dzao women transporting fresh cinnamon bark.

    Vietnam_6605_2780-Edit1 dzao women transporting fresh cinnamon bark

    Now let’s talk about some of cinnamon’s health benefits. Did you know that cinnamon has the HIGHEST strength of anti-oxidants of all food sources in the world? That’s right, and cinnamon also has anti-diabetic, anti-septic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used by dentists at one time as a local anesthetic and is used in gum treatments.

    To name a few specific health benefits, cinnamon has been shown to; have anti-clotting action, by preventing platelet clogging in blood vessels, also aids in digestion by increasing gastrointestinal enzyme secretions, and is a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

    So, as you can clearly see the cinnamon stick has many health benefits.

    Now, I’d like to move on to perhaps your favorite part of this session. Two of my favorite recipes. I have shared one of these before and you may remember but if not, then please, enjoy! My two recipes using the spice cinnamon are,

    Heavenly Apple Bake


    The Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

    My motto for desserts is that they are therapy for a bad day, for a good day, for any day!

    Thank you for being a virtual part of my 3rd edition of Spice Kitchen! I hope you enjoy these delicious confections.

    Back to you Linda. . .

    Thanks Mr. Kadam, the following is an excerpt from a previous blog, enjoy!!! . . .

    Did you know that STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS? Coincidence? I think not! Do you ever have a bad day where things just get worser and worser and you want to crawl under your covers and hide or even run away to escape it all? I know I have. It’s hard to scrape your wounded soul from the depths of despair sometimes but if any of you have a mother like mine, sometimes that gentle nudge to get up and carry on comes in the form of sweet baked treats fresh from mama’s kitchen. That sweet spice that fills the air somehow dulls the pains and lifts you off your tear stained pillow. When mom opens your door and invites you to share a warm, sweet dessert in the kitchen, you can’t help but feel a little better. When you are served that glass of ice cold milk and a plate of tasty goodness, the tears stop and you can almost find your voice again. Next you share a few moments in silence while you fill your mouth with warm heaven and your mother pats your back gently and you’re finally able to talk about your troubles. That is the moment you know that somehow you’ll get through the bad day.

    You may have heard the quote, “I’ve never met a problem a proper dessert couldn’t fix”, and I believe there is a lot of truth to that. Nothing feels better than when you aree welcomed home by a deliciously cooked meal or the smell of cookies or bread baking in the oven. While the smells intoxicate your taste buds and you can’t wait to bite into whatever’s cooking, it’s more about the hands that have prepared the food. Whether it’s your mother, father, spouse, or friend that cooked it, the food was prepared from the heart with kindness and love. There’s also the times when we fall and scrape our knee or come home crying because someone was mean to us at school, or when we try our best at something, that we are sometimes treated with a hug or a smile and a special outing for an ice cream cone, a lollipop, or a cookie. That, my friends, is why a dessert can be so therapeutic.

    My mother is not the greatest cook in the world, but there are a few things she makes REALLY well and her cinnamon rolls is one of them. Here’s a recipe that is very similar to hers but has been improved upon slightly by myself via trial and error.
    Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever



    • 1 Cup warm milk
    • 2 eggs, room temp.
    • 1/3 Cup butter, melted
    • 4 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tsp. salt
    • 1 package yeast (2 ¼ Tsp.)



    • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
    • 2 ½ Tbs. ground cinnamon
    • ¼ Cup butter, softened

    Spread for Dough                                         

    • 1/3 Cup butter, softened


    • 3 Ounces cream cheese
    • ¼ Cup butter
    • 1 ½ – 2 Cups confectioner’s sugar
    • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract


    1st Set of Steps for Dough

    Dissolve yeast in small bowl with milk. Let proof.

    In large bowl combine sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and yeast

    mixture. Mix well. Add in flour and knead dough for 5

    minutes until dough is soft and form in ball shape.

    Place dough in greased bowl and let rise in warm area

    covered with towel until doubled in size (about 1 hr.).


    2nd Set of Steps for Filling

    Combine sugar, cinnamon and butter in small bowl

    and set aside.

    3rd Set of Steps for Rolling Dough and Baking

    When dough has risen, roll out on floured surface in

    rectangle shape and about 1/4 inch thick. Spread butter

    on dough, then sprinkle with filling mixture. Roll into

    log shape. Cut into equal portions (I use dental floss,

    it works great!). Place on lightly greased pan, cover with

    towel and let rise for 30 minutes. For bigger rolls, this

    recipe makes about 12 on a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F.

    for 18-20 minutes.

    4th Set of Steps for Icing

    Combine cream cheese, butter, powder sugar and vanilla in

    tall mixing bowl. Mix on high until smooth and creamy in

    texture. *You may add a few teaspoons of milk or water if

    too thick. Once rolls have cooled slightly, spread icing

    over rolls and enjoy!! Best if served warm!

    Heavenly Apple Bake (recipe from


    What You’ll Need:
    • 1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
    • 3 apples, peeled and cored, sliced 1/4-inch thick (2 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
    What To Do:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Press cookie dough into a 9- x 13-inch baking pan, completely covering bottom of pan.
    3. In a medium bowl, mix apples with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the cinnamon, and distribute evenly over cookie dough.
    4. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the flour and butter, and mix with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture and bake 30 minutes, or until top is golden.

    NOTE: The smell of apple desserts baking in the oven is, well, heavenly!


    My little angels thoroughly enjoy cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. If the idea of eating hot cinnamon rolls or heavenly apple bake sounds just perfect, try your hand at making these in your own kitchen. 


    Happy eating!

    Till next time

    ~ Linda Louise

    This entry was posted in Mr. Kadam's Spice Kitchen, Recipes.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Author Bio

    I’m Linda Louise, one of the bloggers on this website and Colleen’s little sister. I’m just a girl in her mid-thirties who feels thirteen when I play outside with my boys, fifteen when I sing my heart out listening to tunes while driving by myself, and sixty five when I go out past ten at night. I have a thing for junior mints, Mt. Dew, shrimp and kale (though not all at once) and I have a crush on Superman. I still get girlish butterflies when I read Twilight, cry when I read These is My Words, and smile from ear to ear when I read Anne of Green Gables. I have nightmares about aliens on a regular basis and I have a bad habit of midnight snacking. I love everything sports, except golf (although can that honestly be considered a sport??), and I hate anything that slithers, hisses, or stings. I have a problem with giggling at inappropriate moments and I sometimes wish life was a musical. I love science, hate math, love Dr. Seuss, and hate olives. My family is my world and my joys come from their happiness. I’ve learned I don’t know much about anything and I live for a good adventure, naps, cuddles, stories, exceptional food and The Shire.