Halal Consumer - Issue 27 - page 9

“Oh my goodness! It smells like heaven in here!” proclaims the
16-year-old to her leader, who simply greets her with a welcom-
ing smile and plate of fresh-baked brownies.
Haya Muhammad of Glendale Heights, Illinois, is a senior in
high school and meets on a weekly basis with her youth group.
“I have to admit that the yummy smelling snacks our leader
serves us make us keep coming back for more,” she laughingly
shares. “She is big on making us feel at home, and we seem to
focus better and are more productive while being blanketed by
the warmth and comforting aromas in her house.”
Smell is a very powerful sense. Often associated with memories,
smell has a direct effect on one’s emotions or moods. In order for
the sense to work efficiently for us, many intricacies must take
place. Molecules that are light and can easily evaporate must
travel to the nose and reach a small patch of special
neurons, called olfactory receptors, at the top of
the nasal passage. (There are approximately
40 million olfactory receptors in humans!)
Odor molecules bind to hair-like pro-
jections attached to the neurons and
signal cells in the olfactory bulb,
triggering our perception of smell.
The olfactory tract leads to areas of
the brain that are part of the limbic
system, which is involved with emo-
tional behavior and memory.
Melida Skenderi of Morton Grove,
Illinois, has many childhood memories
of her mother baking goods and filling
their home with delicious smells. “When
you open the door and enter the house, the first
sense to activate is your sense of smell,” says the
mother of three. “There is nothing that welcomes you better
than the aromatherapy of fresh baked foods.”
Skenderi has carried this tradition of baking into her own home.
“I definitely enjoy baking much more than cooking,” she says. “I
find it therapeutic and a great way to bring the family together,
especially during the cold winter months.”
She advises to stock up on apples during the fall harvest and
bake apple cake in the winter, which fills the house with warm,
inviting fragrances. However, the staple food in this Bosnian
family’s home is fresh baked bread, its scent taking over the
house from top to bottom. “We are definitely bread people,” says
Skenderi, who recently performed the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj
and greatly missed this simple pleasure. “All I was craving after
returning home was my mother’s warm, homemade bread.”
Another must-have for the Skenderi’s
is hot, delicious soup to accompany all
that bread. “After playing in the snow,
nothing is more inviting to my kids than
a hot bowl of fresh soup. It gives off a
great aroma in the home, as well. It is
also a great way for me to get them to eat
their vegetables without any complaints.”
When Skenderi used to work in real estate, one of
the marketing techniques she learned was to have fresh-
baked cookies in the homes that had showings or open-houses to
give them a more “homely feel.” In other words, igniting the sense
of smell can even put consumers in a buying mood!
Skenderi believes it also helps to get kids out of bed. “On those
dark, gloomy winter mornings, my kids willingly arise
out of bed and run downstairs following the trail
of their favorite breakfast aromas,” shares
Skenderi. “Whether it is French toast,
pancakes, or crepes, it gets the job done.
They start off their day content and
satiated, and we have managed to
spend time together as a family first
thing in the morning.”
Joan Gray, an artist from Pine City,
Minnesota, also knows how to bring
the family together during those
freezing winter months. The mother of
five and grandmother of seven grew up
in the northern state of Minnesota, where
temperatures can drop drastically. “When my
children were younger, I would welcome them
back into the home from playing in the snow with a
fresh, homemade cup of hot cocoa,” says Gray. “It would melt
the cold right off.”
Gray says that hot cocoa is the perfect winter drink with its
cozy aroma and tasty flavor, and the specific recipe she uses
has been passed down from her own mother and grandmother.
“There is such a difference between this homemade hot choco-
late and those instant mixes,” shares Gray. “It is well worth the
10 short minutes it takes to make it,” she advises.
From breads and cakes to soups and drinks, there are many
great ways to bring comfort and warmth into your home this
winter. Aromas from baked goods can help rid the winter blues.
Many times these comforting smells trigger fond memories of
family, togetherness, and happiness. This winter, make your
house a home with a variety of culinary scents, new and old,
and build new memories to last a lifetime.
Smell is
a very powerful
sense. Often associated
with memories, smell
has a direct effect on
one’s emotions or
Winter 2013
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