bread cooking for 1 or 2

Caramel Crown

Shaping Variation:  Caramel Crown

My aunt Sharon would fix Caramel Rolls for a special breakfast whenever we traveled to the Midwest to visit her, Uncle George, and my cousins John and Alayne.  I’ve adapted Aunt Sharon’s idea, which used ready-made frozen rolls in dough form.

dessert snacks zucchini

Chai-Spiced Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

Chai-Spiced Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
Another great reason to grow or even <gasp!> buy zucchini.  These cupcakes are fluffy and tender, redolent with the aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom and crowned with caramel frosting. Recipe can be made by hand or with an electric mixer and goes together easily.  If you don’t have all the spices listed in the recipe, it’s okay to just use cinnamon.  They will still be delish, I promise.
Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
And they’re not even chocolate!

dinner grilling pizza

Pizza Margherita ~ on the Grill!

When the weather heats up, grill your pizza!
One of the easiest and more authentic versions is Pizza Margherita. Simply top the dough with sliced garden tomatoes and small chunks of mozzarella cheese. After grilling, add a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves. Mmmm…

There is a way to make great pizza; pizza with a crackling crust and the tang of smoke, cheese that bubbles in pools around bits of garden veggies laced with fresh basil.  The BBQ grill!  I developed this method several years ago during a hot, hot week in August when Cameo and Miriam each had a friend over for the week-end.  They’d spent the day playing at the river at a nearby park, and wanted our traditional Friday night pizza for dinner.  “Oh no, girls, it’s way too hot to turn the oven on,” I remember protesting.  And Sam said, “Why don’t we try cooking them on the brill?  You make the pizza; I’ll take care of grilling them.”

cleaning tutorial

Kitchen Cupboard Cleaning Products

The ingredients are in your cupboard!


Handy sink set-up

For this season’s Kitchen Wisdom finale I want to leave you with another skill in your repertoire -homemade cleaning products.  Did you know the average American household spends $42 per month on cleaning products? (  7.13.2013)  I will show you how to set up a basic cleaning tote filled with homemade products from ingredients you already have around the house… vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, inexpensive dishwashing liquid, even  citrus peels.  


Bleach Sanitizing Spray

Kill bacteria for less then a penny a bottle
Three of the four bottles above are re-purposed.  From left to right are: tabasco bottle,
tincture bottle, Sprayco pump spray bottle (new; made in USA, available at Bi-Mart),
and a gift jam jar with gold lid.  The wire basket originally held a gift set of hand soap
and hand lotion, the peach puff is hand-made (crocheted) by a friend of my Aunt’s.

The disinfecting power of chlorine bleach can prevent the spread of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and foodborne illness when used correctly and in proper concentration.  The FDA and most universities take the “bucket” approach – giving proportions for mixing up a gallon at a time.  This works well for restaurants and the like, but at home we need it in much smaller amounts since it its effectiveness diminishes with time*.


Citrus Vinegar

Citrus Peels + Vinegar = 2 great products
Peels from a pitcher of fresh lemonade are harnessed for more than one purpose!

This easily made infused vinegar is dual purpose.  You can use it in salad dressings, marinades, and stir fries, and you can add it to homemade cleaning products to boost the effectiveness of the vinegar.  Orange oil in particular is famous for its cleaning properties.  I have also used lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruit with success.  See Organic All-Purpose Cleaner for directions on making a handy household spray cleaner.  Don’t you love finding a use for something you would ordinarily discard?



Sparkling Glass Cleaner

Your windows will shine for about a dime!

Commercial glass and window cleaners seem inordinately expensive for what they are, which is mostly water!  I’ve been using this formula for several years, inside and out, and my windows and mirrors come out squeaky clean.  We are on a well and our water is hard.  If wind causes water spray from a sprinkler to spatter the windows this will remove watermarks as long as I clean it within a day or two.  Adding the blue coloring does not make the product any more effective, but its color makes it easily recognizable as glass cleaner.  (And, I think, more fun to use!)  


Organic All-Purpose Cleaner

For hard surfaces around the kitchen & bathroom

With basic ingredients and a little know-how, you can compound a homemade cleaner that is useful in cleaning the hard kitchen and bathroom surfaces that need frequent maintenance:  stove top, fridge door, counters, garbage and compost pails, and more.  Start by making a batch of citrus vinegar with your leftover citrus peels or just used plain white distilled vinegar.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil and a drop of two of food coloring.  Thank you Angela Coffman of  (Check out Angela’s website for a wealth of money-saving ideas related to food and home.)


Soft Scrub Cleanser

Soft Scrub Cleanser, Two Ways
Nutella (left) and Parmesan cheese (right) tubs become useful containers for homemade cleaning products. 

This gentle cleanser teams the natural abrasive qualities of baking soda with the grease fighting qualities of either inexpensive dishwashing liquid or pure Castille soap to gently rub away grime, stains, and scum from hard surfaces such as the sink, bathtub, and shower.  Put a bit of paste on a scrub pad and scour away gunk!  Use your good judgment and a light hand to apply the product.  

Clearance dishwashing liquid works fine for Soft Scrub.


Botanical Air Freshener

You’re the designer!

Instead of polluting the air in your home with noxious chemicals,  create a signature room freshening spray with just 3 simple ingredients. Baking soda keeps the essential oil suspended in water.  Store in an opaque glass spray bottle or reclaimed pump hair spray bottle, well-cleaned.