Aprons as Gifts

We all know how much home cooks love a pretty apron, but there are others who appreciate aprons, too. At a recent writers' conference, I received an apron as a door prize. This hand made apron is perfect for writers, teachers, and librarians.

I wanted to share this apron and its cute design because it's never too soon to start thinking about hand made gifts for occasions such as Christmas. There's probably someone on your gift list who would love one of these aprons. I'm calling it my literacy apron.


Ginger Tea

Many tea drinkers have their favorite variety, but I have to admit I like all kinds. My choice depends on the time of day and how I'm feeling. Few days pass that I don't enjoy both hot tea and iced tea of some kind. I do try to avoid any caffeinated teas after lunch, but the good news is, there are lots of decaffeinated choices available.

Naturally caffeine free ginger tea is one of my favorite choices. This tea is good any time of day, especially if you've been bitten by the nausea bug. Brew it up fresh and drink to your health.

Print Recipe

Ginger Tea

4 cups water
1/4 cup grated ginger root
lemon (optional)
honey (optional)

Bring water to boiling. Place grated ginger in tea pot or other container. Pour boiling water over ginger. Allow to steep about 5 minutes. Strain into cups. Add lemon and sweeten with honey, if desired. Leftover tea may be refrigerated and reheated or served iced.



Mother's Vintage Home Comfort Cookbook

My sister and I recently had a conversation about how to make a particular kind of coconut cake. The cake she described is not a recipe I have. I told her it sounded like a recipe we would find in Mother's old Home Comfort cookbook. The only problem is we don't have the cookbook.

Her cookbook was a manual/cookbook for a Home Comfort range. I enjoyed finding recipes in it when I was a young girl, however, I think it may have already been old enough to be vintage by the time I used it. When she passed away it was not in any kind of usable condition. Sadly, it had been virtually destroyed.

I'm searching for a copy of that cookbook to add to my collection. I've found some that were printed either earlier or later than the one Mother had. The contents may be the same or similar, but I'm wishing for one with a cover just like hers.

If someone happens to know where a cookbook like this one can be obtained, please send me the details. It would be a great addition to my collection. I might even find that coconut cake recipe or a new recipe I've never tried before.


A Hunter's Birthday Cake

Baking birthday cakes for family members has been fun throughout the years, but I never know what will be requested for the next celebration. As the kids grow up, their tastes and interests change, so it's rare that anyone ever wants the same kind of cake twice. One of my more recent cakes was topped with a hunting rifle. I didn't have a clue how to make a rifle, but with modeling chocolate and a bit of trial and error, the birthday cake was produced.

The honoree requested a half chocolate, half vanilla cake, so I baked the cake using an 8 x 14-inch pan I could split with dividers. 

The dividers gave the center of the cake a checkerboard look.

I had only tried using modeling chocolate once before, but it's easy to make. The recipe can be found here. Instead of using white candy melts and adding coloring, I used caramel candy melts for the stock of the gun and black candy melts for the barrel and scope.

Modeling chocolate is fun to use, and I hope to get the hang of it after a few more cakes.



Blueberry Muffins 5 Ways

All blueberry muffins are not created equal. Although the muffins may contain blueberries, there are as many ways to bake a blueberry muffin as there are varieties of blueberries. I've pulled five yummy recipes from my collection, but there are many more good blueberry muffin recipes out there. Each of these has a distinct difference that sets it apart.

1. Sparkling Blueberry Muffins

The sparkling sugar gives these blueberry muffins a pretty presentation and makes them look extra tempting. This is a recipe to keep handy.

2. Blueberry Hawaiian Muffins

If you have no time to get away, take a tropical vacation for breakfast. Coconut and chopped macadamia nuts make a crunchy topping on these muffins.

3. Alien Blueberry Muffins

This may be a strange name, but these muffins are unique with blueberries and white chocolate chips.

4. Citrus Blueberry Muffins

Lemon, orange, and lime zest combine to make these blueberry muffins one of a kind.

5. Mandarin Blueberry Muffins

What's better than a blueberry muffin? A blueberry muffin with mandarin oranges, too. Plus these are made with whole wheat flour and oat bran.

There are dozens of great blueberry muffin recipes. If you have a favorite, I'd love for you to leave a link in the comments so I can try it.



Teach a Child to Cook

As a writer nothing brightens my day more than seeing my name in a byline. Narcissistic? Maybe a little, but for the most part I'm just glad my work is appreciated and useful to someone.

A recent article of mine can be found in the food section of the July/August 2017 issue of Christian Woman magazine. The editor was generous and gave me three whole pages for "Teach a Child to Cook".

Teaching a child to cook is an easy way to help develop self-esteem along with essential life skills.  I believe parents do their children a disservice for many reasons when they don't allow kids in the kitchen. 

If you've never let your child help out with meal preparation, I hope this article will persuade you to give it a try. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.   



Centerpiece Improvisation

When you're entertaining a crowd, often extra tables must be set up to accommodate the guests. For every table you need a centerpiece, and if multiple tables are involved it can get expensive. If the gathering is informal, you may already have everything you need for those centerpieces right under your nose. It can be a nice surprise to be able to improvise without buying something new.

When I needed centerpieces for three 8-foot tables, I decided to do some shopping in my own house. I stepped back to see what items I could find to serve as the centerpieces. I wanted something colorful, casual, and not fussy. My Fiesta ware seemed to be the obvious choice.

For each table I used two large disk pitchers on a large platter. Cereal bowls became candy dishes. I added a few silk flowers I'd saved from another event for an extra pop of color.

Total cost of my three centerpieces = $0

I've enjoyed my Fiesta ware on many different occasions. I've found the pieces to be versatile, and I also use them as my every day dishes. The colors are cheerful, and they are a sturdy stoneware. I've only broken one piece in all the time I've used them, and it was a strange accident. I reached for a bowl on a high shelf, and the shelf tipped. Apparently the bracket holding one corner of the shelf had fallen out. When the shelf tipped all the bowls slid off. I don't know how I managed it, but I caught every bowl except one. That bowl hit me in the forehead, then went on to hit the counter top and the floor. These dishes are heavy, and I still have a mark of evidence on my forehead from the accident. I mourned the bowl but was so glad I was able to save everything else.