Monday, March 28, 2011

Floor Cleaner

My hardwood floors are shiny and clean. Funny how something like that can make me happy.

I made a cleaner/polish out of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent canola oil. The oil conditions the wood, and the vinegar cuts grease and dirt. I "waxed on" with a rag dipped in the mixture and "waxed off" with a clean rag. If you are imagining me toiling and sweating and scrubbing in a frumpy old house dress, it wasn't like that at all.  (Especially the old house dress part. Do they still make those?)

Dare I say it was kinda fun? Okay, maybe not fun, but it was very satisfying seeing the dry scratched wood look warm and conditioned. And I got my six year old to help. Little kids love to do housework (for some crazy reason). If you have young children, give them the polish cloth!

So now I have shiny, healthy-looking hair--I mean floors--and no chemical headache from cleaners. And if you have extra vinegar-oil solution, you can even put it on your salad.  :-)  How healthy is that?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sugar Petal Cake

photo by C. Scheper
My youngest had a Fairy Tale Princess theme for her 6th birthday party. There were dragons, knights, sugar cube castles, and a cake fit for a princess.

Jelly asked specifically for a cake with lemon icing and real flowers on it. I have no idea where a 6 year old would get an idea like that--she doesn't watch Martha Stewart--but I loved the idea.

I knew you could eat rose petals after watching the movie Like Water for Chocolate (which is a beautiful movie, by the way) so I decided to sugar rose petals.

I pulled the whole flower head off the stem and separated out the petals.  I used large pink and cream roses and smaller red ones.  Martha Stewart said to brush them with egg whites and sprinkle them with superfine granulated sugar.  I used pasteurized egg whites since I would be serving this to children, and I ground some regular sugar with a mortar and pestle. You can buy superfine sugar or grind your own with a food processor or coffee grinder, but why waste electricity when you can burn calories?  :-)

The result was beautiful, and the petals were delicious!

photo by C. Scheper

Saturday, March 5, 2011


When I first saw a recipe for marshmallows, my first thought was, "You can make marshmallows?" As if they grew on a plant or were made by fairies.  Yes, you can make them, but why would you?

First, most marshmallows have artificial coloring in them. It just boggles my mind--I mean, they're white! And second, store-bought marshmallows just can't compare to homemade.

(I can't remember where I got this recipe--I've had it for years. Thanks to whomever gave it to me.)


powdered sugar for dusting
2 envelopes of boxed gelatin (4 envelopes if you want to roast your marshmallows)
8 Tbsp cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

- Dust a 9" square pan (or a medium-sized rectangular pan) with powdered sugar and set aside.

- In a small bowl, soak gelatin and 8 Tbsp cold water and set aside.

- Combine granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan.  Boil sugar water until it reaches 240 degrees.  If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can eyeball it.  Sometimes, I just cook it until it starts to look thick, but it's safer to use the thermometer. (Besides, you'll need one for maple taffy on snow.)

- Pour the sugar syrup into a mixing bowl and let it partially cool. Add the gelatin mixture, salt, and vanilla.

- Beat until double in volume and white, fluffy, and thick.  Remove the wire wisk or beater from your mixer and lick all the marshmallow fluff off.

- Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan.

- Lick the spatula. Lick the bowl, too. Stick your whole head in there, I won't tell.

- Set to cool several hours.

- Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and roll in powdered sugar. I use a knife dipped in warm water. It cuts through the marshmallow very easily. Eat.