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Keep warm without turning up the heat

By on January 5, 2009

winter snow
photo by clairity

DEAR SARA: I have been reading up on the use of cardboard shutters for the inside of your windows to help insulate against the cold weather. It mentioned that you cut the cardboard to a tight fit and cover it with tin foil. I was wondering if it helps. — Patty A., Utah

DEAR PATTY: It will help. Many people use clear plastic shrink film. But it’s not the best solution if you have kids or pets. Plus, it can be time-consuming to put up, and you have to be careful when removing it because of the tape. It’s also not reusable. Alternatives are Bubble Wrap or thin Styrofoam insulation that you can cut to fit, and they’re easy to remove at any time. You can check thrift stores for baby quilts or fleece or wool blankets you can cut to fit, too. The blankets can often be hung on tension rods. Also, a simple draft stopper placed on the window ledge can help.

How do you keep the cold out?

DEAR SARA: I enjoy your column and love the recipes. You recently had one for pumpkin bread. It was fabulous! Do you have any for zucchini bread? — Ceal N., via e-mail

DEAR CEAL: Here’s a zucchini-bread recipe. It’s perfect for the holidays.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup shredded apple or 1 (8-ounce) can of pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Cream together eggs, vanilla and sugar. Mix in oil. Add dry ingredients to the wet, creamed mixture. Mix well. Fold in zucchini, apple and nuts until combined. Pour batter into loaf pans. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan.

What is your favorite quick bread recipe?

DEAR SARA: I was wondering if you had a good recipe for “wilted lettuce” or “wilted spinach.” Thanks for your help. — Patty, via e-mail

DEAR PATTY: The following recipe can be used over lettuce, spinach or green beans.

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 head lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
6 green onion, thinly sliced (bulbs and tops)

Fry bacon, remove from pan, and set aside. Reserve bacon drippings in pan. Add vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and pepper to drippings. Stir over medium heat until hot. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and green onions. Add the warm dressing, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, and serve.
Optional: Add one chopped, hard-boiled egg. If it’s still too bland, you can add a dash of garlic salt.

DEAR SARA: I saw your column on making your own soymilk but didn’t see who makes the device. It read as though it’s as simple as making a pot of coffee. Could you help direct me to some more info? Thanks. — Terry C., via e-mail

DEAR TERRY: There are quite a few machines available. I recommend SoyQuick from You can also make it yourself without a machine. I have directions on my blog at

Have you made your own soy milk? Any tips?


  1. Patty A

    1/6/2009 at 10:17 am

    Dear Sara,
    First of all let me say thank you so much! I went to the local thrift store and picked up some comforters and blankets. I didn’t have any tension rods, so I used some big thumb tacks. I hung the comforters behind the curtains (they don’t even show) and lined the windows with them. You wouldn’t believe what a huge difference it has made in the amount of cool air coming off the glass of the windows. My windows are newer, and very much air sealed but you could feel the cold coming off the glass. I now have all my windows quilted for winter, and the difference is amazing! I know it has made it at least 10 to 15 degrees warmer in my bedroom alone. Thank you so much, it truly is worth it to do the window quilts!

  2. Laurie S.

    9/23/2009 at 4:39 am

    I was wondering about the window quilts. I’d like to try this, but doesn’t it make your rooms/house too dark? I like some sunlight in the winter, makes me feel better. I’m afraid if I use quilts behind the shrinkable plastic, my house will feel like a cave. Am I overreacting?

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