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Here’s a spice rack I made to fit on the back of a cabinet door. It really cleans up the spice cabinet, and makes the individual jars a lot easier to find. I had to notch the shelves out a bit in order to make it fit, and it’s built to fit spice jars from Penzeys, which are a pretty standard size.

It’s a little less fancy that the Poplar and Walnut Spice Rack that I made as a gift a few years ago because it’s not intended to be displayed out in the open. It was made almost entirely from recycled maple wainscoting.

Maple spice rack

The maple spice rack mounted on the back of a cabinet door

The shelves are fixed. The fronts are high enough that they will stop the jars from tipping over if the door is slammed, but not so high that they block the name of the spice. The shelves are spaced far enough apart that the jars can be removed by tipping them forward.

Maple spice rack detail

A detail view of one of the shelves

To add the band, I used the $7.40 branding iron that I described in the A $6 Custom Branding Iron post.

The brand on the side of the spice rack

The brand on the side of the spice rack

Great Bread

This is the blog for a great bread-making technique. We’ve made it countless times and it has been a big help in meeting our culinary resolution to bake all our bread this year.

Here’s an end grain cutting board made from a few left-over pieces of wood in the shop. I got the idea from Wood magazine (I think) a few months ago so I made it for my wife for Christmas.

A mistake here was cutting an even number of slices which makes the pattern unsymmetrical. I don’t know if they warned against this in the article (I loaned it out before I read it), but it’s something to keep it in mind if you build one.

Starting with the dimensions of the scrap pieces, I used a spreadsheet to calculate the best compromises among thickness, number of cuts, and dimensions (it’s nearly a golden rectangle) so that I had as little waste as possible. I finished it with mineral oil, which happens to be in the laxative aisle at my local drug store. Fortunately we don’t experience any negative effects when eating foods prepared on the board. 😉

If you’re hooked on mochas and you’re tired of paying someone’s salary at Starbucks, then you’ve come to the right place. With a few simple and inexpensive ingredients, you can make a mocha syrup just as good as (if not better) than anything you get at Starbucks or off the shelf — and certainly better than the Starbucks Mocha Powder they used to sell.


Here’s what you need:

English Metric Ingredient
3 cups 0.75 L Pure, filtered water
2 cups 0.5 L Sugar
1 cup 0.25 L Cocoa powder
1/2 cup 0.125 L Dark cocoa powder
2 oz 60 ml Vanilla syrup
1 oz 30 ml Imitation vanilla extract

Cooking Instructions

Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have the basics: A sauce pan, wisk, rubber spatula, and a couple of squeeze bottles to hold the syrup when you’re finished.

Bring the water to a boil in the sauce pan. Mix the sugar and cocoa together in a separate bowl and work out any lumps. Once the water reaches a boil, turn the heat off and stir in the sugar/cocoa mixture slowly with a wisk. (You can let it simmer for a bit to thicken it if you want, but be very careful not to let it boil over — it will make a mess, and it always seems to start boiling over the moment you turn your attention elsewhere. It only takes a second; consider yourself warned!)

Stir constantly until any lumps are gone, being careful not to let the sugar or cocoa settle to the bottom of the pan. Using a triangle whisk will help incorporate any sugar or cocoa that gets stuck to the side or bottom of the pan.

After it’s mixed thoroughly, and as it’s cooling down, add the vanilla extract and syrup and stir again. Then pour the syrup into a large liquid measuring cup. You can get every last drop if you use a good rubber spatula.

Finally, after it’s cooled down a bit, carefully pour the syrup into the squeeze bottles and store in the refrigerator. Don’t store it at room temperature unless you want it to start fermenting in a couple of days. 😮

Mocha Recipes

To make the standard mochas, you’ll need some good coffee, and an espresso machine loaded with fresh, filtered water.

You’ll want to experiment with proportions, but for a 16 oz (475ml) mug, I like to use a double shot of espresso, 2/3 of a double shot of chocolate syrup, and the rest 2% milk. My wife likes a 12 oz (355 ml) mug, with the same amount of espresso and a single shot of the syrup.

Steam the milk first — it will stay hotter longer than the coffee. Add the chocolate and any additional syrups (like vanilla or cinnamon) to the mug, and then the espresso. Swirl it around or stir it until it’s well mixed. Finally top it off with the steamed milk and foam. To make iced mochas, follow the same steps, but add ice to the top of the glass before adding cold milk.

For quick chocolate milk, just pour a glass of milk and squeeze in some chocolate until the color is just right. If you’re using a squeeze bottle, you might not even need to stir it. The kids love it! It’s also great on ice cream, and it gives an extra kick to Swiss Miss hot cocoa packets.

Barista in Training

Barista in Training

I built this specifically for a little nook between the kitchen and the dining room, with a shelf height designed specifically to fit unopened tubes of Glenfiddich. (They don’t really fit anywhere else in the kitchen.) I still plan to add a glass rack to the bottom.

The glass on the doors is textured, which is why the contents of the cabinet are a bit fuzzy.

OK, so it kind of made me feel like I was in high school woodshop, but my brother-in-law really needed a loaded spice rack for his wedding.

I built this one to fit bottles from Penzey’s (well worth a visit if you’ve never seen them) — short ones on top, then regular sized ones in the middle. I added some extra room for those big jars of BBQ seasoning that you get at the grocery store, plus a few little drawers for things like nutmegs and may leaves that Penzey’s likes to use as packing material.

The drawers were dovetail practice — there were all totally free-form to give it that hand-made character…. probably a little too much of that hand-made character in this case!

I built the drawers first, then I built the rack around them to get a just-right fit. There aren’t any slides or stops — they just sit in there and stop against the wall behind the rack.

And here was my excuse to buy a scroll saw!