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updated: 6/5/2013 6:31 AM

Frugal living: cleaning cabinets and making bread

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Q. I have oak cabinets, and over the years the grease still builds up. I wash them regularly, but I am not satisfied with the results. Do you have any idea what to use on the cabinets to get the buildup removed without harming the wood?

Lisa, Ohio

A. I have used Murphy's Oil Soap, a combination of one part white vinegar to four parts olive oil, or mineral spirits and a microfiber cloth with good results. Or, to clean up the build up on older cabinets, combine 1 part vegetable oil with 2 parts baking soda. Apply with a cloth. Use an old toothbrush in corners and crevices.

Q. Would a pumpkin bread/loaf tin be a suitable plan B for the "bread trough" you use for your no-knead bread?

Delnyse, email

A. You can use any pan, such as Pampered Chef's deep covered baker or a cast-iron Dutch oven. Or use no pan at all and simply use a baking/pizza stone to get similar results. Keep in mind that if you use a regular bread pan, the shape won't be like French bread.

Q. With baking gift recipes in a jar, how do you prevent brown sugar from hardening when the ingredients aren't used right after receiving the gift?

Lynn, Wisconsin

A. You can put the brown sugar in a plastic zip-close bag and still layer it in the jar, or you can combine the brown and white sugar. I would let the gift recipient know to use the mix soon (within a month), so the brown sugar doesn't harden.

• Sara Noel owns Frugal Village (, a website that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. Send tips, comments or questions to Sara Noel, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106 or

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