Mentoring in school and in the kitchen

“School days. School days. Good old golden rule days.”

Coastal Point • Submitted: Bonnie Crowther, the mentor coordinator for John M. Clayton Elementary School, shares some of her favorite recipes for this week's Marie’s Kitchen.Coastal Point • Submitted
Bonnie Crowther, the mentor coordinator for John M. Clayton Elementary School, shares some of her favorite recipes for this week's Marie’s Kitchen.

It’s that time of year, and I want to again plug the need for volunteer mentors in our schools. The best way to do that is to highlight my friend, Bonnie Crowther.

Bonnie is the mentor coordinator at John M. Clayton Elementary school in Dagsboro. When Frankford Elementary closed its doors, students were moved to Clayton. I’ve been a mentor for the past five years and definitely relate when Bonnie says, “Many of our mentors tell us how rewarding it is to work one-on-one with the students. They say they get as much from the program as they give to the students.”

The mentor program at John M. Clayton is a very special part of the school.

“We are so fortunate to have a population of retired or semi-retired people who want to give back to their community,” Bonnie said. “I truly love going to work every day and getting to be a part of such a positive and supportive program.”

As the school year draws nigh, I encourage you to consider mentoring; all area elementary schools are in need of a little of your time.

Bonnie matches interested volunteers from the community with students who need academic, social and/or emotional support. Along with an assistant, she writes individualized lesson plans for each student and mentor to work from during an approximately 40-minute session. Many mentors also stay to work with a second student.

Bonnie regularly meets with teachers to determine the needs of the students and gathers materials to use for lesson plans.

The need is so great! If you’re interested in mentoring at John M. Clayton Elementary School, please call (302) 732-1520. My guarantee: You will not regret it.

Bonnie began cooking when she was in high school. Her father taught her how to cook when they went on summer camping trips.

“He showed me how to make eggs and pancakes,” she said. “Even after I had children, we often cooked breakfast together.”

Bonnie and Robert Crowther have been married for 27 years. Robert is the head golf professional at Bayside Resort Golf Club; he was formerly at Cripple Creek Country Club. They have three sons; Miles, who works for Coastal Rentals and Hydraulics; Sam, who is a Marine stationed in North Carolina; and Ian, who is a junior at Sussex Tech. Since her oldest son decided to become a vegetarian, Bonnie is now experimenting with vegetarian dishes.

Besides cooking, baking and working full-time, she loves to read and belongs to a “wonderfully fun book club.” She also knits and manages her youngest son’s school and travel soccer team.

Bonnie is a fantastic cook and loves to bake. She prefers to make most things from scratch, as you will see in the following recipes. She regularly bakes treats for the children and mentors and jokes, “I believe some of the mentors continue to come here because of my treats.”

I rarely eat dessert, but when Bonnie makes Mississippi Mud Brownies, I shamelessly elbow my way past students and mentors to get one. Doubly decadent!

“I found a couple different Mississippi Mud Brownie recipes and combined them,” she said. “They are a huge hit when I bring them to work. People comment on the icing, which is basically fudge, since it is cooked. They are very rich, and a small piece satisfies most chocolate lovers.”

Mississippi Mud Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients for Brownies:

? 4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

? 1 cup butter

? 2 cups granulated sugar

? 1 cup all-purpose flour

? 1/8 teaspoon salt

? 4 eggs, beaten

? 1 cup chopped pecans

? 3 cups miniature marshmallows

? Fudge frosting (recipe follows)

Method for Mississippi Mud Brownies:

In a large saucepan, combine chocolate and butter; cook over low heat, stirring until chocolate and butter melt. Remove mixture from heat. Combine sugar, flour and salt; add to chocolate mixture. Add eggs and chopped pecans; stir until blended. Spoon batter into a lightly greased and floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for a couple minutes. Place marshmallows on top and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until marshmallows puff slightly. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool a bit while you’re making the fudge frosting. Pour the frosting over the marshmallows and spread evenly. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Fudge Frosting


? 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate

? 1/2 cup evaporated milk

? 1/2 cup butter

? 5 cups sifted 10X powdered sugar

? 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Method for Fudge Frosting:

In a heavy saucepan, combine chocolate, milk and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate and butter melt. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a medium-size bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. With an electric mixer, beat at low speed until smooth.

Bonnie’s Strawberry Bread recipe was given to her by a friend who she met through a mother’s group in Lancaster, Pa.

“I have picked strawberries since I was a child,” she said. “I love it that we have so many pick-your-own farms in Sussex County – Magee’s, Parson’s and Bennett’s. I often make quick breads as mini-muffins, which my children and their friends say taste better.”

Bonnie often turns this loaf pan of Strawberry Bread into muffins.

Strawberry Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


? 3 cups all-purpose flour

? 1 teaspoon baking soda

? 1 teaspoon cinnamon

? 2 cups granulated sugar

? 1 teaspoon salt

? 1 cup oil

? 4 eggs

? 3 cups mashed strawberries

Method for Strawberry Bread:

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, sugar and salt; make a well in the center. Put in oil, eggs and berries and stir until moistened and combined. Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Before removing from the oven, check for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing loaves from the pans; finish cooling.

The recipe for Sausage Stuffed Whole Wheat Buns was in a U.S. ski team cookbook that Bonnie’s husband gave to her when they lived in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“The buns became a requested family treat when we went on picnics, especially for the Fourth of July at the beach,” she said.

Sausage Stuffed
Whole Wheat Buns

Ingredients for Dough:

? 1 package dry yeast

? 1-1/4 cups warm water

? 2 tablespoons honey

? 2 tablespoons butter

? 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour

? 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients for filling:

? 1 pound Italian turkey sausage

? 1/2 cup minced green onion

? 1-1/2 pounds fresh spinach or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

? 1 cup ricotta cheese

? 2 eggs, beaten

? Worcestershire sauce to taste

Method for Sausage Stuffed
Whole Wheat Buns:

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water and honey and let proof for five minutes. Add the butter and half of the flours and beat with a heavy-duty electric mixer or in a food processor. Add the remaining flour and beat until smooth, or knead by hand. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

In a large skillet, sauté the sausage and green onion until the sausage is browned and the onion is soft; drain any grease. Stir in spinach and mix in the ricotta, one beaten egg and Worcestershire sauce; blend well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Punch down the dough. Roll out on a floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 4-inch circles.

Place 1/3 cup filling in the center of each circle; bring the edges up to the center and pinch together.

Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet and brush with the remaining beaten egg. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Homemade Pizza Dough is a long-time Crowther family favorite. Bonnie found the recipe in Family Fun Magazine when her boys were young.

Pizza Dough


? 1 cup warm water, divided

? 1 teaspoon sugar

? 1 tablespoon dry yeast or 1 packet

? 3 tablespoons olive oil

? 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

? 1 teaspoon salt

Method for Pizza Dough:

Place 1/4 cup of warm water in a bowl. Stir in the sugar until dissolved; then sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the water. Let the yeast float there for 1 minute, then stir it into the water. Let the yeast proof for 10 minutes. Blend into the yeast mixture the remaining water, olive oil, flour and salt. If your mixer has a dough hook, attach it and mix the dough until a ball forms, adding more flour if needed to make dough that is not sticky.

Knead dough for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Coat the inside of a bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough ball into the bowl, then flip it over so the oiled side is on top. Cover the bowl with a large plastic bag; then let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). Yield: 2 thin pizza crusts.

Use pizza sauce and toppings of choice. Preheat oven to 550 degrees F. and bake the pizza on the lowest rack. Put a piece of foil on the rack above the pizza to prevent too much browning of the toppings.

Topping suggestions:

Red or yellow onions, red, orange or yellow peppers, baby spinach leaves, shredded mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil leaves, fresh mozzarella, rotisserie chicken, oven-roasted eggplant and zucchini slices.

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)