Growing up in Illinois, Dana Stenzel tilled the earth and planted seeds at her grandparents' farm. After she finished, her grandmother would shoo her home.
The next day, her grandmother, Avis Galgan, would appear with tasty homemade canned jellies and tomato sauces. But how she made the treats was kept a secret.
"We never go to see the magic in the kitchen," said Stenzel, a Palm Desert resident. "It was always a mystery."
Decades later, the 44-year-old Stenzel is making jellies in honor of her late grandmother — but with her own twist of infusing the punchy heat of chipotle, jalapeño, habañero and exotic Trinidad Moruga Scorpion peppers with the fruity sweetness of jam.
Stenzel, a home-school teacher, bloomed her spicy-sweet recipes from a small vendor's booth into a thriving business under the name Stenzelberry. Two of her products — Jalapeño Jelly and Sweet Fire Citrus Explosion — recently made it onto a shelf in the desert's only Whole Foods Market. And she has big ambitions to expand.