Cooking with Myra: Gifts are nice whether handmade or gently used

Cheese Straws
  • CHEESE STRAWS1 cup flour

    Pinch or more of cayenne pepper

    4 ounces unsalted butter

    1/4 cup milk

    1 cup finely grated cheese (Parmesan, Gruyere, Cheddar or any combination)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub flour, cayenne and butter together ...

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  • CHEESE STRAWS1 cup flour

    Pinch or more of cayenne pepper

    4 ounces unsalted butter

    1/4 cup milk

    1 cup finely grated cheese (Parmesan, Gruyere, Cheddar or any combination)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub flour, cayenne and butter together until it resembles oatmeal. Make a well in the center and add milk and grated cheeses. Mix into a rough dough.

    Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap placing in refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.

    Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into "straws" about 5-inches x 1/2-inch wide. They do not all need to be the same length.

    Arrange these straws or sticks on an ungreased cookie sheet so they do not touch each other. Bake for 12-15 minutes. They will be barely golden brown and will crisp as they cool. After they are cooled, wrap securely in aluminum foil. They may also be frozen and reheated in a 250-degree oven. Reheat for about 5 minutes.

    These are delicate, so pack in an airtight container, and then share with a friend.

By Myra Starkey

Miles just finished his second summer session at Baylor and came home to visit for the week. He brought a couple of friends with him from Waco. Their plan was to go surfing in Port Aransas, eat some home-cooked meals, relax and sleep late, go fishing in Rockport and between all those activities, look for girls. I think they have done everything on the list except fish.

We started talking about the wedding of his sister earlier this summer, and I think that I detected a note of sadness in his voice. It wasn't that he was sad that Hannah got married, but rather that he hadn't found a potential mate yet. I reminded him that all things happen in good time and that some things take patience. He just needs to keep his eyes open until he finds that special girl who he can happily spend the next 60 years with. For a young adult, 60 years seems like a really long time.

Miles took a jewelry-making class, and he made me a pair of earrings. They are sterling silver in the silhouette of a parrot with an inlay of turquoise. They look very well done, and I, of course, complimented him on his skill. It wasn't the sort of compliment that you might give a kid when they bring home a picture they colored in first-grade, but rather a wow, sort of compliment, like I can't believe you made that. It was a great gift, and I'll proudly wear them. When someone you love makes something just for you, it has extra-special meaning.

I suppose it is nice to get almost any sort of gift but especially so if it is something they know that you really like. My friend, Janet, had this green leather purse. I must have told her that I found it very attractive or well-made or useful or something. She was either tired of it or maybe she just knew I was fond of it, so she just gave it to me. It wasn't worn out or anything. In fact, to me, it still looks fairly new. I really appreciated that and when I look at the purse, which is several times per day since it is the main purse I carry, I think all over again how nice it is that Janet gave it to me. Another friend of mine, Lisa, did the same thing once when I complimented her on this great purse she was carrying at a party. I have realized two things here. The first, is that I have some really nice and generous friends, and second, is that it never hurts to compliment a friend about their purse.

It seems to me that it is often more fun to shop for something and enjoy it for awhile, but then after time passes, it may not seem so special anymore. In fact, lots of things I own were great when I first got them, then later, they just became another thing I possessed. I probably need to be more aware of things I have that I know someone else would appreciate more than me, so I can pass them on. Maybe I shouldn't have written that because I may get lots of compliments this week, such as what a great car, I have and that it happens to be their favorite color, etc. Actually, I drive a Toyota Prius that is several years old and usually fairly dirty, so probably nobody would give me any great compliments about my car. And I can't give away my green purse. It was a gift from a very special friend.

Cheese straws are a great food gift for friends. A variety of hard cheeses can be used to change the flavors of these salty, cheesy snacks.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.