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Cooking With Myra: Childhood favorite recipes for young at heart

March 15, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 14, 2011 at 10:15 p.m.

Chocolate-Covered Rice Krispies Treats

Chocolate-Covered Rice Krispies TreatsPeanut Butter Cornflake Cookies

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (extra butter needed to grease foil in pan)

1 (10-oz.) bag miniature marshmallows

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups Rice Krispies cereal

9 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or 11/2 cups chocolate chips

Fold two long sheets of aluminum foil so that they are as wide as an 8-inch square baking pan. Lay the sheets of foil in the pan, perpendicular to one another, with the extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push the foil into the corners and up the sides of the pan, pressing out any wrinkles and smoothing it flush to the pan to create a foil sling. Grease the foil with butter.

Melt the 3 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over low heat. Add the marshmallows, vanilla and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in cereal until mixed. Scrape the mixture into a prepared pan and press with a greased spatula. If you do not grease the spatula, you will have a sticky mess. Melt chocolate or chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the melted chocolate over the top of the Rice Krispies treats in an even layer and let sit until set, about 2 hours. Refrigerate for a faster set. Remove the treats from the pan by lifting the foil. Cut into squares.

11/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup white corn syrup

11/2 cups peanut butter

71/2 cups cornflakes

2 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar and syrup in saucepan and allow to boil up once, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and peanut butter stirring, until smooth. Pour over cornflakes and mix well. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan and press down. Cut into squares while warm.

By Myra Starkey

Last week, we met some friends for supper at Huvar's. They had their 6-year-old granddaughter, Mary Ann, with them. They were "grandparenting" for the week.

After I asked all the usual questions about school and her friends, I posed the next very important question, that being whether or not she could ride a bike.

What I meant was could she ride without training wheels.

Mary Ann told me all about her purple bike with butterflies on the seat and that the name of her bike was "Double Trouble."

She admitted that she still had training wheels, but her grandmother told me they were going to teach her to ride without them over the spring break.

She beamed from ear to ear, bouncing her blond pony tail to and fro to acknowledge that this big challenge was something she was ready to accomplish.

When Miles, my oldest son, was about 6 he informed us that he no longer wanted training wheels on his bike, and he wanted to go around the block by himself without me following. So, one afternoon, I removed his training wheels and he pushed his bike across the street to the empty Trinity Episcopal parking lot.

He got on his bike in the grassy part at the edge, and I held on to the back of the seat, gently pushing him and holding the bike upright as needed. Back and forth he rode on the grass, until I felt like he was ready to move to the pavement.

I continued to hold on for several trips around the parking lot until he had his balance, and then I let go. He rode for a short distance and then fell off, but uttered not one peep and simply announced he had forgotten how to stop.

I gave a few more instructions and then held on to the seat until he had his balance, letting go as I watched him ride around and around and around the lot. I took my seat on the curb and watched as my 6 year old grew up before my eyes.

I finally had to beg him to come in since it was getting dark, promising to allow him to ride again the following day. Later that evening, when it was time for bed I sat on his bed to hear his prayers. Miles included how thankful he was to have learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He turned his face to me and smiled and said, "Mom, I feel so free. I can do anything."

Taylor bought me a Vespa scooter several weeks ago. If you have ever been to Europe, especially Italy, or have seen pictures of people in traffic over there, then you would have noticed large numbers of folks buzzing around on these small motorcycles.

Gasoline is very expensive there, so many people use these fuel-efficient scooters to get from place to place.

Vespas are made in Italy and very retro-looking. They haven't changed much in design since they were first introduced in 1946.

He bought me a bright red one, like you see on sports cars. Perhaps he was hoping to instill some adventure in my otherwise routine life. Or maybe he just wanted to get one, so he bought me one first, so I couldn't tell him no. In fact, he did buy himself a silver one.

I am an avid bike rider. Actually, I should say that I used to be an avid rider, and now I just know I should be riding my bike to get some exercise. I recall enjoying those days with friends when we would all ride together.

Riding a scooter is not exercise. It does not require pedaling. It goes up and down hills with the same ease. I think I could get used to that.

Taylor gave me a mini-lesson when he brought it home. I have a fear of motorcycles because of injuries I hear about, so I was fearful. The last time I rode a dirt bike in the country, I drove into a briar bush.

A scooter is definitely not the size of a big motorcycle, but is much faster than a bicycle. He showed me the basics, and it wasn't too difficult. Still, I hesitated to get on and take it for a spin.

I came home after work one day last week, and decided to try to ride by myself. I put my helmet on and turned the key. Vrrummmm.

I looked across the street, and lo and behold, the Trinity parking lot was free of cars. I practiced turning and stopping. I practiced getting on and off, and then I went around the block, slowly. By the time I had circled the block three times, I was ready for the open road.

I drove to the local park since they had a long stretch of road that I could gain some speed to get the feel of the bike.

I began to feel a smile deep inside me, one that had been waiting to burst forth at just such a time. I laughed out loud as I scootered around the park honking at sweating pedestrians getting exercise.

People smiled and waved and I rode along thinking of the fun I was having. Later that night, as I thanked Taylor for a gift I never asked for or wanted, I told him how happy it made me to ride that day.

I looked over at him and smiled, "I feel so free."

The following recipes are for the young at heart. The Peanut Butter cornflake cookies are a childhood favorite that would disappear from the pan every time I would make them for the kids.

And, in case those aren't enough to totally trash your new diet, the Rice Krispies treats are topped with chocolate, for the chocolate lover in all of us.

You'll have to get serious about your diet later. Go for a walk, turn a somersault, ride a scooter, run a race. Do something fun that you haven't done in awhile, and then smile and eat one of these treats.

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.

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