Has summer boredom hit your household yet? The solution might be found in a culinary switcheroo – have noncooks in the family step up to the stove and see what they can do.

Relda Smith has great ideas for quick novice kitchen sessions. As a retired Wooster High School home economics teacher, she knows how to whip up something quick and simple yet tastes delicious.

Take chocolate pretzel rings with the simplicity of only three ingredients and a mere two or three minutes oven time. That is just long enough to melt the chocolate on the Rollo-stuffed pretzels for an M & M candy insert.

Originally, the pretzels called for chocolate candy kisses, but Smith found caramelly Rolos more to her liking. In any event, in-school sessions with these treats always came with a strong caution. "You have to be careful because the chocolate is really hot," she would tell her students.

Peanut butter tends to bring a smile to kids’ faces. It’s no surprise, then, that peanut butter bars were always popular with Smith’s students. Calling for a few more ingredients than the pretzels, Smith still rates them as easy.

The easy base of this sweet bakes to a dense consistency comparable to a rich brownie. "You don’t have to put the frosting on these," Smith said though, given the choice, most kids do opt for the lightly flavored peanut butter frosting.

"This should be familiar to my students’ parents," Smith said of graham cracker toffees which were a curriculum standard throughout her home ec days. "We made these a couple times a school year," she said.

According to Smith, "The hardest part about these is breaking the graham crackers in half." Those graham cracker halves, arranged side by side in a 9- x 13-inch pan, are covered with a brown sugar, margarine and chopped nut sauce. Ten minutes in the oven transforms that sauce into toffee. In the original recipe, the nuts were sprinkled over the sauce. Smith changed that. "This way, the nuts stay in the cookie and don’t roll off," she said.

Much of the baking and cooking in Smith’s lab was done to support school functions. "We served speedy apple crisp to the teachers for parent-teacher conferences," she said adding, "This was a favorite recipe."

The speedy in this recipe refers to the mixing, which happens after the apples are peeled. A quick pastry blender session with the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon is all it takes to produce crumbs for the crisp topping.

"When the school had speech tournaments, my kids would make chicken sandwiches and we served them to the judges for lunch," Smith said. The sandwiches received high ratings from the judges, but only after passing Smith’s evaluation. "I always sampled everything they did right in front of them. I couldn’t lie so they could tell if it was good by watching me," she said.

Smith’s classroom career spanned 45 years, and she said she would still be there if she could. "I wouldn’t have stopped then but I got hurt at a football game in 2007," she said. Hurt she was, when a horse, part of the game program, spooked and dragged her several yards across the field,

She still substitute teaches on occasion and stays active in the Ladies Guild at Mohicanville Community Church and the Jeromesville American Legion Auxiliary. Much of her time is spent tending to her home and two-acre property on Bell Avenue, Wooster, generally accompanied by Mylee, her 11-year-old Boston Terrier and constant companion.

She and husband Deane, who died in 2012, had three children, a son who died in 2002 and his twin sister, who died at birth. Her daughter’s and granddaughter’s families, which include five grandchildren. complete her family circle.



From the kitchen of Relda Smith

48 to 50 pretzel rings or mini twists

1 (12-ounce) bag Rolo chocolate caramel candy

¼ cup M & M candies.

Arrange pretzels in a single layer on a greased baking sheet, place a Rolo candy in center of each ring. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate softens. Remove from oven.

Place a single M & M candy in the center of each ring, pressing down slightly so chocolate/caramel fills the ring. Be careful because the Rolo candies will be hot. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 dozen.


From the kitchen of Relda Smith

½ cup margarine

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons, peanut butter, divided

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup quick oats

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter

1 ½ tablespoons milk

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Cream margarine, ½ cup peanut butter and brown sugar together with a pastry blender. Using a mixing spoon, stir in egg, then add flour, soda, salt and oats until well blended. Spread into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan that has been lightly treated with nonstick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool,

For frosting, mix 2 tablespoons peanut butter, butter, milk and powdered sugar together until well blended. Spread over cooled bars.


From the kitchen of Relda Smith

12 double plain graham cracker rectangles, broken in half

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup margarine

1 cup chopped nuts

Layer graham cracker squares in bottom of a lightly greased jelly roll pan.

Bring brown sugar and margarine to a boil on stovetop, let boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in nuts and pour over graham crackers. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes


From the kitchen of Relda Smith

10 cups peeled and sliced fresh apples

2/3 cup butter or margarine

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Spread apple slices in an ungreased 9 x 12-inch baking pan. Cut butter into flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Makes 12 to 15 servings.


From the kitchen of Relda Smith

½ large (3-pound) can cooked chicken, finely diced

1 (6-ounce) box Stove Top stuffing

1 (10 ½-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 soup can water

Put ingredients into a saucepan in order given. Stir by hand until heated and well mixed, then put in a slow cooker at low heat. Serve on buns. Makes 10 to 12 sandwiches.

— Would you like to nominate someone for "Cook’s Corner"? Email their name and phone number to camboh49@gmail.com or call 419-289-0972 and let Cami know!