Chocolate Topped Rice Krispie Bars

Back in 2011, I asked Mom (Gail Lee Martin) to send me some recipes that I could put online for her. Here’s one she sent me:

“It is time to take the plain Rice Krispie bar recipe to the next level. Even though Rice Krispie bars are delicious, these chocolate-covered Rice Krispie bars are one step above delicious.

Rice Krispie bars are easy to make but these are easier than ever. With the use of the microwave, this is a quick bar recipe.”

Chocolate Topped Rice Krispie Bars

Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:

1 cup sugar

1 cup Karo syrup

1 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

9″ x 13″ pan

Pour the Rice Krispies into the 9″ x 13″ dish. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the Karo syrup. Bring it to a boil, stirring frequently.

Take the pan off the heat and add the peanut butter to the mixture. Stir until smooth. Pour mixture over Rice Krispies and mix. Spread the mixture to fill the 9″ x 13″ pan evenly.

Put both the chocolate chips and the butterscotch chips into a microwave safe bowl together. Place it in the microwave, and heat on high for one minute. Stir the mixture and continue heating at 30-second intervals until all chips are melted. Pour over the bars to cover evenly.

I looked around online and didn’t find the exact recipe, so not sure where Mom discovered it. Most of the recipes used a double-boiler to melt the chocolate chips. I like the quick, microwave method she put in the recipe.

I don’t remember Mom making Rice Krispie bars for us when we were kids. We used to get our peanut butter in a small metal bucket that weighed 5 pounds. The oil would rise to the top, so you had to stir the peanut butter up before using it.

Dress up rice krispie bars with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Shedd’s peanut butter tin bucket from the 1950s

Gail’s Immigrant Roots

June was Immigrant Heritage Month! To celebrate America’s diversity and the monumental contributions immigrants make every day, I’m featuring my mother’s immigrant ancestors. I’ll have to go back quite far, as her family lines came to America many generations ago. Gail’s family name was McGhee and her mother’s maiden name was Vining.

Here’s the family tree showing the Vining line. John Vining was her immigrant ancestor for the Vining line, having been born in Wincanton, England in 1636. He died 49 years later in Weymouth in the Colony of Massachussets. Weymouth is just south of Boston.

vining family tree immigrant ancestor

As you can see, there are some gaps in the family tree for the Vining line. I’m working on it.

Of course, along the way, there were many other family lines joining in. Tower, Buckland, Ashcroft, Long, Pease, Stone, Prior, Marsh. About 250 years later, the Vining and the McGhee lines converged when Ruth Vining and Clarence McGhee met and married in Tyro, Kansas in 1918.

Gail Lee was their second child. When she was in her sixties, she plunged into tracing the family history back through the generations. Finding her immigrant ancestors and where they came from was a thrill for her.

mcghee martin family tree

McGhee – Martin family tree

Do you know when your immigrant ancestors arrived in America? Where did they come from? One wonders what motivated them to make such a big move.

The Abandoned School

Gail Lee Martin didn’t write many poems and often apologized for them. Here’s one she felt brave enough to post on the Our Echo website where she had so many friends.

Forgotten Heritage

Old abandoned school houses
left to rack and ruin.
windows broken, porches sagging,
surrounded with trash and tall weeds.

Built so long ago by our ancestors.
now no one cares that they once sheltered
the children of sturdy pioneers
who labored to learn from Mc Guffy readers.

We’ve flown to the moon,
talked across the seas and
can fly faster than sound and this
knowledge came from those humble beginnings.

All those old schoolhouses should be
shrines to our ancestors whose
thirst for knowledge of a better life
led us to fame and prosperity.

I wanted to find a picture that would match Gail’s poem. The one below was shared on Facebook by Mary Meyer. Here’s Mary’s description of it, “Breaks my heart to see the old stone school out on the Browning go up in flames due to a suspicious grass fire. Always hoped it could be restored.” Ross Clopton remembered that his dad went to school there.

A photo by Mary Meyer of a burned school near Madison Kansas.

Photo used with permission of Mary Meyer.

Picking Sandhill Plums

Cynthia Ross sparked some nostalgia with this email, “I remember the times spent picking sandhill plums with Larry, his mom and dad, Nora and Silas Ross, while in Oklahoma. It seemed like easy picking along the side roads or in the pastures. But we had to keep an eye out for the rattlesnakes and a curious steer or two. We took our share of the plums back to my folks, Gail and Clyde Martin, who canned them for jelly. They made great Christmas gifts several years in a row. Love the sweet flavor of those sandhill plums! I know our parents believed in the saying, “Waste not, want not!”

sandhill plums FB photo

Sandhill plums – Photo courtesy of June Seimears Ary.

There was a great article in the Wichita Eagle back in 2014, but it has disappeared from their online site. I finally tracked it down with the Wayback Machine. You can read it at Sandhill Treat Is Plum Full of Taste, Memories.

Mom made the jelly a number of times, but I didn’t find what recipe she used. Probably one from the Ball canning booklet. Here’s a very detailed recipe in the Everyday Home Cook for sandhill plum jelly. If you can find the plums, go ahead and give it a try.

Clyde’s Creative Solution

Clyde and Gail Martin_studio

Clyde and Gail Martin

Back in 2010, Gail Lee Martin was coming up with ideas to use as eHow articles. This one was written after her husband saved the day with a creative solution to a problem at breakfast. 

What to Do When There’s No Half and Half

Have you ever cooked oatmeal or other hot cereal for breakfast only to find out someone had used the last of the creamy Half and Half that you always put on your bowl of hot cereal? My husband found a solution and you might like what we discovered to use as a substitute. You never know when you’ll be caught in this situation.

Start by cooking the oatmeal or cream of wheat or other hot cereal the usual way. Open the refrigerator and discover there’s no Half and Half in there.


Check in the freezer to see if there is any frozen yogurt or ice cream in there. We always keep a container of vanilla ice cream in our freezer and sometimes for a change, strawberry or chocolate flavored. My husband is resourceful and when we realized we had no half and half, he reached into the freezer and brought out the vanilla ice cream.

Scoop out a large spoonful of the ice cream and drop it onto the hot cereal.

Just wait for the ice cream to begin melting which it does almost immediately. My bowl of hot cereal was soon covered with delicious looking cream. Sure didn’t hurt the taste either, it was delicious.

Tips & Warnings
  •  So we don’t worry anymore if we are about out of half and half for the morning bowl of hot cereal.
  •  We even liked chocolate flavored ice cream on our Malt-o-Meal and strawberry flavored on our Cream of Wheat.
  •  I was so pleased with this discovery that I decided to let some ice cream melt and use it on my dry cereal and that was good too.
  •  You could even try ‘Cool Whip’ or shake up some dry milk and add a favorite flavor of Kool-Aid to try the next time there is no Half and Half.



The Cowboy with a Broken Arm

Did you have any childhood injuries or broken bones? I was pretty lucky and never broke anything as a kid, but my siblings sure had their share.

cowboy broken arm 1950s

Owen Martin doesn’t let a broken arm deter him from his cowboy games.

The photo shows my brother, Owen, with his arm in a sling. He broke that arm playing cowboy at my grandparent’s farm. There was a saddle hanging on a wooden rail and he climbed up on it. When it tipped off the fence, he ended up with the broken arm.

As you can see, it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for being a cowboy. Here he has on his cowboy hat and his pistol in his hand. The photo below shows him before the brangle with the saddle.

One of my sisters broke her collarbone when we lived in El Dorado. Later, when we lived in the country, my littlest sister suffered a broken leg when I tripped over her while playing softball in our driveway. I felt horrible about that. I was angry with her for getting in the way, then we realized something was wrong.

shirtless 1950s boy with saddle

Here’s Owen with that saddle, a gun, a cowboy hat and no shirt.

How about you? Did you fall and break any bones as a child?

(memory piece by Virginia Allain, Gail’s daughter)

Quick Definition, in case I stumped anyone with “brangle.” It means a brief squabble. 

My Little Notebook Fetish

I’m procrastinating on preparing a presentation for Tuesday. Something like that gets me started tidying my desk. Lurking here and there on my desk and in the cubbies are lots of small notebooks.

small notebooks

I wasn’t kidding — I have a lot of notebooks

I’ve turned up 14 so far. Of course, I have to check inside to see if anything valuable is in each one. I found notes from a trip two years ago, some self-development exercises I’d still like to try, some outdated computer passwords, and a list of books to read someday.

I don’t have time to act on any of these right now, so I’ll bundle the notebooks together and stash them away again. I’ll never run out of things to do in this lifetime. If I should, I can just grab a notebook and flip to a random page.

This behavior seems to run in our family. Mom had quite a collection of little notebooks too. How about you? Do you have a stash of notebooks too?

(Originally published on Bubblews, January 2015 – by Virginia Allain)