I remember many years ago my Uncle Don decided to make some Flubber for my cousins with the contents of the package he purchased.

The fun was going to be endless with this new concoction. He added water to the fill line, put on the lid and shook the container. When he opened it, instead of the expected bouncy, rubbery substance, he was greeted by a runny mess. Mad at himself for apparently wasting money on this "not as advertised" product, he flushed the contents down the toilet.

Hours later, when he had to call a plumber to unclog the plumbing, he retrieved the packaging from the trash and read the directions for the first time. Seems you were instructed to let the mixture sit, undisturbed in the container, for several hours in order to achieve Flubber. Reading and following the directions can save money, time and frustration.

How about following directions when in the kitchen? Sometimes, there's a good reason for not following a recipe. It usually has to do with the ingredients being altered because we want to use up leftovers, or maybe there's something we need to use before it goes bad.

But, following a recipe is suggested the first time you try a new recipe and for those learning to cook. Substitutions can more easily be made once you are familiar with the end product so you will know what works and what doesn't.

It's a good idea to read a new recipe through thoroughly before preparation. One cup flour, sifted is different than one cup sifted flour. The same with one cup chopped nuts and one cup nuts, chopped. Room temperature butter requires some planning, and if the ingredient is divided, be sure to divide it correctly.

Recipes calling for eggs are written for large eggs, sugar means granulated, butter is salted and flour is all-purpose.

Baking is more of a science, which requires more accurate measuring and less substitutions. However, recipes for baked goods may still need to be altered. Oven temperature, baking pans, altitude and even humidity can affect results. Our Missouri summer weather compared with our winter weather can produce a variety of results in your own kitchen when preparing a family favorite. Try making someone's signature dish and chances are it won't be quite the same for a variety of reasons.

Whether you are mixing up Flubber or a chocolate layer cake, directions may be a suggestion, but it's always a smart idea to read them.

Today's corn salad is a great make-ahead salad that's as pretty as it is tasty. You will be surprised what the rice "crust" adds to the casserole. It's a perfect use of leftover chicken or brown some beef if you choose. Make it your own with your favorite toppings. For a refreshing dessert, enjoy the classic chocolate and peanut butter combo. It's super rich and another terrific make-ahead dish.

All of these recipes are from "The Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook II." Stay cool and happy eating.

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Corn salad

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 can shoe-peg corn

1 small jar chopped pimento, drained

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Combine first six ingredients; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over vegetables and toss lightly. Cover and chill 8 hours.

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Pizza rice casserole

3 cups cooked rice

2 cups spaghetti or pizza sauce

1 pound browned ground beef or 2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 cup sliced mushrooms

12 to 15 slices pepperoni

1/2 cup diced green onion

1/4 cup diced green pepper

Other pizza toppings, if desired

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 cups mozzarella cheese

Press rice into sprayed 9-by-13-inch baking dish; cover with sauce. Layer beef or chicken, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, pepper and other toppings. Sprinkle with basil and cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Peanut butter fudge pie

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 graham cracker pie shell

3/4 cup fudge ice cream topping, divided

Chopped peanuts, optional

Cream together cream cheese and peanut butter. Add sugar, milk and vanilla until combined. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon half of filling into crust and spread with half of the fudge topping. Place remaining filling on top; cover and freeze at least 6 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Drizzle with remaining fudge topping and peanuts, if desired. Yields 8 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.