In grade-school years, you were probably asked to collect family recipes and contribute to some fund-raising cookbook. For our Camp Fire group, we forked over the coveted recipe for Granny's pecan pie. Bored one summer day after that, we figured we'd try to prepare one and surprise Mom. We had the pecans and the Karo syrup, so why not? She humored us and ate some, making only a few curious expressions. Then, with perfect maternal tact she said, "Wow, hon! This tastes so unique. What did you do differently?" It sucked. Tasting it, we realized that all extracts are not created equal. See, we'd improvised a bit upon discovering Mom was out of vanilla and used a brilliant combo of the almond and lemon extracts we found in the cabinet. Ralph Wiggum said it best: It indeed tasted like burning. With this tale, we can implore parents to send the 6- to 11-year-olds to Sur La Table's Kids Cook the Movies: A Young Chefs' Series, thereby avoiding a similar assault on their taste buds. Rachel Brown helps kids cook some tasty dishes inspired by the children's films Finding Nemo (Squirt's Awesome Apple Pie), Brother Bear (Lil' Bear Honey Cakes), Peter Pan (Pirate Potato Pie) and The Jungle Book (Mowgli's Mixed Vegetable Salad). It's good fun, and it's a measure of prevention against that awkward lie that goes something like, "This is so good, Bobby. I think I'll save some for later!" The classes are at 10 a.m. this Monday through Thursday at 4527 Travis St. The four-day series is $180. Call 214-219-4404. --Merritt Martin
On the Web
Not that we're into centaur porn or anything, but we firmly hold that the fusion of man and animal can make for an impressive creature. Just consider the ferocity of a werewolf or the elegance of a mermaid. Or the web-spinning, superpower-suffused arachnid-cum-Homo sapiens Spider-Man. So maybe we live in a dorky fantasy world, but if this spider really gets your senses tingling, you won't want to miss his special appearance at Barnes & Noble, 2325 S. Stemmons Freeway, Lewisville. That is, if you can pick him out from the impostors--Spider-Man costume contest begins at 3 p.m., and the superhero himself will dazzle fans at 3:30 p.m. with athletic feats or, at the very least, autographs. Call 972-315-7966. --Michelle Martinez
Go Ahead and Jump
Normally, it would be hard to watch Charlotte's Web outdoors without feeling a little jealous on a hot summer night. Images of Wilbur the pig cooling himself in the mud might be too much to take. But watching the children's movie at NRH20, a super-sized water park, makes it a little easier. Charlotte's Web is part of the water park's Dive-In Movies film series, and relaxing in the park's wave pool or beach area is much better than burying yourself in sludge for a little summer heat relief. Charlotte's Web screens at dusk on July 2 at NRH20, 9001 Grapevine Highway, North Richland Hills. Admission is $13.70 to $15.70. Call 817-427-6500 or visit www.nrh20.com. --Stephanie Durham
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Five days for the Fourth
It's a good thing the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday this year. With Garland's Independence Day celebrations lasting five days--and two of them on a weekend--you can catch two days jerk boss-free and another one (or two) by calling in sick. You can roll out to the Garland Auto Show, rock out to Steppenwolf, snap fingers approvingly to Richard Elliott (one of the top saxophonists in the industry) and be killed softly by the songs of Roberta Flack. Sunday night, Tracy Byrd sings songs from his latest album, The Truth About Men, in the downtown square. Fireworks follow the show. The best and biggest Garland--or anyone from Dallas--has ever seen, or so say Garland's Fourth of July organizers. The Tracy Byrd concert is free to the public, but reserved seats are available for $10 through July 1. Call 972-205-2749. --Paul Kix
...and hold the fat
Comfort food--that opiate for the belly that tastes just like Mom used to make--comes in as many varieties as there are mothers. One thing that most comfort food is not, generally, is healthful. Meat loaf, dumplings and chicken-fried steak? Why bother? It's that lump of grease and starch slowly digesting in a sleepy, distended belly that provides the comfort. Mom never even heard of mesclun or steamed much of anything, except the ironing. And this was a good thing. The fine folks at the Texas Cooperative Extension Service disagree, however. Dallas County extension agent Susan Richey is offering a class July 6 in the multipurpose room of the Dallas Farmers Market that promises to "put a healthy twist on some of your favorite comfort foods." The dishes include herb-crusted pork chops, low-fat (shudder) macaroni and cheese and a low-fat (another shudder) chocolate dessert. Can that be comforting? For 10 bucks paid at the door, you can find out yourself at the class, which runs from 7 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. To register, e-mail email@example.com. --Patrick Williams