Fran’s Favorites: Summer picnics


Here at the Governor’s Residence, just like most of Ohio, it’s been a very wet week.

Since this is usually the best weather of the summer, we planned many of our outdoors events for this week — a fish fry with many of our outdoors men and women, a picnic for legislators, and a thank you party for all of our past ice cream social volunteers. The rain made each a challenge, but we put up a tent and opened the doors so everyone had a safe, dry place!

As you know, our Ohio farmers have really suffered from the very wet spring. Mike met this week with about 20 farmers in northwest Ohio who told him they had less than 10 percent of their crops in. Mike is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking for an emergency declaration and for a waiver of some regulations. He is hopeful about Ohio farmers getting some relief.

A fun part of having outdoor events is showing off the Heritage Gardens. My grandson Parker, who is 9, is staying with us for a couple of days. He loves to help and he loves to work. The first thing he wanted to do was work on the county walk area. This is a walkway to the gardens where each county in Ohio has a stone. He helped pull a few weeds around the stones so that everyone could be sure to read their stone, then swept them all off.

He was interested in knowing that our Greene County stone actually came from the Williamson Indian Mound across the fields from our house. The Indian Mound dates from the Hopewell Indians about 2,000 years ago. This stone is shaped more or less like Greene County with a representation of the mound carved in. Other counties have paving bricks with their county name on them. Parker thought the Huron County stone was the coolest. It is actually a carbonate sphere, known as concretions that weather out of the Devonian Period Ohio shale. These round concretions are found in the Huron River in Huron and Erie counties. He also loved the very large Darke County stone marking the Treaty of Greenville. It was a part of the veneer panels from one of the sandstone chimneys removed from the Darke County Courthouse when the new roof was installed in 2002. Parker also loved the Putnam County stone. It is actually a stone from a Lock 30 of the Miami and Erie Canal. It is so large it is used as a bench. (You can check out all of the stones at the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden’s website.)

Since the yard was so wet, I decided to bring the gardens in. I picked flowers from each, and I made and labeled flower arrangements from each of the gardens that represent the regions in Ohio. The Appalachian garden flowers were pretty. The tall plains or prairie gardens were full of a lot of milkweed. I crawled up on the sand dune, with Parker’s assistance, to clip one of the bright orange flowers — butterfly weed. I found a few blooming plants in the alvar garden. And I made a pretty arrangement from the flowers in the butterfly garden, too, which is an official monarch feeding station. I think each picnic has been fun so far because everyone is happy to be at “their” house.

I think there is nothing better this time of the year than cobblers and crisps using our delicious Ohio fruit. So I made a strawberry- rhubarb crisp with beautiful red Ohio strawberries and rhubarb grown right here in the herb garden. We also made a cherry cobbler and a peach cobbler. And some Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for those who wanted a little chocolate! Of course we served each of these with some delicious Young’s Jersey Dairy Ice Cream.

Strawberry- Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (about ¾ inch pieces)

4 cups strawberries, cut in half or quarters

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup water


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar in 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle water over.

Cut butter into sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon mixture. Work butter in with your fingers. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake 350 degrees about 35-45 minutes, until filling starts to bubble. Serve with ice cream.

Judy’s Fruit Cobbler

½ cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup milk

Mix together in bowl. Put in bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan.

4 cups fruit (sliced peaches or cherries or blueberries)

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups boiling water (or fruit juice plus water)

Mix together and pour over cake.

Bake 350 degrees until cake comes up through fruit.

By Fran DeWine

First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.

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