Fran’s Favorites: Whole wheat bread & sidewalk paint

By Fran DeWine

Life has changed so much for all of us during these past several weeks.

Mike is extremely busy as you might expect, but he has been able to do most of his work while staying home. He starts every day with radio shows, then staff meetings with all the people on his team by videoconferencing, right from the kitchen. He has meetings with mayors, with other governors, even calls with the president and vice president from home. Then he goes into the statehouse every afternoon for a press conference. While he is totally consumed with keeping Ohio safe, and at the same time opening our economy back up, I have enjoyed having that little extra time not just to take care of him, but also do some of the cooking that I haven’t done for a while, and that I really love to do.

Last week I made my grandmother Anna Struewing’s whole wheat bread recipe. Even though I always loved her bread, I haven’t made it for years because it has a long rising time — actually several risings — so it’s not quick. But since I am staying home anyway, why not!? My grandmother made this bread to feed to her nine children during the depression years, and in her later years she would make 100 loaves to sell at the Yellow Springs Senior Center’s annual bazaar. I went to her house years ago to learn how to make it from her. She didn’t have a huge bowl, so she used a dishpan to mix it up. As she put each ingredient in, I measured it, because her tablespoons might be giant tablespoons. She made her bread with the “sponge” method. She would put half the flour in, let that rise until spongy, then put the rest of the flour in and knead it. This way with the slow rise, you could make it with about half the yeast you would normally use — which is very important now because yeast is hard to find in some stores. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions and additions to this recipe. I actually like to use honey instead of brown sugar in it, and last week I added some cooked oatmeal to it to make it moister. Raisins are a great addition also. This recipe makes a lot, which is good if you want to share, or if you put it in the refrigerator or freezer to keep longer. Or just cut the recipe in half. It makes great toast which Mike says he looks forward to in the morning! It makes an excellent grilled cheese sandwich as well. Be sure to adjust the baking time to the size pans you are using.

I’ve also been working on recipes for children. As this spring weather gets warmer, it’s a great time for the kids to be outside doing crafts. Over Easter weekend I made some sidewalk chalk paint for my grandchildren to enjoy. It’s made with simple ingredients — water, cornstarch and food coloring or kids washable paints. It gives them hours of creativity and enjoyment — but it all washes away as the rains come.

Today I am sewing some more masks as well. I have given many away. I even made some in exchange for people giving donations to local food banks. We have to support our food banks because so many people are hurting right now — the need has never been higher. Our frontline health care workers need our prayers every day for the incredible job they are doing and the sacrifice they are making.

So, stay home. Read to your children. Call your friends. Write a letter. Make some bread to drop off to a neighbor. And paint a rainbow on your sidewalk. We’re all in this together. The sun will shine again!

Grandma Struewing’s Whole Wheat Bread

In a large bowl mix:

1 quart warm water

2 packages dry yeast

4 Tablespoons brown sugar or honey

1 Tablespoon salt

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease

Let stand 15-20 minutes until foamy.


4 cups whole wheat flour

Mix well with large spoon. Let stand covered for 30 minutes until fluffy.


4 cups whole wheat flour

Scrape bowl. Knead dough on board or table until you can roll in a ball, using 2 cups white flour to knead your dough. Grease bowl. Put dough in bowl to rise until twice the size, then work down. Let rise about an hour again. Then divide dough into 4 loaves and put in greased (7 1/2 inch by 3 1/2 inch) pans. Cover with plastic and set to rise. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 55 minutes. Brush with butter.

Sidewalk Chalk Paint

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup cold water

food coloring or washable kids paints

Mix cornstarch and water. Divide into muffin cups or small plastic containers. Add a few drops food coloring to each one to get desired colors. Use cheap 1 inch brushes or foam brush to paint sidewalk. This will settle so stir occasionally.

By Fran DeWine

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

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