Fran’s Favorites: Back to school recipes

By Fran DeWine

I love hearing our grandkids talk about their favorite things that we did together this summer.

Some liked our trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History where they saw the giant fossil of Dunkleosteus, a large fish that lived more than 350 million years ago, found only in Rocky River and a few other places in the world. (My favorite thing in the museum was the wonderful, huge book of plants and animals by John James Audubon printed and then hand-painted nearly 200 years ago. The colors were still so vibrant!)

Others loved going to the John Rankin House in Ripley to hear the stories of the slaves escaping to freedom. They went down to the Ohio River below to see just how steep the climb was from the river up the hill to the home.

Some of the kids liked the snakes and lizards and porcupines and butterflies that we saw. And some just liked swimming!

But now, it’s back to school time. I’ve been watching all the kids go back to school, and loving those first day pictures. I have just a few kids going to school this year! Theo, Desi, and Tucker started preschool. Grady’s in Kindergarten. Steve’s in first grade. Addi and William are in second; Jeanie, third; Parker, fourth; Rebecca, sixth; Mary, seventh; Josie, ninth; Justin, eleventh; Brian, twelfth. Caroline, Grace, David, Matthew and Jacob are in college. Michael is in law school and Albert is a chemistry research PhD candidate!

Back to school time is a good time to think about breakfast, and to make sure our kids start their day right. I’ve looked at many innovative schools across Ohio that work and design ways to make sure kids get breakfast — even if it’s just a granola bar in second period class. We know that kids who have a good breakfast really do perform better at school.

Most of the time my children just wanted a bowl of cereal with bananas, or a scrambled egg, or pancakes. But sometimes it’s just fun to do something a little different. I like to do special things with pancakes for the little kids — like making a smiley face first on the griddle, then pouring the batter over after the face has browned a little. Other times I make their pancakes shaped like their initials. Another favorite recipe of ours is called Egg-in-a-Hole. Cut a hole in a piece of bread, drop an egg in that hole on the griddle and cook both together. It is fun — especially if you use a special cookie cutter like a heart — and tasty!

When that bus comes so early in the morning, it helps to prepare something ahead — maybe something you can freeze that can be easily microwaved. Oatmeal is good for this. Try using rolled oats or steel cut oats. They take longer to cook, but they have a lot less additives and sugar in them. You can add the fruit before you freeze them, or after they are microwaved.

My kids also always loved smoothies. I peel and freeze my bananas when they start to get too ripe. I also freeze those extra few berries or leftover fruit salad. When you mix them with a little orange juice, water or milk, and maybe some yogurt, they make an excellent on-the-go smoothie breakfast.


1 slice bread – any kind

1 egg

2 pats butter

Use a cookie cutter or glass to cut out hole in center of bread. Heat skillet. Put a pat of butter in skillet. Lay bread on top of the butter and break egg into hole in bread. When egg begins to set, turn it over and set the other side (add butter if needed). Grill the cut-out piece also.

Frozen Oatmeal Cups

Cook oatmeal according to directions. (I like the steel cut or rolled oats.)

Cool and divide into serving size cups.

Add blueberries or peaches or almonds or pumpkin seeds — you can use any combination of fruit and nuts. They don’t all have to be the same. Try different combinations. Freeze.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then microwave with a splash of milk at 30 second intervals.

Fruit Smoothies

1 banana, sliced (can be frozen)

1 cup frozen mixed fruit (strawberries, blueberries, or cantaloupe)

(1/2 cup ice if fruit is not frozen)

1/2 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla or other flavor)

1 cup orange juice or other liquid

1 Tablespoon wheat germ, ground flax seed or nuts (optional)

Blend in blender until smooth and creamy. Other add ins: raw spinach, frozen avocado, uncooked oats.

By Fran DeWine

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

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