Fran’s Favorites: Time for tea


I spent a couple of days in Cleveland this past week meeting with lots of people working to get the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library kicked off in the Cleveland area. But of course any time I am in Cleveland it gives me a chance to spend a little time with my two grandsons there. We talked about going to a park, but 4-year-old Theo had other plans — so we cooked. His specific requests were noodles and cinnamon rolls — there is just something about dough and rolling pins that kids love!

Back at the Governor’s Residence I finished my project on First Ladies’ recipes.

Since many Ohio First Ladies have hosted beautiful receptions and teas here at the residence, I decided to try having a series of teas for women around the state and serve favorite recipes from the First Ladies, both federal and Ohio. To make the house look its tea party best, we checked all the nooks and crannies of the house for old tea pots and other pieces of silver and shined them up. We found some adorable tea cups and square tea plates that have probably not been unpacked for 50 years. We washed them all, and then we baked!

We baked: Barbara Bush’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies, Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge (a recipe I’ve saved from my 8th grade Home Ec class), Janet Voinovich’s Melting Moments Cookies (from the cookbook Janet and I made together in 1990), Mary Todd Lincoln’s Almond Cakes (my adaptation of what Abraham called “the best cake he ever ate!” while he was courting Mary), Betty O’Neill’s Extra Chewy Dreamy Chocolate Bars, Martha Washington’s Jumbles, and Melania Trump’s Star Sugar Cookies.

I also made a few of my own favorites — my Lemon Coconut Squares and Buttermilk Brownies, as well as some tiny lemon tarts topped with a red raspberry. Just to make sure no one went home hungry, we also made cucumber sandwiches (Mike’s mother’s recipe) and tiny chicken salad sandwiches. My family doesn’t think a tea party is a tea party if we don’t also have some tiny scones, topped with raspberry jam and whipped cream, or lemon curd. So we set up a special scone bar in the Great Room just for that!

The house looked beautiful for our first tea yesterday. We filled many of the shiny old silver teapots with beautiful fall flowers, and set up the big dining room table with our sampling of “First Ladies’ food.” It was a lovely autumn day to walk in the gardens and enjoy the beautiful spaces. It’s always fun to share it with friends from all around the state. We sent all the ladies home with a little homemade cookbook we made with recipes of the First Ladies’ treats that we served.

We are having a couple more teas next week before we wrap up all the beautiful silver and put it away. This weekend we are also having a baby shower for some of our Ohio National Guard families who are deployed, and who are expecting or recently had a baby. I think that will be great fun, too — we may include a little healthier food for them!

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Mama’s Cucumber Sandwiches

Combine well:

1 medium cucumber, grated, drained and squeezed dry

3 oz. cream cheese

1 Tablespoon grated onion


Spread mixture on white bread and cut into small sandwiches

* * *

Fran’s Lemon Coconut Squares

1 cup flour

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup butter

Cut butter into flour and sugar until it resembles coarse meal.

Pat evenly into 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool.

Combine in bowl:

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Beat in:

2 eggs, beating thoroughly after each

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Spread over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Sprinkle top with confectioner’s sugar. Cut into squares. These are nice to freeze.

Fran’s Lemon Coconut Squares’s Lemon Coconut Squares

Mama’s Cucumber Sandwiches’s Cucumber Sandwiches

Fran DeWine readies tea at the Governor’s Residence. DeWine readies tea at the Governor’s Residence.

By Fran DeWine

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

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