Books and Buckeye Brownies


I’ve had a busy two weeks traveling the state to promote the Imagination Library.

During the first week of my tour, I read to a pre-K class in Tiffin, as well as to kids at the libraries in Norwalk and Bucyrus. I cut the ribbon for the Storybook Walk in Marion, where some enthusiastic kids helped me walk and read along the bike path. I spoke to the Kiwanis Club in Celina, thanking them for supporting the Imagination Library. Then I went on to Van Wert where I visited a health clinic as well as Little Sprouts in Paulding County where I read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to some very cute preschoolers. I ended the week at a fundraiser for the Imagination Library in Perry County, where we enjoyed country music and good food in a big tent.

Mike joined me that Saturday at the Jackson Apple Festival where we had apple cider and bought apple butter to take home, and walked in the spectacular night time parade.

Sunday was Reds Rookies Day at the Cincinnati Reds game, which featured lots of fun things for families to do in the Fan Zone. We set up a table there for the Imagination Library alongside other groups like the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. We even celebrated the Reds Rookies baby fan club which consists of newborns and babies up to 3 years old. The Reds game completed our swing of all the major and minor league ballparks, where we’ve been encouraging families to sign up their young children for the free Dolly Parton Imagination Library books.

On Tuesday morning I headed to Chillicothe to tour the maternity center at Adena Regional Medical Center. I love to see the new babies, and see how staff is encouraging young parents to sign up the babies for the Imagination Library books. While in Chillicothe, I visited an adorable book store, Wheatberry Books, where I read to some children. I bought a couple of books that the kids recommended for my own grandchildren. From there I traveled to Portsmouth where I visited the maternity unit of Southern Ohio Medical Center and saw some newborn twins!

On Wednesday I traveled to Defiance and visited the beautiful old library at the convergence of the Maumee River and Auglaize River, close to Old Fort Defiance Park. I enjoyed reading to kids there, as well as meeting many of the local supporters of the Imagination Library. After a book reading at Putnam County Head Start in Ottawa, I met Amanda Sprague, wife of Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, for a book reading at the Hancock County Public Library in Findlay. She read an adorable book about a frog that her children loved entitled, “Ribbit! Flip and See What Froggy Can Be” by Bender and Bender. The kids loved it, too!

Mike and I spent Wednesday night in Cleveland. I got up very early to do a 6:15 live TV interview about the Imagination Library on one of the Cleveland stations. Later in the day I did a TV interview with another station there. At both stations, the news crews were asking if I had brought my Buckeye brownies to share. They remembered that I had shared them at my visits to the vaccination sites last year. I told them that I had been so busy on the road traveling to all the counties, that I’d had no time to bake!

But now I’ve finished stops at 84 counties, and I’ve been to most of the counties at least twice. So I’m taking a day off just to bake! I got up early this morning and mixed up my dough for the

Buckeye brownies. It’s chilling now, so this evening, I’m baking brownies! I want to be sure to have them ready for my last few county stops for the Imagination Library, before I hit all 88!

Fran’s Buckeye Brownies

Buckeye Filling

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup smooth peanut butter

3 cups powdered sugar

Mix together in mixer. Chill. Roll into 3/4 inch balls and chill.


1 stick butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 large eggs

2 boxes fudge brownie mix (family size 19.5 ounces)

Mix the softened butter and cream cheese together in the mixer. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Then add the brownie mix and mix until just combined. The dough is sticky. Chill thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form the mixture into about 1 1/4 inch balls. I use a cookie scoop. Put on a greased cookie sheet, about 24 per sheet. No need to flatten them. Bake the brownie dough about 9-11 minutes (don’t over-bake). As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, press a cold peanut butter ball into the center of each cookie. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes and transfer to rack to cool. When cold, wrap individually. Makes about 6 dozen.

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Fran DeWine

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

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