It is just wonderful enjoying the outdoors with our families. Ohioans are doing it this summer more than they ever have before.
This past weekend Mike and I fished with some of our grandchildren in Appalachian Hills. It lies in the intersection of Morgan, Noble, and Muskingum counties. This is land that was strip-mined many years ago, and has been reforested, with approximately 250 lakes and ponds. To preserve this land forever, the state has purchased more than 40,000 acres of beautiful reforested land. It is a great place to hike, camp, fish, and hunt. We went out on a pontoon boat on Hook Lake. Hook Lake is long and narrow, and lined with beautiful trees like sycamore and walnuts. It really was beautiful and peaceful. The kids and Mike caught a lot of bluegills and even a few bass. There is nothing more fun than watching a 5-year-old bring in a fish. We grew up fishing in inland lakes, and Mike thinks bluegills are a great fish to eat!
We met the night before with a number of community leaders and elected officials in McConnelsville, the county seat of Morgan County. The county population is about 16,000 and McConnelsville is a delightful village with a beautiful downtown. I especially loved the restored 1890s theater that still has live performances as well as regular movies. Just the smell of the fresh popcorn coaxed us in for a quick tour. Morgan County leaders see great tourism potential being so close to Appalachian Hills!
After all the fishermen came in from a great morning of fishing, the kids and I watched as they skillfully cleaned and filleted the fish. The bluegill are so small that you have to have a very sharp narrow knife to filet them so you get all the meat. They set up a propane outdoor burner and heated a cast iron pot filled with oil to deep fry the fish. Then they rolled the fish in Zatarain’s Crispy Cajun Fish Fri mix, and deep fried it at 350 degrees just until golden. It was absolutely delicious and everyone, even the kids, enjoyed tasting it!
When we returned home we realized all of our cherry trees were bright red — full of delicious ripe cherries. Mike picked them and I pitted them and put them in the freezer just for the week. I’m making cherry pie for Father’s Day. This dad’s favorite!
Pastry for a 2-crust pie
4 cups pitted cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
Line a 9 inch pie plate with pastry. Mix together cherries, sugar and flour and pour into pie shell. Dot with butter. Dampen edges with water and put on top crust. Adjust and crimp. Make slit in top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.