Pack an Ohio Picnic

Shop your local farmers market, then head out to your favorite spot with a basket of these summer-ready recipes — one fit for a first lady — from Ohio chefs.

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July is for savoring the season — not to mention all of the produce that fills the stands at farmers markets across the state this time of year. And we can’t think of a better way to do both than a day trip to your favorite scenic spot with a picnic basket filled with the freshest foods the summer has to offer.

Shopping at your local farmers market delivers more than just picked-that-morning quality that you can’t find in a traditional grocery store.

“I like being able to talk to the grower,” says Lori Panda, senior program manager for Ohio Proud. “That’s where you get the really great stories, like ‘this was my grandmother’s recipe,’ or what their farming philosophies are,” she adds. “I also love how the farmers market brings a community together. I think we’re in a time when people are extremely interested in supporting local growers.”

We asked some of Ohio’s best chefs for their favorite farmers-market-ready recipes. Most of the ingredients are easily sourced at your local market, and the recipes can be made ahead of time, meaning that all you’ll need to do is pack the car and hit the road. For a list of farmers markets in your area, visit


Bayou Meatloaf Sandwiches
Courtesy of Chef Dan Bailey, Malabar Farm Restaurant in Perrysville
Serves 6–8

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup mixed carrots,
celery and onion, finely diced
2 eggs
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
pinch each of dried oregano, basil, thyme and paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
one link of grilled Andouille
sausage (Sources of Ohio-made sausage include the Sausage Shoppe in Cleveland,; and Queen City Sausage in Cincinnati,
one loaf crusty French bread, sliced into 12–16 slices

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Saute the carrots, celery and onions until tender and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the carrot mixture with the remaining ingredients by hand. Using a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray as a mold, place the grilled Andouille sausage in the center of the mixture and form into a loaf around it (the Andouille should run horizontally through the center so that each slice will contain a piece).

Unmold onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 375 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, about 90 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and assembling sandwiches.

Market Vegetable Cous Cous Salad with Chevre
Courtesy of Chef Scott A. Fetty, the Inn at Honey Run in Millersburg
Serves 8

2 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous (found in bulk food stores and specialty markets)
water for cooking the couscous
2 cups assorted fresh, seasonal vegetables, chopped
1 cup chevre, crumbled (Sources include Albany-based Integration Acres,; Cleveland-based Lake Erie Creamery,; or Hiram-based Mackenzie Creamery,

3 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, mint, chives or a combination) chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white balsamic (or other) vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon locally produced honey
Kosher salt and coarsely
ground pepper to taste

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the couscous to the pan and lightly toast for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add enough water to the pan just to cover the couscous and reduce the heat. Simmer until tender, approximately 6 minutes.

Strain the couscous and rinse with cold water to chill it and remove extra starch. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the chopped vegetables and toss.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season to taste. Combine the dressing with the couscous and vegetables, and let it sit, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Toss with the chevre and serve.

Ohio Honey & Lavender Cupcakes with Honey-Vanilla Buttercream
Recipe courtesy of Lara Ranallo, Surly Girl Saloon in Columbus
Yields 3-1/2 dozen cupcakes.

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 ounces fresh lavender (see Cook’s Note)
2-1/2 cups sugar
3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup Ohio honey

1 pound butter, softened
seeds of 2 vanilla beans
1/4 cup Ohio honey
2 tablespoons fresh Ohio lavender, Pulsed in a food processor
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda by hand. Set aside.

Pulse the lavender in food processor. Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with the sugar. Mix the lavender sugar with the flour mixture.

In a mixer, combine the vegetable oil, buttermilk, cider vinegar, vanilla extract, eggs and honey. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Portion batter by filling cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20–22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter with the vanilla bean seeds. Add the honey and lavender and mix at medium speed until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar until ingredients are thoroughly combined and a spreadable consistency. (For a lavender tint, add a few drops of red and blue food coloring.)

Cook’s Note:
Check your local farmers market or try these sources, where you can buy lavender or pick your own:

Daybreak Lavender Farm
2129 Frost Rd., Streetsboro 44241,
Wed.–Sat 12–5 p.m., Sun. 12–4 p.m.

Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm

Martinsville, 513/322-2415, pick your own by appointment

Wellness Studio by Peaceful Acres

14 N. South St., Wilmington 45177, 937/488-0006, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., lavender available for purchase.

The following are some of our favorite places to spread a blanket and enjoy a seasonal feast.

Mt Jeez, Lucas
Part of Malabar Farm State Park and the highest point on the farm, this land was once owned by writer Louis Bromfield, who often brought guests here for the spectacular view.

Park of Roses, Columbus
One of the prettiest spots in the capital city, the lawns offer shaded picnicking and an ever-changing display of color from the more than 11,500 roses — representing over 400 varieties — spread through three gardens.

Oak Point State Park, Put-in-Bay
About a third of a mile west of town, the smallest state park in Ohio affords big views of the harbor and Gibraltar and Middle Bass Islands.

Airplane Rock, Hocking Hills
For adventurous types only. It’s a bit of a walk up, but sitting on this rock formation high above Crane Hollow in the Hocking State Forest is worth every step.


Hot Dog!

A connoisseur celebrates the official food of summer.
By John Hyduk

Chicken, pork, spices, smoke flavoring, the package says. No mention of “joy” but I am sure it’s in there.

I was raised on hot dogs. I ate Frankies — “The Keener Wiener” — and Sugardale Coneys until I thought my family crest was a wiener bun.

I grew taller but only sank deeper. I was hired by a weekly newspaper to travel Ohio as a reporter. I went seeking the Truth. I found the path lined with hot dog carts.

I ate hot dogs on the courthouse steps during jury trials. I enjoyed one — well, several — in the pits at a stock car track where I had gone to interview the drivers. I chomped hot dogs on the campaign trail — at a hundred gatherings where I otherwise would have just been wearing sun block in a crowd. I would return, my notes splashed with mustard and smelling faintly of chopped onions, and the editors would shake their heads. How many hot dogs did I eat? I do not know. But laid end-to-end, they reached all the way to happiness.

I discovered that, like many All-American things, the hot dog came here from a long way off. Food historians credit the Germans, but it took a Buckeye to introduce the sandwich to its ideal home.

Harry Mosley Stevens was a resident of Niles, Ohio, a grocer who supplied concessions to baseball games around Canton at the turn of the last century. The New York baseball Giants hired him to do the same at the old Polo Grounds. On a chilly April afternoon, with ice cream sales slumping, Stevens had his vendors pitch “dachshund” sausages with cries of “Red hots! Get ’em while they’re red hot!” This was either 1901 or 1906: Scholars argue over the exact date, usually between hot dogs.

Hot dogs are looked down on by gourmands, people who have eaten cassoulet on the Left Bank, folks who actually know what confit is. I am not likely to taste cassoulet unless they put it on the menu at Sheetz. The only time I will see Paris is on the Travel Channel. But I know franks.

At O’Betty’s in Athens, I get a Dixie Dog loaded with cheddar cheese and pity people who eat in bistros full of small plates and skinny jeans. I munch the special at Phillip’s Original Coney Island in Columbus and hear harp music. I have made the pilgrimage to Tony Packo’s in Toledo, although they will point out they serve a Hungarian sausage, as different from a supermarket weenie as a 50-year marriage is from puppy love. I order the dog at Erik’s Grocery Bag in North Canton, a perfect blend of sweet/smoky/salty bursting from the crispy skin, and smile. What other sandwich can turn any day into the Fourth of July?

Besides, hot dogs are the only thing I can be a snob about.

I have always marveled at people who can turn a bottle of wine into a poetry reading. They can spot currant notes just sniffing a cork, and could probably detect a peach pit finish in mouthwash. I used to hang my head. But hand me a Coney and I’ll spout blank verse. A hot dog makes the ordinary more vivid, and isn’t that what poetry does? Poetry, or love.

No matter how far I travel, I am always about two bites from childhood. Some places are better than others, wiener-wise. If you can be unhappy eating a hot dog at a baseball game, you would probably starve to death locked in a bakery. I always bless old Harry Stevens during the seventh inning stretch. Silently, of course, because my mouth is full.


Ohio produces some savory condiments to add the finishing touch to your hot dog.

Authentic Stadium Mustard
Stadium Mustard is a condiment classic, named after the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Ben’s Sweet & Hot Mustard
This zesty condiment is based on the family recipe of the producers, located in Kingston.

Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard
A savory brown mustard originally made by the present owners’ grandfather in his Cleveland garage.

Buckeye Mustard
Produced in Columbus, this sweet and spicy mustard is laced with horseradish.

Herbert’s Chow-Chow
Available in Original and Hot varieties, Herbert’s Chow-Chow relish is made by Akron’s Ohio Relish Company.

Sparky & Spike’s Tangy Pepper Relish
Choose between Spicy and Hot & Spicy to add a kick to just about any dish. Made in Massillon.

Tony Packo’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce
This recipe comes straight from one of the most famous kitchens in Ohio, allowing you to create your own signature Hungarian hot dog at home.

Welly’s Horseradish
This Fremont company has been around for more than 50 years, making fresh, pungent horseradish to accompany brats, hot dogs and more.


Springfield-based Woeber’s makes a range of mustards and other tangy accompaniments.