Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Ohio is home to the Family Motor Coach Association’s headquarters, and to many native Buckeyes who ventured afar but never forgot the tastes of fresh-picked Ohio sweet corn, farmhand casseroles, and sweet Amish desserts. Ohio’s Hocking Hills area, southeast of Columbus and near Wayne National Forest, is only a few hours from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. It’s a wonderland of craggy hills and towering forests unlike any other place in the state. The roads require heads-up driving, but the ride is never boring.
If you’re traveling in this area, make a point to visit some of the fine restaurants, such as The Inn at Cedar Falls outside Logan; Grouse Nest in South Bloomingville; The Sandstone in downtown Logan; Etta’s General Store and Lunchbox Café in New Plymouth; and Glenlaurel, a gourmet dining experience in Rockbridge. For information about the region, call (800) HOCKING (462-5464) or visit www.1800hocking.com.
Roasted Corn Salsa
Stop at The Inn at Cedar Falls (reservations are recommended for lunch or dinner) and you’ll probably see chef Erik Keller cooking in the big, open kitchen of the log cabin built more than a century ago. “The kitchen has always been the heart of the home,” said innkeeper Ellen Grinsfelder. Pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee, and watch the staff at work. When weather permits outdoor dining, Erik presides at the big grill. When preparing this recipe, roast the corn first and then make the salsa while meaty chops are sizzling on the grill.
5 medium-size ears yellow corn, shucked
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4-teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-cup diced green onion
Half of a serrano chili pepper, finely chopped, including the seeds
1/3-cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon cumin
Preheat the grill to medium high. Soak the corn in water for five minutes; drain; pat dry; and rub each ear with a teaspoon of oil. Grill the corn, occasionally turning each ear until the kernels are lightly browned on all sides, which should take approximately 20 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and when the ears are cool enough, cut off the kernels and place them in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Mix; adjust the seasonings; and serve with tortilla chips, pork chops fresh from the grill, fire-baked sweet potatoes, and key lime pie for dessert.
The Inn At Cedar Falls Smoked Tomato Relish
This is also an Erik Keller recipe and can be made at the same time as the salsa above; or, try it another time to serve with a different meat. It’s also delicious as a snack with tortilla chips.
8 plum tomatoes
1/4-cup canola oil, plus more for brushing on tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4-cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chipotle chili puree
Small Spanish onion, finely chopped
Preheat the grill to high. Brush the tomatoes with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes on the grill until they’re charred on all sides. Remove the tomatoes from the grill and chop coarsely. Whisk together the vinegar, chipotle puree, and 1/4-cup oil. Add the tomatoes and onion; mix; and add salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend before serving.
The Inn At Cedar Falls Blueberry French Toast
I love breakfast recipes that tend to themselves in the oven while I do other morning chores. Grease a deep 9-inch-square baking pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Ohio maple syrup is found at roadside stands and farmers’ markets.
14-ounce loaf challah or other egg bread
4 ounces cream cheese (half an 8-ounce brick)
2 cups blueberries
8 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4-cup maple syrup
1/4-cup butter, melted
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes. Place half the bread in the baking dish. Sprinkle cream cheese cubes and 1 cup of blueberries over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes and berries. Combine the eggs, milk, maple syrup, and butter. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the bread. Bake for approximately one hour or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into nine portions and serve with warmed maple syrup.
Grouse Nest Salsa
The Grouse Nest Restaurant in South Bloomingville is another of the superb restaurants found in Ohio’s Hocking Hills. Here’s how chef Jean Jones makes her fresh salsa. It’s delicious with anything from the grill — not just chicken, steaks, and chops, but also with grilled vegetables or tofu. Served with tortilla chips, it’s a nice change from salsas that call for cilantro. This recipe holds for a day or two in the refrigerator if you want to make it at home ahead of a trip. Hint: prepare a double or triple batch.
1 cup tomato, diced
1/4-cup purple onion, diced
1/4-cup green onion, thinly sliced
2 leaves fresh basil, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4-cup lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
Mix the ingredients and serve, or chill for later.
The Inn At Cedar Falls Wild Mushroom Soup
When Ohio morels are in season, purchase a pound of them for this soup. With luck you might find them for sale at roadside markets in the Hocking Hills, or at specialty food shops throughout the country. Although morels are pricey, there is absolutely nothing else like them. Fresh supermarket mushrooms also can be used in this recipe; try mixing two or three types of mushrooms.
2 tablespoons butter (no substitutes)
1 pound morels (or other mushrooms), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock (such as Swanson’s chicken broth)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2-cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
In a medium pot, melt the butter. Add the morels or other mushrooms and garlic; saute until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and garlic to a bowl while you deglaze the pan, loosening all the tasty, brown bits. Add the chicken stock and heat to a simmer. Then add the cream. Heat thoroughly but don’t boil. Add the mushrooms, wine, and dill, and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a salad and buttery rolls. This recipe makes four servings as a main dish or six servings as a first course.
Hocking Hills Picnic Pasta
I developed this recipe using specialty baked beans found in supermarkets, such as Bush’s Boston Recipe Baked Beans. Remember the old days when a pot of beans baked all day on a coal stove? Long baking at low oven temperatures, plus plenty of molasses or brown sugar, are the secrets to their sweetness. It’s easy to keep these ingredients on hand for an impromptu potluck picnic in the campground. The onion is eaten raw, so choose a sweet, mild variety such as Oso Sweet or Vidalia.
2 cups pasta shells
2 28-ounce cans homestyle baked beans with molasses
15- or 16-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
Large sweet onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, diced
12-ounce package smoked Gouda, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain, leaving it in the saucepan. Immediately stir in the beans, tomatoes, onion, celery, and cheese. The mixture will be lukewarm and can be served at once or allowed to cool to “room” temperature. This recipe makes 18 to 20 servings.
The Sandstone’s Masterpiece Mud Pie
This pie, served at The Sandstone Restaurant in Logan, Ohio, may be too fussy to make in your motorhome galley, but it’s ideal to prepare at home and bring along on your next trip. Take it out of the freezer on a busy day and surprise everyone with a knockout dessert. This recipe makes a very rich, 9-inch pie to cut into 10 wedges. To save time when serving, I use canned (aerosol) whipped cream for the garnish, omitting the second cup of whipping cream.
For the crust:
2 cups finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with white filling
1/4-cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
For the pie filling:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 pint coffee ice cream, softened
1 pint chocolate ice cream, softened
3 tablespoons coffee liqueur or strong coffee
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
For the garnish:
1/3-cup chocolate flavored syrup
Roasted, chopped pecans
1 cup whipping cream
Make the crust by combining the crushed cookies, the melted butter, and 1 tablespoon of instant coffee crystals. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Cover and freeze for 20 minutes. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the whipping cream and 1 tablespoon of instant coffee crystals until the coffee is dissolved. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and set aside. In a large chilled bowl, use chilled beaters to beat the ice creams, liqueur or strong coffee, and brandy, just until they are combined. Fold in the whipped cream mixture. If necessary, put the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up, and then spoon it into the frozen pie shell. Put the pie in the freezer until it is firm, then wrap and freeze. To serve, remove the pie from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Garnish with chocolate syrup, pecans, and additional whipping cream.
The Old Bear’s Den Potato Soup
Eric Hoffman is a gifted photographer with an intimate knowledge of the Hocking Hills in all seasons. His photography workshops out of The Old Bear’s Den near Old Man’s Cave State Park are worth a special trip if you wish to hone your photography skills while Eric shows you scenes you might not find on your own. Weekend programs last eight hours; weekday workshops are five hours by appointment; telephone (740) 380-2039.
The Hocking Hills are a shutterbug’s paradise all year. In winter, when waterfalls freeze and icicles form on rocky cliffs, it becomes a hushed and beautiful ice cathedral. A thermos of this soup will keep you warm while you stalk the perfect winter shot.
Half a stick of butter
7-ounce packet or can of chicken breast meat
1 package of potato soup mix (such as Knorr)
15-ounce can of corn, undrained
4 to 6 ounces Velveeta-brand cheese, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon (more or less to taste) Morton Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend
Melt the butter in a roomy pot and brown the chicken. Add water as called for on the soup package and add the dry soup mix (to cold or boiling water, according to package directions). Add the corn and simmer everything for 10 to 15 minutes, again going by package directions, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the cheese over very low heat just until it melts, and add the Morton Nature’s Seasons seasoning blend to taste. Serve at once. Complete the menu with small, stem-on tomatoes, crusty breadsticks, and crunchy granola bars for a walking dessert. This recipe makes four to six servings.
For people and pets
If you love food, love your pets, and hate to cook, an unusual new book will give you dozens of recipe ideas and plenty of pleasure as you page through photos of food, people, and pets. Certified clinical nutritionist and animal health instructor Kymythy R. Schultze has written The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book ($14.95, Hay House), which describes healthful, delicious ways to feed yourself and your pet without lighting the stove.
Although some recipes require a juicer, and not every motorhome cook carries one, the book offers many other recipes to make with a blender, food processor, or knife. How about a no-bake blackberry cobbler topped with a crumble of raw coconut and chopped dates? Or Grandmother’s Applesauce, made with pureed raw apples? The author even makes pie crust with pecans, dates, and cinnamon. Where foods are not suitable for dogs and cats (grapes, for example), the author gives fair warning. Otherwise, you and your pet can enjoy the same delicious, nutritious, uncooked dishes.