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Fran’s Favorites: Children’s book illustrations and bruschetta

Fran DeWine at Mazza Museum

by Fran DeWine for Sidney Daily News

Earlier this week I traveled to Findlay to promote Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, and I got to visit the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay.

The Mazza Museum is the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. The collection is fabulous and fascinating! It was fun to see the originals of many books I was already familiar with as well as some really crazy “pop-up” books. The exhibits are beautiful and I toured the vaults to see thousands more illustrations carefully stored. The museum offers many educational opportunities for children.

Their goal is to “promote literacy and enrich the lives of all people through the art of picture books.” I also toured the new Conda STEAM Education Center which will be opening in just a couple more weeks. It is a place where students from Findlay City Schools will work with the University of Findlay students in the sciences, education, and arts, in an exciting STEAM hub. I can’t wait to go back and see it full of students and excitement!

My trip was complete with a walk with the mayor to the new park and a visit to the new bookmobile. I even checked out a book, “Pie Camp.” I might get some new hints!

I came home for the weekend with a lot of fresh produce waiting for me. My tomatoes are beautiful and my early apples are falling off the tree so they need to be picked. I’m going to make some flavorful Bruschetta with my nice ripe tomatoes. Bruschetta makes a great appetizer. Add some fresh mozzarella cheese and it makes a nice lunch. And I think I’ll make a big batch of applesauce this afternoon. I know those two new grandbabies of mine will love it!


• 1 loaf crusty sourdough country bread or French bread

• 4 to 6 ripe tomatoes

• 2 tablespoons chopped garlic

• 1 tablespoon chopped shallot or red onion

• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped coarsely

• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 cup olive oil

Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice. Sprinkle with salt and place in colander for about an hour to get rid of some of the juices. Drain and put into bowl. Add the garlic, shallots, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Cut the bread into medium/thin slices. Toast, and cut in half if large. Brush with remaining olive oil. (Rub with half a piece of garlic over toast if you’d like more garlic taste). Top with tomato mixture and serve immediately.