Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger - Lesa Holstine

We at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen are delighted to welcome Lesa Holstine as guest blogger today. Lesa runs Lesa's Book Critiques, a blog that focuses on authors and books, with an emphasis on mysteries. We all enjoy reading Lesa's updates and, in fact, her blog is one of our favorites, with a link on this site.

Take it away, Lesa....

When Julie asked me to do a guest blog for Mystery Readers’ Kitchen, I was honored, and then I was horrified. I don’t cook! I’m a baker, and I make a wonderful cherry pie from scratch, but there have already been pie recipes here.

Then I realized I do make something special, and it’s from home. I’m originally from Ohio. I’ve lived in Florida and Arizona, and the only people I knew in both states who made buckeyes were from Ohio. If this isn’t the state candy, it should be. But, first a little history.

The Ohio Buckeye tree is a deciduous tree from the Horsechestnut Family. The Forestry site for the State of Ohio says, “The name “Buckeye” was derived from the Native Americans who noticed that the glossy, chestnut-brown seeds with the lighter circular “eye” looked very similar to the eye of a buck (male) deer.”

They also roasted, peeled and mashed the buckeye nut which they called Hetuck into a nutritional meal. The poisonous and bitter taste can be eliminated by heating and leaching. But, remember, this is a poisonous nut! Some believe that the buckeye relieves rheumatism pain. The symbol of General William Henry Harrison's presidential campaign was a string of buckeyes and a log cabin decorated with raccoon skins. His campaign song called Ohio the bonnie Buckeye state, as a result citizens in Ohio became know as "Buckeyes ." On October 2, 1953 the buckeye tree officially became the state tree.

And, here’s the sports connection. Ohio State teams are known as Buckeyes, and, OSU fans always say buckeyes are poisonous to Michigan Wolverines. (And, of course, Michigan fans say Buckeyes are just a bunch of nuts.)

Naturally, the candy called buckeyes, that look like the nut, are popular throughout the state. And, those of us who love our Ohio State Buckeyes have taken the candy throughout the nation. Now, I have the chance to pass the recipe on to you.

You can find all kinds of recipes for them online. Here’s the one my mother passed on to her daughters (all Ohio State fans).

2 sticks oleo (Some recipes say butter. I find the oleo keeps the peanut butter together better)
1 ½ cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar

Mix together and roll into balls and dip in chocolate with a toothpick, leaving a little of the peanut butter showing. Mom melts the chocolate in a double boiler.

Chocolate mixture –
1/3 bar paraffin
1 2/2 c. chocolate chips
½ stick oleo

This gives a nice shiny color to the buckeyes, just like the nut. However, I do these the lazy way because I just can’t keep those peanut butter balls on a toothpick. I refrigerate the dough so it sets, and then roll the dough in balls, and dip them in Baker’s Dipping Chocolate, instead of using the chocolate mixture. They might not be quite as shiny, but the buckeyes are eaten just as quickly!

Serve them on Saturdays at parties during football season.

They also make a wonderful Christmas candy. Or, serve them at Halloween parties.

Who can resist the candy that is better than Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?

(When I’m not making buckeyes for my husband, I’m blogging at Lesa’s Book Critiques,, where I discuss books, with an emphasis on crime fiction. I hope you stop by!)


  1. I feel like the cat, dying to taste your candy! Great story.

  2. Thanks, Laura! And, thank you, Julie, for giving me the chance to share buckeyes with everyone! I'm sure everyone from Ohio who makes them could send you their own variation on the recipe. But, they're certainly fun!

  3. Lesa, we're delighted to have you! And ever since I read about your Buckeyes (I got a sneak peek), I've been eager to try them. Thanks so much, Lesa, for sharing this with us! Love your blog!


  4. Lesa is my favorite! (and chocolate Buckeyes are a close second) Thanks for introducing me to a new blog, L.

  5. I love buckeyes - the candy and the actual buckeyes. When my husband ran dogs in bird dog field trials we had one area in Northeast Kansas and there were a lot of buckeye trees. The kids that were at the trials picked them up to use as good luck charms.

  6. And I am Lesa's husband who is lucky enough to get them all year long! :-) And any book that I want! I am reading Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol!"

    Love you honey,

    Jim xoxo

  7. Thanks for asking me, Julie! I had fun with it, and so did my cat, Josh, as you can tell. And, Jim was really pleased that I HAD to make buckeyes.

    And, thank you for giving me the chance to mention Lesa's Book Critiques.

  8. You're welcome, Ann. This is a fun blog. I may not comment here every day, but I always check it out!

  9. We have some of those buckeyes as good luck charms, too, Pat. And, if you look closely at my picture, I have a necklace of them. OSU Buckeye fans wear those on game day!

  10. Thanks for commenting, Jim, and telling people what you're reading.

    Love you back!

  11. Hi Lesa - Shout-out to one of the best book reviewers in the biz! Your post today brings back a lot of memories. I've lived in NYC for over 20 years, but I'm originally from SW PA, aka "the Ohio Valley," where we had plenty of buckeye trees. The boys in my neighborhood would collect the buckeyes while they were still in their spiny green hulls, pull out a baseball bat and smack them to see how far they'd fly before smashing on pavement somewhere. Of course, some of the time the hulls would explode on the bat and the batter, which was part of the fun, too, waiting to see who'd get splattered. I never did have this buckeye candy and I enjoyed reading about it. Peanutbutter cups are my husband's favorite, so I've really got to try this recipe. (And...felines clearly approve, which will go over big in our house.) Thanks for hanging out with us today!

    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  12. Hi Cleo!

    Thanks for hosting me here. It's funny how so many people from the Midwest have Buckeye recipes.

    Oh, you do have to try the recipe. My husband's favorite candy is peanut butter cups, except for Buckeyes.

  13. These look so good, Lesa! I have a feeling they wouldn't last very long at my house. My kids are nuts about chocolate (and my husband and I are too...if we can get to them in time before they're gone!) Thanks for sharing the recipe and a little history about buckeyes.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  14. Lesa, love the history of the buckeye and the connection to the teams. Cute. Thanks for sharing what looks like a yummy recipe!

  15. Thanks for hosting me, Elizabeth & Avery! It was fun, and I'm glad you like the history.

    Elizabeth, if your family likes peanut butter cups, these will be gone in no time. I did forget to mention that they make over 4 dozen. Even so, they go quick.

  16. Lesa, these would be the perfect dessert for tailgating. Where I live, they're dropping all over right now. The squirrels love them and leave the greenish outer hulls on my porch. Your version looks just like the real thing, but so much more delicious.

    An elderly neighbor of mine also thought they were lucky. When she moved into a nursing home and we cleaned out her house, we found a buckeye in every drawer!

    Cleo, I can just imagine the temptation to hit them with a bat. I always thought they looked like reject tennis balls.

    Jim, we love having Lesa here today, but we're equally delighted that you joined us. Anytime you have a craving for something, pop on by and see if it's not time for Lesa to guest blog again!

  17. Krista,

    Thank you, you have a wonderful Blog, and being an inveterate reader, who met Lesa when she was Director of the Huron Library at 22 years old, and getting married in the Library Conference Room, I assure you I will be back. Thanks for having Lesa!!!


  18. Krista,

    I just love hearing the stories about what people did with buckeyes! Jim said he hit them, too.

    Meatloaf! If I hadn't made it this weekend, Jim would be asking for that. He doesn't eat much - meatloaf, cheese, and buckeyes.

  19. Meatloaf, cheese and buckeyes sounds like the perfect meal to me! My aunt used to make buckeyes for us, and those sweets disappeared fast! They are delicious! Are buckeyes lucky for lotteries?

  20. Betsy,

    I can't say buckeyes are lucky for lotteries. Sorry! I've never won anything bigger than $5 in a scratch-off.

  21. Thank you! I know what buckeyes were but not why they were called buckeyes. Drat! Now, I want peanut butter.

  22. These are totally new to me and now I can't wait to make them. Thanks for sharing, Lesa!

  23. You're welcome "ThatBrunette" and Jenn. It's been fun spending the day at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. I hope some of you have the chance to try buckeyes!

  24. Lesa - Wonderfully fun post and a TERRIFIC recipe I'm dying to try!

  25. Although I've lived in Florida for 30 years, I continue to make buckeyes every year at Christmas. My son-in-law, who grew up in Atlanta, starts obsessing about them in October. No peaches for that Georgia boy! My mother started the tradition, but she always claimed my buckeyes were "prettier" than hers. (I must admit I always take the time to make smooth round peanut butter balls and cover up the toothpick marks!) I use Lesa's recipe, except I always use butter. Her tip to refrigerate the peanut butter balls before dipping them in chocolate is an excellent one; it keeps the balls firmer for the dipping. I have begun using almond bark chocolate, melting it in the microwave. That chocolate has made the whole process so much simpler. Since I make about 10 dozen, a timesaver is appreciated! I must admit I'm not an Ohio State fan -- in fact, as an Ohio University graduate, I always begrudged the football prowess of our Big Brother school; but I've never met anyone who wasn't a fan of Buckeye the Candy. Loved your posting, Lesa, and I recommend Lesa's Book Critiques to everyone! -- Linda, Southwest Florida Librarian

  26. Believe it or not my eight-year old son actually asked me what a buckeye was a few weeks ago!

  27. Now, Linda is the real pro at making buckeyes. She makes gorgeous buckeyes! And, even though she's not an OSU fan, she's still from Ohio. She's the reason so many library staff in Ft. Myers, FL know what buckeyes are.

    Thanks, Linda!

  28. There you go, Janel! Now you can tell him the story of buckeyes!

  29. Oh, Lesa - these confections bring me back to memories of my childhood in northern Ohio!

    Thanks for the recipe, I'll have to make a batch.