Around Sunbury, when Lanie Montgomery shows up at a potluck, folks inevitably find something a bit familiar about the dish she brings.
“When the people that I went to school with or my cousins eat it, they go, ‘This is from the school, isn’t it?’” she says. “They immediately have flashbacks to those peanut butter bars that they had at the school.”
Lanie comes from a long line of school cooks, and her recipe for peanut butter bars — the winning entry in the 2020 Ohio Cooperative Living reader recipe contest — came from her grandmother, who was a cook at Big Walnut Middle School. One of Lanie’s aunts was a cook at the high school, and another aunt cooked at the elementary school.
“We rarely had them at home, but we always had it in the school cafeteria,” she says. “When my grandma retired, I asked her for the recipe, and from then on, I carried it out more into the public. Every potluck I take it to — it’s gone. And everybody wants the recipe.”
As winner of the reader recipe contest, Lanie — a member of Mount Gilead-based Consolidated Cooperative — will receive an Ohio-made KitchenAid stand mixer. She says she’s never entered the magazine’s contest before but, as the mother of five kids, she does lots of cooking for large groups and figured her popular dish would fit nicely into the “Potluck” theme.
“Besides the fact that it’s easy to make at a moment’s notice with shelf-stable ingredients that you probably have on hand, it’s delicious,” says Catherine Murray, Ohio Cooperative Living’s food editor, who judged the contest. “You can really see that the bars would be a crowd-pleaser.”