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SHANNON – Nearly 200 of the best barbecuers in the Midwest gathered recently in this small northern Illinois town to determine the 2009 Illinois BBQ Championship.
Former Champaign Centennial football coach Gary Hembrough and his "Coach's Cooking Team" were among the 55 barbecue teams dreaming of a top spot and a chance to brag about being the best in Illinois.
URBANA – A tapas bar and lounge named after the Spanish painter Picasso is coming to downtown Urbana.
Victor Fuentes, who also runs the El Toro regional chain of Mexican restaurants, is hoping to open V. Picasso restaurant in the former Office bar space, 214 W. Main St., in mid-September.
Fruit beer is one of those odd pairing of words that don't seem to go together, like "quiet Harley," "liberal Republican" and "lovable mosquito."
In this column each week, we feature one of our reader's favorite recipes – one that's been tried and is highly recommended.
This week Champaign resident Dan Cedusky, who goes by the name Colonel Dan, sends us his tried-and-true recipe for Barbecue Pizza.
(can use store-bought)
A few days before the judges assign the ribbons in the Champaign County Fair baking contest, you might want to drive down West Main Street in Urbana with your windows rolled down.
You'll probably be able to pick up the wonderful scents of lemon, cinnamon, chocolate and other baked goods wafting from the kitchen of blue-ribbon winner Phyllis Williams.
GIBSON CITY – Baking entries for the Ford County Fair is definitely a family affair for the Ertel family of Gibson City. This year they created 45 entries between the four of them – mom Jean, plus grown children Elizabeth, Molly and Matthew.
In addition to preparing their fair entries, all three children are enjoying time off from their college studies. Elizabeth, 23, will begin student teaching next fall with a dual major in elementary and special education; Molly, 21, is in her final year as an early childhood education major; and Matthew, 19, is in his second year as an accounting major.
ATWOOD – When Ericka Crist tells her husband he's eating the best pie in the state, she's got the blue ribbons to prove it.
The Atwood resident won the Best Pie award for her cherry pie entry at last year's Illinois State Fair. Her daughter, Samantha, was awarded Grand Champion in the cake-decorating contest as well.
The cucumber vines are bearing now.
One of the most traditional ways to use up the fresh cukes is to slice them and keep in the fridge in a marinade of vinegar, water and sugar. Proportions for each usually depend on taste, but I found a great recipe in one of those church recipe cookbooks I picked up at a flea market in Georgia. It calls for sliced cukes and thin slices of sweet onion to be married with 1 cup water, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar. Easy to remember and tasty. Of course any variety of vinegar could be substituted.
CHAMPAIGN – Gary Hembrough and his team are on a mission. They're using the former Centennial football coach's strategy, teamwork and delicious recipes to try to become the new Illinois barbecue champion.
Hembrough leads Coach's Cooking Team into the Illinois State BBQ Championship from Thursday to Saturday at Shannon.
Some of the gardeners fortunate enough to have gotten their green beans planted early in the spring now have fresh green beans to pick and eat. Some will be getting them at the farmers' markets and produce markets and so here are some recipes to expand our bean repertoire, as they say.
In our family for years we've had green beans cooked the way my mother cooked them for years and years. The recipe consists of frying up chunks of ham or bacon with sliced onion, adding quartered new red potatoes, the fresh beans and water to cover. Salt and pepper of course and in 40 minutes or so, when the beans and potatoes are tender, I add a stick of butter. We fill our plates and call it a great, memorable summertime meal.