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."
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.
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.
MAHOMET – The Illinois State Fair may be five weeks away, but Linda Cifuentes already has spent weeks poring over the food categories so she can enter nearly every one.
The rural Mahomet woman has won numerous awards for her recipes and food – small appliances, $200, supplies of food – but her favorite prize was a weekend last October in New York City. She was one of five winners out of some 500 entries in a cocktail recipe contest sponsored by Canadian Mist whiskey.
We use this Tried and True column each week to feature a special recipe that a reader has discovered, tried and highly recommends. This week, it's Spinach Salad submitted by Kim Pillischafske of Champaign.
"It is a great summer salad, especially if you add mandarin oranges to it." – Pillischafske.