CHAMPAIGN – Dan Mall was doing part-time landscaping and maintenance work for Fox Development when Peter Fox tapped him to help run a new Jimmy John's franchise.
That was in 2001, when Mall was getting ready to graduate from the University of Illinois.
Nine years and 18 stores later, Fox and Mall's franchise has been named Operator of the Year by the Champaign-based sandwich shop chain.
One of the benefits of using a slow cooker is coming home after a long day and smelling food that's been cooking all day.
We compiled a few recipes – not just entrees, either – that use especially aromatic ingredients.
That way, you'll enjoy your slow cooker and food inside it with more than just your taste buds.
"This recipe is always part of my family's Christmas Eve dinner, which was our biggest family time," says Trisha Crowley, deputy city attorney for Champaign. "Fifteen years ago, my parents prepared a family recipe book that they gave to each of their 14 children for Christmas one year, because, as my mother said, answering all the phone calls from all my brothers and sisters asking for individual recipes was taking more and more time every year.
CHAMPAIGN – Although he's been a professional chef less than a decade, Dave Martin is readily recognized by thousands as the funny guy who came in third in the inaugural season of the hit show "Top Chef" on Bravo TV.
The show, which just finished airing its sixth season in December and has been picked up for a seventh, has fans who still remember Martin for a crack aimed at a fellow contestant that's not really appropriate for a family newspaper.
There are even T-shirts with his famous line on it.
DANVILLE – Kathy Lan sometimes misses the good old days of her childhood in China.
The Danville Area Community College sophomore would like to get another red envelope like the one she got when she was 8.
Lan received a large amount of money from her grandmother and other adults, part of a tradition for older adults to give children and young single people money to help with their education or to be used during the upcoming year.
Spend more time with your sweetheart this weekend while cooking these sure-to-be delicious meals in your slow cooker.
Makes: Eight servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 6 1/4 to 8 1/4 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 4-quart
2 slices lean turkey bacon, cut in squares
There are lots of Internet sources for help in dealing with peanut and tree nut allergies.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, http://www.foodallergy.org, is recommended by several mothers with allergic kids. Among its information is how to read a label for a peanut-free diet and the following advice:
-- Avoid foods that contain peanuts or artificial nuts, goobers, monkey nuts and peanut protein hydrolysate among other items.
Gwen Martens of Atwood has almost died three times because of her food allergies.
The first time was at a bank when she was 5 years old.
"Mom was in the middle of a transaction when someone cried out, 'That little girl is turning blue!'" Martens said. "That was my first trip to the ER – then, throughout childhood, trips to the hospital as they discovered I was also allergic to tree nuts."
Next, Martens was deprived for years of cow's milk and chocolate when her family feared she was allergic to those substances.
East Central Illinois has one more place to savor locally smoked and barbecued meats.
Pauly's BBQ opened on Friday in the former Tom's Dairyland in Arthur.
"This is probably the most asked for recipe in my recipe file," writes Colleen Pihl of Champaign. "I came across it years ago on a Bakers German Chocolate box and modified it slightly."
Chocolate mixture: 1 package (4 ounces) Baker's German Sweet Chocolate and 3 tablespoons margarine.