A recipe for adventure, and looking forward to our next careers

As many of you know, Kevin and I recently bought a home in central Illinois, which is my hometown area but new territory to my husband. We’ve just finished remodeling the house and are now exploring employment options; he wants to resume his sales career while I want to continue working with organizations that might find my business/writing/marketing expertise of value.

However, given that we still are in the midst of a lot of travel back and forth to Madison for existing client work, and to complete the sale of our Madison home, we aren’t feeling the need to rush into the first opportunity that presents itself, which allows us some time to “settle in.”

Meanwhile, Kevin enjoys day trips (our three dogs preclude longer ventures, since we don’t yet have a designated doggie babysitter). And me being me, I’ve decided that if we are going to invest time together exploring this new state, we might as well meet as many people as possible and learn as much as possible. So … we’re creating a “Cooking with Illinois” cookbook along the way to give as Christmas gifts to our Wisconsin friends this year (don’t tell them, okay?).

Yesterday, we visited the Mormon settlement in Nauvoo, Ill., along the Mississippi River, where the prophet Joseph Smith brought his followers to settle. (His death by mob in a Carthage jail — and a timely message from the Lord for his protégé Brigham Young to move the followers on — precluded the area from attaining the significance of Salt Lake City, but this area is historically as important to the church.)

The congregation has built an incredibly beautiful white stone temple there, and it maintains an old-time 1840s Mormon village, complete with a newspaper shop, tinsmith building, gunsmith workshop, and reconstructed homes of its famous leaders on the sites where they lived. There is, of course, also a magnificent and state-of-the-art genealogical center there, a family living center to teach crafts from the 1800s, and numerous tours provided by sisters and elders on mission for the church.

Sister Jones and Sister Mayne

From two of the attending Mormons, Sister Jones and Sister Mayne, I was provided recipes for apple cake and corn salsa for our cookbook! On the pages where their recipes will appear, I’ll put their photos as well as a summary of the Mormon history in that area, and many photos.

Next week, we’ll go to Lincoln’s New Salem settlement — my personal favorite. I already have lots of photos there (in fact, one of my photos from there appears in the official State of Illinois Tour Guide book), but I will be happy to learn favorite recipes from the settlement’s staff!



Yesterday was just too much fun, meeting so many people and swapping stories and recipes. We also visited the oldest winery in Illinois (Baxter) and got recipes there! You’ll be impressed to know that everyone we met along our outing knew where Madison was, but no one had ever heard of Bushnell, a village of 3,200 people only 45 miles away.

This has reinforced my belief that my new hometown could use a community learning center to put Bushnell on the map — beyond the Spoon River extension courses offered in Galesburg and Western Illinois University in nearby Macomb. (To help you figure out where Bushnell is, we’re an hour away from Peoria.) So I’m exploring Main Street storefront buildings for a prospective business location.

As I said, there’s no rush for Kevin and I to define our next careers, and in fact, I won’t be “available” until July to pursue anything else, but … me being me …

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