Crafting retreat welcomes visitors to a working farm

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Featuring the best of Illinois for our rural, urban and suburban partners


This Issue at a Glance
1 2 3 4 5

PEts & POinsEttiaS
Editor’s note: In our winter issue, we noted that poinsettias are not poinsonous to pets. We received a question about the accuracy of this, so we double-checked with our veterinarian. Here’s her response: “The poinsettia sap is an irritant that can cause irritation of mouth and gastrointestinal signs, but it isn’t life-threatening. The highly toxic reputation of poinsettias is thought to have come about due to a misidentification of a plant that was attributed to a lethal toxicosis.” Hope this helps to clarify. We certainly don’t recommend feeding your pet poinsettias, but they aren’t as dangerous as commonly thought.

Email us at We welcome any feedback, story ideas, gardening questions or recommendations for our events section.



GOt HistOrY?
While it was nice to see a story on McHenry County in the fall issue, I was disappointed that the McHenry County Historical Society & Museum was left off the list. We host numerous festivals each year, and we also work to preserve historic structures, educate the public about history using our comprehensive museum complex
Notice of Annual Meeting

(that includes a log cabin and one-room school) and advocate for genealogical/topical research using our research library located on site. For more information, visit Please keep us in mind next time.
Kurt Begalka Union, Ill.

1. Learn the difference between frogs and toads on a night walk in Galena 2. Meet Blosom the cow at Memory Lane Crafting Retreat in Orangeville 3. Learn about the farms behind the food at Farmhouse in Chicago 4. Brush up on local art at the Maple City Fine Arts Show in Geneseo 5. Follow Route 66 to museums and history in Pontiac 6. Try handmade caramels and other candies at In Good Taste in Taylorville 7. Sip on fine wine at Castle Finn Vineyard & Winery in Marshall

Editor’s note: Thanks for sharing! We appreciate hearing from readers about subjects to feature in the magazine, so please send your story ideas to


The annual meeting of COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company® members is being held in the Illinois Agricultural Association Building Board Room, 1701 Towanda Avenue, Bloomington, Illinois, on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. The purpose of the annual meeting is to receive, consider, and if approved, confirm and ratify the reports of the company’s Board of Directors and officers for the year ended December 31, 2013, and to transact any other business properly brought before the meeting. Twenty members of the Board of Directors will also be elected at the meeting to serve a one-year term. Dated at Bloomington, Illinois, this 19th day of December 2013.
JAMES M. JACOBS, Secretary


Illinois Farm Bureau


8 Farm Fresh on the Menu
Partnerships bridge the gap from ranch to restaurant

12 Spring House Greening
Ag-based products offer performancebased sustainability


14 Get Your Kicks
Classic cars, Route 66 and free museums drive travelers to Pontiac

20  A Trip Down Memory Lane
Orangeville woman turns father’s farm into crafters’ oasis

Every Issue
5 PrairiE StatE PErspEctiVE
A look at the farmer’s close relationship with rain

6 Almanac
Hop on over to Galena’s moonlight frog walk

17 COuntrY WisdOm
Debt-management advice for young adults

18 Watch Us GrOw
Chicago mom examines how food is raised

24 REcipEs
Spring into the season with a fresh, fruity luncheon menu

28 GardEning
Tips for newbie vegetable gardeners help develop a green thumb
On thE cOVEr Photo by Michael Tedesco Patty Hanson and Blosom the cow at Memory Lane Crafting Retreat in Orangeville, Ill.


Watch videos, listen to podcasts, read stories and browse photos at

Spring 2014





Visit oUr wEbsitE for vidEos, storiEs, rEcipEs and mUch morE





Publisher Michael L. Orso Editor Chris Anderson Production Manager Bob Standard Photographic Services Director Ken Kashian President Richard Guebert Jr. Vice President David Erickson Executive Director of Operations, News & Communications Chris Magnuson

Content Director Jessy Yancey Content Coordinator Rachel Bertone Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Contributing Writers Joe Buhrmann, Charlyn Fargo, Celeste Huttes, Jessica Mozo, Jan Phipps, Martin Ross, Carmen Shaffer, Joanie Stiers Creative Services Director Christina Carden Lead Designer Stacey Allis Creative Services Team Becca Ary, Jackie Cuila, Laura Gallagher, Lindsey Higgins, Alison Hunter, Kacey Passmore, Kris Sexton, Jake Shores, Matt West Photography Director Jeffrey S. Otto Photography Team Jeff Adkins, Michael Conti, Brian McCord, Wendy Jo O’Barr, Frank Ordoñez, Michael Tedesco Videography Team Mike Chow, Mark Forester Web Creative Director Allison Davis Web Team David Day, Erica Lampley, Nels Noseworthy, Jill Ridenour, Richard Stevens I.T. Director Daniel Cantrell

AmaZing Asparagus
Spring means asparagus, and you can find a variety of simple recipes starring this spring vegetable on our website at .

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Chairman Greg Thurman President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Sr. V.P./Operations Casey Hester Sr. V.P./Agribusiness Publishing Kim Holmberg Sr. V.P./Agribusiness Sales Rhonda Graham Sr. V.P./Digital Michael Barber Illinois Farm Bureau Partners is produced for the Illinois Farm Bureau by Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-5557. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Illinois Farm Bureau Partners (USPS No. 255-380) is issued quarterly by the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1701 Towanda Ave., P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, IL 61702 and additional mailing offices. The individual membership fee of the Illinois Agricultural Association includes payment of $3 for a subscription to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners. Farm. Family. Food.™ is used under license of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL, 61702-2901.
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Please recycle this magazine

Browse spring recipe ideas at


Illinois Farm Bureau

PrairiE StatE PErspEctiVE
Joanie Stiers, a wife and mother of two, writes and works on a farm in west-central Illinois. Every spring, the farm’s rain gauges move from winter storage to their fence post perches.

Relationship With Rain
Farmers monitor precipitation as closely as their crops
Half the icons added to my smartphone’s home screen On the farm, our relationship with rain extends pertain to precipitation. beyond a supply of well water for an evening bath. Rain Two provide one-touch access to my favorite radar sustains life for our crops and our livelihood. We become and the extended weather forecast. A third requires just in tune with our space on earth and its moisture needs. two touches for a map that exhibits rainfall totals for At an early age, my parents taught us to respect rain our region. and its uncontrollable nature. Mom discussed its And I’m a farm mom, not your meteorologist on your development on the horizon. Over time, we learned to local TV or radio station. read radar images and understand Yet in many ways, my farm family’s rain’s behavior. We also absorbed Rain sustains life for our rain-name terminology: a good relationship with rain resembles that crops and our livelihood. soaker or nice shower, a beater with our children. Rain sometimes wakes us in the night. We express We become in tune with or gully washer. Sometimes spit disappointment in its misbehavior. or “enough to wet the sidewalk.” our space on earth and We praise its good deeds. Family and Just as a beating rain cancels friends talk about what it’s been up to. its moisture needs. spring baseball games, it can We check in while on vacation. And damage or kill recently planted often my family notes its activities on the calendar. seedlings. Yet at the right time and amount, a muchI thought little of our interest in rainfall until my needed rain can boost the yields from the crops we British brother-in-law called us on it. The fascination plant. The farm community calls this summertime became evident on a family trip with my in-laws. We had shower a “million-dollar rain.” traveled 365 miles from the farm and still obsessed over Rain maintains creek flows for Grandpa’s grazing rainfall reports from home. I doubt he can label this an cattle to drink. A fraction of an inch settles the dust on American obsession, but he can call it a farm one. our gravel road. A similar amount can add moisture to Newspapers, TV and radio stations headline floods over-dried soybeans waiting in pods ready for harvest. and drought. My farm family also discusses every spitting We know an inch will turn the lane in a local field to rain, nice shower and downpour in between. A rainfall mud. The same precipitation draws the kids to puddles event initiates brief phone calls, emails or texts to and adults to rainy-day jobs indoors. relatives and farm friends. It frames face-to-face farm In the night, I sometimes wake to watch how conversations. We talk about the rainfall total at our desperately needed rain falls on our crops stressed by house, discuss the difference at the farm to the west excessive heat. Gentle rains can break the crust after a and retell reports from the north. On a drive, we observe beating rain hardened the soil. By fall, we swiftly harvest moisture changes on the roadways or fields we pass. ahead of any storms that approach. More importantly, we discuss its impacts to particular Expect a few smartphones to aid the observation of our corn and soybean fields. rain gauges perched on fenceposts.

Spring 2014



Ribbit, Ribbit
Do you know the difference between frogs and toads? Hop on over to the Galena area this April to find out during the annual Fantastic Frogs and Friends moonlight frog walk. Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation hosts the educational event in northwestern Illinois. It begins with a toast to the spring season and an informational session where you’ll learn how to identify frogs and toads by their sounds. Attendees meet under the Meeker Street footbridge and stroll along the Galena River Trail while listening to the hearty croaks of a number of frog species. Afterward, guests will hike toward the Buehler Preserve, looking and listening for the species of amphibians mentioned in the session. The free event, perfect for kids and adults alike, takes place at 6 p.m. on April 25. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring your own flashlight and minnow nets. For more information, visit


Strawberries grow in all 50 states. The U.S. produces more strawberries than anywhere else in the world.

The strawberry is a member of the rose family.

average number of seeds in a single strawberry

200 55

1. June bearing or spring bearing

2. everbearing 3. day neutral

number of calories in 1 cup of strawberries. They also contain a large amount of vitamin C.

percentage of U.S. households that consume strawberries


STRAWBERRIES are the first fruit to ripen in the spring. U-pick strawberry patches typically open in mid- to late May in southern Illinois and early to mid-June in northern Illinois.

Strawberries are perennials, planted in the spring.
Source: University of Illinois Extension Service


Illinois Farm Bureau

Art Appreciation
Formed in 1957, the Geneseo Art League welcomes all forms of art and artists who have an interest in encouraging a creative environment. The founding group of artists came together as a support group to foster the arts in the small community of Geneseo in northwestern Illinois. The not-for-profit group currently has 30 active members who work year-round to promote the importance of the arts. The League sponsors annual events, including the Maple City Fine Arts Show held throughout the month of May. The event draws amateur and professional artists from as far away as 100 miles to show off their impressive creations in hopes of winning one of the show’s prestigious awards. For more information on the Geneseo Art League and the Maple City Fine Arts Show, visit

Fun at Castle Finn
Raise your glass to scenic views and exciting events at Castle Finn Vineyard & Winery in the eastern Illinois city of Marshall. Established in 2010, the winery combines its delicious wine, which it produces and bottles on site, with fun events including murder mystery dinners, music nights, wine festivals and more. The venue also has a large banquet hall used for events and weddings. Castle Finn is open Tuesday through Sunday, and closed on Mondays. For more information and specific hours of operation, call (217) 463-2600 or visit

Bridging the Gap
Illinois residents may expect fewer traffic jams in the future, thanks to the brand new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge set to open in early February. The cable bridge, part of a traffic relief project that Illinois and Missouri officials have been planning for decades, spans the Mississippi River and will connect downtown St. Louis with southwestern Illinois. This bridge may reduce congestion and reduce the potential for accidents and unnecessary fuel use on the Poplar Street Bridge, which previously served as the only urban interstate connecting Illinois and Missouri. Learn more about the bridge project at

Spring 2014

Made in Illinois

Taylorville Treats
Located in the central Illinois town of Taylorville, In Good Taste candy company serves up homemade sweets and treats perfect for every occasion. Marla Brotherton began creating her confections as tasty gifts for her sons’ teachers, and over the years it became her passion. Her classic caramel candies started it all, but today she makes a number of delicious goodies, such as chocolatecovered pretzels, truffles and much more. In Good Taste also offers seasonal gift baskets, including beautiful arrangements for Easter. Learn more about In Good Taste and its products at (217) 820-1130 or


Farmhouse Tavern in Chicago sources many of its ingredients from Illinois farmers.

If you think a home-cooked meal remains the only way to enjoy locally grown food, think again. Many of today’s restaurants build their menus around local fare – and partner with local farmers to bring the farm freshness of foods directly from the country to your fork.

“The farm-to-table movement is hot right now – people are really interested in buying food locally and supporting local farmers and growers,” says Katie Bloomfield, manager/owner of Q7 Ranch in Marengo, located in McHenry County northwest of Chicago. “A lot of restaurants want to be part of that trend.” And so does Bloomfield, who provides beef, chicken and turkey from animals that graze on grass to about a dozen restaurants in the Chicago area. “[These restaurants] realize the quality of the product,” says Bloomfield. “Our meat couldn’t get any fresher – it goes directly from the butcher to the restaurant.”
Illinois Farm Bureau


Farm Fresh
Partnerships bridge the gap from ranch to restaurant

on the Menu
Huttes |

Jo O’Barr & Michael Conti

Her customers include the Farmhouse Tavern, a family-run Chicago eatery with a flair for local fare. “We like to call it ‘farm-to-tavern,’ of course,” says co-owner Ferdia Doherty, who buys a variety of food products locally, including meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, flour, maple syrup – even beer and wine. When partnering with a local farmer, Doherty looks for local, family-run operations. As he says, “It’s important for us to know where everything comes from, how it is prepared by the farmers and how far it’s traveled.” Of course, the shorter the distance, the fresher the food.

Spring 2014

And “fresh” serves as the main ingredient in a Meatheads Burgers & Fries meal. This family-friendly, Illinois-based restaurant chain offers fresh, made-to-order favorites such as burgers and hot dogs. “Our beef is sourced from the Midwest and is 100 percent Certified Angus. We also use locally sourced produce,” says Joe Sanders, director of marketing for Meatheads. “We strive to serve as minimally processed food as we can, so the shorter distance from farm to table, the better.” While the restaurants benefit from fresh products, farmers like Bloomfield can benefit from a steady cash flow by working directly with a restaurant.


Beyond that, “they lend major credibility to our products,” Bloomfield says. So much so, that patrons of the Farmhouse Tavern have been known to seek out Q7 Ranch products after tasting them at the restaurant. The Farmhouse Tavern places weekly orders for Q7’s beef from cattle pastured on grass – typically ribeyes, ground beef and the occasional New York strip – all delivered the day after butchering. Bloomfield favors the specially seasoned ribeye prepared by head chef Eric Mansavage, whom she calls a genius. “It’s really cool to get to see everything they’re doing with our product – I’m always amazed and impressed,” Bloomfield says. She also notes an added bonus: “They act like I’m a celebrity. It makes me feel really good that they appreciate what they’re getting from us and doing something special with it.”

Each side of the partnership shows an equal commitment to quality, another perk of these partnerships. “Meatheads is passionate about everything we do, and we know it’s all in the details. We enjoy working with farmers and suppliers who feel the same about their business,” Sanders says. “We also find that partnering with local companies allows us to live out our passion for supporting our communities.” But one of the biggest benefits, Bloomfield says, prevails simply in the camaraderie she has with the restaurants she supplies. “We all try to promote each other. It’s more about community than business,” she says. “It’s a feel-good thing all around – for the restaurant, customer, chef and farmer.”

Eateries from Chicago to St. Louis embrace the farm-to-table concept. Many of these restaurants change their menu daily or seasonally, so you’ll never run out of ways to satisfy your taste for local food.

Browntrout You don’t have to fish for healthy choices at this familyfriendly establishment. Offering casual, comfortable fine dining, Browntrout’s seafood and meats come from waters and farms with flavors that speak for themselves. City Farms Market & Grill Who says comfort food can’t be healthy? This farm-to-table restaurant serves up healthy choices ranging from pancakes to pot roast. Farmhouse Tavern With locations in Chicago and Evanston, this craft tavern brings you the best of the Midwest. Reclaimed décor and furnishings

create a cozy, elegant ambiance – and everything from condiments to sodas are made from scratch. Meatheads Burgers & Fries With more than a dozen locations in central and northern Illinois, Meatheads focuses on simple American classics. Made with local Angus beef, they serve burgers with a smile – and without fillers or additives. They even bake the bun locally.

Southern and Midwestern cooking turns out as fresh as its ingredients. Five Bistro Engage all five of your senses at this unique American bistro that does everything from the butchering to the bread making on site. Seasonal cuisine spotlights the flavors of the region. Local Harvest Café The name says it all at Local Harvest Café & Catering, which aims to share the pleasures of seasonal eating and supports small local farmers with items such as chorizo pot pie and trout caught nearby.

Farmhaus Restaurant Specializing in small plates and tasting menus, Farmhaus creates edgy cuisine using seasonal, organic ingredients. The restaurant’s take on

Clockwise from top: Meatheads Burgers & Fries, an Illinois-based franchise, relies on Midwest farmers for Angus beef and local produce used on its burgers; a BLT and salad at Farmhouse Tavern in Chicago features meats, fruits and vegetables from regional purveyors; peppers and other produce grow in Farmhouse’s own rooftop garden.


Illinois Farm Bureau

Spring 2014


Spring House



Illinois Farm Bureau

Ag-based products offer performance-based sustainability




As the 6 a.m. alarm sounds, you hop out of bed, pad across the carpet to the closet, pull out your favorite running gear and suit up.
As you move through the bland beige kitchen, you decide to finally attack that paint job you’ve been putting off since fall – right after the morning coffee, of course. As you plunge into the clean, cool spring air, you realize the driveway could use a little freshening up, too. Now, how about doing it all just a little greener, a bit more sustainably? Save a barrel or two of petroleum while putting a bushel or two of corn or soybeans to work? Improve the world’s environmental footprint at your own doorstep? With more homeowners embracing the do-it-yourself philosophy of rehab and renovation and the allure of a greener lifestyle, a selection of new “biobased” products continues to emerge. Companies ranging from Illinois-based Franmar Chemical to chemical giant DuPont want to capitalize on that demand. Kathryn Lee, global marketing manager for DuPont Industrial Biosciences’ Sorona line of corn-based polymers, fibers and textiles, deems the commercialization of Sorona-based carpeting “one of our great success stories.” Sorona production offers a 30 percent reduction in energy use and a 63 percent reduction in greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions compared to petroleum-based materials such as nylon. DuPont has partnered with Mohawk to produce

Spring 2014

Sorona-based carpeting marketed in North America under the SmartTrend brand and now in Europe as AMAIZE. Lee stressed Sorona serves as merely a starting point for what she hopes will prove “a large and profitable pipeline of innovation to come.” “Sorona is just one example of sustainable solutions using biotechnology, renewable feedstocks and biobased materials and building blocks to really meet the needs of a growing global population,” she says. “Yes, it’s biobased and it’s renewably sourced, but on top of that you get some great performance advantages and attributes which, at the end of the day, are what are going to win over consumers.” Like DuPont, Franmar is developing a global market for its soy-based products. Headquartered in Bloomington, Franmar has enjoyed market growth in gel solvents for paint removal from floors, walls and furniture, according to marketing director Jason Davenport “with no smells or hazards.” Franmar also makes mastic removal products that replace mechanical or petroleum alternatives for cleaning residual carpet adhesive prior to renovation. The company’s VeraSafe concrete etcher effectively “sands” driveways for refinishing. You can’t find Franmar’s products in the big-box home improvement outlets, as owner Frank Sliney subscribes to supporting smaller chains such as True Value and Ace Hardware, as well as mom-and-pop stores. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s sales are in the U.S., but its customer base now extends to Australia, Canada, China and Germany. “We’re seeing quite a bit of interest and growth in people looking for friendly, biobased replacement products,” Davenport says.

Learn more about Franmar’s soy-based products, pictured above, at For more information about other biobased products made from Illinois soybeans, visit For biobased products made from Illinois corn, go to


Classic cars, Route 66 and free museums drive travelers to Pontiac

Get Your
Mozo |


You’ve never seen a red carpet quite like this. Each May, Pontiac and 12 other towns along Route 66 roll out the proverbial red carpet to welcome thousands of visitors for 90 miles of fun. Slated for May 3-4, the annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival encourages families to savor life in the slow lane. Each town sponsors events over the two days, including festivals, antique and craft sales, car shows, live entertainment, historic sites, mom-and-pop shops, and tons of food. Learn more at


Illinois Farm Bureau

Opposite page: A jet skier zooms along the Vermilion River as spectators watch from one of Pontiac’s pedestrian bridges. Above, from left: Antique cars, such as the 1950s Star Chief convertible, fill the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum; exhibits at the Livingston County War Museum cover military history from World War I through the present; Pontiac has 24 outdoor murals, including this one featuring the Strevell House, which hosted Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

If the nostalgia of historic Route 66 calls your name, plan your next weekend getaway in Pontiac. The town of just under 12,000 sits about 100 miles south of Chicago off Interstate 55.
Feeling adventurous? Skip the interstate, and travel to Pontiac along old Route 66 – the Mother Road. PONTIAc’S FREE MUSEUMS Make the Pontiac Visitors Bureau your first stop. You can pick up maps, brochures and a VIP button to receive discounts from local shops. Then explore Pontiac’s four fabulous museums, all of which have free admission. The name of both the town and the automobile brand pay homage to a great Native American chief named Pontiac. In 2011, a car collector from Oklahoma decided the town served as the perfect place to open an auto museum dedicated to the history of Pontiac and Oakland, another defunct General Motors brand. Antique and classic cars, dealer signs, more than 2,000 oil cans, original design drawings and thousands of dealer artifacts fill the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum. Browse thousands of pieces of memorabilia from the glory days of the Mother Road at the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, and hear stories about life in America from the days when it served as the nation’s most important highway. At the Livingston County War Museum, you’ll find uniforms, weapons, films and artifacts about several wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan, Operation

Spring 2014

Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum Humiston Woods Nature Center Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum Livingston County War Museum International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum Historic Downtown Pontiac Livingston County Courthouse Three Swinging Pedestrian Bridges Abraham Lincoln Statue Murals on Main Street

Desert Storm, the Korean War, Vietnam War and both World Wars. Take time to chat with the museum’s staff, made up of military veterans who share their firsthand experiences and answer questions. Pontiac’s International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum opened in 2010, paying tribute to “walldogs,” artists who painted signs before electronic mass media. LOOK FOR LINcOLN HERE, TOO In its early days, Pontiac’s Carpenter Gothic-style Strevell House hosted Abraham Lincoln when he worked as a lawyer traveling the judicial circuit. Today, nine historic markers around Pontiac explain Lincoln’s various connections to the city through Looking for Lincoln Story Trail Exhibits. Be sure to check out the cool architecture of the Livingston County Courthouse, built in 1875, and the downtown shopping district, as well as the Murals on Main Street. Learn about Pontiac’s colorful past by taking a walking tour of the town’s 24 outdoor murals. The town sits on the Vermilion River, and water recreation includes opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, camping, hiking and ice skating, depending on the season. Visitors can also walk over three swinging pedestrian bridges crossing the river – among the many things you can only see in Pontiac.

Appletree Cafe Baby Bull’s Bernardi’s II Chillin’ & Grillin’ Elliot’s Corner Junction Lydia’s Cup Mario’s Pizza Old Log Cabin Restaurant Pfaff’s Bakery Pontiac Family Kitchen


Rustic Dining on Route 66
Old Log Cabin Restaurant Location: 18700 Old Route 66 in Pontiac (at the corner of Aurora Street) Hours: Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Phone: (815) 842-2908

Old Log Cabin Restaurant serves heaping helpings of home cooking and friendliness
If you’re looking for privacy in Pontiac, don’t dine at the Old Log Cabin Restaurant. “We have a lot of regulars who’ve been eating here for years, and when tourists come in, they’re not shy,” says Deb Trainor, chuckling. “People want to know who you are and where you’re from. Our customers are like family.” Her husband, Brad, bought the Pontiac restaurant from her mother in 1987. Her mother had owned it since 1973, when Deb was a junior in high school. “In October, I celebrated 40 years working here,” Deb says. Originally opened in 1926 as a roadside lunchroom and gas station called the Log Cabin Inn, the Old Log Cabin Restaurant hasn’t changed much over the years. Mother Road memorabilia covers the interior walls, which still have the original siding. “We get Route 66 travelers from all over the world,” Deb says. “They’ve come from France, Italy, Germany and Spain.” In addition to the international visitors, locals flock to the Old Log Cabin for its hearty, homestyle cooking. “Ninety percent of our food is prepared from scratch – we rarely use canned foods,” Deb says, noting that breakfast represents their busiest meal. “Most customers order eggs and hash browns with bacon or sausage. We make skillets, too, but as my husband says, this is a meat-and-potatoes community.” Cheeseburgers remain most popular at lunch, though the menu boasts a whole lot more – hot sandwiches and melts, fish, chicken, pork, steaks, soups, salads and appetizers. Daily specials include pot roast, spaghetti, meatloaf, chicken-fried steak and walleye. Be sure to save room for dessert, as customers consider the Old Log Cabin’s homemade coconut cream and rhubarb pies local legends.
Illinois Farm Bureau


Joe Buhrmann is a Certified Financial Planner™ certificant and the manager of Financial Security Field Support for COUNTRY Financial. Visit COUNTRY on the web at

Dollars and Sense
Tips for young adults to manage debt
Only half of Americans still consider college a good investment, according to the July 2013 COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey. Second only to home purchases, college remains one of the largest investments families will make. Twenty years ago, less than half of college graduates carried student loans; today, that number has risen to nearly 60 percent. For those carrying student debt, the average graduate walks across the stage with a diploma in one hand and a note for more than $27,000 in the other. So, what’s the strategy for handling this debt? To manage debt in the best possible way, you must avoid it in the first place. For those with young children, “save early and save often.” College Savings Plans (529s) can be a great way to accumulate funds in a tax-favorable manner. Many states offer additional tax benefits if you’re using the state-sponsored plan. If you already have student loans, recognize that it’s not the end of the world, as you can have “good” debt. Carrying $25,000 of student loan debt at a 7 percent interest rate adds $290 per month to a graduate’s budget – certainly not too onerous, especially when considering the long-term benefits in the job market of having a college education. Follow these tips to ensure good debt. Always be on time with loan payments to build a solid credit history. Pay more than the minimum, if possible, in order to minimize your interest costs. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, for example, begin to accumulate interest while you’re still in school. While payments aren’t required, it may make sense to at least pay the interest so the debt doesn’t snowball.

Spring 2014

To manage debt in the best possible way, you must avoid it in the first place.
Take your breaks. Subject to income limits, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 a year in student loan interest from your federal income taxes. That can free up extra cash to help you pay down principal faster. However, bad debt also exists. According to student lender Nellie Mae, 31 percent of college seniors have balances on credit cards between $3,000 and $7,000, and nearly 10 percent have more than $9,000. Using credit cards wisely to build your credit history can be vital to securing a job, accessing the best loan and insurance rates, and improving your quality of life. But if you’re carrying credit card debt, be sure you know the basics. Understand the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), application and late fees, and charges for cash advances. Try to limit yourself to a single credit card, and use it only for emergencies. (Pizza and a beach holiday are not emergencies.) Pay your balances in full each month to avoid late charges. With young adults, the toughest steps may be more psychological than financial. Prior to graduation, their lives have been shaped since kindergarten by a series of short sprints of time in the form of four-month semesters. Now, suddenly, they’re adults facing a 50- or 60-year marathon with goals equally long. The first steps may be shaky and uncertain with a desire for a life like their parents’. But with the help of a parent or trusted adviser to guide them, those steps can soon become solid and confident in building a tangible plan to meet all of life’s goals.


watch us grOw

The Power of Food
Chicago mom examines how food is raised during farm visits

STORY BY Joanie Stiers PHOTOGRAPHY BY Wendy Jo O’Barr


Illinois Farm Bureau

Diane Letson once sold food service products to restaurants and hotels for General Foods. Now, she works with supermarkets and warehouse/club stores to secure food donations for the hungry through Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger relief charity. Meanwhile, she gardens as much as her urban yard allows on the north side of Chicago. And she loves to cook and bake, especially from scratch. The actions express love and care for her husband, Matt, and daughter, Brooke. Without a doubt, food is her forte. “I do believe that food is very powerful,” Letson says. “Food can delight, it can comfort, and obviously sustain and boost energy.” Yet, she was missing an element: how farmers grow and produce food. Letson served among 24 moms in the 2013 class of Field Moms as part of the Illinois Farm Families (IFF) program. She filled some of that void as she toured four Illinois crop and livestock farms. “I wanted to learn more about challenges farmers face, how food is grown and how livestock is kept and

handled,” she says. “It’s been a great learning experience, not only for me as a shopper, a cook and as a mother, but it also gives me a better appreciation for how our food banks work with the agricultural community.” She discovered that farmers use global positioning systems and other technology to provide nutrients and protect plants based upon needs. She witnessed the farmers’ commitment to land stewardship and families. She learned even winter months become busy with repairs, maintenance and records analysis. “It strikes me that it is much more scientific than I think the average consumer or American would know,” she says. “I’ve also been struck by the commitment of the farmer and the families on the farm to being incredible stewards of the land, water and air.” She took the information back to Chicago, where she told her friends and colleagues about the hard work, science and complexity of today’s farms. “I look at our food a little differently now in the grocery store,” she says. To learn more about IFF, go to

Photo providEd bY KEn Kashian, Illnois Farm BUrEaU

•T  he most recent statistics show 15.2 percent of Illinoisans and 22.2 percent of Illinois children are considered food insecure. •E  ight Feeding America food banks serve all Illinois counties through 2,599 charities, such as food pantries, low income youth programs and shelters. • Illinois Farm Bureau’s (IFB) Young Leaders program, made up of Illinoisans aged 18 to 35 with a passion for agriculture, gathered 68,715 pounds of food, donated nearly $787,000 and volunteered 2,006 hours for Feeding America last year. •T  he American Farm Bureau Federation recognized IFB’s Young Leaders for collecting the most funds donated and as runner-up among other states in hours volunteered. Sources: Feeding America, Illinois Farm Bureau

We are Illinois farmers who support Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Beef Association and Illinois Farm Bureau through farmer membership and checkoff programs. We are committed to having conversations with consumers, answering their questions and sharing what really happens on today’s family farms. More than 94 percent of Illinois farms are family owned and operated. We are passionate about showing consumers how we grow safe, healthy food for their families and ours.

Diane Letson’s work with Feeding America keeps her busy, but she still finds time to cook meals with her daughter, Brooke. She wanted to learn more about how farmers grow food and care for animals, so she connected with the Illinois Farm Families program to visit four crop and livestock farms in 2013.

Spring 2014


Memory Lane
Orangeville woman turns father’s farm into crafters’ oasis

A Trip Down
Shaffer |


A small lane off a gravel road leads to the Memory Lane Crafting Retreat, nestled in the beautiful rolling countryside just outside of Orangeville in northwest Illinois.
A 2,000-pound cow named Blosom greets visitors to the retreat, certainly making an impression for the many who say this marks their first experience on a farm. “I named the retreat Memory Lane because this place was designed to create wonderful memories for those who stay here,” says owner Patty Hanson. She opened the farm as a retreat after the passing of her father, Gene Meads. A retired milk inspector, Meads always wanted to own and work on a farm, so in 1989, he bought the neglected property in rural Stephenson County. His friends and family members thought he was in over his head, Hanson recalls, but her father had a vision. He gutted the house, keeping only the original stone fireplace, and had ash trees milled for the
Patty Hanson turned her father’s farm into a retreat that opened in 2011. Visitors come for scrapbooking, baking and other activities while enjoying the scenic beauty.


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Spring 2014


Visitors can escape the city to take part in fishing and other rural recreation at Memory Lane Crafting Retreat, a working farm located about two hours northwest of Chicago in rural Stephenson County.

remodel, which included modernizing the kitchen. He also tore down a few unsalvageable sheds and expanded the pond. Meads had helped on his grandparents’ farm as a young man but never lived on one himself. Still, Hanson says, he always liked to tinker and figure things out – so he welcomed the transition to farm life. When Hanson and her family moved back to Orangeville in 2001, she helped her father on the farm, finding the work and lifestyle a comfortable fit.

Meads passed away suddenly in 2010, leaving his daughter to manage the farm and house. Selling or renting the property didn’t seem like the right thing to do after her father had spent so much time and energy creating such a lovely place, Hanson says. She decided the farmhouse’s natural light and open floor plan would make a wonderful craft retreat for women to come and quilt, scrapbook, have Bible study or bake cookies for the holidays. The retreat officially opened in 2011 and accommodates up to nine people.

“Dad would love to see so many people enjoying the house,” she says. Hanson brought in 5-foot tables, comfortable chairs and natural-light lamps for groups to work well into the night. The table space doubles as plenty of cooling space for guests making large batches of cookies. She also decorated the home with family heirlooms: family portraits adorning the walls, an antique sewing table next to the stairs and her great-grandmother Lois’ needlepoint works hanging on the walls and woven into the seats of chairs. Outside, the wraparound
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Krista Fry, top, attends a quilting excursion at Memory Lane. Owner Patty Hanson, bottom right, welcomes crafters and other guests, many of whom say this marks their first experience seeing cows up close or even visiting a farm.

porch overlooks the man-made pond, the hayfield and the barn – all of which frame the sunset. “Women come in from the city [Chicago] and love to watch the hay being baled,” says Hanson, noting that often her visitors have never before stepped foot on a farm. Meads began raising heifers in the late 1990s and had as many as 53 head of cattle at one point, while Hanson raised ponies for her three children to show in competitions. The farm still has about 13 ponies, countless cats and Blosom, a Holstein who became a mainstay even after Hanson learned the cow couldn’t bear calves. Today, the 13-year-old Blosom

Spring 2014

functions as the ambassador of the farm, often adorned with a hat for the holidays or special occasions – a practice she doesn’t seem to mind. “The ladies always ask how Blosom is doing,” Hanson says. Hanson loves to visit with the women who come to stay, and many groups return for the scenery and wonderful accommodations. She knows her father would be “tickled” at what she has done with his home – and all of the new memories created by the myriad of quilters, scrapbookers and other guests who have spent time at the retreat. “What he created, I maintain in his memory and his honor,” she says.

Memory Lane Craft Retreat is located in Orangeville, about 20 minutes northwest of Freeport and two hours northwest of Chicago. To book a reservation, call (815) 868-2363 or email memorylanecr@ To learn more, visit memorylane .


Fresh &

Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
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Spring into the season with a delicious, nutritious light luncheon menu




Fargo Carter BYJeffrey S. Otto

Spring encompasses so many wonderful moments, from the hint of asparagus spears peeking through the soil to the ripening of the first strawberry. I grew up on a farm in central Illinois, where we grew both of these in our garden.
Not only do early signs of these fruits and vegetables welcome the season, but they also contribute to a healthy diet. “Strawberries are one of the top seven foods you can eat for vitamin C,” says David Grotto, a registered dietitian from Chicago and author of the book The Best Things You Can Eat. “A 1-cup serving gives you more than 160 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, and they’re a great source of fiber. The shocker is even though they are so sweet, they’re one of the lowest sugar foods you can eat.” Studies show strawberries serve as a rich source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And for some time now, cell and animal studies support the many benefits of consuming strawberries for heart and brain health. Human data also shows that eating strawberries will increase the amount of antioxidants you have on hand to battle disease. Rhubarb also provides plenty of vitamin C. The bright pink stalks of this tart vegetable complement the sweetness of strawberries, as we’ve

Spring 2014

What’s your favorite spring recipe? Share it with us in the comments section of ilfbpartners. com/spring-recipes, or email us at ilfbpartners@ We may consider featuring it in a future issue!

demonstrated with our Strawberry-Rhubarb Angel Food Cake. In fact, the versatile strawberry pairs well with a number of other ingredients ranging from fruits to nuts, which also pack a nutritional punch. Walnuts provide a myriad of nutrients, including copper, manganese, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. “They are rich in omega-3 fats compared to any other nut,” Grotto says. “Walnuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, particularly from gamma-tocopherol, which a study showed may reduce the growth of colon cancer cells in vitro.” The nut received one of the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration qualified health claims back in 2004. Research supported (though did not conclude) that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day as part of a healthy diet could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. From salads to sweets, the following recipes add the perfect touch to seasonal celebrations such as graduations, Mother’s Day or any occasion that calls for a light luncheon menu. Happy spring!

4-H helped Charlyn Fargo get her start in food. Her love for the culinary arts helped her land a job as food editor of the State JournalRegister, a daily paper in Springfield, and eventually a master’s degree in nutrition. Now a registered dietitian, she teaches nutrition and baking at Lincoln Land Community College and consults as a dietitian.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Angel Food Cake
1 1 2 2 2 2 1 15 box (16.75 ounces) white angel food cake mix  cups cold water teaspoons grated orange peel cups fresh rhubarb, sliced cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided tablespoons orange juice cups sliced strawberries, divided cups (heavy) whipping cream ounces ricotta cheese cup powdered sugar 1. Move oven rack to lowest position (remove other 2. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, mix rhubarb,

½ cup sugar and orange juice. (If using frozen rhubarb, thaw and drain first.) Cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool for 15 minutes. Pour cooled mixture into a container with a lid, and stir in 1 ½ cups strawberries. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour.
3. In chilled medium-sized bowl, beat whipping

cream and 3 tablespoons sugar on high speed until soft peaks form. In a separate large bowl, beat ricotta and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Fold in whipped cream.
4. Run knife around edges of cake; remove from pan.

racks). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake mix, water and orange peel with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into an ungreased, 10-inch tube cake pan. Bake for 37 to 47 minutes or until top is dark golden brown and cracks feel very dry and not sticky. Immediately after removing from oven, turn cake pan upside down onto a glass bottle until cake is completely cool, about 2 hours.

Cut cake horizontally to make three layers. Spread the fruit filling onto layers, then frost the sides and top of the cake with whipped cream mixture. Decorate with remaining ½ cup strawberries. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 12 servings.


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Strawberry, Mozzarella & Walnut Salad
cup olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar teaspoon salt teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1  heart of romaine lettuce, cut up or torn into bite-size pieces (3 cups) 3 cups fresh spinach 2  cups (1 pint) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced  cup (6 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced cup (2 ounces) walnuts, broken into small pieces  cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (chiffonade) 1. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar,

salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Place the lettuce and spinach in a large bowl, and toss with half the dressing.
2. In a separate bowl, toss the strawberries with

the remaining dressing. Add the strawberries, cheese and walnuts to the salad. Sprinkle the basil on top. Makes 4 servings.

Curried Chicken Salad
cup sliced almonds cup nonfat plain yogurt 2 tablespoons mayonnaise salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 teaspoon curry powder 2 cups cooked chicken breasts (about 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped pita chips, crackers, bread or pita pockets, for serving 1. Toast the almonds in a small dry skillet over mediumpounds) 1 cup red grapes, cut in half

Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes 2  cups (1 pint) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced 4 medium kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced 2 cups (1 pint) blueberries, washed cup chopped pecans 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice 4 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped 3 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest 1. Place all of the fruit and pecans in a large bowl. In

high heat, stirring occasionally until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, mayonnaise,

a small bowl, whisk lime juice, mint, honey and zest.
2. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the fruit,

salt, pepper and curry powder. Fold in the chicken, grapes and parsley. Refrigerate chicken salad mixture until ready to serve.
3. Serve as a dip with pita chips or crackers. Alternately,

and stir to combine. Makes 6 servings.

Spring 2014

serve with mixed lettuce greens as a sandwich on whole-wheat bread or inside pita pockets. Makes about 3 cups.



Beginner Success
Tips for newbie vegetable gardeners help cultivate a green thumb
Abbot Walafrid Strabo said, “Get a garden! What kind you may get matters not.” Following a popular trend to grow your own food, how about starting a vegetable garden? Try these steps to ensure a successful first year.
Jan Phipps is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. She farms, gardens, writes and podcasts near Chrisman.

Choosing the correct site will make the difference between success or failure. Think sun, lots of sun – you need a minimum of eight hours a day. You also need easy access to water, so if your only outdoor faucet exists on the east, don’t put your garden on the west. Next, prepare the soil by removing everything that doesn’t belong, and work in some organic matter. Well-rotted manure or compost works great. Normally, I discourage mechanical tillage, but digging up a new site and incorporating organic matter requires the extra power of a tiller.

If the sunniest spot in your yard holds the worst soil, consider building a raised bed, which consists of a garden built on top of your native soil. Not only will it keep the grass out, but you can tailor the soil to your needs. (Learn more about building a raised bed at Then head to the nursery to purchase your plants. March right past those tempting seed packet displays with their glossy cover photos, and continue outside to the transplants. Seed starting requires a lot of work. Some, such as tomatoes, start their
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early life inside where most homes don’t have enough light, causing them to become leggy as they reach toward the sun. The vegetable seeds you start outside have to be kept moist until they germinate and develop some roots. Babysitting them on hot, windy late spring days gets old in a hurry. So, for your first year, stick with transplants. Someone else went to the trouble of getting them up and growing for you. Take advantage of the head start. Time to plant. Sprinkle a balanced fertilizer (labeled 10-10-10, with 10 meaning the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potash, respectively) where you are planting, and work it into the top several inches of soil. If the transplant comes in a plastic container, pop it out. Follow the instructions for planting distance and depth. Gently pry apart the

Spring 2014

roots, open a hole in the soil, put the plant in, pat the soil around the root ball and water. Some transplants come in a pot made of peat moss that can be planted directly in the soil. Bottom line: follow directions on the small, plastic descriptors that nurseries poke in transplant containers. Save mulching for the final step. Choose something that will compost in place over the next year, such as grass clippings, shredded leaves or straw that results from harvested crops such as wheat and sold in rectangular bales at many nurseries. Losing a garden to weeds can discourage any gardener, new or experienced, and mulch shades weed seeds so they don’t receive enough sun to germinate. Mulch also conserves water and keeps the soil at an even temperature to benefit your growing veggies. You did it. You got yourself a garden.


Can I reuse last year’s potting soil?

Absolutely. Dump it out, mix in some fresh peat and fertilizer, put it back in your container and you are ready to plant.

Is spring a good time to transplant bluebells from a nearby woods?


It is better to leave bluebells in their natural habitat unless you know slated construction will destroy them. Moving plants out of the wild to cultivated areas is taboo.
Email your gardening questions to Jan at


Photo Contest

2013 Illinois Farm Bureau® Member

Alyson Lentz/Ogle County

Grand Prize

Members Choice Award &
2nd PLACE • “I Love Illinois”
Theresa Luitjohan/Clinton County

Larry Nelson/Stephenson County

“Beyond The Fence”

1st Place

Megan Coffman/Macon County

“Beyond The Fence”

2nd Place

Crystal Hayes/Montgomery County


1st Place

Diana Kestel/Will County


2nd Place

Honorable Mention
Suzanne Brook Wayne County

Honorable Mention

Diana Flores/McHenry County
Honorable Mention
Dustin Webe Monroe County

“I Love Illinois”

1 Place

Diane Singler Montgomery County

To view all entries from this year’s contest, visit


Tulips bloom in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Sycamore.
PhotographY bY AntonY BoshiEr

Spring 2014


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