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Orange Bourbon Chocolate Brownies

These moist, indulgent brownies are the result of not being able to find my “good vanilla” and having to find suitable substitutions…

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups white sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tablespoon bourbon

The juice of 1/2 of a small orange

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

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September in Southern Illinois

featuring photos by 618.Photography

September in Southern Illinois throws a lot of varied temperatures at us. It also boasts some absolutely gorgeous skies and sunsets. It’s one of those times of the year when you just have to acknowledge that God paints the most beautiful artwork. He has certainly blessed us in Southern Illinois with some breathtaking views of nature.

618.Photography has a way of seeing and sharing the beauty around us through the images she captures with her lens. I’m sure you will enjoy these views of September in Southern Illinois in and around the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

One of the dear deer families…

Dusk at Crab Orchard Lake

Sunset over Crab Orchard Lake

Blue Heron Marina and Campground

Sunset in Williamson County

Country Roads and Colorful Skies

The Golden Hour

September Skies

Root Beer, Llamas, and Wine: A Fair September Day

The first Saturday in September was a bit warm and humid, but still a pretty nice day at the Du Quoin State Fair. I spent quite a bit of time in the Exhibit Hall looking at the different entries from all over Southern Illinois–produce, quilts, artwork, photography, cakes, and pies.

I spent even more time checking out all of the yummy things made in Southern Illinois and enjoyed meeting and talking with so many of the people and their products. Did you know that there is a Wabash Valley Wine Trail? Road Trip!

The Southern Illinois Beekeeping Association was on site with local honey and products made with it, such as Big Muddy Root Beer.

Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch had a demonstration going as well as some of their fleece products. The little pumpkins were adorable…

Devil’s Breath Chile Company had some wonderful samples. They of course make some hot products, but the beef I sampled was a milder option with quite a nice balance of flavor.

Reinneck Ranch Inc. of Mascoutah also had samples and some wonderful products on hand.

There was fresh produce on site, and even the guys from Crown Brew were available to serve decadent coffee concoctions.

The BBQ Popcorn that Uncle Joe’s from Ina has started making was very tasty.

Aunt Jenny’s Fudge had samples. I tried the chocolate praline. O.M.Y! (Oh. My. Yum!)

Louie’s Seasonings, as in those used at the historic Louie’s P & R in Herrin, were available as well as Kuntry Kettle apple butters.

Excel Bottling from Breeze, responsible for the regional favorite Ski, provided samples of soft drinks.

Stanley’s Italian Style Beef Seasoning from Harrisburg had samples of Italian beef. Mr. Stanley was kind enough to pose for the camera.

There was so much delicous-smelling fair food to choose from when it was time to eat. I chose a local food truck with a cause that hit close to home. A bit of online research revealed that Fight Like a Girl was created by Du Quoin’s Marcy Robinson and her husband Les in memory of her sister, Kristina Stacey.

The ribbon fries with cheese were awesome!

I walked through the midway, but after recently spending months fighting nausea during chemo, I passed on any rides. While my kids and their friends enjoyed the midway action, I took a LOT of photos. Imagine that…

The ever-popular “Free Bird” was observed in its natural habitat. Ok, perhaps it wasn’t the original band singing the song, but this band was pretty darn good. The guy singing had a great voice.

After many decades, people still gather at this iconic structure to eat and perhaps rest a bit at the tables. As I’m still trying to rebuild my energy from this past year, I rested often. I was thankful for every bench and picnic table at the fairgrounds!

Livestock and dairy shows are still part of the fair’s backbone. I was sad that I missed the dairy goat show (this girl showed dairy goats for 11 years in 4-H. Tonti Broken Arrow Carpris, my family’s farmette as a kid, was a proud member of the Southern Illinois Dairy Goat Association…) but did see some cows. Horses also make up an important part of the fair. Unfortunately, I did not make it to see the stables this year.

Above: The grandstand in the background of the children’s area. I empathized with all parents pushing double strollers and wagons as I remembered the days when Mija and Mijo were energetic toddlers… At least it wasn’t muddy. That always added to the resistance workout.

Below: The midway as photographed from its North end. It seems the kids have now graduated to this side of the food vendor area.

A Community Tradition of Harvesting Memories

The Carterville Lion’s Club Free Fair kicked off this Wednesday in Cannon Park with the Farmer’s Market and runs through Saturday, September 8, 2018. This year’s theme is 105 Years of Our Tradition: Harvest the Memories. The Free Fair is a family-friendly event where many gather each year for some good, clean fun.

Friday evening features a 5K Twilight Glow Run and Poker Walk as part of the event festivities. Jackson Junction will be performing from 8:30 pm – 11:00 pm.

Saturday’s lineup includes a parade at 10:00 am, the Lioness Cake Walk, and Stride Pro Wrestling. Debbie Browning is this year’s Parade Marshall. Some of this year’s free events are a pet fair, children’s eye screenings, Identi-Kid services, Emery Brothers Roller Skating, a Ping Pong Avalanche, and hands on healthy snack and eating demos from the Carbondale Neighborhood Co-op Grocery.

Carnival rides, games, and bingo will be operating Friday evening and Saturday. Arm bands are $24 and single tickets are $3.

Additional info is available on the event’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FreeFairPageant/

A Taste of the 2018 Centralia Balloon Fest

This past weekend, my daughter, her friend, my brother, and I visited the 29th Annual Centralia Balloon Fest. Although there was still some humidity, the weather was much more comfortable than in some of the previous years.

People seemed to be enjoying the colorful balloons, bands, crafts, and food. Although we were not there early enough for the balloon races or car show, my daughter was able to capture some great video footage of the hot air balloons as they decorated Foundation Park. The glowing balloons at night were absolutely gorgeous–especially when their reflections were graced the water.

Video below by Kiersten Sullens:

Above: One of those Little Egypt pork shop sandwiches…

Above Photo Credit: Kiersten Sullens

Above–a bit of the craft fair.

Above–more of the craft fair.

Above: A hometown favorite, Country Bob’s

Below Photo Credit: Kiersten Sullens

Above Photo credit: Kiersten Sullens

Above: The Greek plate

Video below by Kiersten Sullens:

A Colorful Sky

Centralia Balloon Fest returns to Foundation Park this weekend, August 17-19, 2018. This is the 29th year for the annual event. Friday and Saturday nights will feature a balloon glow. Crafts, concessions, entertainment, and a car show also make up the event. Tethered balloon rides will be available. The event boasts over 35 hot air balloons. Additional information is available on the event’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/448467368916042/?ti=as

Calling Local Small Businesses…

It happens. You plan and prepare. You anticipate. Then life intervenes. That happened to me a weekend ago. I had been looking forward to attending the Southern Illinois Made Expo since I first saw it advertised. Unfortunately, my body needed rest after maintenance chemo on Tuesday and trying to push through my regular schedule. Consequently, I spent Friday night in the ER and missed church, the farmer’s markets, and the expo… So I did not fill up my business card pages with info as I had planned to do.

I had high hopes of putting names and faces with products made in Southern Illinois that might fit well into some of the gift sets that I am creating. Specifically, I will be looking for small quantities of wholesale pre-packaged Southern Illinois items like teas, snacks, serving dishes, spices, non-alcoholic beverages, and possibly some locally authored books. I am open to other suggestions. Please email me at asliceofsouthernillinois@gmail.com if you would be interested in this type of exposure for your product.

Another mission I had for the expo was to meet with people interested in being part of the inaugural Slice of Savings Passport Program. The Slice of Savings Passport is designed to be a win-win situation for both customer and the business. It is inexpensive advertising in the form of coupons and will be accessible via the ASOSI app and this blog/website.

There seems to be a lot of evidence out there that people are more inclined to try something new if they have an incentive, even small, such as a percentage or flat amount off of a purchase. Others just like the sport of couponing.

Still, there is no need for that to leave the business with a loss. It is possible to offer a deal that is a win for both the business and the customer.

If you have a locally owned (roughly, South of I-70) small business that would like to participate or know someone who does, please email asliceofsouthernillinois@gmail.com

(If you use a marketing agency, it can appoint someone to be your authorized representative to place your coupon ad. A Slice of Southern Illinois is not an advertising agency but is offering a simple, inexpensive tool meant to be accessible to small, local businesses. We would love to work with them as an additional tool they might utilize to better serve you and our community.)

See the mock Savings Slice ad for an example:

https://asliceofsouthernillinois.com/savings-pass/