- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (AP) - Marilyn Penney Welch’s self-published cookbook is one part labor of love, a pinch of nostalgia, and heaping cup of happy accident.

The story of “Long Grove Emporium: Past and Present Cooking” begins in January 2016, when Penney’s granddaughter asked her for some family recipes for her bridal shower in August. Penney set to work compiling the recipes, hand-writing them and adding hand-drawn illustrations to each page.

Her friends took notice and encouraged her to turn the recipes into a cookbook. By the end of October, Penney, 78, self-published her first cookbook featuring dozens of original recipes, ordering 1,000 initial copies. The title of the book borrows from the name of the antique shop Penney owns and operates in Long Grove. The illustrations on each recipe page appear in black and white, so the cookbook doubles as a coloring book. In the past two months, Penney has sold nearly 350 copies of the cookbook.

“You can have a glass of wine, cook and color at the same time. Not too bad!” Penney said.

Some recipes were donated by friends; others were jotted down while Penney was married to her Frenchman husband; still others had been passed down from the early days of her Danish heritage. Some of Penney’s recipes have been featured as Northwest Herald’s Recipe of the Week. All have a healthy spin, as Penney has maintained a mostly plant-based, whole-food diet her entire life. Some, though, offer a little indulgence: The Apple Cranberry Cherry Crumble recipe calls for a full stick of butter.

“I always use real butter in my cooking; I never recommend using oleo or something like that. My dog Pepper doesn’t even eat it,” Penney said with a laugh. “If dogs won’t eat it, why should we?”

As a self-published author, Penney relied on the support of local businesses to complete her cookbook project. In total, 20 businesses supported the publishing of this cookbook, and all are designated a featured recipe within the book.

“I couldn’t have created and published this cookbook without their support,” Penney said.

One local business, LuLu’s Wiggin’ Out, a clothing and wig boutique, sponsored the book and sells it in its downtown Crystal Lake store. The store will be hosting a book signing with Penney during Ladies Night Out March 16.

“I know Penney through a mutual friend, and she is just a wonderful lady,” said Luann Bauer, owner of LuLu’s Wiggin’ Out. “I was thrilled to offer her cookbook at the store and host a book signing during Ladies’ Night Out. We are proud to support another local entrepreneur.”

The nod to local business owners especially is important to Penney, who herself has maintained the Emporium of Long Grove for more than 39 years and worked as an independent appraiser in Maine, her home state, before that.

Just as important is the nostalgia the cookbook evokes: The handwritten words and illustrations along the margins are reminiscent of grandmothers’ recipe cards carefully documented for generations to come.

“Growing up with my three sisters, we were raised to be home by 5 p.m. for a family meal. We all talked about what we did that day and shared our lives with each other. I came to value this time because it made us all closer as a family,” Penney said. “It was something I continued with my son and has been instilled in my four grandchildren.”

It was at the request of family that her cookbook came to be, and its influence is felt throughout its pages and as Penney begins work on a second edition, due out sometime next year.

“My sisters call me ‘Grandma Moses’ because I became an artist so late in life,” Penney said. “I never considered myself an artist or writer until I did this cookbook, and I had the audacity to call myself the ‘author and artist’ on the cover. I don’t think I’ll become famous for writing and illustrating this cookbook, but people really seem to like it.”

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald, https://bit.ly/2kXF2AB

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, https://www.nwherald.com

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