ILI West Loop ChicagoKumiko, a cozy, Japanese-inspired restaurant and bar nestled in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, has been named one of the World’s Greatest Places of 2019 by TIME Magazine.

TIME’s list annually spotlights the 100 most noteworthy museums, hotels, parks and restaurants from all over the world. TIME selected Kumiko based on its innovative cocktail menu, which is influenced by co-owner and beverage director Julia Momose’s Japanese heritage. Patrons can enjoy a drink alongside steam buns, short ribs and other small plates crafted from Japanese ingredients by chef Noah Sandoval.

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ILI Jarlings Custard Cup picI scream, you scream, we all scream for Illinois ice cream—or custard, that is. TODAY has named Jarling’s Custard Cup in Champaign one of the best ice cream shops in America.

Jarling’s Custard Cup opened in Champaign in 1983 and has been attracting attention ever since. (It’s so good that it garnered a tweet from Tom Hanks!) The locally owned shop offers artisan sundaes, shakes, malts and more made fresh daily with dairy sourced from Midwestern farms. Customers can get their fix in-store, at the drive-thru window or even delivered to their door if they live in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Visit Jarling’s Custard Cup at 309 W. Kirby Ave., in Champaign. Read the full article at TODAY here.

I Like Illinois SIUE picSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville has started off the school year on a high note: its online nurse educator master’s program has been ranked first in Illinois and fifth in the nation for affordability, according to Affordable Schools, a site that ranks low-cost, high-quality degree programs.

To compile its list, Affordable Schools considered more than just the average cost of attendance. The rankings also took into account the program’s student-to-faculty ratio and its national standing as determined by U.S. News and World Report. Affordable Schools praised SIUE’s opportunities for hands-on learning and its individualized coursework, as well as its focus on preparing students to sit for the National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator examination after they graduate. Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, joined SIUE in the top 15.

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SoybeansA marker commemorating the first soybeans ever planted in Illinois was placed at the Louis and Clark Community College in Alton, Illinois nearly 167 years after John Lee of Alton helped them take root.

However, Lee did not receive this crop by ordinary means. Illinois’ long history with soybeans begins 500 miles off the coast of Japan in 1950, after a shipwrecked Junk stranded 17 Japanese sailors at sea.

The group was transported to San Francisco after the North American freighter Auckland rescued them from the wreck. Among the survivors was Joseph Heco, pictured left, who later became the first Japanese person to be naturalized as a United States citizen. A chest of goods he and his shipmates brought from the wreck contained the very first soybeans that Illinois would see.

At the time, Alton resident Dr. Benjamin Franklin Edwards was residing in San Francisco. Like many others during this time, Edwards was drawn to California by the gold rush.

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headshot evanston

Our July Artist of the month is Ellen Ransom of Evanston. Ransom is a portrait artist whose goal is to show African Americans around the world that they too can be portayed in art.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing something! I was the youngest of four children and the only girl being raised alone as my brothers remained in Alabama with my grandmother and their father. I didn’t have much company or playmates and therefore found ways to entertain myself by drawing everything in sight. Upon becoming a teenager, my oldest brother joined my mother and me, but still, as a baby sister, there were not a lot of opportunities for my brother and I to interact together, besides art. 

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