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The last days of summer are a melancholy time, especially for a teacher.  Every year we are offered a taste of the retired life.  Late mornings, the flexibility of schedule, time to yourself, not having to answer hundreds of questions in a day, and not having to wear the shackles of society (shoes).  You know it is going to be about 10 months until you get that freedom again.  I know other people don’t have this luxury that teachers have, but every year there is a mixed bag of excitement and worry; hope and sadness.  But you know who had it worse??

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

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I’m always reminded of that whenever I visit the Lincoln sites up in Springfield.  “Oooohhh, I’m worried about my lessons and athletics!”

Abraham Lincoln says, “I’m worried about mutinous advisors, incompetent generals, an unstable wife, America falling apart, and oh yeah, one of my kids just died.”

Your problems are put in perspective and you have a greater respect for the man.  Anyway, I strongly suggest people check out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.  That’s what we did this last Monday, as part of a Last Day of Summer adventure with my parents, the lovely wife, and wonderful children.

Now just up the road from Springfield is the New Salem State Historical Site.  We toured the site on Monday morning.  While there, we were given a recommendation  for lunch at Gillmore’s Cafe just up the road in Petersburg, Illinois.

The family hopped into the van and made the short ride up to the Cafe.  It’s not much to look at from the outside, I think it was an old garage.  However, if you are looking for a down-home meal at a ridiculously low price*, you have found the place.

*BLTs with fries for around $4.  Same with the burgers.

The server was friendly, and half of the group ordered BLTs (check out my earlier musings on this topic).  I however, ordered a Breaded Tenderloin Horse*…I’d never heard of this before and I thought I’d give it a try.  It was described to me as a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich with cheese sauce.

*You really probably shouldn’t put “Tenderloin” and “Horse” together on an American menu…people might get the wrong idea.  It was pork.  Not horse.

Breaded pork!  Cheese!  Sign me up!

This is what came:

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Overall, it was ok.  However, my lovely wife recommended that I not eat all of it.  After all, it was a pile of pork, white bread, fries and cheese.  The pork tenderloin was really good.  It was moist and, well, tender.  The cheese sauce was oddly grainy.  Overall, I’m not sure why it’s called a Horse.  Frankly, if you ate this every day, a horse would be unable to support your massive bulk.

I only ate half.  Hooray for my healthy choices!

Oh wait, I ordered homemade pie.

I promise I will write a future blog extolling the virtues of pie.

Now, the Tenderloin Horse was so-so.  Everyone else enjoyed their BLTs and patty melts.  However, we all agreed that the pies were AMAZING.  I would go back for the pie.

I ordered chocolate-cream pie.  I think we have gotten used to the Jell-O pudding mix pie, or the very whipped chocolate mousse style store-bought pie.  Those are all ok.  This was pie perfection.

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The picture doesn’t do justice to how good it was.  The chocolate had a full-rich flavor.  Almost a dark chocolate.  There was sweetness, but it didn’t overpower the chocolate flavor.  I also like the fact that it didn’t have three inches of cream on top.  The cream was a great compliment with its velvety-smooth texture to counteract the thick chocolate layer.  Finally, the crust was firm and flaky, and held together throughout the pie.  I like a crust that doesn’t fall apart, but doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients.

Just an FYI, Sarah ordered the cherry cobbler, and said it was good as well.  You’ll have to take her word for it, because in my opinion, cherries are the fruit of the devil.

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So, if you ever find yourself in Lincoln Land, and have a hankering for home cookin’, go on up to Petersburg and check out Gillmore’s Cafe.  If you steer clear of the Breaded Tenderloin Horse (Once again, not a real horse), you can have two pieces of pie.

Overall, nice people, good sandwiches, and GREAT PIE.

So, I’ll leave my readers with a question.  Where is your favorite spot for down-home cooking in the Bi-State area (or even farther)?  Let me know!

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