Beloved Mundelein High foods teacher remembered through cookbook
When longtime Mundelein High School foods teacher Jerri Craven died in September, former students and their parents flooded the school's Facebook page with memories of the beloved educator and the dishes they created together.
"She taught all four of my children how to cook," one person wrote.
"Her memory will live on through her wonderful recipes," wrote another.
Now the school is honoring Craven by publishing a cookbook containing the recipes she taught in class, as well as dozens of her personal favorites.
Titled "Foods With Jerri Craven: The Curriculum and Recipe Collection," the spiral-bound paperback debuted Monday, and more than 30 copies already have been purchased or ordered. The books cost $10 each, and proceeds will fund a scholarship in Craven's name.
Organizers believe the cookbook is a fitting way to honor a woman who loved to cook -- and loved teaching teens how to cook.
"My kids wouldn't know how to cook if it wasn't for her," said Mundelein High teacher Nancy Toland, who's leading the project. "It's something they're going to have for the rest of their lives and pass it on to their kids and generation to generation."
Craven died in September at her Mundelein home. She was 55.
In addition to teaching, Craven advised the National Honor Society, alongside Toland.
After Craven's death, the club's members discussed ways to honor her legacy, senior Sanika Bijawat said. They quickly latched onto the cookbook concept.
Bijawat said the book, which includes students' comments about Craven, showcases "what a great teacher she was."
"She touched every single person she encountered in a good way," Bijawat said.
Dishes in the 295-page book include sloppy joes, spaghetti pie, Texas chicken quesadillas, zucchini bake and apple dumplings. Tips covering basic cooking, using a microwave, measurements and other culinary skills also are included.
"It's a very nostalgic journal of all the things she's done for each of these kids," Toland said.
The books are being printed at the school and put together by honor society members.
The books are available at the main office or the school bookstore. Additionally, the cookbooks will be for sale at a Dec. 3 bake sale at the school and at the Mister Mustang contest in February.
For an additional $5 fee, a cookbook can be mailed to a customer.
KC Olson, a clerk in the school bookstore, knew Craven and called the project a great way to honor her.
"I'd love to have one in every home in Mundelein," she said.