The 21st Show

The Best Midwest Foods; Student-Run Mental Health Clubs


Louisa Chu/Chicago Tribune

On the 21st: What do you think of when you think Midwest food? Maybe a Chicago hot dog or a horseshoe sandwich. We'll get the experts take. But first, we look at mental health clubs on college campuses and what they're doing to help support each other. 

With the summer season wrapping up, have you been getting in your last fill of those great seasonal foods? Perhaps corn, cherries, or peaches - or even a frozen custard? 

It just so happens that all of these food treats are ones we can claim to the Midwest. But what do we mean when we say Midwest food? And why? The produce makes sense--it’s what grows well here. But why is a horseshoe an Illinois sandwich? And who makes the best?

Chicago Tribune food writer Louisa Chu has spent the entire month of August searching for, eating, and writing about Midwest food, and she joined us in our studio at Northwestern University in Evanston to share what she discovered.

We were also joined by Tim Graham who is the Chef at the new, Midwest inspired Twain restaurant in Chicago & Rebekah Graham who is the Beverage Director and Sommelier at Twain. 

Gooey Butter Cake

Recipe courtesy of Stefanie Bishop, Twain

For the cake:

2 ¾ cup cake flour

1 ½ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ cup butter, melted

¾ tsp salt

3 eggs, room temp


For the topping:

3 eggs, room temp

½ tbsp vanilla

1 ⅔ cup cream cheese, room temp

7 ½ cup powdered sugar


Yield: 2 x 8 inch cake pans, 3 inches deep



Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line and grease the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment paper, set aside.

To make the cake, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the melted butter and eggs, whisk together.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet forming a thick cake batter. You may need to switch to a spatula half way through mixing. The batter will not be pourable.

Measure out 2 ¼ cup of the cake base per cake pan. With a spatula, smooth top and spread into an even layer. Set aside and make filling.

To make the filling, slowly beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or handheld beaters. Beat until soft and smooth but making sure not to incorporate too much air.

Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape sides of the bowl between each addition.

Add vanilla

Add powdered sugar a cup at a time, and slowly mix to incorporate making sure no lumps remain.

Pour 3 cups of the filling over the cake mix.

Bake for 30-40 mins or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out slight tacky with a few gooey crumbs. The top of the cake should be glossy much like a brownie and a golden brown.

Let the cake cool before removing from the pan. Serve with ice cream, whip cream and fruit.



As many college students head back to school this week, many also head away from home for the first time. This transition can be a difficult one for some students.

We’ve actually seen the number of college students who seeking help for serious mental health problems steadily increasing over the past three decades. That’s according to the American Psychological Association.

What can be done to stem this trend? A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry finds that student peer-run mental health clubs across 12 California colleges helped increase awareness of mental-health issues and reduced stigma.

Active Minds is one peer-run mental health group. They have more than 450 chapters nationwide in high schools and colleges which focus on peer education and support for mental health. Devin Dionne, the Vice President of the University of Illinois chapter of Active Minds joined us in our Urbana studio. 

Also joining us on the line was Dr. David deBoer. He is a psychologist and Director of the Counseling Wellness Center at Loyola University Chicago.

Story source: WILL