Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 27, 2012

Finding love in the kitchen

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

DIETERICH —     With hair in braids and Western attire, Teutopolis High School graduate Jessie Rexroat looks more like a cowgirl than someone who would rather spend hours in a kitchen than a rodeo arena.

    Rexroat has a degree in animal science and agricultural business from Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla., but she has found her true love in the kitchen — baking.

    Baking ...

    ... and baking some more.

    Rexroat made a name for herself in the middle of her senior year by baking 120 dozen cookies for a Valentine’s Day event at Panhandle State.

    “I learned a lot about mass-producing cookies that weekend,” she said.

    After graduation, she got a job at the Effingham Equity plant in Dieterich. But she found that she still had time for baking.

    “People just started asking for stuff and it just kind of escalated from there,” she said.

    Rexroat sells “Love by the Dozen,” she said. That’s the name of her fledgling decorated cookie business. She comes by her love of the kitchen naturally. Paternal grandparents Paul and Marcia Rexroat owned a downtown Effingham restaurant for many years, while maternal grandmother Rosie Hoelscher “baked all the time,” according to her granddaughter.

    Rexroat said she named her business in an effort to draw attention to it.

    “Love by the Dozen is a little catchy phrase that people will remember,” she said.

    Baking is only half the game for Rexroat, however. Once the cookies are out of the oven, the real fun begins.

    “I put my heart and soul into decorating,” she said.

    Rexroat is a big believer in setting the mood for her current project.

    “When I am making a batch of Christmas cookies, I turn on the Christmas music,” she said. “For Valentine’s Day, I might crank up some love songs.”

    Rexroat said time gets away from her sometimes, much to the amusement of her co-workers at Equity, she said.

    “I’ll stay up all hours of the night baking cookies,” she said. “It’s a running joke at work that I’m hung over from baking cookies.”

    Rexroat said she gets many of her decorating ideas from the Internet.

    “But I always put my own spin on it,” she said. “I never do it exactly like they have it on the computer.”

    Rexroat said business began to pick up the week after Thanksgiving and reached a fever pitch in the last two weeks before Christmas.

    Her favorite designs include a melted snowman and reindeer. Her absolute favorite, however, is a snow scene that includes a snowman with trees and sky.

    While Christmas is over, Rexroat is looking forward to the Valentine’s Day baking season.

    “Then I’ll move onto Easter,” she said.

    Rexroat can be reached for orders at 217-663-8075.