I've been thinking about having a talent tree, or at least you'd be able to advance any talent you may have. Giving special talents for finding special places and doing special quests definitely sounds like a good idea, I'll keep that in mind.
Another thing to consider, is to 'not' use talents that have been used to death in every game with an rpg element in them. Perhaps, it may be better to focus on talents that are directly relevant to the game and the setting the game takes place in. The trick is to make those talents recognizable enough, that they do not need further explanation. You should also keep in mind the many discussions we had on symbols versus text, as certain symbols, shapes, and/or objects have a more universal meaning. A pan for instance, could represent cooking, and many cultures would know, without explanation, that the pan likely means cooking.
While you do seem to focusing a lot less on making the game action heavy, and a lot more on being a casual experience, I would suggest looking at other such popular casual experiences. It might be a good idea, along with cooking, to have agriculture of some manner. With agriculture and cooking as main talent aspects, you could break them down into smaller aspects, like how well you can cook, and what types of food, perhaps even eventually able to create or discover recipes. One example I can think of for argiculture, might be creating an irrigation ditch. While I've no doubt I'm going to get stoned for making these suggestions, they will assure people will spend more time playing the game, and can and should even be directed towards forwarding the story.
Going off on tangent, it occurs to me that some games have actually used their skills, or talents as you call them, to branch the story off in different directions depending on the decisions you make. I've brought up argiculture and cooking as two aspects, and both could be used to impact the storyline in ways far less mundane than, go here, or get this. Take all these thoughts with a grain of salt, as each will require careful consideration, and will not just snap into place like a lego block.