Fort Wayne – Gertrude White, 92, was born in 1921 and grew up during the Great Depression. Her father died in 1933 as the result of injuries he suffered from an auto accident. Her mother later married, and White was the oldest of four children and the only girl.
White said she worked outside the home at various jobs and retired as chief deputy assessor for Allen County.
She describes how she ended up moving to Fort Wayne from Michigan.
My husband (Edward) worked at an ice cream store in Ann Arbor, Mich. I worked at Kresge five-and-dime store. One day I went over to the ice cream shop and soon we were married, she says. We were married two days and my husband got transferred to Hastings, Mich. He got his own store. We were there and then moved to Three Rivers, Mich. That’s where our two boys were born. When our youngest boy was less than a month old, we moved to Fort Wayne. Edward managed Miller’s Dairy Store (near downtown).
In addition to her two sons, Tom and Bob, she has a daughter, Marie White, with whom she shares a home in Fort Wayne.
White’s hobbies include flower gardening and cooking. During the weekdays, she’s in charge of the meals, while her daughter does the cooking on the weekends.
When asked to describe her style of cooking, White lets out a chuckle and replies, Hobo stew – it’s where you throw everything together. I see what’s there and I do something with it. I had a hard time finding recipes because I usually dump and pour.
Q. What’s your favorite cookboo,k and do you have a lot of cookbooks?
A. I’m not a saver of things. They told me about 10 years ago that I had about two to three years to live. So, I went home and got out my good towels and sheets and started using them. I don’t have very many (cookbooks). I’ve got the first cookbook I ever bought – Searchlight Recipe Book. I bought it in 1940. Out of this cookbook, the one I use the most is the waffle recipe.
Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?
A. Fresh vegetables and fruits. It’s hard for me to find a dessert. My husband ran an ice cream store and my stepfather was a Sealtest delivery man. Ice cream was our downfall. I’ll take cookies over pie. I’ll have one piece of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and one piece of pecan pie for Christmas.
We don’t eat a lot of beef. We have chicken, salmon, shrimp, and I like lobster. I never fry anything.
Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?
A. Sweet potatoes. I like every vegetable. I don’t eat a lot of green vegetables because of the medication I’m on.
Q. What advice would you give beginner cooks?
A. Don’t be afraid to tray anything new. Look in the refrigerator. You can put anything in pasta.
1 (16-ounce) can LeSuer peas, drained
1 (16-ounce) can French sliced green beans, drained
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 (16-ounce) can white Shoepeg corn
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup salad oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 (3-ounce) jar pimento, chopped (or red pepper)
Place vegetables in bowl. Mix marinade well until sugar dissolves. Pour over vegetables. Let stand overnight in refrigerator. Drain 30 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped apples
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs and sugar until smooth. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in pecans, apples and vanilla. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 4 servings.
2 sticks margarine
3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large or 4 medium eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped pecans
In a double boiler, melt margarine and baking chocolate; let cool. Mix together brown sugar, eggs, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix well and add chocolate/margarine mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour batter on to a wax paper-lined jelly roll pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for just a few minutes and invert onto a flat surface. Peel off wax paper, frost with your favorite chocolate icing and cut into squares. Makes 45 pieces.