The Times West Virginian

December 7, 2011

Quick and tasty

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Cooking is no big deal for Sherry Summers.

She does it every day. Her family is very grateful that she does. They’ll even call and ask what’s for supper.

“So I cook more and more,” she said.

“Oh, I made baked steak last night, with mashed potatoes and green beans,” she said.

It doesn’t matter if it’s vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings, or deer roast, everything she makes is homemade, she said. She learned that from her mother, Kathleen Shepherd.

“Oh, she was always a really good cook. She made mostly homemade stuff. I guess I heed to that,” Summer said with a laugh.

She prefers to cook rather than bake.

“Mainly because I cook every day,” she said. “Cooking is every day, whether it’s chicken and dumplings, whatever. And every bit of that is homemade, too.”

Cook’s Choice, for her, is just about anything she makes.

“I like my own fried chicken. And my liver and onions. Or vegetable soup.

“And I don’t know what’s special about my chicken, to tell you the truth. I don’t boil the chicken first and I don’t let it sit in a salt solution. I don’t do any of that.

“My family likes just about anything I cook. They’re always at my house. They’ll call, ‘What’s for dinner?’

“They all love my vegetable soup. I hate to keep bragging on it. The soup is a lot of work, but it’s all good. I make enough in big pots and then freeze it and bring it back later.

“For the vegetable soup, I cut everything up. I boil the stew meat and cook it down, and put a little bit of garlic powder. It’s a long process, but it’s all good.”

She doesn’t eat out often, but when she does, it’s at family restaurants “that serve food food,” she said. “I really don’t like fast food.”

They have some land in Wetzel County, where her husband, son and son-in-law hunt deer. She rewards their efforts with deer roast.

“You would like it better than beef roast,” she said. “I just put it in a roaster with salt, pepper, garlic powder and let it sit. I turn it every so often and put some onions in it, and that’s it. And you can’t tell the difference. I think it’s really good. I’d rather have this than beef roast.

“I make a million things. There’s not one day that I don’t cook,” she said. “There’s always something to eat.”

But when the holidays roll around, she makes enough fudge, cookies and hard candy to make her family and friends smile.

“For the fudge, I get a pot, put sugar and a can of evaporated milk in it, and let it boil for a while until it makes a soft ball in cold water.

“That’s how I do it. I don’t use a thermometer. I use a cup of cold water and when it makes a soft ball, I add marshmallows, vanilla and if you want, nuts and chocolate, or peanut butter.

“Then I mix it all together real good, turn the fire off and put it in the pan real quick.”

She pops it in the fridge and waits for the hungry army to attack.

She also makes hard tack and peanut brittle, but she can’t find the kind of peanuts she needs for the brittle.

She doesn’t like sweets that much, but she does like pizzelle cookies and cinnamon or root beer hard tack.

She has some cookbooks and uses recipes from many different places, especially her mom’s recipes.

“She had one for pound cake that’s really good. I guess I should venture out there more. I’ve always said I’m going to take a cookbook and open it up and just do one page at a time.

“That would be a good thing.”

The contest for December is fudge. To be featured on the “My Favorite Recipe” page, contact Debbie Wilson at 304-367-2549 or

Email Debra Minor Wilson at