Someone’s in the Kitchen with Ruth Sheppard

Published 11:27 am Saturday, June 21, 2014

Merle Monahan/Contributing Writer

WAKEFIELD—Ruth Sheppard says she is somewhat of a “Jill of all trades,” but one of her better talents is cooking.

“I love to cook, always have,” she said with a smile. “I was very fortunate in that I had two very good cooks to learn from when I was growing up.”

Sheppard said when she was about 6, her babysitter, Miss Gertrude, started teaching her the basics.

“I remember the first thing I learned was how to fry bacon. Then she taught me how to fry chicken. I was standing on a chair and she was right by my side.

“I felt so grown up,” Sheppard revealed with a grin.

“Later,” Sheppard continued, “my father died and mom remarried. My new dad also was a wonderful cook.

“He taught me everything, from the different ways to cook meats and vegetables to how to make biscuits from scratch. I was about 12, I think, and one of my favorite times was working with him in the kitchen.”

Sheppard grew up in Portsmouth, married, worked and spent most of her time there. She has two daughters, a son and eight grandchildren.

She retired as a motor winder from Ireland Electric in Virginia Beach in 2000 and moved to the outskirts of Wakefield in 2002.

“I love it here,” she said. “It’s so peaceful and the people are wonderful. I have made some great friends.”

Although she cooks for church and her senior citizens meeting, she doesn’t cook the big meals now that she did when her family was home.

But she keeps her kitchen open, and always cooks something special when her two granddaughters, Megan and Morgan Goodrich, who also live in Wakefield, are visiting.

She does, however, have several hobbies that keep her busy.

“I love to sew and to make crafts,” she said. “I also love to fix things.”

An avid clock collector, with a total of 22 in her living room alone, she pointed to a clock on the wall of her kitchen.

“When I bought that clock, it was electric,” she added. “I changed it over to battery operated.”

Sheppard says that’s the reason people call her a “Jill of all trades.”

“I’ve been known to work on cars and I keep my lawn mower in good shape, because I love to cut grass.”

Actually, when something is broken around the house, she can usually fix it. She jokes and says, “If I can’t fix it, it isn’t worth fixing.”


NAME: Ruth Sheppard.

AGE: 70.


FAVORITE FOOD: Chicken and dumplings.


WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER COOKING: Bacon. As a child, my siblings and I had a babysitter, whom we called Miss Gertrude, who was an excellent cook and she taught me a lot about cooking. How to fry bacon was one of the first things she taught me.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST COOKING EXPERIENCE: I remember once I was cooking dinner and discovered I was out of an ingredient I needed. I had to stop in the middle of it and go to the store. That never happened again.

WHAT IS ONE INGREDIENT YOU CAN’T COOK WITHOUT AND WHY: Salt. It brings out the flavor in foods.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT COOKING: Like I said, have all of your ingredients on hand before you start cooking. You must also have patience.

WHO IS THE BEST COOK YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN AND WHY: That would have to be my dad. I was about 12 when my mom remarried and my new dad started right away doing most of the cooking. He was an excellent cook and loved it. When I showed an interest in cooking, he was really happy, started teaching me to fry chicken, make biscuits, things like that. After I married and left home, he’d even help me can. That’s one thing I taught him, however. I learned out of a book.


Stewed Tomatoes:

1 large and 1 small can of tomatoes
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
8 to 10 slices bread
Dash salt, pepper and mustard
1 stick butter
Directions: Break bread into pieces and mix with other ingredients. Spay 9×11-in cooking dish with pam. Pour mixture into cooking dish, dot with butter and bake for 45 to 60 minutes in 375 degree oven.


Macaroni & Cheese with tomatoes:

12 oz medium pasta shells
2 med. onions, diced
1 large and 1 small can diced tomatoes
1 Lb sharp cheddar cheese, cubed

Directions: Boil pasta and onion until done. Drain off water. Add tomatoes and cheese and cook over low to medium heat until cheese melts. Add dash of sugar, salt and pepper.