Trial and error brought kitchen success for Susie Welker

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Oct 31, 2018 - 01:12 PM

Photo: Susie Welker offers guests a cup of coffee and her special  treat,Peanut Butter Fudge. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Susie Welker offers guests a cup of coffee and her special treat,Peanut Butter Fudge. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

“My mother was queen of her kitchen,” said Susie Welker, meaning she got no home cooking lessons before her marriage. “I had to learn by trial and error,” Susie confessed. “The first dish I learned to make for dinner was the string bean casserole. I loved making it. I made it every night until my husband, Bob, said he had enjoyed the casserole but thought he had enough string beans for a while.”

Her Betty Crocker cookbook, a gift, turned Susie into the great cook she is today. “I used it and started teaching myself but have made some mistakes along the way.”  

Susie and Bob have been living in Gloucester since 1993. Bob had retired from the military and Susie had retired from teaching. She never thought she would be living this side of the bridge. “I was a Hampton lover and didn’t want to move. Guess I cried for two weeks after moving.” Today Susie says it was a great move. She has no regrets, loves the area, and loves having her home where Bob has a nice woodworking shop. That’s his hobby. 

Most of Susie’s recipes have been adapted from dishes that captured her taste buds. “I would come home and keep trying until I thought I had finally gotten the dish just right.” Susie’s Peanut Butter Brownies, her signature dish that she always takes when food is on the schedule, is a good example of how her recipes come about. “I bought a package of peanut brownies for which I paid $5. Opened the box and there were only two brownies. I decided I could make those and they would be a lot less expensive.” Her potato salad recipe is another example. “I wanted to make a potato salad like the one I had eaten. Wasn’t sure how it was done but with a little bit of this and that I came up with my recipe. I like short and easy recipes, not those with a long, long list of ingredients.” She does, however, like to use recipes that call for many chopped ingredients. “Don’t know why but I just love getting in my kitchen, and love to chop and chop vegetables.”

Susie says it’s hard to learn how to cook for just the two of them. Their son and two daughters have families and live elsewhere. “But they will all be here for Thanksgiving including the five grandchildren. And once a year they all come at one time and spend a week with us. That’s when we do all sorts of things together, cook, do crafts and have lots of fun.”  

The Welkers’ home reflects Bob’s expertise in woodworking and Susie has made sure her children have copies of their favorite dishes. In 2012 she wrote and published “Mimi’s Recipes.” The book contained not only family recipes but included pictures of her children and grandchildren during different stages of their lives. It was their Christmas present.