Local Couple Shares Joys of Cooking
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) After 140 episodes of sharing family recipes and the joys of cooking, long-running program “Cooking with Ruth” has wrapped up regular production.
Hosted by Ruth Elderbrook along with husband Gary, the show has gathered its own devoted following since its first episode debuted in 2013 on community television featuring a pan of chocolate chip blonde brownies.
“In the very beginning I was just doing it solo and doing some family favorite recipes,” said Ruth. “Then I would have Gary on as a guest to often taste test what I was making.”
Over time, the production of the cooking show grew more sophisticated, with two camera angles, lighting, and customized aprons. Gary quickly became a regular guest in the twice-monthly series, and his name was later added on informally to the title.
“I became a parentheses!” he said.
The food made on the show grew from family recipes to ones shared by friends, or new ones inspired by travels. Episodes have featured pretzels for the couple’s trip to Germany, gazpacho for their son and daughter-in-law’s trip around the world, and bruschetta after a pilgrimage to Italy.
The pair have many favorite episodes, but the ones that stand out most are those shared with the various guests who have joined them in promoting a cause or who simply shared in the fun of a gathering, like the time they made multiple appetizers for a spur-of-the-moment Packer party.
“We had an exchange student at our house over winter break from Liberia. It was around the Packer playoff time, so we thought we’d have a Packer party and we invited Kat to come back,” said Ruth. “It was just a really fun time making lots of new recipes, plus old recipes.”
They have also enjoyed helping out local nonprofits on the show, from making soup for the Soup or Socks Empty Bowls fundraiser, cupcakes for the Personal Development Center, and pet-friendly muffin treats with Marshfield Area Pet Shelter.
“I think it’s just a good example for people to know that you can give selflessly and it helps the community to grow and hopefully be more giving,” Ruth said. “I think Marshfield and the area is a very giving community.”
Loyal viewers have been able to enjoy snapshots of the Elderbrook’s life as Ruth shared updates on her family, most recently the birth of their first grandchild, Eleanor. Other times it’s just a normal day, like when Gary took a break from an episode to fix the hot tub. Afterwards, Ruth brought him a slice of dairy free chocolate cake to sample for his efforts.
Two weeks always rolled around quickly when it came time to filming the next episode. “Many times we’d wake up in the morning and say, oh, our videographers are coming at 10 a.m. today, what are we going to make?” said Gary.
“I remember one time thinking I had no idea what I’m going to do, so I happened to have some mini cupcakes in the freezer, and some chocolate fudge frosting in the refrigerator, so I thought, I’m just going to frost cupcakes,” Ruth said.
The early episode is still by far the most-viewed episode with 13 thousand views on YouTube — even if everything didn’t go to plan.
“The frosting was getting really soft and it was kind of oozing down the side,” Gary said. “That was some soupy-looking frosting!”
The pair have enjoyed perfecting their cooking techniques and trying new things through Ruth’s catering business, A Slice of Heaven, which began when she became licensed out of the university kitchen in 2009 while working full-time as library director. Before starting the business, Ruth was already dubbed “The Cheesecake Queen” for the decadent desserts she made for the university’s fundraiser, Food for Thought.
Over a decade later and with a large kitchen of her own, Ruth still happily claims the title even as the business has grown into a full catering service. Recently, a donated cheesecake for a fundraiser raised over a thousand dollars.
“It’s just fun to give especially when people appreciate it, because a lot of people don’t bake and they only know what they can buy at a grocery store,” she said. “When people enjoy and appreciate what you’re doing, that’s worth it.”
Thanks in part to the show, Ruth has grown comfortable making recipes even without having tested them before, a confidence that has come with experience.
“I think having a love for cooking and especially for baking makes all the difference,” she said, “because I think it’s the love that goes into what you’re making that helps it to turn out even better.”
The couple’s walk-through of molten lava chocolate cake will be released on the A Slice of Heaven Youtube channel. While the show may have wrapped for now, more episodes will be released every once in awhile after special events. The Elderbrook’s trip to Ireland in the fall could be the perfect time to share an Irish recipe, but in the meantime viewers can enjoy testing out their version of Irish Soda Bread on the show.
“It’s just been fun,” said Ruth, who’s next step is to release a cookbook with all of the recipes shared on the show.
“When Ruth and I will sit down and watch it, my favorite part is always the outtakes,” said Gary, “You can see people as they really are. Doing the show itself is always fun, but the outtakes you get a laugh out of them.”
Besides making the show itself, Ruth has also enjoyed meeting their viewers in person and hopes the show made an impact. “If that in itself gave somebody a little bit of joy, then it was all worth it,” she said. “As always, ‘Until next time, happy cooking!’”