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Cook's Corner

  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Baker feeds customers, family from the oven
    Krysta Young of Fort Wayne has been baking cakes out of her home for a while.
I still want to learn …
A. To make a big circle cake with stuff in it. (He gets out a cookbook and turns the pages until he comes upon the one he wants to make, a “Brooklyn Blackout” cake from “The Hummingbird Bakery” cookbook.)
I can’t wait to …
A. To grill.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Kaden Gerber, 11, of Bluffton plates Chicken with Mediterranean Salsa for his family’s dinner.

Fifth-grader feeds family with cooking hobby

– Kaden Gerber, 11, is a young man of few words. He attends fifth grade at Bluffton Middle School, where math is his favorite subject. He is active on the school’s football and basketball teams. During the summer he plays baseball.

But one thing he enjoys year-round is cooking and grilling.

“Cooking is a hobby,” he says quietly with a smile.

Gerber’s mother, Lisa, says he gets many of his recipe ideas from cookbooks such as “More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes,” which is one of his favorites.

“There are recipes from restaurants,” his mom says, adding, “He likes to re-create recipes all the time. He peruses cookbooks all the time. He checks out cookbooks from the library.

“I usually check out two cookbooks and a sports book,” Kaden says.

His mom knows when he’s found a recipe he wants to make.

“He goes through recipes and will go, ‘Ooo, no, ooo, no. Oh, that sounds good,’ ” she says, laughing.

Kaden doesn’t remember when he started cooking or what he made, but his mother does and has the pictures to prove it. She said he was probably around 3 years old when he started making scrambled eggs. She has photos of him helping out in the kitchen with his paternal grandfather.

As she opens up a photo album, she says, “Here’s a photo of him helping Poppy, Keith’s dad. They called him Poppy. He died in ’08.”

Kaden’s mom looks over at him and says, “He’s come a long way since scrambled eggs. (Sunday) he decided to make lasagna. He had to make the red sauce and the white sauce. It took about 45 minutes prep time.”

Asked if he prefers baking or cooking, Kaden looks at his mom for the answer.

“He likes desserts,” she says, “As the cookies and cakes go, he’s more of the chocolate fluff dessert (sort).”

“Mostly, I like to cook,” he chimes in.

“He’s a burger guy,” his mom adds.

Says Kaden, “Chicken, steak and ribs and hot dogs.”

And even if the meal is hot dogs, his mom says he seasons them up.

Lisa says her son has always been a worker. She notes that during this summer, while she was outside working in the yard, Kaden was busy in the kitchen whipping up a barbecue for the family’s dinner.

As for what the future holds for Kaden, he sees many possibilities.

“I want to do what dad does,” he says referring to his father’s work in athletic maintenance at Bluffton High School.

Quietly he adds, “Or a chef. I’ve always wanted to be a stocking guy at Kroger’s or an architect.”

Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?

A. The big flipping spatula to flip burgers on the grill.

Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?

Kaden: Chocolate.

Lisa: He’s got a sweet tooth, more than anyone else in the family.

Q. Who’s your cooking idol?

A. Guy Fieri. He makes the stuff I like.

Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?

A. Corn and salads.

Q. What advice would you give beginner cooks?

A. Have fun and just try it.

Chicken with Mediterranean Salsa

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Mediterranean Salsa, recipe follows

Combine olive oil and lemon juice in a shallow glass dish; add chicken. Turn chicken breasts to lightly coat with mixture; marinate at least 15 minutes to one hour. Grill chicken on covered grill about 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Top with Mediterranean Salsa. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Mediterranean Salsa:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

10 to 15 kalamata olive, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 finely chopped red onion

1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, rosemary, sugar and pepper in a bowl. Add olives, cucumber and onion; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, gently stir in tomatoes and feta cheese.

All-American Onion Burger

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/3 cups canned french fried onions, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 hamburger rolls

Combine beef, Worcestershire sauce, 2/3 cup french fried onions, garlic salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties. Grill over medium heat until done. Top with remaining onions. Serve on rolls. Makes 4 servings.


•Tangy Western Burger: Top each burger with 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce and crisp bacon before topping with french fried onions.

•California Burger: Combine 2 tablespoons each mayonnaise, sour cream and zesty deli mustard. Spoon over burgers. Top each burger with avocado slices, sprouts and french fried onions.

•Pizza Burger: Top each burger with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and french fried onions.

Brownie Peanut Butter Dessert

1 (18 1/2 ounces) box brownie mix, prepared and baked according to directions

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided

1 (16-ounce) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

20 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped

1 (3.9-ounce) box chocolate fudge instant pudding

2 cups milk

Crumble brownies and layer on bottom of a 9-inch square pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread over brownie layer. Sprinkle with half of the chopped peanut butter cups. In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining powdered sugar on low speed for 2 minutes. Fold in remaining whipped topping. Spread mixture over peanut butter cups. Garnish top of dessert with remaining chopped peanut butter cups. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Makes 12 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-88; fax 461-8648 or email