Wharton started cooking at an early age

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Eric Wharton is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wharton moved to Mississippi in 2009. He now lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Debi Wharton. 

The Whartons met 20 years ago and have been married for 13-years. Together they shares a blended family and have seven grandchildren. 

When Wharton was a child, he always dreamed of one day being a forest ranger. Wharton went to school to become a forester. After working 33-years as a forester for the USDA Forest Service, he retired. 

Wharton is now teaching adult Sunday school and has a passion for studying the Bible. Wharton is also a writer and likes to write his own short stories. He is currently working on writing a Christian daily devotional for men. 

Ten years ago, Wharton became severally ill. He needed a liver transplant. He was able to get a liver transplant that changed his life and helped him become a more vigorous advocate in the importance of organ donations. 

Some of Wharton’s hobbies include his wife’s Debi 10-year tradition of playing cards and dominoes on Friday nights with their closest friends. 

Wharton also enjoys researching genealogy and family trees. The Whartons enjoyed traveling together and went on their first cruise this year for his wife Debi’s reunion class. 

At 16, Wharton started cooking at a family restaurant that served a wide range of food.  “I just started out making the food ahead of time like coleslaw, potato salad, and things like that,” Wharton said. 

By the time Wharton was 18, he had worked his way up to grill cook in the family restaurant before he left for college. Cooking has always been an essential part of Wharton’s life. 

From growing up in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area, Wharton has a taste of Italian food.  “I just love that kind of food,” said Wharton. 

One thing different from living in Pennsylvania and here Wharton mentioned more pizza joints up north.  Though Wharton loves Southern food, one Southern food he mentioned he didn’t care for is okra. This summer was the first time he saw his first pot of okra.

CROCK-POT CHILI WITH BEANS

2 lbs. chuck roast (or stew meat)

2 lbs. ground beef 

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1 8-oz can beef broth

2 8-oz can pinto beans, drained and washed

1 8-oz can light red kidney beans, drained and washed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Spices:

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp ground oregano

1 tsp coriander

Trim fat from meat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Brown the meat and add to the crock-pot. 

Brown and drain ground beef and add to the crock-pot. Add all remaining ingredients except beans and spices. 

Cook on high 4-6 hours. 

During the last hour, drain, wash, and add beans and spices. The beans only need to be heated up. Overcooking will turn them mushy.

This is a mild chili . To up the heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.

SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE

2 lbs. ground beef

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 15-oz cans tomato sauce

1 6-oz can tomato paste

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp basil 

1/2 tsp parsley flakes

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 bay leaves

Brown meat, drain, and place in a crock pot. Add tomato ingredients, olive oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Cook on high for 4 hours. During the last hour add salt, pepper, and spices.

About 30 minutes before the sauce cooking time ends, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt to water.  When water is boiling, add spaghetti. Boil for 20 minutes. Reserve about 1/4 cup of water, then drain pasta.  Remove bay leaves from sauce.  

Mix pasta and sauce, adding the reserved water. Only use what is needed, based on the amount of pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

MEAT LOAF

2 lbs. ground chuck

1/2 medium onion, chopped (optional)

1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

2 whole eggs

2 cups breadcrumbs (Italian seasoning)

1 cup milk

1 cup ketchup

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix milk and egg together in a large mixing bowl. Add meat and begin to work the mixture together. Add ketchup and work ketchup into meat-egg-milk mixture. Add breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Thoroughly mix, kneading meat in hands. Begin compacting meat—pressing meat together until it feels firmly packed.

Form into loaf shape and press into either a baking mold or place as loaf shape into a regular baking dish.  Press indention into the top of the loaf to ensure the center is cooked well. *optional add ketchup to indention.

Cook at 375°F for 1 hour until the top is crispy brown.


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