By Sean Barron
When she was 4 or 5, Maria Schrock spent a lot of time on a small step stool weighing noodles on a scale, and standing on a chair to dry dishes for her mother.
“I remember that so well,” Schrock said, referring to having helped at Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, a business her mother, Esther Miller, started in 1973 in Fredericksburg, just south of Wooster.
You won’t find the 40-year-old Schrock on a chair or a stool, but you’ll still find her surrounded by homemade noodles — this time at the 10th annual White House Weekend event at White House Fruit Farm Inc., 9249 Youngstown-Salem Road (state Route 62).
The free customer-appreciation gathering kicked off Saturday and continues from noon to 4 p.m. today at White House.
Fifteen local and regional food vendors are selling and providing samples of their products, which include gourmet coffees, maple syrup, sausage, peppers and snack items, noted Debbie Pifer, White House’s owner.
“People are ready to get out of the house, and this sort of kicks off our season at the farm,” she said.
Schrock and her husband, Arnold Schrock, run Mrs. Miller’s Homemade Noodles, which produces about 1,000 pounds of pasta per hour in 20 flavors, he noted.
On Saturday, the Schrocks were busy giving away samples of noodles dipped in traditional Amish peanut butter-and-marshmallow or mild pepper-and-mustard spreads. They also had on hand a homemade chicken avocado-and-bacon pasta salad.
“This is my whole life,” Maria said about her mother’s business, adding that her parents and brother, Morris Miller, remain active in the business.
Attendees who wished to sample sauces with a bit of a kick likely found something desirable if they stopped to visit with Ron and Maureen Marginian, who own RJ’s Pepper Pantry in Warren.
“We target specialty food stores and markets, and White House is among our biggest customers,” Ron said about the 18-month-old business.
Specifically, RJ’s offers two types of diavolo sauce with peppers, along with three kinds of pepper-and-oil varieties. All are homemade, he said.
Beginning this summer, the business will be partnering with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, so RJ’s pepper-and-oil products will be on some foods sold at Eastwood Field in Niles, he noted.
On the cooler side of things, Audrey Unruh was offering samples of several kinds of locally made syrups along with fried corn mush.
Unruh, who’s worked at White House about three years, explained the simplicity of preparing corn mush, saying that once the material is sliced, it takes about four or five minutes at 350 degrees to fry in a skillet or pan. The procedure may vary a bit if done in an oven, she added.
Unruh also had available bottles of maple, sugar-free blueberry, triple-berry and strawberry-fig syrup.
Late winter and early spring typically is when maple sap starts to run because cold weather allows the tree roots to draw water from the ground, causing the tree to replenish its sap to run during warmer weather, she explained.
The annual event at White House falls during the third weekend in March to allow the 90-year-old business to thank its customers for their loyalty, Pifer said, adding that she was very pleased with Saturday’s turnout.