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Family, Friends, Food

Special treats and meals prepared for family and friends always reflect the caring of Elsie Stroud of Farmington. Elsie is known by her family and her many friends as being the one you can count on to be there in times of trouble, sadness, or need with open arms…and usually holding a gift of food.

Elsie has the heart of a true caregiver. No questions asked, just there with a willing ear for listening and a strong arm for helping whatever the need. She is also a gardener, the lawn-keeper, the family anchor and a marvelous cook. There isn’t a member of her family who doesn’t have a favorite dish she prepares, and few friends who haven’t at one time or the other enjoyed a meal or a cake she has made from scratch.

Elsie Stroud is pictured with her favorite cake. She made cakes for all her coworkers before retiring from Parkland Health Center in 2012.

Elsie Stroud is pictured with her favorite cake. She made cakes for all her coworkers before retiring from Parkland Health Center in 2012.

Many people will also remember Elsie from when she worked at Farmington Community Hospital (later Parkland Hospital) first as the receptionist for 17 years, and then for another 20 years as secretary to the Director of Nursing, first Jean Lockridge and then Kathy Hight. She finally retired after a total of 37 years in 2012. For many of those years she baked the favorite cake for each of the administrative staff starting with the hospital administrator. She still recalls the favorite of many of them, including the German Chocolate Cake preferred by Rick Conklin.

For Elsie, cooking is never a chore, but always a pleasure and a skill she learned at an early age and one she has never tired of using. Her favorite things to make are hot rolls (from scratch) and baking cakes.

Christmas is her favorite holiday when she goes all out to have plenty for everyone on the dining room table. She never forgets to have son Jeff’s favorite Orange Jello Salad on the table, along with a large roasted turkey, her special request potato salad, plenty of her hot, homemade rolls and all of the other traditional dishes, including pies and a cake. By meal’s end, the table is considerably lighter, but the guests are groaning from having consumed plentiful helpings of the meal.

As a middle child in a family of 11 children, Elsie said her earliest memory of helping with cooking is when she was about five years old.

“I can still remember dragging a stool over to stand on, so I could reach the counter and help Mom,” she said.

Her parents were Ewell and Sophia Henson of Bonne Terre. Her mother was a great cook and taught Elsie and her two sisters closest to her in age, Reva Koester and Janice Boyd, how to cook. Elsie said after they left home, they just learned on their own, with maybe a quick call for advice from one another. Elsie said, although Reva is now deceased, she still stays in touch with Janice who lives in Bonne Terre and is an excellent cook.

Elsie said one of her favorite things her mother made was an Applesauce cake. Knowing it was Elsie’s favorite, one year for Christmas her mother made the cake just for her and hid it as her gift. After her mother passed away, her sister Reva continued to make the cake for her for many years. Unfortunately, Elsie doesn’t have her mother’s recipe but knows a family member who does. It probably won’t be long before it appears in her repertoire of baking skills.

In 1963, Elsie married D. R. Stroud of Farmington, and she immediately acquired two more siblings, D.R.’s younger brother, Jerry, who now lives in California, and sister Joan, who makes her home in Arizona. Both of them soon became fans of her cooking and have their favorite dishes they now request of her. For Jerry, it’s her Chicken and Dumplings and for Joan it’s the Orange Pineapple Cake.

Mandrian Orange-Pineapple Cake

1 box white or yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1 small can mandarin oranges

Mix cake mix, eggs, mandarin oranges (juice and all).

Bake in three 8-inch pans (greased and floured) for 25 – 30 mins at 350


1 can crushed pineapple

1 box vanilla instant pudding

1 carton Cool Whip

Mix pudding and pineapple. Fold in Cool Whip.

Chill for a short time before spreading on cake.

Chicken and Dumplings

2 to 2 1/2 pounds meaty chicken pieces

5 cups water (add more water to make enough broth as chicken cooks)

1 small onion chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

1 tsp salt

Cook chicken until tender. Then debone.

Set chicken aside

For dumplings: 3 cups flour

1 egg

1/2 cup oil

1/2 tsp salt

Broth (enough to form flour in ball) approx., 1/2 cup

Mix egg and oil

Add egg, oil, salt and broth to flour

Roll out until thin on floured board. Cut in 1 1/2 strips

(A pizza cutter does best)

Bring remaining broth to boil (about 1 gallon of broth)

Drop in dumplings. Stir lightly with fork as you drop.

Cook approx. 10 mins. Add chicken, then put in crock pot on low

to finish cooking for about an hour.

Elsie and “Dee” have three children, two grandchildren and one great-grandson, who, Elsie admits, is the light of her life.

The children are: David Stroud and wife Nancy, who live in Farmington and have two children, Mathew and Susan; Jeff Stroud, who lives in St. Louis; and the youngest son Terry Stroud and his wife Sherri, who live in Aurora. David’s son Mathew and his wife Tracy also live in Farmington as do his daughter Susan and Johnny David with their five-year-old son Tripp David.

Elsie's great-grandson,Tripp, is happy to sample the frosting.

Elsie’s great-grandson,Tripp, is happy to sample the frosting.

Elsie looks forward to fixing a meal once a week for Susan and Johnny, as she also gets to have the “light of her life,” her great-grandson, Tripp, who is already a big fan of Grammie Elsie’s cakes…especially the icing!

Frequent visits they thoroughly enjoyed were made to their vacation home at nearby Lakes Genevieve for over 19 years by Dee, Elsie and their family and friends. They sold the property just about three years ago when Dee began having health problems.

The seafood dinner Elsie prepared at the home of brother-in-law, Jerry Stroud, in Hawaii while visiting there with husband D.R. Stroud.

The seafood dinner Elsie prepared at the home of brother-in-law, Jerry Stroud, in Hawaii while visiting there with husband D.R. Stroud.

Their several trips to Hawaii to visit Jerry at his vacation home on Pahoa were always wonderful times for Elsie, Dee and, occasionally, their sister, Joan. Between sightseeing excursions to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park among many other places and relaxing on the beach, Elsie also enjoyed preparing dishes made from the island’s fresh seafood as well as cooking some of her delicious Midwest dishes for Jerry and several of his friends who always seemed to appear when they knew Elsie was in residence. Her chicken and dumplings and barbecued ribs especially brought rave reviews.

Elsie’s Barbecue Ribs

She seasons the ribs with garlic sale and lemon pepper, then sears them quickly on the grill. She then lets them cook slowly for about one and a half hour and bastes them periodically with beer. At the end of the cooking time she bastes them with barbecue sauce, usually Sweet Baby Rays.

Sadly, the recent and continuing eruption of Kilauea volcano has brought a permanent end to future visits, as Jerry’s home was among the many that were destroyed by the lava flow.

D.R. and Elsie are pictured in front of the famous - and now destroyed - Lava Cafe near the Kilauea Volcano . 

D.R. and Elsie are pictured in front of the famous – and now destroyed – Lava Cafe near the Kilauea Volcano . 

Even with her many responsibilities, Elsie continues to find time to keep active with weekly trips to workout at Parkland Health Center’s heart rehabilitation center, and to keep in touch with her ever expanding circle of family and friends.

Being from a large family, she realizes the importance of cherishing each person and experience in her life, beginning with those from her youth. When asked about her favorite memory from her childhood, she laughed and said, “It was from those hot Missouri summer nights, when Mom would make pallets on the floor in front of the open windows and door to catch the breeze. We’d all just curl up on those makeshift beds and sleep like we hadn’t a care in the world. And we probably didn’t.”

8-10 medium potatoes

2 stalks celery chopped

4 green onions chopped

3 Tbs sweet pickle relish

2 or 3 small dill pickles chopped

3 hard boiled eggs chopped

1/2 tsp salt


Dash of garlic salt

Mix together 3/4 – 1 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

1 Tbs prepared mustard. Pour over above ingredients

Mix well.

3 lbs ground beef

1 cup milk

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

2 cups oats

1 Tbsp onion

1 tsp pepper

2 eggs

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

Roll into 3-inch balls in diameter (makes 18 meatballs)


2 cups ketchup

1 tsp prepared mustard

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

11/2 cups brown sugar

(may need extra ketchup)

Pour topping over meatballs. Bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees.

1 box yellow or white cake mix

2 boxes instant vanilla pudding

2 large cream cheese

1 can sliced peaches

5 Tablespoons peach juice

1/2 cup sugar

Mix cake as directed on box, add 2 boxes instant pudding

Beat well

Pour into large rectangle baking dish or pan that has been greased and floured

Spread peaches on top

Beat cream cheese, peach juice and sugar. Drop by spoonsful on top of

Batter and peaches.

Bake 350 degrees for 60 minutes

Butter 13×9 cake pan.

In bottom sprinkle 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup shredded coconut

Prepare box German Chocolate Cake mix as directed on box. Spread over nuts and coconut.

Beat 1 stick oleo, 8 oz cream cheese and 1-pound powdered sugar until creamy.

Spoon over cake batter.

Bake 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until center is done.

1 box lemon cake mix

1 box lemon instant pudding

1/2 cup oil

4 eggs

10 oz 7up or Sprite

Mix together well. Pour into Bundt pan that has been sprayed well with cooking spray.

Bake 350 Degrees for about 40 minutes or until cake is done.

Invert on serving platter.


As cake is cooling mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice and pour over cake. Will soak into cake and run down the sides making it very moist.

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