Palmyra, Mo., cook adds her own touch to recipes

Brenda Goodwin of Palmyra, Mo., spreads her homemade White Mountain Frosting on Cinnamon Chocolate Cake. Key ingredients for Goodwin are knowing how she wants the dish to turn out and tasting along the way. (H-W Photos/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: May. 13, 2014 2:27 pm Updated: May. 28, 2014 2:14 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

PALMYRA, Mo. -- Brenda Goodwin stands at the stove in her kitchen, measuring the progress of a sugar syrup bubbling on the stove.

When a spoonful of syrup poured back into the pan makes a roughly 6-inch "thread," Goodwin combines it with stiffly beaten egg whites to finish her White Mountain Frosting.

The frosting, turned a pretty pink with the addition of crushed peppermint, tops Cinnamon Chocolate Cake.

The cake's a favorite of three generations of the Palmyra family, especially Goodwin's husband, Bob, and one of their grandsons, and it's one of many sweet treats Goodwin turns out -- from cookies to a Gumdrop Salad made by her grandmother.

"I'm just an old country girl that cooks," Goodwin said. "I may have a recipe, then I do it a little bit different."

Key ingredients for Goodwin are knowing how she wants the dish to turn out and tasting along the way while fitting cooking between her twice-daily runs as a 28-year bus driver for the Palmyra school district.

It's a balancing act for Goodwin -- both to find the time and what she cooks.

"My husband doesn't like hot things. My son does," she said, and sometimes with a dish, "we do two, one hot and one not."

She may do part of recipe during the day, then finish it up after school.

"A lot of my recipes, I simplify them," she said. "You have to like to eat to cook. You have to taste."

Goodwin learned to cook from her late mom, Mary Pyle, and followed in her footsteps of baking wedding cakes.

The two women passed along a love of cooking to Goodwin's daughter Jacque, son Bruce and seven grandchildren.

"Last summer we put up corn, then the next week did apple butter and another week did chili sauce and relishes," Goodwin said. "We had grandkids here stirring apple butter and chopping tomatoes. They're learning."

She makes sure to have favorites on hand, even baking gumdrop cookies for a neighbor of the family's grain farm north of Palmyra.

"You take the recipe for chocolate chip cookies and just put gumdrops in there. They bake just fine," Goodwin said.

Fruit-flavored gumdrops also star in a namesake salad, always served at Christmastime. "It's very colorful," Goodwin said. "It has a cooked dressing."

Another family favorite is Dishpan Cookies. "It makes a large batch, but I can't keep them in the cookie jar," Goodwin said.

Nearly as popular are Snickerdoodles, topped with cinnamon sugar, and Peanut Butter Cookies.

A main dish casserole, Spanish Delight, promises "good eating," according to the recipe card, and so does Goodwin's Cornbread Salad, a summertime staple that feeds a hungry crowd.

Bran Rolls, featuring All Bran cereal, can be made ahead, refrigerated and baked as needed.

Baking bread is a long family tradition. "My mom was great at different breads -- cinnamon rolls, tea rings," Goodwin said.


 Spanish Delight

1 1/2 pounds hamburger

1 can cream-style corn

2 tablespoons chili sauce

lots of olives (green and black)

2 chopped green peppers

1 large onion, chopped

1 can tomato puree

1 large can mushrooms

1 (10- or 12-ounce) package noodles

1 package grated sharp cheese

Brown hamburger. Add remaining ingredients, then add cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 Cornbread Salad

1 teaspoon sugar

1 package ranch style salad dressing mix

8 ounces sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 box Jiffy cornbread, baked and crumbled

1 (16-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 (17-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces and cooked

Mix together sugar, salad dressing mix, sour cream and mayonnaise; set aside.

Place half of crumbled cornbread in bottom of a large serving bowl. Top with half of the pinto beans. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, pepper and onions; layer half of vegetable mixture over beans. Top with half of cheese, bacon, corn and reserved salad dressing. Repeat layers, using remaining ingredients. Garnish, if desired, with tomato wedges and crumbled bacon. Cover and chill at least two hours before serving.

 Bran Rolls

1 cup hot water

1 cup All Bran cereal

2/3 cup lard

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 packages yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

2 eggs

5 1/2 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine hot water and cereal. Add lard, sugar and salt; let cool until lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water; add to mixing bowl. Add eggs, then stir in flour. Combine into dough. Let rise for on hour. Shape into rolls, and let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Note: Dough can be stored in refrigerator and baked as needed.

 Gumdrop Salad

1/2 pound marshmallows, quartered

1/2 pound gumdrops in assorted flavors

1 (No. 2 1/2) can pineapple, drained and cubed

1 pound white or red grapes, halved and seeded

1/2 cup nuts

1 small jar red and green maraschino cherries

1/2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon vinegar

juice of 2 lemons

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 pint heavy cream or 2 envelopes of Dream Whip

Combine marshmallows, gumdrops, pineapple, grapes, nuts and cherries in a bowl. Blend remaining ingredients, except cream, and cook in a double boiler until smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Let cool. Beat cream, or prepare Dream Whip, and fold into dressing, then combine with fruit. Refrigerate 12-24 hours before serving.

 Dishpan Cookies

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups sugar

2 cups oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups corn flakes

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

Combine sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Shape dough into small balls. Put on a cookie sheet; press down the top of each cookie with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

 Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 12 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together shortening, peanut butter, sugars and eggs. Blend in all dry ingredients. Chill dough. Roll dough into balls. Place cookies 3 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten cookies with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar; beat in egg. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a salt shaker. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over top of each cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned but still soft, 8-10 minutes. Cookies will puff up at first, then flatten out with crinkled edges. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

 Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 cup water

2 cups flour

2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

4 tablespoons cocoa

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Melt butter in water in a saucepan over medium heat. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add eggs to dry ingredients. Add buttermilk to bowl. Slowly add melted butter/water to batter. When well combined, pour batter into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool, then top with White Mountain Frosting.

 White Mountain Frosting

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

crushed peppermint

Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until a spoonful of the syrup poured back into the pan will make a 6-inch "thread." Meanwhile, beat egg whites to stiff peaks in a bowl. Add vanilla and crushed peppermint. Beat in syrup until frosting reaches spreading consistency.