New Inductee into Miss NiNi’s Royal Baking Court

ENCOURAGER—One who inspires hope, courage, confidence.

Why do I start my chat with this definition from Merriam Webster? Because it perfectly epitomizes the homemaker who I proudly induct into Miss NiNi’s Royal Baking Court. Truly deserving of this honor is Elsie (Mrs. Harold) Henderson. I share her heartwarming story with you.

Elsie was a loving farm wife and mother of five children, baker extraordinaire, a remarkable cook, gardener deluxe, phenomenal home canner, remarkable seamstress, and excellent housekeeper and manager.

But when visiting with her daughters, Jan Henderson Fulwider and Margaret Henderson, I came away from our meeting knowing that they particularly fondly remember their mother for her tenderhearted encouraging words.

When working on 4-H projects, both daughters recall that their young hands may not have always perfected a task, but their mother would lovingly say, “What do you think about this?” or “Well, you can do better. Try again.”

The Henderson family raised Jersey dairy cattle. Naturally, Elsie used the high-fat milk, cream, and homemade butter from those cows in her baking. She always said that their rich Jersey cream was the secret to making her one-of-a kind, mouth-watering Maple Chocolates.

All throughout my interview with Elsie’s daughters, I kept hearing what an innovator their mother was in the kitchen. She was always trying new recipes and baking methods as extolled by the KMA radio homemakers or as read from pamphlets gleaned from the Iowa State University Extension Service.

Tugging at her heartstrings was a curiosity not just of how to make something new but to know why it was done a recommended way. It was not unusual for her to then experiment with that recipe to make it even better according to her own standards. She took great pride in attractively presenting her food as well. She was really a food scientist right in her own farm kitchen.

When I asked Jan if she remembered what her mom first taught her to bake, she commented, “It was more about technique. Mom taught me to measure accurately, have eggs at room temperature before adding to the batter, and alternate wet and dry ingredients when mixing. That way any recipe would turn out well.”

This author’s first association with Elsie was in the early 1970s when we were among the entrants in the Cass County Milk Made Magic contest. I was in awe (and still am) of her class-winning bar cookie entry! To this day, I cannot remember the recipe, but I do, indeed, remember the presentation of her entry. Those little bar cookies were uniquely cut into diamond shapes. Beautiful! I’m sure they were delicious, but their presentation knocked them out of the park to the top of the class!

Margaret remembered when she had entered this contest a few years later when her mom’s teaching of “dressing up” food paid off again. Coincidentally, Margaret’s delicious, dairy-inspired entry was made from the same recipe as another entrant’s. But it was the eye-appealing, Elsie-inspired garnish that gave her entry the edge, catching the judges’ eyes and swaying them to award Margaret with a first place award. She later went on and prepared this entry for the state contest and captured first place as well.

It is indeed my delight to award Elsie Henderson a crown of golden stars in Miss NiNi’s Royal Baking Court!

Choosing one of Elsie’s first-place winning recipes from the aforementioned contest was a challenge. There was a plethora of them! Jan and Margaret selected this one for you to enjoy. Let “Raspberry Sunshine Torte” brighten your home in a dairy-delicious way!


1-1/4 cups coconut bar cookie crumbs
¼ cup butter
12 thin slices of lemon
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup raspberry preserves
2 pints lemon sherbet, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press on to bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Chill. Press lemon slices against sides of spring form pan. Carefully spread combined ice cream and pineapple over crust. Top with preserves and freeze. Spread lemon sherbet over preserves. Wrap securely. Freeze. Refrigerate 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 12 servings.

Miss NiNi

NOTE TO READERS: Please contact me at with names of family or friends who you feel are worthy as potential honorees in Miss NiNi’s Royal Baking Court. I would love to tell their homemaking/baking story! It is my heart’s desire to honor those who were born prior to 1960.