For 56 years, Eula Bredsguard has been considered one of Monroe's best cooks.

"I guess you could say I'm a good cook," she admitted. "Lots of people say it. I like to try new recipes, but really, when you've been cooking as long as I have, you ought to be good."Bredsguard grew up on a farm in Wayne County where her family raised livestock, farmed and gardened.

"My mother cured our pork, then made our cheese. We traded cheese for fruit to bottle. We cooked with what we had. I remember how many times we made sour cream cake. It seems like I had the recipe memorized before I could read, but we had to use that sour cream."

Principles of provident living influenced Bredsguard's lifestyle.

"We were careful to use everything we grew," she explained. "I remember sometimes going to school without bread, but we'd come home to a steamed pudding or fresh doughnuts. Mother made noodles and we always ate meat and potatoes."

Food preparation was Eula's assigned chore as a youngster.

"I was the cook. One of my sisters was the seamstress; the other, a musician. It's still that way, years later," Bredsguard recalled.

Years of experience allow Bredsguard the privilege of passing on secrets of success.

"I wouldn't use anything but Gold Medal flour for baking," she acknowledged. "I've tried all the others, sifted and not sifted, and the results are always better with that flour. I do use bread flour for my rolls, though. Oh, I use Softasilk (cake flour) for my cakes. It gives a much finer grain and texture to the cake."

Despite the hours Bredsguard enjoys in the kitchen, her life stretches well beyond the kitchen walls.

Living room walls are lined with bookshelves; Bredsguard belongs to three book clubs. Classics and best sellers stand in rows as evidence of Eula's other hobby.

The reading diversion was short-lived, however, as Bredsguard bounced back to food.

She joined with a group of neighbors more than 40 years ago to form the Birthday Club.

"We get together to celebrate our birthdays, and, of course, we have a luncheon. That's the time we share our new recipes," she explained.

With a lifetime of cooking behind her, Bredsguard's not content to practice her perfected recipes but enthusiastically collects additional evidence to shore up her title as Monroe's best.

*****

Recipes listed:

Rocky Road Brownies

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1/3 cup cocoa

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup nuts, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2-2 cups miniature marshmallows

Frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons margarine

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-4 tablespoons cocoa

3-4 tablespoons milk

Blend margarine with sugar and cocoa, then eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, salt, vanilla and nuts. Spread into greased 11-by-17-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with marshmallows, return to oven for about 3-5 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Cool and frost.

For frosting, blend cocoa, powdered sugar, salt and margarine. Gradually stir in milk and vanilla, blending until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Makes 5-6 dozen brownies.

Traditional Roll Dough

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 quart milk, scalded

1/3-1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 eggs, beaten

3 large tablespoons shortening

7-8 cups Gold Medal "Better for Bread" flour Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Pour scalded milk in large bowl; add sugar, salt and shortening; let cool enough to add yeast, beaten eggs and part of flour. Beat with mixer until well mixed; add remaining flour, stirring until dough is soft and easy to handle, but not stiff. Let rise 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Put out on floured board, roll and shape into desired shapes. Let rise 20-30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Makes 4-5 dozen rolls.

Carrot Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 egg

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup carrots, cooked and mashed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Orange juice

Cream shortening and sugar; add egg and mashed carrots. Blend in flour mixed with baking powder and salt. Add flavorings and nuts. Drop by teaspoonsful on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Frost cookies while still hot. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

For frosting, combine powdered sugar with lemon extract. Add orange juice, a little at time, until icing reaches spreading consistency.

Best-Ever Lemon Pie

1 baked 9-inch pie shell

1 1/4 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups water

1/3 cup lemon juice

3 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

Yellow food coloring, optional

2 teaspoons vinegar

Never-Fail Meringue:

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1/2 cup boiling water

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

Mix sugar and cornstarch with 2 cups water. Combine egg yolks with juice and beat. Add to mixture and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add extract, butter, vinegar and food coloring; stir thoroughly. Pour into a deep 9-inch pie shell and cool. Cover with meringue and brown, 350 degrees, about 10 minutes.

For meringue, blend cornstarch and cold water. Add to boiling water and cook - while stirring - until clear and thick; cool completely. Beat egg whites until foamy, gradually add sugar and beat until stiff. Add vanilla, salt, then cold cornstarch mixture and beat well. Spread over pie filling and brown. Meringue cuts easily and never gets sticky.