LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — German Chocolate Cake For Daddy

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. My job was to make his favorite German Chocolate Cake, from scratch. It is a nice continuation of the theme of “chocolate” from my last blog post.

I made a run to the store the other day for ingredients. My husband gets pretty nostalgic when he sees the box of Pillsbury Softasilk cake flour, remembering cakes that his mother made when he was a youngster.

I couldn’t find the Dutch processed cocoa, but Google came to the rescue, and I found recommendations for making my own, with my food processor. As I worked with the chocolate, I thought about all I learned Thursday at the North Dakota Heritage Center about this scrumptious ingredient and wonder just where this particular bar of German chocolate came from in the world.

Baking is a time-consuming process, but I do it with joy because I know it will bring happiness to my loved ones.  While I work, I think about all of the cakes that my grandmothers and mother made in their lives, with all of the love in their hearts.  Here is a short film that my father shot more than 50 years ago with his 8mm camera. It includes me eating my first birthday cake (about halfway through), a swan cake prepared by my loving mother. If I say so myself, it is pretty darned adorable.

And what a miracle it is that while I work, my dishwasher cleans up our dirty dishes. I don’t have to raise the chickens, or churn the butter, or grind the flour — I just go to Dan’s Supermarket and voila!

What a world would my Grandma Lily think this is? I’m lucky in that I have many of her handwritten recipes. My mother tells me that they would listen to the radio and when the recipes were read out, my Grandma would scribble them down.

I’m guessing that one of the reasons that my father likes German chocolate cake is the pecans in the frosting. Pecan trees grow in Mississippi, where he was raised.

I’ll bet that you, gentle reader, remember this rhyme you learned as a child. I know I recited it for my children.

This marvelous alchemy of eggs, sugar, flour, chocolate and such will bring happiness to my father, and thus to me. But first, I have to make a really big mess!

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Lillian Crook

A retired librarian, Lillian Crook is an Army child but completed her junior high and high school education while living in North Dakota’s Slope County, where her parents retired to her mother's family farm and ranch. She completed a bachelor's degree in English from Dickinson (N.D.) State University and a master’s of library science from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and was an academic librarian at DSU for 26 years. She later worked for Theodore Roosevelt National Park as a museum technician and volunteered for TRNP in many capacities. She is married to Jim Fuglie, is an avid reader, gardener and birder and enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, photography and writing, is the mother of twin daughters and loves yoga. She and Jim run Red Oak House Books and Publishers from their home. Lillian is the founder of Badlands Conservation Alliance, a grass-roots voice for wild places in western North Dakota. Bullion Butte is the center of her universe, and she is happiest when floating the Little Missouri River. Her blog,, consists of random thoughts on wild places and musings on life in Red Oak House of Bismarck. She can also be followed on Twitter @WildDakotaWoman. She takes heart from one of her favorite writers, Terry Tempest Williams, who wrote, "If you know wilderness like you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate."

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