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!

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

It seems people who love rhubarb just can’t get enough recipes that feature the pie plant. That’s especially so if you grew up eating tasty rhubarb desserts straight out of your mother’s oven.

I was reminded of that today by Becky Leguee Siani, whose older brother, Rory, was a good childhood friend of mine, and her sister, Eileen, a grade school classmate, in Crookston, Minn.

Becky Leguee Siani (center), Eileen Leguee Warzeka and Ardie Leguee.
Becky Leguee Siani (center), Eileen Leguee Warzeka and Ardie Leguee.

Becky, who lives in Georgia, has posted a lot of recipes on Facebook over the past couple of years, most recently a few that contain rhubarb. Recently, she shared a link that featured rhubarb cocktails, and today, she shared another for rhubarb  cookies that her 88-year-old mother, Ardie, told her about. Becky said she was going to make the cookies today because she still has some frozen rhubarb that was purchased at a Kroger’s supermarket. (Rhubarb doesn’t grow in Georgia and must be purchased frozen in grocery stores.)

As of late, I’ve been in the rhubarb mode, too. Over the past three weeks or so, I’ve made several batches of sauce, and yesterday, I made the following cake recipe, using rhubarb and strawberries straight from our garden.

I don’t recall the origin of the recipe. But I bet a lot of those little old moms across the Northland have probably pulled quite a few out their ovens over the years.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup butter
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl combine flour, packed brown sugar, quick-cooking oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the mixture into an ungreased 9-inch baking pan.
Combine chopped rhubarb and strawberries; spoon into baking pan.
In a saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla.
Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour mixture over fruit. Sprinkle fruit with the remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.