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!

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — 1 Corinthians 13 and Birdsong

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13

Speaking for myself, I cannot fathom all “mysteries.” I can only give thanks for the blessings I’ve been given.

I think of this as I savor the quietness of my backyard. Last week, I heard the season’s first brown thrasher on my block, with his lusty and complicated song. Wednesday, the first house wren heralded his arrival, and Jim came home from fishing with stories of a mystery bird call they’d heard and a request that I try to solve that puzzle. I deduced black-billed cuckoo and played the call for him on Audubon Pro app on my Google Pixel phone.

This time of year, we do not play the stereo nor listen to much music. Instead we listen to the birdsong or just … nothing.  Sometimes, we have the flyover of an jet, the occasional National Guard helicopter, our cell phone’s insistent jangle, the neighbor’s yapping daschund (the poor beast hooked up on a leash ALL DAY LONG).

Mostly it is instead the mourning dove, the chipping sparrow and my favorite, the house wren. The wrens are busily adding twigs to the wren house on our back patio.  As I write this, I’m listening to his complicated and joyful song, over and over and over, which he will sing without ceasing all the daylight hours for the next couple of months.

Gentle reader, it is my hope for you that you enjoyed some sunshine in your day. I’ve poured a glass of wine and I’m now going to enjoy it on my patio, and listen to the birds.