Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brownie Cake

My sister (not the cake making one) made this cake for her daughter's first birthday. It is quite impressive for a person that doesn't decorate cakes or even bake much. It's not really a cake. It's actually brownies. My sister is not a huge fan of cake, but LOVES brownies. I agree. She found this recipe for a brownie cake from Taste Of Home. The cake is three layers of brownies with a chocolate ganache frosting. To decorate the cake, she colored and rolled out fondant. Then she cut the fondant with flower shaped cookie cutters and placed it on the cake. It's a good way to decorate a cake if you're a novice too.
The pros: It's a brownie cake with chocolate ganache frosting.
The cons: It's rich, so you want to cut small pieces and it's difficult to cut small pieces since it's a hard brownie with squishy chocolate ganache.
It's already on my sister's menu for next year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


O.K. This is way off the subject of food. There is no way I can ignore this however. Cities and town all over my state are flooding. Let me start at the beginning. The above picture is of me standing on the roof of my house this January. In the area where I was standing there was over 3 feet of snow on the roof. Most of the roof had about 18" of snow. Here is the problem. I don't live on or near a mountain. North Dakota is flat plains.
The picture on the top right is of ice that came off of my roof. This piece was by far the biggest. 6 inches thick, 3 feet wide, and 3 1/2 feet tall. The ice is sitting on what was then a 3 foot snow bank of very compacted snow. In the background you see a pile of snow as high as the roof. That too was very compacted. I stopped using the ladder on the left side of the picture and just jumped directly from the snowbank to the roof. Snow in the area of my yard by the ice is currently at 5 feet deep after the Tuesday blizzard.
The picture on the bottom right shows my house from street level. If you look to the right of the electrical pole you can see me sitting on my bum on my roof shoveling snow. Battling snow has taken up much of my time this winter. I've done way less cooking then I would like. The snow battle still continues.
Last week the thing North Dakotans usually wait all winter for happened. It warmed up. This year we were dreading it, because we knew what it meant. Floods. Near record snowfall (we're not done yet) caused record and near record flooding. Early this week North Dakota towns Hazen, Beulah, Mott, and Linton flooded. Linton was just returning from winning the Boys Class B Basketball Tournament the day before.

Bismarck :
The Missouri River does not routinely flood. When it does flood it floods houses near the river. On Sunday, huge pieces of Ice flowed into the Missouri from the Heart River and Knife river (tributaries). By huge, I mean three feet thick. Some pieces were described as the size of a Volkswagen. This ice, along with ice from the Missouri itself, formed an ice dam. The ice dam is causing water from the river to back up into the city of Bismarck. All residents south of Main street have been told to evacuate. You don't have to be familiar with a particular city to know that's allot of houses in danger. Major thoroughfares are flooded. The ice jams to the south extend 100 miles to the South Dakota Border. The Army Corp of Engineers is using explosives in an attempt to get the ice moving. They are also using Blackhawk Helicopters to dump salt on the ice to melt it. Buckets usually carrying water to put out forest fires are now filled with salt instead. The Corps efforts that began at 4pm Wednesday appear to be going well. The river level has been dropping since Tuesday night. Bismarck cannot be sure the worst is over. Ice dams are extremely unpredictable. They are not sure what will happen with the ice jams to the south of Bismarck. Also, just to the north of Bismarck is another ice dam that is currently keeping water out of Bismarck. However if that ice dam should let loose, the water would flow into Bismarck.

Fargo has two unusual problems for flooding. One is that the city is flat, flat, flat, flat. I can't find the information online, but I'd estimate that the elevation of the city only varies by 10 feet. So that means if the dike goes, the city goes. In 1997 in a similar flood scenario, the entire city of Grand Forks (north of Fargo) was under water. (Then it caught on fire, but I digress) The second problem is that the Red River flows south to north. This means that upstream snow, that is further south, has melted before the snow at Fargo (further north) has melted. The snow has to melt before you can begin sandbagging. You can't sandbag on top of a snowbank. Fargo had one week to prepare for the flood this year and they had three weeks in the 1997 flood (they just made it in that flood). This flood should crest at 41 feet. (flood stage is 18 feet) Fargo has less then 48 hours (the river will crest Saturday) to build the dikes one more foot higher. Dikes are as wide on the bottom as they are high. This means that the current dike surrounding the whole city must be built up one foot wider and one foot taller. They are filling sandbags around the clock. Schools and businesses are shut down to help with the effort. The Red River is rising 2 inches per hour.
The '97 flood and the '09 flood should be floods at levels that only occur every 100 years. But, we've had two in 12 years.
If you are interested in the flooding in North Dakota, you can follow my twitter. I add links to pictures, news stories, and have general flood updates several times a day. This helps to keep out of state relatives up to date on flood developments. My twitter is also on the left hand side of my blog.
I have to apologize if anything in this post does not make sense. I'm not sleeping much lately because I have the flu. I promise to get back to cooking and posting about food some day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


So I'm on Twitter. Why?

I find myself more interesting then I am.
I think I'm funny. (Despite evidence to the contrary.)
I find lots of interesting links.

My sister suggested that I could put the links I find on twitter rather then e-mailing them to people I know who might be interested. She gets the lions share of my e-mails and I think she might just want me to stop cluttering up her in box. I plan on having mostly links. (Crafts, food, refashioned clothes, etc.) I'm sure I'll also have my share of (attempted) witty and snarky comments. I can't help myself. Anyway, if you are interested, feel free to follow me on twitter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Go Trojans!

If Turtle Lake wins one more game they will be going to the North Dakota Boys Class B Boys Basketball Tournament. Go Trojans! They play tomorrow. (Thursday)
Also, North Dakota State University will be in the March madness college basketball tournament. Go Bison!
Update: Turtle Lake won 61 to 57. Good Luck at state.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Taco Town

This clip from Saturday Night Live is hilarious (1:29). I give you Taco Town. For real life versions of stuff stuffed in stuff and deep fried, check out thisiswhyyourefat.com

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Do my ingredients match?

As I read food blogs, I've come across recipes that perplex me. They are like the questions Zen Buddhists use to meditate (I learned all about Zen Buddhism from Lisa on "The Simpsons") What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Why did someone decide to put these ingredients together? What would that recipe taste like? It makes my brain spin in tight concentric circles.
I don't want the ingredients in most of these recipes even touching each other on a plate, let alone in the same recipe. But, someone made these recipes and liked them enough to write them down and share them with others. These recipes may be fantastic. Sometimes ingredients that sound mismatched aren't. The Ruben sandwich and a peanut butter and pickle sandwich (my Dad's recipe) have ingredients that sound like they don't belong together, but are perfectly suited. I am a regular reader of some of these blogs and know their authors to have many fabulous recipes.

Do my ingredients match?

Sweet corn ice cream at technicolor kitchen made with canned corn and sweetened condensed milk (and others).
Sweet Corn Ice Cream is also at Closet Cooking. I guess I came across this recipe twice.
Dave Lieberman's Vanilla Bean and Cannellini Bean Ice Cream. The full list of ingredients is cannellini beans, vanilla bean, sugar, and nutmeg.
Sage Ice Cream at :Pastry Studio.

Eggs on Sunday has Beet Bubbly. A drink made from beets, maple syrup, cayenne, and champagne (and more). Eggs on Sunday also had a Spiced Parsnip Pecan Cupcake. It's like carrot cake with parsnips instead of carrots. It's not that unusual, but it still keeps my brain swimming.

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake at Kitchen M.
Baked Bean and Tomato Cupcakes with Tomato Cream Cheese Frosting at Cupcake Project. Black Bean Fudge Brownies at Cookthink.
Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake at Novel Eats made with tofu and black eyed peas.