Saturday, June 25, 2011

In the absence of real riding...

The kids are out of school. It's summer. You'd think a person would have time to do things like ride a bike. But no. Things aren't working out that way. Why? Well the weather has been yucky for one. Rain. Lots of it. And I've been busy working on getting ourselves ready for our Short Wing Piper Club convention vacation. And other things that I won't get into right now. I've ridden very little in the last two weeks. And I'm frustrated. But I will survive and will get back on the bike and logging some miles soon.

So, in the absence of real riding, take a trip back in time with me to April when I took part in not just 30 Days of Biking but the 30 Days of Biking Team Loving the Bike challenge against Team Bike Radio. Each day of the challenge team members could take pictures from their rides to earn a point. The picture from each day that earned the most "likes" earned another point for the team member. One of my pictures won one day - it was a picture of my bike wheel covered in snow.

It was great fun seeing the pictures that were posted each day on the Loving the Bike Facebook page. And, in the absence of real riding and to celebrate the fond memories of 30 Days of Biking, I created a slide show in iMovie of the winning pictures from Team Loving the Bike. Here it is:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quest Cake #2

If you read my blog entry from a few days ago you know I'm in search of the perfect chocolate cake recipe. I tried another recipe from the Chocolate Cakes - 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion book. This one is called "Pound of Chocolate Cake" and has in it, you guessed it, a pound of chocolate that is covered in chocolate ganache.

I adjusted the recipe slightly. The recipe asks you to bake the cake in a square pan but I used a springform pan instead (my perfect chocolate cake is supposed to be round, don't know why I have that idea in my head but it is). It also calls for 13 oz. of semisweet chocolate but I didn't have quite enough so I used about 9 oz. of semisweet and 4 of bittersweet. The recipe says to butter the pan but I went ahead and dusted it with cocoa powder as well.

The cake turned out well, better than well, actually. The center was moist and dense - nearly perfect in texture. Rose, my daughter, says it's better than the first chocolate cake recipe I tried. Ryan, my son, thinks the first one was better. My mom likes this second try better. Not sure what anyone else in the family had to say but on day two the cake is nearly gone so that's a sign that people liked it!

A slice of "Pound of Chocolate Cake" - note the rich, dark, moist center. Yum!

As for me? Well, I think that the cake was, perhaps, a little too chocolaty. I'm wondering if I used all semisweet chocolate like the recipe said if that would have helped. Still, I'm thinking all the chocolate needs to be offset with something a little on the sweet side. The recipe suggests serving the cake with ice cream, which I did. That bit of sweetness helps the cake but I want to find a chocolate cake that stands on its own without ice cream.

So, even though I may make "Pound of Chocolate Cake" again, I'm still on a quest for the perfect chocolate cake recipe. Maybe a chocolate cake with a bit of raspberry flavor mixed in? Or topped with a raspberry sauce of some sort?

Hmmm. I'll keep trying recipes and I'll keep you posted on my findings. I like this kind of research - but I definitely need to ride my bike more to offset the taste testing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

It's been a good Father's Day. We started things off with a short flight to Stanton Airfield for their Father's Day Fly-in, an annual event for the Mibus Family. Stanton is located near Northfield, Minnesota and the field holds a lot of history. Open since 1942 when it was owned by Carleton College to train pilots for WWII, the grass strip airfield is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also one of our favorite places to fly to because it's close, there are two huge grass strips to land on and they have ice cream in the freezer and the old-fashioned pop machine. Pretty much a perfect airport, if you ask me.

There's an exhibit about Stanton Airfield opening at the Northfield Historical Society on Thursday called "Historic Stanton Airfield - Where History Touches the Sky." It sounds like it will be a cool exhibit and I believe it will be up at the Historical Society until late August. Not sure about the details but you can find details about the opening event at Northfield Patch. The reception starts at 6:00. I plan to attend.

As for other news, I'm happy to report that my latest travel story, a Going Places piece about Jordan, Minnesota, Stop, Shop and Stroll, was published in the Star Tribune's travel section today. Check it out when you get a chance.

Time to run. Owen and Rose just got back from a short flight for fuel with the Pacer. Rose navigated for Owen using ForeFlight and our iPad. Something new for us to learn, this ForeFlight stuff, but it's working well so far. More on that later.

Time to get back to enjoying Father's Day. Hope you fathers out there had a great day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Quest - for Perfect Chocolate Cake

I'm in search of a recipe for the perfect chocolate cake. I had the perfect chocolate cake just over a month ago at the Old Village Hall Restaurant & Pub in Lanesboro, MN. It was a mocha chocolate cake and it was rich and dense and oh so yummy. Recently, I had another chocolate cake that was close to as perfect as the first - this one a Chocolate Truffle Turtle Cake at The Roasted Pear. I asked for the recipe. I didn't get it.

I'm tempted to call the Old Village Hall and ask for their recipe but I don't mind a quest. So I'm on one - in search of a recipe for the perfect chocolate cake. The cake I want to bake is kind of like a flourless chocolate torte but more dense. The ones I've had have been topped with chocolate ganache so that's a must. I believe both had a chocolate crust but I'm not hooked on the crust idea.

Tuesday night I tried a recipe from Chocolate Cakes - 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion. The recipe, Peppermint Patty Cake, called for 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate and 1 1/2 cups of peppermint patties and it's covered with chocolate ganache (made with cream & chocolate - yum!). I baked the cake according to directions - and it flopped. Okay, not completely but I couldn't get the cake out of the pan (despite buttering the pan - the recipe didn't call for me to flour the pan as well. I think flouring it, or using a springform pan, would have helped). In the end I had a mass of chocolate mush on my countertop and it didn't resemble a cake at all.

Owen suggested I throw it out and start over. I wanted the cake for my brother's birthday at noon on Wednesday and it was late Tuesday night so I couldn't start over. Instead, I took the gloppy mess and formed it into a cake shape with my hands. Then I covered it with ganache. And even though there were a few spots where the texture was a little off (the peppermints congealed in places) we ate it - all of it - within two days.

My brother Joel and his son Liam - and the birthday cake that didn't work but still tasted great.

I'm thinking I might take the recipe and tweak it a bit and see if I can come up with my own recipe for a perfect chocolate cake. I'm sure it will take me awhile to find the perfect recipe - but I don't mind a quest, especially one that involves chocolate!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going somewhere

This morning Owen and I rode to the town of New Market, about 8 miles from home, for a cup of coffee. We've never ridden to New Market before. It's a nice ride with several decent hills.

Our coffee stop, Fritzie's, is a newly opened coffee shop in town. This was our first visit. I had a great latte and a yummy granola bar sort of baked treat.  Owen had a cup of dark roast - free refills made him extra happy. The service was excellent and we plan to stop at Fritzie's again.

A few doors down from the coffee stop is an Anytime Fitness. Through the huge windows we could see people working out on the treadmills and exercise bikes, pedaling and walking furiously but not going anywhere. And while I appreciate exercise equipment - I have a treadmill in my hangar and I do use it - and totally understand the importance of having places to exercise, it seemed a little sad that on such a gorgeous morning the people exercising inside weren't walking or biking outside.

That's the best thing about biking, I think, is that when I'm biking I'm outside and going somewhere. Sure, it rains sometimes, like this morning. And there are hills and the wind and some crazy smells from the farms and occasional roadkill we pedal past.

But overall the scenery is beautiful. And since I'm usually biking with someone I get to socialize. And on each bike ride, in the process of going somewhere while exercising at the same time,  I see and experience something new.