I've been distracted a bit lately, which is why my posting schedule has become a bit erratic and my head has been somewhere else for awhile. My city, Bismarck, ND, is flooding. We only had a few days warning before the water level began to rise. There is a lot of confusion and fear about what will happen next.
The Missouri river runs between the two cities of Bismarck and Mandan in North Dakota. As the water in the river rises, both cities are scrambling to save homes, businesses, and, perhaps most importantly, access to roads to reach these threatened areas of town so we can attempt to save them. Sandbagging stations have been set up around town, major roads have been closed to allow access to trucks hauling dirt and sandbags, and volunteers are in short supply. The weather is cold, rainy, and wickedly windy, which only helps to kill the spirit of those trying to save their homes. My home is safe, but many aren't.
We received news today that we need 4 million sandbags by Thursday, an outstanding amount for our small town of 80,000 people (if you just so happen to have a few million lying around in your backyard, could you please send them our way?). Over 4,000 people have already been displaced and the number is growing. Even those not directly in the line of fire still have to fear ground water finding a way in their homes through their already plugged drains. The outlook feels bleak.
The flood is estimated to continue for the next three months and, despite the estimates, no one is really certain how much the water is going to rise in that time. Three months of people displaced from their homes and most of their belongings. Three months of stress on not really knowing what is going to happen next. Three months of worrying if the dikes and sandbags will hold and save our city.
Yesterday I spent the day sandbagging to try to save my great uncle's home. I helped fill hundreds of sandbags and moved around at least a thousand on my own. It rained. It was cold. My back ached and my arms were sore. It was my 23rd birthday. Despite all of this, I'm not sure I would have (or could have) spent the day another way.
We tried to build a wall of sandbags 5 feet high and 5-6 sandbags deep. We can only hope it holds and the water doesn't find another way to get in. After helping sandbag just one home, my back could tell you just how exhausting it is and my arms could tell you how hard it is to lift another sandbag after you'd moved a thousand. It's even harder to imagine there are hundreds of homes that need just as much help as this one.
For now, we can only wish for the best and hope the flood outlook turns a little less bleak and a little more bright in the coming days. If you live in the city or nearby area, I urge you to get out and help volunteer. There is so much work to be done and so little time to do it.
I would like to congratulate Leah O and Sara on winning the vintage aprons*! I truly have the best followers. All of your wonderful comments continually inspire me to get back in the kitchen and keep creating delicious food. I can't wait to share more recipes, stories, and photographs with you over the next year. Thank you for being awesome!
*The winners were chosen by a random number generator (aka my sister).
Citrus Roasted Rhubarb is a subtle and understated way to enjoy rhubarb. So often rhubarb is paired with strawberry (like in this Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade) or buried deep within breads and crumbles, but rarely is it enjoyed on its own, for its own merits. Rhubarb is a tart fruit, true, but when roasted in freshly squeezed orange juice, a hint of vanilla, and a dash of sugar, the flavor of the rhubarb really shines through. Serve this rhubarb drizzled in leftover juices from the roasting pan. This is truly a different way to enjoy this fruit.
One Year Ago: Chocolate Bowls
Citrus Roasted Rhubarb
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar (to taste)
6-8 stalks rhubarb (about 14 ounces), cut into 4 inch pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In an baking dish, stir together the orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, and sugar. Arrange the rhubarb pieces in the baking dish so they lie flat and do not overlap. Bake for 15 minutes.
Serve the rhubarb drizzled in leftover juices from the pan. Serve hot!