Searching for the Skyline

It was a rainy and gray day. Mummu had agreed to take care of the children. As much as I love my children, it’s a fairly rare occasion to have the afternoon just to yourself. So this was a treat. Our mission was to find the city skyline. As my time in Minneapolis was coming to an end we could not put off our adventure even if the weather was not promising. We were not going to let a few raindrops deter us.

rain in golden valleySince it was raining we had the skyline to ourselves except for one jogger that showed us a thumbs up as he passed by. My brother had suggested that the 1883 Stone Arch Bridge adjacent to the Mill Ruins Park and St. Anthony Falls might be the place to go. It was the perfect place to go. We ran along the bridge to keep ourselves warm as we didn’t have rain coats on. But it was definitely worth it. After jogging for a bit in our heels we were not cold, not one bit.

minneapolis skylineFrom this perspective the skyline was a sandy color just like the rocks that line the Mississippi River. I had usually seen the skyline from the other side which is much more blue in tone of color. This is historically the place of the competitive large flour mills that are still important to this day. On the left, if you look very closely is a building that nearly demolished from an explosion. It is the home of the Mill City Museum that tells of the history of the mills including General Mills, Pillsbury and Washburn Crosby (WCCO). Flour mills have a high risk for dust explosion due to the high amounts of flour dust suspended in the air in an enclosed space. On May 2nd 1878, a giant explosion took place at the Minneapolis Washburn A Mill, killing fourteen workers. Today mills are equiped by highly efficient vacuum powered ventilation system to decrease the amount of dust particles suspended in the air.

After our jog we were dripping wet and went looking for a place to dry off a bit and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Milja suggested the Open Book Cafe which is also a center for the literary and book arts. The girl at the counter asked us if we had been “out there”. We smiled. Yes, we had been “out there” as it probably was quite obvious. The building was older and many of the original surfaces have been uncovered. We shared a Seven layer bar. It tasted delicious after running in the rain.

open book minneapolis collageI must say that I just loved the wood floor and the large windows letting in natural light and the staircase was quite majestic in a contemporary way. The nooks and crannies made the raw tile walls seem cozy. I think I might have to revisit someday just for the atmosphere. It was so quiet and serene and at one point there was a class of children that came in for a school field trip.

open book cafe collage 2Because of the Seven layer bars that we had, I had to try recreate it at home. That was the reason I brought back some butterscotch chips. If you do not have them available you may definitely use white chocolate as a substitute.

seven layer barsThe inspiration for this recipe was found from I did end up changing the amounts somewhat but the basic idea is still the same. Layers of nuts, chocolate, coconut, a cookie crumb crust and drizzled with condensed milk. It certainly is not a healthy treat, but if you cut them up small enough perhaps one small square won’t do too much harm. They freeze extremely well and I have some in my freezer waiting for a special occasion or for just an everyday tea break.

Seven layer bars AKA Magic bars
16 graham crackers or 14 Digestive cookies, crushed
113 g/ 1 stick/ 8 tbsp unsalted butter cut into four pieces
dash of salt
3.5 dl/1.5 c shredded coconut
3.5 dl/1.5 c your choice of a mix of dark chocolate, butterscotch and white chocolate chips or chunks
140-150 g/ about 5 oz of coarsely chopped walnuts and pecans (alternatively almonds can be used or a combination of the three)
1 can (397 g/14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk

butterscotch chips and chocolate
Heat the oven to 170 C/350 F and line a 23×33 cm/9×13 inch pan with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Crush the graham crackers or Digestive cookies. Place the butter in the pan and place it in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or until melted. Remove from oven and tilt so that is spreads evenly. Add the crushed cookies and mix in with the butter. Spread it until it forms an even crust. Next sprinkle the cookie crumb crust with the coconut. After the coconut sprinkle on your choice of chocolate and butterscotch chips. Next add the coursely chopped nuts. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
condensed milk
magic bars

stone arch bridge minneapolis
The skyline was beautiful on that gray, rainy day and the light was perfect for pictures.


      1. Hi! We will be in Helsinki 🙂 My little family will travel to Lahti for the day on Saturday, but other than that we’ll be in the “big city” 🙂

  1. I used to LOVE 7 layer bars but when I came to Australia and found no butterscotch pieces, I stopped making them. And now over 30 years later you tell me I can use white chocolate?? Oh, dear, can I remain restrained?
    Sometimes a grey, rainy day can be perfect. Thank you.

    1. Yes, I competely understand your “problem”. This was actually my first time making seven layer bars, but over the past year or two I would look over the recipe, but because we don’t have butterscotch chips I pushed it aside for some vague other time in the future. After stopping at the cafe I was reminded about them and then I decided that I must haul butterscotch chips half-way across the world…and I thought why had I not thought of substituting white chocolate! But I do admit that the butterscotch chips brings a flavor that white chocolate is not able to do. 🙂

  2. I love Minneapolis — and I haven’t had 7-layer bars since I was in Minnesota. I’ve been to the Open Book Cafe, too! We have often stayed at Aloft near the Guthrie, and take our morning walks right where your picture is. 🙂

  3. What a lovely post. I really enjoy your writing. So calm and I feel as though you are right here telling me about your visit in Minneapolis. I always welcome the rain when I’m visiting another town. It gives an opportunity to see thing differently, or in our case here in Seattle, to see things quite normal as we do get quite a bit of rain. The coffee house sounds wonderful and so does your seven layer bar. 🙂

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