When I was 13 years old and rock and roll was newer, Sonny and Cher were coming to Portland, Oregon. School was just out and I was a teenager! I wanted to go. Three dollars for a ticket. Whew. My parents weren’t about to waste three dollars on Sonny and Cher. Even if they were cool. (Sonny and Cher, not my parents.)
This is my grandma Myrtle Stevens. Generous to her granddaughter. She also sent me to charm school the next summer. It’s also her recipe at the end of this blog.
Then my grandma came to my rescue. She would loan me three dollars if I agreed to pay her back. The next morning, I was up a dawn to put my sleepy self on the berry bus. I think I had to pick for a week to repay my debt. But Sonny and Cher were wonderful. I was 13 and Cher was 18. I still think she’s wonderful.
Then, when I was 19, the summer after my freshman year in college, my little sister and I decided to pick strawberries. She was 11. Child labor. School clothes money. All the kids picked in the summer back then. The field was owned by the Freeman family — not our branch. The first question my sister was asked was whether Mr. Freeman was her father. She said, “of course.” Well, he was, just not that Mr. Freeman.
We were staying with our grandparents that week and they arranged for me to drive to the field in their ’49 Chev pickup. Transmission — three on the tree (gear shift on the steering column). The wiper switch, choke, a pull-out throttle, and the ignition switch stood in a vertical line on the ultra modern dashboard. Driving a stick on my own for the first time was a little stressful.
It’s almost time for Oregon strawberries again. Oregon’s mild spring and early summer make it a great place for them to grow. And, of course, they are not just delicious but wonderfully healthy. Full of Vitamin C and K, phenols, potassium and magnesium. They are all around good for us. And they are heart shaped !
Mixed from scratch, shortcakes are still good for us. And that canned whipped cream isn’t even that bad. Real whipped cream tastes so much better, though. After all Oregon strawberry season is short so it’s OK to eat real whipped cream with them. It’s all good for the soul.
Remember these little sponge cakes for shortcake. In think biscuits are better.
Basic Shortcake Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using a whisk, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together.
Add softened shortening. Cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter or two table knives. When the butter becomes the size of peas, add the milk. Mix thoroughly, but don’t overwork the dough or you’ll have tough shortcakes.
Turn the dough out onto a floured workspace. Put flour on your hands and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball. Pat the dough into a circle about an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or small glass to cut the dough into shortcakes. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet and pop them into the oven. Check them at 12 minutes. If they are golden brown they are done. Serve them warm covered by sliced, sugared strawberries and whipped cream. Makes one dozen.
1 pint carton of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Put the cream in a metal or glass bowl. A plastic bowl won’t work and you will be embarrassed if you have company, and at least you will be frustrated.
Beat the cream with an electric mixer until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to beat the mixture. When the cream is thick and making peaks, add the vanilla. Put it in a pretty dish and serve right away. If you need to store it overnight, just beat up when you want to use it, because it will separate.
Preparing Berries or Shortcake
Wash the berries. Use a paring knife to cut off the stems and any spots that look questionable. Throw away any that look bad. Slice the berries with the paring knife or use the food processor on the slicing mode. Mash up some of them so they will be juicy. Add a half cup of sugar and a little water and let set for a half hour or so. They will be really juicy and the shortcake will absorb the liquid.