Monday, May 19, 2008

a family tradition

What's your favorite food group?  

In the Paine Family Tradition, there were only a few things that rated above Strawberry Shortcake.  Most definitely Mom's pies were #1, always.  Sure, somebody usually had a favorite, like Biggy, his was Rhubarb Pie, or Lemon Meriange (O, here we go again!).  Mine was Huckleberry or Cherry or Peach or Blackberry, in that order.  Crisps and Cobblers were considered made only by "...lazy people, or people who don't know how to make pies..."  Mom!!!  Are you reading over my shoulder?  

Growing up on a dairy gives one an acute taste for all things cream and butter.  Early spring brought strawberries to the store or the fruit stands and home to us by the crate.  Later the bright red berries ripened in our garden, guarded by a sly woman with a mean side-arm.  I did have my ways, though, of slipping a couple huge, ripe strawberries into my coat pocket as I wove my way though the garden on the way to the barn to feed calves.  Not too many clods or rocks hit me as I made my exit when she was chasing or wailing on somebody else.  

It was a travesty to put cake in the strawberry shortcake.  Ugh!  Too sweet!  The exception to this rule was the Angel Cake, which was/is a perfect compliment to berries and whipped cream.
Now, in present time, my sister makes this amazing thing out of egg whites and sugar, piles it on parchment paper in the shape of sorta a nest, and bakes it to a gorgeous color, cools it for a day or so, whips up gallons of whipped cream, piles that into the Meringue (ha! I did it!), and 
each serving is topped with yummy, Central Valley Strawberries.  Omigoddess.  That is divine.  And as sweet as can be tolerated.

Strawberries!  Their appearance meant that dessert would be sumptuous, we would all be hilariously entertained and content.  Dad would put on his glasses, "so I can see this better!" and always let out a delerious sigh, "ooooooooohhhhhhh!"  Those of us with our handy-dandy magnifiers know what he meant.

My baking career, spanning now too many decades to tell, has affirmed what I already knew: Butter is best.  Shortcakes are biscuits with extra butter and cream, and strawberry shortcake is food for the Gods, big and little, male and female, friends and friends.  Now Luna and Meat Pie get to lick the beater, which is good for a belly laugh, and still I believe that the best Strawberry Shortcake is for sharing. 

It must be time for a party?


1 comment:

la diabla said...

Beautiful picture!
I reminds me of so many birthday dinner desserts, or when we had company.....who were always so impressed by your masterpiece!

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