Getting to strawberry season
The sun comes up, the sun goes down. The world continues to turn and life goes on. Maybe not the way we are used to it being, but it does go on. It is rather like a card game – we have to play the cards we are dealt. We may not like them at times, but we aren’t given a choice. Everyone just has to do the best they can with what is given them. Some are good cards (happy times) and some are bad cards (sad times), but we aren’t allowed to leave the game. What we do with the hands dealt us is what our lives are. Treasure the “good cards” and handle the “bad cards” the best way you can. Thank the friends who hold you up when times are hard to endure and rejoice with them when times are happy.
Everyone is glad to see that spring sunshine. It seems to be having a hard time staying with us, but it really has no choice but to give in and let the earth start its’ renewal. The flowers that struggled through the snow on their buds have won out and are starting to bloom with glorious color. The grass is starting to green up and the lawn mower is making sounds like it wants to get started to work. The garden is still a mess, but that too will have to get ready for the coming season.
One happy sign of spring coming was the birth of my neighbor’s little filly. Mel, a good mother horse, had a beautiful little girl who is still learning to walk without falling and is cuddling with everyone. My granddaughters, Cassidy and Baylee, were privileged to be with her as she made her appearance and, since it was a beautiful spring morning with the sun shining, Cassidy immediately said her name should be Sunshine. Of course, her little owner, three-year old Adian, may have something to say about that.
This coming week will be a trying week for those who have not yet filed taxes for the past year. The government made it hard on everyone with their lateness in getting proper forms available and, even now, haven’t set the rulings on some of them. Then, there is the scam of some criminals who are filing as if they are other people and getting the money that rightfully belongs to those people. Technology is good in some instances, but it can be misused in the hands of scammers to hurt the ones who need help the most. Protect yourself and use Snail Mail. The scammers haven’t yet found a way to steal your money if you don’t give them the information over what you think is a safe site.
White Hall is interesting to visit and Fort Boonesborough is near as is Kentucky Horse Farm and the Shaker village of Pleasant Hill. Another really neat place to visit is Berea College. There the students work their way through school and it is basically for the young people of Appalachia (which includes us) and is a wonderful college. Ninety percent of their students are from this area and only 10 percent are accepted from the rest of the world.
There are many places for us to see in our part of the country. Much of the history of our country was made in our area and we often forget how close we are to so much history and so many attractions to enjoy. Take the time to make memories with your family as you take little vacations all year around. Time doesn’t stand still and we aren’t promised tomorrow.
Get the grill out and look up your BBQ recipes, and maybe try some new ones. It is getting close to “outside” time. Maybe the snow and cold winds will stay away if we just pretend they don’t exist and start ignoring the weather we don’t like. It is worth a try, anyway. Food seems to be the constant glue that holds us together in happy times and not so happy times and so I will keep sending you some of the recipes I have used throughout this walk on earth.
Again, so many thanks to all of you who have helped my family and me get through these sad times. We appreciate you so much. We will always have our memories. Be certain to make lots with your family as they are what can get one through that which one doesn’t think can be gotten through.
STRAWBERRY-CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE PIE
One (6-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
One (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cubed
Two tablespoons butter
One-fourth cup powdered sugar
Three tablespoons Triple Sec or orange juice
One baked pastry shell
Three or four cups fresh strawberries with hull removed
One-fourth cup red currant jelly, melted
One-half cup whipping cream
Two tablespoons powdered sugar
One-half teaspoon grated orange rind
Combine chocolate, cream cheese and butter in the top of a double boiler. Place over boiling water. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate and cheese are melted. Remove from heat and stir in one-fourth cup powdered sugar and Triple Sec. Spread mixture in pastry shell. Cool. Place strawberries, stem side down, over cooled chocolate mixture. Brush with the melted currant jelly. Refrigerate two to three hours. Combine whipping cream and two tablespoon powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in orange rind. Top each serving with a dollop of the whipped cream.
One-fourth cup cornstarch
One cup sugar
One cup water
Two cups fresh rhubarb, cut into one-half inch pieces
One-and-one-half cups fresh strawberries, sliced
Pastry for 8-inch double crust pie
Combine cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Mix until smooth. Add one-half cup rhubarb and one-half cup strawberries and bring to a boil. Gently boil for three minutes. Stir in remaining rhubarb and strawberries. Line an eight-inch pie pan with pastry, and pour filling into pie shell. Top with top pastry crust. Cut slits in top. Brush with cream (or milk) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until crust is browned.
NOTE: Another version of this dessert is to take canned biscuits from the dairy case (or make your own) and use either as is or break them apart into halves. Make filling and pour into a baking dish. Place biscuits on top, brush them with butter, cream, or an egg wash, sprinkle sugar on the tops, and bake.
Three cups all-purpose flour
One-and-one-half tablespoons baking powder
Three-fourths teaspoon salt
Six tablespoons sugar
Zest of one orange, finely grated
One tablespoon orange juice
Seven tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
One-half cup milk
Six tablespoons heavy cream
One quart strawberries
One-half cup sugar or to taste
One-cup whipping cream
One teaspoon vanilla
One tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Slice or crush strawberries, reserving a few nice ones for decorating the shortcakes. Add one-half cup sugar, or to taste, and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, six tablespoons sugar, orange zest and juice in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives. Add milk and six tablespoons cream and stir lightly until dough is thick but not sticky. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a one-half-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
Whip the one-cup whipping cream with the one tablespoon confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Gently add the vanilla.
To serve, cut the rounds in half and place each bottom in a dessert dish. Add a spoonful of berries, the top half of the shortcake, whipped cream and a pretty berry on top.
For a different shortcake, use half strawberries and half raspberries.
Patty Christopher is a longtime columnist for The Pakersburg News and Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org