Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday May 26, 2012
Today you are hearing the collective sigh of relief by most school aged children. It’s their first Saturday of summer break after all! The sun just seems to shine brighter when you don’t have to go to school on Monday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and my kids do like to go to school but you just can’t help having a spring in your step when you know that your days are free to do as you please. It’s still early, I haven’t had a chance to schedule away our summer yet.
This weekend is doubly big in our family. First, with it being Memorial Day weekend, we will come together on Monday for a big family cook-out. Having my brother home from the Army and safe is reason to celebrate as well as a good time to remember all of those who are serving our country both here and overseas.
Also, we will be celebrating the thirteenth birthday of my oldest son, Noah. These last thirteen years have flown by. Had I known how fast it would seem looking back, I would have taken things a little slower. It seems like I have always been in a hurry to see him grow up. Not because he was a difficult child, which he wasn’t, but because I am so excited to see where his road will lead him. What kind of young man he will grow into.
I think 13 is such a hard year. Kids are torn between wanting space from their parents to develop who they are to become yet still wanting a hug here and there. My son would never admit it, but for all of his complaining about wanting more independence, he still really wants to spend time with us. I am soaking it all in because I feel like this might not last much longer.
I had all of this on my mind when I planned a family day for us last Sunday. I made a big, traditional breakfast to start our day. Then we headed to Noblesville to one of the best U-pick strawberry farms, at least in my opinion, in central Indiana. Spencer Berry Farm is located roughly 40 minutes from where I live and it really isn’t a bad drive.
The wide open fields and country store greet you when you first pull into the drive and my kids couldn’t have been more excited. Picking berries becomes a sort of competition to the boys and I am not ashamed to capitalize on this. I planned on having a fun day in the beautiful sunshine with my kids and walk out with 10-15 pounds of strawberries to boot.
According to the owner, they are experiencing a bumper crop this year with the season starting an unexpected 3 weeks early. Memorial Day weekend is expected to yield the most berries so I suggest that if you are planning a trip that you go soon. I could have picked all day and we probably would have if my husband didn’t bring us back down to Earth. Every basket we picked was like the sound of ca-ching in my husbands ears. He is quite the berry lover but picking can quickly get out of hand when you have 2 boys trying to outpick the other. We stopped at 15 pounds, just the right amount for baking, preserves, shortcakes and freezing.
The whole way home my family and I actually had a conversation. One that didn’t revolve around work or school. One that didn’t involve my kids having an ipod in their hands. This is a rare occasion in the car. We talked about what we were going to do with all of those berries. My youngest was worries we wouldn’t eat them all before they went bad. Each of us had a dish in mind that we wanted to have. My husband wanted ice cream, my youngest wanted them in a pie and my oldest was still holding out. He had yet to try one. He was sticking to his guns that he didn’t like strawberries. After much coaxing, he took a small bite of a tiny, ripe berry. To my shock he ate another and another.
He didn’t have to admit it to me, that would be so very uncool of an up and coming teenager to do. But I knew, and he knew. A new berry fan was born that day and for one day Mom knew best. Berries really do make things better.
Sunset Shortcakes with Strawberries
adapted from Cooking Light
2 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1 TB baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 TB chilled unsalted butter, diced
11/4 C low-fat buttermilk
1 TB lemon zest
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 TB of Turbinado sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw, 2 packets)
4 C strawberries, sliced
1/4 C sugar
1 TB fresh lemon juice
whipped topping, vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream
Fresh thyme leaves, chopped fresh mint or dried lavender as garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9″ round cake pan with non-stick spray.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level with knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine the buttermilk and lemon zest, and toss gently to combine. Mix will look like cottage cheese, that’s ok.
Place the remaining 1/2 C flour in a shallow dish. Scoop 10 equal dough portions into the dish. Toss each in flour to coat and shape into a small ball. Arrange the balls in the prepared pan with sides touching. Brush each top with melted butter and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar.
Bake at 425 for 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned.
While shortcakes are baking prepare the strawberries. Add all ingredients, strawberries through lemon juice, to a medium bowl and toss. Allow to sit at room temperature to macerate until shortcakes are done.
Serve warm cakes topped with berries and a dollop of cream. Add a fresh herb garnish if you want.