The warm weather beckons, even though over Easter weekend, not even two weeks ago, there was such a hard frost that the hydrangeas got frostbitten. I thought they were leafing a little early, but how could I warn them? Now they have tiny, curled, black leaves at their tips. I am hoping the buds are safe because I intend to continue to celebrate all the glories of spring. The mockingbirds are staging aerial combats. The dogwoods are dancing, the azaleas are flashy and vivid. The daffodils are receding. And it is warming up.
Warm weather is drawing me back outside to the garden, and to the farmers’ market. Warm weather means fresh, local strawberries. Masked and distanced, I will be stalking them. Soon. I really can’t wait much longer. In anticipation of eating warm, local fruit I caved and bought some imports at the grocery store last weekend. We were going to grill dinner, and eat out at the small table on the back porch for the first time since fall. Although sweaters didn’t enter into my initial fantasy vision, they were necessary. Luckily, a lighter weight cotton sufficed: I have put the turtlenecks away.
I am always amused that our revered secret family recipes are often versions of recipes found on the backs of boxes. My mother’s special brownies were based on the recipe on the Baker’s Secret box. Her lively spin was to omit the walnuts, thus making them her own. To this day we leave out the nuts, and feel as if that act is an homage to my mother’s home baking. She also made killer strawberry shortcake, based on the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box. Her version – was to roll out the dough, and using the ancestral biscuit cutter that had been her mother’s, she cut out trim little rounds of dough. She preferred a neat and tidy shortcake. https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/bisquick-strawberry-shortcake/370099a9-c927-4eae-93ba-ab66a455b996
Imagine my great dismay when after thoroughly searching the pantry I could not find the ever-present box of Bisquick. What kind of household do I think I run? And it was too late to run out to the grocery store – celebratory Saturday Prosecco had already been consumed. And so I turned to Google – every cook and baker’s secret weapon.
There I found this simple recipe from Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book:
I divided the recipe in half, because there were just the two of us. If I had measured and baked according to the recipe, we would have had 16 neat and tidy, perfectly browned, divinely tasty shortcakes. As it was, there were 8, so we had to consume even more on Sunday night. But these do freeze nicely, so if you’d like to have an emergency supply for the spring nights to come, don’t do the math, just bake.
We had a yumsters dinner of the first cheeseburgers of the season, with cheap wine, and candlelight, and no mosquitoes, as yet. I related my modest tale of baking woe to Mr. Sanders, who stood up, and ambled into the pantry. He returned with a tall, fresh, box of Bisquick, that had been stashed on an uppermost shelf, and placed it, wordlessly, on the table. I think I might ditch the secret family recipe in favor of Jane Grigson’s. We need some new traditions.
Go forth and bake from scratch!
“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe