Nosh: Strawberries Mean Love Shortcake

Here we go, folks.

The weather is getting warmer and here we are, stuck in the endless cycle of staying home and…staying home…as we move deeper into our COVID spring. So what do we do with all this idle time on our hands?

It’s times like this that the term “comfort food” was invented. Because that’s what it is, right? Comfort food is soothing AF, gives you an inner hug, and then (if you’re like me) lingers on your hips for the rest of time to let you know it will always be there for you. And it changes with the season, right? Winter comfort food is mashed potatoes, or mac & cheese. But in the summer, it’s things like corn on the cob slathered in butter. Or, strawberry shortcake.

I remember the first time my mother put a strawberry shortcake in front of me. I was probably eight or so, and suddenly there was this huge frothy mound of berries and cake and whipped cream…what could possibly ever be wrong?

Nothing, friends. The answer is nothing. But then I grew up.

When we buy the ticket to the nostalgia bus we silently acknowledge that childhood loves will fade into sepia-toned memories, and that nothing can stand up to the memory of things past. Ahhh, how winsome and precious, and to think, we’ll never have these things again…

Only, wrong! Not only can you continue to have strawberry shortcake, but you’re an adult now. You can make it even better, and just in time for Memorial Day weekend!

This recipe is super-simple. It’s so simple I won’t even write out an actual “here, print this” recipe, because I’m trusting that you can read a few lines of copy and remember them. What you need is:

1 quart strawberries

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup vanilla vodka/peach schnapps/Grand Marnier/fruity booze of your choice OR, if you’re not a drinker, balsamic vinegar

Just a few grinds of black pepper, because I put black pepper on everything and think it brings out the floral qualities of the other ingredients

~~~AND~~~

2 Tablespoons rose petals

Yes, folks. Rose petals are totally edible, just find a reliable source (here, I recommend organic) and if you pick them yourself, make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Which are not totally edible. Mix all of those ingredients together, and let the strawberries macerate for about an hour.

If you’re making your own whipped cream, then use a metal bowl to whip the cream in, and put that bowl in the fridge for at least a half an hour before you start the whip. The cold bowl will help the cream whip more easily; I’ve even seen folks refrigerate the beaters they’re going to whip the cream with. I’ve not gone that far but what the heck, it can’t hurt. You’ll need:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla (or to taste; I tend to OD on vanilla so I have to be careful)

Whip that vanilla until stiff peaks form. Use a mixer if you have one. You can whisk it by hand, too, if you need the workout, but it will take longer and your arm will hate you for it.

As for the cake part…do what you want. Make a vanilla sponge. Buy those pre-made angel food cups like my mom used to get. Make biscuits. You do you. Then put it all together.

Split your biscuit/cake/sponge.

Layer some strawberries on the bottom half of the cake, so the juices from the maceration soak into the cake.

Top with an enormous dollop of whipped cream. Enormous. Don’t apologize about how much whipped cream is on there. Just add more.

Put the top of the biscuit/sponge/cake on the enormous whipped cream pile.

Layer on some more strawberries, and then some more whipped cream.

Et voila!

This fun, boozy spring-to-summer treat is worth all 900,000 calories and will trounce all memories of childhood shortcakes. It’s grown up with the alcohol and a little bit more daring with the rose petals. If they freak you out too much, leave the petals out and if you’re really not feeling it you can leave out the alcohol or vinegar. Don’t skip macerating the strawberries in sugar, though, because that will pay off every time. Who says you can’t go home again? Not only can you go home, but you can make it better than you remember. Enjoy!

Also, bonus points if you get the album reference in the post’s title. Hippie.

Hoe Cakes at The Pancake Project

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Way back in the misty murkiness of time when the United States was still a young republic, a recipe emerged on the American food scene. Which is funny, because we don’t really think of post-Colonial America as something with a “food scene” but nevertheless, people had to eat. The recipe was, at its heart, a flat griddle cake made of ground corn, water or milk, and cooking fat. In the North, this recipe was called a Johnny cake (jonnycake, Shawnee cake, journey cake, any John’s no-cake, and I’m not making that up). Rhode Island has, to this day, made an institution of the Johnny cake, even seeing the particulars of the cake debated in local government.  Southerners called this recipe a hoe-cake, or an ash-cake, or (begrudgingly) a Johnny cake, and to this day they cling to the hoe-cake. Early cookbooks demonstrate that cooks tried to shove a crowbar between the recipes to differentiate them. For example, hoe-cakes were to be cooked on a griddle while Johnny cakes were cooked on a board; please refer to “I’m not making that up”, above. This helps to illustrate a few points[[…]]

Read more about this at pancake-project.com

Superfrothy Whipped Creamy Yummy Coffee

A friend of mine posted this video on his Facebook feed and I watched it, mystified.

Good God, I thought, shielding the cats’ eyes and backing away from the computer monitor. Is that coffee with the consistency of peanut butter fudge? What sorcery is this?

One of the benefits of being on statewide lockdown thanks to the coronavirus is that time is now a flat disc. Nothing you “need” to do is relevant anymore, and you can try all the weirdo “fun for hermits” things that normally zip past you as you frantically scroll in search of five-minute lunches that you can cry into at your desk. And thus, why not, I thought. Why not try and replicate this freakishly thick coffee madness taunting me from Max’s Facebook feed?

It’s pretty simple to put together.

Et voila! This is it, people, until you decide how much milk you want to add at the finish.

Recipe:

2 Tablespoons instant coffee

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons water, and it helps if it’s warm enough to melt the sugar and coffee, though ultimately the friction heat from whipping *will* melt your ingredients. It will just take a little longer.

Put all three ingredients into a bowl and whip it. You can use a whisk, if you are dying for an arm workout. I recommend using a hand mixer, and whip it until it turns this surprising sort of harvest gold color. It will take a while, but bear with it, it’s ok. Just keep going until you see peaks when you take the blender out of this…elixir.

I made it and I’m still not convinced it doesn’t involve sorcery.

You can heat up some milk if you’d like–and the coffee isn’t really diluted, so you may end up using more milk than you would expect. Drop the coffee into the milk.

I swear. Coffee. Sugar. Water. Chemistry is fun!

Check the milk, add more if you want (I did). It ends up being like a delicious, thick, creamy coffee milkshake. The only thing left for you to do is enjoy.

Duuuuuuuude. No way! But, YES, WAY!

Of course, now I’m sugared and caffeined up, so I’m going to go paint the front of my house.

Stay safe, everyone, and remember: this is a tough time but if you can, give yourself a little self-care, do *something* productive every day, and be kind to your community. We all need each other. XO

Photo A Day: Side-Eye Donkey Statue

Originally posted on beyondpaisleyphotos.com

To try and keep me honest in posting my photos regularly: Welcome to my Photo A Day! Topic: Whatever strikes my fancy. Frequency: Daily-ish, I hope.

I admit, I never thought I would write the words “Side-Eye Donkey Statue” in one continuous sentence, but then again, I never saw anything like this fella.

WHAT IS GOING ON BACK THERE?

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening here, but I’m fairly convinced the donkey suspects the bear behind him of nefarious planning. I’m also not entirely sure that the donkey is wrong.

Only $175 and the donkey can side-eye your friends and neighbors into an awkward scurry past your yard. No unwanted visitors for you!

Now that I think about it, that actually may be worth it. Begone, religious proselytizers! Off my lawn, neighborhood children! Get thee to Knoebels and get your lawn-friendly side-eye donkey before he’s gone.

Photo A Day: Cardinal in My Back Yard

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON BEYONDPAISLEYPHOTOS.COM

To try and keep me honest in posting my photos regularly: Welcome to my Photo A Day! Topic: Whatever strikes my fancy. Frequency: Daily-ish, I hope.

As I creep closer and closer to my dotage and accept the fact that I live in a semi-rural area, I am finally embracing the inevitable turn toward becoming a total bird-nerd. We recently set up a bird feeder in the back yard (Day 1: Put up a bird feeder. Day 2: Install a squirrel baffle. But that’s a different story.) and I joked that it’s for the kittens, so they could basically have bird TV from the back porch. But kittens can’t operate cameras. That’s where I step in.

In short, Mr. Northern Cardinal quickly became super-protective of his mealworm cake.

BACK OFF! DEEZ MAH MEALWURMZ!

Because who wouldn’t want to claim a basket of mealworms for their very own?

Happy bird nerdery. friends!

Come visit the rest of my recent photos at beyondpaisleyphotos.com

Photo A Day: Beach Rose at Sunrise 2, Newport RI

HEY, PAISLEYFRIENDS! I’ve started up a new website devoted to photos; I’ve been in the process of building that up, and it’s where I’ve been lately. Please drop in at beyondpaisleyphotos.com and let me know how you’ve been!

To try and keep me honest in posting my photos regularly: Welcome to my Photo A Day! Topic: Whatever strikes my fancy. Frequency: Daily-ish, I hope.

Herein lies another moment of worship toward the beautiful beach rose.

I’m shameless in how much and how quickly I came to adore these flowers, but it’s easy to fall in love with your surroundings when they are gorgeous. While walking the Cliff Walk in Newport, I stopped to take a picture of the sun and the flowers and the ocean another early riser–a man out for a walk with his dog–nodded and said, “It’s pretty spectacular, isn’t it?”

Well, hello, beautiful.

Indeed it is, sir. And a good morning to you.

Visit the original page at BeyondPaisley Photos!

Advice: Having It All vs. Having A Choice

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

Last night, I worked until after midnight, and I did so the night before, and at least two times the week before that. And so on, and so on.

I love my job. I’ve been an entertainment news producer for the last six years and I love the challenges that every day brings. But in two weeks, I am going out on maternity leave, and I’m trying to make sure I have enough of my assignments in the can to keep my name fresh and relevant to my bosses. Things move quick in this industry, and being away from it for twelve weeks means I will be gone for practically a lifetime.

Of course I know there are laws to protect me from losing my job while I am out on leave, but that doesn’t mean I will come back to the plum assignments I’ve earned. And also, of course, I hear the whispers: Will she come back? I realize that’s an option available to me, to stay home with this amazing creature my husband and I have created, but I don’t know if I’m ready to trade my briefcase for some diaper bags.

I’ve grown up believing in things like a “work-life balance” and that women can “have it all”, but I feel like I’ve put a big part of myself and everything I’ve been working toward for the last six years up for grabs to my colleagues with different obligations. I don’t understand how this is “having it all” if my professional advancement has to stall and/or get winnowed away from me. I’m even considering cutting my maternity leave short so I can get back in the saddle and on track ASAP, and my friends with children are “mommy track”, so they’ve cut back their work hours or accepted less taxing assignments at their jobs…or are “taking a few years off”…so they don’t understand my perspective at all. None of those options are acceptable to me. What should I do? How should I look at this? I can’t wait to meet my little girl, but do I have to lose other parts of my life to do it?

Signed, I Want What’s Mine

 

Dear What’s Mine,

Bartender and Priestess: Sigh. Well, we knew this was coming, sooner or later. Let’s see if we can sort out our responses.

P: It’s hard to know where to start with this. Is it the notion that everything you can conceive of can fit in a day (Time), that everything is of equal value (Priorities), that people have ever done this (History), that the physical body is capable of this (Limitations), that you are somehow deserving of having everything you’ve ever wanted (Entitlement), or that this is somehow good for the world (Civilization).

As the Priestess, I’m going to start with your priorities. Being good at either work or raising children requires tremendous discipline and sacrifice. I wish you had thought to ask these questions before you conceived. Children are not something you check off a list. Humans, especially tiny ones, are frail little creatures demanding an enormous amount of time and attention. And in the beginning they’re not only endearing — they are fretful and demanding.  When they don’t sleep, my dear, you don’t sleep. Even if you’ve hired a nanny whose job it is to get up and have those middle of the night screams and snuggles, most babies I know have a voice that rivals a fire bell. Now there’s nothing that says that you have to be the primary parent, your partner can be, but that is a delicate dance you should have worked out before, because a child is going to interrupt your busy lives and require sacrifices.

B: There’s a long-standing joke-y meme that’s been around for decades: imagine a woman, enthusiastically chirping out the message: I CAN have it all! A baby AND a career! Some version of this probably lives in some corner of your head, doesn’t it? Moreover, it sort of informs your opinion on how you should be able to manage your life, right?

I want you to stop that. Why? Because it turns your life into a list. Like Ann said, a baby isn’t something you check off when you accomplish it. Washed the windows, check. Had a baby, double-check. Do you think the best way to judge your life is by the number of tally-marks you’ve scratched on a scorecard? And no matter what structure you try and put into place, a baby will find a way around that and make things unpredictable and messy. In a conversation I had two days ago with a good friend and mom of two adorable munchkins, she said, “The thing about parenting is—and every parent I’ve spoken with has, at some point, reached this conclusion—it is NEVER what you expect it to be.”

Realign your life’s expectations. Checkity-check-check.

P: If you want a happy, healthy child who will eventually grow to become an active and contributing part of society, you’re going to have to contribute to that child. And the needs don’t stop with babydom, they just change. Neither Terri or I chose to have children. My choice centered on the fact that I thought I would be better at what I did, that I didn’t have what it took to be good at both work and raising children. Are there times I regret that? Of course. None more than when my sister’s two children died, and I couldn’t give her mine to love. But it was a decision based on my analysis of my ability to provide a child what was needed. Because child rearing is incredibly important, not just to us, but to our world. I worry about how we build a better world.

When your sentence starts, “I can’t wait to meet my little girl, but…” you’ve already clarified your priorities, and yet, here you are pregnant. Who is going to raise your child?

B: I assume you have some kind of child care in mind, though you don’t mention if it will be a nanny or day care or grandma’s house or if your husband is going to be a stay-at-home dad. All of these options are OK. But I want to point out to you that while you may not know how to juggle “having it all” in terms of baby and career, what you DO have are options. A tremendous number of them, and this is my plea to families everywhere: please stop looking at “having it all” as meaning that you can keep everything on the table in front of you and that it will hold equal weight. It won’t happen. It doesn’t happen, even without a kid to consider. Have you ever made a decision? Have you ever chosen to go to your husband’s parents’ home for Thanksgiving instead of your brother’s? Then you’ve been presented with two options on the table, given one more weight than the other, and let the less important one roll off the table. You physically can’t split yourself in two and be at both your in-laws’ and your brother’s homes at the same time on the same day. And, you can’t physically split yourself in two and be a full-time mom with a full-time career, and take care of both things at the same time.

And please, don’t point to people like Marissa Meyer, who’s CEO-ing Yahoo! while taking care of her baby. She’s not. She has a full-time nanny, and a nursery built onto her office. She has no work-life balance. Her office IS her home; she just has another place where she sleeps at night. Usually. Is that what you’re looking for?

P: Historically, we lived in villages. Children ran in packs and grannies and aunties and neighbors all mothered our children. For anyone who’s been part of the Mother Grapevine, you knew you were being watched: it meant you could get a cookie occasionally at someone’s house, it meant you could use the toilet, and it also meant if you misbehaved, you got yelled at by your friend’s mom who then got on the phone and called your mom. And if the behavior was egregious enough, the other moms might chime in. There was a village to raise the children and you played a part in it. Your job was critical to the village as well. Everyone’s was.

We don’t live in villages any more. We don’t live in extended families. And I know a lot of grandparents who, even if they live next door, have active and involved lives and are not available and or interested in raising your child. They’ve raised their own children already—you. They aren’t being selfish if they have their own lives. No one ever promised you that you could have children and not parent them.

B: So, going back to the options before you. I want you to take a moment to consider what a lovely and enviable position you’re in. There are plenty of parents who don’t have the resources available to make these decisions—they have kids, they have to keep them housed and fed. I grew up in a home with two parents who both had to work to support the family. There are lots of families who just have one working parent, which often means more than one job at less pay than she or he deserves. Child care is expensive, summers home from school are a challenge, and the question of whether or not the mother can stay home to be with her baby is often laughable at best.

I’m not asking you to feel bad for the single parent or the working-class struggle. What I am asking you to do is reconsider the idea of “It All”. What you have, which is ironically fueling your dilemma, is the luxury of choice. And you want to keep it all on the table in front of you and make it all equally important. You can’t. Decisions have to be made. You have the ability to decide the what and the who and the how of your daughter’s upbringing in a way that’s unencumbered by dire need. You’re comfortable with your and your husband’s capacity to provide, and you can be discerning about which things fall off the table, in ways that other families simply can’t. You have resources, ability, and the power to use them accordingly. You have “It All”, even if “It” isn’t on the checklist in front of you. You’re just not seeing it.

P: I’m sorry, you were probably coming to the two feminists looking for a different kind of support. I spend a lot of time looking at families. I spend a lot of time looking at society. Both of these need a lot of loving attention. Where are you going to be in creating a family — which is what a child needs to thrive? How will you be contributing to society? Who are you that the world should arrange itself around you?

When having it all isn't all it seems.

When having it all isn’t all it seems.

Ray of Sunshine Mocktail Recipe

  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 ½ oz cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ oz sweet & sour

Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing glass; pour into a tall cocktail glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange and a cherry.

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Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

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