As you may know, Jeff and I finally took some time off to spend with family who came in from out of state. In preparation for their visit, I did quite a bit of research to create a fun – but not too grueling – itinerary. I always work diligently to ensure my guests have a very good time when they come. In fact, I like to refer to myself as the Julie McCoy of the family. (Do you remember Julie, the Love Boat’s cruise director?)

On Sunday we went strawberry picking. I had never done that before. And, I must say, it has been a very, very long time since I’ve so enjoyed run-down-your arm juicy fruit. It seems the only fruit to be found these days is the kind that may look real, but tastes like Styrofoam.

If you’ve never picked your own fruit or veggies, I highly recommend it. Being out in an open field with the sun on your back and a slight breeze tickling your face isn’t hard work. At least not the kind of work we’re used to. I do recommend going out as early as possible, though. I can see where it can get a little warm after a while.

I found an informative website called PickYourOwn.org. This site is chocked full of farm information; such as where pick-your-own farms can be found. Of course, most of these farms allow you to simply buy your bounty already picked. That works, too.

The site also includes crop calendars for each local area that tell you what is available to pick when, and local weather forecasts. What I really like is the plethora of pages that teach you how to make really yummy recipes with preserving instructions – such as canning, freezing or dehydrating.

And, if it couldn’t get any better, this site will tell you where pumpkin patches, corn mazes and cut-your-own Christmas tree farms can be found.

After careful consideration, we chose to go to Patterson Farm in Mount Ulla. The country drive was lovely but it didn’t take too long to get there. The people that work there are super nice. All-in-all, we had a lovely morning at the farm. As an aside, they have a petting zoo for the kids, too. And, a well-stocked general store.

If you are thinking about picking some strawberries for yourself, you’ll need to get moving. Strawberry season doesn’t last too long in the south. It started at the end of April and is due to run until the end of May.

As mentioned, I enjoy canning food. So, I taught my guests how to make strawberry sauce. Well, truth-be-told, it was supposed to be strawberry jam, but it turned out a little runny. That’s ok. It’s better on ice cream than on bread anyway.

Since my Strawberry jam didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, I thought it best I don’t share that recipe. Instead, I’ve found a recipe for a well-received Strawberry Shortcake. I hope you get to try it with your own fresh strawberries. Few things are as fun as eating food you picked yourself.

Please let us know how your own picking adventure turns out. We look forward to hearing all the details!

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
  • 4 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 drops vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt butter over medium heat in small saucepan. Stir continually, letting foam dissipate, just until butter begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together self-rising flour and 1/4 cup white sugar in a bowl. Add milk, 1/4 cup cream, and toasted butter. Mix just until ingredients come together.

Wad up dough and transfer to floured surface. Press or roll dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Cut in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into 3 portions. Place shortcake pieces on prepared baking sheet. Brush with cream; sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in preheated oven until gold brown, 15 to 18 minutes.

Transfer shortcakes to a rack to cool completely.

Sprinkle sliced strawberries with sugar; stir until sugar begins to dissolve. Refrigerate until juice from berries is extracted, about 1 hour.

Whip 3/4 cup cream with 1 tablespoon sugar and a few drops of vanilla in bowl with an electric mixer.

Split biscuit in half. Place bottom half in a bowl. Spoon strawberries and juice over shortbread half. Top with shortbread top and spoon on more strawberries and juice over the shortbread. Finish with a dollop of whipped cream.

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