Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake & the Oil Spill

by Tokyo Terrace on June 14, 2010

Strawberries. Whipped cream. Sweet cakey biscuits.

There are few combinations as classically beautiful as these three ingredients. Strawberry shortcake is something that can be best enjoyed during strawberry season. I realized over the past two weeks back in the United States that we are far too spoiled. There are so many fruits and vegetables that are sent across the country or around the world to make it to our grocery stores. It may seem like a luxury when suddenly the ease and convenience of finding anything and everything all year round is taken away. But is the cost really worth it?

Are you wondering why I would write a post with a delectable dessert and a devastating disaster in the same title? Keep reading and you’ll see why.

My mom grew her own strawberries this year. These strawberries are a gorgeous deep red and have a delicately sweet and tart flavor. These strawberries traveled 50 feet from garden to table. These strawberries required no extra gas from a plane, train, or automobile. These strawberries did not increase our use of oil. And these strawberries will not contribute to off-shore drilling. They will not contribute to an oil spill.

The oil spill in the Gulf is easy to blame on BP. And I am not, by any means, saying that they do not have a massive amount of responsibility for this catastrophe. Still, we cannot ignore the fact that each and every one of us has contributed in large and small ways to the disaster that is becoming more serious each second of each passing day. By purchasing plastic products, driving gas-guzzling vehicles, buying foods that have to be shipped around the world to reach our shelves; our actions lead to a greater need for oil and therefore lead companies like BP to drill in risky areas in the ocean. No, they probably never thought something this bad would happen. But it did. Now what?

Photo from Huffington Post. Each cross stands for something that will be lost as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf.

Photo from AP via Huffington Post. Oil at the shoreline.

If any of you are like me, you’ve been sitting around feeling completely helpless. Unlike other natural disasters, we cannot just throw our money at the problem to speed-up the recovery process. We cannot volunteer our time to help clean up the mess left behind. No. This disaster is much more complicated. This very unnatural disaster has left so many people at a complete loss. So many livelihoods have been ruined with little hope on the murkey, muddy, oil soaked horizon.

While there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to help with immediate results, there is plenty we can do to change our reliance on oil and prevent future oil spills. Growing our own food, if at all possible, is best. However, since this isn’t realistic for many of us, looking for local, seasonally appropriate foods (no, organic does not necessarily mean local) is a great place to start. Even if we can’t buy all of our food locally, every little bit helps. Look for products that have minimal plastic packaging or parts. Ride your bike rather than driving. Take the bus. Take the train. Carpool. Each and every one of these options can help to loosen the grip oil has on us.

I heard this message this morning while attending church with my parents and sister. The feelings that rushed over me when I realized that I do various things everyday that increase the overall need for oil. No matter how minute.

I once heard the phrase, “Every time you point your finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” So, before pointing fingers, let’s try evaluating what we do on a daily basis that could be changed. Let’s ask ourselves how we can help become more independent from our dependence on oil. Every little bit helps.

My mom’s strawberry shortcake is a perfect example of how to take advantage of local (right in our back yard in this case!) seasonal food to make something delicious. Homemade goodness. No oil required.

Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 5 servings

For the biscuits:

2 cups self-rising flour

pinch of salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons shortening

1 cup milk or buttermilk

For the strawberries:

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled an quartered

1/3 cup sugar

For the whipped cream:

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Stir with a whisk. Add the butter and shortening and use your fingers to combine until there are no pieces bigger than a pea. Add the milk and combine. The dough will be sticky.

Roll the dough into a circle that is about 1 1/2 thick. Use a round cookie cutter to make 5 or 6 biscuits. Place in a cast iron pan or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, place the strawberries in a bowl along with the sugar. Stir gently to combine and allow to sit at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. The longer the berries sit in the sugar, the more the sugar will dissolve and create a syrup/sauce with the strawberry juices.

Next, whisk the whipping cream and sugar together until soft peaks form.

Take the biscuits out of the oven an allow them to cool slightly but not completely. Split the biscuits in half and put a scoop of strawberries on the bottom half, top with a dollop of whipped dream, and sandwich with the top half of the biscuit. Top with more strawberries and whipped cream. Spoon some of the sauce from the strawberries over the shortcake and serve.

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  • wendy

    this was a beautiful post, rachael. well written, well said. thank you!

  • http://www.diaryofamadhausfrau.com/ Lora

    Amen to everything you said, although I am still angry with BP. Great post.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/YV5CHWDLYQYRUNF7JBATE3QBWA jf

    Bravo, Rachael! Well written, well said, well thought out – most compelling because it's obviously straight from the heart.
    Proud of you!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/YV5CHWDLYQYRUNF7JBATE3QBWA jf

    Love the pic of your fabulous, wonderful, extraordinary, beautiful mom!

  • felicia

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Even if I wanted to, I don't have the expertise to help clean up this sort of toxic disaster. The only thing I can do is look at the way I'm living and modify it as best I can. The oil spill made me look at how lazy I've become, and recommit to living as sustainably as possible — part of which is shopping at farmers markets, and volunteering at a community garden. I live in California, so eating locally is a delicious, diverse experience. This week, I went to my favorite organic vineyard/farm/bakery and got fresh eggs and cheese, swiss chard and fava beans and lettuce, artichokes and garlic, strawberries and walnuts…and a jug o' wine filled straight from the cask! I found a Marcella Hazan recipe for lettuce/fava bean soup, and I'm looking forward to trying your mom's strawberry shortcake recipe :)

  • Debi (Table Talk)

    Strawberry shortcake with relevance and such a meaningful message.
    Well done, Rachel~

  • http://sophisticatedgourmet.com Kamran Siddiqi

    This post expresses everything that I feel about the oil spill!

    And an amazing recipe that ties to such a strong topic is quite hard to pull together, but you did it- and I commend you for doing it VERY well! Great post, Rachael!

  • http://www.chewonthatblog.com Sophia

    This cake looks delicious! You should consider entering this cake into Recipe4Living’s 5th Birthday Recipe Contest! The site is turning 5 years old, and we’re giving away a Scharffen Berger gift basket to the top birthday cake that’s submitted!

  • Anonymous

    So, if you are planning a Strawberry Shortcake birthday party or just want to see a great format for a kid’s birthday party , please visit Strawberry Shortcake Party Supplies.

  • http://www.amusingfoodie.com/2012/04/guest-post-summer-desserts-with-a-british-twist.html Guest Post: Summer Desserts with a British Twist! – (a)Musing Foodie

    [...]                                                              Source: tokyoterrace.com via Kwang on [...]

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