A few weeks ago, Scott and I watched Inside Out at the movies. In Inside Out, each human has what are called “core memories”– memories that help define parts of your personality. Have you ever had a moment that, as it was occurring, you knew you would never forget? (Please comment below if you do!) Personally, some of my core memories consist of performing onstage with the Jr. All State Band on clarinet in middle school, coming out, and a teaching moment that happened during my first week as a swim instructor in high school. Generally, these moments are few and far between, but this past week saw not one but two core memories take shape within 24 hours of each other.
The second of the two core memories came from Saturday the Fourth after I finished making the below recipe for a party. I’ve never done something so… homemade before (After I took this photo, I also made some homemade whipped cream at the location of our 4th of July Party). Like when I made my first loaf of bread, there is an unparalleled sense of pride that comes from creating an amazingly delicious finished product out of nothing—I imagine it’s what it must be like to raise a child. Making this recipe has truly inspired me to take ownership of the food that goes into my body.
The first (and more important) core memory happened Friday. Scott and I were running canteen at our camp’s fun Friday, which essentially means we make children’s dreams come true by giving them ridiculous amounts of candy and soda for dirt cheap prices. After one of the groups were finished, two stragglers came up to take their turn at the counter. I was internally groaning because the two campers in question were two of our biggest troublemakers—and they were siblings. The oldest one reached the counter first and began to survey the candy choices. When the younger one (finally) arrived, he told his older brother “You will NOT believe what just happened. [Another troublemaking student] just make a joke about our dead father,” and then ordered his treats and left.
As the older, tougher brother stood there, frozen in time, it occurred to me that I knew nothing about this child’s home life. At all. Time after time, my education classes stressed the importance of learning everything you can about your students, which great and all until you have 120 kids that rotate every 2 weeks–at which point it can be a struggle just to pair faces with names!
As he attempted to order his treat as if nothing was wrong, his stoic façade began to break and tears began to well up in his eyes. It wasn’t until after he ran away (treats in hand) that I learned how, just a few weeks before camp had started, his father had unexpectedly passed away.
If I had known that, I would have been much slower to label this troubled child as a “trouble maker,” and instead would have celebrated the times that he was positively participating in class. I mean, the rules are rules (I can’t have people running around the class yelling, or throwing tantrums when they get out) but I can certainly be compassionate.
I will always remember that face as he lost the battle with his tears, and this core memory will serve as a constant reminder to get to know my troublesome students as well (or if not better) than my favorite students.
But now for what you’ve been waiting for… this recipe!
- 2 cups blueberries
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large pinch of cinnamon
- 1.5 lbs strawberries, sliced
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ¾ tbsp. baking powder
- Pinch (1/8 tsp) of cinnamon
- .5 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp butter
- ¾ cup half and half
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- In a medium-small saucepan, combine the sugar, blueberries, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
- Turn the heat on medium-high and stir until the sugar has melted and started to simmer and the blueberries begin to pop/leak their juices into the sugar mixture. (about 4 minutes).
- Pour into a bowl, and smash about a third of the blueberries (I used our potato smasher, and only “smashed” twice).
- Stir in the sliced strawberries and keep refrigerated until you ready to serve.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor
- Cut the butter into tablespoon slices and put in processor, pulsing about 4-8 times, until the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients. It should be crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor, cut the butter into flour using a fork or your fingers.
- Transfer to a bowl. Make a “well” in the center of the bowl by pushing the dry mixture to the sides
- Mix the milk/cream, egg, and vanilla together and pour into the well. Using a large fork, pull the dry mixture from the sides into the well until everything is loosely mixed together. Don’t over-mix it unless you happen to like tough biscuits…
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly roll (or push) it out to be about ¾ inches thick.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into about 2.5”x2.5” squares, or use a biscuit cutter.
- Place shortcake on a cookie tray (I lined mine with parchment paper), and cook for 12-15 minutes (or until they are lightly browned).
- Chill a metal bowl (or pot) and whisk in the freezer for about 10 minutes
- Pour heavy whipping cream and sugar into the bowl and whisk on “high” until the cream is thick and has stiff peaks. You’ll know when it is done!
The egg is optional--leaving it out will result in a more crumbly shortcake
Poco a poco
I am so sorry, but I actually wasn’t intending this to go on the blog, and thus only took a photo of the final product after I realized that it was just SO GOOD that I had to share it!
In honor of the 4th of July, here is the infamous arrangement of the “Star Spangled Banner” that legend says got the (then) recent USA immigrant Stravinsky thrown in jail the unconventional 7th chord (which you can hear at 1:30) shocked the 1943 audience.
At least… that’s the story. As I learned after my music history professor shared this article about the event, that never actually happened. Rather, it appears that the police “merely” forced him to remove it from the forthcoming programs in accordance to federal laws prohibiting any tampering of the National Anthem. It’s funny how, to our pop-cultured ears, this arrangement sounds absolutely tame in comparison to what we hear at just about all of our sporting events.