I don’t cook like a lot of Southern mountain women I’ve known and loved, with fatback in green beans and bacon grease on lettuce, lots of salt and butter in everything, but I DO like sugar on my fresh strawberries, enough to make a nice sweet syrup when mixed with the fruit juice after sitting for a little bit of time. And the best shortcake, when I’m in the mood for more than just “fruit” is a sweet biscuit, not really cake at all (the texture of the biscuit just sops up that fruit juice in a different and tasty way, and you can make a good one with Bisquick if you want to take a little bit of a shortcut), topped with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (I believe the word is dollop), just because. Heck, I’ve actually been known to crumble up a lemon Fiber One bar when I don’t have a biscuit of any sort in the house, like about 15 minutes ago! I remember years ago picking my own strawberries at the old Brinkley Farm up past Cullowhee. There’s something to be said for making dessert as nearly from scratch as possible, though I now buy the berries, sometimes from the nearby Darnell Farms down Bryson City way that sets up shop out of the back of a pickup truck on the side of the road when the fresh berries are in season, or the local produce stand, or even the grocery store, although local is always better, for lots of reasons. I’m not the biggest fruit eater ever, but there’s something real special about a bowlful of ripe, red, sweet, juicy strawberries. Food purists probably shake their head in dismay at messing up a perfect strawberry with sugar, and I get that, but I guess some of the old cooking ways have just stayed with me.
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