As a child, my mother would send her wee ones out to pick enough wild berries for dinner once they were in season. I must confess I was not stellar; my stomach was needier than my container. I still love to spend at least one day a summer picking each variety, whether it is strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries.

Today, my children have developed the same shortcoming from when I was young. Alas, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

More and more, we actively seek to find out where our food comes from and how it was produced. Doctors tell us to eat more fresh food and less processed foods. Our taste buds tell us the same thing. Buying locally helps to sustain our communities and economics by reducing the detrimental effect of “food miles” ~ truly a licence to enjoy your strawberry shortcake.

Ingredients

3 pints ripe strawberries
6 to 8 tbsps. granulated sugar

Shortcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsps. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
4 tbsps. chilled butter, thinly sliced
¼ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup milk

Topping
½ a cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

Quickly rinse the berries in cold water, hull them and set two-thirds of the best strawberries aside. Cut the remaining third into quarters and place them in a large bowl. Stir in six tablespoons of the sugar and lightly mash the berries with a potato masher or fork. Add the whole berries, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour, stirring once or twice. Taste for sweetness and add one or two tablespoons more sugar if desired: stir to dissolve. Adjust an oven rack to the centre of the oven: preheat to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle half of the milk over the top and stir quickly, just to moisten. Drizzle the remaining milk over the mixture and stir to blend evenly. The dough should be moist enough to hold together when pressed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for five seconds. Pat into a seven-inch square. Using a three-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out four shortcakes. Quickly gather the scraps and cut two more. Evenly space them on an un-greased baking sheet. Bake about 12-15 minutes until golden brown. With a spatula, transfer to a rack and let cool. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Combine the cream and sugar in a chilled small deep bowl. Using chilled beaters, beat until soft mounds form. Beat in the vanilla. To serve, split the shortcakes horizontally with a knife. Place a bottom portion in each of six shallow dessert bowls. Stir the berries and spoon about 1/3 cup over each serving. Add the shortcake tops and spoon on another 1/3 cup of the berries. Serve with three tablespoons whipped-cream topping on each dessert.

Enjoy!
Cabrini

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