Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strawberry Stability

Life Update
If any of you have been lucky/persistent enough to talk to me in the past week or so, you'd know that my life is nothing but chaos.  Things have been really difficult out at the farm.  All hell broke loose when we switched my grandma's nausea medication to Haldol.  This is a rather strong medication, and has been known to produce some mental/behavioral side effects.  I knew this when we made the switch, but nothing could have prepared me for what I walked into on Tuesday morning.  She stared me down and told me she thought that I was trying to do her in, I wanted her dead, I was purposefully giving her the wrong medications, I didn't care about her pain, and that I told all of her friends to stay away.  I panicked and called Hospice and the nurse and the social worker helped to get her under control.  Needless to say, she's no longer taking Haldol.

Thursday we had another awful day when we tried to take her out for a hot fudge sundae that she'd been craving, and had a bowl movement emergency.  I will spare you all the details, but let's just say that there was a lot of moaning, screaming, and plastic gloves.

To top off all the craziness, my 4-yr-old cousin, Isaac, had his nursery school graduation last night.  That went well, but it was kind of bittersweet as it followed the news that two very dear family friends passed away yesterday, one from a brain aneurism and the other from pneumonia.
Isn't he cute?
For some people, summer means extravagant vacations to the beach or time to relax.  For the Conard women, however, summer means berry picking, jam making, and pie baking.  The first berry of the season is the strawberry.  And good news: our berry patch opens TOMORROW!  In all this craziness, we can finally find stability in tradition.  My grandmother has always been the first person in the patch, and even though she won't be able to get there herself, my mom and I plan on carrying on the Conard family name (even though neither of us legally share that name) and being there at 8am.

Strawberry Shortcake with Homemade Pound Cake
We do a lot with our strawberries: we freeze them, make jam, pies, smoothies, eat them, and give them away.  One of our family's favorites is strawberry shortcake.  Due to the wet weather, berries have been a little late this year, so we haven't been in the patch yet, but everyone has been craving them.  Yesterday, my aunt gave in and bought a few quarts (which is usually unheard of in my family).  When I asked my grandpa what he wanted for dinner last night, he said strawberry shortcake.  I tried to make biscuits, but the box mix was expired, so I decided I'd make a pound cake instead.  I used the "Perfect Pound Cake" recipe from the May 2011 issue of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart.

Pound cake recipe reproduced here:
1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs (room temp)
1/2 tsp salt
Grease and flour a bread pan.  Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Beat eggs lightly.
Beat butter and sugar together for a full 8 minutes.  That's right, it's a workout.
I never do this, but I actually sifted the flour this time!
Add eggs to the butter and sugar, beat until smooth.  Gradually add in the flour and salt.
Pour batter into greased and floured pan, smoothing out to the sides.  Bake for 60-65 minutes.

Homemade Whipped Cream
My grandma is famous for her whipped cream.  She makes it like this:
8 oz heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs confectioners' sugar
Beat all ingredients together in a metal bowl on high until soft peaks form.  Do not over-beat; it will turn to butter!

Short Cake Assembly:
Place a 1" thick piece of pound cake on a plate.  Wash strawberries, remove tops, and slice them in half.  Toss them in a bowl with 1 Tbs granulated sugar and let sit for 5 minutes.  This will break down the berries slightly, bring out their sweetness, and give you a small amount of strawberry juice.  Top the pound cake with sliced strawberries, two teaspoons of strawberry juice, and a generous dollop of whipped cream.  Garnish with a sliced fresh strawberry.

Happy berry season everyone!  Stay tuned for more strawberry recipes this month, and then blueberry ones in July!

Love and cookies,

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