Words of Gold

Jeannette Buck

My sister appeared at my door the other evening and handed me a quart of strawberries. Oh, boy, they looked good! It was nearly supper time. How long would it take me to ... ? Not long.

I hunted up my mother’s recipe for biscuits. Yes, I think shortcake should be made with real biscuits.

In a very few minutes, I stirred up half of the recipe, dropped gobs of dough into a pie pan and popped them into the oven. While they baked I “looked over,” as my folks used to say, half of the berries. And, since I never quite grew up, I ate a few, fresh from the stem.

They were washed, chopped and sugared by the time the biscuits came out of the oven.

Although my husband could make an entire meal on dessert, I need a bit of foundation for my sugar. So, after eating a sandwich, I filled a bowl with the best treat available this time of year: homemade fresh strawberry shortcake. Oh, yes! I scraped the dish down to the last red drop.

How very different this was from the way it used to be. When I was a kid, we waited and watched every year for the wild strawberries to ripen. Most everyone spent hours picking buckets full, eating a few of course, right from the stems.

And once the pails were filled and the weary pickers were home, the oh-so-tiny berries still had to be “looked over” before any shortcake or jam could be made.

The shortcake our mother made was beyond delicious. And every bite was earned the hard way. I took it all so much for granted.

By the time I had a home of my own, wild berries weren’t as readily available. My husband let me know that he wasn’t overly fond of those tiny little things anyway, which, in his opinion were filled with more seeds than juice.

He loved strawberry shortcake as much as I do, though, so it became our habit to buy tame berries from local vendors. The biscuits, however, I continued to put together from scratch. Some things just need to be done the old-fashioned way.

All of this and more rattled through my head the other evening as I enjoyed that very tasty, if I do say so myself, strawberry shortcake. It had lived up to its name in more ways than one, since I had put it together in true “short order.”

I’ll follow through and make this column short. I have a few more strawberries to look over.

Jeannette Buck is a lifelong resident of the Gold area who, since listening to her Grandma Williams’ stories as a child, has been deeply interested in local lore and history.