Old Photos & New Shortcake

perfect 4th of July dessert shortcake bar topped with whipped cream and berries
perfect 4th of July dessert

Looking through old photo albums this week I am reminded that William was surrounded by some loving friends his whole life. How lucky was he to grow up such a happy and loved child.

Brian & Will
Brian & Will

I marvel at how huggable these guys were back in the day. Do boys these days still hug like this? Or has the bully thing really gotten out of hand as portrayed in the media?

Tyler & Will
Tyler & Will

And it just wasn’t the guys who were hugging…..

Haley & Will & the usual frog that hung out with them
Haley & Will & the usual frog that hung out with them

Taking a walk down memory lane brings smiles and I won’t lie…a few tears. His friends for life continue to be my friends. They take care of me in so many ways because they love him. Yes, they love him. That makes me smile. Old photos remind me to be grateful for small things like hugs and friends and even frogs. I miss everything about the old days, but I am still able to marvel over all the fabulous things his friends are doing today. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Tommy & Will
Tommy & Will

On to something new. This is not your grandma’s strawberry shortcake. Recently, I saw a recipe in a Cuisine At Home Magazine called “shortcake bars” and I immediately knew I wanted to mess with it. Everyone loves strawberry shortcake this time of year, but the truth: it’s difficult to get the shortcake (and the berries for that matter) part right…First, freshly baked shortcakes can’t sit. If they are not eaten warm from the oven just forget it. They dry out quickly. Naturally the solution to fixing a dry shortcake is to top it with…. a ton of sugary, syrupy berries which then creates an overly sweet, soggy mess…the pitfalls are endless when it comes to this dessert.

notice the borage flowers-they taste like cucumbers
notice the borage flowers-they taste like cucumbers

So here is your new 4th of July dessert. It is perfectly portable and can be made a day ahead. If you would like it a bit saucy go ahead and mix the fresh berriess with some melted jam or preserves or go all out and make a fresh berry coulis.

Very Berry Shortcake Squares

1½-cups all-purpose flour

½-cup white whole wheat flour

¼ cup sugar

1-tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1-cup fresh blueberries

½ cup small stemmed strawberries*

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ cup heavy cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup chopped almonds, optional

1-cup strawberry-blackberry jam (I use Smucker’s)

2 teaspoons sparkling sugar, optional

Toppings: fresh berries, sweetened whipped cream

Heat oven 375F. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang for easy removal. Spray pan and parchment with non-stick baking spray. In large bowl, stir flours, sugar, baking powder and salt; cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingers until crumbly. Stir in berries and zest. Mix heavy cream and egg together; add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until dough comes together. Divide dough in half. Pat half the dough over bottom of prepared pan. Spread jam evenly over dough in pan. Mix almonds (if using) into remaining dough and crumble dough evenly over the top. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar, if desired. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Cut into 3-inch squares. Top with berries and whipped cream.

*I grow a French strawberry variety called fraise. The berries are sweet, but maybe only ½-1-inch long. If you use regular strawberries dice them up into smaller pieces.

14 thoughts on “Old Photos & New Shortcake

  1. While you are giving credit here to mutual hugging, it seems that your Will is on the right in each of these photos, thus giving him the opportunity to hug everyone he is standing next to! I’m guessing he was a right-hander? What a sweet boy from the get-go!

  2. Super cute pics. You’re right about strawberry shortcake. I usually just eat the berries and the whipped cream because the cake is awful. This is a much better spin on the dessert. I will share this with my wife who likes to honor her grandfather’s birthday by serving strawberry shortcake.

  3. Brianpoulin (all one word on purpose) gives such awesome hugs that I am sure he is hugging for two!

  4. William was so darn huggable. I absolutely adored him. I was cleaning out a drawer the other day and came across the thank you note he wrote me (for coming to his welcome home party) along with 2 pics of William and I. I was still in my first trimester with Calvin at the time. William was glowing, as per his usual. I treasure this note and the pictures and the time we all had with such a special person.

  5. I am so glad you, his favorite teacher, have that special note from him. You are the one who inspired his love of books. He loved the feel of a book in his hand. I tried to give him a Kindle one year for Christmas and he wanted nothing to do with it. Calvin is a lucky boy to have YOU for a mom.

  6. Love these memories of yours-thank you for sharing, and I just saw the movie “Inside Out”- if you haven’t seen it, you must. In fact, I would swear you wrote the story! Love you and each and every Sweet William Memory that you choose to share with us.

    • So kind my cooking buddy. I have not heard of this movie, “Inside Out” but I will be seeking it out; I am intrigued. Love you back ❤

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