Memories from the Fourth of July
Do you have favorite summer memories? Some of mine are from Fourth of Julys spent in California. Perhaps you’re wondering what a Texan girl was doing on the West Coast. My parents bought a summer home in Newport Beach to get out of the sweltering Texas heat. Our family would bask in the California sun and cool ocean air. I remember rubbing baby oil all over myself to get that perfect tan–of course, we didn’t know better then!
Balboa Village is a small historic district just walking distance from our home with a charming vintage look and feel. As children, our favorite part was the small amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel, arcade, and plenty of junk food! Every year, they would host a fireworks show, which was the highlight of the evening. Of course, I’d spend the day cooking with my mother and we’d all feast together before taking a boat cruise on the water to watch the magical display of the lights in the Newport Beach Harbor.
A Taste of Americana
The Fourth of July is a great time to bring together some of your American favorites. Here’s an example of what we might have enjoyed on this wonderful family holiday:
Cold Tomato Soup
Corn on the Cob
Strawberry Shortcake or Pavlova
Bringing Theme to Plate
My mother showed me her love of a great theme. So, in the spirit of my mother, I’ve adapted this strawberry shortcake recipe to be proudly presented with the colors of the flag for your holiday table! After she passed away, I found little American Flags in her party mementos. I remember her using them to decorate her tables and desserts. You can do the same!
- 2 pints ripe strawberries
- 1 pint ripe blueberries
- 1 pint ripe raspberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 cups flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar, more for sprinkling
- 1 lemon
- 3 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 cups butter, more for brushing biscuits and greasing your pan
- 6 cups whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Rinse your berries thoroughly. Cut in strawberries in half or quarters, depending on their size. Combine 1/4 of the berries and gently crush them with a fork to release their juices. Mix all of the berries back together and stir in the sugar. Zest and then juice your lemon and add both to the fruit and sugar mixture. Gently toss everything together and set aside, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Three Berry Shortcake
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, salt, and baking powder. Soften the 2 cups of butter and add into the dry ingredients, combining with your hands so that it's mixed throughout the dry ingredients. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of whipping cream until you have a soft dough. Lightly flour your pastry board, kitchen counter, or other clean flat surface. Knead your dough for about a minute and then roll it out to about a 1/4-inch thickness, then fold over one half of the dough on top, so that when the biscuits rise they have a natural split top. Cut into rounds using a 3-inch biscuit cutter.
- Grease your baking sheets and place the rounds on top. The dough will rise, rather than spread, so they don't need too much room a part. Brush some of your melted butter and sprinkle a little sugar on top of each round. Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and pull the shortcakes apart. Brush the insides with melted butter.
- Beat the rest of your whipping cream until it begins to thicken, then add the vanilla and beat until thick.
- Place the bottom half of your shortcakes on serving plates, spoon about a generous amount of berries on to the biscuit. Add the top half, more berries and your whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Wishing You a Very Berry and Merry Fourth of July!
God bless America!