This past Sunday, I made a commitment. A big commitment. A life-changing commitment.
No, I did not jet off to Las Vegas.
I bought a freezer. A 14.1 cubic foot upright Frigidaire freezer to be delivered by Lowes once they have it in stock.
As long as I have it by strawberry season, I'll be happy.
We have another week or two before the first local berries burst forth in ruby profusion. Until then, I'm using up the last few bags of last summer's berries that have been taking up precious space in my bottom freezer drawer. I was so careful, so judicious, so conservative with my berries that I have two and one half bags left!
I decided to cook one bag into a loose jam/compote for this week's recipe, tender shortcakes. Cathy, who lives in Alabama, where I lived for six very good years, chose this recipe. She made hers with local berries and—I'm insanely jealous—Chilton county peaches. Everyone in Alabama knows those peaches because they are delicious. Check our her blog, the Tortefeasor, for the recipe, and for her usual blend of wit, humor, and delight.
The shortcakes are indeed tender, and a little mishapen due to several small mishaps:
1. lack of baking powder. I substituted a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar, at the suggestion of Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen. They're a little flat, likely because my cream of tartar is...old.
2. freezer issues. I mixed the shortcakes late afternoon, and then decided I didn't want to bake them until after dinner, so I formed balls, placed them on a baking sheet, and wedged them into the bottom freezer drawer. I forget to flatten them. And, when G came home and opened the freezer to stow his lunchbox icepack, he hollered, in alarm, "I think I ruined your balls." One ball had fallen apart, but I wasn't worried.
3. slight underbaking. The flattish cakes were golden brown on top but a tiny bit doughy when I split them with a fork.
HOWEVER, these cakes—biscuits, really—are indeed tender, very slightly sweet, and a lovely foil for fresh (or slightly cooked) fruit. I topped them with whipped cream (or, as the French so lovingly say, Chantilly. So much chicer, don't you think?), and a splash of Grand Marnier. G and I are noshing them as we work on our blogs, and we're both happy.
With the new freezer, we'll be able to enjoy shortcakes all year long. I'll be able to stow summer's freshest and localest goods. My locavore commitment will be stronger than ever.
And that, my friends, is a sweet commitment.