Spreading Strawberries, Year Three

Remember my family's crazy tradition of making ridiculously large, involved strawberry shortcakes?  And then eating them as a meal?  Yeah, that. 

It is strawberry season, after all!  I am hoping to go strawberry picking with mom later this week. Hopefully the sun this week will make them red and ripe for us!  Especially after all the rain and grey weather last week. 

Anyway, our crazy annual strawberry shortcake/family reunion happened this past weekend!  Between that, playing games and eating lots and lots of ice cream with JB and RB, and visiting with the S family for Father's Day, it was a busy weekend!  And one without as much sleep as is ideal. But NES was a trooper and was my official assistant for shortcake making this year. I missed having MS there to help. At least she had a nice day for her activities! However, the lack of sleep might have made us a little goofier in the kitchen. Here is my goofy, serious-looking, pretzel rod "cigar" smoking, very colorful assistant. 
I still say that Mimi, JD and J do the real hard work. They, well, with the rain this week, bought tons of strawberries (think like 30 lbs.), then sliced them all. This was the only year I've ever found myself even getting close to the end of the strawberries. Then, as I was leaving, Mimi pulled out a whole other bowl of strawberries that were hiding in the fridge. Oops.
When Mimi was pulling out all of the materials, I couldn't help but think about the fact that most of these had been used for many, many years of shortcake making. Maybe even by my great-grandmother in the original strawberry shortcake celebration. I feel like I would have liked her if I had really gotten to meet her. 
Surprisingly enough, it took less than an hour for NES and I to get the first shortcake on the table. And not long after that, the second was ready. Even with 19 people, we only needed a little more than 2. That meant that when we overestimated and made a whole third shortcake, NES was happy, and got a piece with no strawberries and there was enough leftover for MS, GWS,PLS, and ZNS.
The first order of business is mixing up the biscuit from the mix. Yes, I still cheat and use Bisquick. But if I change it, I might get in trouble. And it really does make my life easier. It is not too hard to mix Bisquick and milk.
Not to say it can't be messy sometimes. I seemed to be having a hard time getting the ratios quite right this year. 
That sometimes you just have to get your hands messy. This was one of my particularly messy iterations of mixing. 
Then it goes into a well greased pan.  I use about 2 recipes of Bisquick for a 9 by 13 pan. 

It bakes for about 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees. It needs to be lovely and golden brown. 
Meanwhile, everyone else was outside chatting and waiting with bated breath. 
MS and I determined a couple of years ago that the best way to slice the giant shortcake is unflavored dental floss. Really. It slices it nice and evenly and it actually reaches through the whole thing. NES decided that it went even better when someone was guiding it through. That was his job. 
NES helped me flip the first one, but JD happened to be around for the second one, so NES could take pictures of the process. I don't think we had any major crumbling this year. That's the best part of the dental floss method. 
Then comes the buttering. We actually didn't even use the full two sticks of butter this year!  Shhhh, don't tell anyone. I'd be severely chided by the previous butter-loving generations. The butter is really what makes it good, in my opinion. 
Then the cover gets flipped on top of a layer of strawberries. I think the first shortcake weighed about 5 pounds with all the juice from the strawberries this year. That's what we get for having a rainy June, I guess. 
Then more butter. Of course. I almost forgot on the first one. Oops!
And even more butter. 
Then, the finishing touch: the final mound of strawberries. 
Look at those layers. And the butter. 
This is the one that I'm sure weighed 5 pounds or more. 
Meanwhile, 3/4 of a pitcher of mashed strawberries are mixed with half and half. That's the closest thing to whipped cream that ever touches these shortcakes.
The only other food is salad. Most of the family would claim that the salad is dessert, or else to cleanse your palate between slices of shortcake. I personally like to eat mine first so that it doesn't mess with my shortcake. Not to say the salads aren't yummy, too!

Look at those lovely, buttery layers!
It was sad to not have HGM with us this year. She always loved all the people and the squirrels in Mimi's yard. However, we did have TR with us. 
He's the loviest dog I've ever met. He's kind of an attention hog. But it apparently did tire him out!
And he even gets to lick the plates. He is not a fan of sesame ginger salad dressing, though. But he loves the strawberry juice. Poor dog, that's all that is ever left on the plates at this event!
So anyway, there goes another year of butter-filled, no whipped cream allowed, half and half laced, ginormous strawberry shortcakes. And the family that comes with them. It is so good to see some extended family who we don't see otherwise, and our "strawberry family". Because surviving this tradition means you are family. Thanks to NES and JD and everyone else for the help and reassurance, and to Mimi, JD and J for processing all those strawberries!  And of course, thanks to Mimi for planning and hosting!  

Here's to another year of family tradition! 


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