Fresh, sweet strawberries: a first taste of summer

In earlier days in America, June was strawberry season, the time for strawberry festivals with Japanese lanterns glowing in the twilight and the air fragrant with the scent of rambler roses and newly cut grass.

The strawberry season was short then. One had to make the best of it while it lasted. But now we are more fortunate. Red, juicy strawberries begin to appear in abundance when spring is just a promise and, in many areas, they are available into July.

Strawberries delight the eye and the taste because there are so many ways to enjoy them. One of the simplest, and some say the very best, is strawberries and cream, ripe berries hulled and washed, sugared lightly, and served with "pouring cream."

Strawberries and whipped cream has its enthusiasts, too, as do strawberries served with sour cream blended to taste with light brown sugar and almond extract, with chopped toasted almonds added for crunch.

Delicious, every one of these, but the alltime favorite American strawberry dessert is shortcake. Over it all goes thick, rich cream. Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake 2 cups biscuit mix 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 cup shortening 1 egg 1/3 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced and sweetened Pouring cream or whipped cream

Combine biscuit mix and sugar. Cut in shortening with a knife. Combine egg and cream. Add to mixture. Stir with a fork until dough gathers in a soft ball.

Roll out about 1/2-inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into individual biscuits with a floured 3-inch cutter. Place on greased baking sheet. Dot with butter. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Split and butter while hot. Fill and top biscuits with sweetened sliced strawberries. Serve with pouring cream or whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

Strawberries deserve special treatment in a pie, too, as in the following recipe where half of the berries are kept whole and uncooked. Fresh Strawberry Pie 1 quart fresh strawberries 1 cup granulated sugar or 1/3 cup honey and 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup water 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon butter 1 baked pastry shell (9-inch) 1 cup whipping cream

Line baked cooled pie shell with 2 cups of large, uncooked berries, arranged hulled side down. Make a sauce of the other 2 cups of berries, cut up and cooked until thick with sweetening, water, cornstarch, and salt, mixed together. Remove from heat, add butter and stir well.

Cool and pour over berries in the pastry shell. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Spread with a thick coating of whipped cream or whipped topping. Serves 6.

Fresh strawberry sundaes are an easy and welcome dessert. The following recipe makes two cups of sauce to pour over ice cream or for use in homemade sodas for warm weather refreshments. Strawberry Sundae Sauce 2 cups fresh strawberries 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water

Slice strawberries and mash lightly with a fork. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat, add strawberries, and mix well. Chill.

Thickshakes are a treat for children and strawberry thickshakes are a special treat, no matter what your age. For this recipe, you need an electric blender. Strawberry Thickshake 1 quart fresh strawberries 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

Reserve a few strawberries for garnish and puree remainder in blender. Strain through double thickness of cheesecloth to remove seeds. Blend puree and ice cream in electric blender until smooth. Place blender container in freezer for about an hour. Blend a few seconds until smooth before serving.

Spoon into tall glasses and serve with long spoons. Garnish with whole strawberries. Makes fou r 8-ounce servings.

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