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My June pick: strawberry shortcake

June may signal the end of the school year but for me, it also always meant strawberry season. I have sweet memories of piling in my mother’s Buick station wagon and barreling down some country road to a U-pick farm.

Upon arrival, my mother – with canvas Grasshoppers on her feet and a sun hat on her head – would give us our marching orders. We would pick and pick until we had enough quarts of strawberries to fill the wayback of the station wagon.

The real work began when we returned home. We would wash the berries. My mother would freeze some. One year she made jam. But mostly, we would eat the strawberries fresh on cereal or, as my good friend clearly remembers, vanilla ice cream.

But my absolute favorite way to enjoy them: strawberry shortcake. Always with fresh baked Bisquick biscuits. Always with whipped cream – or Cool Whip.

Strawberry shortcake is one of my all-time favorite foods. I like the whole prep process. Baking the biscuits. Mashing the strawberries. Splitting open the baked biscuits. Adding a dollop – or three – of whipped cream.

Oftentimes, if I was too full after dinner to eat it as dessert, I would announce that I would be saving my strawberry shortcake for breakfast the next morning.

Oh, come on, don’t tell me you’ve never had dessert for breakfast. Besides, strawberries are a fruit. Biscuits are sort of breakfast-y. Whipped topping ... not so much.

But I would tell myself it wasn’t as if I was starting my day with a slice of chocolate cake.

All this strawberry talk reminds me of another recipe that was a favorite in my younger days. I sometimes requested it for my birthday. It is so 1970s, with Jell-O and Cool Whip (again!) among the ingredients.

I haven’t made it in quite a few years, but here is a recipe I found in my collection – with many other variations found online.

Strawberry angel food cake

2 small packages strawberry Jell-O (or one large)
1 angel food cake
2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries (thawed)
Cool Whip (or whatever topping you prefer)
Fresh strawberries for decorating

1. Mix 2 cups boiling water into JELL-O. Add thawed strawberries. Refrigerate until it starts to set.

2. Grease angle food cake pan (I use a nonstick one instead). Break angel food into large bite-size pieces.

3. Put alternate layers into pan, beginning and ending with JELL-O mixture.

4. Refrigerate until firm (at least three hours). Loosen with knife; remove cake. Frost with topping and decorate with fresh strawberries.

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