We used to pick our own and I have fond memories of picking with our infant daughter in a baby sling, while our three and a half year old son picked berries and tossed them into the woods for Badger. We were going through a Wind In The Willows phase. These days I buy them from a roadside stand.
Strawberry shortcake is THE dessert for spring celebrations in our family, but there are rules. It must be made with shortbread, not those sweet spongy shortcakes from the grocery store. Not pound cake. Certainly not angel food cake. The shortbread must be made with Bisquick (light), as per the directions on the box. I make it in a rectangular cake pan and quadruple the recipe. It comes out lightly sweet, with just the right texture for absorbing all that juice.
Once they are rinsed and capped, sweeten your berries to taste. Use sugar or your sweetener of choice. I'm using a stevia product. They don't need much. Then crush them with one of these, if you have it.
I bought mine from sweet little old ladies at a church social, many years ago. I give my sweetened berries a good chop with it, leaving some large pieces.
Slice open a piece of shortbread. Add a big scoop or three of berries, and top with whipped cream. Now, here's where Mike and I disagree. He likes to add vanilla ice cream. I think that's sacrilege. It's already so perfect. Why adulterate it with ice cream? I blame his upbringing. Remember when you were little, and you had favorite foods, but you only liked them the way your own family made them? Like when someone offered you a tuna sandwich and you thought, "Yum," only to find they'd made it with Miracle Whip and you come from a mayonnaise family? Gross.
Now, listen up because these are the Rules For Eating Strawberry Shortcake At Our House:
All components must be left out on the kitchen counter while the shortcake is being eaten! This is very important to avoid an IMBALANCE. From the first spoonful to the last, the proper ratio of berries to shortbread to whipped cream must be maintained. This necessitates additions as you eat, and here's the really good part...it still counts as one serving. My rules.
Also, because we have to enjoy this while we can, Strawberry Shortcake may be substituted for a meal. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or all three. It's a fruit!
Never buy less than 8 quarts at one time. Really. They shrink when you smoosh them all down, and you're going to want smoothies, and daiquiris and such.
One final rule, and this one I just made up yesterday, don't leave your berries on the patio while you go and fetch another lens. If your photography assistants are monkeys, you might end up with this...