Strawberry Shortcake with Brown Sugar Biscuits

Every year I say I am going to have strawberry shortcake for my birthday, and every year something happens and I end up having something else. BUT NOT THIS YEAR.

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36 is the year to get shit done. As long as said shit involves dessert.

Brown Sugar Biscuits
loosely adapted from Sipsey’s Biscuits, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain yogurt, ideally the watery bits from separated Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2/3-3/4 cup water

(The last three ingredients approximate buttermilk, and in my opinion make superior biscuits. You may substitute buttermilk.)

Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper, or by lightly greasing it.

Combine first five (dry) ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk together. Add butter pieces and combine by squeezing with your fingertips until most of the butter pieces have broken down and the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Whisk wet ingredients together in a measuring cup, using enough water to equal one cup of liquid. Add to butter mixture and combine with a spoon or fork. You may need to turn the dough with your hands a few times to finish combining the wet and dry ingredients; do not overmix.

With a large spoon, make drop biscuits about 1-inch apart on your baking sheet, shaping them with your hands if needed. Makes about 12 large biscuits.

Bake for about 15 minutes, checking after 10 and rotating the baking sheet if necessary. When golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or more.

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Fresh Vanilla Whipped Cream

Combine about 1 cup heavy cream with 1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. You may beat with an electric whisk until peaks form, or shake in a mason jar until there is no more sloshing.

Strawberry Shortcake

My preferred way to serve strawberry shortcake is to slice a biscuit in half and spread it with a teaspoon (or a little more!) of lemon curd. Pile one side high with strawberry slices (this is the one time I will endorse sprinkling them with a little sugar, which should be done about 15 minutes before you prep, or when the biscuits go in the oven) and top with whipped cream.

Random

My main observation from nearly three weeks of our new eating regime is that the children’s personalities are exactly as I suspected.

Sam wants to please us. He will try anything. Just pops it in his mouth and chews it up. But he doesn’t like any of it. He coughs and fake-chokes and is dramatic about all of it. He won’t let himself really taste things.

Grace does not give a damn about pleasing us, but her natural curiosity wins out over stubbornness about half the time. She has found several new foods that she LOVES.

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We’re rearranging our apartment. I know what you’re thinkng–AGAIN?!–but beyond moving a chair or something, we only rearrange ever 2-3 years, which is less frequently than most people move, so you do the math.

Sam and Grace have their own room. Sometimes one or both of them disappears for hours. Most nights they go to sleep in their own beds, thought here are nights like last night, when grace was feeling anxious and sad about losing co sleeping, and I brought her out to falls sleep in my bed.

…Which is in the living room. It’s temporary, and was a great transition point for everyone, but I’m ready for more privacy and the apartment isn’t. Yet.

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I miss sewing. My work area, which was a disaster to begin with, is totally non-functional as I sort through the mess. I have clothing to sew! My wardrobe is on the right track for the first time in years, damn it!

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What’s new with you? I feel out of touch.

Sourpuss

I was the penalty tracker in this Saturday’s derby dolls game. Photographer Grant Palmer took this photo of me comparing penalty sheets with penalty box administrators Sweep-the-leg Johnny and Namaslay.

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I cannot stop laughing. MY FACE! I look like I am sucking on a lemon. (Click to embiggen.)

Day 16

I promise I will talk about something else eventually, but not today.

Because.

GRACE IS EATING A PULLED PORK SANDWICH.

Sure, I still haven’t convinced either kid to eat more than a bite of any vegetable. It’s still a win.

Day, um. 13ish.

Last night, as I was preparing dinner, Sam came into the kitchen and said, “Is that TOFU?” When I confirmed that it was, he said, “Can I HAVE some?” And I managed to say, “Just ONE piece” without dying from the suppressed laughter because OH MY GOD MY BOY ASKED FOR TOFU.

Dinner was sesame noodles, but I also put out a bowl of noodles with just soy sauce. Sam ate a quarter pound of tofu and Grace had half a chicken thigh, so I allowed them to choose which noodle dish they wanted, and they both chose soy sauce. I also made salad, and they both tried it. GRACE TRIED SALAD. AND LIKED IT. Apparently French vinaigrette (with Dijon mustard, wine vinegar, and olive oil) is MAGIC.

Not every meal has been this successful, but they have eaten more foods in the last two weeks than in the last two years.

Day 5

Today at lunch Sam said this:

“Well, I love trying new things!”

He then ate half a quesadilla, even though he did not particularly like it. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

Grace is still being a pain, but sliiiiiightly less of a pain? Maybe? Could be wishful thinking or resignedness.

I’ve added a second snack to our day. Four meals meant SO MUCH WHINING. Five seems more manageable.

For tonight’s dinner I am making Bread Alone baguettes and zucchini soup (kind of–I’m not following the recipe, just the basic idea). I know they will eat baguette. Will they eat a vegetable?

PLOT TWIST

Grace has been extremely reluctant to try new foods. Like, somehow simultaneously screaming her head off and clamping her mouth shut so nothing can pass her lips.

As a result, dessert following dinner as it does, she has not had any coffee cake. She has instead spent pretty much every waking moment begging me for coffee cake and failing to understand the natural consequence of not eating.

Sam has been splendid about trying new things. He ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich earlier. JELLY. (Actually jam.)

Tonight, I made sausage sandwiches for Will and Sam, a veggie burger for myself, and a grilled cheese for Grace because dear god I just need her to be able to eat some fucking coffee cake and there was no way she’d try a sausage sandwich.

Sam, who does not like his precious spicy Italian sausage to touch anything else (even pasta), shivered and shook and guzzled water and didn’t eat until I literally hand fed him about half of his sandwich. He complained the whole time, but happily ate a pickle.

Grace chowed down on her grilled cheese, reluctantly tried a bite of pickle, was inordinately proud of herself for trying it, and then FINISHED SAM’S SANDWICH.

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Picky is as Picky does.

My mom recently gave me a book called French Kids Eat Everything (affiliate link). I started reading it rather apprehensively, because I just can’t take one more smug parenting book about how I am doing it wrong.

It is not one of those books.

Basically, it’s a memoir of a North American family who move from Vancouver to the author’s husband’s home country of France, where the author is expected to feed her children the way the French feed theirs, which is…very very very differently than she is used to. And, well, it works. Her children develop better eating habits and more diverse palettes. In the book she lays out ten rules that she followed to achieve her goals, and gives tips and recipes to help others follow them.

What the fuck. I am pretty desperate.

DAY ONE

Today I informed the children that they will no longer be allowed to snack whenever they want to. One of the key principals in the book is that grazing on snacks all day leads to kids who aren’t hungry for meals. Seems legit.

I fed them (and myself) a good breakfast around 8-8:30. Baguette with butter (no butter for Sam–I will work on that aversion slowly), bacon for them, eggs scrambled with goat cheese for me, and a square of dark chocolate each. Coffee for me.

We went to the playground and then speech therapy. On the way to Pasadena, Grace started crying because she wanted one more turn on the swings. She demanded a food treat to make her feel better, and I informed her that we would no longer be using food to make ourselves feel better. I offered to read her books instead.

We came home and I made lunch: pasta and sausage, both favorites, but this time I mixed them together. It was on the table at about 1:00. Sam spent twenty minutes saying he just wasn’t sure he could eat them together. I ended up feeding him about half, then he had a bit more on his own. I let them be done when they felt full. I did not let them move onto the next course until they were both finished with the current one. After pasta (I had parmigiana on mine, which Sam shockingly tasted), I had a carrot salad. I insisted they each try one bite. Grace was the harder sell this time. Then we had a fruit course (apple and banana, Grace is not required to eat the banana because she is very averse to the texture), and then–and only then–they were allowed a popsicle.

It took an hour and a half and there were many tears.

Sam gets a video game on speech days. He ended up with only about 40 minutes because lunch took so long and I wanted the TV off for an hour before snack time. At 4:00 I gave them peanut butter pretzels and frozen strawberries (which they have never agreed to eat before, and which disappeared into Sam in five seconds flat).

I’ve insisted that they eat at the table, such as it is. (We are overhauling the apartment again, and our table is currently under a tarp on the porch. They ate at the coffee table.)

I’ve corrected their language about food fairly constantly. “No, thank you” is the only negative talk I will accept.

This is exhausting, and we still haven’t gotten to dinner.