To me Fourth of July tradition demands a barbecue lunch topped off with real strawberry shortcake, made the old-fashioned way. That means flavorful, fresh berries, just swimming in their syrupy sweetened juices, poured over homemade honest-to-Pete shortbread biscuits–none of those little sponge cake cups they sell at the store for this Southern girl–with a big fat dollop of freshly whipped cream on top.
Back when I was growing up, my mother or grandmother would slice up the berries the night before, douse them good with a lot of sugar, cover them up and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight to draw the juices, making a thick, sweet, strawberry syrup that would properly soak the split shortbread biscuit when you poured it on. The shortbread, itself, Momma made with flour, butter, cream, baking powder, a pinch of salt and just a bit of sugar the next morning, so it would be good and fresh. I did likewise in my own kitchen, at least for a few years.
Once we had our brain transplants about 20 years ago, however, the realization of what 40 to 60 grams of quickly absorbable carb could do to a person robbed me of some of the joy of eating shortcake made the traditional way. So I created a carb-friendlier version that we could enjoy with less trauma to both metabolism and psyche. (If you’re interested, that recipe is published in the companion book to our PBS tv show, the Low Carb CookwoRx Cookbook and available from the show’s website, from Amazon and from book retailers nationwide.)
Despite longstanding tradition, however, this year, I may try something new to top off our barbecue feast. We’ll be in Dallas for the Fourth, visiting the grandangels, one of whom can’t eat wheat or dairy, making a traditionally “shortened” biscuit, even one made with part almond flour, a no go. Granted, I could substitute rice flour for the small amount of wheat flour and ghee for the butter and coconut cream for the dairy cream–the kinds of substitutions I’ve done to make special treats for him for years–but instead, I think I’ll forge a different trail.
He loves ice cream, which since his sensitivity to dairy came to light has meant a commercial product made with either rice or soy milk, neither of which is particularly delicious and at least one of which–soy–science suggests is not especially beneficial for growing boys to eat very often. So my plan is to make a vanilla custard-style ice cream using premium coconut milk in lieu of cream and freezing it as per manufacturer’s instructions in their electric ice cream maker. I’ll have to make two batches (one sweetened with dextrose powder, which is just glucose, for the boys and one sweetened artificially for the carb-sensitive grown folk).
I then plan to make Flag Wavin’ Parfaits by layering strawberries, ice cream, chopped pecans, blueberries, ice cream, chopped pecans, and finally more strawberries. And for the dairy tolerant, a flourish of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped pecans. At least that’s what I’ll do for the adult crowd. The grandangels will both just want the ice cream, plain, and in their favorite flavor…which the younger of the two will tell you without hesitation is not vanilla, but “white.” And he means white, so don’t be putting any of those little brown specs of vanilla bean in it.
Then, I think we’ll stick a sparkler into each one, light them up, and sing “Happy Birthday, dear America” since everybody (even the grandangels) knows the tune and all the words to that one.
So from our family to yours, Mike and I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and safe Fourth of July!