When thinking about our prompt of “Berries,” my mind went to strawberries, but more specifically strawberry shortcake, which was the triumphant signal that summer had arrived. Like many foods, strawberries aren’t actually berries in the botanical sense, and many things with berry in their name aren’t really that at all. But this isn’t a story about botanical classifications, thankfully, and instead about whipped cream. Just kidding, it’s about fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream over a bit of sponge cake. I actually had a bite of a version of this during a lunch meeting today, but it was super fancy. It tasted delicious, but was nothing like the kind I had as a kid. That kind involved a store-bought sponge cake and a tub of Cool Whip. The only thing produced by nature were the fresh strawberries. It was delicious! And since it was simply an assemblage and required no actual cooking done this way, it was something I could make myself. When you’re a little kid, making something yourself is the coolest thing in the world. It’s any wonder that it took me over 20 years to start making and coloring my own sketches. Sometimes, adults forget things, but that kid inside will always remember.

There’s little chance that I’ll be able to experience that store-bought spongecake again. I pointed them out to Philippe and he scrunched up his nose so much I thought it might fall off. There were true shortcakes at Trader Joe’s this past weekend that received a better reaction from him, but not one that included the familiar nod that allowed me to add it to the shopping bag. In truth, it means, as ever, that Philippe would prefer to make everything from scratch. I would adore that, but it often fails to happen. I felt lucky to get waffle cones in a box this past weekend for the ice cream I did personally make from scratch. A no-cook family recipe, and the only dessert I know how to make properly because the only real skill involved is roughly measuring ingredients. There was a contraption that Philippe was eyeing to make his own waffle bowls, but he never actually bought it. I can’t blame him, as one has to consider how many waffle bowls they might actually require in a year to justify such a single-use appliance. I tried to fight for it saying that if I homemade ice cream year-round it would definitely justify the purchase. He just smiled again as one does to a pet.

I have to admit that being an American kid, I have very different food memories than Philippe. I adore tasting his childhood memories as they taste like high-end cuisine to me. A bit like taking a vacation without leaving home. It’s because everything was made from scratch and even the store-bought items weren’t quite so transformed. Conversely, it’s not really the same when he goes to taste my own childhood treats. Much of the time, he politely passes on the opportunity. In retrospect, I can’t blame him, as saying, “you just need three boxes to make it!” isn’t a compelling advertisement to someone raised on actual food. But despite the suspect nutritional value of my youth, I adore the memories of the food I had back then. Not even the flavor or texture or any of the things that apply to fine cuisine. It’s just the memory of being with the people I love most and the food simply became an enabler. A chance to come together in the hottest months of the year and celebrate a single natural ingredient while happily enjoying those fresh treats of summer.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Strawberry Shortcake Illustration Sketchbook Detail

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31 thoughts on “Fresh Treats Of Summer

  1. This looks so yummy!!!! Thanks for the memories yet again. I too enjoyed this treat in the summertime. My fav memory of whipped cream would have to be at my good friend Brenda’s house. Her mom always seemed to have whipped cream in the fridge we would put our hand in it get as much as we could run out the door and lick our hand off lol. I think it’s as fun to share our stories as it is to share our artwork. 🙂

  2. Interesting and yes I know what you mean but my mom used to make us fresh fried chicken, cookies and then there was the occasional Banquet Pot Pie and chicken. I love the little store bought cake cups. Well it’s wonderful that he can share his faves with you.

  3. Does this mean that Philippe will refuse to try my own personal favorite dessert – Tastykakes? I attended an event this past weekend where someone mentioned that every time East Coast family came for a visit, they always packed one entire suitcase with Tastykakes. My family did the same, boxes and boxes of the treats, and we all laughed. I might have to challenge Philippe to a dual – my Tastykakes to his homemade gateau. His creation might win but I’m going to have the most fun trying out everything. And if your contribution tastes half as good as this strawberry shortcake looks, I’ll be even happier.

    1. haha! Love that Sharon! 😃💕 A dual of Tastykakes and gateau would be amazing indeed! And I have to admit that I’ve never tried one! So I of course googled it and realized they are sold at a grocery nearby. hehe… I’ll have to sneak that into the shopping bag next! 😉

  4. Mom did most of the cooking in our family, but the minute the strawberries appeared at the neighborhood stands, Dad would buy them along with the spongecake and whipped cream. It was his one dish – well, except for smelt. Mom refused to clean or cook his smelt, since he’d bring home so many at once and he was the only one in the family who ate them!

  5. My mom always made homemade shortcakes, whipped the cream, and sweetened the berries ahead of time so their juices would would permeate the split shortcakes. It was yummy. I shortened the recipe to include only berries and cream! My mom used to wrinkle her nose at those little sponge cakes, too. I’ve never actually had one. Lovely Doodlewash!

  6. I have a few strawberry plants that produce just enough to eat during the season. We choose to use them in fruit smoothies, which we had yesterday. Tasted like a milk shake, but a bit healthier! Your sketch is like the kind we grew up on! Nice!

  7. Growing up in 1960s Britain, I was occasionally treated to American comics by my Mother. Reading about or seeing drawings of American food was a revelation – and completely alien compared to the limited dishes we had at the time. Many years later during a trip to San Francisco, I awoke with a hangover and made my way down to the hotel restaurant for a light breakfast. I chose French toast, thinking it would be like melba toast: dry slivers of toasted and roasted bread, ideal for a delicate start to the day. Of course I received a dinner plate piled high with butter-fried French toast, covered in confectioner’s sugar and maple syrup, garnished with enormous strawberries and blueberries and a side order of crisply fried bacon.

    Weirdly, it turned out to be the perfect hangover cure…

  8. That same spongy, cool whip topped strawberry shortcake defined my childhood as well! Always a summer favorite and my daughter’s favorite now. If I had to name a favorite berry, even though I should probably say blueberry since I live in what some people refer to a as the “blueberry capital of the world,” I would actually say blackberries. It all goes back to childhood memories again. We had wild blackberry bushes growing at the back of my yard when I was growing up and every summer we would pick them, eating some right off the bush (Gasp! Unwashed!) and bring the rest into my mom who would put them in a bowl with a bunch of sugar and let them ferment in the fridge for a bit. They were the perfect after dinner treat! I buy them now sometimes, but they just don’t taste the same as they did when I was 8 years old, standing in my bare feet with fingers dyed with juice, staring up at the summer sky.

  9. You’ve presented us with the perfect summer delight, strawberry shortcake, a staple at our local Sunday evening band concerts. Waving off mosquitoes to the beat of a Souza march, devouring the Bisquick biscuits with the juice soaked into them, sometimes getting the Special with a slab of vanilla ice cream in there too: wow, that’s real summer! Thanks for the images!

  10. I saw that awesome painting and just remembered that I have not stopped to eat anything at all today.
    Now my insides are groaning. I am going to go have some strawberry shortcake (ok…more like strawberries
    and store bought angel food cake with a ton of whipped cream). I’ll be back later to read and savor your paintings….

  11. oh, it was good!! Wonderful in fact, and even with a full tummy, your painting tempts me to eat more, but I shall abstain (for now)

    It is such fun to travel back to my childhood as I read your article. Thank you!

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