The good news: My father has a bumper crop of strawberries in his garden.
Although I can purchase strawberries from Mexico or California and create a Strawberry Shortcake that thrills my children and their friends, my husband and I are not impressed. We both grew up in Caroline County on Maryland's Eastern Shore where the best strawberries in the world grow. The soil is sandy, there is usually plenty of rain in the Spring, and, in the case of my father's patch, the berries get lots of tender loving care.
When I was growing up my father didn't have the time or energy for a garden, so we would go pick at a local patch or I would jump out at any one of the plethora of roadside stands and grab a few quarts of berries as my mother parked on the dirt shoulder. We would make lots of Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry Pies and when we tired of that serve juicy sugared down strawberries over vanilla ice cream. Sometimes we attempted a new recipe that my mom had cut from one of her women's magazines, but we always returned to our favorites. My father loves strawberries and never seems to get tired of them. Now he grows enough to satisfy himself and all of his family and friends in a thirty mile radius. In fact, if you happen to be passing by my old homestead, I bet my mom will be happy to give you a basket or two of these luscious fruits.
Considering that I am half way across the country from my father's plentiful patch of strawberries, it is not surprising that this year my favorite strawberry recipe is not for a dessert at all, but for a new play dough, Strawberry Cake Play Dough. This unique concoction smells fabulous and is soft and pliable. It is perfect for a bumper crop of imaginative play. Add a few berry baskets and a pad and paper and you have got yourself a play fruit stand or throw in a few matchbox cars and an instant strawberry mountain appears. This recipe comes from one of my early education heroes The Ooey Gooey Lady and is easily made with a strawberry cake mix and a few other basic ingredients. It keeps well in an air-tight container for weeks.
So this Memorial Day weekend pick some strawberries at a local patch, visit the Strawberry Festival in Ridgely, Maryland, or make a batch of Strawberry Play Dough. Either way have a great weekend relaxing with people you enjoy.
Strawberry Cake Play Dough
inspired by the Oooey Gooey Lady
1 package strawberry cake mix (any brand)
2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 cups salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons oil
3 cups water
optional: red food coloring
- In a large heavy bottomed pot, whisk together dry cake mix, flour, salt, and cream of tartar. Add the oil and water. If a brighter color is desired, add a few drops of red food coloring. Gently combine with a large wooden spoon.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and a rough ball forms.
- Remove from head, knead, adding a small amount of flour if dough is too sticky.
- Store in an air tight container or baggie.
Explore with empty berry baskets, berry hullers, pink dice, matchbox cars, empty pie tins, and more. For fun, sprinkle balls of strawberry cake dough with red glitter and knead.
Linked to the following inspiring blog parties:
Tickled Pink, Gluesticks, Summer Fun Party, Made By You Monday, We Play, Show Me What Ya Got, What Are Little Boys Made Of?, Fun For Kids Friday, Summer Fun Party, For the Kids Friday,