Last evening, Hubby made strawberry shortcake.
Cooking for Babygirl, given her post-transplant immunosuppression, means that you have to follow different rules. Strawberries are a no-no don't-touch you-can-NEVER-eat-it food. Even at their freshest they carry dangerous mold - well, dangerous if you have no functioning immune system. Making strawberry shortcake, like making a salad, is an act of loving devotion.
Hubby went to the store and looked for containers of strawberries with no visible rot or blemishes. Sometimes this is simple: You look at the first four containers, they all look faded, and you walk away. If you REALLY want strawberries, it takes longer. I usually reject at least five containers of strawberries before I find even one that passes visual inspection. It requires a thick skin, since there are usually other people wanting to get into the space you are occupying. And once you have your berries, you have to use them right away.
The rules are simple: soap and warm water washes to the outside of any raw product that Babygirl intends to eat, including lettuce. But grapes, blueberries and strawberries have surfaces or stem holes that can allow germs deeper entry into the fruit, so even that level of clean is considered inadequate. Cut off the tops of the berries, wash with soap and water, and then: Cook 'em. This is truly horrible with grapes, and although blueberries and strawberries cook well, it doesn't leave you with the taste of fresh fruit. So we've figured out how to rapidly blanch strawberries. It's a compromise. I'm sure the interior of the fruit doesn't reach germ-killing temperatures, but the surface certainly hits the required "steaming hot" level. We then rapidly chill them in the freezer and then cut them, add sugar, and Voila! The process takes a bit of time and patience, two commodities that are in general short supply here.
But.....it is impossible to be unhappy while you are eating strawberry shortcake. It is one of the happiest foods there is. I remember, as a child, that once a year in strawberry season my mom served strawberry shortcake for dinner. Not dessert: Dinner. What could be happier than THAT?
Happiness isn't always something that just happens. Happiness requires dedication, devotion, discipline and an open heart: The ability to look for an excuse for a celebration. The gift of setting aside stress and being in the moment. The joy of family.
Life, in the end, is lived moment by moment. Last night was strawberry shortcake good.