This recipe for strawberries that are mixed with egg whites, whipping cream and sugar and then frozen between layers of crunchy nuts was a favorite of mine a long time ago. I still remember the reason I didn’t make it very often though and why it eventually lost favor with me. It was a mess to make. Whipping the egg whites and whipping cream was easy enough but it was the addition of those strawberries that did me in. They would wrap around the beaters of my little handheld mixer and whip that mixture all over the place. So making this dessert was a true labor of love; it also meant wiping down not just counter tops but the floor and often cabinets too!
So what inspired me to give it another try beyond nostalgia (trust me I had no nostalgia for the mess!). A couple of things. First, I can’t discount my love of strawberries and how I love to find new ways to use the bounty of the amazing berries we get in the spring; I’m remembering how much I love this dessert and it was time. The resulting texture is much like ice cream and when coupled with the combination of the brown sugar, flour, butter and nut crumble; they are simple yet simply divine. Secondly I had the notion that my larger capacity stand mixture would make easier work this time around and thankfully that was true. I did put the mixer attachment on that is actually used to make adding flour and other dry ingredients easier as a protective collar and it was just enough to catch the few droplets that were determined to make their way to my white cabinet doors.
But one of the main reasons? I think a great example of our food culture is within the story of this dessert and it serves to illustrate again why I feel so strongly about the current food blogging notions regarding ‘recipe ownership.’ That notion coupled with the immediacy of the Internet has made this a situation that I think in many ways ruins the entire sense of how food has fit into many of our lives for decades. It’s meaning for me has always been a way to nurture those I love everyday, that time and attention to detail that says ‘I care’ in every bite. To show others that same sense through a gift of cookies, a pot of soup during an illness or a special cake for an even more special event.
Now it’s too often about inbound links and hits and revenue and an ugliness in that quest for those that has an entire generation of cooks not just claiming ownership of recipes but publicly maligning those they feel have ‘stolen’ from them. It’s not just ugly and rude; it’s plain wrong.Yes, I’ve had my own experience. A demand to take down my version of this Strawberry Pie recipe that I’m sure I was making before the person making the demand was born…another recipe from this very same cookbook as a matter of fact!
Why did this dessert so clearly illustrate to me why this is so often too much ado about nothing? I saw Amy of the website ‘She Wears Many Hats’ publish a post last summer about Strawberry Squares and she made a point of attributing them to her Aunt Carole’s “Hearts Go Home for the Holidays” Cookbook; a cookbook her aunt had compiled for family members with her favorite recipes. I knew as soon as I saw the recipe that it was the same one I had used for years from an old version of ‘Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook’ published in the early 70’s. I suppose if I were BH&G I could make quite a scene with Amy about this not being her aunt’s recipe but before this whole food blogging thing, the sharing of recipes with friends and family was a given. No one expected that their name would forever be attached to a recipe. We just wanted to share with others something we loved. It really was that simple.
I for one think that one thing in this story of ‘recipe wars’ that is totally forgotten is that in the making of a recipe some ownership has got to be handed over to the maker of the dish. It’s not as if the ingredients miraculously hop off the page onto a prepared table where a camera is setup and ready to snap a pic with no interference whatsoever from human hands. Once I put my time and effort into anything…that recipe has MY name on it too. I’ve said it before and I remain steadfast in this. If I use a recipe from someone else, I will attribute but I will not forgo including the recipe on my site. This is my journal of what I prepare, not a marketing tool to push the websites or cookbooks of others. Weren’t they equally inspired in some way?
I’ve started a new practice that is particularly eye opening. After I develop something on my own and feel it’s successful enough to blog about I do a Google search. The results serve to prove my own point. Sorbets combining garden herbs and liqueurs from my bar? Done. A patty melt with jalapeno peppers and pepper jack cheese? That too. Strawberry Squares? Lots of different ones including an almost identical one on AllRecipes.com and Cook.com and none referencing the one I have that precedes those by decades.
What is my point? Well, first this is a great dessert and I for one am happy that Amy chose to include this recipe from her Aunt Carole’s cookbook. As a reminder for me and I’m hoping as something new for someone else because first things first; it’s particularly perfect in spring or summer when fresh strawberries are in abundance. Beyond that it’s just a reflex to the continuous complaining that gets wearisome. Food and the preparation of it is about nurturing and caring for others. Our sharing it should be for the same reasons. That is all. 🙂