I recently faced one of those jobs that needed to be done, but I didn’t want to tackle.  I finally decided to expend the effort necessary to make it happen.  The refrigerator in my laundry room had to be completely defrosted, as there was an ice build-up in the freezer section.

As I moved items from the refrigerator to my big freezer, I ran across something I thought was long gone – a red icing rose I had saved from my wedding cake.  I thought I threw it away the last time I defrosted the larger unit.  Apparently, I moved it to the smaller one.  I think I am too sentimental about things.  After all, what good is a frozen cake decoration that is over 40 years old?  (It will be 43 on May 29th, 2019.)

When I found the rose, memories poured in like a flood.  My dad baked my wedding cake and was supposed to decorate it.  He got it iced; however, his arthritic hands wouldn’t allow him to do the fancy parts.  In a panic, we called an uncle that lived near a shop where they sold pre-made icing embellishments.  He stopped by on his way to the wedding and picked up some red roses and some sort of white trim to go around the edges of the cake.  For some reason, dad stuck the roses on the sides of the cake layers instead of on the tops.  That cake may not have been the most beautiful one that dad ever created, but there was a lot of love that went into his creation, and that is what counted.

My dad was involved in another incident that day.  After he walked me down the aisle, we stood on a step that led up to the stage where the minister was standing.  Dad answered the question, “Who gives this woman…,” and then went to a seat beside my mother.  Unfortunately, when he backed down, he managed to step firmly on my veil.  Bob’s mother had securely fasted that headgear to my hair; it wasn’t coming off.  I could feel myself falling backward.  My soon-to-be husband realized what had happened, and his supporting arm went around me from behind.

The last anniversary Bob and I celebrated was seven years ago.  How I miss the supporting arm that held me steady through so much.  Our wedding with its cake-and-punch reception may not have been the social event of the year, yet it served the purpose of uniting a couple in a marriage.  A marriage that lasted through all the ups and downs we faced over the ensuing years, including Bob’s multiple myeloma diagnosis on our 33rd wedding anniversary.  We were committed to keeping the vows we made that day – “till death do us part,” and part us it did.

I guess the red icing rose is a reminder of the special day that I became Bob’s wife.  Although I tried to bring myself to dispose of it, I just couldn’t do so.  Now it’s back in the big freezer (which needs defrosting).

The only tie-in that I can think of to the recipes this week is the word “red,” as in the color of that elderly icing rose.   What color is a big, juicy strawberry?  Red. 

May is almost over, but I couldn’t let it pass without mentioning National Strawberry Month.  Actually, it’s National Share A Story Month as well.  The story is above, and the recipes follow.  I tried a new (to me) recipe for strawberry pie – this one is baked.  It was delicious and well worth my effort.  I pulled the other recipes from past columns; however, each of them had rave reviews the first time I made them.  Now you May enjoy strawberry month!

Baked Strawberry Pie

Pastry for one (9-inch) double-crust pie

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour for filling

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 cups sliced strawberries

1 lemon

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon milk (for brushing)

Extra flour for work surface

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees. (Important step!)

Whisk together sugar and next 3 ingredients.  Place strawberries in large saucepan; add dry ingredients.  Stir gently until berries are thoroughly coated.  Add water.  Squeeze lemon, remove any seeds from juice, and add juice to strawberry mixture; stir until combined.  Place pan on burner over low heat.  Stir often until the berry mixture barely bubbles and thickened to a syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface.  Roll out dough for the bottom crust; place in a deep 9-inch pie pan.  Roll out remaining pie dough; use cookie cutters to make 12-15 decorations for the top “crust.” 

Place pie pan on a baking sheet.  Add filling.  Cut butter into 4 chunks; place in different sections of pie.  Decorate top of pie with crust “cookies.”  (They may overlap.)  Brush each “cookie” with milk.

REDUCE temperature of oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles.  Cool before serving.

Strawberry Tea Slush

2 cups boiling water
4 regular-size tea bags
1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 can (6-ounce size) frozen lemonade concentrate
1 cup ice cubes

Pour boiling water over tea bags. Cover and steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.  Stir in sugar.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Process chilled tea, frozen strawberries, and remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth and slushy. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Fruit Dip

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

4 ounces plain yogurt

1 (8-ounce) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Cream the cheese and preserves until well blended.  Beat in yogurt.  Carefully fold in whipped topping until fluffy and of uniform color.  Chill.

Remove from refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before serving to ensure a good consistency.

Almond Cream Dip with Strawberries

2 pints fresh strawberries

1 (3.4-ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (for more flavor, increase to 1 teaspoon)

Wash strawberries; do not hull.  Pat dry, and chill.

Combine pudding mix and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Beat at high speed until soft peaks form (about 8 minutes).  Serve with strawberries. 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings or 25 appetizer servings.