This is Amy + Michelle

This is Amy + Michelle

This A.M.

Amy and Michelle became instant friends because of the common interests they share in their love of fashion, food, music and traveling. In This A.M. Amy and Michelle will share recipes, thoughts on eats, their unique fashion style and lifestyles from Toronto to Tampa...... 1,098 miles apart!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Florida Strawberry Festival

This A.M. we are a week away from the first day of spring. The weather is starting to turn, cherry blossoms, freesia and lilacs are starting to bloom in parts of the world and in Florida farmers are harvesting oranges, grapefruit and papaya among other crops. Today I want to talk about a very special crop to us here in Florida, especially near my home: Strawberries. Every year as Spring approaches our grocery stores and farmers markets have huge tables filled with fresh local strawberries. With a mild winter here in Tampa we don't watch for the snow to melt or the weather to get warmer, the first sign of spring for many of us is the tables of local strawberries. In Hillsborough County (The county where Tampa is located) more than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted every year. There is a big festival at the end of February in the heart of strawberry country, Plant City, which is only 20 miles outside of the city of Tampa.  Ranking among the top 40 fairs in America, the Florida Strawberry Festival began in 1930. The Strawberry Festival has live music performances, flea market style arts and crafts, livestock shows and fair grounds complete with rides, games and concessions boasting fried everything.


I went this weekend for to the Strawberry Festival with some friends. First thing we did when we got there was walk through the aisles of concession stands, taking note of all the offerings. Sausages, Philly cheese steak, BBQ, fries, chicken on a stick, fried cheese, fried Oreos, fried pickles, even fried butter was available to name a few... how were we to choose? After the little angel on my right shoulder quarreled for a moment with the little devil on my left shoulder, my decision was made. The little devil won and I decided to try a little something from several stands, without even glancing in the direction of the stand that sign read "Deli Sandwiches and Salads". After partaking in a few greasy and fried delights, my friend Hannah and I went to get a couple thrills on the fair rides, Steve joining us to hold our bags and take pictures, while the rest of the group went to peruse the arts and crafts building. After riding Gravatron, Magnum and YOYO, I had worked up my appetite again. I was craving something sweet and made my way back to the stand that was dishing up fried Snickers bars. Before you judge me, let me tell you that words cannot describe how awesome a fried Snickers bar is. If you ever come across one, it is an absolute must you try it.

As you probably guessed we brought home some strawberries, which I made strawberry shortcakes with. Homemade biscuits, Grand Marnier whipped cream and locally grown strawberries (recipe below). If you are looking for the perfect desert for Easter, this is it.

Hope you enjoy your Spring wherever you are!

Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 4 to 6

About 4 cups of strawberries, tops removed and halved
Whipped cream


2 cups White Lilly All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 stick Crisco shortening, chilled (they aren't shortcakes without shortening!)
3/4 cup to 1 cup Buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Preheat oven to 475. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with two forks or a pastry blender until pieces are the size of peas. Whisk vanilla into 3/4 cup of buttermilk and with a fork mix in with dough until dough starts to come off the sides of the bowl. If needed mix in 1 tablespoon up to 1/4 cup extra milk. Mixture will be a little crumbly.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough 2 times. Roll into a 12 inch and cut into 6 biscuits. Place in a greased 9inch round pyrex nearly touching and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Mariner or triple sec

Place the whisk and bowl of your stand mixer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before making whipped cream. Combine all ingredients in bowl and whip for about 1 minute on medium-low speed until the mixture gets foamy. Whip for another 2-3 minutes on high until soft peaks form. 

Cut biscuits in half, top with strawberries and whipped cream and dig in!

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