Twice Makes a Tradition

Strawberry season coincides with winter in central Florida. Last February, my children and I picked strawberries at Pappy’s U-Pick strawberry patch in Oviedo. We came home with a couple of pint baskets brimming with strawberries and the experience of gathering our own food.

Strawberries picked last year at Pappy's U-Pick Farm in Oviedo, FL. Some we had already eaten.
Strawberries picked last year at Pappy’s U-Pick Farm in Oviedo, FL.

Strawberry season for us also coincided with some Pinterest-perusing I had recently done, and I found this perfect cake for Valentine’s Day. Instead of slathering it with artificially-colored pink icing, though, I envisioned frosting it with homemade butter cream icing and decorating it with our fresh strawberries. Perfect in-the-kitchen, real-life-lesson project for my children and me. They get exposed to (and get to practice) cooking skills and measuring and teamwork. We make good memories, a big mess, and again, I learn to release some control.

Icing the cake is a group effort.
Icing the cake is a group effort.

The recipe calls for a cake mix, but we substituted a from-scratch recipe. Setting the square cake on an angle and then cutting the round cake in half to make the curvy parts of the cake made this feel artistic and geometric. We had so much fun with it last year that I decided we’d make it a Valentine’s Day family tradition.

Heart-shaped cake. My younger son said it looked like a mouse's face.
Heart-shaped cake. My younger son said it looked like a mouse’s face.

So again this year, we planned for our heart-shaped cake. I found a delicious recipe for a white Texas sheet cake (split between one round pan and one square pan). We skipped the prescribed icing and made our own with butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. This time, we used frozen strawberries–not fresh picked, but they were organic.

Icing in process.
Icing in process.

We liked this one so much that we’ll probably make it again (although perhaps I should eat less of it). I don’t know how many times an event must take place for it to become an official tradition. But maybe that doesn’t matter; maybe the decision to hold tight to an experience and commit to repeat it is enough to grow a tradition. Enough to build a foundation for one’s family, enough to make good memories–and a big, delicious mess, too.

The strawberries? Well, it almost looks like a crime scene. But oh, so delicious. I was hands-off for this part.
The strawberries? Well, it almost looks like a crime scene. But oh, so delicious. I was hands-off for this part. Can you tell?
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