Here’s the truth about my Girl Scout career: It ended when I was nine years old, busted for shoplifting red licorice from the local grocery store while wearing my uniform.
Before that, I managed to rack up a long list of scouting offenses: I consistently forgot my dues which, in 1975, were one shiny quarter each week. I wore my skirt too short. (I still contend that this was not my fault. I went through a long-legged, knobby-kneed phase where nothing fit right and I always looked like I was waiting for the next flood.) And the popular fourth-grade girls in our troop — the ones with Prell-shiny hair and bright, mean teeth — never let me forget the time I let the Stars and Stripes graze the floor during flag ceremony. I was a bad scout.
Given this, it’s a miracle that I remember anything about the meal I prepared to earn my Girl Scout cooking badge, but when gluten-free girl, Shauna, asked us to write about the first food we cooked when we were kids, I saw the strawberries. Creamy, frozen strawberries. It took hours to remember the other parts of the meal — Mexican tamale pie and a green salad — but it seems my love for fruit was set down early. Who doesn’t remember the delight of summer fruit as a kid? If you were young at the time when you couldn’t get strawberries, cherries, or nectarines imported at any old time of the year, you probably do. You had to wait for it, like waiting for school to end, then all that barefooted, summer-ripe goodness came together in one sweet season.
With Shauna’s nudge, I remembered the strawberry cream sherbet on a day when I happened to be making three different kinds of strawberry jam at home. (I’ll post a whole bunch of berry jam recipes soon.) It seems my fruit-love settled in not just early, but for keeps.
I called my mom and asked her to take down our old copy of Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, circa 1961, to hunt for that first recipe. We’re pretty sure this was it:
Strawberry Cream Sherbet
3/4 cup crushed strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 egg yolk
1 egg white, beaten stiff
Mix fruit, lemon juice and sugar. Let stand until syrup forms (2 hrs). Soften gelatin in cold water, then dissolve in hot water. Add to fruit mixture. Pour mixture into freezing tray (nope, I don’t know what that is), freeze 1 hour. Beat the partially frozen mixture in a chilled bowl with a rotary beater until creamy and frothy. In a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff; fold in egg yolk, beaten very light, and the egg white. Add to fruit mixture and return the mixture to the tray. Freeze 3 to 4 hours or until firm, stirring occasionally. 6 to 8 servings (1 quart).
Shauna rounded up dozens of first-food stories. You can check them out here.