I was a band geek in high school. I learned to read sheet music just after I started sound out the stories in Arthur and Clifford the Big Red Dog, so Mom signed me up for piano lessons as a 7-year-old, then flute when I turned 10. I picked up alto sax a little while later, bari sax as a sophomore, and oboe and English horn as a junior. Oh, and piccolo somewhere along the way too.
Yup, a BIG band geek.
The summer before senior year, two of my flute friends decided to try out the oboe too. We arranged to hold oboe lessons once a week at one of their houses, where I’d teach them the basic embouchures and fingerings.
On the second lesson, I knocked on the door to find the girls huddled over the kitchen countertop. A gallon of milk sat opened nearby, and they stared worriedly into a white mixing bowl.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“We’re… Uh… Making cookies,” one of them answered.
“We were using a mix,” the other girl explained. “But it looked too dry, so we added milk, and now it’s too wet… We don’t know what to do!”
I chuckled and replied, “Do you have any flour and baking powder?” We stirred in some of each, chilled the dough during the oboe lessons, and finished off the afternoon by baking chocolate chip cookies and dunking them in milk. But for the remainder of the summer, we decided to ditch the music and hold baking lessons instead!
My fluties first requested to make strawberry shortcakes from scratch. Since I had never baked—or even tasted—one, I turned to my trusty Cooking Light for a recipe (yup, that’s the one we used!), gathered the ingredients, and invited the girls over. I supervised while they followed the recipe exactly. Well, minus the part about light whipped cream… We stuck with the good stuff! And when the shortcakes came out of the oven, we barely had enough time to assemble and photograph them before devouring every last one!
By Christmas, the girls were completely self-sufficient, baking their own cookies and cupcakes from scratch (and giving me some as holiday gifts!). We stopped baking lessons soon after, but last week—years and years later!—one girl and I began reminiscing about those fun afternoons. The nostalgia hit me hard enough that I found myself pulling flour and sugar off of my kitchen shelves!
Instead of making the same thing, I put a little twist on it, turning them into strawberry shortcake donuts instead. With a thick layer of whipped cream in plate of the usual donut icing, these little treats taste just like I remember—sweet, juicy, and perfect for a summer’s day!