Monday, March 14, 2011

Butter is better when you're not bitter

Every so often I get the urge to do some Urban Homesteading.  In the summer this is easy.  I garden, I can, I pickle, I jam, I hang my laundry on the clothesline.

In the winter I have to be a bit more creative.  (And yes, it's still winter here in Minnesota.  All over the place people are celebrating the return of spring and here we've still got a three foot layer of ice and snow on the ground.  Gah!)

During the winter when I want to do something homesteadingish I sometimes choose to make butter.  "That will be fun!" I think and then two thirds of the way into it I start to question what horrible thing happened to me in my childhood that would make me think butter making would be fun.  It always goes the same way.

I drive to the store to get heavy cream.  I am shocked by the price and when I consider the cost of butter versus the cost of cream I am forced to admit that this particular project will not be saving me any money.

I drive home with the cream.  I put it into a canning jar and screw on the top.  I start to shake the jar.  I shake it and shake it and shake it and shake it.

I shake and shake and shake.  I start to get bored and eye my phone. I try to figure out a way to shake and play Angry Birds at the same time.  I fail.

Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.  I start to wonder if perhaps I got the wrong kind of cream.  I inspect the package to see if I accidentally bought non-buttering cream.  I didn't.

I try to get Joseph to take a turn at shaking.  "It will be fun!" I reassure him.  He's been suckered into butter making one too many times to be fooled.  He rolls his eyes at me and goes back to reading The Ultimate Lego Guide Book.

Elle wants to take a turn.  She's made butter before but she's young and her brain isn't fully formed so she can't remember that she doesn't like it.  I hand her the jar.

"Be careful so that you don't bump your-" There is a loud clunk as Elle slams the jar into her chin as with all the might her spindly little arms can muster.

After a quick break to dry the tears Elle wants to give it another go.  "Look at me!  I'm shaking!  I'm making butter!"  She triumphantly waves the jar in the air.  Three seconds later she gets bored, sets the jar down and wanders away.

I shake some more.  Shake, shake, shake, shake.  I lose the feeling in my arms. 

Shake .... shake ... shake... I curse Urban Homesteading under my breath.

Suddenly!  A muted "thunk" comes from the jar.  Butter!  I have achieved butter!

I pour off the buttermilk and give it to Elle to drink.  She promptly spills it and then yells at me because it's somehow my fault.

I drain, squeeze and wrap the butter.  I put it in my fridge where it will sit forever, untouched and unused.  I put too much work into the butter to actually use it. It's special butter, for when company comes over.  It occurs to me that we never have company because I'm too busy doing things like making butter to go out and make friends.

And that's how I make butter.


Lindsay said...

You could make bread and spread the homemade butter on your homemade bread. Then you can sit back and watch your kids eat it and feel very like Ma Ingalls.

I might have to make butter now.

Swistle said...

This is my favorite part: "I start to question what horrible thing happened to me in my childhood that would make me think butter making would be fun."

Winter is the time for EMBROIDERY.

Swistle said...


Erin said...

You make me want to make butter!

Stimey said...

I made butter. Once. It went pretty much as you described.

dancing_lemur said...

You could make butter with an electric mixer. I know this because my mom once accidentally made butter when she tried to shortcut our traditional family Christmas drink, syllabub, using an electric mixer instead of a whisk.

Anonymous said...

OMG, you have got a really bad case of Cabin Fever!! I think winter has done some weird thing to your brain! (I know it has to mine!) Take the kids and get out of the house!! I know it is still winter, and you might have to wear snowshoes, but go for a walk or something! But if you insist on staying indoors, I like Lindsay's idea of homemade bread. You can spread some of you homemade jam on it, and no one will care if you use "store bought" butter. Chuckling, your MIL-Judy

jessie said...

In my experience, if the cream is room temperature when you start, it doesn't take nearly so long.