Saturday, December 8, 2012

Make Butter, Part 2

This is a continuation of Make Butter, Part 1.
After making several batches of butter I ran out of little bowls to put the butter in and needed a new method. This is what I came up with. It worked beautifully. The next time I do this I will skip the bowls and go right to making cubes. See what you think.
 I made the butter into something that looked much like a cake. To do this I spread the butter into a cookie sheet as I finished each batch and piled it up on itself. 

As it got higher I used my hands, a spoon and a spatula to mold the butter into what really did look like a big cake at that point. This took awhile and I was able to fit many batches of butter on the cookie sheet. 

When it was all molded as I desired I cut it into cubes. Fortunately, it was cold outside so I let it sit in the van overnight so it would freeze without being bothered. The obvious alternative to this is to stick it in the freezer.

The next morning I was able to pop each cube out of the cookie sheet easily. I wrapped each cube in freezer paper (wax paper would also work) and stored them in a freezer bag so they won't come upwrapped. This will also help them to be protected in the freezer and last for a long time.

One more thing. 
It is not the same as cultured buttermilk, but is sweet when you first strain it off the butter. We did several things with the buttermilk. First we tried making hot chocolate with it. It was delicious. However, it soured quickly, since the whipping cream was close to date (which is why it was so inexpensive in the first place). The other thing we have been using the buttermilk for is pancakes. The were awesome and it doesn't really matter whether the milk has gone sour when you are making pancakes or baking with it. 
So I stored the buttermilk in quart freezer bags and put it in the freezer. The only caution about this is to let it freeze before you pile another bag on top of it. Otherwise you may be surprised to find a mess in your freezer because the bag didn't stay sealed. Happy baking!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Make Butter, Part 1

We can't all live on a farm. But that doesn't mean we can't make butter. Here is my experience with doing exactly that.

At my local grocery store I discovered they have marked their half pints of whipping cream down to 10 for a dollar. I've sometimes seen them do this after the holidays if they have overstocked on cream or other products. After doing some math I estimated that if I purchased the whipping cream and made butter with it I would stock my freezer with butter for an approximate cost of 40 cents per pound. Right next to the whipping cream I priced the butter at $2.57 and decided that was a huge savings to go with the huge mess I would make.

Here are the steps for making butter.

Pour the cream into a bowl and use your mixer to whip the cream. When the cream is whipped keep mixing. It will get thicker and thicker and finally separate so you have chucks of butter that have separated from the milk.
Drain as much milk as you can off. 

Then you have to squeeze the butter somehow. I'm sure there are tools for this, but I just press it with a spoon to push the milk out of all the little pockets in the butter. 

At some point we tried a new way of squeezing the milk out. We washed our hands really well and then used our hands to squeeze the milk out. It gets your hands a little messy, but worked much more efficiently than the spoon method.
Once you have squeezed as much milk from the butter as you can it is nice to add a bit of salt to taste if that is your preference. 
 Mix it in well and put the butter into a container for storage. This butter freezes well so if you are ambitious you can make enough to stock up for awhile and be eating butter for months.

Happy butter making! Watch for those after holiday deals and have a great and self-sufficient New Year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Leibster Award

I was nominated a few days ago for the leibster award by

Looks like fun and I'm taking the challenge. There are a few things required of the nominees, which I've copied from my sponsor.

The rules are:

  • Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.
  • They must also answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for them.
  • They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.
  • They must then choose 11 special bloggers to tag & award with the Liebster award with less than 200 followers.
  • These lucky bloggers must be told in a comment on their blog.

I'll start with 11 things about myself.
  1.  I speak Dutch. I lived in the Netherlands for a year and a half, learned their language and fell in love with the land of Tulips.
  2. I adore goats. I wish I could have one and hope eventually our city will make the changes that will allow miniature goats to be kept in residential neighborhoods.
  3. I homeschooled for over 15 years and loved most of it. The benefits are that I have wonderful children.
  4. I also adore English Angora rabbits and do have one. His name is Alfred and I am making a scarf from his wool, although it may take five years at the present rate.
  5. Pioneers and pioneer life are fascinating to me. I love volunteering at our local historical park where I dress the part and teach visitors about history.
  6. I am rewriting my book Lost Generation. Hopefully I will start submitting it soon.
  7. I've also been working on a new book, Secrete of Kadonya (the name will probably change). 
  8. Herbs are interesting to me. I love to study them and learn to use them more proficiently.
  9. I have been making soap, lotion, lip balm and related items for many years now. Working on formulating a great herbal lotion and I think it is going well. 
  10. The Grand Tetons is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent three summers working at one of the lodges when I was younger.
  11. Home is probably my most favorite place.
 That was fun. Now for the questions of my sponsor.
  1. Name a historical figure that you admire, and tell why. Helen Keller. I admire her, but also her teacher and the tenacity they both had.
  2. What are the names of some of your favorite books or stories from childhood? My very favorite was The Velvet Room. I also loved the Bobbsey Twins Series.
  3. Describe your idea of an ideal day. This is hard, because if I had to do the same thing every day, I'd get tire of it. So I guess the ideal day is one where I am doing something new or interesting and having time to spend with my family.
  4. What are your pet peeves? When the deer eat my garden, but the city won't let me have a goat. Also when my 15 year old won't stop drumming on everything in sight.
  5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd make sure I always believed in myself and stopped doubting that I can accomplish whatever I choose.
  6.  Share a favorite Christmas, holiday, or birthday memory. This encompasses two memories. The Christmas I spent in Holland away from my family was memorable because I knew what I was missing at home. I lay in bed and listened to the bells ring for what seemed like hours. I still hear those bells, they were wonderful and soothing. At that time I was picturing my family at Grandma's house with all the cousins and then leaving to go home. On the way I knew they would look out at the blinking red light that was there all year, but we only ever noticed on Christmas Eve. Then they would hurry home and convince the younger siblings to hurry to bed. Isn't tradition great. My own daughter will be far away for Christmas this year.
  7. What's the best compliment you ever received? Probably the ones from my husband when he tells me I'm beautiful and I can see in his eyes that he believes that.
  8. What's your favorite meal? Pizza for sure. Although I love most Chinese food too.
  9. What would you do with an extra 3 hours today if you had it? Probably read or write. It would be really cool if I had that three hours with my children and could read a book with them like we used to.
  10. Name a place you'd like to visit. I've always wanted to visit China.
  11. Name a goal you'd like to accomplish or a skill you'd like to learn in the next 2 years. This one is easy. I would like to see my book published.

 I'm loving this. I hope the people I nominate have as much fun as I have. Here are my nominees (actually they are coming one at a time):

And here are their questions.
  1. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
  2. What memory from your childhood makes you smile?
  3. Who is your favorite character from a book?
  4. Name a place you've visited and would love to see again.
  5. What hobby do you enjoy?
  6. Name your favorite song?
  7. What is your favorite dessert?
  8. Name a color you choose often.
  9. Name a person from history you see as a hero. Why?
  10. Do you have a favorite animal? If so, what?
  11. What are you currently obsessed with?