The butter process, according to me!

 

I have been making homemade butter from our farm fresh cream at least once a week for around five months now, so clearly this makes me an expert. OK, so maybe not an expert, but I definitely have made some observations that I wish someone would have pointed out to me when I started making butter.
You see, that prized cream will pass through many stages on its way to becoming glorious butter. Some of those stages make you swoon and others will make you cringe in horror. I have documented each of these stages for you and will provide my own running commentary on the process.

 

Stage 1: Selecting your cream. In my case, I am choosing to use farm fresh, home pasteurized heavy cream. In my experience, you must wait at overnight after pasteurizing your cream in order for it to turn into butter. The colder it is the better, but even after just 12 hours, I have failed to make butter and ended up with some strange hybrid of butter and whipped cream that never deflates. It’s interesting to be sure, but not what we are going for here. Raw cream works just fine if that is your preference and store bought cream should work well too if farm fresh isn’t available to you.

020

Stage 2: Preparing to whip. I typically whip a quarts worth of cream at a time, this produces around eight ounces of delicious butter. Because this is a rather large amount of cream to work with I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to do the work for me. My preference is the paddle attachment, but the whisk attachment also works. Your bowl and paddle need to be as clean, dry and cool as possible.
Stage 3: The slow mix: Pour the heavy cream into your bowl and begin to mix/whip at a slow speed. You are dealing with a liquid here and it will splash everywhere if you turn your speed on too high right away. Don’t worry this stage takes forever when making a quart of cream, have a cup of coffee or unload the dishwasher.
Stage 4: Bubbles: After about 5-10 minutes or so of mixing at a slower speed you will notice some bubbles starting to foam up around the edges of the bowl and an ever so faint thickening of the cream, feel free to start gradually increasing the speed of the mixer.

017
Stage 5: Thicker slop: Now you have what appears to be a sloppy thick mess of cream, it moves together like a semi-solid but is still clearly a liquid… does it really take this long to make whipped cream?

022
Stage 6: Soft Whipped Cream: Aha! A change! Maybe it will work after all! This looks familiar, sort of like whipped cream left sitting on top of hot fudge sauce a little too long. Progress.


Stage 7: Heaven: You will want to stop here. Your bowl is now full of soft pillowy clouds of whipped cream goodness. You will want to run for the nearest strawberry to swipe through this beautiful fluff. But alas, to make butter we must keep going.

027
Stage 8: GAH! This will be the sound you make moments after you check on that gorgeous whipping cream you saw only a minute ago. Now a lumpy mess there is no turning back.

029
Stage 9: It’s hideous: That lumpy mess now looks like curdled milk, you know the stuff that has been floating around in a sippy cup for the last week under the couch? That’s where we are, don’t worry you haven’t messed anything up. Press on.

030
Stage 10: Starting to show promise: Now that we have passed through the truly awful stages, and if you’re like me, you cranked up the mixer to speed through the nightmare, we are entering a stage that maybe looks a little like butter. We aren’t quite there yet, but the cream if definitely thick and more yellow and buttery looking, although not quite right. Stay close, it’s going to get intense.

031
Stage 11: Coming together: Now you will see that not quite butter that was crumbled all over the bowl start to stick together and form into a mass. Don’t stop now, but you might want to slow things down…

034
Stage 12: Is my butter bleeding?: Ok, so it’s most certainly not blood but you will start seeing milk appear in the bottom of your bowl. TURN THE MIXER WAY DOWN! Or else it will splash several feet across your counter top. The mass will start to form a nice solid lump in just a few more turns.

037
Stage 13: I did it!: Congratulations, you have made butter! And as a by-product, you have also made fresh buttermilk! Which once poured off from the butter lump is delicious to drink on its own or culture into buttermilk or use for cooking. Whatever you do, don’t waste it! Find an old farmer and give it to them as a gift, they will love you and shower you with stories of turning butter with a churn by hand.


Stage 14: The washing: In order for your butter to stay rich and delicious for more than a day or two you need to wash all of the excess milk out of it. This is done by pouring off the buttermilk, and dousing the butter with clean cold water, then mashing it around with a spatula. Rinse and repeat until the water is clear. I personally take a second to dry my bowl out, add the butter back into it and give it a spin to make sure I get all the water off my butter.


Stage 15: Salting: Should you desire salted butter, I have found it easiest to add a little bit (about ¼ tsp give or take to your taste) into the mixer with my washed butter and let it spin for a few seconds.

043
Stage 16: Store or eat!: You have successfully made homemade butter. You have conquered the kitchen and taken the dairy world by storm. Enjoy your reward on some fresh homemade bread, biscuits or mashed potatoes (and if you eat it right off the paddle I won’t judge). If you are storing your butter pack it into an airtight container and keep in the fridge for the longest shelf life (about 1-2 weeks). You can also freeze it if you have more than you can use quickly… That is never a problem in my house!

044

Happy Valentines Day!

Hope you had a wonderful Valentines Day!  We, of course, did the completely romantic thing of gathering in our group including sugared up children and had dinner together!  Filling in around that table there were 15 adults, 4 tween-agers, 2- two-year-olds 1 toddler and 2 babies.

The table was beautifully decorated with festive tablecloths, roses, and rose petals.  Dinner was also lovely, Seafood Enchiladas (featuring shrimp, lobster, and crab with a light cheese sauce), a chicken version of the enchiladas, Spanish Rice, Bread, Salad and for dessert, Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake, and the showcase: Baked Alaska with English Toffee and Chocolate Ganache ice cream in the center.

So is he going to come hang out with us this summer?

Yeah, sure! If you’re sure you want him.

Yep, they can keep each other company and quite frankly they are old enough to help me with chores and in the garden!

Perfect.

Hi.

Hello.

Oh, I’ll take her from ya.

She’s getting awful big!

Could you teach her to sleep though the night?

Oh, she isn’t old enough to do that yet!

She hasn’t been sleeping at night at all.

You’ll have that.

Where’s the baby?

She got snatched almost directly from the car seat.

Aren’t you tired of holding these?

Well my last one was never this little!

How are you doing?

Good.

Hey, how’d you get the baby?

She walked over here with empty arms!

Hello! I hear she is eight pounds now!

Yes she is.

Wow, what are you feeding that girl?

Oh you know, a healthy diet of protein, carbs and the souls of our enemies.

Ah… yes, that’s the winner.

Hi!  I really like her outfit!

Oh, thank you.  We aren’t really big princess fans, but the dress was soo soft!

Too cute.  We are major princess fans at our house.  You know, after watching Cinderella as many million times as we have, you start to realize, she really has quite a bit of spunk, I mean she was gonna beat the cat with a broom for messing up her floor.  I get that!

Wow, look at the table! It’s beautiful!

Where did all the flowers come from?

We bought them.

I brought the petals, the florist I make soap for gave me a bunch for a rose soap I am going to try.

So are you guys doing anything romantic for Valentines?

Well, I did shave my legs yesterday…..

Give me five.

Ok kids, do you want chicken or seafood enchiladas?

Chicken

Chicken

Chicken/Seafood. Both?

Seafood

Ok, come get your plates. You guys can start getting ready to eat.

What do you want?

Apple juice?  Milk? Rice?

You want some juice too?

Hit it girl!

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day. Amen!

Amen!

Are these the chicken or seafood?

Chicken.

Oh, I’ll wait for the seafood.

Here girls, how about you split the chicken.

I would totally be a stay at home dad.

We talked about that, he wouldn’t do it.  Even though it makes more sense at the moment.

So is working at your job more lucrative?

Well, yes and no.  At the moment, yes, I make more than he does, but long term no, there isn’t much place for me to really advance around here.

So do you have to have a degree?

Yes, I have a degree and license.  My degree is very similar to what your wife’s will be as a nurse.  Maybe even a little broader because as a LVT I am also the radiologist, the anesthesiologist and a multitude of other jobs that usually you don’t see nurses doing in human medicine.  I have to know all of it to pass my boards.

Did you ever think about working in human medicine?

No not really.

She doesn’t like people that much.

No, I don’t.

Did you ever want to be a veterinarian?

Yes, and actually I was accepted to program at MSU, but because of a couple silly, young reasons I didn’t go.  One was when the showed me the closet of a room I would be sharing with five other girls, I panicked and the other was I chose to stay home for a boy.

That happens a lot.

It does, I was young and it happens, but life moves on.

… And you hear Valkyrei playing in the back ground…

…laughing…

Did you hear that?

No, I am laughing at him siging Valkkrei back there.

Oh good.

Oh yeah, we spank.

We never have, different things for different parents.

Spanking is saved for really bad things, like if they are going to really hurt themselves or are hurting someone else.

We just use a pit of bugs.

Haha!

Yeah, we feed the bugs every so often so there stays a lot of them for when the kids are really bad.

Are you stealing her worm garden?

I just need to be better at saying no.  Can you show me how to do that again?

(Dad looks at me with exaggerated example) NO!

Just like that huh?

Yep, he does it just like that!

Do eagles hunt ducks?

Yes!

Did you tell them about the time we had the two eagles fly up into are yard and all the ducks plastered themselves against the house?

That was the story I was just telling them!

It was crazy!

We’ve been seeing more eagles around here.

We have quite a few sharp shins around the house right now.

Those were always my favorite, although every once in a while I would find one dead in the barn.

Yeah, I remember the one that had gotten its head stuck and was froze all spread out.

(Making faces at my now out stretched arms and flopped over head)

It was really sad, but kind of neat to see it, I am pretty sure we donated it to the Nature Center since it was so well preserved.

You know crows are some of the most intelligent birds?

Really?

You know, I’ve heard that.

They, other than humans are one of only a few species that uses tools and is able to pass learned information down between generations?

I watched a show where they said crows actually morn as a group.

I heard that too.

They did this study, where they gave the crows puzzles, there was a berry in a box and in order to get the berry out they had to use a tool, there was no way to just pull it straight out.  So the crows, took a straw and bent it, then were able to pull the berry out to eat.

That’s amazing.

I also saw another study, where they had people go into the crows habitat with scary masks and harass the crows.  They did it for several weeks.  Then, years later when there were new crows there, they went back into the woods with the same masks, and sure enough the new generation of crows recognized the masks as being trouble.

Its amazing how nature works.

In the documentary they also talked about how this girl fed the crows for years, and after a while they started to bring her gifts.  Some of them were gross of course, but still gifts for feeding them.

Not just cats bringing nasty gifts anymore!

I remember one summer we had red-wing black birds that were so aggressive with their territory that they knocked a girl off her bike near our drive way and she came running to the house to get away from them.

What?!?

Yeah, they are really that territorial.  They left us alone, because they recognized us, but new people were a problem.

By the way, I’ve been using your Jersey soap, and I’ve gotta say my hands were so cracked…

Yeah…..

And now they aren’t! I love it!

Oh good, I totally thought you were going the other way with that and I was going to have to go home and dump all of it.

No!!! It’s wonderful!

Good, because I know my hands are much happier since I’ve been using it.

So, I have a question for you since you’re selling on Etsy. Kind of a general question I guess.

Ok, shoot.

So, the furniture that people sell on Etsy, does that come pre-assembled?

Well that’s not a very general questions, pretty specific really.

I honestly have no idea.  But I do know my soaps come fully assembled!

Haha! Here’s the oil and the milk, and watch out for the lye, it can be kinda tricky!

You can always contact the seller on the website, I know people can email me.

So, are you still making your wood burnings and knives?

Yeah, I just haven’t gotten very far, I am not really sure what will sell.

Well, get some stuff together.  In August I think we should split a booth at the fair.  It wouldn’t be too bad with at least three of us there.

Good idea.

Hey! There you are! We were just talking about splitting a booth at the fair to sell our wares in.

Oh really? I don’t know if people would pay what I am asking there.

I bet you would be surprised.

Are you talking about the art fair?

No, the county fair, you don’t’ have to be accepted there, just have money.

Ah.

Wow, she is really enjoying that dessert.

Well, if you’ll notice they are both full of sugar and neither one is crying for a change.

(The one year old literally has her face smashed into the Baked Alaska and is covered in icecream)

They weren’t crying last week were they?

Oh yeah.

Hey! Be nice to the dog! He is old!

Be careful! If you hurt him he might bite!

Poor old dog.  (This is Blake, we have had him since a puppy and he is now 14 years old.  He is very good with the kids, but usually keeps out of the traffic since he has a bad back)

How old is he?

I don’t know 34?

OH COME ON! I’m 33!

Really?  You’re only a year older than me?

Ha ha.  Come on! I am not that old?

Well, you know you were driving WAAAY before me it seemed like.

Well, that’s cause I had to do something to get away.  I got tired of riding my bike to escape.

So are you milking your cow to capacity?

Not even close, but I am at my capacity until the weather gets better.  Right now I leave her calf on her, and separate them during the day so I only have to milk at night.  In the summer when its nice, and really the calf is plenty old now to be weaned, I will be able to milk twice a day.

Really the calf is getting the best of both worlds, plenty of grain and still all that good fatty milk.

Oh yea, and she looks it too the pork-chop.  She loves going to day care.

You send the calf to day care?

Well, I started calling it that because the cow is like a nursing mom who goes to work for the day and the calf goes to day care.  So I started calling it that when I would lock her up in her section of the barn.  Now when I go out there I say “time for day care!” and she goes running in.

That’s crazy!

Yep, but she is getting a little big for it now, going to have to find a bigger day care.

I think the girls are ready to go.

 

Happy Birthday, Pastor Josh!

Last week as you will recall had quite the crowd.  Among the new faces joining us, was the pastor from our church, along with his three children.  And even though the newest faces, less than a week old got the most attention, he had so much fun he decided to come back for his birthday.  Which of course means he got to choose what he wanted for his dinner this week.

In attendance, for the birthday feast, we had 2 itty bitty babies, 1 toddler, 2, 2-year-olds, 4 tweens and 12 adults.  On the menu was Lasagna, Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Asparagus, and a variation of White Bread (I didn’t catch exactly what kind).  Additionally Chef Neighbor brought Pork Tenderloin with a Mushroom Cream sauce.  For dessert, Carrot Cake.

Now, I would love to relate all of the conversation, because I know there were some good ones.  But to be honest, I can’t remember the details.  You see for the two days prior, my littles, who don’t sleep well as it is, had been keeping me up from 2:00 AM on.  The 2-year-old has been experiencing night terrors, which are so bad I can’t comfort her at all while she is having them.  Just about the time she finally relaxes and falls back to a restful sleep, the baby decides she is up for the day at 4:15 AM (who wouldn’t want to party then?)  They also don’t nap, not for any length of time anyway and certainly not together.  So, when we got home after dinner and they were both asleep, I did a swan dive directly into my pillow and stayed there until one of them started squawking in the night.

But, conversations around the table included talks about a city further north in Michigan, which had some common ties for a few people at the table, and a misadventure into a bar that oddly had ONLY men in it…

An update on the worm colony, they are doing well, but their habitat is in a constant state of upgrading and renovations still.  Which lead to some discussion about the benefits of composting for the non-plant grower, reduction of plastic wastes and the newer more decomposable plastic bags.

Our changing table is moving on to one of the new babies, which makes me happy since I have had it forever and wanted it to go to a good home.

Some very prettily decorated leather inspired conversation about going to craft shows as a group this summer (we actually have a lot of home- grown talent at this table!)

And somehow, the formerly elusive birthday candles, of which there have only ever been three on a dessert somehow not only became 4 but were also shaped like stars!

That is about all my poor sleep deprived brain could remember of dinner.  It was delicious, and I along with others ate far more than necessary, but everyone splurges once in a while right?

I leave you with pictures: