Monday, October 5, 2009

Making Butter with a Toddler


I am proud to say I always knew that margarine was a hoax.

Freshly made butter. Pillowy and white. Cool fat lingering on the tongue. Sweet undertones. Soft like a baby’s cheek. Clean cream. Who can offer such encomiums for that nasty ole margarine?

Churning butter is for me a social activity. My great-grandmother had a simple wooden churn. The pole (churner, is it?) was the sort of smooth wood that satisfies the hand so certainly enticing you to continue handling it. The pole, tethered to the wall by a loop of twine, was to be turned and turned and turned.

There I would sit, toes fiddling against the stone floor. My great-grandmother was had a sort of ease and confidence; she spoke her mind and lost friends accordingly. She embraced and nourished childish caprices unlike any other adult in my childhood. She was a woman who felt that tiny, tiny masala dosas, fantastic stories and as much Bournvita as I could drink were important parts of any childhood. And, most importantly she spoke to me. She asked me. She heard me. At seven, those were credentials of an amazing adult. So, at that churn, we talked. Lord knows what I told her. My plans for archiving my sticker collection? My love of Duran Duran? My belief that Esprit was the height of fashion? It didn’t matter—she talked with me. And, in return I heard her. She told me stories of my mother’s childhood, about God and religion, about food, about life. I heard her and even seventeen years after she passed away, I still hold onto her.

Without a butter churn, sure you can whip out your stand mixer. (bad puns are my bread and butter...) But, there is something so industrial and antisocial about that. You can also fill a mason jar 1/3 full of whipping cream (not half and half) and shake, shake, shake senora. For little hands, use a small jar or a baby food jar. It turns to butter when the buttermilk separates. That butter milk is yum straight or good for mashed potatoes or biscuits. After the butter is finished, salt to taste and store in nice cold water. Or lick it from the jar.

Set up a youtube playlist and dance. Make sure to do it with a buddy and make sure to take the time to share a few stories.


The butter was delicious on homemade bread from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. My husband has scooped up the copy and claims it is a wonderful book. If I could sneak it away from him, I am sure I would agree. Ruhlman was kind enough to send me a copy for my entry to his BLT contest. Thanks Michael.

This is my entry for IFR: Memories by Manisha at Indian Food Rocks.


NKP said...

Just so we're clear.. Simon le Bon was mine.. ;-)
I can't believe you made butter! Another blogger and I were just talking about that. I love the sound of your great-grandmother's old wooden churn, what a lovely memory.

high over happy said...

Churning butter memories too? Definitely jealous :) Read about your BLT win - congratulations - it's too bad I can't eat pork!

FoodJunkie said...

Ok, this is creepy...I am preparing a post on home made butter for tomorrow too! Mine was actually an accident though...And yes margerine is a hoax. I LOATH it!

Anonymous said...

Freshly made butter sounds just perfect! What a fun project to do with kids!

Cynthia said...

So precious.

Bombay-Bruxelles said...

Hey! This is one fun activity! Must have been great!

Heidi Robb said...

I remember back to nursery school shaking butter in a jar and thought it the most magical undertaking of my entire academic education. Might explain my choosing to prepare an entire classical French dinner for a panel of teachers for senior class project.

Nice playlist!

lisaiscooking said...

I made butter once, when I was about six or seven years old, with fresh cream from a farm. Now, I'm inspired to make it again!

Heather S-G said...

You are soooo right. Butter is the best and it's fun to do the shake method!!!

pam said...

What a lovely post. Butter is on my to-do list. Think I can get my 20-somethings to shake it?

Kate. said...

That. was. the. best. pie. ever. The only bad thing about it was that I took it to a potluck, so it all got eaten up! I bum rushed the line so that I could get a piece. :) I'll just have to make it again!

Reeni said...

Such sweet memories. Luscious butter. I'm inspired.

Johanna GGG said...

wow butter in a jar and a childhood of masala dosas - it is the simple pleasures that bring great happiness - your great-grandmother sounds wonderful

Thistlemoon said...

Wow, I loved hearing this story about churning butter with your great grandmother. Sometimes I wonder now, what my grandmother must have thought of me and my cousins, singing and dancing to Guns N' Roses and wearing spandex and black eyeliner. I remember when we loved our combat boots, she used to compliment them by saying they had good treads! LOL!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh the wonders of butter and it's memories. Now, I'm going to have to buy me some from the Amish stand down the block. It won't be the first and believe me it won't be the last!!!

Great fun for kids too!!!
Thanks for sharing, MM

Anita said...

Your own butter - how lovely!! I've never had fresh butter... perhaps it's time to try.. :) Thanks for the incentive!

maybelle's mom said...

Natashya KitchenPuppies: I am ready to fight!

high over happy : thanks

FoodJunkie: kindred spirits?

5 Star Foodie: thanks

Cynthia: thanks

Bombay-Bruxelles: it was.

Heidi Robb: thank god they did that lesson in school. you are good at what you do.

lisaiscooking: butter for all.

girlichef: true.

Pam: thanks. Give those 20 somethings some wine and they will shake.

Kate: glad to hear it.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥: butter for all.

Johanna: so true.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen: grandmas are the best.

~~louise~~: thanks.

Anita: butter for all.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is awesome! Mmmhhh, butter on freshly baked bread!



Indian Food Rocks said...

This is an awesome post! Thank you for sending it to IFR: Memories! I wish they were more people like your great-grandma. Those who care, and care to listen, and care to talk to you, not at you.

I have similar memories of a wooden churner (called ravi in Marathi) and so much fun to churn butter and eat it right away. A hot boiled egg smooshed up, with some fresh homemade butter, sprinkled with some salt and pepper - it's bliss!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I'd love anyone who fed masala dosa to me - I haven't had dosa (or idli) since I left Australia!

Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

"I am proud to say I always knew that margarine was a hoax."

I may be a little late to the party, but I just had to say: That line makes you my hero for the day.

Desisoccermom said...

Never heard of margarine till I came to US 10 years ago and happy to report never really took it no matter what the vegans say.

My mom still makes butter with cream carefully collected from warm milk. She churns it in a food processor but the taste is still good. And the buttermilk, ah... the buttermilk left over is divine. We used to spice it up with salt and ginger and black salt and cumin pwdr and drink it up. Thank you for evoking those memories.