Making Butter

Butter

Butter

Butter

Butter

Is there nothing better?

I don’t think there is.

Salted. Unsalted. Mixed with herbs. Mixed with honey.

You name it, I’ll eat it. YUM

Despite my ongoing love affair with it, and my constant claims to be the next Paula Deen, I swear to you here and now that I don’t use butter nearly as much as people think.

It got me thinking, sure, I cook and bake all the time. I usually make things from scratch, I rarely use food from boxes or packages. I use pure ingredients like butter, whole blocks of cheese, and loaves of artisinal bread. But then I got the idea in my head – what if I MADE those pure ingredients myself?

After reading Urban Homestead (Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City) by Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutzen, a book which my darling roommate brought home for me from the library, I realized just how simple it is to make butter, cheese, bread and so much more all from a home kitchen.

I mean, duh, of course those things are easy to make…a home kitchen is where they all started and those kitchens didn’t have industrial sized mixers and ovens. Shocking, I know. I think that living in today’s society and in a city especially creates a real divide between these old practices and the modern cook. It’s been my mission this summer to bridge the gap in my life, and I am now ready to share everything I’ve learned with you all.

So I’m starting with the most basic, butter.

What you’ll need:

1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream, at room temperature

Glass quart jar with tight fitting lid

Salt, if you want salted butter

What to do with it:

Pour cream into jar, fill a little less than halfway. You’ll have to do this in two batches. So why not use a bigger jar? Because you might not be able to securely hold a bigger jar in your hands

Screw the lid on, make sure its really closed

Start shaking

Shake until your arms feel like they are gonna fall off

Shake up and down, side to side, between your legs, over your head. Your choice, get creative. Make it a workout, put on some music, shake to the beat. This is your opportunity to get creative, churn to your heart’s content. Don’t let me down folks!

Seriously, I think that anyone trying to lose weight (or not gain weight) but who still wants to eat butter should make their own. I swear you will burn more calories making it than there are in the amount you will consume! Should I patent this butter workout idea? Probably, huh?

When you first start shaking, the cream will make tons of noise sloshing around

After 3-5 minutes of shaking, it’s gonna stop making noise. At this point you have made whipped cream (minus the sugar)

Keep shaking, you’ll start to notice the cream clumping and sticking to the sides of the jar. You’re almost there

You will know you have butter when you start hearing sloshing again. About 7-10 minutes in, if you make butter with frequency after this, this sloshing noise will be your saving grace, the finish line at the end of a race

Just…a…few…more…shakes…

Take a look inside the jar, you should see a big ol’ clump of pale yellow butter surrounded by a bunch of milk (buttermilk, to be more specific)

You’ve made it, my friends

Next you have to do what’s called “washing” the butter to remove any tiny pockets of buttermilk still trapped in the ball of butter – this step is VERY important. If you don’t wash the butter, the little buttermilk pockets will sour and spoil your butter

To wash, take the butter and run it under cold water gently squeezing and pressing the butter in your hands

Once you stop seeing little drops of milk coming out you can now add salt, if you want salted butter.

Per pint, I would say a sprinkle of salt is sufficient – no more than 1/4 teaspoon

When all is said and done, you will end up with 1 cup of butter (essentially 2 sticks) and 1 cup of buttermilk

Note: This buttermilk is not the buttermilk you buy in stores. This is authentic buttermilk and it is delicious. It’s basically milk with teeny tiny flecks of butter still left in it. I love using it in my coffee especially.

As cliche as it sounds, homemade butter just tastes better than store bought. It has an unadulterated fresh butter taste that I have never before tasted.

Since discovering the ease of butter making it has become my party trick of sorts, as I suspect it will become for you. If I’m going to my friends house to make dinner, I make a point to pick up some heavy whipping cream and impress everyone with my suave churning skills.

This is the butter you will want to use in simple recipes

Like on top of some homemade bread?

Maybe with a little fig jam?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go eat some of that fresh luscious stuff.

Blueberry Scones

Up until recently, I have not been a big breakfast person.

I love cereal, but usually in the afternoon, or as a midnight snack.

The typical breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns followed by an overwhelming food coma is a rare occurrence for me.

It was really only after doing my raw food challenge that I discovered the beauty of raw overnight oats and have since incorporated Greek yogurt, nuts, almond flour, and berries into the mix. Some variation of this is now my breakfast staple. I love the crunch of the nuts and oats, the bright tartness of the berries and the rich and filling creaminess of the Greek yogurt.

Isn’t it just gorgeous?

BUT something must be said about a breakfast pastry every once in a while. Not the overly decadent ones with globs of glaze or doughnuts that have sprinkles or Lucky Charms adhered to the top.

Although sometimes pastries like this Apple Pecan Bun with a maple glaze is much appreciated.

No, no, I talking about a good old fashioned pastry, like a scone.

A blueberry scone, to be exact.

Perhaps a scone with a fantastic blueberry goat cheese spread.

Yes, that’s my kind of pastry.

I adapted this recipe from my homegirl, Martha Stewart, ’cause sometimes, nobody does it better than Martha.

What you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/3 cup low fat milk (2%)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Here’s what you do with it:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl, mix together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt

Make the work easier by cutting up the butter into small pieces and incorporate

Then toss in your blueberries and zest

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream and egg

Slowly incorporate your wet mixture into your dry mixture

Stir lightly with fork just until dough comes together

Place mixture onto a floured cutting board and knead gently a few times

*I opted to make round scones by scooping out a heaping tablespoon of batter onto a baking sheet

Brush tops with cream, and sprinkle with sugar

Bake for 20-22 minutes

 

Aren’t they beautiful?

Now, onto the spread!

These are rough measurements, but basically:

4-5 oz goat cheese, softened

3/4 cup blueberries

Release the days frustrations on these blueberries, squishing them in your hands letting the juice drip onto the goat cheese

Then scrap the peels and seeds off your hands and add that to the cheese

Mix together with a spoon

That’s it

Spread generously on top of your cooled halved scones

Yea, they were perfection in the morning.

And in true breakfast food form, I ate them in the afternoon, and at midnight too.

What’s your favorite breakfast, pastry and otherwise?

What A Food Blogger Does on Her Day Off

As I many of you know, I am still in college, I work part-time, I’m on my school’s magazine, I am part of the organization, ShareFood, and I run this blog.

Doesn’t really leave much time for a crackin’ social life.

But I manage. Just barely.

I really do try to make the most of my free time, ESPECIALLY if its nice outside.

What do I do?

Well, my favorite thing as of late is walking 3 blocks down from my house into the San Francisco Botanical Garden to hike, picnic, or just plain hang out.

Yea, I live 3 blocks away from all this gorgeousness.

There are about a million trails like this all throughout the garden for people to explore. I swear, I’ve never taken the same path twice.

This past year, Matt bought me this amazing picnic basket that came stocked with dishware, glasses, and cutlery, so we often pack it full of goodies to enjoy on our blanket (normally we sit on the grass, but it had rained the night before, so the grass was pretty damp and muddy)

Homemade garlic hummus with a sweet potato crisp anyone?

After we eat, we like feeding the squirrels brazen enough to scoot up to our blanket. Matt likes taking pictures of me taking pictures of squirrels

Matt also likes taking pictures of me just plain feeding squirrels

Look at this little man! How the heck could you not love him?! I was not zooming on my camera by the way, this is how close he was.

I too like taking pictures of my cutie boy feeding the squirrel cutie boy. This little man seriously couldn’t get enough of our fruit, he just kept coming back for more. It was great, he would even come if I call him. It was so sad feeding him our last strawberry, cause then he scampered off, leaving only the stem and leaves behind.

THIS IS REAL?!?!?! I love nature.

Geese do the weirdest things when they clean themselves, don’t you think?

The garden has a bunch of ponds and streams everywhere with tons of benches, so sometimes its nice to just sit and watch the birds flock about.

Again, I didn’t even have to zoom for this shot.

I love the Botanical Garden – its phenomenally gorgeous, its free, its close to me, and we know where the back gate is so we can sneak in and out whenever we please.

What do you like to do on your days off?

Spinach and Water Chestnut Wontons

Do you ever go to Chinese restaurants and order wontons?

When they get to your table, do you ever stare in fascination at how those sumptuous babies are made?

I do!

I love wontons. Especially cream cheese filled wontons where the filling melts into the cracks and folds of the crispy shell.

I would consider myself to be pretty DIY, and so the other night, I decided, hey, I might as well try to make some.

I had to watch this Youtube video to learn how to wrap wontons, and turns out it’s amazingly easy!

I went to the corner market and got the ingredients I would need. I wanted to make some wontons that were a little healthier than just cream cheese and fried dough (delicious as that is). So in addition to the cream cheese, I stuffed my tons with:

Spinach, lots of it

Green Onion

and Water Chestnuts for crunch

You start with your filling, the measurements are really based on your preference.

I used roughly

4 oz Cream Cheese

3 Green Onions

3-4 handfuls of Spinach

1 small can of Water Chestnuts

Mix all that together

Assembly is simple,

Lay out a wonton on your counter (or cutting board)

Have a dish of water handy

Place a dollop of filling right in the center

To fold them, trace a half moon of water around one side then fold the 2 sides together, squeezing out the air and pinching the sides tightly shut.

I chose to fold my wontons in the “Nurse Cap” style. Its easy as pie. Fold the right edge over the left and pinch it shut with your fingers.

I rounded this one out to show you the bottom, but you can push the folded top flap and the filled portion together.

After you’ve finished, its time to start frying!

In an appropriate sized sauce pan, place about an inch and a half of oil inside and heat on medium, not to the point that the oil starts smoking though.

Place a few at a time in the pot, remember though, don’t crowd the wontons! They need their space to fry.

Your wontons will float on one side, so halfway through flip them over.

I found that turning the heat down a little and cooking the wontons low and slow worked well for me. But if you’re starving go ahead and keep it at medium/medium-high and just watch them like a hawk so they don’t burn.

Yea, they were incredible. The spinach warmed and softened while the green onions maintained their subtle crisp flavor and the water chestnuts were that extra crunch vital to keeping a dish from flat lining.

If you wanted to go a healthier route, you could poach the wontons in chicken or vegetable broth. For me though, I think this method is better suited for a wonton soup, rather than an appetizer, and I think I would prefer a meat and veggie filled poached wonton. I’ll leave my cream cheese crisp.

What are some of your favorite wonton fillings?

Rainy Nights

Do you have that one day a week that feels especially draining?

I do.

It’s Tuesday.

I’m in class all day (separated by awkward blocks of free time) I usually have a ton of homework, and I have class early on Wednesday. So pretty much, Tuesday’s feel too short entirely.

Here’s how today went.

I woke up to overcast icky all-I-wanna-do-is-stay-in-bed-weather.

My first bus came a little late, so I missed my train. Which caused me to run 20 minutes late.

Of course today I had a midterm at 9 30. That we had to use a scantron for. I didn’t have a scantron. My friend said he’d get me one, but it’s a big class, so I couldn’t find him. I was lucky enough to sit next to the sweetest girl who had an extra. Not sure how I did on the midterm. It was pretty dang tough.

I went and worked on the magazine after, which was stressful. Due to space constraints, one of my stories may get chopped in half. I’m pissed.

Julio and I took a break from the magazine to grab some delicious veggie burritos for lunch. He went to New York over spring break, so I got to hear all about it!

My other 2 classes went fine, no complaints. I even snacked on a tasty Madeline and a big ol’ cup of coffee in between them.

After my last class got out at 6 30 I went outside and BAM there was seriously a howling gale and a torrential downpour. It was bleak. So very bleak.

I had to wait in this rain for 15 minutes for the train.

When I finally got on the bus, soaking and pooped, I sat down and hoped for a speedy trip home. Just my luck, that didn’t happen. There was a delay and the train stopped for 45 minutes. Phone dead. Computer dead. Pissed.

My day improved by leaps and bounds after that fiasco. I got on a new train, that wasn’t delayed, then hopped on the bus to take me to my nice warm home.

Fletcher greeted me and rubbed up against my ankles while I made dinner.

What did I slap together? A pastrami, provolone, avocado sandwich with coarsely ground mustard on a cheese roll and some creamy cashew carrot ginger soup topped with garlic rye crisps. DUHHHHH

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Ohhhhhh, it sure did warm my soul.

Then I put my comfort slacks on, turned on the heater, and got into bed to start reading my new book. It’s called Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman. It’s incredible so far. Can’t wait to tell ya more about it!

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I also have a few magazines to catch up on, namely Saveur – The Vegas Issue, and Lucky Peach – The Cooks and Chefs Issue!

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It’s not very often that I get to pleasure read, so you better believe I take advantage of it every second I can!

I also take every opportunity to play with my little man

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Warm meals, reading, and kittens – that’s what I like to do on rainy nights by myself.

What do you like to do when you’re alone and it’s cold out?