Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Must Be Butter.....Cause I'm on a Roll!

Some of my favorite books of all time are those in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've read them all several times. The idea of pioneer life is romantic to me and I loved (and still do) to read the detailed accounts of their daily lives. My favorite book in the series is Little House in the Big Woods. In it, Laura meticulously described the day to day chores giving an intimate glance at their way of life. Just like my days, the Ingalls family designated a particular day to a particular chore. It went like this:

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.

Laura noted that she like churning and baking days best and I think I'd have to agree. Everyday should be baking day. And though I've never picked up a dasher, I think that making butter each week would have been great fun.

I have had homemade butter only once. When I lived in Virginia, we traveled to Pennslyvania and visited the Amish Country. It was there that I had my first taste of home churned, sweet, creamy homemade butter. There is nothing better. It puts 'ol Country Crock to shame, that's for sure! And it made the BEST chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted! Though I have neither churn nor cow, all my experimentations with yeast bread has had me craving that yummy homemade butter taste.

Butter is not all that complicated to make. In Laura's day, they put the cream in the crock and used a long wooden paddle called a dasher to agitate the cream. Eventually, the milk solids separated from the liquids and when they took off the cover there was a golden lump of butter, drowning in buttermilk. The butter was rinsed, salted and then molded. In the book, Laura spoke fondly of her mother's strawberry shaped butter mold. Nowadays, modern pioneers can make butter simply by getting out their hand mixers, pouring cream in the bowl and letting it whirl. Considering that Ma Ingalls worked up a sweat to have butter on her bread, an electric mixer makes me feel like I'm cheating a little so I came up with this: Shake it and Make it!

I hosted a butter making play date for my Mom's group. After the kiddos colored some super cute churn themed coloring pages, we poured heavy cream (from the store for I have no cow!) into mason jars and let the kids shake them. The kids gave up....it takes quite a bit of shaking to make cream into butter and their little arms and their attention spans weren't quite up to the task. The Mom's took over and we riled ourselves into a fit of giggles watching each other shake our jars, shaking all our parts in the process. After about five minutes of vigorous shaking, we all had little golden lumps in our jars which we combined to make a mountain of butter. I added a little salt and we sampled our fresh butter on home baked corn muffins. Delicious! Better yet, I have enough left over that can make cookies!

  Butter Shakin' Mommas
 Drowning in Buttermilk
 The Finished Product


  1. I did this for the first time last week! We get raw milk from a local farmer, and the cream is always sitting on top of the milk...so I scooped it off and after about 5 minutes of shaking, I felt something solid in the jar. It's such a domestic thing, but so magical! I wanted to bake a loaf of bread then and there to do it full justice! Great post. I love the work schedule...just read a book called "The Help" (can't remember the author's name); the main narrators are black maids in the early '60s in Mississippi...one of them describes her work week...each day with an assigned task. I might not feel so overwhelmed if I tried this!
    Send me an email please...

  2. I found you off homesteadgirl and I just had to leave a comment since we just did the same thing at my house (no playdate) just my boys and I... and I blogged about it. Funny. :) Gosh, but isn't that butter delish?

  3. What a fun idea! I may need to try this out.