Check out the cream line on these jars of milk. EmmaLouMoo is not ALWAYS this generous,
but I do get a half gallon of heavy cream from her every day.
As I bump along in my life, it occurs to me how much nicer a lot of homemade products
are and how expensive it is to buy them.
I can’t help but think how throughout my lifetime they vilified butter and pushed margarine,
only to later discover margarine is very unhealthy for you, whereby real butter actually has many health benefits and as a complete product is good for you. I have to be suspect of something that never goes bad...I heard margarine is 1 molecule shy of being
plastic and I suspect its true. Cool whip is another product I find disturbingly stable.
The same vicious and biased battle has been waged over Crisco and Lard (look up the history
of it, Crisco was not even meant to be food.) The egg has been victimized as well as real milk, grains and just about everything else. I just can’t bring myself to eat substitutes. There is nothing like the real thing and I believe God knew what He was doing
when He put it all together for us. I don’t think you can improve on raw ingredients.
I for one, cannot survive eating just vegetables and even if I could, there would not be much satisfaction in it for me. I have to consider that no matter what I eat,
if its not done in moderation and balance, even WATER can be toxic. Yes, there is a woman who died from drinking too much water. She did it all at once but none the less, it proves my point. The food is not the problem. Our appetites and behaviors are the
I had to chuckle as I read a post about someone's grandfather. Apparently Grandma had passed away and he was living along and in his 90's.
She said he stubbornly refused help from anyone for anything, from doing his own housework and even gardening. She thought maybe he would accept an offer of homemade
meals, and made the comment
"He doesn't eat
healthy like we do, he eats things like meat and potatoes and such."
...and yet he is 90, and lives independently. That says something about so called
‘healthy eating’ to me.
So much of our life is centered around food. We have ‘dinner parties’, meet people at
restaurants, have folks over for meals, plan dates around food, fond memories and character are built around the family dinner table and it’s the gathering place for most all holiday celebrations. It’s just a very important part of life and sustenance, there
is no getting around it.
To me, if it’s real food, its ok to eat. Everything from wood pulp to human hair is being
processed and added to our daily food chain in order to increase profits. Factory farming injects everything from growth hormones to unimaginable stuff into our meat products to increase the weight. Nearly everything you buy in the store has things you cannot
even pronounce, much less spell. Nothing is done to increase value, just profit. There was once a time when turning out a superior product was the goal of most companies, now it’s frequently to see what they can get away with.
Along with all the processed and synthetic foods there seems to be a rise in autoimmune
diseases (I know, as I am a victim), heart disease and all kinds of other maladies. If we think this is not linked to the way we eat, we are kidding ourselves. I really think my diet in my younger years contributed greatly to the problems I suffer from now.
I do know that even though Randyman and I consume an AWFUL lot of ‘unhealthy’ animal fats, because I cook only with real butter, lard and use lots of milk products, we raise lamb, chicken and beef and I feel better than I did years before. I believe this is
because our food is more natural and other than his addiction to soda pop and chips, we don’t eat anything processed. I make our bread, our broth, our dairy products and just about everything else.
I am a raw milk advocate, because I know firsthand, the benefits it has brought me personally.
I do, however, understand the need for pasteurization of commercial milk, because of the often incredibly unsanitary conditions it goes through during processing. Not everyone is in a position to have their own goat or cow. Never the less, there are things
you can do at home, to improve the quality of your dairy products, even if you cannot get good clean raw milk. You can make your own milk products, saving money, producing a superior product and controlling what goes INTO your body.
So, even if someone is not fortunate enough to have a goat or cow, there are things that
can be made better and cheaper without much work, from (ugh) commercial milk and cream.
Now, bear in mind, I DO have a cow...and goats, so I have never made anything with commercial
milk. But you can.
Some of these things are just plain decadent. You may not need them often, but when you
do, why not just make it yourself? WE can still take pride in producing a superior product, even if commercial manufacturers do not. Our friend the chef, lauded the flavor and quality of my butter, cream cheese, sour cream and other stuff, which made me smile
pretty much all over. He has asked me to freeze it and ship it to him, as he loves it.
Cream Cheese is almost sinfully easy to make. It’s one of my favorites,
as it is practically foolproof and I do so love a good cheesecake. It’s also great to mix up with some powdered sugar for blintzes, or to dump some jalapeno jelly, or chili sauce with crab over for a great dip and let’s not forget cream cheese icing on top
of carrot cake or homemade cinnamon rolls.
I use 3 quarts of heavy cream to 1 quart of milk, or even half and half. Warm it to 86
degrees, stir in 2 TBL of live cultured buttermilk, using an up and down motion to stir, not round and round, then put 2 DROPS of rennet in 1/4 cup of cool water, mix it into the cream , cover with a clean cloth and let it sit for 12 hours. I put the cream
pot in a larger pot of hot water to do this, so I don't burn the cream with direct heat.
After 12 hours you should have a curd mass, so carry it to the sink, and CAREFULLY ladle
it into a muslin lined colander.
I use a cheese ladle.
Make sure its a BIG piece of muslin as this makes a LOT of cream cheese. Tie up the corners
of the cloth, hang it over the sink, or over a bowl to drain for another 12 hours and thats it. I use a big jelly bag.
Amazing how much money they charge for this stuff in the store.
You CAN adjust the amount of heavy cream to milk to affect both the flavor and the calorie
content of the finished product.
Buttermilk, by the way, is a ‘mesophilic culture’. There are other cultures that fall
in that category, even clabbered milk, which you CANNOT get from pasteurized milk as all the beneficial bacteria in it has been destroyed. But live culture buttermilk is one type of this culture and can be used for lots of different stuff, like making cheeses.
Use this same buttermilk to culture a half gallon of heavy cream for making cultured
butter. The resulting butter will be more flavorful, break faster and give a better yield than just plain old sweet cream butter. I always have this visual of cultured butter at the opera or museum, but it’s just not so.
I put a bit in my jar of cream and let it sit out over night or for a day or so until
it thickens. (cover loosely) Pour it into your KA with the whip and a cover (definitely one of those pour covers) let her rip. When the butter breaks, you will have little rice sized pieces of butter clumping up. Strain the new buttermilk into a sterile quart
jar and save to culture the next batch and to bake with. I use a funnel and a nifty little strainer to do this. Then I slosh the butter in the strainer under cold water under until it runs clear. I work the butter in the metal bowl in a wee bit of cold water,
changing it often until all the buttermilk is worked out of my butter, then I work out the water with a little kneading and shape it. It’s important to get all the buttermilk out of the butter, or it will go ‘off’ quickly.
I use a couple of different butter presses. I have an old antique wooden press that
makes close to 1 pound bricks and a small one that makes pats. You can work the salt in at this point, if you want salted butter. I only salt the butter we will use on the table, so salted butter is always shaped in a little ball to fit my Butter Bell, or
in the pats. The rest is in bricks or balls that are measured to 4 oz for cooking. I do this so I can distinguish my unsalted butter from the rest, as it is for cooking and making ghee.
The buttermilk is now used to culture other stuff, make bread or
biscuits, pancakes or waffles, or marinate chicken to tenderize it. What I don’t use goes to the chickens who love it.
Another product you can make with a minimum of fuss or tools, is sour cream.
My cream is raw and very, very thick. (thank you EmmaLouMoo!)
Because its so thick I thin it a bit so I use about 3 cups heavy cream to a cup of whole
milk. Warm it to about 80 degrees or so and stir in about 1/3 cup of live culture buttermilk. Put it in a sterilized container, like a widemouth canning jar or something, cover with a paper towel and set it somewhere warm for a day or so. Like yogurt, the
longer it incubates the more tart it becomes.Not too high tech! It won’t be AS thick as commercial sour cream because they add stuff to theirs for thickening.
Because I get 1/2 gallon a day of heavy cream from EmmaLouMoo, (I am talking ‘scrape
off of the spoon thick” heavy cream) I make a LOT of butter. It won’t keep forever, not even in the freezer, so every few weeks I make ghee. Ghee is awesome stuff. It’s basically, ‘oil of butter’. It’s about 1 step further than the clarified
butter you use to dip lobster or crab in.
All of the milk solids are cooked out until just the purest stuff is left then it is
strained and poured into sterile jars. It keeps somewhere close to forever in the pantry. Ghee has an extremely high smoking point (something like 400 degrees) so I use it instead of butter for stir frying, frying eggs, making cheese sandwiches, etc. It doesn’t
burn like butter. Its perfect for sauteing and ...its HEALTHY!
It’s a very popular ingredient in eastern cuisine and I understand there is Ayurvedic
ghee that is over 100 years old.
All there is to making ghee is to dump about 5 pounds of UNSALTED butter in a big pot
and melt it down. Let it keep simmering until it separates. Skim off the foam that comes to the top and toss it out. It will eventually become very clear and golden with all the solid bits on the bottom. At this point I carefully pour it into another container,
making sure none of the stuff on the bottom goes with it. Then I wash out the pot, dry it really well, pour the liquid back in and let it go for a little longer, to make sure ALL the water and solid stuff has been cooked out of it. Then I let it cool a bit,
strain it into sterilized pint or half pint jars, cap them and put them in the pantry until I need them.
One of the simplest “cooked” things to make with milk, is yogurt.
All that is required is some milk, a little powdered milk and some starter culture. The easiest way to acquire starter is to buy some plain, live culture yogurt at the store, and use some of it to kick start your batch. Then you can hold back some of your
own yogurt each time to culture the next batch. This is good for several generations before you have to go back to an original starter again. With a pot, a thermometer, and someplace to incubate your yogurt you are good to go. I already blogged this some time
ago, so we won’t harp on it.
1/2 gallon heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized!)
1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra pasteurized!)
2 TBL live culture buttermilk
2 drops liquid rennet in 1/4 c water
Warm milk and cream to 86 degrees in clean stainless steel container.
Stir in buttermilk using up and down motion
Make rennet solution last so it doesn’t weaken and stir in using up and down motion.
Cover with clean cloth and sit aside for 12 hours.
Look for clean break, CAREFULLY ladle out curd and drain in cloth bag for up to 12 hours.
Cover and keep refrigerated for up to a week or freeze
1/3 cup live culture buttermilk
Warm cream and milk to about 80 degrees, stir in buttermilk.
Pour into sterile container and cover with paper towel and rubber band for 24 hours or
so in a warm place. (think water heater closet)
It WILL thicken more once chilled but will not be as thick as commercial which has thickeners
added to it along with other stabilizers.
2 TBL live culture buttermilk
Stir buttermilk into cream, cover with cloth or papertowel and allow to sit for 24 hours
or more to thicken.
Churn until cream breaks into rice sized pieces of butter and sloshy liquid.
Strain buttermilk into sterile jar.
Wash and knead butter in cold water until water runs clear. Knead out additional water,
salt if desired and shape. Refrigerate or freeze.
3-5 lb of unsalted butter
Melt in large heavy bottomed pot.
Simmer until milk solids have fallen to bottom of pot and water has boiled off, removing
foam now and then, careful not to stir everything up.
Butter will clarify and become a clear golden color.
This takes about 20 minutes.
When most of foam has stopped, strain into another container, careful NOT to pour milk
solids into container.
Clean pot throughly, return ghee to pot and simmer a bit longer to make sure all milk
solids and water have been simmered out of it.
Let cool a bit then strain again into sterilized canning jars.
Refrigeration is not necessary.
When you have made these items, then you can make this.
An incredibly rich and moist chocolate cake made with homemade butter, homemade sour
cream and topped with icing made with homemade cream cheese. Ahh life is good.