Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Butter on my Bread...

So I am not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I made butter! It was great and I took pictures to show you!

My grandmother found me some good cream from Trickling Springs Creamery at our local Pennsylvania Dutch Market. 

My grandmother's KitchenAid mixer. As you are probably noticing, my grandma was an integral part of this homesteading experiment. I have a mixer, not as nice as hers but we were over there and I just couldn't wait until I got home to do this so I just did it there.

So I mixed and I mixed... It went from a liquid to a solid whipped cream looking consistency. Then the whipped cream turned into liquid again! At this point, I thought for sure I had messed it all up. After more mixing, the butter started to form and separate from the buttermilk. This was kinda a sloshy mess but I knew at that point I was doing something right.

I drained out the buttermilk and saved it for some wonderful recipe such as buttermilk biscuits or pancakes.

Now the next step I didn't do as well as I should have. I was supposed to rinse and squeeze all the liquid out or it would spoil faster. I got most of it out but I think it could have been done better.
Here is my finished product!! I apologize for the bad decision to put it in a dish that is the exact same color as the butter, since it does not take as good of a picture.

I used it all up pretty quickly. It was good but I wish I would have salted it. Unfortunately, when I was doing the cost breakdown of homemade butter versus store bought, the store bought is definitely more economical. The cream cost a lot more than a pound of butter and it only produced about a stick and a half. I did get buttermilk out of it which was a bonus. I think the only way I could see making all your own butter is if you had a deal with a dairy to get the cream really cheap. I don't have those connections yet.

On a side note, I got heckled while I made this. A lot of my family was over for a big breakfast and during a quiet moment I decided to do it. Some of the comments were things like "Oh so you want to be a homesteader but you are using a KitchenAid?? Where is your churn?" They were all laughs until the butter was finished. They were all quite impressed with this skill even if I didn't use a churn...

And I'm back...

Okay so let me go ahead and get my excuses out of the way for why I disappeared for what seems like forever:
  • The plague hit our house. Well I might be a little over dramatic about it but both kids got sick. Then the boyfriend got sick. Then I got sick! (Whoever said mothers don't get sick is completely misinformed.)
  • When I started blogging, I was using my work laptop. Then they switched me to a brand spanking new desktop but yanked the laptop. So I have been basically computerless, except on nights that the boyfriend is home, but who wants to sit on the computer when he's home only two nights a week? But he had an old laptop and got his dad to fix it (Thanks Roy!) Sooooooooo I have a computer now!!!!! 
  • My PTA duties were tremendous. Well not tremendous but time consuming. Since one of the chairpersons went MIA, I, being the responsible vice president that I am, offered to take over her position as that chair. Of course this position was collecting all the little Box Tops (great school fundraiser!) and having to count and submit them. How many box tops could our very tiny school collect? Well I counted, clipped, packaged, and sorted just shy of 3000!
And to be completely honest, I hit a wall. I hit a big invisible metaphorical wall of non-motivation and non-inspiration.  But hey, I'm back and that's all that matters. I have some big ideas now and I'm on my way.

Even through this dark month or so of nothingness, I have managed to do a couple small things here and there. I made chocolate syrup. Very easy to make and the best part is that your entire house smells like chocolate for the rest of the day. My son loves it. I also made Miracle Whip. This however was a lot more involved then I thought but I got to use my new shiny food processor so I was happy. The response for that was "Hey, the mayo you made tastes like Miracle Whip." So I will say success!!! It still needs a little tweaking but I was expecting a complete failure so I will take it!

 I have also made more laundry detergent. I am playing around with different recipes to find the one I like the most. I have switched to the powder. It seems so much easier than the liquid. I made a double batch the last time and we have run out of the store bought kind so it will be homemade from now on. I have not convinced anyone in the household yet to go with homemade fabric softener (straight vinegar). I will continue to use the fabric sheets since that does help a little with the lack of fragrance from the detergent. I have been cutting the dryer sheets in half though, to make them go twice as far and I don't think it has made any difference.

Garden time is approaching and I am very excited. Well excited and anxious. I have never really had a garden before. I cannot even keep houseplants alive! The weather around here has been unseasonably warm, so I think next week we will get the ground broken for the garden. I have an idea of what I want it to look like but I will be happy however it turns out. I got a seed catalog in the mail and picked out about 40 different fruits and vegetables I wanted to plant, but then I came back to reality and decided that I will start a little smaller this year and plant things that I know we will eat fresh and that I can preserve easily.

Composting has begun! I was going to make a compost bin out of wood pallets, but then after doing some research I started seeing information about the dangers of using pallet wood. While I was walking through Sam's Club I found a composter for a very low price, so I went ahead and bought it. The kids and I started adding to it with fruits and vegetables from the fridge on trash day along with some dry leaves around in the yard. Every other day, Emma asks me if the dirt is ready. Rain barrels are also in the works.

I guess I will end by revealing my secret Internet obsession as of late: Pinterest. What an amazing and inspiring website. I have found so many great home ideas, kids projects, recipes, and anything else you could imagine!! I am completely in love with it.  On the negative side, Pinterest does somewhat make you feel like you are completely boring. So many people are doing all these projects and what am I doing? Reading about it while I am sitting on the couch doing nothing!

Anyone have any ideas for what my March skill should be?? I will admit that the knitting in January failed horribly so I will have to revisit that one soon. And well we know that February was a complete bust.

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