After a very busy work week, family week, solving the leak in the basement week, and then seeing my Saturday filled with ticking off my ever present checklist, (groceries, laundry, meal planning), I decided on Sunday that I just needed to slow down (spelled ssslllooowww dddooowwwnnn…) So after we took my mom out to breakfast and assisted her up her very slippery sidewalk (remember how everything was covered in ice last weekend?), my husband and I went back to our quiet house. While he settled in with a mug of coffee and an English Premiership football game (soccer in our parlance), I sat quietly at our kitchen breakfast bar and took a breath.
I realized that I had this whole day at home with nothing planned, and as a capital “P” Planner and a capital “L” List maker, that is a rare thing for me. So I took a luxurious hour with my own cup of coffee and thumbed through cookbooks and a couple back issues of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, all the while looking out the kitchen window at the colorful birds queuing up at my neighbor’s feeder. It was my favorite kind of quiet time.
Later I sat down and actually picked up a real book to read. (Yes, I have an e-reader (Kindle), but isn’t a real book a treat sometimes?) But as is usual for my restless, fidgety self, I decided I couldn’t just sit still all day—I needed to DO something. So I pulled out my trusty Best Recipes cookbook and found a bread recipe. Big Red, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer was waiting with its dough hook ready for the first tipping in of flour. I had the yeast and the honey as needed, but alas no buttermilk. Although things were gradually thawing, I didn’t feel like running to the store. This was a day to stay home. So no buttermilk. No bread.
BUT WAIT. I did have a pint of heavy cream in the fridge that I picked up to make some table butter. And the byproduct of making butter is buttermilk. Score! Have you ever made homemade butter? It is so easy—just use your stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment and beat the cream on high. (Tip-put a dish cloth over the mixer as the contents may splash.) Add about a half teaspoon of fine grain salt as it beats. It will go into the whipped cream stage, but keep going a couple of minutes beyond that. When you hear a sound change in the mixer--a splashing sound, (and this is where you will be glad you covered the mixer) stop beating. Your cream will have evolved into a lovely separated mixture of yellow butter and pale white buttermilk. I strain the buttermilk out (and usually use it in a salad dressing) and then put the butter in a tea towel (not terrycloth) and squeeze it over the sink to remove the rest of the liquid. A pint of cream will give you roughly 8 ounces of butter—about a cup. Enough for at least 2-3 weeks in my house.
You can then store it in a plastic container, or be twee like me and wrap it in a round cut out of parchment. It is a silly thing, I know, but I get a kick every time I take out my paper package of homemade butter for toast or baked potatoes.
So the bread came off without a hitch--the buttermilk worked great (I was about a quarter cup short, but used regular milk to fill the rest). By four in the afternoon, my husband and I had a cup of tea with a slice of toast, slathered in homemade butter and homemade marmalade. Not really a lazy Sunday but a perfectly quiet one.
What do you do to slow down after a busy week? Hopefully you get a chance to do so? Have you ever made homemade butter? Just wondering how it worked for you…