Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby gifts and butter...

...don't sound like they have anything in common, but that's what I've been doing since I left you last week.

On Saturday, April 17th, there was a baby shower held at our church for one of the pastor's wives.  It is their first baby, and I figured it would be a large-ish shower, so I didn't want to just run to the baby store and buy off of their registry.  So, on Sunday, I broke out some baby yarn and baby patterns that I've been wanting to try, and got busy.  Here are the results:
It was so much fun, knitting in blue for a change!  I know the items don't show up very well on that tablecloth, but we'll work with it.  The item on the left is a blanket buddy.  I had made one for Madison using Lion Brand Yarn Velvetspun yarn, and this pattern.  I  found a fleece yarn at Herrschners, which I love for this project!  (The one in the picture is actually the 2nd one I made this week, as I made a mistake in the first one, so I think Maddie will have second one.)  I had a little fleece left over, so there is a little stuffed bunny on my needles now.  Next to that, we have a baby wash cloth, that says A-B-C, and a matching hat and bootie set.  I really wanted to round out my gift, and was running out of time, so I made a run to my mom's house, to loot the boutique stock. 
From the boutique bin, I got a pair of "Converse" booties and the blue wash mitt.  I had made both of these for our craft fairs this fall, but will have time to replace them.  From Mom's craft fair items, I got the yellow washcloth, 2 burb cloths, one of the BEST bibs in the world, a rubber duck, some baby wash, a rattle, and a travel pack of wipes.  Added to that was a pair of green terry pajamas, and I was ready to wrap it all up.
I thought a bin might come in handy in the baby's room, rather than a gift bag for the garbage can.
I had a 9" stuffed teddy bear in the works as well, and really could've finished it on time, if I'd pushed, but the basket was quite full enough.  I'm going to finish the bear, though, and can give it to them for their christening, or some other occasion.

And now, a butter explanation.  On Sunday, Emma asked me if some cows make milk, and some cows make butter.  Since I traditionally make home made butter for Thanksgiving, and it is really easy, I decided to show her how butter is made.  I also thought we would do it both the easy way, and the hands on way.  After all, it's not all that fun or magical to watch Mom push a button!

So, armed with a quart and a half of heavy cream, a glass jar, a food processor, and various strainers and containers, we got to work.  I poured about half a pint of cream into the jar and had the girls sit in a circle.  I explained that cream has little bits of solids mixed in with the liquid that is milk, and that by shaking it, the little bits of fat would all stick together. 
This is Katie, taking a turn.
And now Emma.  Abby took turns too.

While they were doing that, I made 2 batches in the food processor.  That's right, I finished off 5 cups of cream, in 2 separate batches, in the food processor, while they made theirs.  But theirs didn't take that long, really.  Not as long as I thought it would, anyway.

People sometimes ask me, "WHY? Why make your own butter?  You live across the street from the grocery store, and it's not that expensive.  Did you fall on your head?"  The answer is, because it's fun.  Or, because it's easy.  Or how about, because I needed something to do with the kids.  All of those apply and more.  Now, would I do it if I had to use a Laura Ingalls Wilder style churn? Uh, no, probably not.  But, I have a food processor, and electricity, so I have no reason not to.
Here's how easy it is:

1.  Pour heavy cream into the food processor, and make sure everything is properly closed.
2.  Push the "on" button.  Stand back and watch 'er work.  You will know it is time to push the "off" button when the butter is a solid mass and there is a thin, white liquid surrounding it.  This is the butter the kids made.
3.  Pour off the buttermilk and save it for other uses.  We used ours in corn bread last night. (More on that in a minute.)
4.  Place the butter in a bowl, and add cold water.  Rinse the butter, working it with a wooden spoon or spatula, and changing the water periodically.  You want to repeat this until the water runs clear, working as much liquid out of the butter as possible.

5.  After rinsing the butter, salt to taste.  You can also leave it unsalted for sweet butter, used in baking.  I had the kids taste it both ways.  This was unsalted....
...then we added some honey.
Here is the salted batch:


Remember the buttermilk I mentioned?  Here it is:

For dinner last night, I made chili and cornbread.  There was enough buttermilk for the cornbread, and enough left for biscuits in a few days.  Topped with fresh butter or honey butter, it was a big hit!  And on that note, I have a new favorite cook book:  The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  This woman, who also blogs here, knows her food.  I've had this book for about 2 weeks, and so far, I've made thirteen of her recipes, and they've all been great...simple, easy, and delicious!  I've got 3 more on the menu for this week, and another several bookmarked.  (I've made some of them twice, actually...her mashed potatoes are the best!)  The chili and cornbread recipes were both hers.  Just a word of warning if you get her book....you can't be scared of butter!

No new stitched squares this time, my focus has been on baby gifts, but I'll get back to them, hopefully tonight.  Eleven to go, and I'm done! 

See you soon!

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