Sunday, 14 August 2011

Butterly Delicious

Yesterday I made homemade butter for the first time ever. I can't believe I've never done it before; it was so easy!

I've been trying for a while now to be more self-sufficient. I don't mean in a small-holding-with-chickens-and-goats-and-row-upon-row-of-glorious-veg kind of way; I just don't have the room for that. I mean in a simple tomatoes-on the-windowsill and the-supermarket's-charging-HOW-MUCH? kind of way. Rising food prices are having an impact on us all but if, like us, you're trying to manage on a very tiny income then you'll really be feeling the pinch.

About a decade ago, when hubby and I were saving hard to move and the kids were either not working or worked for an agency that provided only sporadic work, my step-daughter and I perfected the art of the 'Poverty Shop'. This involves heading to the supermarket with £20 and coming home with enough food to feed four of us for a week! These days feeding four might be a bit ambitious but I can feed two on that if I need to, and often do. That might seem surprising to you if you're at all like the woman in front of me at the checkout last week who spent £80 on what couldn't possibly be more than about 3 days of food. Good luck to her, I say. Or at least I might have done if she hadn't eyed my own trolley with such derision. If like me, your trolley's usually piled high with the supermarket's own brand basic/economy/really-scraping-the-barrel-here cheapest possible buys in yellow & green or blue & white or whatever two colours your usual supermarket utilises, you'll know that nothing advertises that you're broke like a two-tone trolley!

I'm not knocking basic brands here, it takes a bit of trial and error but some are every bit as good as the household names, but there was no denying that as prices rose the standard of our diet was definitely slipping. So I've been on a mission to change that. I bake cakes. I've begun baking my own bread again and I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy that. I've made Gorse flower wine and Nettle beer. I bake cakes. I've started cooking meals from scratch again. I bake cakes. I've got tomatoes and lettuce growing in my kitchen and herbs in what I laughingly call my garden (for garden read tiny patch of sun starved mud...but I'm working on that). Oh, and I bake cakes, did I mention that?

But butter? That was a first. And I loved it. There are recipes for homemade butter all over the Internet so I won't repeat it here but suffice to say all you need is a jar, half full of double cream and then you shake and shake and shake some more. You could, of course, shorten the process by using an electric whisk but a) I don't have one and b) where's the fun in that? I put something loud and raucous on the stereo and danced around the kitchen like a lunatic. The end result was just under half a pound of butter and as an added bonus; lovely, fresh buttermilk (which incidentally is nothing like the stuff you buy in the shops).

Yesterday was a very productive day. I made butter and bread to go with it. I picked blackberries. And I used up all that buttermilk making Blackberry Muffins.
There were more, but by the time I'd found the camera we'd descended on them like a hoard of hungry locusts (all two of us). Bang goes the diet this month!

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