Friday, March 26, 2010

Feeding the Family: Butter

Butter may seem like a small thing. But with all that good homemade bread, butter is absolutely essential. As you can guess, we didn't just pick up sticks or rolls of butter from the grocery store. Again, we made it ourselves. By the time I came along in the family, we were really high tech - we made butter in the washing machine. I'm serious. We really did. Just ask my mom. In the barn we had the cream separator, a contraption that separated the milk from the cream. A lot of the cream went into the metal "cream cans" and got sold to the "creamery" in town. But we always had plenty for the family for things like cream and sugar over bread, creamed gravy, all kinds of baking, and, of course, butter. There was a special piece of equipment that fit over the agitator in the wringer washing machine that we poured the cream into. We plugged it in and .... it made butter! This must have been a big improvement over the "old" way of making butter that took a lot of arm work and took a lot of time.

I don't remember how mom made the butter yellow, but it always came out beautiful and delicious. We shaped it just right, wrapped it up, and put it in the freezer with the rest of the family food. One of my most pleasant memories is going into the kitchen in the evening, all by myself, and popping up a couple dishpans full of popcorn. I would melt a big pan of butter on the stove and smother the popcorn in butter and salt. Each of us would get a bread pan full of this delicious popcorn. I made my bread pan last for at least two days, because I knew I wasn't allowed to make popcorn more than once a week.

We all laugh about the night my sister, Evie, who was home from college, dished up ice cream for dessert. She brought the ice cream to each one of us at the table. At last she sat down to her own dish, smothered in homemade chocolate sauce. She took a bite, then accusingly said, "who put butter in my ice cream?" Ha ha on her. She is the one who put chocolate sauce on a dish of butter instead of ice cream!

I'm glad I enjoyed all this butter when I was young. Now-a-days, I wouldn't think of consuming so much butter. It really isn't good for my health. And, well, it just doesn't taste that good anymore. But maybe if I had the homemade kind ... maybe it would taste good again.

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