Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Butter Me Up!

Have you ever had homemade butter spread on homemade buttermilk biscuits?

It's awesome. Trust me.

And we all know there's nothing like buttermilk pancakes.

So let's make some butter already!

To do this, you'll need one gallon (at least) of raw milk. Raw milk can be difficult to find, but I hear that many farmer's markets have someone there that usually sells it. We're fortunate enough to have a farm up the road that sells amazing raw milk.

Now, normally you'll need to let the milk sit in the fridge for a little while to allow the cream to separate from the milk, say a day or so. But as you can see...

I got a little excited to make the butter and kind of jumped the gun on the separation process. It had separated, but it wasn't easy to tell where the line was.

Now we have to somehow "skim" the cream off the milk. Ha, skim. Instead we will let the milk drain out from underneath the cream. You'll need a container large enough to accommodate about three quarts of milk and one for the cream. Place the future milk container in the sink. Using an ice pick or something else sharp and pointy, poke a hole in the bottom of the gallon (note: it will drain quicker if the lid is off the top). I don't recommend using a knife to poke the hole, it won't make a hole but a slit and that can make a mess. 

You should be able to watch the line of cream go down as the milk drains. Once it appears that all that's left in the gallon is cream, pour it into your prepared cream container.

Here's your milk.

Here's your cream. Pour the cream into a blender.

Run the blender on low to medium low. You don't want to go too fast or you'll have whipped cream, which is good but not what we're trying to achieve. The time varies on your blender and how concentrated the cream is,  but it usually takes about 5-10 minutes. The main thing is you'll run it till you hear the blender change its tone. This is usually an indication that you're getting close to being finished.

But the real indication is this, chunks floating on the top that are a nice buttery color. You have made butter!

Now we have to scoop the chunks out.

Then we have to squeeze all the excess milk out. There are a couple of ways to do this, either strain it into a cheese cloth or just squeeze it out in a bowl. I prefer the bowl method.

The milk that's left over is buttermilk (yea!). If you so choose to save it, have a container prepared, and a sieve over the top. Pour it through to catch the last few butter chunks.

You can drain the excess milk in to the buttermilk if you'd like, but there won't be very much to save.

Continue to squeeze that milk out.

You can squeeze forever trying to get all the milk droplets out, but it's up to you how long you want to stand there. The more milk that's in it, the quicker the butter can sour. I'm anti-perfectionist so after a couple of minutes, I'm done squeezing. Once you're happy with the consistency, this is when you'd add some salt if you like salted butter. The amount varies on your personal taste.

BUTTER!!! It may not seem like much for such a process, but it is really good butter. I'm not much of a butter person normally, but I use it when we have homemade stuff!

So now we have buttermilk...

And butter! AWESOME!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Distressed Red Dresser Changing Table

I'm back!!

The morning sickness seems to have passed and I'm looking forward to getting back into the game!

This is a dresser that I worked on quite a while ago, but only recently put the final touches on it. I got it at a thrift shop for - oh yeah - $5! It did have termite damage, but it's solid wood and it's the perfect height for a changing table. I was needing one for my son's room upstairs. So I decided to fix it up and make it awesome!

It was pretty rough.

Nick filled in the termite damage so the top is now smooth.

I started out by putting on a gray primer coat. You want to use gray for a primer when you're planning on painting something red.

Ta-da! The finished product!
(Apparently I didn't take pictures when I did the rest of the painting.)

I gave it two coats of red paint before doing the black wash. I watered down black paint and brushed it on. Almost immediately I wiped it off with a rag. You almost have to do a feathery sponge-like motion to keep it from making lines.

Add some beautiful knobs, a changing pad, and a nifty wipe holder and you've got the best changing table/dresser ever!

I found the little wood caddy at a resale shop for $2. I had Nick remove the handle, then I gave it the same finish as the dresser. He screwed it on, and bam! Perfect wipe holder.

Close up of the finish.

Before and After.