Thursday, February 17, 2011

I can't believe I made my own butter

On my mind these past few weeks has been an article in the last Sunset Magazine (a slightly guilty pleasure) about a woman and her family who went Zero Waste a few years back.  We already make a really good effort to reduce, eat locally, use green products, compost, etc., etc., yada, yada, and usually when I read an article about going greener I'm a bit smug and disappointed that they haven't come up with anything new.  This article shook Brian and I a bit.  The reaction in Brian was a bit strange, it almost pissed him off that someone had beaten us to taking it a bit further.  The article has pushed me into action and we're taking steps to move our house towards "zero" waste. 

The area that I'm going to focus on is ridding our house unnecessary packaging.  We shop bulk, but I use their plastic (albeit recycled plastic) bags and then come home and dump them in containers.  The plastic bag step can be eliminated by taking our containers to the store.  Yes, a bit clunky with two in tow, but doable.  With a little planning I think it can work.  I talked to the owner of Nature's Whole Food Depot (I am very grateful for this store that opened a few years ago.  When we first moved to Sonora four years ago you could hardly find organic products at the Safeway) about coming in to get the weight of my containers and then always using those same containers for the same goods (this conversation was prompted when I slogged in a bunch of containers only to have the employee completely baffled by my request and ended up carrying home empty containers and plastic bags full of my bulk goods). 

In addition I think, with some planning, I can make our bread, butter, almond butter, yogurt and maybe cheese using Strauss Milk in a glass container that I can return to the store (you know all this makes Brian love me more).  I proved that it's not completely impossible yesterday.  I managed to make almond butter, butter, yogurt and bake a loaf of bread.  Ridiculous eh?  It was so easy.  I've been making bread from the best book to hit the shelves since the Bible, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, for about six months now and it's such an amazingly easy process, it's not even a process.  I got a yogurt maker and have been making yogurt for about a year, and that's easy too although I have some consistency issues to work out and I'd like to learn to make the delicious Persian yogurt my relatives make.  The almond butter was a breeze.  Roasted some almonds, threw them in the cuisinart, added about a tablespoon of olive oil and jarred it. The butter was so easy too.  It's almost like a well kept secret how easy it is to make your own butter. I followed these instructions, but the process can be summed up in a few words: let the cream set out for the day, put it into a container with enough room to shake the cream around, shake and shake, magically you get a glob of yellowness in the container, rinse in cold water, squeeze and press into a container with some salt if you like.  I think the boys will become my master butter shakers. 

So this is not to say I'll never run out to the store to buy packaged goods, but I'm finding it's much easier not to than I would have imagined.  I think next I'll make our own penicillin. 

 The boys love to help in the kitchen, but these face pencils have done a lot for me in quiet entertainment when they lose interest in what I need to focus on.  Eason started as a clown and ended as a pirate.

A few of the finished products-the bread was eaten more quickly than it could be photographed.


  1. of course this all makes ME love you even more too! somehow i didn't know you were making your own yogurt! do you use a starter or some from the last batch to keep it going? i want the persian yogurt recipe too if you get it. and can't wait to try making my own butter!