Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Patience of Pioneers

Chloe and I decided to make butter. Since we started our year we've stuck to reading, handwriting, and math, so I thought it was time to roll up my sleeves and do some honest-to-goodness homeschool mom activities. Enough with the amateur stuff! Besides, the recipe was super simple, just the way I like them: pour a pint of heavy cream into a mason jar, add a little salt, and shake.

Wow, I announced to Greg, I just never knew how simple it was to make butter! Visions of filling up my fridge with homemade butter and passing out darling little jars of it to our neighbors fluttered through my mind. This was going to be fantastic!

Chloe made her label, poured the cream into the jar and shook it.

After a minute or two she got tired of shaking the jar, so she enlisted some help.

After another minute or two, he got tired so I took over.

THIRTY minutes later, this is what I was doing:

This is what the kids were doing:

The recipe said butter balls (their term, folks, not mine) would form and then we could add some salt, chill for a bit, and voila - butter, just waiting to melt on some hot toasted bagels. It said nothing about thirty minutes. I shook, and shook, and shook that jar. Then I took off the cap and saw some pseudo-slimy white blobs.

Looks like we have butter balls. Awesome. I looked back at my recipe.

"Try drinking it. Buttermilk was considered a real treat on the frontier!"

Ummm, seriously? I took one sniff and decided there was no way I was going to try the stinky white mess, so I did the sensible thing and got Sam to try it instead.

Here, buddy, try it! Mmmmm, our very own homemade butter, just like the pioneers used to eat!

He took one tiny lick, made a hilarious face and then shuddered.

Do you like it? I asked, super cheerfully.

NO, he said with another giant shudder. Then he added, It tastes DIAPERISH.

I truly hope that he has never actually tasted a diaper before and that this was merely the most severe insult he could fabricate with his three-year-old vocabulary, but quite frankly, with him anything is possible.

Well, I was a bit disappointed. This scene was not exactly the one I had envisioned. I had the kids add a HEAPING tablespoon of salt (the recipe called for a mere 1/4 teaspoon, but what do those pioneers know anyway?) and we put the jar in the fridge. 

The next morning I unscrewed the lid and peeked in. It looked like the whipped butter we like on our pancakes at the diner. Fearfully, I sniffed. Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all! 


We've learned a lot from the pioneers with this experience. Their patience and work ethic are inspiring. Their ingenuity can be a lesson to us all. And from now on, we'll just be buying our butter at Giant Eagle.

The morning after... not too shabby!

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