Sunday, May 22, 2011

132.5 - Hand Churned Sweet Cream Butter and Herbs de Provence Sea Salt

Hello? Antique kitchen tool rehab? It all started out so innocently -- just a quick trip to Lowes to pick up a few window boxes and flowers. Check. But on the drive home, an "Estate Sale" sign lured me from afar. I know, I know, the first step is admitting I have a problem.

If you're familiar with Sigmund Freud's developmental theory, you know that we're basically simple creatures whose psyches revolve around 3 conflicting forces: the Id=I want; the Ego=reality check; and, the high and mighty Super Ego=do the right thing. Sadly, even in my adulthood, when I see a yard sale sign, my barely dormant Id kicks both my Ego and Super Ego straight to the curb in short order. So into the estate sale I went.

The first thing I spotted was a mint-condition antique butter churn. It was way out of my price range, so I did the right thing (Super Ego momentarily activated) and left.  But when I got home, I began obsessing. Id  I really wanted that butter churn to make butter the old fashioned way. Plus, I have a thing for simple machines. To say that I'm not the slightest bit mechanical is an understatement, but I love the utility and ancient genius behind gear-driven tools. Knowing that I'd be impossible to live with until it was mine, my sweet husband sent me back to buy it. And now it is. Mine. A big thank you to the Sherman-Ghelli family, whose Mother, Wilma, was an avid antique collector. I promise to treasure and use your Mom's butter churn with care and deep appreciation.

So that's how the butter got made. But next to my family and my dog, the only thing I love more than butter is salt, which is how the Herbs de Provence got made. The lavender I used to season the salt mix was purchased in 1983 in Aix en Provence when my dear friend Marylou and I traveled to France together on a whim (B.C. kids and mortgages, and such). I've kept it tightly stored in it's original packaging and it still smells as good (and French) today as it did 23 years ago.

Hand Churned Sweet Cream Butter

Herb de Provence Sea Salt

Hand Churned Sweet Cream Butter 
(You can use a jar, stand or hand-held mixer or a hand hand held beater in lieu of a butter churn)

1 pint very cold heavy cream
Pinch of salt (optional)

Pour cream into butter chilled churn (or container you're using). Churn for 15-30 minutes until cream becomes chunky and cream takes on a soft yellow tint. You will see liquid separate from the chunks (butter), which is buttermilk.
Strain the butter, reserving the buttermilk in a clean container. Refrigerate and use later for dressing, pancakes, biscuits,  etc...
Now turn the drained butter into a clean bowl and cover with very cold water to firm it up. Rinse and repeat until the water runs clear.
Once the water runs clear, use your hands or a rubber spatula to press out any remaining liquid. If you like your butter salted, add a pinch or two of salt to taste.
Spoon the butter into a clean container and smooth with a spatula or knife to remove air bubbles.
Refrigerate and use liberally and without guilt.

Herbs de Provence Sea Salt (Adapted from The Splendid Table)

4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. Thyme
1 Tbsp. Rosemary
1/2 Tbsp. Savory (I improvised with ground savory because I forgot to buy it)
3/4 Tbsp. Lavender

Cut each garlic clove lengthwise through the center.
Mound the salt and garlic on a cutting board. Use a large chef knife to mince the garlic, blending it with salt as you work.
Coarsely chop all the herbs, then add them to the garlic salt mixture and continue chopping until it resembles coarse sand.
Place salt on a cookie sheet or plate and leave near an open or sunny window for a couple of days to dry.
Store in clean, dry jars.
Use to season chicken, fish, potatoes, vegetables or anything your heart desires.


John said...

well done, :)

Kitt said...

That's lovely. I would not be able to resist such a thing, either.

I covet your salt cellar, too.

sadie said...

Thank you John!!!

sadie said...

Thank You, Kitt! It's actually a jelly jar, but I improvised :)

RobinWM said...

I haven't checked estate sales in a while, but you have reminded me of the pleasure when treasures like this are discovered. Very cool!

Molly said...

That is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I would have bought that in a heartbeat if I stumbled across it as well.

sadie said...

Thanks, Molly! I love yard sale enablers :)

Laraine said...

What a lovely post. I absolutely love the photo of the cream pitcher and the vase of flowers - well done!

sadie said...

Thank you so much, Laraine! There's nothing like spring in New England after a long winter to inspire :)

Karen said...

that is absolutely gorgeous...Mark is here reading over my shoulder INSANELY jealous :)

sadie said...

Thank you, Karen and Mark! You're welcome to borrow it anytime...I'm thinkin' you could come up with some cool herbed cheese or butter recipe...let me know! xox

Mother Nature said...

beautiful presentation!

sadie said...

Thanks, Mother Nature :)

witchywoman said...

It seems that you and I have one more thing in common...collecting antique dishes and kitchen storage is overflowing, if I ever get back into an actual house!

sadie said...

Hi Laurrie - It's a curse! I don't need a thing, but you know, if I see something special....