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.
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.