Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemade Cultured Butter

Homemade Cultured Butter: "

buttersInstead of going on and on about how good butter is and stringing together mouth-watering adjectives to describe the nuances of flavor and incredibly rich texture, we’re going to assume that butter needs no introduction. It’s butter, for Pete’s sake. We’ve all tasted it before and all of us are probably more than familiar with its charms. However, consider yourself warned that the recipe we’re sharing here is a little bit dangerous – it’s not just for butter, it’s for homemade cultured butter. If you find store-bought butter hard to resist, you don’t stand a chance against homemade cultured butter. For better or for worse, you’re going to want to eat this stuff with a spoon.

Homemade cultured butter has a rich, glossy texture that’s silky, not waxy. But it’s not just about texture. Unlike most supermarket brands of butter, homemade cultured butter has noticeable flavor: tangy, fresh, lightly sweet and extremely, well, buttery. Science backs us up on this. The good bacteria that’s in cultured cream produces an aroma compound called diacetyl. When the cream is churned into butter, this compound intensifies the buttery flavor. An optional sprinkle of sea salt ups the flavor even more, or, you can get really creative and delve into the world of compound butters. Compound (flavored) butter is an easy way to perk up a meal. Instead of dealing with a complicated sauce, simply top whatever you’re eating with butter that’s been enhanced by another ingredient. Mix fresh herbs, ground spices or garlic into the butter for a savory topping you’ll never forget. Mash crumbles of fried bacon or prosciutto into homemade butter and melt it over steak or cooked vegetables if you think you can handle the butter nirvana that follows. For something a little on the lighter side, stir fresh lemon zest into your homemade butter and spread it over seafood.

To make cultured butter at home you only need one ingredient: cultured cream. Although regular whole cream will whip into butter as well, it produces butter that is relatively bland and is missing the tanginess of cultured butter. You can buy whole cream and culture it yourself, or you can buy crème fraîche, which is cream that has already been cultured. In either case, look for high-quality whole cream or crème fraîche, ideally made from organic, grass-fed milk. The crème fraîche should have only one ingredient listed, cultured cream, not any stabilizers or thickeners.

In countries other than the U.S., crème fraîche is often made from unpasteurized milk with naturally occurring bacteria that cultures the cream, turning it thick and flavorful. In the U.S., laws require that products made from unpasteurized milk be aged at least 60 days before being sold, which means raw crème fraîche is not available in stores. Instead, bacteria cultures are added back into the cream after it is pasteurized. In the U.S., the best brands of crème fraîche are made by artisanal cheesemakers who can coax flavor out of pasteurized cream by using high-quality bacterial cultures and grass-fed milk. If you can find crème fraîche made by a cheesemaker, it will often be superior in flavor and texture to cream that you culture yourself at home using a bit of buttermilk in place of bacteria cultures. On the other hand, if you’re making crème fraîche at home for your own consumption, you do have the option of using raw cream if you can get your hands on some.

However you decide to make it, or whatever you decide to add for extra flavor (we’re hooked on chive butter right now), your batch of homemade cultured butter is guaranteed to taste like a little bit of spreadable heaven. Cultured butter is a luxurious, voluptuous, flavorful ingredient that is well worth the little bit of time and effort it takes to make at home.

Ingredients:

cremefrache

  • 2 cups crème fraîche, either store-bought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • A pinch of sea salt (optional)

addedflavors

  • To make compound (flavored) butter, considering adding bacon or prosciutto bits, minced herbs, spices (try curry powder, paprika or red pepper flakes), minced garlic, cinnamon, lemon zest

Instructions:

Yield: About 1/2 – 3/4 cup butter

Take the crème fraîche out of refrigeration 45 minutes or so before you start so it gets close to room temperature.

Fill a bowl with 3-4 cups of water. Add ice so the water is cold. Set aside.

Put the crème fraîche in the food processor with the blade attachment, a stand mixture with the whisk attachment, or in a glass canning jar with a lid. All three work equally well. The benefit of using a food processor is that it is the fastest method and liquid won’t splatter everywhere like it will with a stand mixer. Manually shaking a glass jar builds a workout into the recipe, but takes longer.

To make the butter, process or whisk the crème fraîche for about three minutes, sometimes a bit longer. If you’re using a jar, shake for as long as you need to. With each method, the mixture will begin to thicken and look like whipped cream, then it will thicken even more and start turning a pale yellow color. At this point, buttermilk will begin separating from the butter.

buttermilk

Stop and pour the buttermilk out, then process a little longer and pour out any additional buttermilk that appears. (You can save the buttermilk to drink or use it in any recipe that calls for buttermilk.)

buttermilkdrainedoff

Taste the butter. It will have a sour quality, which is from buttermilk that has not separated out yet. To give the butter a purer flavor, it must be rinsed.

Use a spatula to scrape the butter into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of ice water and mash the butter and water together with a fork for about 30 seconds. The butter will repel the water, not soak it up, and the water will clean off any remaining buttermilk. Pour the liquid (which will be cloudy) out of the bowl.

cloudywater

Continue this process, 4 or 5 times, until the water no longer becomes cloudy.

clearwater

Continue mashing the butter with a fork and pour out any last bits of liquid it releases. Stir in sea salt to taste if desired. If you are making a compound butter, mash the ingredient in with the butter now.

Wrap the butter in wax paper and shape it into a log, or fill a small container with the butter. Keep the butter well-covered in the refrigerator and use within a week or so. You can also freeze the butter for future use.

homemadebutter

chivebutter

Homemade Crème Fraiche

Ingredients:

2 cups whole (whipping) cream

4 tablespoons buttermilk

Instructions:

Combine in a glass container. Let sit at room temperature (around 70 degrees) at least 8 hours and up to 24. It is done when the cream is very thick. Can be refrigerated about a week if not used immediately.

Grab a copy ofPrimal Blueprint Quick & Easy Mealsfor over 100 Primal Recipes You Can Prepare in 30 Minutes or Less

Related posts:

  1. Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce
  2. Is All Butter Created Equal?
  3. Zesty Lemon-Lime Seafood Salad with Homemade Salsa
"

(Via Mark's Daily Apple.)

University of Utah graduate turning backyards into urban farms

University of Utah graduate turning backyards into urban farms: "



Sharon Leopardi of the community-supported agriculture business BUG Farms walks delicately through a garden of newly planted radishes and spinach in the backyard of a Salt Lake City home. Photo by Jared Page.

Backyard Urban Garden (BUG) Farms

By Jared Page

KSL

March 24th, 2011

Excerpt:

SALT LAKE CITY — The rain stopped falling long enough Thursday afternoon for Sharon Leopardi to pull a few weeds from her backyard garden.

It’s not actually her backyard. And it’s not her only garden.

In this particular backyard on Logan Avenue, the 24-year-old is growing radishes, carrots and spinach. Elsewhere in her collection of backyard gardens around the city, Leopardi grows beets, onions, squash and 40 varieties of tomatoes.

And in the back room of Mountain Valley Seed at 455 W. 1700 South, she grows micro-greens such as basil and cilantro.

Leopardi is the owner of Backyard Urban Garden (BUG) Farms, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) business that uses Salt Lake City residents’ backyards as places to grow, tend and harvest fresh produce to sell to consumers.

Read the complete article here.

"

(Via City Farmer News.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vandana Shiva: Time to End the War Against the Earth

A woman who has been working long and hard to build a more just food system. She always has something to say that is well worth reading. So get to reading then...

"Vandana Shiva: Time to End the War Against the Earth":

"When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration."

Click here to read this article

(Via Organic Consumers Association News Headlines.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foodies on the Web - 15 Minutes Can Expand Your Customer Base!












Check out my recent article on the Mid-Region Council of Governments Ag Collaborative website:
"Did you know that in just 15 minutes you could expand your customer base exponentially? How, you might ask? With web-based technology like social media!..."

Read More: http://www.mrcog-nm.gov/show-all-ag-blog-showallagblog-211/445-foodies-on-the-web-15-minutes-can-expand-your-customer-base

It's Time for Preserving!!!

Check out my recent post on the Mid-Region Council of Governments Ag Collaborative site:



"This is the time for making the most of your harvest, or of the harvest of other local growers, by preserving summer’s bounty so that winter can be just as abundant. There are a number of ways you can preserve veggies, fruits, herbs, dairy products and meat, with very little time and energy..."

Read More: http://www.mrcog-nm.gov/show-all-ag-blog-showallagblog-211/442-its-time-for-preserving

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo portraits of urban farmers by Joshua David Stein

Post Via City Farmer News.

annie5.jpg

"Annie Novak, Co-founder, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Greenpoint. Photo by by Joshua David Stein. See all the photos here.

What an Urban Farmer Looks Like - A field guide to the city’s new breed of growers.

By Joshua David Stein
New York Magazine
Sept. 19, 2010

Excerpt:

Until the mid-nineteenth century, most of New York City was farmland. Now, thanks to the constant drumbeat of locavorism, some of it is going back to seed. Urban horticulture has long been practiced at hundreds of community gardens around the city. But a new class of growers is more concerned with bolstering a sustainable food system and, if possible, turning a profit than with cultivating a peaceful vegetable plot.

In studiously trendy neighborhoods like Red Hook, Greenpoint, and Long Island City, the farming is done on rooftops and old basketball courts, mostly by the young, idealistic, and educated. Some still follow the old church-pantry model, but others are more entrepreneurial, relying on restaurant sales and CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscriptions to turn farming into a viable business. Here, a portfolio of the city’s most prolific food producers, and a map of where to find them.

Mapping the city’s most notable farms.

1. Added Value
370 Van Brunt St., at Wolcott St., Red Hook; added-value.org
Harvests enough food to support a CSA, a farmers’ market, and sales to restaurants like the Good Fork and Fort Defiance.

2. Bed-Stuy Farm
255 Bainbridge St., nr. Patchen Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant; brooklynrescuemission.org
All produce goes to the Brooklyn Rescue Mission’s pantry and a weekly farmers’ market.

3. BK Farmyards
Multiple locations; bkfarmyards.com
A growing network of small plots farmed mostly by students and community members.

4. Brooklyn Grange
37-18 Northern Blvd., nr. 37th St., Long Island City; brooklyn grangefarm.com
A for-profit rooftop farm founded in part by the owners of Roberta’s.

See all the photos, stories, and list of farms here."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Have I Been Coveting???

Well, a Le Creuset stockpot!! And what do you know...CHEESESLAVE is holding a contest to win one. So I'm upping my chances to win by posting about it here. Send me positive winning vibes please. REALLY...I need them...I'm not one with a lucky streak, so I need all the help I can get.

Giveaway: Enter to Win a Le Creuset Stockpot ($55 value): "It’s Christmas in September! I just want to say this. I really love you guys. If it weren’t for you, I would just be writing a blog talking to myself. You are what makes this fun and engaging and interesting. So I want to do something to say thank you. Winning is Fun! I don’t [...]"

(Via CHEESESLAVE.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Town in Wyoming Close to Drilling Told To Avoid Drinking Water

gasland-burning-tap-water-photo1.jpg
image via Gasland

"I lived in Wyoming for 8 years and it breaks my heart that the state's landscape is being so significantly altered by the oil, coal and gas industry. I never visited the town of Pavillion when I was in Wyoming, and now I don't have much of a desire to go there after federal officials told locals to avoid drinking their tap water and to make sure they have ventilation when showering. Pavillion is located close to several natural gas drilling sites. ..."Read the full story on TreeHugger

(Via TreeHugger.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fresh fruits & veggies for Abq. students

Fresh fruits and veggies are going to students in Albuquerque due to funding provided via Albuquerque Public Schools. Check out the video segment on KOAT.com!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nestle Chairman Is a Total Hypocrite on Water Pricing



"Nestle apparently has no shame. And no, I'm not referring to the company's campaign to sell junk food to the world's poor — this time, it's about water. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestle, has a recent op-ed in The Guardian that is a call to 'pay the true price of water.' This is a surprising piece of writing from a company that is one of the world's biggest water bottlers, controlling a third of the U.S. market and bottling about 70 brands, including Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Perrier, and Poland Spring. And what may be even more surprising is that Brabeck-Letmathe fails to even mention water-bottling once in his entire piece. Wonder why?

His theory on water pricing is basically what's known as full-cost pricing, which means that we should be paying a lot more for water. In theory, this isn't necessarily a bad idea, depending on how it's done. After all, people are more likely to conserve when things get more expensive. Although if this translates to an increased number people not being able to afford their water bills for basic services, then that's obviously a bad idea. Brabeck-Letmathe covers his bases here and says that small amounts of water for the poor for very little or free are OK, but if you use lots of water you should pay more. A few water districts in California have adopted this policy with some success.

However, Brabeck-Letmathe then points his finger at agriculture as where we should be focusing our attention to increase efficiency. He says that 'our planet's attitude towards water is wholly unsustainable,' a bold suggestion for a company that makes a handsome profit by bottling and selling water. He elaborates, 'I have long argued that we need to set a price that more accurately values our most precious commodity.' The key word to notice here is 'commodity.' Water is not our most precious resource, to him it is a commodity — something to be bought and sold, so clearly conservation and the right to water are not high priorities unless you can make a buck off of it.

Then he has the gall to write, 'For Nestle, this takes the form of training and the promotion of water stewardship, technical help, or even assistance through microfinance. This is as important to us as our commitment to reducing water waste in our own business.'

Nestle's so-called commitment to water conservation is the most blatant corporate 'bluewashing' out there. How come Brabeck-Letmathe fails to mention the company's involvement in bottled water in this discussion? I guess it would be a bit hard to conserve water in your business when that business is filling up bottles of water. He's interested in consumers and farmers paying the 'true price' of water, but his company gets away with paying peanuts for the liquid.

Just last year, Nestle easily secured a contract in Sacramento to bottle municipal water. Yep, that's right, the company bottled tap water to sell back to people. In Sacramento, there is no limit on how much the company can suck from the city's municipal system (and by the way, city residents had been under water restrictions at the time this deal was going through).

City Council member Kevin McCarty got wise to Nestle (although sadly he was in the minority). He said, 'At current rates, they would pay the city about 65 cents per 100 cubic feet of water, or 750 gallons. That works out to a payment to the city of $186 for the 215,000 gallons of water taken on an average day. By the time that water is bottled and put on a grocer's shelf, the consumers would pay more than $2.1 million for those 215,000 gallons — a profit margin of roughly 10,000 percent!'

Sounds like the ultimate racket, right? I guess when Brabeck-Letmathe wrote, 'the era of water at throwaway prices is coming to an end,' he didn't mean it should apply to his own company.

Photo credit: casey.marshall"

(Via Change.org's Sustainable Food Blog.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

I love the work of Temple Grandin!!!

"Q&A With Temple Grandin:


Dr. Temple Grandin has been a thought leader in both the animal agriculture and autism realms for decades. Grandin, the world’s most well-known autistic person, is a New York Times best-selling author, a professor of animal science, a consultant to the leading food companies, and a noted speaker on animal behavior and autism. She attributes her success in improving humane handling systems for livestock, systems that now impact around half the cattle in North America, to her different way of thinking. ‘As a person with autism, it is easy for me to understand how animals think because my thinking processes are like an animal’s,’ she says.

Earlier this year, Grandin was named a ‘Hero’ among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people and was the subject of the HBO film Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes. Food Safety News recently sat down with Dr. Grandin to discuss meat production and humane handling.

Q: How does animal stress and humane handling affect meat quality and safety? Ethics aside, why should consumers be concerned about humane handling?

A: In pigs, if you stress them with prods and things five minutes before slaughter you get pale, soft meat-it’s watery, soft meat, yucky pork-that’s real bad.  
 
With cattle, in the last five minutes you can get tough meat. In the last five minutes before slaughter you can really make a mess. If you get animals all excited before slaughter they [defecate] more, if they’ve got bad E. coli in them, that can get out and be spread around.

Q: Is line speed an important factor?

A: Everyone thinks high line speed is bad. Actually, high line speed plants work really well if they’re set up right. What’s bad is overloaded equipment that’s understaffed, that’s what’s bad. That can happen at a small plant, that can happen at a big plant. One of the worst plants I ever saw for understaffed and overloaded equipment, it went from 26 an hour to 35 an hour. They were slammin’ gates all over, they got their inspection suspended. This little plant worked fine at 26 an hour (and it was one of the niche markets it sold into)… You can have a big plant that might work like a dream at 300 an hour and then you push it to 330 and it’s horrible. If it’s set up right, high speed plants can work great.

Q: You’ve spent a lot of time out in the field, what portion of slaughterhouses are doing it right?

A: Ironically, most of the big plants that are audited by McDonald’s and places like that, I’m not going to say they’re perfect, but an atrocity like this last video with the pitchforks in the udder, you’re not going to see anything like that.  
 
What I get concerned about is the little local places that are not being audited. I’ve been involved in working with and training auditors for big plants and small plants…for the big plants the audits started 10 years ago, in 1999. The little plants, there was a five year delay for them. The big plants were just horrible when we first started and then when we walked into some of these little plants they were just as horrid. The thing I have found about little plants, they’re either really good or really bad. There’s like no middle road. It’s so dependent on the attitude of the manager.

Q: You certainly hear the argument that small, local meat producers are generally better…

A: Not necessarily. The thing that’s important is whether people care. That is important. I’ve done a lot of work with the big companies, and I can’t be naming names, but I’ve done construction work for all of them. There were some that were like the BP of the meat industry-rushed, sloppy, cutting corners on methods, cutting corners on materials, and the way they treat animals was atrociously bad-and then you’ve got the companies that don’t do those things. It gets down to the top person caring. It’s the attitude. It’s gotta start with top management. It’s gotta start with the top person caring. I’ve watched some of these corporate eyes get opened.

I remember the day when one of the McDonald’s executives saw a half-dead cow go into his product. Man, he lost it. Like ‘whoa - there’s some things we’ve got to fix.’ You’ve got to get customers out of the office and get them seeing stuff. If people care it makes all the difference. It’s the big plants that started [paying attention to humane handling], let’s give them some credit where they need some credit. The big plants started the animal welfare conference, we’ve had that welfare conference for over 10 years. They’ve become more and more conscious of this. Cargill has been a real leader, they’ve put video auditing in all their pork and beef plants. They’ve been a total leader in that. It’s audited over the internet by third party auditors. Some of the other companies are starting to do it for food safety, for critical testing, and dressing procedures.

Q: As a consumer, how do you tell the difference between the good and the bad?

A: I’m at the point right now where I want to put it all on live video on the internet. I’m at the point where I want the industry to take all the mystery out of things. Some of the companies have video auditing and that’s good… but put a live feed out to the internet so anybody can look. What have we got to hide? The only things that I think are really proprietary are the customer lists and maybe the boxes where they pack product. We have got to take the mystery out of it…I’ve been going to cattlemen’s meetings and saying ‘let’s put tours of ranches up on YouTube.’ We need to be showing what we do. I’ve got pictures and video of cattle and pigs dying up on the internet now on YouTube.

Q: So much of what we do see are the really bad examples, the undercover whistleblower stuff…the veal in Vermont, the recent dairy incident…

A: That was horrible, horrible, just horrible. That guy [from Conklin dairy] also has felony charges on an illegal gun.


Q: Are these isolated incidents?


A: Most places are not doing stuff that horrible. To say that every dairy treats their animals that way, no, that’s wrong, they’re not. But on the other hand, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle, between the animal rights advocates that say everything is an atrocity, to the industry who says everything’s just fine. I’ve worked in a lot of places. It’s somewhere in the middle. It’s a constant battle. You can’t under staff and overwork. Tired people are more likely to get angry, and so are overworked people.

Q: What about high turnover?

A: Well, if you treat the people decently you want have such high turnover. I was horrified to find out about a dairy that was working its Mexican employees 12 hours a day and not giving them lunch breaks, that’s just terrible. I think we have to have more customers getting involved. I just read something about people jumping off the roof in some factory in China. Well, whosever electronics electronic doo-dads are getting made in that factory, those companies need to go into those factories and straighten this out. That’s unacceptable. Customers drive change.

Q: Knowing what you know, are there certain things that you avoid, do you understand the difficulties consumers face trying to make sense of all of this?

A: I’m very concerned about what I call biological system overload. We’re pushing chickens, turkeys, dairy cows, and other animals to where they’re falling apart. We’re seeing lameness and abnormal growth problems. Beef cattle still live outside so we haven’t messed them up.

Q: Do you think that affects us?

A: No, no I don’t think it affects us. A lot of people think chickens are fed hormones and they’re not. The chickens just grow really fast because they’ve been bred to grow really fast. It’s genetics. Same thing with turkeys.

Q: Do you have confidence in the way we raise, slaughter, and process meat?

A: When it’s done right, yeah. Things have to be done right. You’ve got to figure out critical control points are really important, and you’ve got to do it right.

Q: Do you take issue with the subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed?

A: The thing that’s not known, when it comes to antibiotics in feed, is that a lot of it comes out the backside of the animal. What does that do? It’s a massive, uncontrolled experiment. I’m not worried about eating the meat, that doesn’t worry me. The meat’s fine. With the antibiotics you’ve got science and nature…I’m reading a ton of red flags. I’m going to call them red flags at this point. Let’s look real sensible into the future… There’s things that big Ag can learn from organic. In the future, there will be a new large scale type of commercial agriculture. We’re still going to use chemicals, we’re still going to use antibiotics, but we’re going to use a whole lot less of them. We’re going to adopt some of these crop rotation practices, get rid of some of the monoculture and kind of make a new large-scale commercial that will be economical. But, as long as corn and oil are cheap, this no economic incentive to change. Somewhere in the middle I can see some kind of a hybrid thing forming. Right now, big Ag looks at Michael Pollan as being kind of evil. Well I say, ‘there’s a lot of things that Michael Pollan and you agree on, have you ever actually read the book?’

Originally published on Food Safety News


"

(Via Civil Eats.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Is Biodynamic Farming?


"If you've been around the sustainable food block, you may have run across a term that sounds a little too sci-fi to relate to agriculture and a little too earthy to be about anything high-tech. The mystery term of which I speak is 'biodynamic agriculture.' If I've already lost you, trust me, you're not the only one who doesn't have a clue what it's all about.

Biodynamic ag has its roots in Germany, where an Austrian scientist and philosopher named Rudolph Steiner engaged in a series of discussions and lectures in 1924. The ideas embodied in his legendary lectures formed the basis of biodynamics. The concept he developed, as the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association succinctly puts it, is 'a unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the earth-organism to that of the entire cosmos.'

While it may sound like we're actually talking sci-fi after all, the idea of biodynamics arose out of a concern for the most earthly element around us—soil. After chemical fertilizers were introduced at the turn of the last century, some of the more observant and sensitive scientists out there began to notice a change in soil quality, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Biodynamics was thus the first ecologically minded, grassroots response to chemical-intensive farming.