OMG I love the taste of real butter – I remember so well the creamy yellow full-fat butter made by my grandmother on their arable farm. They always had a cow, though, kept for the milk. First the cow would be milked by hand, the warm, frothy milk splashing straight from the cow into the milk pail. Then the milk pail would be left to settle in the ‘milk-house’ which was a long, cool, stone-built out-building by the back door to the farmhouse. In due course the cream would be skimmed off the top of the milk and it was this cream that would be made into butter.
The old labour-intensive wooden butter churn still sat in the milk-house, next to the cool marble-topped work surface, but by the time I was old enough to remember the process the butter was being made in the kitchen using a standard electric mixer. From runny liquid whipped up to a thick cream to making little yellow globules of fat solids in white opaque liquid with minimal effort – perfect! Once the butter was fully separated from the buttermilk in the mixing bowl it was taken out and washed in cold water and salted to taste, before being carefully formed into a small rectangular block using ridged wooden butter pats.
In my memory the residual buttermilk was always given to the chickens to help keep them healthy… Oh, and thinking of the chickens reminds me of the fun of egg-collecting, too. I remember us grand-children being sent into the hen-house to collect the eggs, nestling so gently in the straw all brown and fragile. Carrying them in to the kitchen so carefully, then having them soft-boiled and sat in individual egg-cups with a steaming little cap sliced off the top, just enough to be able to dip in lavishly buttered toasted soldiers – long thin fingers of toasted bread, just perfect for dipping into the egg…
Such wonderful childhood memories… Actually I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a soft-boiled egg eaten with butter-laden toasted soldiers, but I’m almost tempted to give it a go tonight! 🙂
Yeah I know, not exactly exciting to look at but hello, we’re in lockdown – nowhere much to go and nothing much to see! So here is a pictorial record of the making of yesterday’s lentil soup from the initial smoked ham hock boiling to make stock, chopped vegetables waiting to join the red lentils and seasoning already added to the stock, the basic soup before and after cooking, and a lovely hot bowlful ready to eat on a cold winter’s day.
And the best thing about it was – I really could taste it! After a month of Covid blandness it was such a relief to actually taste something properly again, and hopefully fingers crossed this is the start of my tastebuds functioning like real tastebuds once more. I’ve got used to the disappointment of being able to discern little more than salty or sweet or spicy, relying on texture rather than taste to bring any enjoyment to my eating.
I do appreciate that there seems to be no rhyme nor reason with Covid recovery, no standard straight-line progression from sick to well. It seems to be more of a two steps forward, one step back dance of discovery around some symptoms coming and going, ebbing and flowing, keeping you on your toes – it’s exhausting and perplexing and just so damned frustrating to not know from one day to the next how you’re going to be feeling.
But in the meantime, at least I enjoyed my soup! 🙂
More often than not it’s the little things in life that make me smile the most, especially in our Covid-restricted world of lockdown. So this morning I’ve been looking through a beautifully illustrated little book titled ‘The Art of Kindness: Caring for Ourselves, Each Other & Our Earth’ by Meredith Gaston and enjoying a cup of tea and a home-baked lemon cake.
I only made half a dozen small cakes rather then a huge batch (and now only four are left) but even so I really enjoyed the familiar process of measuring out the ingredients and mixing up the cake batter – and the lemon glace icing ended up a little on the runny side but that doesn’t matter, after all cake is cake and it all goes down the same way 🙂
Right now it feels like the world needs a lot more kindness and consideration in it, a lot more love and a lot less hate – and of course a little culinary indulgence now and again to lift our spirits! ❤
My daughter bought some Biscuit Brew tea bags to try them for taste, but she really didn’t like them so has passed them on to me – I must admit these may be a fun flavour to try but are really not my cup of tea either… 🙂
My Weekly Smile this week just has to be the sheer delight on my husband’s face to actually be picking fat juicy plums daily from his own plum tree! I grew up with a plum tree growing in my mum and dad’s garden so I guess I just don’t share the same novelty factor of having an over-abundance of fresh plums available on the doorstep. We’ve already had a yummy plum crumble made with the first batch, as well as just eating the plums au naturel of course! Plenty more where they came from… I’m sure we’ll both be sick of the sight of them before long, but luckily we have plenty of family who have offerred to help eat as many as we can spare 🙂
What better way to cheer myself up on a restful, rainy summer afternoon off than enjoying a refreshing cup of tea and a freshly baked fairy cake, light and fluffy and only an hour out the oven… And the icing on the cake is that the kitchen still smells of warm, sweet vanilla – Yum! 🙂