I really like making things with the kids, especially goofy things we do with our hands and that get us exercise. Add in food, and that’s even better, especially if it’s something we’ll be able to keep doing when we get to Africa.
I’ve made whipped cream with them a few times, and we did that again the other day. I always enjoy watching it transform suddenly from liquid to foam. Reminding the kids that whipping it too long can turn it into butter led to an Internet search, a video, and a desire to make butter ourselves.
Care for the recipe? Take chilled, heavy cream, pour it into a cool jar, close, and shake. A lot. Salt to taste.
Seriously, that’s all it takes: the right material, containment, agitation, and time.
But time is relative, and half an hour seemed pretty long this afternoon while shaking a jar half-full of cream. There was plenty of time to think and more than enough to begin doubting. Watching the cream not seem to do anything was getting a bit disappointing, a bit frustrating. It was taking longer than I’d expected. I’ve never been particularly good with waiting; “Lord, give me patience, and send it right now, please.”
About twenty minutes in, I didn’t feel it sloshing around much anymore, so I opened the jar and checked. It had expanded to the top of the jar and looked like runny whipped cream. We found another container, poured some out, and started shaking two batches. Each one’s foamy cream promptly expanded to fill the space and seemed not to move. I had to keep tamping my jar against my palm to make space for shaking.
A few minutes later, I checked again and found stiffly whipped cream; no more sloshing at all. It was staying put exactly where it was, and I didn’t think it was working. I suggested adding some sugar and using it for dessert.
“Nah, we said we were going to make butter,” Tracy said. “I want to see if we can make it.”
We kept shaking, and hoping, and wondering. Mine started holding together and moving in the jar. The edge began showing a little wetness, and the wad slid better.
Suddenly, the butter “broke,” a term and stage I’d forgotten knowing about. The lecithin stopped emulsifying the fat and buttermilk, and they separated into liquid and small lumps of butter. A few more minutes of shaking and draining, and there was a wad of perfect, unsalted butter, deliciously ready for the bread that was waiting.
All it took was faith, focus, patience and perseverance. What could be better to build with the kids?