butter

the butter

This is a post that was almost lost to the havoc a rabbit's fuzzy feet can wreak on a keyboard. My cavorting Zephyr, I love you very much, and you will teach me to save my work. We happened to mention scalloped potatoes, one of us to the other, and they immediately claimed a space in our weekend, our supper (two nights in a row, now), and our bellies. It was decided that Julia Child should be the voice of authority on the matter, and a very good decision that was. I will say this, however: the butter! I know she has a reputation for her love of butter, and so do I, truly, at least among family and friends. But the quantities! I get a little anxious when our butter supply runs low, and though generally generous with the good stuff, even I voiced concerns of it being excessive and threw in a few "Oh Julia!"'s for good measure. What follows is a rough rendition of what we ate.

As I'm writing this, the fire is burning slow and bright in our fireplace; this first fire of the season. It emits a warm glow that stretches faintly toward our single-paned windows. Jer has been industriously plastic-sealing them for the winter, and though not attractive, it is a little less drafty in here.

Two Sunday nights ago (ages, I know, but I meant to exclaim about it): the moon! I hope you all saw it if you had the chance. It was steeped in an autumnal blush from all the reflected sunrises and sunsets of the world. We watched the light crawl back up into it from below and sensed that we really were seeing something. Somehow all the preceding eclipses (ever) skipped us by, either due to late inconvenient timing or cloudy skies, so this one seemed especially striking.

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Scalloped Potatoes adapted lightly but interpretatively from Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

- an ovenproof dish about 10" across and 2" deep (we used a 9x13 pyrex dish, but we did have extra potatoes). - 1 clove of garlic, cut in half. Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. (we sliced up the garlic after and put it in with the potatoes) - 4 tbsp butter (it seemed like so much more when Jer had a great hunk of it looming on the counter and being dispersed freely in great lumps- he may also have measured rather generously) - 2 lbs "boiling" potatoes (we used 3lbs Yukon Gold but that may have been too much as it cooked slower than expected. We did end up with a pleasing amount of leftovers. I didn't peel the potatoes and they turned out delicious, but I suppose you could if you felt you had to.) Slice the potatoes fairly thinly (no thicker than 1/8") and place in cold water for now. - 1 cup milk, heated until it boils - 1 cup or so grated cheese (we probably used more like two cups, mostly Parmesan and some mozzarella because that was what the fridge contained) - salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel (or skip the whole water step above if you work quickly). Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish and cover with half of the cheese, butter and salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining potatoes on top and cover with the second half of the cheese and butter and seasoning. Pour on the boiling milk. Place baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven (we completely missed the stovetop step but I imagine it is helpful for cooking the potatoes quicker). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.

In praise of the cheap and simple

_MG_6881 I made butter earlier this month. Made butter!

I lucked into a tall glass bottle of free Dutchman Dairy whipping cream. I also got one for a good friend who likes it in her coffee, tea, breakfast and dessert. I don't like it quite that much. It's nice to top off a dinner party, and for fancy recipes, but in the middle of a week, especially when I've been making these scones on the weekends, there's nothing quite so nice as free butter.

All these years, I've whipped cream cautiously, with warnings about it turning into butter at one whip too many hovering over my shoulder. Not so. It takes a lot of whipping before it starts to separate. Oooh but when it does! Something about making my own butter at home is deeply thrilling. I get excited about butter.

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I've been enjoying making these felt birds, and spending way too much time on the internet.

I love when the dishes are clean and the counters wiped, and the horizontal wooden surface of the table is cleared.

I'm still delighted with the tiny white-bellied squirrel outside the window, and all our funny pets inside.

I am so grateful to the sweet team of ladies at work who brought me groceries.

And, I'm a little excited to have one more week of relaxed convalescence, and then my bank account and I are very excited about going back to work the week after that. In the meantime, I'll be in search of the smallest, simplest and  least expensive pleasures, with butter.

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