Ok so it's not winning an Olympic gold medal or landing a souped up Toyota Hilux on the surface on mars but in the history of Lantanaland dairying, it ranks up there with the best Brie I have made.
The book that really kicked me into thinking about living this life was 'A Year of Slow Food', by David and Gerda Foster. Brutally honest about the pros and cons of running a small holding, it nevertheless talked about butter as an annoying by product of owning a dairy cow, of having to dump it to reclaim freezer space, trawling through recipe books for butter heavy recipes and making tons of shortbread.
Now anyone who has eaten my food knows that I am a butter freak. Margarine does not cross my threshold and is viewed in the same category that Campbell Newman is at the headquarters of the public sector union. The day i made my first hollandaise is celebrated every year. So the thought of endless mountains of butter was a touch appealing. The first cow I milked was disappointing, I tried every different way possible, I consulted with dairy people on twitter, I prayed to the milk gods but I could not make butter.
The second cow I milked was not much better, as she never let me milk her out, always saving some for the calf. (for non dairy peeps, the cream is all at the end of milking, so if you just get the top bit, it is pretty much skim milk). Now however, my favorite cow, Dolores is in the milking bale. Placid and adoring, Dolores sits there quite happily till I milk her out. And cream? The first time I milked her I think there was more cream than milk! I couldn't ask for better raw product.
The final piece of the puzzle might be the blender I bought for making The Boy's meals. It hasn't been used at all for that, the stem blender has worked fine but it killed it making the butter. Yesterday I skimmed the cream off tastetrekkers milk and my bottle, placed it in a jar with a scoop of yoghurt and let it culture for a day. Then back in the fridge to chill and the into the blender. Immediately I could tell it was working, I could hear the motor working as the cream thickened then see the butterfat separate from the milk. I was left with about 300g of butter and a bottle of buttermilk, which means pancakes for breakfast Saturday.
The sense of pride was palpable. I had finally cracked the butter code. But what to celebrate with? Eggs benedict, smothered in hollandaise? Simple boiled spuds smothered in butter? Some brioche? I think I'll just make them all!