I have a wonderful friend named Jacob who has a gift for homemade things. He made the veil “hat” I wore on my wedding day, after sizing my head using plastic bags and a fair amount of duct tape. He then carefully cut and appliquéd Alençon lace onto a delicate piece of netting as we sat at the table sipping beer and listening to Dolly Parton.
He also quilts, sews, reupholsters furniture, and fearlessly preserves everything from cucumbers to bell peppers to asparagus to fruit preserves and Bloody Mary mix. He rarely visits without bringing along a homemade gift for the host (“I quilted you a sleeve for your coffee!”), a unique little greeting card or jar of preserves.
So when I asked him to bring ingredients to make herb butter last weekend for bread-making day, it came as no surprise that he showed up with a carton of whipping cream, a small mason jar and a single sprig of rosemary he’d plucked from a friend’s garden.
“Where’s the butter?” I asked. “Have you never made butter from scratch before?” he gasped. “It’s so easy.” And so, he poured the cream into the jar, along with a little salt and a sprinkling of fresh rosemary and chives. Then he, my friend Maggie, my mom, husband and I took turns shaking the dickens out of the cream for the next 15 minutes until the buttermilk and solids separated. (Yes, it took that many of us to churn less than a pint of cream.) And then there it was: fresh herb butter, with a side of herb buttermilk!
Something inexplicable happens to you when you shake a jar of cream as hard as you can. You start smiling…
until you can’t stop.
I’m not sure why this is, but try to make a sad face while you’re shaking cream to make butter. It’s almost impossible.
“Oh my god, I can see the butter in there!” Maggie shrieked.
“Oooh, my turn to shake!” I cried, giggling maniacally.
All in all, it was a perfect slow Sunday, filled with butter-shaking and foccacia bread-making, laughing too loudly and enjoying the deck in the early summer sun. Friends and family dropped in here and there, all under the watchful eye of Penny–between naps, of course. The best part of the day was it ended with tearing off hunks of freshly baked focaccia and smearing them with homemade butter that melted the second it hit the bread. I couldn’t even spread it without smiling.