Thursday, February 25, 2010

Better Butter

Growing up I realized early on that the food in my house was very different than the other houses in our small town. This was before Heinen’s had moved to town and before Giant Eagle had an organics section. My mom was in a food co-op that would order all the health foods and exotic ingredients that are easy to find in grocery stores today. The co-op met at a local town hall to unload the truck. I don’t know exactly how the whole process worked, I just know the place had a very distinctive smell and we were left to play in the basement with all the home school kids while the grown-ups divvied up the food. And we came home with crazy foods; brown foods with words like “natural” and “organic” all over them and produce that wasn’t waxed.

I thought we were such freaks. I loved going to friends’ houses and eating Skippy peanut butter on white bread and cheetos for lunch. We were totally deprived of all the processed sugar and foods that were being marketed to us on Nickelodeon. Fruit snacks. Frosted Flakes. Slim Jims. Not in our house.

Looking back I wish I would have appreciated it more. This is totally the way I eat now, but at the time it was torture. My taste buds were very different back then – I didn’t like cheese, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, yogurt, beans or most veggies. Today these foods constitute like 90% of my diet. But my mom was persistent and our family dinners turned me into the food adventurer I am today.

One thing that was always different was our butter. Ours was in an old jelly jar and we called it “better butter”. I would forget this was different until a friend would come over after school and when we fixed some toast for a snack they would look at me like “I’m supposed to do what with this?” when I handed them the jar of butter. I suppose this isn’t really too weird compared to other stuff we were eating. And I’m not sure how much “better” this butter actually is for you. But I grew up on it, so to me, this is what butter on toast or mixed in basmati rice should taste like.

Ready for me to blow your mind? Here is the super complicated recipe for Better Butter:

Equal parts butter and oil.

Boom. You’re welcome.

So when you are diluting butter with oil I’m not sure exactly how much healthier you are making the situation, but the whole spreadable thing is nice. To elaborate on the recipe a bit, the way my mom makes it is just to leave the butter on the counter until it is nice and soft. Then put in the food processor with equal parts oil (whatever kind, I use canola cuz it is cheaper, but olive oil would be lovely and probably healthier) and combine. Then pour into a container and refrigerate. It will harden to a more butter like consistency, but it is much easier to spread than regular butter straight out of the fridge. And it melts into a more oily spread that I prefer.

I have some exciting news about the basement kitchen that I have been keeping from you – we got a fridge!!!! My parents are remodeling their kitchen and decided they wanted a counter depth refrigerator, so we got their old one for the basement. It is wonderful to have it down there. It has an ice maker! Major bonus for ice cream making. And I was running up and down the stairs constantly, which was good for my glutes, but annoying in the middle of making dinner. My mom’s fridge just felt empty without the jar of better butter in there. So I made a batch with some local butter from the farmers market. It’s not from a food co-op, but its close.

Oh yeah, oh yeah