Monday, July 26, 2010

Butter Churn

This is a stoneware butter churn jar. My parents used to keep it on the the fireplace hearth and use it to store fatwood. I have never seen the lid to it, nor the dasher (the part used to churn butter), most likely because they were probably made of wood and eventually rotted away. The lid would have been a circular disc with a hole in it, and the dasher would have been a stick like a broom handle with an "x" shaped crosspiece attached to the business end.

I have no idea how old this thing is...about all I can say is old. It was an antique the first time I ever saw it, and the first time I ever saw it, I was a toddler.

I ain't gonna say how old I am, but suffice it to say that the birthday cake presented to me yesterday did not have any candles on it due to fire code regulations. Lets just say I was a toddler a long ass time ago and leave it at that.

Anyways, see that "2" stamped on there? I am guessing that means it holds two gallons.

I noticed  that this churn has a perfectly round hollow in the bottom of it. I cleaned it up and looked at it closely and realized that the hollow had no glaze in it, while the rest of the churn did.  (it is shiny in the picture down below because it got wet when I washed it out and there is water in the hole) I am thinking that hollow was worn down by whatever was holding the crosspiece on the dasher. It does not look like it was part of the deliberate design of the jar, so I am thinking it was worn there by years of use.

The way this thing worked was you simply dumped some cold cream in there, dropped in the dasher, fitted the lid, and then sat down for a long session of whipping the dasher around in the cream. That's it. You just froth the cream around and it will turn into whipped cream, getting harder and harder to churn. The whipped cream will get stiffer and stiffer and then all of a sudden it will start liquefying again and start sloshing around as the milkfat starts separating from the whey. Keep going and what you will have is clots of butter sticking to the crock and the dasher and floating in the remaining buttermilk.

There is no mystery here. You can do this, as I do, in the kitchen with a bread machine (should have a butter function or simply a knead function. Either should work.). You can use a mixer (I tried using a blender once, results not awesome with that.). My dad used to make butter using an old mason jar. Just put the cream in and shake till it throws the milkfat.

Then you pour strain out the buttermilk and rinse the butter in cold water. Rinse well, as the remaining buttermilk can make it go rancid more quickly. Blot dry and maybe mix it up with a little salt, if you like salted butter.

You can then press the butter into a mold (I even have a pretty stamp to put on mine) or just scoop it into a bowl.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So, yeah. The pacing of this thing.

Here is the problem: some people read this thing all at once. They sit down, and rip through it all at once. And some people read it weekly, in thousand word (more or less) bites.

It seems like the time from the start of the story has been forever, but really, it hasn't. Only a couple weeks have passed, really. Granted, they are busy weeks, but there you go.

So I am constantly torn between feeling like time is passing too quickly to feeling like it is dragging.

Not a problem you have with a normal, printed type book. Nor something I foresaw when I started this thing.

Anyways, I would love some of you to chime in with your thoughts on this since you are the ones reading it. Stories, after all, are as much about how they are interpreted as how they are told.

In other news, the Zuda thing. Kaput. No Five Dollar Mail comic, at least at this time. Evidently, DC Comics pulled the rug out from under the thing, leaving some of the creative teams involved high and dry. I am frankly sick and horribly disappointed about this development. However, as sick as I am over it, I can't even begin to imagine how bad the creative teams that have actual submissions in the works over there feel. To have all that work and money invested in a project and then have it all evaporate like must really, really suck.

The good news is that it looks like we will be doing an illustrated stand alone short story about a particular coach run involving Saint and Wash, so I will keep you posted on that. The story is the same one we were going to use for the Zuda competition, and is written by myself and guest poster Evelyn. It will be illustrated by the wonderful Diego.

And, on a completely different and off topic note, for those of you who will be at a certain very large campground in western Pennsylvania later this summer, I will be there for War Week and if you find yourself there too, I would love to meet you.