Aversion Becomes Obsession

butter separated into solids and milk, ready for kneading
I found nothing redeeming about apple butter as a kid. I didn't like the taste or texture and I didn't appreciate its masquerading as "butter" when it was nothing of the kind. But time passes, tastes mature and obsessions begin. Over the past weeks, I've turned a distaste for apple butter into a fascination. I've become so fascinated that I've almost convinced myself to select a bushel over the "large bag" when I go apple picking in Oak Glen.

Apple picking came to mind initially because it seemed like a fun, seasonal activity and because the older I get, the more I want to be around farms, fields, orchards and growing things. But as time passed and my vague idea grew into an actual plan, I started remembering all the apple recipes I have mentally earmarked. Since a coworker told me he substitutes vodka for water in pie dough, I've wanted to try his trick and make an apple pie. I have a recipe that I absolutely adore for apple-cranberry sauce that I've been making for 20 years (man, does time ever pass). I saved to my Tivo an old episode of Martha Stewart wherein she makes pork chops with sauteed apples. Anger Burger's pictures of her hand pies made me drool and inspired me to try them myself. And then, like a worm in an apple core, another idea wriggled through my brain... apple butter. Apple butter? Apple butter! APPLE BUTTER The deal was done, the die was cast, chose your metaphor: I'm still not exactly sure what apple butter is, but I'm totally committed to making it. The plan was to pick apples last Saturday and spend this week making appley delicacies. And then came this heat wave and a forecasted weekend high of 107 degrees for Oak Glen.

I am the produce of years of breeding between cold climate peoples... the Irish, Scottish, Russians, Danes and Inuits (really, my brother had our genes tested). So it shouldn't be surprising that I have a taste for both whiskey and vodka, and that I'm incapable of functioning in high heat.

Apple picking is postponed until the weather complies with my request for a "crisp fall day," and I cannot yet tell you how to make apple butter. However, I can tell you how to make regular butter. I've done it frequently. It's easy. It's fun. It will impress your friends and strike fear into the hearts of your enemies (maybe, probably not).

You just need a couple of tools: heavy cream at room temp, a food processor, a bowl (it's easier to pour off the buttermilk if you use a bowl with a spout) and a nice firm spatula. Pour the cream into the work bowl of a food processor and let it go. First, it will become whipped cream, then the cream will "break" and begin to separate into fat globs and liquid. Once the globs have mostly come together and the butter spins around either as one giant blob, or it stops spinning and hunkers down in one section of the work bowl, dump the butter and buttermilk into your spouty bowl. Pour off the liquid and then knead the butter with your spatula, pouring off liquid as needed until liquid stops appearing as you knead. I usually add a little salt around this time.

Once the kneading is done, I form the butter into cylinders, which makes it easy to store, weigh and cut off small bits as needed. To shape it, I dump a blob of butter into the center of a piece of wax paper, fold the paper over the blob and slowly push into the blob with the side of a cookie sheet, so the butter spreads sideways in the wax paper tube (this is a good way to make rolls of cookie dough too). Voila, homemade butter.

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