Dark Days – Potatoes Au Gratin

December 12, 2009

It is the end of the semester for the two family faculty members, plus the usual meetings, the occasional holiday concert, etc. etc.  I am not whining, I’m explaining.  Dark Days week 4 was in danger of sneaking by with nothing au gratinto say for itself.  But we pulled our act together and my husband made potatoes au gratin.

We used the natural/ethical/local milk we are fond of and local cheddar cheese.  I made butter from cream from the same dairy that our milk comes from.  And the potatoes came from our own organic (and of course, sustainable and ethical, and needless to say, local) garden.  A baked potato for the youngest and hydroponically grown local salad for the oldest (and any other takers).

My husband is a tad lactose intolerant and the milk in this meal put him over the comfort edge, so we probably won’t repeat it.

Butter making does not seem to be as straightforward as you would assume.  Beat the milk until it cries Uncle has always been my recipe.  This time I beat it and beat it and it got to the consistency of very very hard whipped cream or very very light butter, but never clumped together and separated from the butter milk.  I don’t know the variables that might affect butter making.  I don’t know if freshness of the cream matters, or how rich that cream is to start with, or the temperature, or the mood of the cow.  I just don’t know. I suspect I could have/should have beat it longer.  But then again my husband has declared this the best butter he has ever tasted.butter and baked  So perhaps I’ll aim for this consistency in the future.

Luckily, I have this cute butter dish to put it in.  It is incredibly light (the butter, not the dish) and it is awfully tempting to spread it on bread like it is cream cheese rather than butter. 

Next week? Who knows which direction the muse will send us.



  1. […] and her husband made potatoes au gratin with potatoes from their garden, local cheddar cheese and homemade butter.  Wendy’s butter […]

  2. I have that same butter dish!

    I think I’ve lost track of the weeks of the Dark Days – I thought this week was week 5

    • I *think* that THIS week *is* week 5 – but last week, when we made the potatoes (and I use the word “we” loosely – meaning my husband) was week 4 – – or we missed a week somewhere – certainly not unlikely given holidays and hecticness.

  3. Yum!

    I love cream when it is at that “almost butter” stage; I think it makes a great spread for scones. You probably needed to beat the cream more; freshness shouldn’t have an impact on it (I know people who don’t make butter until the cream is a week past expiration!) Usually there is this one moment when the cream breaks and the buttermilk separates (it usually happens to me when the mixer is on too high and it sends buttery bits all over the kitchen!)

  4. LOL. And here I thought you actually used a butter churn! I don’t suppose natural/ethical milk comes in non-fat?

    • Sure does!

      • Thanks for the tip — good to know.

  5. Sounds yummy! I can never get my butter to turn out right, so I’ve given up. Kudos to you.

    • yummy, but short lived. We tend to leave our butter out to keep soft (although this doesn’t need to be) and I can taste the butter milk souring. It’s not bad, kind of tangy at the moment – probably yucky tomorrow (although it is in the fridge now!).

    • shhh, I didn’t know butter could turn out wrong.

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