Usually I’m not a big fan of grapefruit, but the demerara sugar and the port wine could easily tempt me to try this dessert
Among the rolling hills of ancient Africa, sometime around 8000 B.C., a dusty traveler was making gastronomic history, quite by accident.
Thirsty from a long, hot journey, the weary herdsman reached for the sheepskin bag of milk knotted to the back of his pack animal. But as he tilted his head to pour the warm liquid into his mouth, he was astonished to find that the sheep’s milk had curdled. The rough terrain and constant joggling of the milk had transformed it into butter – and bewilderingly, it tasted heavenly.
That’s likely how it went down, as author Elaine Khosrova explains in her new book, Butter: A Rich History. From happy Neolithic-era accident to inspiration for student protests to tabletop staple, butter has had quite the ride over the past 10,000 years.
Butter appeared on the world scene soon after the domestication of animals, although the first primitive batches would scarcely resemble the sticks that sit on your refrigerator shelf. Instead of cows, she writes, early butter came from the milk of yak, sheep and goats — the very first tamed beasts of our ancestors.
And while archaeologists have unearthed a 4,500-year-old limestone tablet depicting early butter-making, it’s not clear precisely how our ancestors shifted from “accidental discovery” to purposeful manufacturing. Khosrova writes that after trial and error, early civilizations probably realized that if they removed the milk pouch “off the back of animal and hung [it] like a cradle from a tree limb,” it could be deliberately “agitated” into sumptuous golden kernels. According to Khosrova, isolated communities in North Africa and the Middle East still make their butter in this way.
As butter spread, it took on new uses and meaning. Ancient Romans associated it with barbarism, much preferring to slather their bread in locally abundant olive oil rather than resort to the food of their enemies, the marauding army from Gaul. But they appreciated butter for its “curative properties,” Khosrova says. Romans used butter for cosmetic purposes and also as a healing balm, often sneaking tiny licks in between applications on their wounds.
Perhaps most surprising is the story of butter’s sacred and supernatural past. For many ancient civilizations, the unexplained mystery behind milk’s transformation into butter made it seem magical. It “seemed like a marvelous event,” Khosrova says.
Ancient Sumerians offered up gifts of butter at temple in honor of the “powerful fertility goddess Inanna, protector of the seasons and harvest,” she writes.
Recent discoveries in Ireland of ancient bog butter — wooden buckets loaded with butter and hidden in expanses of mossy swamp — date back as far as 400 B.C. These long-lost provisions were probably buried by early Celts, who knew that the Irish wetlands would preserve their spoils, keeping them edible for leaner times. But Khosrova also writes that ancient bog butter was likely presented to the pagan gods, as a way of appeasing the mystical “‘faeries’ that alternately terrified and awed country folk.”
Even the first-ever documented student protest in American history is linked with butter. Harvard University’s Great Butter Rebellion of 1766 began after a meal containing particularly rancid butter was served to students, who (not unlike modern college-goers) were frustrated over the state of food in the dining hall. As reported in The Harvard Crimson, Asa Dunbar (who would later become the grandfather of Henry David Thoreau), incited the student body into action by hopping onto his chair, shouting, “Behold our butter stinketh! Give us therefore butter that stinketh not!”
Once avoided for fears of making us overweight, butter is now making a vigorous comeback, with artisanal interpretations aplenty. And through small-batch production and experimentation, producers have returned to quaint traditions, such as slow-churning and hand packing, to recapture simple flavors and generate new ones.
As Khosrova sampled butter from around the world, she says that she was amazed by how a food with only one ingredient could produce so many diverse “nuances of flavors, textures and color.”
How this happens is a mystery that has astounded and confounded humanity for centuries. The history of butter is both humble and wondrous. With a simple batch of milk and a little creativity, a luscious — and magical — golden food is born.
A chafing dish (from the French chauffer, “to make warm”) is a kind of portable grate raised on a tripod, originally heated with charcoal in a brazier, and used for foods that require gentle cooking, away from the “fierce” heat of direct flames. The chafing dish could be used at the table or provided with a cover for keeping food warm on a buffet. Double dishes that provide a protective water jacket are known as bains-marie and help keep delicate foods, such as fish, warm while preventing overcooking.
Yet another grown-up sweets recipe found on chatelaine.com
These tempting truffles add an eye-catching flourish to the dessert table, and with their sweet cherry centre, they’ll disappear in no time.
These nuts seems just perfect for the Easter holiday. A glass of soda for the kids and a glass of decent port for the grown ups and those spicy nuts will be gone before you know it. Maybe you should make a few batches.
This is what happens in books like this, the authors like to fiddle with the recipes giving them their personal touch ruining the authenticity. This is a rather well known recipe to Norwegians. The sauce here, which in Norway isn’t even called a sauce, but “Eggesmør” (egg butter) is wrong. I’ve just been checking through several dozens of recipes. Some use just eggs and butter, some cream, eggs and butter. Some chop the eggs finely, some roughly. Some add chives, some parsley or dill. But no one but no one uses broth or tomatoes.
I’m sure people from other countries have found their local recipes have been fiddled with too. But having said as much, you really should try this recipe, it is simply delicious. Just leave out the broth and tomatoes in the sauce/egg butter.
You just got to love this book, it gives you so many variations on each dish that you usually get four recipes instead of one on each page. The Danish really know how to make you want to put on an apron and start cooking – Ted
A vegetable sauce recipe from a slightly cheesy ad for
Sunkist Lemons published in 1972
Was it the candle lights, the soft music, or the little lemon trick on the vegetables that got to Arnold the night he proposed? Madeline Nagel doesn’t care. It worked.
In 1972 Sunkist Lemons ran a whole series of ads build over the same slightly cheesy mould like this one. all based on women succeeding at cooking with lemon zest and lemon juice or both impressing boyfriends, in-laws or husband’s bosses. Al with a same rather mortifyingly bad text. The recipes that followed weren’t all that shabby though.
A traditional Norvegian lefse recipe found on brodogkorn.no
Potato Lefse is made from boiled potatoes, sour cream, cream, butter and flour, and baked on a griddle. Serve with your dinner, for lutefisk or other traditional Norwegian food like cured meat or bring it on a hike with nice toppings.
A pie recipe from The Second World War found on historyextra.com
No one knows where the name for Homity Pie originates from but the dish was popular with land girls during the Second World War. As well as unrationed items, the recipe also includes rationed foods like cheese, eggs and butter – the original recipe would have used these frugally. Nowadays we don’t have to be so sparing with the cheese and butter, which only make it even tastier.
In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates homity pie – a hearty, vegetarian dish popular during the Second World War.
The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was a British civilian organisation created during the First and Second World Wars so women could work in agriculture, replacing men called up to the military. Women who worked for the WLA were commonly known as Land Girls. The name Women’s Land Army was also used in the United States for an organisation formally called the Woman’s Land Army of America.
In effect the Land Army operated to place women with farms that needed workers, the farmers being their employers.
As the prospect of war became increasingly likely, the government wanted to increase the amount of food grown within Britain. In order to grow more food, more help was needed on the farms and so the government started the Women’s Land Army in June 1939.
The majority of the Land Girls already lived in the countryside but more than a third came from London and the industrial cities of the north of England.
In the Second World War, though under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, it was given an honorary head – Lady Gertrude Denman. At first it asked for volunteers. This was supplemented by conscription, so that by 1944 it had over 80,000 members. The WLA lasted until its official disbandment on 21 October 1949.
Land girls were also formed to supply New Zealand’s agriculture during the war. City girls from the age of 17 and up were sent to assist on sheep, cattle, dairy, orchard and poultry properties.
The Women’s Land Army was the subject of:
A classic caramel recipe found on tara.no
A Sweet classic that can be flavored with chopped nuts, cardamom, gingerbread spices or grated lemon peel. These should be added when the cooking is done and just before you pour the caramel mixture into the mould.
A delicious and different butter recipe found at soendag.dk
A delicious and different butter for both your buns, potatoes or pasta.
A delicious dessert recipe found on allrecipes.com
If you love rhubarb-strawberry mixtures, you’ll love
this sweet rhubarb crisp.