Madyson Versteeg is a service member in Billings.
The first day of spring—the Vernal Equinox—inevitably brings with it a sense of renewal and hope for growth.
Since January, we have been sifting through seed catalogs, drawing out garden plans, and planning garden work days for the coming spring. Toscano Kale, King Richard Leeks, and Bull’s Blood Beets have become common vocabulary. We shared pictures of fruits and vegetables fresh from Johnny’s seed catalog and identified seeds straight from their packets.
We’re ready for spring but first planting is still weeks away. So, I spent the last few days waiting by making bread and butter!
As we not-so-patiently waited for that first spring day, we got some jitters out by shaking things up; shaking cream up, specifically, to make butter. Late winter seemed like the perfect time to get some last minute cooking in before getting back out in the garden. The kids excitedly asked what we were going to do in class that day, “are we going to plant seeds?” “Can we plant some cucumbers?”
Faces fell when we told them not yet and to be patient for the natural change of seasons. However, they immediately perked back up when we told them we would be making bread and butter instead!
“From scratch?” one boy asked, “we can make butter?” Yes and yes. And we did.
How to make butter:
- Fill a glass jar with a lid up half way with heavy cream.
- Add salt if you’d like.
- Twist lid on tightly.
- Shake vigorously until cream becomes solid—butter!
The kids paired up and took turns shake-shake-shaking their butter jars, dancing out the last of their winter impatience.
The bread was also a hit. It’s a no knead version requiring relatively little time and it’s very tasty. We explained the significance of yeast, how it’s alive and helps to create tiny pockets of air within the dough, making the bread rise and fluffy in texture. To our surprise, the ten little bakers were really concerned about the little grains of yeast, peering at them closely, wondering if they died in the oven, and collecting spilled yeast off of the table to take home and rescue. They only succumbed to putting the yeast in the bread for its inevitable death by oven when they were assured that the yeast could not feel pain. What a relief!
The bread we pulled out of the oven was light and fluffy, and when cut up, was devoured ravenously with the handmade butter. All reminisces of the dead yeast quickly forgotten.
This last day of cooking was the perfect preface for all of the planting and gardening that is to come. It is just the beginning of getting our hands dirty with food though. Soon those hands will be kneading soil and spring itself will rise with the help of all the little life that help things grow.