Chunky & White

buttermilk

If you spend any time around me, you know this: Isabel likes to bake. One of the Happy Places in my house is the big-ass cabinet in the pantry that is full, top to bottom, with baking stuff. (If I’m ever in a dire situation of extreme stress and someone says “Go to your happy place Isabel!” you’ll know where to find my consciousness — nestled in between the Tahitian Vanilla Extract and the Dutch Process Cocoa.) It’s where my beloved brilliant orange Kitchen-Aid stand mixer is parked, my specialty baking pans are crammed, my favorite orange mixing bowl rests, and several different kinds of chocolate and cocoa powders reside. Many fine and fabulous things come out of here because I live for baked goods. (Side note: somehow, through all our ant invasions, the little idiots have yet to discover this heavenly trove — I have four different kinds of sugar in there! Why are they in my studio?)

Anyway, I made buttermilk biscuits for the first time in my life the other night and my question is this: is there some kind of Dairy Conspiracy? Why does it seem like you can only buy buttermilk in huge quarts when all you really want is a cup (or less!). And what the hell is buttermilk anyway? Fermented milk?!? When that happens to milk, when it starts to smell sour and get chunky, aren’t we supposed to throw it away? People drink buttermilk? On purpose?

In looking around for a quick image to slap onto this post I discovered many disgusting things including Buttermilk Sherbet, the very notion of which nearly makes me vomit. (Just a little teensy bit.) I also saw Spicy Buttermilk (I’m sorry, I really think I’m going to be sick) and a Buttermilk King Snake who looked appropriately nasty, probably pissed off at being named after spoiled milk. (Ah, all better now.) I never did find a picture that really summed up what buttermilk is to me, and maybe that’s just as well. No reason to go around making all of you sick.

I’ll say one thing for the stuff though — it made DAMN fine biscuits, holy buttery morsels, Batman, you bit into them and just about died. I’m feeling all sad and wistful tonight because they’re all gone.

But now whaddo I do with all the rest of this buttermilk?

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10 responses to “Chunky & White

  1. leave the milk in the carton outside til it solidifies and make sculptures of flies

  2. As a southerner, I totally feel you with the buttermilk quantity.

    I was told by other cooks, that you could take sweet milk (southerner’s word for regular whole milk) and add lemon juice to curdled it. Never tried it. Just saying.

    Look in your bake goods aisle at the grocery and see if they have a can (looks like baby formula size) of powdered buttermilk. It works. Just add water to reconstitute it.

    Or this is what I do. Cuddle up to any local restaurant that serves buttermilk biscuits. Talk to the MANAGER. They might think you are absurd, but you can probably buy a to go cup of buttermilk like a regular drink. It will be baking buttermilk which is basically the same thing.

    Sounds crazy, but I do it, as I am NOT buying a huge carton of buttermilk.

    BTW, have you ever had buttermilk pie??

    Yum!

  3. Buttermilk PIE?!? I’m almost scared to ask — what’s it taste like?

  4. well . . . . . you could always make cornbread. Or more biscuits. lol

    Seriously, I actually kinda like buttermilk. Not straight (though I did drink it in small quantities as a kid just to be contrary ), but in stuff – it adds the same kind of tang as cream cheese to sweets. But I’m genetically predisposed to accept it, I suppose. I grew up next door to a Southern grandmama who made buttermilk biscuits every day of her life and sometimes biscuits in the morning and cornbread at night. But yeah, I’m feeling you about having to buy a full quart – I never use mine up before it goes bad. But I go ahead and buy it – oo, it’s also really good for pancakes.

    So what is it? If my memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder serves, when you make butter, whole, unpasteurized milk is allowed to sit out and separate. The cream is skimmed off and churned into butter. The liquid left in the churn after you take the butter out is buttermilk. I don’t know if today’s commercial buttermilk is that same simple product – I suspect some kind of chemical voodoo akin to the lemon juice trick Scarlett mentioned (which does work, btw) is used.

  5. You can put buttermilk in cornbread? See, I never knew that. I looked it up on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buttermilk) and they talk about “clabbering”, which is also new to me — what a word! Of course the more I read, the more revolted I am. And now I can’t tell if the remaining buttermilk in my fridge is still okay to use or not — it smells awful but it *always* smelled awful!

  6. Buttermilk is one of those things that you really need to trust that “Use By” date for. LOL

    And sure, buttermilk is the best thing to make cornbread with. Herewith, a couple of white trash recipes:

    Sweet cornbread – or cornbread the way Yankees seem to like it for reasons known only to themselves – get Jiffy corn muffin mix, make it according to the directions on the box, use buttermilk in place of milk

    Savory cornbread – or cornbread that actually tastes like bread, not cake – use “cornmeal mix” which is the cornmeal equivalent of self-rising flour. Preheat the oven to 400, take a cast iron skillet, put enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom or a heaping teaspoon of Crisco in the skillet, stick it in the oven to bake. Mix an egg with about 3/4 cup of buttermilk. Add about two cups of cornmeal mix. Play with proportions until you get a thick but easily pourable batter. Pour the oil or melted Crisco into the batter, mix it in, pour it into the skillet, put the skillet in the oven, bake for about 35 minutes.

    About the only time I make this any more is when I make dried beans or soup.

  7. When my father came to this country after WWII, he was so malnourished that his sponsor family made him drink a gallon (erg!) of buttermilk a day, to beef him up. Apparently, it was thought that the fat content would, um, fatten up the folks coming from the various work camps in Eastern Europe.

    Just looking at the contents listing made my arteries harden!

  8. I’m with ya 100% on the cornbread Jayel — if I want it sweet I’ll slather some honey it on it, thank-you-very-much.

    Can’t even think about the whole “drinking a gallon of buttermilk a day” thing. Sounds worse than waterboarding!

  9. Suzie Chapstick

    You make the best damn pancakes ever — I have a secret fam secret I will photocopy for you 🙂 And I will trade you my pancake recipe and some buffy comics for 1 copy of Razor ….

  10. OMIGOD, I still haven’t given you Razor! The bad feelings are coming… I must go to my happy place! Hey how are the Buffy comics? Are they all that? I miss Joss Whedon somethin’ fierce.

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