Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Like Buttah!

Butter dish from worldvintage.

I love butter. (Um, who doesn't?) And there are some fabulous brands on the market. Homemade butter is a personal favorite, with it's softer flavor and texture. A lower melting point and extra creaminess? Yes, please!
Did you know you can easily make butter at home? Here's how:*

 Pour heavy cream (preferably organic) into a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let ripen on the counter for 6+ hours.

 Use a metal whisk and whisk by hand, past the whipped cream stage. No need to aerate, just stir rapidly.

 The butterfat will begin to clump, leaving buttermilk behind.

 Strain through cheesecloth and a strainer; buttermilk will drain through into a bowl below.

 Pick up butter within the cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess buttermilk.

 Rinse under cool water, let drain.

 Clean (or switch) bowl, remove butter from cheesecloth. At this point, you can add salt for salted butter, or a mix of herbs for a compound butter.

 Transfer to wax paper, form into a log and roll up.

 Allow to chill in the fridge. 4 cups of heavy cream will yield nearly 1 lb. of butter, plus about 1- 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

With this batch of leftover buttermilk, I marinated chicken for frying. A buttermilk cake recipe was tempting, as were biscuts.
How will you enjoy your homemade butter?
What will you do with the leftover buttermilk?

*This post was written for my new column on the Vintage Market Team blog (and will post there tomorrow), but everyone loves butter so it's posting here too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stocking the bar- Your vintage home

Reposted from my columnn for The Vintage Market Team.

Drum roll please... Introducing our newest column!
Each week, we'll offer one of the following:
-a classic cocktail recipe
-tips for entertaining
-recipes for seasonal or holiday dishes
-scary retro foods and the creative cookbooks that inspired them
-simple recipes that will make you seem like the perfect homemaker

Since it's always 5 pm somewhere, let's start with bar basics- a list of ingredients that should be on hand at any home bar.

Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Whiskey, Rum, Tequila, Vermouth (both dry and sweet), Liqueurs, Fruit brandies

Tonic, Diet Tonic, Bitter lemon, Ginger Ale, Seven-Up, Cola, Mineral water (still and sparkling), Soda water/ Seltzer

Lemon juice is a MUST!, Freshly squeezed orange juice, Grapefruit juice, Lime juice (Rose's), Tropical juices (mango, passion fruit, etc.), Pineapple juice (unsweetened), Tomato juice (I prefer Spicy V8)

Other basics:
Fruit syrups, Assorted fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, cherries), Super fine sugar, Sugar cubes

Have the ingredients and skill set? The finishing touch is proper bar ware. And by proper, I mean vintage.

These striped glasses from jenscloset are perfect for swank cocktails!

DoNotDestroy has this set of low balls, ready for any "on the rocks" beverage.

Drink like your favorite fictional ad exec with these roly- poly glasses from ObjectRetro.

Liven things up with this pristine set of high ball glasses from hazelhome!

This frosted set from CheekyVintageCloset will get any soiree started.

Still feeling flustered? Get the tools AND tricks with this set from collectique.

Until next week... Here's a hint- We'll be making BUTTER! XOXO, retrotrend

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cocktails and kittens

Last weekend was a whirlwind of activity. A friend's birthday was celebrated in style at Columbia Room, followed by what might have been the perfect dinner at Ben's Chili Bowl.
My new kitten arrived from Allentown, PA., along with her nearly identical sister, who I watched for the weekend while her new owner was at the beach.
I'll show you my weekend in photos instead of blathering on. All photos from the bar are unintentionally artsy as no flashes are allowed.

 We started with cucumber infused water and a cool towel. Our first cocktail was based on a turn of the century recipe- lemon bitters, gin and cane sugar punch- very refreshing.

 The second drink of the evening was a blackberry crumble, with bourbon, house made blackberry syrup, hand crushed ice, mint, and blackberries, finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. You can see part of our hostess, the lovely Katie, spanking the mint in the background.

 The finished product.

 For your third beverage, you can ask for something specific, or tell your host what flavors you like. I'm a huge gin snob and love a more bitter flavor. My ingredients are shown above (absinthe not shown).

 And my hand crafted cocktail- Oxley cold distilled gin, Americano (slightly bitter, herbed fortified wine), Cointreau, a bit of absinthe (which I normally hate) and a cherry, shaken with hand crushed ice and strained into a Josephine glass. Another thing to adore about Columbia Room? They make many of their ingredients and use lots of vintage glassware.

 Yes, I ate both chili dogs. With cheese, onions and hot sauce. And very little else the rest of the weekend. I've been eating at Ben's for a really long time (originally as a vegetarian eating veggie chili over fries after indie rock shows in the early 1990s) and it seems to somehow- impossibly- improve with every visit. Can't wait to go back!

Introducing Captain Vladimir Sparklypants, or Vlad for short. She weighed 2 lbs. a week ago and is as sweet as can be. Now between 7- 8 weeks old, and starting to investigate the house on her own. Monkey!