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For several years I have purchased milk from a local dairy, Happy Cow Creamery, located about 20 minutes from my house.  Mr Trantham feeds his cows …GRASS.  Wow!  The milk from Happy Cow is pasteurized but is not homogenized, so the cream sits on the top of the milk.  You just give it a little shake before you open the lid and all is well with the milk.

This milk is easily the best milk I have ever had which isn’t tough considering, as a child of the 70s, we were all led to believe that the fat in the milk was the enemy.  They, whoever “they” are, decided that people should only drink highly processed skim milk.  Which I dutifully did for most of my life.

Until I had kids.  And learned about hormones and processing.  And was told that kids should only drink whole milk for a year after they switched off of breast milk.  The reasoning was, the kids need the milk fat for brain development.  Well I could use some milk fat if it would help with brain development!  And besides, I wasn’t willing to buy two different types of milk.  I am lazy …er practical …like that.

My son, who is 7, hates grocery store milk (if we have to buy it in a pinch) and calls it “water milk.”  Happy Cow only comes in whole milk.  Which I have drank for at least 7 years now.  Every day.  And guess what?  I haven’t gotten fat and my bloodwork is fine.  So it seems like “they” were wrong.

This morning I took my dog for a drive and decided to stop in at Happy Cow to pick up some milk since we go through about 4 gallons a week at my house.  Imagine what my milk bill will be when my son becomes a teenager!  I need to start saving now!

I was hoping they had some strawberries to pick as well since I am itching to start canning …but the cold weather the past couple of days hasn’t helped the strawberry cause.  I love the strawberries at Happy Cow because they aren’t sprayed.  You can eat them right out of the field which is great when you have kids (or adults) because my kids just can’t help themselves!

But, I did pick up three gallons of milk and a half gallon of buttermilk.  And a cheese making kit, which I am excited about trying out.  And this beautiful book by Mary McLeod Smith called The Happy Cows. The book is a story of Mr Trantham and his cows.  All of the illustrations in the book are oil paintings by the artist.

I love being able to feed my family healthy food.  And I really love being able to support local families and businesses at the same time.  Do your part.  Go out and learn about a local farm and support their hard work.  They are the backbone of our healthy food supply!

This weekend I had interesting food moments with each of my kids.

On Friday night both of my children ran a mile in the Reedy River Run kids’ run.  This is a big event for their elementary school and we had over 400 kids and adults participate in the run over the weekend.  Our school, in turn, earned a $1000 grant for having the most participants by a school.  Oh, and no I did not run.  I do not run voluntarily!  

Back to food.  After the race many families from the school were going to a local restaurant for dinner.  A mother asked if we were going and my son, who is in first grade, replied “No.  We are going home to have my favorite food.”  She smiled and asked what that was and he responded “Brussels Sprouts!”  She looked at me and said “I think he is telling a story.”  I replied, “no it is his favorite food.”  She looked at me strangely and quickly got away  …

On Sunday my daughter, who is 8, and I were at the grocery store.  As we were walking past the meat department she asked “Mom when can we have that lamb again?  You know the one with the bones?”  I asked, “Rack of lamb?”  and pointed to it in the case.  She explained that we had not had it in a long time and she really likes it.  Who am I to turn down a third grader who asks for rack of lamb for dinner?  I told her that rack of lamb was perfect for a special occasion and since Monday was her daddy’s birthday we could make it for dinner.  It also happens to be one of his favorite meals.

Monday evening my son and husband had little league practice while we were racing to cook a special meal for David’s birthday.  I dropped off my son and told a friend I had to rush home as we had to cook a birthday dinner planned by Madison.  She asked what we were having, no doubt thinking if it was planned by an 8-year-old this had to be good, and I replied “rack of lamb, asparagus and sweet potatoes.”  She looked at me and said “Your kids will eat that?”  I said “Of course.  My kids will eat anything.”

So we rushed home, got the lamb prepped and in the oven, pulled out a table-cloth and the china, crystal and silver and set a beautiful table.  Madison made her daddy a Happy Birthday banner and we hung it in the dining room.  Dinner was ready and on the table in less than an hour (confession, I put the potatoes in before I left for baseball practice) and we had a lovely meal …minus the baseball field dirt.

Maybe I was just blessed with great eaters …I don’t know.  But I do believe that people will often live up to the expectations you set for them.  And if you expect they won’t eat brussels sprouts and rack of lamb–you can be sure they won’t.  I cook dinner and my kids eat what they are served.  I don’t know that there is really a secret to all of that.  They just don’t get a choice.

Easy Apple Butter

One of my favorite things to cook is Apple Butter.  My family loves it, probably because it is an excuse to eat biscuits, and I love the feeling of accomplishment when I can look at jars of apple butter lined up in the cupboard.

No, it isn’t really apple season here in South Carolina, but I had this great bowl of apples on my table and decided to take pictures of them …so it seemed as good a time as any to post a recipe for Apple Butter!  And besides, you can buy apples year round at the grocery store!

  • 5 pounds Tart Apples (I prefer Gala)
  • 2 cups Apple Cider
  • 3 cups To 5 Cups Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Allspice
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg

Core and quarter apples (peeling isn’t necessary). Cook apples slowly in cider until tender (I put them in my crock pot), then blend in a food processor or blender.

Add 3 cups of sugar and check for sweetness, then add more as necessary (sometimes up to 5 cups total). Add spices and stir together.

Cook for 6 to 8 hours in a crock pot. I just cook it overnight on low.

Test for thickness by spooning butter on a cold plate. If no liquid comes out the edges, it is thick enough. If it isn’t thick enough, take the lid off the crock pot and turn it up to high. Let some liquid boil off, but stir and check back often.

Ladle into sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.

You can also freeze this apple butter if you prefer.

Note: this recipe as stated makes ten 1/2 pints of butter. I use a few more apples as I have a large crock pot and I just fill the thing with apples. My crock pot makes about 16 1/2 pints of butter.

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