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A Magical transformation:

whipped cream and butter

In our modern 24-hour world, there are many things we take for granted -- hot water tap, flush toilets, coffee anytime anywhere, cell phones, bandaids, locking doors and so much more. We reach for these items without a second thought. But where do things come from, really?

Take butter and whipped cream. Butter comes in a stick -- salted or "sweet", unsalted. Whipped cream comes in a can, of course. But the fact is that both come from cream, which is to say cow's milk without the fat removed.

Few activities are more fun in the kitchen than making whipped cream and butter. And few things are easier. It can be done with a hand mixer, but it is infinitely more fun with nothing more than a mason jar. 

Fill a jar about one-third with cream. Add a little sugar and cinnamon or vanilla extract. Make sure the top is secure, and shake. And shake. And shake. Put on some dance music to really make things swing. It takes about 5 minutes with a medium sized jar. In no time, the air incorporates into the cream and increases the volume. Some people like their whipped cream softer, while some like it more firm (called "stiff peaks"). Once it reaches your desired consistency, it is ready for pie, pancakes, coffee or just a spoon!

Making butter is the same process, just longer. Omit the sweeteners and just keep shaking. After the whipped cream and stiff peaks phases, you will notice a ball rolling around in the jar. This is your butter. It will be floating in liquid; this is buttermilk. Pour off the buttermilk, and reserve it for baking or making pancakes.  Rinse the butter in cold water, and knead it a little. This will get rid of the last of the buttermilk, and prevent it from spoiling quickly.

Now you're ready to eat your homemade butter, or add flavoring, if desired. Salt is, of course, the most common addition to butter. A flaky sea salt creates a creamy butter with a subtle, salty crunch. Fine salt (or table salt) dissolves and results in a completely smooth butter. Minced herbs can be incorporated to form compound butter. Parsley, thyme, basil, finely minced rosemary are a great partner to butter, but you are only limited by your imagination.

Spread it on toast or put a pat on a sizzling steak for a singularly amazing treat! If you are making butter to serve to guests, roll it in a log, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. Once hardened, you can slice it into lovely disks.