This is the time of the year when there is no longer the demand being placed on every drop of milk being wrung out of every willing, and sometimes not so willing, udder. The spring calves have been weaned and there is a blissful two-month break from being tripped up, trampled, chewed, chased, bunted, booted and sniffed at and sneezed on before the autumn calves arrive. This is my 'social' time of the year when the livestock department is cruisey, the weather is encouraging and the produce piling up needs some help to be eaten. The cream is a staple diet at Middelmost and January is when I have plenty of it to make and store my supply of butter and ice cream for the year ahead. There are various ways of extracting the cream from the milking bucket and some of my methods are mentioned in the LETTER FROM MIDDELMOST - 8th August 2001. But don't worry if you are not milking your own cow yet, you can use the bought stuff instead.

My top priority is ice cream, followed by various desserts such as pastries filled with freshly whipped cream flavoured with a touch of cinnamon and topped with a good shake of icing sugar and a generous dribble of chocolate sauce (gasp). My favourite, of course, is a hot scone covered with newly made butter, spread with a good spoonful of blackcurrant jam and smothered with a large dollop of thickly whipped cream! I'm afraid the menu selection at Middelmost is not for the faint-hearted and, naturally, all of the following recipes carry the NZ Heart Foundation's big cross!

Making Butter - the Middelmost way.

I tip about one and a half litres of cream into the Kenwood cake mixer bowl and using the whisk attachment I set it beating. To prevent the kitchen walls from being splattered, I cover the cake mixer with a damp tea towel. I don't use very fresh cream and I take the cream cold from the fridge. (I could use a butter churn to do this, as I have one, but that's too much like hard work.) You will learn to judge how long it will take for the cream to 'turn' but I wander off and do other chores while the cake mixer is doing its thing. The tricky part is when the cream is just about to 'turn' to butter and towards the end of the process, I keep a very close eye on things. Firstly, the cream will whip and then start to thicken into a yellowy, textured spread type mixture and this process may take some time. The next stage is when the butter is starting to form and the buttermilk begins to separate from the butter fat, and this is the part when I have my hand poised on the OFF switch. The instant the butter 'turns' properly you will need to be ready to switch the cake mixer off because the 'just turned' butter will suddenly fly around the bowl sending buttermilk for miles (and the extra effort of dealing with a solid mass is not all that good for the cake mixer either!).

Once you have a big blob of what definitely looks like butter whizzing around in a thin milky liquid, you are ready for the next stage. I take the mixer bowl to the sink and use a flat wooden spatula to squash the butter to the side of the bowl. I tip the milky liquid into the pig bucket (or you can drink this if you like) and then I rinse the butter by pouring cold tap water over it and squishing and squashing it etc. repeating this process until the cold water being tipped out of the bowl is clear. The last stage is drying, salting and patting. Dead easy. Use the spatula and keep squishing and squashing the butter and tipping out the water you press out until you have water-free butter. I add about a teaspoon of salt at some stage and squish and squash that through as well (it's a very physically satisfying tactile process). Once I am happy with the consistency of the butter I tip it out of the bowl and onto a dinner plate where I form it into a block using two flat wooden spatulas, and for one and a half litres of thick three-day-old cream, I usually get one to one and a half pounds of butter. I pat the top and sides of the butter block with kitchen towelling to remove any further water and then I turn it over onto a bread and butter plate to dry the bottom of it. The plate of butter is then put into the fridge to set before it is sliced into the required sizes with a hot knife, wrapped in Gladwrap and popped into the freezer.

Your own butter is not like bought butter - it is like your own butter! Unique, brightly coloured, richly flavoured and won't keep for long once taken out of the freezer (which is why I cut my butter blocks into one-day serves).

MIDDELMOST ICE-CREAM - you can make your own condensed milk for this recipe but, for ease, I have given the quantities needed for a 400gm can.

Whip one pint (600mls) of cream in a large bowl suitable for the freezer. In another bowl combine one cup of full cream milk (ordinary bought stuff will do if your cow is on strike) and one can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir this into the bowl of whipped cream and pop it into the freezer.

Stir occasionally while freezing to prevent a solid block from forming at the bottom (or use an ice cream maker). I freeze my ice cream into individual serve-sized containers and, when dessert is needed, I give each container a 5-10 second zap in the microwave before tipping the ice cream into a pudding bowl and then plastering it with chocolate sauce!

MIDDELMOST CHOCOLATE SAUCE - yummy over ice cream and pastries or for milkshakes. In the winter, heat a mug of full cream milk and pour in chocolate sauce to taste before heading off to bed.

  • Half a cup of cocoa
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Bring this to a rolling boil in a large saucepan for three minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the sauce to cool before pouring it into a suitable container. Do not beat the sauce when you take it off the heat but you can add a couple of drops of Vanilla Essence if you like.

Enjoy! Althea from Middelmost.