Today is my Dad’s birthday.
Wait, didn’t we just have my brothers birthday? And mine? Correct. In fact, between my birthday on September 23rd & my brother’s birthday on October 23rd we also had my younger brother’s on the 2nd and mum’s on the 3rd. Ooof. And now it’s the first of November, the birthday of my dear, sock-loving Dad. My Dad, the eldest of six who had a paper route and played with rockets as a kid, who grew long hair and studied science then became a maths teacher (and sex education teacher, as I recently unnecessarily discovered), later a father and even later a psychologist and member of the cloud appreciation society…that guy, that weird and wonderful guy turns 60 today. And I couldn’t be prouder to be his daughter.
For a long and studious while I was distracted by books on Dad’s birthday, as the start of November always meant EXAMS. Celebrations co-existed with cramming for physiology. And Dad was cool with that, I know he was proud that I too was completing a science-based degree. But I also know he is happy this day is once again completely and utterly his. He doesn’t like to share. I won’t tell you that Mum would often make two desserts for dinner parties – one for the table, one for dad the next day… Oops, I just told you.
An inability to share desserts and sit through movies is Dad’s downfall. I’ve always loved the cinema, though I recall a few ill-fated movie dates with Dad when I was young. One time when I was about ten he said we should go, just us two. I was so excited, I got all dressed up and wore my new, long, classy black skirt for this special movie date with my sweet, fun-loving father. It was a documentary about bugs.
The next movie date we saw, wait for it, The Ring. I had nightmares.
Yeah, we don’t have a good movie track record. Though we both agree on the brilliance of Babette’s Feast. Throw in food and Dad is far more likely to give you attention. And, movies aside, we do share many interests, like this love of food. Notably, bread, campari and peanut butter. And butter. As Dad so keenly quotes, “You can never have too much butter” – from the movie Julie and Julia. Dad always said that Julia Child herself said that but I cannot find corroboration of this fact, I believe it was from the brilliant mind of Nora Ephron. Either way, it’s a philosophy my father lives by. And today, Dad, it’s true.
Let’s start with a humble preparation, oats decorated with butter, shall we Dad? I so love your penchant for wholesome morning meals – sauteed greens with eggs, anchovies on toast and sturdy porridge. Butter is a food I eat gleefully and without one knob of guilt. I prefer extra virgin olive oil for the majority of my cooking/salad dressing as that is where the health-benefits research really lies and I freakin love the flavour. But ohhhh I just love butter, too. If you’re perplexed by my butter affection, as I am indeed a Dietitian, read my post on loving milk, as it’s a similar situation.
In keeping with My Mindful Kitchen goals, I am trying to be really intentional with my butter purchasing and support those employing sustainable practices, so please indulge me while I talk about butter for a minute. It’s actually quite easy to find quality butter out there, butter made from grass fed cows and even 100% grass fed cows. You might find that a lot is from New Zealand, certainly in the major supermarkets, but that is local-ish in my mind. We have fantastic products in Australia too, including this, my go to brand (from a convenience point of view, as most shops near me stock it) called Organic Times. The few extra dollars a block costs compared to standard brands is an easy choice to make, as I can certainly tell a difference in quality and I am not churning through 50g a day. My ultimate butter comes from pastured cows and is cultured (with live cultures added). Ashgrove Dairy from Tasmania is a good option, B. d. Farm Paris Creek‘s butter from South Australia is gorgeous and Myrtleford Butter from Victoria is divine… though my absolute favourite is Pepe Saya‘s butter. Oh that stuff is MAGIC. Pepe Saya have great instructions on their site for making your own so I thought, “Hey?! I’ll make butter!” My grandmother grew up on a dairy and my great grandmother made butter like it was no big thing – butter is in my blood! So I gave it a go. Not the cultured one, as I wasn’t that organised a week in advance, but the standard preparation shown here. And look, Dad, I did it! Homemade butter. And it’s science! How cool is that? I cannot think of a more perfect present for him. Amusingly, I also bought Dad a fit bit, at his request.
Happy birthday, Dad. Today I’m going to make you porridge with butter, inspired by my blogging friend Hannah. Out of all the people in my life, I know you’re the one who will most appreciate its brilliance. You sure know how to do life well, Dad. You’re a lick-the-plate-clean kind of guy. I used to find that gross but now I get it. Thank you for providing me with a sense of security and confidence in my ability to leap. And a sincere love of butter. I will be forever grateful that you are my father. X
From Pepe Saya’s instruction.
Makes ~ 1 cup lightly salted butter
1 kg Creme Fraiche
1/2 tablespoon Sea Salt Flakes
1. Add the creme fraiche to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until the creme fraiche splits, as per this video. This took me at least 10 minutes, I lost track of time.
2. Use a sieve to drain the buttermilk (keep it for cooking purposes) and lightly rinse the remaining butter gloops with cold water. Use a spoon to press the water out (you might need to catch the butter puree coming out the bottom of the sieve) and then allow it to sit in the sieve over a bowl to catch any remaining liquid. You want it as “dry” as possible.
3. Scoop the butter, which should now be smooth and able to be gently kneeaded, onto a piece of baking paper. Go ahead and gently knead the butter, then use a spoon to incorporate the salt.
4. Place baking paper in a jar or a mould as per the video and scoop in the butter. Wrap and secure or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within a week.
And now, breakfast…
Creamy Porridge with Butter, Sea Salt and Toasted Walnuts
1/4 cup Steel Cut Oats
1/4 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup Milk
30g Walnuts, very roughly chopped
Knob of Butter (good, quality lightly salted butter)
Sea Salt to taste
Extra milk to serve
1. Soak your oats in 3/4 cup milk for an hour (I do this first thing in the morning before get ready for the day. You can soak them overnight if you wish).
2. Gently warm your oats over low-medium heat until bubbling. Turn down the heat a little and cook for ~10-15 minutes until the steel cut oats are soft enough for you and the milk is absorbed creaing plump, soft, lovely oats. Stir every now and then to prevent the oats catching the bottom, and add the remaining milk (plus any more as required).
3. Meanwhile, toast your walnuts and set aside.
4. When the oats are ready, turn the heat off and let the oats sit for a minute in the pot before serving into a bowl. Add a knob of butter (as conservative or generous as desired), the walnuts, a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of milk.