From Scratch

Do you remember reading Little House on the Prairie as a child? My eight-year-old niece recently read the series. One morning, her parents woke up to find her in the kitchen trying to make dumplings from scratch. She declared the day a “Pioneer Day” and told them to turn off computers, TVs and iPhones. Of course, since she is only eight, “Pioneer Day” ended when she decided she wanted to watch Scooby Doo. But, the impact of the books has stuck with her. She has been cooking more, making aprons, and embroidering tablecloths. While some might be shocked at this step backwards from feminism, I think it’s admirable that she’s taking such initiative.

We’re a from-scratch household here at Tea Scoop Headquarters. We haven’t bought a loaf of grocery store bread in nearly a year. I bake almost every week, and on the rare occasions that we need to buy bread, we go to a local bakery. My bread recipe was my grandmother’s, and it made enough to feed a family of nine. Since there are only two of us, we usually give away a loaf each time I bake. I make my own yogurt and granola for breakfast, and sometimes, we even make our own marshmallows.

I’m here to propose to you that the next time you host a tea party, you take the time to do it from scratch. Your guests will be impressed, and you will be amazed by the taste. I’m not going to give you recipes, because there are amazing bread and scone recipes out there. Try them. Making bread is not as intimidating as you might think, as long as you can follow a recipe. I will tell you how to make butter for your scones and yogurt for fruit parfaits as we head into warmer days and fresh fruit seasons.

For butter, it’s very simple, especially if you have an electric mixer. Pour heavy cream into the bowl of your mixer and stir with your paddle attachment. Turn it as high as you can without the cream splashing out. If you want salt, add it to taste as the cream is being stirred. Keep an eye on it, but pretty much just leave it alone. After awhile, the butter will separate out from the liquid, or buttermilk. When you have solids and liquids in the bowl, your butter is done. Strain out the buttermilk and reserve it for scones or pancakes. Then put the butter in a bowl or wrap it in several layers of cheesecloth. Run cool but not cold water over the butter, pressing it, until the water runs clear. You’re done. If you plan on keeping it for more than a day or two, sterilize your equipment with boiling water ahead of time. A quart of cream makes about a pound of butter and 2 cups of buttermilk.

Yogurt might be even more simple although it sounds intimidating. Bring a quart of milk to a boil, but don’t let it boil over. Then let it cool to about 116 degrees. Whisk in two tablespoons of store-bought yogurt that is labeled as having live active cultures. Pour into a sterilized container and put in a warm place for about eight hours. Then you have yogurt! I strain the milk-yogurt mixture into the containers, to keep any bits from the bottom of the pan from ending up in my yogurt. And for a warm place, I just put it in my microwave with the oven light on. We’ve also used the oven after baking, once it has cooled below 120 degrees. When you are ready to make your parfaits, stir in some honey or agave nectar to sweeten the yogurt.

See, it’s easier than you think!

For more great tips on planning a tea party, head over to Stephanie’s blog, The Tea Scoop!

[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]

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