“He who has a head of butter should not go near the oven”

Hello and welcome to Week 10! Our title this week borrows the wise words of an old Dutch proverb. I couldn’t find any kind of translation, but I assume it’s probably something like “don’t push your luck”. Let me add that if your head is made of butter, you probably shouldn’t go to hot yoga either.

As you’ve likely already guessed, this week’s life hack is handmade butter, as suggested by one of my colleagues, who thought it would be the ideal accompaniment for the homemade bread we were experimenting with a few weeks ago.

Less Clutter, More Butter
Making your own butter is dirt simple, and can be done with a mixer, or simply with a jar that has a screw-on lid. (I went with Option B, as the total lack of additional equipment made it closer to the true spirit of life hacking.)

My instructions for handmade butter came from Karen Solomon’s “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It”, which we also featured in last week’s blog post on beef jerky. You simply pour heavy cream into the jar, screw on the lid and shake it for about 30 minutes.

Shake Your Butter — and Your Booty
It seemed to me that this activity was an ideal candidate for a little bit of fitness-oriented multi-tasking. So I made up a playlist of old 80’s disco songs and had a little kitchen dance party with my butter. It worked well. I was so enthusiastic that my first two cups of cream had turned into butter in a mere 12 minutes! Here’s the playlist if you want to try this for yourself:

Song Artist
Midnight Radio Taffy
Express Yourself Madonna
Two Tribes Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Only in My Dreams Debbie Gibson
Don’t Leave Me This Way The Communards
Suspicious Minds Fine Young Cannibals
Hot Hot Hot Buster Poindexter
Walking on Sunshine Katrina & The Waves
White China Ultravox
Oblivious Aztec Camera
Two Princes The Spin Doctors

Now, the irony of making butter (which is essentially pure fat) and calling it a fitness activity is not lost on me. But it was pretty fun.

Taking It to the Streets
I ran a taste test with my colleagues the next day. I filled one dish with the handmade butter (which I’d lightly salted) and one dish with store-bought. Then I asked them if they could notice a difference, and if they preferred one over the other.

The results were fascinating. The store-bought butter actually won the taste test by a 100% margin. (Apparently, we Canadians really like our salt.) But what also intrigued me was watching my colleagues investigate the butter before they chose. They were trying really hard to figure out which was which before they made a decision, and several of them were quite dismayed when they found out that they’d voted for the grocery store butter. Although totally unscientific, it was an interesting commentary on the psychology of our relationship with food.

The Numbers
As it turns outs, it is NOT cheaper to make your own butter. To keep us on a level playing field, I used the same brand of cream and butter. One liter of Lucerne whipping cream is $4.97 and produced 383 grams of butter. At that ratio, a pound of handmade butter would cost $5.89. However, a pound of Lucerne butter is only $3.97.

There are lots of reasons why I would opt to make my own butter, but clearly saving money isn’t one of them. Taste, however is. In real life, I would add a little more salt to homemade butter, and I do think it tasted much fresher than the store version. If you check out page 77 of “Jam It,Pickle It, Cure It”, you’ll also find three recipes for flavoured butters that sound scrumptious. Given that it only takes 12 minutes of effort, I’d definitely try making my own butter again.

Finally, since I’ve already used “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It” in a previous blog post, I don’t really feel that it’s ethical to add it to the running total again. So … it’s an unusual week here at Library Life Hack – no savings to add to the pile, just the typical ratio of fun and learning.

Before we close out this week’s post, it’s also time to check in on our stock market portfolio from Week 1. The stocks continue to do well – if I were holding this portfolio in real life, I’d be cautiously pleased at this point in the year. You can see the results for yourself on the Check-Back page.

Back to Work
Next week, we’re leaving the kitchen and taking a trip into the working world, as we investigate the writing of Timothy Ferriss, and his ground-breaking book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. Remember, if your head is made of butter, stay away from ovens. (And if your head really is made of butter, drop me a line at LibraryLifeHack [at] gmail.com. I’d like to see that.) Have a great week!

P.S. Update on Week 8’s sweater project: I’m still knitting. I think that’s all I should say right now.


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