I’m a bit of a zealot when it comes to utilizing every last drop of any and all ingredients, so The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook is right up my alley. Molly’s trip to style the photos for this practical yet magical guide to buttermilk made me smile and yearn for my own sojourn to green Vermont. All I can think about is digging my hands into the earth and sleeping under the stars…while munching on a scone or two, of course! Eating my heart out, Molly, eating my heart out. -Amy
Growing up as a child my nickname was Molly McButter. I absolutely adore any and all things custard. Pretty much any good dairy makes me swoon. So when the opportunity came up to work on a buttermilk cookbook on a small dairy farm in Vermont, I was giddy. In fact, I knew it would be a project I would forever love and cherish.
It was just as one would expect: hours spent driving into the hills of Vermont, long winding roads with rocky, crystal-clear rivers running alongside, sleepy towns with hardware stores and ice cream shops, and finally, fields upon fields upon fields. Thick in farm country down a weathered dirt road lies Animal Farm – part farm, part dairy and part home.
There was a German Shepherd in the front and chicken coop in the back, and in the distance, the most beautiful Jersey cows munching on some grass. I greeted these lovely ladies as they strolled in for their afternoon milking and feed. They look like the cows on old advertisements; ladies, alert with big smiles and the longest, darkest eye-lashes you’ve ever seen. They were beautiful.
Diane St.Clair is the lady in charge, an incredibly talented and thoughtful farmer. Her butter has brought her a bit of fame and a serious following, Thomas Keller included. But when you make butter you produce buttermilk, so Diane always had an abundance at the farm. Thus, The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook was born.
The recipes are soulful with hearty dinners, buttery breads and maple-rich breakfasts, all incorporating Diane’s delicious buttermilk. Before this project, buttermilk wasn’t something I thought to use with any real frequency. This book, however, uses buttermilk in all sorts of creative ways. Buttermilk is a healthy substitute for a lot of other dairy products such as mayonnaise or cream, and has a whole host of health benefits. Who knew?! Needless to say, I walked away from this book with a new favorite ingredient.
Diane’s recipe for Buttermilk Scones will now and forever be my go-to scone recipe. The Salmon Cakes with Buttermilk Tartar Sauce recipe is a great example of a less obvious use for buttermilk, but they were delicious. And two shining stars, without a doubt, are her recipes for Buttermilk Panna Cotta and a Raspberry Buttermilk Tart. Both strike a perfect balance, not too sweet and not too tart.
Many thanks to Diane for inviting me into her home and showing me the rhythms and joy of life on a farm. This book invites you to do the same.
All photos taken and styled by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio for Spenser Magazine.
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