Cooking with Dairy

Kentucky Butter Cake Done the Maine Way

Kentucky Butter Cake Done the Maine Way

Butter Cake popped up in my Pinterest finds the other day, and my interest was immediately piqued. And then I get a text from my mother saying, “Don’t buy butter. I just made some.” This also meant there would be buttermilk. Coincidence? I think not. Obviously the universe wanted me to make a butter cake. It’s not my style to do things by the book though, so I took this original recipe for Kentucky Butter Cake (http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/7479/kentucky-butter-cake/) and mixed it up a bit. This is Maine Butter Cake. This is Maine Blueberry Butter Cake, and because I am a sucker for alliteration, this is Maine Blueberry Buckwheat Butter Cake. The berry part of the recipe took a bit longer than I anticipated. The birds and deer have eaten their share of our wild blueberries. It took a great deal of time to fill my bucket. Actually, I didn’t even half fill my bucket, and then I cheated. We also have high bush blueberries. I know they aren’t quite as tasty as wild blueberries, but they are still good and fill up a pail a whole lot faster. I also discovered quite a few blackberries were ready for picking also, so in the end, this became a Maine Blueberry Blackberry Buckwheat Butter Cake. I suppose you can over do alliteration, but I am willing to take my chances. I am a fan of buckwheat flour and its nutty flavor. You can also easily find Maine-grown buckwheat flour, but if it’s not your thing (or you find the gray color unappealing), you can follow the original Kentucky Butter Cake recipe, which uses 3 cups of all purpose flour. I added an extra teaspoon of baking powder because buckwheat tends to get heavy. Also, if you are put off by the fat and calories of butter, you could easily switch it out for yogurt. Of course if you use regular flour and yogurt, the alliteration will be ruined. The original also calls for two cups of sugar, where I use 3/4 cup maple syrup. There’s no need to use homemade butter or buttermilk either. Both can easily be found at a local grocery store. Maine Blueberry Blackberry Buckwheat Butter Cake 2 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (3 cups of all-purpose flour) 2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp if using all-purpose flour) 1/2 tsp baking soda 2 eggs 1 cup butter 1 cup buttermilk 3/4 cup maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla 2 cups mixed blueberries and blackberries Mix ingredients. Bake at 350 in a buttered bundt cake pan for 60 minutes or until you can stick a knife in and have it come out...

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Peach Blackberry Cornbread Cake

Peach Blackberry Cornbread Cake

This was a recipe that developed out of what I had in the house – cornmeal, ripe peaches that would soon be overripe, blackberries still in the freezer from last year and sour cream left over from beef stroganoff two nights ago. It also happened to be my grandmother’s 81st birthday, so I figured a cake was in order. I started with the cornbread recipe that I always use from a Hodgson Mills cornmeal bag (but my cornmeal was actually Maine grown and processed). The recipe is pretty perfect except I substitute shortening with butter – cause butter’s always better. Because I wanted this to be more cakey than bread-like, I knew I would have to make some changes to make it more moist – hence the leftover half a cup of sour cream and an extra egg. You could always use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, but I love the flavor sour cream gives, especially if you are making scones. What resulted is below. You can use what ever sweetener you prefer. I just thought maple syrup was the best match for peaches and blackberries. As a side note, I did not actually have buttermilk, so I did the ol’ tablespoon of vinegar in milk trick. I also baked this in a large cast iron skillet, but it can also be done in a large sheet cake pan. Peach Blackberry Cornbread Cake 2 1/2 cup cornmeal 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 2 Tbsp room temperature butter 2 Eggs 1 cup of buttermilk 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 to 3/4 cup maple syrup 3 peaches peeled, pitted and cut up into small chunks 1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix your dry ingredients and then add in your wet, mixing well to fully incorporate everything. Bake for about 45 minutes (depending on oven) or until you can stick a knife in the center of the cake and  have it come out clean....

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Red, White and Moo – have a dairy delicious 4th of July

Red, White and Moo – have a dairy delicious 4th of July

I don’t know. Maybe I’m in a super patriotic mood, but I have just been on a kick with red, white and blue food ideas for the 4th of July. Originally I was just going to share a couple of Pinterest recipes, but they all used artificial whipped topping from a tub for the white – blech. No, thank you. I tend to like my music “alternative”, but when it comes to dairy – make mine real, please. Like, from a cow. Cows are awesome! When I grow up, I want to be a cow photographer. I could do it all day. Sometimes I do do it all day, and then I get home and realize I forgot to take any pictures of humans. You know where you can see cows? On dairy farms, so let’s keep it that way. Support our dairy farmers by drinking milk and eating cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, ice cream and on and on. Dairy farms are as American as apple pie (especially with a piece of sharp cheddar on top), and the Land of Milk and Honey wouldn’t be so special without the milk.   One of the great things about dairy is that you can make real good food real simple. I love good food, but I don’t like to spend a whole lot of time making it. Plus, it’s summer. Who wants to be stuck inside slaving over a hot oven? Now, not all my ideas worked out so great, but here are a few simple ideas to make sure you and your family have a dairy happy Fourth of July weekend. Parfaits – Both of these versions are delicious, but one is a little healthier than the other. In a cup or tall glass, layer fresh blueberries and strawberries (or black cherries) over plain or vanilla yogurt or whipped cream.       For fresh whipped cream, all you need is 1 cup of heavy cream and two tablespoons of sugar (or sweeten with honey or maple syrup). Pour your ingredients into a chilled bowl and then whip with the whisk on your mixer. It will take just a couple of minutes for the cream to stiffen. All done. No reason to pull out a tub of the “other” stuff. If you want the lighter version, you can use plain or vanilla yogurt. Greek yogurt will stand up a little better, but either type of yogurt will make your dessert taste amazing. I have to say, as a special holiday treat, I think the whipped cream is worth the extra calories, especially if you can work it off on the badminton court, but you won’t be disappointed with yogurt. Simple Summer Chillers This is about as simple as it gets. 1 Cup Milk 6-8 Fresh Strawberries 4 Small Ice Cubes 2 tsp Honey Blend, sip and relax. This could easily be done with other fruit as well. You could even have red, white and blue coolers by making the chillers with a handful of blueberries for blue or a vanilla bean for the white.   Red, White and Blueberry Cheesecake Ok, so maybe cheesecake isn’t the simplest option to make, BUT it can be much simpler than many make it out to be. Since cheesecake is refrigerated overnight, it’s also a cool, refreshing treat in summer, especially with some chilled strawberries on top! This is also another dessert you can make a little lighter if you opt for low-fat or fat free yogurt and ricotta cheese. 2 Cups Ricotta Cheese 2 Cups Greek Yogurt 1 Cup Sugar (alternative...

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Can’t take the fake? Try this chocolate cream pie

Can’t take the fake? Try this chocolate cream pie

Natasha Colbry from Spruce Mill Farm in Dover-Foxcroft was kind enough to share her AMAZING chocolate cream pie recipe with us. You’ll have some very happy friends and family if you serve this at your next gathering.  I grew up spoiled on my Mum’s whole-food, from-scratch baking and cooking.  Pizza nights consisted of real, homemade pizza dough; summer nights were treated to homemade ice cream and the holiday season was full of scratch pies. Pies are no joke to my Mum, she whips up 30 easy for ‘pie night’ – a celebration of eating pies the night before Thanksgiving. My love for pie began there, on our Moosehead Furniture dining table loaded with apple, pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat, berry and, my favorite, the cream pies. For a long time, I only ate the cream pies- chocolate cream to be exact.  I loved the way the whipped cream mixed just a little with the top of the chocolate pudding. Soon I became “in charge” of making the chocolate cream pie. A cream pie is broken down into three sections: you have the crust, the filling and the whipped cream.  It can be as easy as buying pre-made graham crusts, a box of instant pudding and some ready whipped cream but so much more worth it to do it from scratch! First, start with good ingredients!  Real butter, milk and heavy cream (I bought mine from a local farm but the store bought milk and cream will do just fine!).   Now for the crust. You have your choice, go with what ever your favorite crust is whether it’s graham or a flaky pie crust. For this particular pie, I cheated a little and used some Oreo wafers we had, crushed up with some brown sugar and melted butter. Press the crust mixture into a buttered pie plate and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes- just to crisp it up a little. While the crust is baking, begin the filling. This is granulated sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and a little salt. Mix these dry ingredients together. Take three cups of whole milk (the whole is important here- it makes the silkiest filling ever and I promise it’s worth it…save the low fat or 2% for another day) and add it into the pan. Whisk away, over medium heat…keep whisking… don’t stop, I promise it will thicken! Whew!  Remove from the heat and pour the warm mixture into a cooling pie crust.  Now you have to be patient and let the pie chill for a couple hours! While it’s chilling, make the whipped cream.  Side note- I am a fanatic about real whipped cream.  Don’t ever pull out fake whipped cream and try feeding it to me, I’ll take your skim milk and whisk my arm off until some peaks begin to show.  Seriously, though there is something to be said about real whipped cream, it can go on anything!  If we have some in the fridge from the night before, it’s going in my coffee. Whipped cream is so freaking easy to make, and to be honest I rarely measure anything when I make it…here’s my go to recipe: ½ cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (optional) Throw the ingredients into a mixer and let her go for about 5-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it and stop when you begin to see stiff peaks!  I whipped cream by hand for many years before I got my kitchen aid mixer and it takes about the same amount of time plus you’re burning calories. Now that...

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Family, farming and “old stuff” at Shady Lane Farm

Family, farming and “old stuff” at Shady Lane Farm

Family, history and agriculture are top priorities for the Lanes of New Vineyard. A trip around Shady Lane Farm makes that crystal clear – the barn built specifically for the grandchildren’s 4-H show animals, the pride in Martin Lane’s voice as he talks of their success in the show ring, the small farm museum the family is putting together, their continuation of Maine traditions like producing maple syrup, even their loyalty to the Jersey and Milking Shorthorn breeds for their dairy operation. Martin and his twin brother Michael were just 15 when they took over their parents’ dairy farm because of their father’s health. “I was 15 when I got my first milk check,” Martin said. The family moved the farm from Farmington to New Vineyard 38 years ago. The new place had 1.5 farmable acres. They cleared the land with oxen, and Martin worked for a local construction company and would bring home large equipment on the weekends to clear stumps and excavate. They now have about 35 cleared acres that they farm. The dairy herd is mostly Jersey with nine Milking Shorthorns and some crosses. The families of both Martin’s parents had Jerseys, and his wife Becky’s family had the Shorthorns. When they got married, they brought the two breeds together.  The entire herd descends from just seven original cows. They show cattle and have had success all over the country, showing in New England, Louisville, Harrisburg and even Canada. They are an Organic Valley farm, and have been awarded multiple times for their milk qualities, being selected from among 5,000 farms across the country. Becky does most of the milking of their 31 organic dairy cows, and Martin helps when he’s home. They also have a part-time hired man, and their four grown children and their families help around the farm when possible. Martin and Michael have a livestock hauling company, traveling all over New England. Milking shorthorn bull calves are sold as steers to 4-H children or people who want working oxen. The family also keeps 10-12 Hampshire x Yorkshire brood sows. They sell piglets and freezer pigs and the grandchildren show hogs at the fair.  They have laying hens for eggs and a showstring of Rhode Island Red Standards. Martins parents also showed poultry, and so do his grandchildren. His mother still shows black cochins. Guinea hens and even a few peacocks roam the grounds as bug control because the farm is organic and can’t use pesticides. The Martins also raise meat chickens and turkeys, market lambs and beef steers for the grandchildren to show, and have a large garden that feeds the entire extended family. Becky cans a great deal and makes jams and jellies. For more than 20 years, Martin and other family members traveled around the state to different fairs with a petting farm but got too busy and had to stop. They started back up last year at New Portland and Cumberland fairs and plan to do more this year “now that the younger generation can come along to help Grandpa,” Martin said. He’s obviously proud of his grandchildren, talking about the trophies and ribbons they have taken home from shows and youth auctions. This weekend, his daughter Sarah and her children Mason, Nicholas, Alyssa and Kaden, took calves to the Massachusetts Blue Ribbon Calf Sale, which is an opportunity for 4-H kids to find a calf to show for the year. The grandchildren even formed a syndicate -MNAK- to sell their calves. The grandchildren’s’ show barn was built with money from the sale of fall piglets and beef calves. It will house show heifers,...

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Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes … and crepes

Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes … and crepes

Maine produces its own grains and flours, brown eggs, maple syrup, and, of course, dairy. Everything you need to make the perfect pancakes. We even have apples, strawberries, blueberries and more to add to those pancakes. Maine should be the Pancake State, not the Pine Tree State. It seems every food has a special day, week or month in which it’s celebrated. January is oatmeal month – I totally get that. January is cold, and oatmeal is hot and hearty and fills you up and keeps you going. On the other end of the spectrum, National Ice Cream Month is July. Again, a no-brainer. It’s hot and you want ice cream. There’s some dispute on Pancake Day, Week or Month. Some say it’s in February (most celebrated on Feb. 17 this year), some say it’s in March, some say it depends on the year. Some celebrate National Pancake Day, while others celebrate International Pancake Day. Whatevs, people. Pancakes are appropriate no matter what time of year it is. I celebrate Pancake (and Crepe) Day pretty much every weekend and holiday and on several weeknights throughout the year. But we are in the throes of winter, snow piling up for many of us, wind and bitter cold. And we start to dream of spring, and with spring comes maple syrup, and Maine Maple Sunday is coming up next month, so THIS is the perfect time to be talking about pancakes. The plain pancake drowned in maple syrup is a classic. Comfort food for sure. Your basic pancake recipe is simple – cup of flour, teaspoon of baking powder, cup of milk, one egg, 1 teaspoon of vanilla. For extra fluffy pancakes, switch out milk for buttermilk. I rarely do anything plain though. It’s not in my nature. I have to be creative, think outside the Bisquick box.   First of all, I can’t eat wheat. I am NOT saying YOU shouldn’t eat wheat. If you can, that’s great! Maine even has farmers who produce wheat, so support them. EAT WHEAT! Please eat whole wheat though. It’s an awesome way to get your recommended daily amount of whole grains. Even though I can’t eat wheat, I still try to support Maine’s growers and use flours like buckwheat, rye and oat, all of which is grown right here in Maine. I’ve even made crepes with corn meal (and I will share that little gem with you later on). All theses recipes can easily be made with regular ol’ wheat flour except the cornmeal one, but if you like to experiment, I have some suggestions. Maine is also blessed with the perfect toppings for pancakes with blueberries, apples, strawberries, etc! Sometimes I like to pile on multiple toppings, including yogurt. Or I use Ricotta or Marscarpone in place of yogurt. So we’ll start with a true Maine pancake – Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes are filling – the kind that stick to your ribs, and buckwheat has a delicious nutty flavor. The National Dairy Council gives this recipe for Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes. The following recipe came about because I can’t pass up over ripe bananas and I wanted chocolate, but not a lot of chocolate – just a taste. Monkey Swirl Pancakes For Banana Pancakes  1 Cup flour (I used oat flour) 1 Tbsp baking powder 1 Cup milk 1 egg 2 1/2 bananas cut up 1 tsp vanilla (or almond extract) For chocolate swirl 1/4 Cup flour 1/4 cup dutch chocolate or unsweetened cocoa 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 Cup milk 1/2 banana cut up Combine dry ingredients for banana pancakes, then the wet,...

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