I’m on a local food high as Brian and I prepare to make my mother a birthday feast. We have in our possession farm-fresh handmade sausage, crisp dandelion greens, a bagful of corn on the cob, a pint of just-picked blueberries, and a bottle of cream from cows that live only a few towns away. We’ll bake the sausages, sauté the greens with garlic, and for dessert, whip the cream into a lovely topping for blueberries.
I’m aware that such local food orgies appear often in the pages of the glossy magazines and dreamily photographed blogs that I so admire. In those scenarios, a sprite-like child helps to shuck corn while mom sets the reclaimed wood farmhouse table with charmingly mismatched vintage plates.
So I invite Chloe to climb onto a kitchen chair and help me whip the cream. I open the bottle to see that a thick plug of cream has risen to the top—not uncommon with fresh milk that hasn’t been homogenized.
“The crème de la crème!” I declare, leaning over to smell the sweet cream. Except.
“Does this smell alright to you?” I ask my mother, tilting the bottle toward her nose. She takes a whiff and makes a face.
“It’s a little sour,” she admits.
I smell it again. Yuck. I pour it into the bowl. Chunks.
I dash out into the rain to get some cream at the convenience store next door—perhaps the antithesis of the farm stand. I come home soaking wet with a carton of light cream because the convenience store doesn't have whipping cream. No convenience store does. Which is not very convenient.
But I try to whip it anyway, assaulting the cream with an electric beater for several minutes. No whipped cream. Just a bowl full of bubbles. It occurs to me that there’s not enough butter fat in light cream for it to whip properly. Then, I have an epiphany. I’ll just replace the missing butter fat with butter! I’m a fricken genius. I can’t believe I’ve revolutionized cooking in this way. So I cut a few tablespoons of butter into the food processor, pour in the cream and a little sugar, and let her rip.
Here’s what I have learned:
- Trying to make whipped cream out of butter and light cream will simply create wet butter.
- I am not a fricken genius. I have not revolutionized cooking. In fact, I may have set it back slightly.
- Convenience stores sell cans of whipped cream for a reason.
- Your mom will love her birthday dinner even if the dessert is still-liquid cream poured over blueberries.