In a wooden barn perched on a grassy hill, some famous cows Dairy The business – the Govine royal family of American fancy butter – sampled grass in their new residence.
Diva, the most prominent of the group, regularly shuffled over the shy, tender cinnamon. Ruby and Lacey, who were rubbing their foreheads and feet. Rutabaga, May and Patch shouted as effectively as Dale Pid, in greetings.
A few months ago, in February, the former owner of the herd, Diane St. Clair, loaded them into a trailer and brought them down the road to Rolling Bell Farm, 100 miles from his animal farm Creamery in Orwell, Vermont. – An acre of biological property sits in an empty space about an hour south of Burlington.
“That day was tough,” St. Clair said. “But there was no way for me to continue.”
St. Clair spent the last 22 years making the most sought after small batch of cultured butter in the United States. This is the same butter that chef Thomas Keller serves French laundry and per se – and that retails for eye popping at $ 60 per pound.
But at age 65, she was ready to retire. Drinking milk twice a day for decades, pouring in the barn and throwing 70-pound fresh jugs Milk Butter churning had taken a toll on her back. Her husband, Al Claris, a veterinarian who was her only assistant, developed a knee problem. And although her heart is still glued to her favorite Jersey cows (her “other family,” as she calls them), her creative urges shifted from butter to a new, more sedentary, but fragrant, passion-like blend of special perfumes.
The question was, will she be able to find the right people to take her precious flock and her churn? Or will its extraordinary butter, its subtle nutty, grassy flavors that change with the seasons, just disappear?
For many of Vermont’s small dairies, selling retired cows and equipment to adults can be heartbreaking. Agribusinesses And stops calling it. In 1969, there were 4,017 dairy farms in Vermont, most of them small, family-run operations. By 2020, that number had dropped by 84% to 636, with many consolidating to take advantage of the scale economy.
Fortunately, St. Clair’s story is a rare piece of good news in the world of small dairies. An example of how a single-minded, cow-loving farmer was able to create a market for the almost extinct type of handmade butter in the United States. Then, through a combination of determination and ruthlessness, she was able to transfer the business to a young family with the right kind of patience, experience and the nature to move it forward. And they started living down the street.
A good butter build
When St. Clair started Animal Farm in 1999, she knew she wanted to raise a Jersey cow. With them came an endless stream of milk that needed purpose.
“Everyone else in Vermont was making things,” said St. Clair. “I saw a room with butter.”
In particular, he ate the tangy, high-fat, marigold-colored butter he ate in Europe, for which the ultra-creamy milk produced by his Jersey cows was perfectly suited. (Most dairy cows in the United States are Holsteins, which produce large amounts of milk with a low fat content.)
At the time, he didn’t know anyone in the United States was making a small batch of European-style butter from his own cow, and there were no guidelines on how to do it. Nearby Vermont Creamery began making European-style butter a year ago, in 1998, but from purchased milk, which, like making wine from purchased grapes, keeps the agricultural part of the equation out of the producer’s control.
Moreover, St. Clair said, “I was in it for the cows.”
Depending on the out-of-print Dairy In the 19th century manuals, she finally discovered that culturing it before churning the cream, a process also known as clabering, greatly improved both taste and texture, making the end result darker and softer, and adding a pleasing nuttyness.
After St. Clair was satisfied with her experiments, she met an eminent chef 3,000 miles away overnight, whom she had never met, along with a handwritten letter requesting her response.
Thomas Keller remembers that moment well.
“The witch sent me five small knees of Missapen butter in a ziplock bag,” he said. “I immediately called him and said, ‘How much do you earn? We’ll all buy.’
Eventually, she built a small dairy near the barn, brought in a few more Jersey cows and was still working mostly with her own hands, increasing production to 100 pounds of butter per week and the luxurious, lightly sour buttermilk that was its by-product.
It was a business he needed to sell. Ben and Hillary Hague, 33, of Rolling Bell Farm, became ideal buyers.
Green birds for the flock
Hillary Hague has always been “a little crazy Butter”She said.
While she was studying animal science at the University of Vermont, her brother gave her a countertop butter churn, which she and Ben used for years before switching to a food processor when they got married.
When he and Ben Hague heard that St. Clair was looking for buyers, they sent him a handwritten letter expressing their interest.
It reminds me of a letter I sent to Keller all those years ago.
“Who sends the letter now?” St. Clair said. “It’s like it all came in full circle.”
After combining the two loans and grants to come up with the आवश्यक 281,000 needed to buy the business and set up a dairy at Rolling Bell Farm, Hayes took over the animal farm Creamery in January. (St. Clair wanted to retire on his farm, so the business and the cows were sold, but not his property.)
Now, several times each week, Hillary Hague makes butter and buttermilk as St. Clair taught her: by hand, by herself, in a dairy made on the same pasture grazing Hayes’ herd, but with the addition of her two children. The boys are fighting underfoot, eating as much butter and cream as they can hold their little hands.
St. Clair remembers her cows. But she’s happy to have time to immerse herself in the other major perfume tools needed for St. Clair Cents, the Orissa Root, Ylang-Ylang, and other perfume tools.
And Diva, CinnamonDale and the rest of the herd seem to have adapted perfectly to their new home.
“Ben and Hillary love their animals; they’re good farmers,” said St. Clair.
She paused and added with a little encouragement, “They’re doing well without me.”
Recipe: Buttermilk Green Goddess Slav
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servers
1 ripe avocado, pitted and cubed
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oil packs Encovi fillet
2 scallops, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and shattered
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves and tender stalks
3 tsp chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped basil leaves
Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
4 cups thinly sliced green bandabi (about 1/2 small head)
4 scallops, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for extra garnish
1. Make the dressing: Place the avocado, buttermilk, lemon juice, anchovies, scallions, garlic, parsley, chives, tarragon, olive oil and basil in a food processor or blender, and process for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and evenly green. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Separated
2. Make Slav: In a large bowl, combine Bandabi, Scalian, Jalapeno and Cilantro. Pour over 1 cup green goddess dressing slaw and toss well on coat. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Garnish with extra colintro before serving. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. Toss again before serving, adding more dressing if you wish. The rest of the dressing will be kept in the fridge for another day or two.
(Recipe adapted from Diane St. Clair’s “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook,” by Andrews MacMail Publications, 2013)
Recipe: Battery Almond Cookies
Total time: 1 hour, plus at least 2 hours chilling
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour, as well as more for kneading dough
1/3 cup (38 g) almond flour
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (227 g) salted cultured butter, at room temperature (see tip)
2/3 cup (130 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (56 g) salted cultured butter, melted
1 to 2 teaspoons buttermilk or whole milk, as needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Toasted chopped almonds, for topping
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, corn starch, baking powder and salt.
2. In an electric mixer connected to the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly colored and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and almond extract until combined for 20 seconds. With the mixer running low, add the flour mixture, whisking until just inserted. Don’t over-miss.
3. Divide the dough into two balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 1/2 inch thick log. (If the dough is too soft to work, refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes before making the logs.) Wrap the logs tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight until very strong.
4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
5. Use a large, sharp knife to cut each log into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
6. Bake the edges and bottoms of the cookie until golden brown, about 15 to 22 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Make icing: In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, melted butter, 1 teaspoon buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. If the icing is not a little thin, add more butter. It should be slightly thicker than heavy cream.
8. Using a fork, sprinkle icing all over the cold cookies, then top with the almond pieces if you wish. Allow the icing to set for at least 1 hour, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. Cookies will be kept for at least 3 days.
Suggestions: If you can’t get salted butter, replace the regular butter, adding an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The cookies will still be delicious.