I travelled back in time to churn my own butter | Alun Newman
I cannot pretend to come from a ‘Make-do and Mend’ (MD&M) generation. But this week I tried to stroll into this creative world.
I’ve heard all about it and looked on with great admiration at those TV shows where people rescue other people’s rubbish and turn it into magnificent collectable stuff!
People who have the skills to rescue a chair, repair an iron or sew a shirt.
When I think ‘make-do-and-mend’ I tend to start with the entry-level stories of darning socks.
Imagine repairing socks when they’re worn out. From socks, I move on to people who make their own bread, jam and grow things in the garden.
It’s from a culture that had to think on its feet, take responsibility and get creative.
I also think it must have been great to have come out of that pressure suddenly, surely life's a bit easier?
However, you also worry about seeing those robust life skills lost and dependency on ‘buy it and bin it’ taken on board.
The modern world now revolves around buying something with a few clicks of a button from the comfort of your home, sat in front of your laptop, with your favourite TV show on in the background, all to order a brand new item of clothing so you don’t have to repair your old shirt.
I imagine it’s a combination of money, supply and upbringing that creates a nation of people that are far more thrifty.
It started with some spreadable butter that was on offer.
Offer, as in, reduced because the date was nearly up.
At the discounted sum of a pound, it was cheaper than a block of butter.
A few days later while eating toast at home and reading the ingredients on the container I realised it was only half butter.
The rest is 25 per cent oil and 25 per cent water. Even though it’s usually more expensive than butter.
Less butter for more money.
Easy-to-use butter straight from the fridge that is not actually as much butter as butter.
This is when my MD&M wannabe spirit kicked in.
How hard can it be to make your own spreadable butter?
I embarked on my mission.
The ingredients were detailed for me, with no recipe to master.
The first attempt was an entire pack of butter, oil and water.
Straight into the Kenwood Chef. Mix on high. Leave it.
Come back and it’ll be done I thought. Incorrect. I came back to a frothing mass, of what looked like, yellow and white butterfat blancmange.
There was no-one on earth who would chill this in the fridge and then spread it on their toast.
It looked like that odd foam you sometimes see when you’re at the beach.
On the road to success, there is always failure (according to Sir Richard Branson).
I made a second attempt with less oil and water. The froth was containable but instead, it was as if I had created an oil slick.
At a push, you could use it in a frying pan if no-one was watching. If it was being marketed it would be a ‘puddle of butter’.
In the last attempt, I dropped the idea of using the water.
I used a small amount of oil and although it kind of split it was usable, just slightly unpleasant in the mouth.
The experiment had cost me well over a fiver in ingredients and the final increase of product by volume I think I was 30 pence better off. This would mean that it would take several years for it to become a profitable idea.
It occurred to me then that perhaps those older than me had a creative solution that I could tap into.
I could draw on the wisdom of my elders. Stand on the shoulders of giants?
How did the make-do-and-mend generation make this delicious spread last longer? I asked my mum what they did.
It turns out they just ate butter. If there wasn’t any they would go without. Go without? Go without? That’s never going to catch on. Just imagine.
Why Hollywood came to town
The south coast is one of the most beautiful slices of planet earth. Its variety of scenery offers a unique mix of stone beaches, golden sand and Jurassic fossil hunting.
It is no surprise that this week, once again, Hollywood came to town. It wasn’t that long ago they were filming Kate Winslet in Ammonite.
Before that, we had Marvel filming Age of Ultron.
We had Star Wars as regular visitors to Fawley Power Station.
This latest production was looking to use the south as the backdrop for the latest Roald Dahl blockbuster.
The residents of Lyme Regis, in Dorset, were on high alert as filming started for the latest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel called ‘Wonka’. It’s going to be an early life ‘before the factory’ film.
Cobb was the harbour of choice and it looked fantastic. An ancient-looking steamboat, The Lydia Eva, was covered in manufactured frost and the harbour walkway was covered with fake snow.
Stars in the movie include Timothée Chalamet, Sally Hawkins and Olivia Coleman. But who really got the golden ticket here? Could it have been the residents? No.
The golden ticket apparently goes to the local fishermen who use the harbour on a regular basis. If the rumour is true then they got £1,000 a day to not use their boats in the harbour.
Hollywood wanted reality and blokes in waterproofs chugging past waving was going to spoil the effect. I hope they spent some cash on everlasting gobstoppers.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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