Friday, February 25, 2011
I made ghee (clarified butter) last week in my Crock-Pot for the first time. As often is the case, I may be one of the last to hear about this simple method for making ghee. I am an ardent fan of my Crock-Pot, even going as far as declaring it this Shepherdess' Best Friend, and I have made countless meals in the various slow cookers I've owned over the years. Besides having dinner ready and waiting at the end of the day, they are also handy for making soap, and for dyeing fiber -though once you use a Crock-Pot to dye fiber, it CANNOT EVER be used to cook food in. Making ghee in the Crock-Pot was as simple as putting 2 lbs of unsalted butter, each cube cut in half, in my slow cooker and leaving it alone with the lid off for 4-5 hours. I left it until a layer of foam formed on the surface that browned a bit where it touched the crock, and the milk solids had all settled to the bottom. I then skimmed off the foam, and taking care to leave the milk solids behind, I VERY CAREFULLY poured the clarified butter through a fine mesh sieve and into a pint and a half-pint jars, which gave me three cups of golden ghee.
Removing the milk fats from the butter allows it to be cooked at a higher temperature without burning. It is commonly used in Indian and other ethnic cooking, and I made this to use in a Lamb Tagine I plan to make this week (in my Crock-pot, of course). Ghee can be used in many, many ways. After making this, I put some in the mashed potatoes I made for dinner, and also used it to saute some chopped garlic with thawed, frozen cauliflower, which was heavenly. I won't make any wild claims as to the health benefits of cooking with copious amounts of ghee, but cooking with a bit of clarified butter gives a big flavor boost to foods cooked in it, it stores well, and it is so amazingly simple and fool-proof to make in a Crock-Pot. Need I say more?
Finally, my Christmas Cactus bloomed! It actually is more of a Valentine's Day Cactus, whether that's it's natural tendency or a result of my neglect, I can't say, but I find its flowering quite cheering this time of year and I had to share with you. It reminds me that, despite our recent snow and cold, Spring IS on it's way!