When I first announced that I wanted to plan out my menus for an entire year many thought me totally NUTS! My thought was you plan a menu every week, so why not collect all 52 menus and end up with your menus planned for the next year. The benefits of having a meal plan are numerous. These posts are about the menus I planned and how I did them.

Monday, February 29, 2016

BACK TO THE BASIC INGREDIENTS OF COOKING: Bouillons, Powders, Dairy and Labeling

I hope this series is helping some of you.  I’ll start this post by discussing labeling suggestions on how to and the importance of it.

I am currently am working on rebuilding many of my Master Mixes because I have some how let my made up ones get extremely low.  Of course there will be posts on doing that as well, be prepared for that series.

Labeling is probably one of the most important steps of food storage.  Not only what an item is, but when it was made, and how to use it.  Of course a label for any product may not need as much information on it as another. 

Examples of this are:

Italian Seasoning would only need the name and date made.

While homemade peanut butter slice and bake cookies would need the name, date, how thick to slice them,  cooking temperature and time.

Dry mixes like Quick Mix Master Mix would need an equivalent for what would be considered a packet of it, so 2 1/3 cups equals one packet/box.

It is very tempting to short cut on labeling or not do it at all, because you think you will remember the Brownie Mix is in the canning jar and the Chocolate Pudding and Pie Mix is in the recycled jar with the blue lid.  But will others know that?  Will you remember that six months from now?  They look smell and taste very similar.  Trust me, Chocolate Pudding and Pie Mix does NOT make good brownies.  Don’t ask me how I know.

What is the best way to do these labels? That is a personal decision.  I use three methods.
1.     Permanent Marker: When I am sealing the mix/cookies in Foodsaver or mylar bags I write directly on the bag, generally on the part I would cut off to open the bag so I can reuse the bag later.
2.     File Folder Labels: These are cheap and self adhesive.  I generally use these for temporary labeling for leftovers or what have you.  I do use a permanent marker to do the writing on the label.
3.     For my day to day mixes I recently purchased on a great sale the Brother PTouchlabeler.  Because these jars will be used over and over this more permanent label looks better as a canister label.  You can add picture coding if you like.
Whatever method you use please label clearly.

So let’s move on to the making your own cooking basics.  First up is bouillon and powders, yes bouillon those delightful little cubes, flakes, powders etc that you grab in a hurry when you don’t have time to make a good broth or stock, or the jar of cherished goodness in your freezer froze and burst leaving you nothing but glass shards or the zipper bag you froze in leaked out when you thawed it. 

One great advantage of making your homemade broth/stock into bouillon is STORAGE SPACE! None of us ever has enough storage space in our freezer for quarts and quarts of homemade stock.

The second advantage of homemade bouillons is you can cut down or eliminate salt and msg.  Not to mention some of the “other stuff” that is in some bouillons or canned broths.

Another advantage is there is no limit to the amount of flavors you can make beyond the basic beef, chicken/turkey, or vegetable bouillon you could have on hand pork/ham bouillon for beans, fish bouillon for chowders, any type of meat that has good bones you can roast and/or boil down can be turned into stock/broth and then turned into bouillon.  If you cook a lot of venison, then make venison bouillon.

Not to be left behind in the variety bouillon category homemade vegetablebouillon/powder is also limitless.  Turn the bounty of your garden, a great sale into vegetablebouillon/powder.  Any veggie or a combination of them will work.  It’s not all that hard to do.

Don’t forget you can do this with wild edibles you forage for too.

There are numerous recipes on the web for making the bouillons, but these are the simplest ones that I use and they don’t require me to purchase nutritional yeast or gelatin.  Less is more in my book, so I make bouillon powder with the fruits and vegetable instead of cubes for our home usage.

While you might not have a regular need for fruitbouillon powder you could make it just like the vegetable bouillon powder to add to smoothies, pies, cookies, cakes, sauces the list is endless.  You can also combine it with the veggies to make an even bigger variety for smoothies.

One of the great things about vegetable and fruit powders is you can often use the parts of the produce that you would normally discard.  The thick tough stalks of asparagus, broccoli, the peels of fruit and tomatoes (which is technically a fruit), over ripe produce, the thick veins of spinach, chard, and other greens.  Less waste and more nutritious food for your family. It is also a great way to sneak in fruits and vegetables your family won’t normally try.

Now on to dairy products.  You can replace a lot of cans, bottles, jars, etc with a single box or container of powdered milk, be it nonfat or whole milk (generally in the ethnic foods area of most major grocery stores).

Something I would like to mention here.  All the time I was growing up, right up to a few years ago I was taught that powdered/dry milk was always cheaper to use than buying milk by the gallon.  However, about 2009 we, meaning my husband and I, sat down with a calculator and discovered quite to our amazement that purchasing dried milk did not always save money, in fact in some instances, depending on the brand it was far more expensive to use if you were just reconstituting it to use as a liquid.  

Using it for making the other ingredients listed below it still came out cheaper for us to do. Plus it really helps with storage problems.

Of course you just reconstitute the milk per the package instructions and get your daily milk to drink, but around here that could get me in a whole lot of trouble.  My family can taste the difference, no matter how slight it is no matter how I try and hide it.  But in a pinch we have drank it very cold. 

I do cook with it a lot, in my master mixes, gravies, breads etc.  Those don’t bother my family at all.

Nor does it when I make these basics when cooking.

EvaporatedMilk: Use this recipe to replace evaporated milk in any recipe calling for it.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Non-cook:  Oh the luxury of it.  Simple to make, use it wherever you need the canned stuff. There are two different ways to make it SweetenedCondensed Milk Cooked, slowly heat it more and turn it into caramelly goodness.

Another milk item made with powdered milk that has two ways of making is buttermilk.  As in my post “A Single Quart of Buttermilk” shows I prefer using  live culture buttermilk version, but both work equally as well and you don’t always have starter buttermilk on hand.

Another every day dairy product that can be easily made with powdered milk is yogurt.  If you have read my previous post “It’s All Greek to Me” you already know I use whole liquid milk and my dehydrator to make multiple jars of yogurt at a time.  However, not everyone has a dehydrator, or they prefer a non-fat version of yogurt.  It that is you then you might prefer the powdered milk recipe for yogurt.

There are also various cheeses you can make using powdered milk, many require Rennet aka: Junket but some are super simple like Parmesan.  I’ll leave making other cheeses to a different post another time since they do involve rennet and other ingredients and today’s post is about simple powdered milk recipes.
One final item that you can easily make with powdered milk is sweetened whipped cream.
I hope you find some recipes that work for you in this post.  As always click on the hyper links to get the recipes and to view the other posts mentioned above.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


In this next segment of back to basics I’ll be looking at salts, sugars, and storage. 

Let’s start with storage containers. 

I personally prefer canning jars for just about everything.  I have them from the ½ pint size to the half gallon size.  I have both the regular mouth and wide mouth sealers for my Foodsaver that will vacuum seal these jars easily. 

I also have what was called a Winesaver, that the Foodsaver people put out years ago. It is a handheld unit that only works on specialized caps.   It allows me to avoid having to hook up the hose to use those attachments.  If you find one at a thrift store you might want to grab it up, since it has been discontinued.

You can also vacuum seal the jars using oxygen packets, however I prefer using the Foodsaver so as not to waste the oxygen packs I save those for other uses.

If you don’t have a Foodsaver or Winesaver, or if you want to use recycled glass jars from other products that have a rubber seal on the lid you can also use a non-electric product called Pump and Seal.  I own one of these also and have used it with great success many times.

If plastic is your preferred storage container, like in a camper that will be bouncing down the road a lot, you can use those too.  I have never tried an oxygen pack in one of those, but it would probably work if the lid seals tightly. I will be experimenting with that option soon.

Some metal storage containers will work well too. 

Before switching over to canning jars I often used 2 liter soda pop bottles to store in.  I would make a funnel out of the top of one bottle by cutting off the top 1/3 of the bottle.  Then as I filled I would tap the bottle on the counter or with my hand to fill in all the spaces and force the air out.  Fill the bottles to maximum and you create an almost oxygen free container. 

I also us Foodsaver continuous roll bags to store larger volumes of flours, mixes and such to keep them fresh until I need to add them to my canning jars.   If it is going to be a long term storage I then put that Foodsaver bag in a sealed mylar bag. Then stored inside a food grade bucket. Whatever your storage method choice is making your own cooking basics will save you a lot of time and waste.

You can recycle shaker bottles from other spices or you can create your own by using recycled jars with metal lids.  Poke the desired number of holes in the lid with a nail or ice pick and a hammer   Then use the hammer to flatten any sharp edges. To seal these jars when you aren’t using you can either keep a solid back up lid of the same size or put a layer of plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper between the lid and the jar.

No shakers on hand, or don’t want to mess with making your own shaker lid.  Do as I do, just dip it out of a jar with a spoon and sprinkle it on.

So on to more basics recipes.


In my Spices of Lifeblog post I gave the recipe for making celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt and seasoned salt.  In case you missed those in that blog you can click on the hyperlinks for each one and it will take you to the recipe.

Gourmet Salt Blends:  Salt is very good about absorbing the scent and oils of various herbs.  You can create your own blends or try one of these. Chili, Citrus, Herb, Pepper, Seaweed or even expensiveTruffle salt, all by far cheaper than you can buy pre-made. 

Kosher and Pickling salt are basically the same creature in most cases and can be used in place of each other.  Sometimes Kosher salt is a little more of a flake than a crystal. 

The only thing you need to watch for is that the Kosher salt doesn’t have an additive to prevent caking, generally it is cornstarch   if you are going to pickle with it.  That additive will cause cloudiness and possible mushy pickles.

Neither is iodized and neither can be replaced by table salt in a recipe. So for most households a container of one or the other is all you need instead of both.  If you are going to use it for pickling as well as for Kosher salt a container of pickling salt would probably be your best choice.   

Smoked:  A family member loves this stuff and was paying premium prices for it until we discovered this recipe.

SUGARS:  Use either regular granulated sugar or raw sugar for any of these recipes. Be aware that raw sugar will not be white because it still has the molasses sap in it.

WARNING: If your blender or food processor has a plastic bowl on it whirling sugar in it may scratch the bowl because it is crystals.

Brown, Agave, or Maple: Whether it is light brown sugar, or dark brown it’s simple to make and so are the other two.

Cinnamon: The first time I saw the shakers of cinnamon sugar in the spice area of the grocery I was stunned that anyone would pay that high of a price for something so easy to make.

Citrus:  Flavor beverages or rim a drink glass with this special sugar.

Colored Sanding: Whether it is for decorating sugar cookies, cakes or pies colored sugars in those little bottles seem cheap when you first look at them in the stores, but if you do the math as to how many of those little bottles would be needed to create a pound of it you will be aghast.  Who pays $25 or more for a pound of sugar? Even better, you can use raw sugar if you like in this recipe. You can make it with either actual white sanding sugar or save even more and use your regular granulated.

Powdered: A commonly used sugar that it always seems like you are just a little bit short on when you are in a hurry.  End that problem by making your own as you need it.

Superfine:  when making meringues and other foods recipes sometime call for superfine sugar.  I make these items so seldom I prefer to make my own than to buy the more expensive sugar.

I hope these recipes help you simplify your pantry storage and cut your grocery budget.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

BACK TO THE BASIC INGREDIENTS OF COOKING: Making your own specialty flours

While standing in the baking section of our local grocery store I looked at all the versions of different basic cooking ingredients and couldn’t believe my eyes at all the “varieties” of everything. 

Then I thought of my great aunt and grandmother’s kitchen from my childhood.  In that kitchen there were basic ingredients salt, flour, sugar, molasses, cornstarch and similar baking/cooking ingredients.  They didn’t have 3 types of sugar purchased from the grocery, or three or more types of flour they had the basics. With those simple basics they produced some of the finest foods you would ever want to eat.

I then thought about my own kitchen where I have been slowly going back to just the basics ma’am, just the basics.

My last post The Spices of Lifelisted many of the spice and herb blends I use instead of buying numerous expensive bottles of blends.  Simple to make and handy to have on hand. It included links for all the recipes to make them over to my Patterson's Pantry Recipe blog, just as this will too. 

It has turned out to be a popular post.  So I thought I would also share some of the other things I make to use instead of having so many varieties of different things in my cupboards.

There are several reasons to cut down the number of items you purchase.  Here are the top ones in my book in no certain order:
1.     Cost.  Anytime you start buying “specialty” items the price of that item goes up.  After all the cost to the manufacturer to add the extra equipment, employees to run the equipment and different packaging adds up.  When you produce these items at home you eliminate all that.  You are simply turning one item you own into something else often quite quickly.  Take coconut flour, one of the most expensive flours to purchase.  You can make that yourself by using the coconut you already have in your pantry and you also get the bonus of producing coconut milk at the same time, which is expensive to purchase itself.
2.     Freshness. When you have numerous varieties of an item they don’t get used as often as when you have only one. It is very easy to forget you have a bag of self rising flour in the back of your pantry and never getting around to using it before it goes stale or develops “renters” in it.
3.     Control.  Making your own gives you control over what goes in.  When you have health concerns that is very important.  Things like self rising flour can be made from organic unbleached flour in your own home.  You won’t often find that in the grocery.
4.     Waste.  You can make as little or as much as you want and avoid waste of the product.
5.     Smarter storage usage.  Let’s face it if you purchase bags of say four varieties of flour that is four space hogs in your pantry or fridge.  If you leave it in the original packaging you run the risk of losing it to pests and the product going stale.  So you put it in canisters when you get home with it.  That means then you have four bags/boxes to get rid of.  Many cities and dumps charge you by volume.
6.     Convenience and a larger variety to your meals.  I know, because it is a 20 minute drive one way to a grocery for me I will not cook something if I don’t have the correct ingredients, or at least a viable substitute (a subject for another blog post).  Since I started making many of my own basics our menu options have increased tremendously.

Let’s get started with flours in this post.  I will do other posts on other themes.  Since there is such a huge variety of flours this one will probably be the longest post of this series.  Remember just click the hyperlinks for the actual recipes


We all generally have all-purpose (ap) flour on hand, and for most recipes, whether you prefer bleached or unbleached that is all you need.   However, there are times you need “specialty” flours that can get quite expensive.  I have used these homemade versions with wonderful results.

Bread:  I bake a lot of bread and bread flour is expensive as any baker will tell you.  That is also another canister or vacuum sealed bag to deal with.  By purchasing a package of vital wheat gluten you can eliminate that extra large space hog for a much smaller box/jar (I vacuum seal just about everything in Mason jars any more and avoid loss to rodents or pantry-weevil moths. Don’t tempt those critters they won’t show up). Just in case you are thinking you don’t want to purchase vital wheat gluten just for this purpose.  Know that it helps lighten the density of such grain breads as wheat and rye.  So it is handy to have for those as well.

Cake: Generally cake flour is milled from soft wheat to a fine texture, but it is also expensive.  After some discussion with professional bakers and a little research I learned that there was no need for me to take up valuable pantry space with a box of cake flour, that I could make as much as I needed simply and swiftly with basic ingredients.  Click the link for the recipe.

Self Rising: I seldom use this flour so buying even a five pound bag of it meant I would need to vacuum seal it to keep it fresh and remind myself to use it up quickly.  Not any more.

Wondra Instant:  This one is often hard to find, and since I use it in my homemade gravy mixes I was truly happy to find a homemade version of it.

SPECIALTY FLOURS: These don’t use all purpose flour, but they are simple to make to avoid storing numerous expensive containers of various other “flours”.  Most are gluten free, 

Almond,Pistachio, Walnut, Pecan, Hazel Nut and Other Nut: I love trying new recipes.  What I don’t love is having to rush out to purchase special ingredients to try them.  Currently there are a lot of recipes hitting the web that use nut flours.  You want to talk expensive?  Just make your own for half the price.

Bean, Buckwheat, Millet, Quinoa or Rice flour: As you spread your wings and try various ethnic recipes you sooner or later find recipes using various bean or rice flours.  Unless you have a grocery that carries that type of cuisine you may not be able to find the flour, so make your own.

Cashew, Flax Meal, Linseed Meal, Oat, Sunflower SeedThese are super easy to make because they are soft and easy to grind.  They are often used in addition to other flours.

Coconut: One of the most expensive specialty flours can not only be made at home in just a few steps, but you also get the by product of coconut milk to use in other recipes. 

Fruit or Vegetable Powder/Flour: While you probably won’t find recipes that call for a specific fruit or vegetable powder or flour it is very handy to have to make breads, pie crusts and other baked goods extra flavorful.  Use the vegetable powders to add nutrition to soups, casseroles, meat loaves, meat balls and other things.

Rye, Wheat and Other Grains: Making these flours yourself give you better quality flours than what regular groceries carry. 

SoyGrits and Flour: More and more recipes are calling for this ingredient.  If you have access to mature soy beans and water you can make your own.

While technically a flour once made these are more often used for coatings or pie crusts.  Think outside the box to add texture and flavor to your meals. 

Crackers, multigrain cereals, rice cereal, corn flakes graham crackers, cookies, pretzels, snack chips of all sorts, the list is endless.  The how to for these is here

Saturday, January 30, 2016


As you already know I make most of my own Master Mixes.  Many people think of only baking mixes when I say Master Mixes, but that is not the situation. The post on making flavored butters I recently did is another Master Mix of sorts.  

I also make my own herb and spice mixes both savory and sweet.  This blog post is just a sampling of all the wonderful blends you can make on your own with just different combinations of some basic herbs and spices.

By making your own herb and spice mixes you can guarantee freshness, adjust to your family’s preference and cut the salt and sugar content. 

If you grow your own herbs from organic non gmo seeds you are guaranteed to have no chemicals in the process as well.

Drying herbs is as simple as hanging bunches of the herbs upside down to air dry.  I do put paper bags over mine to gather things like dill seed as it dries.  Back in history the herbs were traditionally hung from the rafters of the house.  Although I have exposed beams in my home that I could do that with I prefer to use my clothes drying rack to do so.  It’s a lot easier for me to reach since we have nine foot ceilings.

You can also dry herbs in a dehydrator.  They are fairly quick to do that way.  Of course you can also freeze herbs in water in ice cube trays, but then they can’t be used in herb mixes you plan on storing in the cupboard.

The main thing is to make certain any home grown herbs are completely dried before making the mixes if you are going to be storing the blends to avoid mold.

If you don’t grow your own you can still save a lot of money and have better quality herb and spice blends by buying your herbs and spices in bulk.   There are numerous bulk suppliers of herbs on the web, amazon included.  Or check your local phone listings for spice and tea shops   Many health food stores sell bulk herbs and spices as well.

As I list the various mixes with links to their respective recipes the recipe will say put x amount in a foil packet for individual packets of the mix.  You can do that if that is your preference.   I usually put mine in a half pint canning jar that I can vacuum seal to help insure freshness.  Then on the label not only with the herb mix name and date, but also how much to use per recipe. Of course I make numerous multiples of each recipe to be able to justify the use of space for a jar that big.

Good labeling is very important.  Chili seasoning looks a lot like Taco seasoning.  Carrabba’s style seasoning for olive oil looks a lot like pickling spice.  Don’t trust your memory. Label, label, label.

Now it is time for the list, broken down by categories.  As always click on the link for the recipe and how to use. Because of the basics like garlic powder that are included you will also see those items hyperlinked when they are used in a recipe. 

Creamy Dill Crudite Mix:  Great for dipping raw vegetables in, or thin it down with a little buttermilk for a salad dressing.

Create Your Own: by using any of the salad dressing mix recipes and mixing them with mayo, sour cream, yogurt or a combination you can come up with delicious dips for both vegetables and chips.

Olive oil blend a La Carrabas: My son and I love the seasoned olive oil that is served with crusty bread at the restaurant chain Carrabbas. It is only natural that we wanted to have that same blend at home to serve with the homemade Italian meals. 

Once I tweaked the recipe to where we liked it I wanted more uses for it.  I found if I added vinegar to the olive oil mixture it made a great salad dressing.  Add water to the salad dressing and a marinade was born.

Put the olive oil blend on the crusty bread and toast for a different texture.

Use it for your seasoning when making croutons.

Mix with sour cream for a baked potato topping

I’ve even added it to soups for a different flavor for our basic soups.  The possibilities are endless.


All Purpose Seasoning: The name speaks for itself.  It is basically a seasoned salt blend.

Bouquet Garni aka: Fines Herbes: In this household this only occasionally used so why buy an expensive whole bottle of it? I just make what I need as I need it.

Cajun Seasoning: Adjust the spiciness to your family’s taste for certain.

Celery Powder and Celery Salt: Who knew it was so simple?  

Chili Powder: Finally you can adjust the “heat” in your chili powder to your favorite level.

Chipolte Seasoning: Add more of the dried chipolte if you dare.  I suggest you make a small batch and then adjust your chipolte to your liking in future batches.

Curry Powder:  Adjust your favorite herbs and spices in this recipe to make your own private blend.

Italian Seasoning:  So handy to have on hand.

Lemon Pepper: to use in any recipe calling for it or as a marinade.

Pickling Spice: Can’t pickle without it!

Seasoned Salt:  I don’t need to tell you all the uses for this.

Sloppy Joe Seasoning: No more Manwich.

Stuffing Seasoning Mix:  Make your own stove top stuffing quickly and easily.

All American Rub Marinade: Another use for the All American Rub Master Mix

Lemon Pepper: Use your homemade lemon pepper to marinade meats, poultry and fish.

Create your own:  Any citrus or vinegar salad dressing can be used for a marinade. If using the mixes listed here simply add oil, vinegar and a little water to create the marinade.

Apple Pie SpiceEasy as can be.

Pumpkin spice: Make the holidays easier by having your pie spice made ahead of time.

All American Rub and Marinade: This is one of my favorite rubs to keep on hand.  I use it on all proteins as a dry rub before roasting or grilling. 
Mixed with a little oil and vinegar it makes a great marinade.  I’ve even mixed it with bar-b-que sauce to brush on the final stages of cooking on grilled meats.

Spaghetti Seasoning Mix Rub: Another use for the Spaghetti Seasoning Mix

Buttermilk Salad Dressing Master MixDepending on what you mix it with you can use it on salads, to cook with, on top of baked potatoes, dips there are numerous uses for this basic mix.

Buttermilk and Onion: Great to have on hand to add a slight onion flavor to your salads when you are out of fresh onion.

Chipolte Buttermilk: a spicy version for those that prefer a little kick to their salads.

Chive Buttermilk: all the same uses as the standard Ranch version.

Creamy Italian: This can be used in numerous ways as well

Garden Herb: Can be made using Spike or other herbal season salt substitute.

Herb: uses your favorite herb to accentuate different flavors.

Italian: a wonderful marinade for a cucumber and tomato salad, as well as all types of other salads.

Italian French: A sweet and tangy salad dressing that can also be used in cooking.

Poppy Seed: For spinach and bacon, or spinach and strawberry salads this is a good dressing.

Ranch Dressing: Nothing more needs to be said, it’s Ranch Dressing.

Au us Gravy Mix: Make your own French Dips

Chicken and Brown Gravy Mix: If you make this one using butter or margarine you will need to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  The recipe does include the amount of powdered butter or powdered margarine you can use to make it shelf stable.  It also has variations for Mushroom Gravy and Herb Gravy.

Spaghetti Seasoning: Always have on hand for a quick spaghetti supper or lunch.

Onion: The classic onion soup mix clone.  Use it in any recipe that calls for onion soup mix.  My recipe also has changes for chicken and or adding mushrooms to it in a shelf stable form.

Spice Blend: Add a touch of spice to muffins, sweet breads, cakes, whipped cream, butters, pancakes, waffles and other goods.

Chili Seasoning: Just add your desired meat, beans and tomatoes to get quick chili.

Enchilada Sauce Seasoning: Make your own enchilada sauce with just the right amount of kick for your family.  Simply adjust the heat.

Fajita Seasoning:  Sprinkle on any fajita meat before searing for great taste.  Another use for the Enchilada Sauce Seasoning

Taco Seasoning #1: You may want to start with less salt for this mix and then adjust to your taste.  This is the recipe I originally used, but when I make it now I use about half of the salt as our tastes have changed.

Taco Seasoning #2: This one has far less salt and stronger flavors of the other herbs, I tend to use this one more than the other one.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


In the 1899 “Jingle Book” a little rhyme, by Carolyn Wells, titled “The Butter Betty Bought” first came to fame.  As time went on it would be included in the Mother Goose collection as Betty Botta Bought a Bit of Bitter Butter and soon spread to be one of the most well known of tongue twisters children and adults alike learn to recite.

Many auctioneer schools have the students use this rhyme in their training to speak quickly.  It is amazing to hear an auctioneer do the tongue twister.

It now has numerous versions but the most common is:

Betty Botta bought some butter;
"But," said she, "this butter's bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o´ better butter
Will but make my batter better."
Then she bought a bit o´ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ´twas better Betty Botta
Bought a bit o´ better butter

What most who recite it don’t realize is that each of the basic vowels(a, e, i, o, u) are used in this b-tter rhyme.

So why do I mention this on a pantry blog instead of over on my language blog called Jan’s Wordless Words?   Because this post is actually about flavored butters and their myriad of uses.   

No I won’t be telling you how to make bitter butter like Betty Botta Bought, but how to make a variety of butters to have on hand for a delicious add to for numerous dishes.
So let’s get started. 

I personally use real butter for all of these recipes. I have, however, due to budget concerns have used in the past a good quality stick margarine for most of them with great success, but we much prefer the taste and consistency of real butter for them in our home. So I watch for butter on a good sale and then do a butter day of making up various flavored butters.

All have the same main ingredient, butter, obviously.  Whether you make your own butter, or purchase at the grocery it is something divine to always have on hand in both its salted and unsalted varieties. This I bring to room temperature before I start trying to mix anything.
While I am waiting for that to happen I assemble my utensils and ingredients.

Small mixing bowls
Pastry cutter or forks
Plastic wrap
Plastic storage bowls for flavors kept in the refrigerator for near daily use.
Labels and a permanent marker. 
Sauce pan, or oven cookware if making clarified butter, Ghee, or beurre noisette.

Unsalted Butter for all the recipes

The stir-ins for each of the various recipes I am making that day. 

I like to gather everything I need before starting that way I know ahead of time if I’m going to come up short on something and adapt my plans accordingly.  I also put up the leftover ingredients as I measure the proper amounts into a recipe so there is never any confusion as to whether or not I added something should I be interrupted.

Note: Because we use butter on a daily basis and refrigerated butter is hard to spread on bread, we own and use a device that dates back in usage for centuries.  Mine, of course, is not that old, in fact neither of them are.  We have two, one for the house and one for the camper, we are that big of butter fans in our home. 
They are called simply a “French butter keeper”.  They were thought to be first developed by the potters in Valauris, France in the late 19th century.  Other locations also take credit for its development.

Whoever developed this ingenious design I thank them.  Basically it is a two part pottery cup that uses fresh water to keep the butter safely in temperatures of 80 or less at a spreadable texture.

You bring your butter to room temperature and fill the small cup that is attached to the lid section with the butter.  The bottom section you fill with fresh cool water up to a level that it won’t overflow the cup when the lid section is placed on the bottom cup.

When the lid is placed on the bottom cup the water comes up over the butter and seals it away from the air that could have bacteria in it that would cause it to ruin. 
Because of the natural fat in butter the water rolls right off of it and the flavor or consistency of the butter remains unaffected. 

You should change the water regularly to keep it fresh.

The size of the cup on your butter keeper will determine how much soft butter you will have on hand at any given time.  Our blue keeper holds a full pound of butter, while the white one only holds 1-2 sticks.
The pottery cups help maintain a constant temperature.

We do NOT put flavored butters in our keepers because the other ingredients might not keep as well in this non-refrigerated container.    Also, if we are going to be away for awhile we drain the water and refrigerate the entire crock.  We also thoroughly wash the crock between each refilling.

So our first bit of room temperature butter goes into our French Butter Keeper plain, for toast and other uses.

The rest are mixed together well with the ingredients of their individual recipes. Then either stored in a covered dish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if using fresh ingredients, longer if using dehydrated ones, or formed into a log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrapped and frozen on a flat surface.  The frozen log is then  placed in either a freezer zipper bag, still wrapped in the plastic wrap or in a vacuum sealed bag for long term freezer storage.  Be sure to label your butters when you make them because it is amazing how many different butters look the same in the freezer.  A berry butter could be a real surprise in a Chicken Kiev when you thought you were putting in herb butter. 

The advantage of the freezer storage is you can slice off just what you need as you need it, and return the rest to the freezer.  This task can be made simple by heating the blade of your butter knife under hot running water prior to trying to slice the frozen butter.  Thus the phrase “like a hot knife through butter” to mean something was easy to do—a little wordless words plug there.

If you click on the hyper links you will be taken directly to the recipes for various flavored and types of butters. After reading a few you will soon see how easy it is to develop your own family favorites.

Since I currently do not have a free standing freezer I do not always have all the recipes listed below on hand, but each does make an appearance sooner or later in my food storage. 

I’ve broken them down by their types and usages for your convenience.

NOTE: For a special snack treat melt any of these butters and brush them over tortillas or pita bread then cut the tortillas/pitas into wedges and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 250 F. oven and bake until crisp.  WATCH CLOSELY they will burn easily.  You could also fry the tortilla or pita wedges in a small amount of olive oil with some of the flavored butter melted in with it, if you prefer.

Herb butters.  These get used for spreading on bread for a variety of toasts to go with a meal, seasoning vegetables, fish, and adding flavor to various meats.  You will soon see why having them on hand can pep up any meal with just adding a pat or two of butter.

Chicken Kiev or Chicken Cordon Bleu in various flavors can be made simply and quickly when you have anyone of the various herb butters prepared and in your freezer. Don’t stop with just Chicken Kiev with these butters, try them on various other meats you have prepared in a similar fashion, or spread them on meats as you grill them.  The additional moisture and flavor it will give the meats is beyond compare.

Want to give just an herbal hint to something you are frying?  Add a pat or two of the herb butters to the olive oil in your pan to do the trick. Mixing the butter with olive oil helps raise the possible burning temperature because butter will burn easily.

Perk up plain veggies by dropping a pat or so into them as you heat them up.  No need for time consuming extra measuring, it’s all ready all done and ready to go.

Breads of all sorts benefit from the addition of herbal butters either as fresh hot rolls or on toasted bread. You can also substitute the herb butters for all or part of the oil/butter in any bread recipe for a subtle hint of herbs.

One of our family quick favorites is to put a small amount of olive oil in a pan and add corresponding herbal butter pats to the oil then fry biscuits, either canned or homemade, that have been pressed thin until golden brown. 

Examples of this would be garlic butter for spaghetti, chili butter for a Tex-Mex meal, tarragon butter for a French meal the possibilities are endless.

Choose from these herbal butters or create your own using your favorite herbs. Each of the ones listed below can be accessed by this link.  

Garlic butter can be made two different ways, with many stir ins.  Who doesn’t love luscious garlic bread?

Chive Butter:  Use with fish, poultry and potatoes.

Chili Butter: Spread on crusty French bread, or corn bread or add to corn or popcorn

Curry Butter: Great to use on poultry, lamb, green vegetables or rice.

Dill Butter: Seafood, lamb, potatoes, rice and spinach all benefit from the addition of this.

Horseradish Butter:  What is roast beef or corned beef sandwiches without a little horseradish?

Mustard Butter: Ham and beef sandwiches benefit from this butter, as does spinach.

Paprika Butter: Poultry and potatoes, as well as some cheese dishes are brightened by this butter.

Parsley Butter: Add this to poultry, sea food, green vegetables and potatoes.

Tarragon Butter: Roast beef, steaks, chicken fish and even as a stand alone butter this adds great flavor.

Not truly and herb, but nearly consider also making duxelles for a Mushroom flavored butter to use on vegetables, roasts and poultry
Cheese butters.  Whether it’s to put on crusty breads, to stir into pasta for a quick dish, or to place on baked potatoes a good supply of cheese butters in your fridge will be a blessing. These recipes are here.

Roquefort Butter:  while not one of my immediate family favorites my mother loved it.

Tex-Mex Butter is great to spread on plain tortillas to throw into the oven or microwave until the cheese and butter melt for quick nachos. 

Italian cheeses butter(s).  Mixed with garlic or plain over pasta, on bread, on a potato a great side dish

Sweet Butters.  Whether on pancakes, waffles, toast, bagels, muffins, hot cereals and toppings for snack cakes these are always a hit.

Berry Butters, you choose the type of berry.  Use these in hot cereals, on waffles and pancakes.

Cinnamon Sugar Butter, a quick and easy butter to put on your bread for cinnamon toast with no mess.

Honey Butter.  One of my personal favorites to spread on homemade dinner rolls for a special treat.

Honey Cinnamon Butter.  Tremendous on pancakes and waffles.

Honey Orange Butter.  Use this on sweet potatoes, acorn squash, carrots, raisin bread or other fruit breads.

Brandy or Rum Butter, To use in desserts or sauces.

Lemon or Citrus Butter, handy to have for seafood, poultry, green veggies and potatoes.

Streusel Topping Mix.  Add to sweet potatoes, carrots, muffin tops before baking, to top cupcakes or cookies or anything you want to add a nutty crunch to.

Other butters that don’t fit into the above categories, but I like to have on hand are:
Washed or unsalted butter.  Turn regular butter into these more expensive butters to use in recipes.

ButterBalls for White Sauce.  Use these to make quick and easy white sauce.

ClarifiedButter. Because regular butter starts to burn at 350 F clarified butter is preferable for some cooking.  Clarified butter can be used for temperatures up to 425 F.
Ghee. Usually used in recipes from India. Some ghee is made from butter made with buffalo milk I tend to use plain old cow’s milk butter to do this.

Beurre Noisette is simply Ghee that has been slow cooked a little longer to a nutty brown color and you don't have to strain it to use it. 

Whipped Butter, for those who love the easy spreading of whipped butter.  Why buy expensive plastic containers of it when you can make your own

Dieters Butter for those that are watching their calories but still want the taste of butter.

One more thought for you.  What if you are cooking and discover you are out of butter?  Here are some quick substitutes for you.  For 1 cup of butter you can substitute  either 7/8 cup corn oil, cotton seed oil or strained bacon fat OR 3/4 cup chicken fat. 
Jan who is hoping you will get “buttered up” to try all the varieties listed for a whole new world of flavors in OK