Geek Moms Like Science, Honey…

I didn’t mention that the other day when I was “helping” out in Preschool, there was an activity going on that the teachers were thrilled to have my assistance with.

See, being ambitious sorts, they had come up with a baking project for the kids – whereby neat little hedgehog shaped rolls with raisin eyes were created and baked by the kids.

Sure, sure, that part’s normal enough. It was the part where they said to me “oh we’re so glad you’re here to help with the shaking… see the kids are going to make their own butter to go on the rolls using heavy whipping cream and jars… and our arms are tired from doing most of the work this morning.”

Now, in grade school, I was the kid paying attention during “Prairie Week” when the strange adult outsiders came in with their nifty “How the Pioneers Did It” exhibitions… so I can tell you exactly how a lead musket ball is made by melting down scrap lead in a crucible and pouring it into a bullet mold (despite not having seen it in 30+ years, it’s still vivid) and I can tell you how freaking sore your arms get trying to churn butter the old fashioned way. Because I was one of the 2 kids who didn’t lose interest in that in oh, 30 seconds, after seeing that it mostly consisted of slamming a pole up and down inside a thin upright barrel-thingy.

So I was a bit dubious of this “preschoolers making their own butter” experiment, but more than excited to be allowed to help out.

Here’s what happened…

Ms. M took four well-washed baby food jars. She poured cold Heavy Whipping Cream into each one… about 4/5 full. She poured a tiny amount of salt in her hand – roughly 1/8th of a tsp I’d guess – and dumped it in. She sealed the jars. She handed one to me, kept one for herself, and handed two girls (one of them Buttercup) the other two jars and said “okay, now we shake!!

For the first couple of minutes there was me shaking furiously, Ms. M shaking half-heartedly, and two girls shaking like preschoolers do – with great enthusiasm but not much rhythm or effectiveness. Then the girls started getting bored, so the jars got passed on to the next victims helpers and we moved on. Ms. M tried valiantly to make it interesting by singing little “shake shake shake your butter” songs that she had made up for the morning class.

I sat there trying not to burst into either “Shake shake shake, shake your booooooty, shake your boooooteeeeh” or “Shake, shake, shake Senora, shake your body line…” neither of which is appropriate for a Catholic preschool room, nor something I want to have to explain to another parent where their child learned that song, thank you.

After much less time that you’d think, it devolved down to me and the three boys at the table. Fortunately, the boys were having a bit of a competition to see who could “turn it into butter first.” The answer of course was – me… I could. Because I’m the adult with the actual ability to shake the crap out of the silly baby food jar in the hopes that it might suddenly decide to do what abused cream does and chunk up.

However, I also know that the best method to keep the boys “helping” me was to suddenly shout “annnnnnd TRADE!!” every few moments so that I would be able to slide further progressed jars to each one. In the end, it took us maybe 10 minutes? I’d get the jars to the point of “a few more shakes and it’s butter with skim milk on top” and pass it off to a boy… then when it clumped up, tell him to run give it to Ms. M for draining and processing.

I really wanted to grab the jars and poke and prod them to see the consistency and taste the fruit of my GeekMommy labor… but you know, trying to provide a good example and all… So I waited.

You know what? It’s pretty cool. I got to eat a hedgehog roll (note: fun for the kids to make, not so much on the eating part) with butter that came from my own sweaty, hyperactive labor. I kept telling myself that since I ‘churned’ it, surely I burned off a comparable amount of fat and calories to what I was eating. (I know, I know, but I wanted to fool myself, thanks.)

I figure this will be fun if and when Buttercup ever hits that Girl Scout phase… so I’m storing it away in my brain for future “what to do that will either make your daughter roll her eyes at you OR say ooooh cool!! how do you know how to make butter?” reference.

I will say that I wonder what they’re making Catholic Preschool teachers out of these days though… both Ms. M and Ms. L were astonished that we had 1/2 the number of kids in the afternoon class but it took us less than 1/3 the time to make the butter. I guess one determined GeekMommy is worth two ‘why did we think it was a good idea to shake butter?’ preschool teachers any day.

Now, in the event of a butter shortage at the store – I am fully prepared.  As long as there is Heavy Whipping Cream and baby food in jars.


~ by Lucretia on October 19, 2007.

One Response to “Geek Moms Like Science, Honey…”

  1. I love making butter with our pre-k class! We usually do it in conjunction with monster toast (paint bread with colored milk, then toast it) or during farm animal week. Oh…You definitely could have sung those shaking tunes in our class! :)

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