Here in the Deep South, people love many different delicacies. We have a whole culture that has evolved around eating these different foods and relatives will tell you when and how southerners started eating this or that which usually relates to the Civil War or the depression era. But I have never had anyone tell me how we southerners started to drink buttermilk, and why it is that we tend to combine it with green onions and white cornbread (I have to make this distinction ya’ll because yellow cornbread is a completely different thing down here).
It’s disappointing though when you figure out how to make it, well at least it was for me. You see I was the child that thought chocolate milk came from brown cows, so when I realized that buttermilk came from normal “sweet milk” rather than a sour cow or one that ate bitter weeds I was disheartened. I remember the first time my grandmother grabbed a warm pitcher of milk and tossed lemon juice in it and shook it up and then told me to leave it alone. Of course a few days later we drank that rich concoction with her white cornbread and slathered it with real butter and til this day I associate it with her and my Daddy, and along with them think it is an excellent meal/midnight snack.
Now that I am older, I think of the metaphor behind making buttermilk. How easy it is to make good sweet milk “sour”. How something as complex as milk can be transformed to another thing all together with just a small adding of ingredients. You see one view of this procedure can be positive, while the other one can be misconstrued as negative. I am almost positive that buttermilk was “accidentally discovered” by some of our ancestors when they stored milk without refrigeration and had to drink it “sour” and still lived the next day. (This is sheer conjecture on the part of the author and has nothing to do with scientific or historic accuracy) As a Pagan or witch, or even a spirit walker of any path…the spiritual lesson is taking one thing, transforming it into another, and enjoying the process of the change, in fact letting that change nourish you, filling your palate with that new bitter thing and finding that to your surprise it delights you in ways you had never conceived of before.
As a human I have made buttermilk accidentally out of friendships, a marriage, a few relationships, old jobs, careers, bands, book projects, websites and other things. It happens; even the most “perfect Miss Manners” is capable of “Spilling milk” or “Making a mess”. Of course we all know that when you do this there supposedly is no sense in crying “over it” or about it, you are supposed to just accept it and move on; but sometimes accepting your responsibility in it “and drinking that bitter glass down” might just be the better option.
Take a glass of milk, after “sticking your foot in your mouth”, “dropping your basket”,or “actin’ a fool”, and add one of the following ingredients into your cup of milk, stir with your finger and say exactly what it is you did or you are feeling…”Goddess, yep it’s me again, and some really tough things have happened again in my life. I could be the instigator, or I could not be responsible at all but right now I have just lost another person I cared about"(this is my example not yours use your own nosy!) BUT do feel the pain, the hurt, the sorrow, the regret, and stir that mixture with your index finger. Then, Walk off, leave it be, let it set in the fridge, go on and make your favorite meal and celebrate the prosperity and abundance of your life.
Later on that night cut a slice of cold cornbread, and thank your deity for that bread (set some out for them) break it up in bite size pieces (think consciously about how deity constantly feeds you while you do this) pour in the buttermilk in your big mason jar or green glass (pour a tad bit out for your deity of choice), then eat with a silver spoon (aluminum is easier to come by now days but I prefer silver for the symbolic properties) and ruminate on the following principals…. No matter what you do, or where you are; you judge you worse than deity does or ever will; deity feeds you and takes care of you, and loves you through it all; no matter what. Feel the love warm up your heart, and your belly fill with food then go to bed knowing that everything is all right the worse thing has happened, and you drank it...and it wasn't that bad, in fact it was only buttermilk.
So when you feel like you might have ruined some of the sweet things in life, like friendships, lovers, or possibly gotten so fed up that you “flew the coop” ,“dropped your basket”, or “fell off the wagon” just remember this Southern Fried Pagan’s epiphany. Even the sweetest thing in the world like milk, when supposedly “soured” is still good for you and nutritious; and no matter how many mistakes you think you have made in life…somewhere out there in the universe there was a “recipe, rhyme and a reason for it” or at least a southerner who would deem it as one of the greatest foods ever.
How to make Buttermilk
1 cup milk (whole milk works best) plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice this is the method for DIY buttermilk. Wait 30 seconds for the milk to sour. Add a little more time, with light agitation. You can substitute some sour cream, yogurt, whey, or cream of tarter for the buttermilk, its easy-peasy. What your are trying to do is “clabber” the milk, you cannot substitute skim, or lowfat milk, or even evaporated milk it has to be whole milk.
- Add acidic ingredient to the milk and stir.
- Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- The milk will curdle.
- Stir well before using.
- Store in the refrigerator, freeze leftovers and make buttermilk dressings or use in homemade breads, pies or cakes.
I pray this touches home for you, and makes life sweeter. Thank you for the gift of your time!