When life gets you down, churn butter. It somehow tastes so much better than shop-bought, as well as being cheaper. This is the second time I've churned butter, and this batch is even better than the last! I still need to work on my butter-making skills, but I'm definitely on the way.
For those who have not yet discovered this, butter is made from cream. You take normal cream and agitate it, traditionally in a butter churn but in my case in a sterilised used jam jar. The cream becomes whipped cream, then gathers together and then you can hear the lump of coagulating butter sploshing around in the buttermilk. Agitate until the butter and buttermilk are, like, totally separate. Pour off the buttermilk and retain it for later use. Add some water to the butter in the jar, agitate further, pour off the buttermilky-watery mixture. You've got to wash all the buttermilk out of the butter to stop it going rancid quickly. (This is one of the bits I haven't perfected yet.) Then you squeeze the water out of the butter by smashing it around with a wooden spatula on a wooden chopping board held at an angle over the draining board/sink, and pat it into, well, a pat of butter with two wooden spatulas (or Scotch hands, if you have them!). This is another of the bits I haven't perfected yet - my butter is still wet. But it tastes fine!
You can add salt, as a preservative, and herbs and things for flavour. I have not yet experimented with this, as my herb garden is still in the nursery stage.
Churning the butter can take ages, but the two key things are to use cream that's a few days old, and not too cold (ie not straight from the fridge). Good thing to do whilst sitting in front of the tv.
Regarding the buttermilk, it has many potential uses. You can drink it, although I don't like the taste. It is good for use in baking, making pancakes and similar, and is apparently also good in ice cream and smoothies. The internet tells me it is good in 'cream of' soups and in sauces. It is also apprently good for your skin, and I've seen it used in cleansers, moisturisers and treatments for sunburn. I'm going to try putting a bit on my face this evening, and seeing how that feels...