Book Review: Milk Cow Kitchen, by MaryJane Butters of MaryJanesFarm
Few farming books make you want to run your fingers over the pages because you truly bond with the pictures inside. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a how-to agriculture book blend practical information with beauty in a way that caused me to curl up on the couch and slowly savor it over a cup of tea. That is, until Milk Cow Kitchen came to my farm, the fifth book by the prolific organic pioneer, MaryJane Butters.
As with everything Butters does at MaryJanesFarm, her Idaho-farm based enterprise celebrating all things female and farming, she gracefully brings a needed and too often missing sense of fun and joyful beauty to topics that otherwise dull anyone’s sensibilities such as semen collection or manure management. This nearly 400 page tome covers everything from housing and fencing to vet care to cheese-making how-to’s and milk paint tutorials yet still be coffee table display worthy.
“Playful works. Struggle and hardship doesn’t,” sums up Butters as to her motivation behind blending the practical and pretty. “I want to change how people think about milk cows. I want them to know what I know: that a pet cow can bring into your life what millions of dogs and cats do for people, except a cow also feeds you.” On that culinary note, Milk Cow Kitchen comes with 75 fuss-free, farmstyle recipes for all things dairy, from sour cream and yogurt making basics to flavored coffee creamers and chocolate ice cream made in a coffee can.
For those women reading who, like myself, hear the word “cow” and immediately think “too big, too heavy, too much,” Butters offers this advice: “Women everywhere ‘man’ handle horses. How many teenage girls do you know who have a horse or a 4-H steer wrapped around their baby finger? I've had horses and cows. Cows are a hundred times more docile and agreeable. And once you start making what they give you into Havarti cheese and butter and yogurt and cream cheese, you're hopelessly smitten. When you call your cow by her name and her head bobs up and she starts running towards you, her big udder waving to and fro, and then kicks up her heels, you vow ‘till death do us part.’”
Fueled by her passion for all things cow, Butters founded the Heritage Jersey Organization that is a registry for the original-sized Jersey and also a chatroom where a lively group of cow owners share their knowledge of backyard milk cows, www.heritagejersey.org. For more on Milk Cow Kitchen and MaryJanes Farm: www.maryjanesfarm.org.