In the Venoge kitchen, butter is the first thing we make.  Most of our recipes will require either the butter or the byproduct of making butter, the buttermilk.

When Venoge was an active homestead, milk from the cow would be placed in a wide shallow bowl. Shards of a milk bowl have been discovered at Venoge.  Once cream rose to the top it could be carefully skimmed off and churned into butter.

Since we don’t have access to a cow, we buy a quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream and put it into our half gallon churn, made by Henderson’s Artifacts. If you are unable to find heavy cream, whipping cream can be substituted. The difference is that heavy cream contains 36% milk fat and whipping cream contains 30% milk fat. A pound of butter and several cups of buttermilk are made from a quart heavy cream.

When the cream is at the right temperature, about 60°F, it takes about 15 minutes to turn into butter.


  • Quart (32 oz.) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a churn

Begin with heavy cream that is somewhat cooler than room temperature. If the cream is too cold it will take longer to churn. If the cream is too warm the butter will still form, but it will be very soft.

Pour cream into the churn, put on the lid and use the dasher to whip the cream.

Continue churning with the dasher until the consistency changes and the cream thickens. As you continue the cream will again change and it will slosh at the sides of the churn. At this stage the cream is turning into butter.

Keep churning until liquid, called buttermilk, separates from the newly made butter clumps. The buttermilk may be slightly opaque. Save off the buttermilk for drinking or use it in a recipe where milk is needed. The butter will be yellow to pale yellow depending on the source of the cream.

Use a strainer to separate the buttermilk from the butter or a butter paddle, as pictured below. Either will help hold back the butter clumps while you pour off the buttermilk.

Use the paddle again to squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Straining butter

Squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter.

Rinse the butter with cool water. Rinse thoroughly using your hands or the butter paddle. This will help keep the butter fresh so it does not turn rancid. We use our butter immediately, but it can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for longer.

Add salt or herbs at this time. We prefer to keep our butter unsalted or ‘sweet’.


Fresh Butter


  • Pint (16 oz) of heavy cream
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Herbs (optional)

Instructions – using a jar

If you don’t have a churn, try making butter using a jar. Approximately a cup of butter and a cup of buttermilk are made from a pint of heavy cream.

To begin, fill your jar half way with heavy cream that is about 60°F. As the butter is forming it will double in size. Screw on the lid.

Shake the jar. In two minutes or so the cream will begin doubling in size. Continue shaking as the cream turns to a thick whipped cream consistency. It may take another 8 minutes to get to this stage. As the cream begins to separate it will make a sloshing sound. Keep shaking the jar until the cream has completely separated into butter and buttermilk. This is the final stage and may take 1-2 minutes to reach.

Strain off the buttermilk. Squeeze out excess buttermilk from the butter using a paddle or spatula. Rinse the butter with cool water and squeeze butter again to excess liquid.

Add salt or herbs if you like. Chill and serve.


Round Loaf

This recipe was a surprise; it was simple and produced a beautiful, delicious loaf easy to cut.   It went well with our soup or plain with butter and jam. The original recipe called for slashing the top which also works nicely.

Our recipe is adapted from English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David, Biscuit Books Inc., Newton, MA


  • 3 cups unbleached flour (approximately), of which 3/4 cup may be whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons of salt (approximately)
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast
  • A scant cup water


Mix the yeast to a cream with a little tepid water. Stir the salt into flour.

Mix the creamed yeast into it, add the tepid water. Mix well and shape the dough into a ball. If it is too wet, sprinkle with little more flour. Cover, and leave in a warm place to rise.

In an hour to an hour and a half the dough should have doubled volume and feel spongy and light. Scoop it up, and slap it down hard on a board. Repeat this three or four times. The more the dough is knocked down at this stage the better the loaf will be.

Knead and roll the dough into a ball, place this in the center of a floured baking sheet. At this stage fold the ball of dough all round, tucking the edges underneath, so that the uncooked loaf looks like a little, round, plump cushion. If this detail is omitted, the loaf will spread out flat. Shape the loaf.

It is advisable to cover the dough while it is rising for the second time and the easiest way to do this is to invert a clean bowl over it. Once risen, you may now make slashes on the loaf; one from side to side the other two crossing that one.

Cook in a 450° degree oven on center shelf for 15 minutes and then 400° for the next 15 minutes. If the bottom is not done, turn upside down and leave in the oven for 10-15 minutes more with the heat off.

We baked our Round Loaf in the outdoor bake oven, the temperature was roughly 425° throughout the baking. We did put it back in upside down for about 15 minutes.



Charlotte’s Dessert Bread

This quick bread is dark and rich and has a distinctly different texture from others.  Finding extra space in the bake oven, we quickly combined ingredients on hand and created this uniquely simple bread.  Searching for an appropriate name we went to the first known housewife in the Venoge cottage, Charlotte Golay Weaver.

Charlotte Golay Weaver was born in 1787 in Le Chenit, a municipality in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland.  She came to live in New York state where she met and married Jacob Weaver.  They arrived in Vevay, Indiana in 1813 and by 1814 settled in a house owned by her father, David Golay.  As Jacob Weaver would write in a letter to his father in New York, Charlotte and Jacob lived “close to his door”.  We suspect Charlotte was the first to cook in the kitchen at Venoge. Charlotte, we remember you.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup hot water


Melt butter and blend in sugar. Mix in eggs. Sift flour with salt and soda and add to wet ingredients. Add cornmeal. Mix ingredients. Add hot water and mix. Add raisins and currants. Add cinnamon.

Turn into greased 9 x 5 loaf pan or 9 inch round pan. Bake in slow oven at 350° for about 1 hour.

Serve when cooled with fresh butter.