06 May 2010

Oleo

If you do crossword puzzles, you know oleo. If you grew up during World War I, you know oleo. If your mother was born during the depression, she might well have bought margarine, because it was cheaper than butter. Mine did, anyway. She’d buy both butter and margarine, butter for toast and popcorn and baked potatoes, margarine for chocolate chip cookies and brownies and chicken liver pâté. In other words, she used butter as a condiment, margarine as an ingredient.

Don’t get me wrong – she loved butter. As a child, I’d catch her sneaking a knifeful of butter off the butter dish and I’d call her “butter slicker”. Later, when she was in her long decline, we’d have to push the butter dish to the other side of the table or she’d go after it with a spoon.

I don’t buy margarine. I don’t want to eat it. I’d rather save money in other places. But I find that a faint current of that depression-era mentality creeps into my cooking.

Not so long ago, I ended up with most of a quart of buttermilk, because I’d needed a ½ cup for something. Not wanting to waste it, I decided to make buttermilk ice cream. The recipe called for 2 cups of buttermilk, 2 cups of heavy cream, and TWELVE EGG YOLKS. I was going to cut the recipe down by a quarter anyway, because I only had 1 ½ cups of heavy cream, but that would have meant NINE EGG YOLKS. And my objection to TWELVE, or even NINE, egg yolks isn’t that it’s a lot of yolks, but what the hell do you do with the egg whites? You see, I’m constitutionally incapable of pouring the whites down the drain – too wasteful and my mother is whispering in my ear “put them in the freezer until there are enough for an angel food cake”.

So I mucked with the ice cream recipe even more, and used only four egg yolks to make the custard, and it was just fine. Really. Perfect even. And I was only left with four egg whites.

They sat there in the fridge for a while, until I consulted The Cake Bible, where – hallelujah, and thanks to the sub-index by all yolks/all whites/no flour – I found a recipe for a spiced pound cake with, yup, four egg whites.

The cake was excellent (and devoured by the office vultures in short order), but almost better was that I made the yolks and whites come out even.

Are you cavalier about your eggs? Or do you abhor wasting even one yolk? And what do you do with 7/8 of a quart of buttermilk anyway?

23 comments:

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Yesterday while making cookies I was spacing out & put the EGG in the compost bucket and the SHELL in my cookie dough. I was horrified. My only consolation was that the worms would eat it!

My eggs come from a CSA so wasting them feels like an affront to the chickens, who I've met : )

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

PS If I had extra buttermilk, I'd drink it. I love buttermilk!

Harriet said...

I have this problem too. I even save all the bits of chicken and vegetable peelings in my freezer to make stock I don't throw anything out unless it's rotten and even then it gets taken to the compost heap and turned into dirt for my garden so I can grow more vegetables. Buttermilk is a staple in our house. I have a bunch of recipes that I use to polish off bits, but it actually keeps for quite a long time, at least as compared to regular milk. Pancakes are an obvious choice. I use it to marinate chicken -- there's a Nigella Lawson recipe that's particularly good, but there are others too. Muffins. And one of my favorites, the Arabian-Squash casserole from the original Moosewood Cookbook. I don't need a lot of excuses to use up my buttermilk. Also, I have a terrific recipe for an overnight pie made out of egg whites (it's basically a soft meringue) that's delicious with fresh berries. I have no problems getting rid of egg whites. It's the yolks that give me trouble.

FreshHell said...

I don't buy buttermilk. If a recipe calls for it, I mix soy milk with yogurt to thicken it. Tastes just fine. I also use mostly margerine. For a lot of reasons. Only for certain things (cookies at Christmas time, for example) will I buy butter. I'm too impatient for it to soften, it's not particularly good for me, and it's an animal fat which I try to avoid. My mom used both.

Kelly said...

My husband is not supposed to eat egg yolks (or any really fatty food) and for a time I tried to be a good wife and bake and cook with egg whites only.

It nearly killed me. I already struggle with leaving an uneven number of eggs in the carton. Throwing egg yolks out was too much for my heart.

My husband's belly has learned to deal with the egg yolks.

Becky said...

Oleo always makes me think of olly olly oxen free. Go figure.

But, yeah. I save my egg whites for angel food cake. :)

susanna said...

Hi Maggie,

re: what to do with buttermilk, this stuff isn't bad http://www.sacofoods.com/culteredbuttermilkblend.html (i get it at shoprite) and the pancake recipe on the back of the container is a huge hit in my house...

Tabba said...

Hi, Maggie :)

1) My mountain-born grandmother regers to crisco as Oleo...so when I saw the title of this post, I had to read it. It made me smile.

2) I never know what to do with 7/8 of a container of buttermilk...I use it in my homemade pancakes. Though I did use it to marinate something one time, but don't remember what it was (so it couldn't have been that good?).

3) I am totally cavalier with my eggs (egg whites). But now you've got me thinking about better planning when I bake :)

liz said...

12 egg whites IS an angel food cake which goes great with ice cream, so there you go.

Julia said...

Meringues.

And...

as a girl I always thought the song the guards sang outside the witch's castle in Wizard of Oz was "Oleo... and Yodels."

As for wasting eggs, it was only about three years ago that I realized the reason my kids always wrestled with dying Easter eggs was because I was always thinking of eggs as FOOD, and knew we wouldn't eat more than a dozen hard-boiled eggs. Since then, for one week a year, I buy two dozen eggs as inexpensive craft supplies, and everyone can dye as many as they want, and a week later I throw out whatever hasn't been eaten.

RuthWells said...

I LOVE the Cake Bible white spice pound cake. Delish. But I freeze egg whites by the quart and use them for meringue cookies, dacquoise, the mousseline buttercream from The Cake Bible.... any number of things.

And I buy powdered buttermilk for baking, so I never have 7/8 of a quart in the fridge!

Mental P Mama said...

Oh, honey child. I make skillet cornbread with buttermilk. My family requires it with almost every meal. And buttermilk pi? The best thing you ever had! And egg whites make awesome omelettes....

nonlineargirl said...

I feel your pain. Only 16 days until I can feed the babies whole eggs. I am eating a lot of whites-heavy scrambles to make up for their yolk only ones. Feh.

You'd probably appreciate my effort to buy no more formula by using every scrap of formula I have in the house over the next couple of weeks (even the super gross smelling soy-based forumla). It will be close, but I think we won't have to go to real cow milk more than a few days early.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm a wastrel. And cavalier about eggs and buttermilk both. It's a character defect.

My grandma always called margarine "Oleo."

The Library Lady said...

I use it for my "Buffalo Buttermilk Chicken". Buttermilk and HOT SAUCE marinade,then breaded, baked in the oven and finished by broiling it with more hot sauce. For the girls I just omit the hot sauce.

My mom used to tell me how they'd get the oleo and her mother would add coloring to make it look like butter. She calls it margarine though...

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

meringues!

I actually make meringues all the time and then have a surplus of yolks.

The Homesteading Hussy said...

Nope- can't waste eggs. Or buttermilk for that matter- try Cake Bible's Buttermilk Waffles...ta die for. p. 103-104

Can't beat them with Vermont Maple Syrup. I gots me some of that if you want some.

oooh, I'm hungry.

mayberry said...

Oh no, I can't throw away half an egg! Definitely not. We have the powdered buttermilk too.

Gwen said...

Because I am a true grown up and therefore try, in all ways, to be the exact opposite of my mother (who also believed that freezer burn was really just a protective coating), I gleefully (GLEEFULLY! and with SPITE!) toss those egg whites down the drain.

Susie said...

I use buttermilk all the time for cornbread. My recipe calls for 2 cups, so a quart makes 2 pones. If I had happened to use 1/2 cup for something else, I would have still made cornbread and just supplemented sweet milk for the 1/2 cup that was missing.

My cornbread recipe is here:
http://www.raspberryworld.com/recipes/cornbr.html

slouchy said...

angelfood cake or meringues?

The Library Lady said...

My husband has always loved the time Nigella Lawson commented on freezing egg whites "my freezer looks like a sperm bank".

(Sometimes when he's not looking I've tossed egg yolks. Otherwise he'll cook them into an omelette and he eats too much already :(

bipolarlawyercook said...

Buttermilk freezes wonderfully.

Either that, or I make muffins, and if I don't have enough, I willy-nilly mix it with yogurt as a substitute for it as an ingredient in any Marion Cunningham or Dorie Greenspan recipe, and then I freeze those.

And then, ooh, muffins out of the freezer when I have company!