New to the Oak Park Farmers' Market this year, Nordic Creamery offers a new item that may change attitudes about an old product.
That product is butter, the archetypal commodity, one side of the famous Econ 101 butter-guns equation, competing basically on price and availability, usually as personality-free as cooking oil.
Butter, of course, is a beautiful thing, and if I'm going to take in indulge in high-calorie foods, I am going to get as much taste as I can out of them.
Nordic Creamery does offer cheese, but for us the butter is the main reason to stop at this small stand – not that the cheese isn't good, but nowhere else at the market are you going to be able to get butter this good.
Nordic Creamery's "summer butter" is made from the first milking of cows feeding on grass pastures after a long winter eating hay. It is sweet, light, and wonderful. We don't cook with it (though of course you could), because like a fine olive oil, we like to use for eating on bread (Red Hen baguette is a perfect accompaniment to the butter) or as dressing for pasta or salad.
At the market last weekend, I noticed that the price for a tub had been marked down to $5 for 12 oz. – that's still more than what you'd pay in the supermarket, but there's little comparison between that butter and this. Nordic Creamery produces smaller scale – they call it "handcrafted" – butter that tastes of the land, varies by the season, and has a dimension that's hard to detect in more mass-produced varieties.
Some of us have mixed emotions about butter, because it's sort of the epitome of high-calorie indulgence, but as Julia Child once said as she put a stick or two into a sauce, "I know some of you are afraid of butter. If you are afraid of butter, use cream."
And you know who's against butter? Nazis. As Herman Goering asked, "Would you rather have butter or guns? Preparedness makes us powerful. Butter merely makes us fat."
Butter, especially good butter, makes us very happy.
Nordic Creamery is in Westby, Wisconsin, and it's been family-run since 1917; it's a very promising addition to the Oak Park Famers' Market.