“Of Bread, Butter, Tea & Bicycles…”


20150122_7458web Since I started riding my bicycle again regularly for about 100 miles a week I have been able to lose weight and enjoy a good piece of bread with butter and a cup of tea on the side. I grew up drinking Ostfriesentee in an out of the way corner of northern Germany. I had to switch to coffee when I was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier out of Florida and the gut churning Navy coffee became the only thing available.  But I always had a soft spot for a good cup of tea, which is not something one easily finds in the US. So years ago I started buying Ostfriesentee online form Germany. When they switched to the Euro the tea all of a sudden became outrageously expensive, and I dropped the whole thing. Then I found a line of organic Assam tea that was not bad, and I have been drinking it ever since. When Starbucks came along I happily became a fan, and I especially liked it when I realized that their Tazo Awake tea was not too bad, although brewed with a tea bag and served in a paper cup. In a pinch, like at an airport or on the road, I was quite satisfied with it. The yesterday, on my shopping trip to the ‘big city’ I stopped by Starbucks to get my regular ‘treat,’ a cup of Tazo Awake tea and a slice of lemon pound cake. Well, totally unnoticed by me, Starbucks had switched to something called Teavana . The barista gave me their Royal English Breakfast Tea instead of the Tazo Awake. I did not notice it till I sat down outside and started drinking it and thought I had gotten only hot water – total crap in other words. So, scratch Starbucks from being a place where to get good tea.

Along with the tea I like good bread, butter and preserve.  While I have occasionally baked my own bread, I really got hooked when I discovered how to make Ciabatta dough and bread. It is easy enough for me to make without getting whacked out, and eventhough it is wonderful just by itself, good butter with it is kinda nice! I can no longer get the COSTCO organic butter, and for some reason the Organic Valley butter has disappeared from our supermarket. However, the veggie stand that operates four days a week in town carries Amish butter. So I bought some of that and quite liked it. Checking things out on line made me realize that the term Amish Butter is quite ‘elastic’ and although something is called Amish Butter  it may in fact be Amish style butter only. Also, I had assumed that Amish butter would be organic. Apparently that is not necessarily the case, since each Amish Bishop seems to set the rules for what is allowed in farming and what is not. Some allow fertilizer only, other also allow pesticides. The reality is that buying this ‘Amish Butter’ I did not really know  what I was getting.

Back to my shopping trip in the ‘big city.’ There is a supermarket in Gainesville, called Ward’s which is locally owned and has a wonderfully eclectic clientele and a great selection of  grocery items, many of them not easily found in other supermarkets. I knew they carried Amish Butter, so I bought a roll of it. Not sure of what I was really getting I wrote Minerva Dairy and received this reply: We purchase milk from 90+ family farms that do not use hormones on their farms. All of our milk is RBST free. Due to the weather in Ohio the farms we get out milk from are not totally grass fed. They use a grain mix that is regulated through the FDA. Hope this information helps you. From this I guess it is not really Amish butter, but Amish Style. However, the answer sounded pretty good to me. I think it is about as good a butter as I am likely to get around here, and astonishingly its price is fantastically low.

About christian harkness

Photographer and printmaker; living and working in north Florida.
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