Thursday, August 22, 2013

The last of my butterhead

Last night I watched as Minnesota's 60th Princess Kay of the Milky Way was crowned.

MarJenna McWilliam, our new Princess Kay, will spend most of today sitting in a cooler while Linda Christensen sculpts her likeness into a 90-pound block of butter. Before the end of the Minnesota State Fair, eleven more butterheads will join MarJenna's in the butter sculpture booth.

Thirteen years ago, I became a part of Minnesota's butterhead tradition.

One of the most common questions I heard after becoming a butterhead was, "What are you going to do with all that butter?"

My answer was always, "I'm not sure."

A lot of dairy princesses serve their butterheads at pancake breakfasts or sweet corn feeds as a way to say thanks to their local dairy farmers for supporting the dairy princess program and thanks to their community for supporting the dairy industry. Others display their butterheads at their weddings. And some dairy princesses, like these three sisters, keep theirs.

I wasn't ever sure what to do with mine. I used the scraps of butter from the sculpture to bake Christmas cookies that year and sent them to many of the people who had supported me as a dairy princess. My butterhead itself went into cold storage in my grandfather's freezer.

As time marched on, I figured there wasn't much I could do with my butterhead, other than keep it. I figured the butter probably wasn't safe to eat anymore. Then, I happened to judge a dairy princess contest with Dr. Florian Ledermann, a dairy veterinarian from Alexandria, Minn. As we talked about my butterhead, Dr. Ledermann assured me that the butter would be safe to eat for many years. Dr. Ledermann had been a food inspector when he served in the military, years before, and butter was one of the foods he inspected.

So, after my grandfather passed away, I buckled my butterhead into the backseat of our car and drove it home. My sister helped me slice it into chunks, which we bagged and returned to the freezer. I baked those pieces of my butterhead into all sorts of recipes over the next year and a half.

Two years later, long after I thought the last of my butterhead had been consumed, I found one last package in the bottom of our freezer.

The butter may be all gone now, but the memories will last a lifetime.

P.S. If you're going to the Minnesota State Fair this year, and you'd like to have Princess Kay of the Milky Way visit your school sometime this year, follow Midwest Dairy (@MidwestDairy) on Twitter, take a picture of yourself at the Butter Sculpture Booth in the Dairy Building and tweet it using the hashtag #MNPrincessKay. One winner will be randomly selected every day of the Minnesota State Fair and announced by noon the following day. Good luck!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Up, up and away!

Two years ago, I had what I thought would be the ride of a lifetime: I got to ride along during a test flight of a personal airplane. I figured it would be my only chance to fly in a plane that small. Last week, I was proven wrong. A friend of Glen's parents, Gary is a pilot who happens to enjoy giving rides in the two-seat airplane he built himself. Gary and his wife, Betsy, live in Arizona, but spend part of their summer in Minnesota.

Dan and Monika got to check out the airplane with Gary before our flights. Gary built the plane in 1982. It weighs about 700 pounds.

Gary and Glen, just before they taxied down the runway at the Sauk Centre Airport. Gary gave both Glen and me a short ride.

Up, up and away they go. Betsy said the plane is so small it reminds her of a dragonfly when it's in the air. The weather was perfect for flying.

The aerial view of the Stearns County countryside was gorgeous. The landscape was remarkably green for this time of the year.

We got to fly over our farm. If you look close, you can see which part of the pasture was clipped and which wasn't. Big Birch Lake is in the upper left corner. I got to fly over the lake, too, and it was so neat to see the topography of the lake from above.

There's so much we don't see when we're on the ground. Glen said he was able to pick out the variety differences in our corn fields and see where one soil type changed to another.

Thanks for the great rides, Gary!