“HEY, YOU GUYS!” I shout Rita Moreno style above the clanking bottles at the bottom of my sagging grocery bag. “Chocolate milk from Twin Brook Creamery!”
The quaint glass pints with the image of Bessy reminded me of a simpler time when friendly milk men delivered wholesome milk that kids gulped straight from the quart.
A time before a host of funky chemicals necessitated scouring labels for words like GMO’s, Rbst, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin and search for assurances from purveyors like Twin Brook Creamery that their cows were happy, healthy and roaming free.
Twin Brook Creamery is a local, dairy farm that offers chocolate, regular white milk and cream — it’s available at limited locations that aren’t convenient for me to visit with my four kids on a regular basis. So when I do I stock up.
The kids herd into the kitchen and it isn’t long before rich chocolate milk clings to their upper lips like outlaw moo-staches from a spaghetti western.
“Mom, how come you never buy the white milk?” My eldest daughter Sophie asked.
“Um, they were out of it,” I replied. That wasn’t exactly right. But the lie sounded better than the truth… I didn’t buy the white milk because it looked “weird.”
Every quart of the white Twin Brook milk had inches of coagulated “stuff” that had separated and floated to the top like a viscous cloud.
My left brain knew the expiration date was good as I stood there shaking the glass quart like a snow globe, my head cocked sideways watching the film integrate.
And that it was probably the healthiest milk on the shelf… so what stopped me from buying it?
I decided to find out the answer to that question when Sophie asked if our family could take a field trip to Twin Brook Creamery.
Lynden, Washington has a population of 11, 951 and is home to the Twin Brook Creamery. We drive through the main entrance of the city and notice it’s sandwiched between two cemeteries. At one time, Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita.
I never considered myself a city slicker — until we got lost at the “wrong” dairy farm. Fortunately, we ran into our knight in shining armor, Mick Robinson, milk manager at Milky Way. His steed was an eighteen wheeler full of what else… milk. He personally escorted us to the right dairy farm.
We passed a picnic bench underneath a sprawling fig tree beside a country house. The farm had been in Larry Stap’s family for five generations.
Larry walked up to us wearing dusty jeans, and black work boots.
The Twin Brook Creamery normally doesn’t offer tours, but I was persistent and Larry relented, “It is hard to turn down some one who could write a positive article about farming.”
Larry extended a rough shod hand. I gripped it hard in return.
“You make some terrific chocolate milk,” I said as Larry walked briskly to the pasture. “What’s your recipe?”
“For the chocolate milk we take our vat full of Jersey whole milk, add sugar and the cocoa base. Mix them up and then we heat it up to pasteurize it. We heat to 155 degrees and hold it there for a half hour and then cool it down. During that half hour it is constantly being stirred and the ingredients are all melding together.”
I asked Larry what made his milk different.
“All our milk and cream is produced from our own Jersey cows, raised right here on the farm. They provide milk that is higher in protein and fat content than the commonplace black-and-white Holsteins, resulting in an enhanced flavor experience.”
Larry called out, “Calfie, calfie, calfie,” and they came running.
“I wanna milk some cows!” Amelia said galloping toward the open field where a troupe of good looking cows stood.
“I’m afraid that chore is done really early in the morning!” Larry said. “3:00 am.”
“Larry, can we talk a little bit about your pasteurization process?” I asked.
“Our milk’s rich flavor is preserved by bottling in glass bottles and by not over-processing. Our fresh cow’s milk is gently pasteurized at a low temperature, killing harmful bacteria, but we do not homogenize our milk.”
“Wait a second. Pasteurization and homogenization are not the same thing?”
Larry shook his head. “Homogenization is a process which alters milk’s natural state by forcing it through small openings at high pressure. Without homogenization, the cream is free to float to the top of the container.”
“Aha!” I blurted. “That’s why your milk in the quart is accumulated at the top!”
“You mean it’s not necessary to homogenize milk?” I asked skeptical.
Larry shook his head.
“Then why do it?”
“That’s a good question… People don’t like to shake the bottle.” Larry said.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had an issue with that coagulation.
“I do not know how homogenization started but I believe that since the butterfat or cream is altered in homogenization that our digestive systems absorb it incorrectly. This is only my opinion not scientific proof.” Larry added. “And companies learned that they could skim milk from the top to make higher profits.” Larry said handing the girls a pint of chocolate milk to share.
Back home I began to wonder if homogenization was just another example of corporate America stealing our cream? Especially after doing research on emerging new studies about the possible harmful effects of homogenization online.Emerging studies about the theories of how homogenization of milk negatively alters its makeup.
Larry had also told us that people who had had milk allergies were able to drink non homogenized Twin Brook milk.
Eventually, I stopped doing research on the internet about homogenization. The answer for my family about whether or not to drink non homogenized milk came as I was rocking my baby.
Given the choice would I homogenize the breast milk that I fed him?
Larry’s Hot Chocolate and Whipped Cream Recipe
Twin Brook Chocolate Milk
One Cup Heavy Cream
2 T powdered sugar
1 T bakining cocoaFor a recipe take some of our chocolate milk and heat it up to make hot chocolate.
Meanwhile take a cup of our heavy cream. Add two tablespoons of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of baking coca and whip it to make chocolate whipped cream. Use only a wire wisk or hand mixer as an electric mixer goes to fast and you will make chocolate butter. Put a dollop on your hot chocolate. For a variation add a drop or two of mint to the hot chocolate or the whipped cream for a extra flavor taste.