friday feast: it’s always better with butter

” If you have extraordinary bread and extraordinary butter, it’s hard to beat bread and butter.” ~ Jacques Pepin

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Ah, butter! Slather it on a slice of warm crusty bread, watch a pat slippy slide down a stack of fluffy pancakes, feel it grease the corners of your mouth as you bite into a cob of corn.

Rich, smooth, creamy yellow — butter kisses your toast and ensures you will rise and shine. Ninety-nine percent of my cookie batters start off with creaming softened butter with sugar, beating till it’s nice and fluffy and ready for vanilla and eggs. There simply is no substitute: butter always promises superior flavor.

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(Click for No-Knead City Bread recipe with Brown Butter Spread via Always . . . Leave Room for Dessert!)

Elizabeth Alexander’s soul-nourishing poem, “Butter,” makes me think about my parents. My mother loves butter, but my father won’t touch it. If you dare offer her margarine, be prepared for a haughty, “I want real butter.”

With my dad it’s psychological. When he was little he once ate an entire stick in one sitting and got really sick. Well, who wouldn’t? The sight of butter, the smell and mere thought of it turns him off. But if he doesn’t know it’s there or wills himself to forget, he loves it. Case in point: pecan pie and butter toffee peanuts.

Because Dad didn’t like butter, Mom rarely cooked with it. But that didn’t stop us from loving, craving, and eating it, in any form, whenever possible. Once a butter baby, always a butter baby.

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BUTTER
by Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
(rest is here with audio of poet reading the poem)
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Mmmmm! Now I’m thinking how long it’s been since I’ve dipped a chunk of lobster in drawn butter . . .*Maine fishing village reverie*

Just in case you’re craving a little more, feast on these amazing butter sculptures by Jim Victor and Marie Pelton. Udderly unbelievable!

butter ox
“Family with Ox” designed by Marie Pelton (2010)
lunch lady butter
“Tribute to the Lunch Lady” by Marie Pelton (2011)
“Milk, Moms, Mornings” (2005) Click to see more food sculptures!

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poetryfriday180The warm and lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting today’s Roundup at The Poem Farm. I wonder if she’s churning some butter today. Enjoy all the yummy poetic offerings being served up in the blogosphere this week.

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P.S. Butter my butt and call me a biscuit! Okay, you can have some.

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits via Caroline’s Edible Creations (click for recipe)

“I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it — and more important, because I like to give it.” ~ Julia Child

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Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

51 thoughts on “friday feast: it’s always better with butter

  1. Well, Biscuit! I’m having time getting past wanting the recipe for butter toffee peanuts. But as I hope you will someday share this recipe, I will stand and adore this poem. It completely reminds me of my own mom and of the time my family came home to find that I had dragged pretzels through a stick of butter. They were worried it had been a mouse! I’m now “glowing from the inside/out”. If the rest of my linking in is late today, it’s your fault. I’ll be in the kitchen making small butter sculptures….

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    1. Hee! I’d never thought of dragging pretzels through butter. Sorry to say there’s no recipe for butter toffee peanuts — they came in a can:).

      I think you should make a kitty butter sculpture . . .

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  2. I always loved Julia Child’s attitude towards butter, and your post, Jama,would have made her smile. It IS better with butter, and that poem shows exactly why! PS. Butter sculptures?! Pretty amazing!

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  3. Loved this. “Once a butter baby, always a butter baby.” Indeed! There is no substitute, as you said. Although- I have found that my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe is best when I use 2/3 butter and 1/3 shortening – gives it the perfect firm-chewy texture! You should send the link to Paula Deen, who I’m sure would appreciate it, especially these days.

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    1. I hear you on mixing in a little shortening for just the right crispness. I also do this sometimes with pie crust and almost always with gingerbread men. Pure butter can be too soft in some cases.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this mouth-watering poem! Elizabeth Alexander is one of my favorite poets, and it goes without saying that there are always at least 2 pounds of butter in my refrigerator!

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    1. You’re my kind of person! We always have both salted and unsalted in our fridge. I do confess we don’t use butter exclusively for health reasons. Earth Balance to the rescue (which my mother doesn’t like).

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  5. Ha! I am totally using that “butter my butt” line today.:) I’ve always followed Julia Child’s advice: everything tastes better with butter! I do know folks like your father with some hangups about it… makes me sad for them. And oh my goodness, the butter sculptures! There is a movie with Jennifer Gardner called BUTTER where she plays a competitive butter sculptress. Serious business! Thanks for sharing. xo
    Irene

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    1. Oh! Hadn’t heard about the Jennifer Gardner movie — thanks, Irene, will have to rent it sometime.

      I thought the “butter my butt” line was pretty well known. I first came across it in a mail order catalog.

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  6. Love the lines
    …I am grinning greasy
    with my brother, having watched the tiger
    chase his tail and turn to butter.

    How many times did I read and love Little Black Sambo, a story I would never have shared with my own kids?! Thanks for bringing back the childhood delight of it!

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    1. Same childhood delight here. Loved that story and of course not for one moment ever considered the racial stereotyping problems associated with it till I was an adult. One of my aunts even called me Little Black Sambo because I was always out in the sun with a dark tan.

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  7. Don’t forget a hot baked potato with butter. No bacon bits. Sour cream? Bah! Simple is best! Toast and butter, my all time favorite treat!

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  8. Well, you know my penchant for biscuits, & they must, must have butter right out of the oven, Jama! Those butter sculptures, fantastic. I am constantly in awe of what artists can do. Love the Lunch Lady one! And this final line “one hundred megawatts of butter”-exactly! I used to help my ‘biscuit’ grandmother churn her butter-nothing like it since! Thanks for all!

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    1. Yes I well remember your love of biscuits and those wonderful memories of your grandmother. DIdn’t realize she also churned her own butter?! You need to write a poem about that.:)

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  9. Thanks for the buttery goodness, Jama. Butter + biscuits = Perfect breakfast (or tea or snack). Speaking of tea, we had tea at Gryphon D’or in Montreal this week and it was FABULOUS. You would love it — scones with homemade peach whiskey marmalade, caramel, sweet cream, lemon cream, or raspberry preserves. Finger sandwiches. Tiny pastries.

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  10. It’s amazing to me what artists can do! I would never think to carve something out of butter. What a wonderful post you have weaved today.

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    1. I’m amazed with both butter and chocolate sculptures actually. You’d need the optimal temperature to keep the medium workable. And I do wonder what happens after these pieces are displayed and appreciated since they can’t last indefinitely. Just thrown away or actually eaten?

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  11. Hi, Jama. Fresh butter always reminds me of second grade. We made butter in Mrs. Keller’s classroom — passing around a Mason jar full of milk, each student giving the jar a few shakes, until we had delicious butter to put on our crackers. Nothing has ever tasted better.

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    1. I love Mrs. Keller already. Sounds like quite a few shakes would have been needed to make butter. The reward of eating it on crackers at the end is the best!

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  12. Those biscuits look ridiculously good…so hungry! I remember eating butter by the finger full as a kid….only as a kid though😉 (I love butter).

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  13. Mmmmm… one reason I’m a vegetarian but not a vegan, like my hubby switched to a few years ago. But he still makes us “heart attack biscuits” now and then – so named because of this rich gold ingredient. I remember my mother talking about how her favorite part of making sugar cookies was sneaking bites of the creamed butter and sugar mixture, and that’s remained my favorite part all these years too!

    (Interesting re. Little Black Sambo – we had a copy and I loved the butter/tiger imagery in it. Didn’t realize the larger issues when I was little myself.)

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    1. So, you’re a batter taster! Your husband’s heart attack biscuits do sound good. It’s so unfair that the foods so many of us love most — sugar and butter, for instance — are the very things we “should” cut back on for good health.

      I think most of us who loved LBS as children had no clue about any controversy — just loved the story as a story, and like you, I was fascinated by the tigers turning into butter.

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  14. Butter. Oh, butter. You reminded me of visiting my grandma. Every so often she’d go to a local farm and get fresh cow’s milk, skim the top, and make a little homemade butter. Delightful. Delicious. Divine. Now, I’m not as old as this comment makes me sound, but not as young as I once was either. **wink wink**

    Enjoyed your poem selection — and your pictures.
    Cathy

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  15. Ha!! I love this! Butter has become kind of a naughty word in my head but I’m trying to shake that notion. My husband eats way too much of it and my toddler has grown to love it as well (I have to be careful when I’m baking with her because if I have a stick out she’ll pull off pieces of butter to eat right from the stick). I’m trying to be more forgiving and do see it creeping into my cooking more and more. And now I’m craving biscuits with butter and honey!!!

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    1. Butter is like chocolate — so good it makes you feel a little guilty eating it. I confess I’ve never just eaten it by itself. I try to be health conscious and only eat it on occasion rather than every single day. I’m convinced a moderate amount of butter is better than lots of the other artificial stuff.

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    1. Yes, butter stands alone in this regard. Great on its own, and adds that special golden delicious to everything it’s added to.

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