I found a poem to share with you about butter. Yes, butter! The author recalls the presence of butter in the food in her family’s kitchen as she grew up. I like to cook with butter, too, as it has such a smooth texture and luscious flavor, and makes baked goods more tender. Butter is fine in moderation, and you really can tell the difference if you attempt to use margarine, especially light margarine, in your baking as a replacement for butter. In my opinion, as Joan Gussow said,
“As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists!”
Here is a link to a short article by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic comparing butter to margarine .
Now, on to the poem! Does it remind you of your childhood, or current, kitchen?
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 meting 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,
butter melted and curdy to pour over pancakes,
butter licked off the plate with warm Alaga syrup.
When I picture the good old days
I am grinning greasy with my brother, having watched the tiger chase his tail and turn to butter.
We are Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite historical revision, despite our parent’s efforts,
glowing from the inside out, one hundred megawatts of butter.
(“Butter” by Elizabeth Alexander, published 1996 in Body of Life by Tia Chucha Press, San Fernando, CA. All Rights Reserved.)
What did you think? Interesting, simple, and descriptive, I thought. Though I don’t think I’ve ever desired to eat a bite of butter off the stick as her mother did, I use it in the other ways she describes in her poem. She even included grits! My favorite!
Yesterday I made three batches of cookies to give to friends today. Of course, I used unsalted butter to make them (“butter softening in a white bowl to be creamed with white sugar”); I made ginger cookies rolled in crunchy demerara sugar, molasses cookies with butterscotch chips, and peanut butter cookies with white chocolate chips. (I used my recently blogged peanut butter cookie recipe and just added a bunch of white chocolate chips to it. Turned out great!) All my recipients, as well as my three sons, were happy with the outcome! 🙂
I also made some amazing scalloped potatoes with butter two nights ago. They aren’t terribly heavy on the butter, but you can certainly tell that the butter is there when you eat the potatoes and feel their consistency. Very nice! They are from a Paula Deen recipe that I adapted just a bit. I’ve made them twice in the past two weeks, as my mother-in-law, Susan, who is going through chemo, thought they might taste good to her, and then my family wanted some, and they gobbled them all up! Not a difficult recipe, either. Try them soon and let me know what you think about them!
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 pounds red or other waxy-style potato
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the garlic around the inside of an 8 by 8 by 2-inch casserole dish and let it dry. Reserve the remaining garlic. Rub the butter around the inside of the dish. Reserve the remaining butter.
Boil potatoes whole in a large pot until done, about 25 minutes. Don’t overcook. If the potatoes are small, you will likely need to shorten this cooking time.
In a medium saucepan, combine the garlic, butter, half-and-half, salt, pepper to taste, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring continually, about 5 minutes. At this point I put about 1/2 cup cold milk in a bowl; add about 1/4 cup of plain flour. Whisk until no longer lumpy. Add to the hot half-and-half mixture in the pot, continually whisking to keep the mixture smooth. When it is the consistency of a good gravy, approximately, remove from heat immediately.
Peel the boiled potatoes. Slice into 1/3 inch thick slices and begin layering in a two-quart casserole dish: a bit of sauce on the bottom of dish, then a layer of potatoes, then a layer of sauce, then potatoes, then finish with sauce on top.
Bake the potatoes, basting occasionally, until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
These have a nice garlic flavor, and the sauce is nice and creamy. Using red potatoes ensures that the potatoes won’t get mealy or grainy in the dish. I hope you like them as much as we do!
You might also like: Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes