Magazine article Sunset

Food Guide: Tools

Magazine article Sunset

Food Guide: Tools

Article excerpt

The wood butter mold, maple leaves incised in its top, was already old when it traveled in a Conestoga wagon from Indiana to the Kansas homestead with my great-grandparents in the 1870s. But I wasn't much more than a toddler when Aunt Nora, the last of the family to live on that land, let me pack fresh-churned butter into the mold, then push it out onto a blue plate. How pretty those leaves looked before we cut into them. And how fresh the butter tasted when we smeared it onto slabs of bread-still warm from the woodstove oven.

My love for decorated butter has lingered, and my search for wood butter molds is ongoing. Old molds are most often found at country, Americana, or cookware antiques stores; collectors' magazines can lead you to specialized merchants. In specialty cookware stores, I've found individual butter-pat molds for about $6. Larger carved molds start at about $25.

As an art medium, butter is forgivingly pliable. If it gets too squishy unpack it, chill it, and start again. …

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