The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook
Receipts for Very Special Occasions
By Mary Mason Campbell
Illustrated by Tasha Tudor
I grew up with a butt'ry, and this old farmhouse had one, too, until we knocked down the wall and made it part of the kitchen. And though it is not a separate room now, that part of the kitchen is used just as a butt'ry would be. Here is the way it is described in this beautiful cookbook.
City people used to have pantries. The country counterpart of the pantry was called a "butt'ry." In occasional hidden corners of New England, this country room may still be found in use, but only the most old-fashioned houses, loved and lived in by the most old-fashioned kind of people, have a "butt'ry" these days.
The butt'ry (properly spelled buttery, of course) is a small room with a smell of good things to eat and a look of delicious plenty. It is located next to the kitchen in the cool corner of the house. Its window is shaded in summer by a crab-apple tree. We can watch a robin and her mate busily raising their family in the nest tucked between branches. We can reach out the window with a long-nosed watering can to give a drink to the fuchsia and begonia plants trailing their flowery stems in the dappled shade of the leaves. Through the window, we watch the lilacs and the old-fashioned roses come into bloom, and enjoy a view of the perennial border against its background of gray stone wall as its colors and patterns change from the daffodils of early spring to the last flowering chrysanthemum of autumn.
This most appealing description goes on for several pages, telling the reader of all the wonderful foods and ingredients which are stored in such a room. I have read these words many, many times and find them achingly nostalgic. They paint a picture of the physical details of the butt'ry which tell us much about how it was used, and how life was lived in older times. I love this book which is filled with receipts, the old-fashioned word for recipes, for holidays throughout the year. There are stories about the fun which was had on Valentine's Day and Easter Breakfast and the Thimble Tea and the Quilting Bee. Tonight's Sunday Supper recipe comes from Fourth of July Breakfast and it is:
In a small bowl, whisk together well 1 egg, 1 cup milk, and 2 rounded Tbs. sour cream.
Into a larger bowl, sift together 1 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. mace, 1 Tbs. sugar, and 1 Tbs. baking powder.
Into this dry mixture, pour the liquid and beat well with wire whisk or egg beater. Add 2 Tbs. melted and cooled butter and stir until mixed. If you like pancakes thin, add a bit more milk, perhaps 1/4 cup.
Fold in 1 cup blueberries. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto hot, lightly greased griddle. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other; turn only once.
The batter is light and delicious even without the blueberries. Serve with plenty of fresh butter and maple syrup in generous pitcherfuls. This receipt makes about a dozen pancakes.
I used the Kitchen Aid mixer.
I used an electric fry pan sprayed with cooking spray.
I used 1 teaspoon baking powder, not 1 tablespoon. It just seemed like too much to me.
I didn't use mace.
Lastly, and most important, they taste wonderful. Utterly delicious!