Wood Butter: For the Care and Keeping of Your Wooden Tools and Surfaces

During my last semester of college, I lived with a woman named Brenda. I had just gotten back from a semester abroad and all my friends already had homes, so I took to craigslist and found myself a sublet. Brenda had a 3-story row house filled with beautiful things in the Italian Market section of Philadelphia. Her basement (which you entered through a trapdoor in the kitchen) was filled with power tools that she taught me to use and a kiln that she used to fire pottery she made in her studio. In her turquoise kitchen she had a collection of wooden spoons from all over the world and a heavy wooden cutting board that I loved.

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Brenda’s kitchen is all about the details: her friend made her hand-poured concrete counter tops and used real leaves used to make imprints in them

I haven’t seen Brenda since I moved after graduation in 2011, but I made this wood butter thinking about her kitchen. I had always saved pretty things for special occasions, but Brenda used her Japanese spoons and hand-thrown bowls every day and taught me to do the same. Life’s short; use the good china, you know? Using things is part of what makes them special. On a shelf, they’re cold and impersonal, but use them every day and they become part of you: something worth passing on to people you love.

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In the spirit of using the good china every day, I’ve been working on balms and salves that will keep my pretty things pretty, even through lots of use love. This wood butter will keep cutting boards, spoons, hammers, awls, butcher blocks, and whatever else you can throw it at good for years so that one day, you’ll be able to pass them on.

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Lemony Edamame Pasta

When I was a wee lass, my only requirement for a meal was that it had to consist of mostly white food. In retrospect, I’m sure my monochromatic diet was at least partially responsible for my infamous mood swings that caused my mom to carry around a banana — the EpiPen of people allergic to sanity when they’re hungry — in her purse that she could force-feed me when I got nasty. Carbohydrates have a tendency to suddenly and unexpectedly abandon the bodies of 12-year-olds with overactive metabolisms.

As a wee adult, my palate has somewhat expanded and my idea of what makes something worth eating has certainly changed. Pasta is still my go-to food, but now I like decorating it with more than just butter and salt.

For the sake of my stomach and my relationships, anything I cook for dinner has to:

  1. Take less than 20 minutes to make
  2. Use less than two pots or pans that require cleaning afterward
  3. Have something green in it
  4. Keep me full for at least an hour
  5. Primarily come from somewhere other than a box
  6. Taste good the next day

This pasta bowl satisfies all six of my conditions and is deliciously springy. My recipe is enough for one person, but it’s stupid easy to double or triple or just make for everyone you know.

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