four pounds of butter


I sent my husband to the store for four pounds of butter. I gathered some of the flowers and leaves left blooming and shifting outside: tansy, dried heads of bee balm from the garden, fuchsia leaves and berries from the bush behind the barn. I arranged them on the counter and in the window box, and hung a wreath of dried bedstraw over the big wooden table. 

I set a pot to simmer with cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, and fresh ginger and added tulsi and rooibos and honey and fresh milk. 

And then, all at once the house was full, tables rearranged, mugs filled with milky chai, hands in rich, buttery dough. 


We talked about the way that bread is in our bones but pastry is a gift we can give. We talked about math formulas for lamination, enriched dough and fermentation, how to make a quick puff, and how Julia Child suggested the finest pastry has more than 500 layers.  

We sat down to a lunch of pumpkin red lentil daal, a tart made from leek confit and aged goats’ cheese, farro with kale pesto and butternut and delicate, roasted beet salad, homemade applesauce, and bread, bread, bread. 


At the end of our afternoon we all stood around the plates of croissant, tasting the buttery plain spirals and the chocolate-filled scrolls, sharing the crisp, nutty, rich joy that is homemade viennoiserie. 

There were croissant for days. I made the first dough Friday and didn’t bake the last batch til Tuesday morning. I sent them off to neighbors and friends, and we all ate our weight in them, too. 

In five days there were four pounds of butter baked, four dozen croissant, not even a handful of photos (didn’t even cross my mind to take one once we were all together and baking), one batch of puff pastry, five jars of starter passed along, and six new friends and old acquaintances sharing a warm October meal. 

Those are pretty good numbers, I’d say.