Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Revealed: The Wooden Mystery Object


Chronica Domus
Did you correctly guess the purpose of this little wooden mystery object?
Photo: Chronica Domus


Well, that was a fun little game!  Thank you all for playing along and taking a stab at what you believed was the purpose of the wooden mystery item.  I enjoyed reading all of the comments and the thought behind your suggestions.  I must say, you are certainly an imaginative and clever bunch of Sherlocks. 

Here are some of the incorrect answers put forward for what the mystery item might be: 

Nope! The mystery item is not a collar fluter
(but this guess wins the most imaginative prize, thank you!)
Source


Butter paddles, perhaps?  Wrong again, but getting warmer!
Source


A pie or pastry crimper?  Wrong again!


Butter was a common theme that cropped up throughout the comments and on that score, yes, I can reveal the item is indeed used with butter.  "It doesn't look quite right for fancy butter shapes" wrote Jim who inspired this particular round of the Mystery Object Game.  Well, Jim, you were certainly on the right track so nice try!  Other guesses included a butter paddle, a butter shaper, and a butter cutter.

Ultimately, it was Pipistrello who guessed correctly when she wrote "I'm going with butter curler".  Caro's late entry of "Circa 1900 wooden butter curler" was spot on too but that guess was submitted after I published all the comments which might have guided Caro in the right direction.  Either way, well done to you both!  Please feel free to give yourselves a butter pat on the back.

Chronica Domus
The wooden mystery item is indeed a butter curler likely made during the late-nineteenth 
century or at the turn of the twentieth
Photo: Chronica Domus


In an effort to demonstrate how the tool works, I can safely report that dairy maids everywhere are in no danger of being displaced by the likes of me any time soon. Working with a block of my favorite creamy Irish butter, I soon discovered the reason why butter curlers have fallen from favor.  They truly are a pain in the more trouble than they are worth!

Chronica Domus
Oh bother! Clearly this tool is made for right-handed dairy maids
(I'm left-handed!)
Photo: Chronica Domus


Following a brief tussle with the butter curler while blurting out several unmentionable words in frustration, success!  Somehow, I had eked out three perfectly formed butter curls, a proud moment indeed.

Chronica Domus
Heavens! I got there in the end
Photo: Chronica Domus


In fact, I was so overjoyed by my accomplishment that I actually forgot to use one of butter curls atop my freshly toasted crumpet reaching instead for the usual slab of butter. 

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


I do hope you enjoyed this installment of the Mystery Object Game because I certainly had fun (sort of) learning how to curl butter.  Thank you all once again for being such good sports and playing along with me.  

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


So, do please tell me, would you take the time to curl your butter if you had access to this antiquated kitchen gadget or like me, are you perfectly content to reach for the butter dish and dig the knife straight in?



12 comments:

  1. Hello CD, I can't decide which I admire more--the attractive grain of the wood in your butter curler or the perfect butter curls you produced with it. Of course, any butter would look beautiful in the midst of all those antique accouterments!
    --Jim

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jim,

      I must admit the grain on the butter curler, which I believe is Tiger Maple - or would that be Flame Maple, Fiddleback, or Curly Maple? - is exceptionally attractive and is enhanced by the process of making the butter curls. The fat from the butter gets all over the darn thing but does intensify the striated pattern as the wood darkens.

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  2. Well, well, I did think it looked a bit familiar but suspected that if it was indeed what I thought, it would be a right royal pain to clean up. Making butter curls for dinner parties was one of my Jobs as a child, and one of the reasons I think people have children!

    Your scrumptious-looking crumpet reminds me that I'm sitting on a recipe for the home-made variety which needs trying out. Always a delicious vessel for scoffing lashings of butter! I'm not sure they are readily available in America so did you make yours?

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    Replies
    1. Hello Pipi, and congratulations once again for guessing the correct purpose of the little butter curler. I will, of course, take your advice and put my own child (teenager) to work the next time butter curls are required. I'm sure she'll have a ball trying to use that confounded thing!

      Fortunately, fresh crumpets are available here (thank heavens!) which is a good thing too as they sure pair well with creamy butter (and homemade marmalade!). I should look for a recipe and try my hand at crumpet making, come to think of it. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  3. Your curls are a rather handsome, too, CD! Being left-handed will always add a challenge to these culinary tasks!

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    Replies
    1. About the sinistral feature of that butter curler: why oh why did the fluting not continue from one end of the curler's scoop to the other? That way it would have become an ambidextrous tool. Perhaps that's a discussion for a separate post (infuriating design flaws only left-handed people notice!).

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  4. Now that's a trip down memory lane! I remember having those on some dinner table years ago but haven't seen a butter curl in forever. Thanks for the fun post.

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    Replies
    1. I pity the person in charge of curling butter. What a royal pain in the behind it was when I tried it for the purpose of this post! The temperature of the butter has to be just so and, as I already mentioned, being left-handed is a handicap in itself. No wonder these things got tossed in the back of the kitchen gadget drawer never to surface again!

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  5. What pretty sea shells of butter! They are decorative and more practical than melon balls of butter that roll around one's plate. Like Parnassas, I love the grain of tiger maple. We have a dresser made from this wood.
    Do you suppose you could use the butter curler to shape gnocchi?
    Best,
    KL Gaylin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, if one had to select between butter balls and shells, at least the shells won't roll about one's plate (what a problem - first world dining issue for sure!).

      I adore tiger maple wood for its grain too. It is a wood species I did not grow up with (in England) and have fallen for its beautiful striations in my adopted country.

      I love your creative use for the butter curler - I bet it would make an excellent gnocchi shaper (perhaps you are onto something there Karen!).

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  6. Quite a tool chest you've assembled here my dear CD. Reminds me of the Medieval Instruments of War display cases at our Art Institute whose wares design intent was for crimping iron breastplate not pastries.
    I'd love to lay siege to those butter curls with warm bread.

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    Replies
    1. BTW: GSL has a thing for Southpaw Dairy Maids

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