The Wrong Kind of Butter

Like many wives/mommies in charge of Christmas, as I wrote in my monthly column Millennial Musings over at Align Body and Soul, I’ve been keeping the cookie jar stocked with fresh-baked, home-made Christmas cookies. ‘Tis the season.

speculaas cookies
Speculaas cookies, my family’s traditional dutch Christmas cookie, passed down many generations.

I’ve been using Earth Balance from our standard 45 oz container (my family can’t seem to live with less, in fact I buy two at a time) in lieu of butter for all my cookie recipes, but the other day something just didn’t feel right.

earth balance 45 oz
yes we need the big tub. you haven’t seen me butter toast. 

The cookies I baked with my girls that day were lacking something of the cookies I remembered from my childhood. Of course that may just have been the weight of decades of the irrational paranoia of adulting bearing down on me at that particular moment, and my inability to see beyond the veil to an unadulterated nostalgia. But instead I decided that it must be the butter.


So today I sent my husband José to the store for butter. Oh no, I see half of you shaking your heads already. Oh yes I did, and he came home with a very interesting story…

As he approached the butter case, José saw another husband staring incongruously through the glass looking forlorn.

“You got sent to the store for butter too, didn’t you?” José asked him.

“Yes,” the man conceded, “She just said to get regular butter.” He turned back to the case, staring again and not yet making a move to choose any of the overwhelming variety of butter options before him.

“That’s funny,” José said, “Mine said the same thing.” He reached around the guy to grab some butter, and left him still staring into the case.

I don’t know how that husband’s butter choice turned out, but mine came home from the store with the wrong butter! In this day and age of instant texting, you’d think this kind of thing wouldn’t still happen, but I’m quite pleased, and amused, if not elated, that it does. To me this story represents a familiar chord of humanity we all strum in the background of our lives.

Of course I assumed that José knew that baking required unsalted butter. Of course José knew no such thing. (Although as a side note – I actually did use the salted butter. Regarding the milligrams of sodium per tablespoon, and a calculated reduction in salt, the cookies came out fine).

After laughing in a third-trimester-belly-jiggling kind of way at his story for several minutes, I started to think about the incident at a deeper level. As I plunked the sticks of butter into my Kitchenaid, I asked José somewhat imperiously if he would bake the batch of cookies with me, so that I could teach him how to bake.

He declined, “No thanks, I’d rather go learn how to build electronics.” As I have no interest in building things, I had to acquiesce. He bustled around for a minute preparing to go upstairs to study for his A+ certification test.

But then I thought of something else. Something that went beyond me and José standing in our kitchen over creamed butter and sugar. We are encouraging our daughters to learn to code independently, with a combination of Hour of Code, Bitsbox, and Usborne coding books. Mia (8) is loving her new chapter book Girls Who Code, that she received serendipitously in our Literati box last week. My husband might not be interested in learning how to bake, but that didn’t mean future husbands of the world shouldn’t learn how to buy butter.

So I turned to José again, “If we are teaching our daughters to code, José, don’t you think we should teach our sons to bake?” 

He agreed. We don’t have any sons (that we know of! yet!) but if we ever do, you won’t find them staring into the butter case.

What do  you think? Should we teach our daughters to code and our sons to bake? How deeply should future generations deconstruct the gender divide, or have we already gone too far?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments 😉

One thought on “The Wrong Kind of Butter

  1. A lot of baking tips actually say to use salted butter for cookies anyways. Life hack! As for coding, it was actually a career that had more women than men until the 1980s. Def. have your daughters learn about Grace Hopper, Anita Borg, and Ada Lovelace.

    I’m glad that my husband knows a decent amount about cooking and baking. If I’m ever too busy to make something and he has the time, I know he’ll do a good job so long as I give him detailed instructions. He also has his own favorite family recipes that he makes for us, like fried chicken and creamed corn.


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