Bread And Butter: A Culinary Chronicle

  • Local Host Lael Gilbert, Jenn Ashton and Tawnya Gibson

Join us every Sunday before The Splendid Table for Bread and Butter: A Culinary Chronicle with food writers Lael Gilbert, Jenn Ashton and Tawnya Gibson. 

Learn about our distinctive approach to food, cooking and eating in the West. We’ll explore a variety of topics from food waste to kitchen psychology, locally grown foods to quinoa being the new “Big Mac.”

Bread And Butter: Healthy New Year

Jan 21, 2021
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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Eric Carle’s classic children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Do you remember it? My December was a bit stressful, okay? And although I didn’t eat through a 15-pound stick of salted salami, as the poor bloated caterpillar did, at some point last month I did buy an entire wheel of brie with full knowledge that I’m the only one in the house who likes it. And I don’t have it anymore.

Bread And Butter: COVID-19 And Smell

Jan 20, 2021

Lael: The smell of a pine forest, melting butter or a favorite blanket from childhood, what happens when it's all gone? I used to think of the loss of the sense of smell as a minor inconvenience. But now, as thousands of people are experiencing it as a symptom of COVID-19, I've realized we really take our sense of smell for granted. For some, it's temporary. For others, the symptoms go on much longer. 

Bread And Butter: Pantry Cooking

Jan 6, 2021
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Last week, while making my mom’s goulash, I used the last cans of diced tomatoes in my pantry. I hadn’t realized I was so low until cracking open that last one to dump into my pot of simmering garlic, onion and peppers. I immediately had my son add it to the perpetual grocery list hanging on our refrigerator and bought several cans during my weekly shopping trip last weekend. (Future) crisis averted!

Bread And Butter: Unusual Food Preferences

Jan 6, 2021
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In college I discovered the absolute greatness that is dipping tortilla chips straight into sour cream. No mixing with salsa required, although, that’s pretty great, too, and still a favorite standby lunch. The first few times I ate my chips into cream concoction, it felt a little wrong, like I was breaking some sort of rule and, even still, decades past living in a dorm, I sometimes catch myself feeling unnecessarily guilty about my unusual snack. Not enough to stop me, of course, but I do sometimes give pause. 

Bread And Butter: Goldrod Eggs

Dec 28, 2020
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There are some foods that just scream Holiday Season—the warm and spicy snap of gingerbread, the creamy throat-coating decadence of eggnog, the crisp and golden-warmth of apple-sauce-smeared potato latkes.

'Bread And Butter:' Twice-Baked Cookies

Dec 14, 2020

Here’s a question for you—what’s your holiday cookie of choice? Is it the deep molasses and fragrant spice of traditional gingerbread? Or the decadent calorie blitz of a simple frosted sugar cookie? Maybe the pastel and light-as-air french macarons? Or a dollop of fruity, thickened jam with the crunch of a Linzer cookie?

Bread And Butter: Favorite Soup

Dec 9, 2020
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Over the past year, my soup game has strengthened, slowly. While I love soup, I had only a small repertoire of homemade varieties, the main one being a corn chowder. And my soup was good. Passable, really, but definitely lacking in any layered intricacies. That is what I really wanted to change.

Caramelizing Onions On Bread Butter

Nov 30, 2020

 

They are all liars … well, most of them are, anyway. Almost all the recipes stuffed in my grease-splattered binder at home that call for cooked onions indicate that it’s somehow possible to caramelize them in five minutes or under. Pshaw. It’s not possible.

Raisin Pie On 'Bread And Butter'

Nov 24, 2020

We’re deep into the months of holidays. While it might look different, feasts are still looming. In my house, certain things are likely during the holidays and one of those things is a Thanksgiving raisin pie.

Bread And Butter: Preserving Family Recipes

Nov 17, 2020
A loaf of banana bread with a slice cut off of it on a white plate
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Grandma Madsen—my dad’s mom—always had banana bread in her kitchen. Always. When I was a child on my way to visit grandma and grandpa, there were two things I could count on: playing with toys in the sunroom and sitting at the table to eat a fresh slice of banana bread—perfectly browned, sweet and always dotted with walnuts.

Rolls of toilet paper stacked on end.
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Remember way back in March of 2020, when we were awkwardly trying on masks for the first time, cautiously edging into grocery stores and desperately searching empty shells for hazelnut spread and yeast? 

Bread And Butter: Kitchen Organization

Nov 10, 2020
A line of mason jars filled with colorful fruit preserves on a shelf.
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How organized are your cupboards, pantries and refrigerators? Organized and in line or organized chaos or simply chaos? Does it affect how you cook or if you cook at all? How many times have we been in the aisle of the grocery store, simply knowing we have a certain ingredient at home…or do we? Was it behind the flour or the canister of cashews? Or was that months ago? Now, how long has it been since you’ve looked behind those cashews, anyway?  And whoops! Those leftovers shoved deep behind the cheese and cream, was that last week’s soup, or wait. Enchiladas from weeks gone? It’s gone so far, you really aren’t sure.

Bread And Butter: First Jobs In Food Service

Nov 10, 2020
Seven balls of rising dough by a rolling pin
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Lael: Tell me what your first job beyond babysitting was. 

Jen: My first job was in the food service industry. This will give you a little Utah history here and date me some, but I worked at the Word Perfect eatery. Word Perfect, of course, was a technology company started in Utah. It was at the Hard Disk Cafe. 

Soft Foods On 'Bread And Butter'

Oct 29, 2020

Five years ago, almost exactly, I dislocated my jaw. It had been an exhausting few days and we had run by a fast food drive thru as a hail Mary on the day. And as I opened my mouth to eat that first bite of juicy burger, my jaw locked open. Wide. Nothing I did would close it back up. A trip to the emergency room finally fixed it and a follow up doctor’s visit gave me a list of instructions for a six week recovery period. The top instruction was the order of soft foods, no exceptions, for the entirety of the six weeks.

Underwhelming Food On "Bread And Butter"

Oct 28, 2020

 

Jenn Ashton: So I saw an advertisement for a state fair. And it reminded me of an experience—an underwhelming food experience. 

Bread And Butter: Airing Smelly Laundry

Oct 16, 2020

I just finished putting up our food for the winter. Part of that process included chopping and vacuum sealing about ten pounds of onions from the local produce stand for our freezer. It was later in the day when we started, but assumed making it a family affair, we could knock it out quickly. I was on peeling and chopping duty. My son was in charge of loading the bags while my husband sealed them all. We found our rhythm.

Food Insecurity On "Bread And Butter"

Oct 16, 2020

You may have been hearing more about food insecurity these days. What does this term mean? Well, it’s more than a simple linear relationship between how much food is in your pantry, and your hunger and health. For instance, a study from the University of Michigan shows that as poverty rises, so does obesity in children. As a kid’s income level dropped, they found, the chances that they would be overweight went up.

Bread And Butter: The Sous Vide Experiment

Sep 30, 2020
Tawnya Gibson


My husband bought a sous vide machine for our recent anniversary. Up until about a week before purchase, I didn’t know what a sous vide machine was despite my minor in French or my, what I assumed was passable, cooking knowledge. 

Bread And Butter: Gather Tomatoes While Ye May

Sep 14, 2020

A few years ago I was dejectedly strolling a salad bar on the campus, despairing at the mini-bucket of flavorless, waxy tomato slices on offer. It was October, just past garden season, and I was still experiencing severe harvest withdrawal. As you’ve probably tasted, store-bought hydroponic winter tomatoes are only a distant cousin to the garden variety.

Bread And Butter: Notes On A Garden

Sep 4, 2020
green and red tomatoes on a vine
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I’ve helped my son grow a garden all summer. While I don’t have a particularly green thumb, it’s more of a light shade of chartreuse, bumped up from the deathly shade of black from when I was younger, I can experiment enough to get a taste of fresh through the dog days that linger.

Bread and Butter: Baking Powder Vs. Baking Soda

Aug 31, 2020
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Baking powder vs. baking soda. Even experienced cooks sometimes get confused. I’ve had a few bumbles. They look the same. And they’re both leavening agents, used to help baked food rise. Leaveners are a foundation of baking. Without the puff, a loaf of bread is a brick and a pancake turns into a tortilla. We require gases to be incorporated into dough or batter to give things a soft texture and make them fluffy and appealing. (it’s not always air, by the way, more often it’s CO2)

Bread And Butter: Preserving Food

Aug 25, 2020

When the bounty of summer comes, you put some aside for winter. It’s a concept and truth that has been instilled in my cells from birth. But I often didn’t see the purpose of making yourself miserable in those last sun stroked days of summer just to bottle the same green beans that grocery stores would often sell well under a dollar. I didn’t see the purpose of good reading or TV time being used sweating over boiling jams, jellies and relishes. It was so much work – thankless work, actually – and the rewards seemed slim.

The other day I plugged in my cell phone to recharge and felt a surprising rush of gratitude. What if this was how we gained energy, too?  Sitting for hours, tethered to an outlet? We’d probably twiddle our thumbs and hum 80’s billboard hits just to keep boredom at bay.

Farmers Markets On Bread And Butter

Aug 10, 2020

Here in Utah, we’re fortunate enough to live in an area rich in agriculture. One list puts a farmer’s market on the upside of 50 throughout the state, making fresh and local a possibility for many. Where I am locally, and especially during the summer months, you can buy any amount of local foodstuffs: produce, meat, eggs, cheese. It’s nearly an embarrassment of riches, really, and in the decade-plus of living here, I’ve built up a lovely community of local people who feed my family day in and day out, season to season. 

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Last summer, lurking in a corner in the dark of my basement was a vat of tiny warty cucumbers from our garden, now drowning in a salty brine of peppercorn, dill, garlic and grape leaves. It was my first ever experiment in fermentation. I faithfully checked the vat daily, ensuring the vegetables stayed submerged below the brine-line and to skim any scum from the surface where the saline content wasn’t high enough to prevent undesirable microbial growth.

Bread And Butter: The Power Of The Drizzle

Jul 31, 2020
PIXABAY - ESTELLE HEITZ

You know me as a no-frills home cook. Just listen to me rave about left-overs or two-ingredient dishes. So, this may come as a curveball: In the last few months, I have come to respect the Power of the Drizzle.

 

We’ve discussed before writing down recipes as a form of familial oral history. We keep close those things that tie us to those before and those things we want to share with those after. We have stories and memories around certain foods.

What Are Your 'Kitchen Essentials?' On Bread and Butter

Jul 7, 2020
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Jenn- So Lael, recently you shared with us your top 10 essential items for the kitchen.

Lael- I did

Jenn- It was a great list. I got to thinking, we have some sophisticated listeners on Utah Public Radio, and maybe they have a lot of those items.  So what about a list, maybe just a top 5, of some essential tools that you may not have in your kitchen.  Well let’s jump in and see.

Summer Lemonade On Bread And Butter

Jul 7, 2020

Do you have strong feelings about lemonade and lemonade flavors? The drink, nearly synonymous with summer doesn’t often solicit strong opinions. It’s one thing that appears to be nearly universally loved (or at least universally acknowledged that it is here to stay) and almost always skipped over in any sort of food debate or strong feeling discussion. And I didn’t think I had strong feelings about it, either. It’s always been there. A staple of life and I love it. That should be the end, right? Right. Until …

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Jun 21, 2020
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My best cooking is usually born of not following a recipe.  In other words, I tend to make things up. I come by this honestly, really. My mother often didn’t follow recipes, either. The few recipes I have from her are a hodgepodge of guesses and tips from what I can remember or gleaned from questions asked, years later for clarification. 

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