It's a common dilemma we face in the morning: attempting to spread hard, refrigerated butter on toast or bagels can be unnecessarily maddening before the day's barely begun. If you belong to this club, you'll love L. Tremain's Butter Bell Crock, or similar crocks made by Norpro or Emile Henry. All are re-creations of French butter keepers, used in the 19th century before the age of refrigeration. Here's how they work: you place a small amount of cold water into the crock, spread a stick of softened butter on the inside of the bell-shaped lid, and place the lid atop the crock. The water creates an airtight seal, preserving the butter for up to a month.