Friday, March 27, 2015

Pancakes for the Kids


                                   
I made 100 pancakes the other day for the kids at the center.  None of them had ever tasted real maple syrup and I really wanted to give them this experience and what better way to eat it than on good pancakes?  Here is the pancake recipe: 

 
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sour the milk with the vinegar for about 10 minutes.  Mix it with the rest of the ingredients but do not over mix. Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes before cooking.

                                    

I sent 1-1/2 gallons of maple syrup thinking the kids would drown their pancakes in it.  They ended up only using about a quart.  They were very respectful about overusing it which really surprised and delighted me.  If I had served these to my friends they would have used all of the syrup.

Within 10 minutes of opening the slow cooker, this is all that was left!  These disappeared soon after.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spaghetti With Garlic and Basil Oil

 But first, look what I found at my grocery store the other day!  One of my favorite things in the entire world.....passion fruit.  We don't get them here very often but when we do, I splurge and buy some for myself.

 These are from New Zealand.  If you have never eaten one, you should give them a try if you ever see them.  Mmmmmm!!!  Looks like snot, tastes like heaven! I once was on a trail ride in a rainforest in Hawaii and there were passion fruits growing all around me.  I could pluck them off the trees as I rode by.  It's one of my fondest memories.

 Now to the spaghetti.  Pour 1/2 cup of olive oil into a heavy sauce pan.  Add 8-10 cloves of garlic in their skins, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and a bunch of basil.  You can split the stalks with a knife and use them.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let it cool.  The longer it sits, the more the flavor will be infused.

 Make a simple tomato sauce.  I had this one frozen from last summer.

 When you are ready to use the oil, drain the solids.  Squeeze the garlic out of their skins, chop it and add it to the tomato sauce.

 Set the oil aside.

 Cook a box of spaghetti to slightly less than al dente and mix it with the warm tomato sauce.  Sprinkle in some diced fresh basil.

 Place a serving in a bowl.

 Drizzle it with the infused oil.

 Sprinkle it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Mangia!
 Save the extra oil to use in many other ways.  It makes a good dipping sauce for fresh bread.












Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bad Kitties Caught in the Act

 For Xmas, I bought my husband some outdoor cameras to record activity in our gardens at night.  You can see a critter on the lower left in the above photo.  Do I have a pig in my garden?  That would be a story in itself since I live in the city.

 Is this a cat or a raccoon taking a drink from my pond? 

 This is a bad kitty for sure.

 Teddy goes a bit crazy whenever we go down to the lower gardens and now I know why.

Caught in the act.  I must admit, I was hoping to see nothing walking around my gardens when I am not there.
 I sure hope this is my husband. If not, I am moving.  If it is, what the hell was he doing?  If you don't hear from me for a while, call the cops.

 Intruder alert!!!  A vicious chow chow on the loose.

 A daytime bad kitty.

 And it is staring at my fish of which I can only find two.  There were seven.

Now I just have to time Teddy's visits with those of the bad kitties.  Problem solved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Last Maple Stop

 Our last sugar shack stop was at this Amish farm. 

 Quite a fancy operation.

 Another ratio guesstimate.  At this point we have seen anywhere from 30 gallons to 80 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  I know that the ratio depends on the sweetness of the sap but this is a huge variation.  I guess we should underline all of this by saying...it takes a lot of freaking sap to make what you eat on your pancakes.

 This guy uses bricks of sawdust to fuel his burner.  This is a first for us.  Everyone else uses wood.  He told us he is the only syrup maker that he knows that uses these in his area.

 The Amish dude at work.

 We were definitely in Amish country.

 This guy parked his horse to get his tank filled up.  Click for a closer look.

 Traffic.

 Buggies everywhere.

 We were in farm country, to state the obvious.

 Amish wash on the line.

This is what happens when your horse breaks down.
   Me thinks this is a cow massage parlor.

And on the way home again.  I am not sure but this might be the end of sugaring season for us this year.  It started late because of how cold the weather has been.  I can't go this weekend because I have a big party to cook for.  The following weekend is Easter and I think sugaring is over by then or at least not open for the holiday.  I hope I bought enough syrup.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Maple Tour

 Saturday was another sugar shack day.  It was a warm gloomy day.

 This tour was not great but we found lots of cool places to stop and shop along the way.

 Our first stop was in a small town and the sugar shack was right on the main square.

 All of the trees on the square were tapped.

 Apparently local bees have taken up residence in this tree.  I respected the sign.  (click for a closer look)

 A closeup of a maple bucket.

 The town's sugar shack.

 Inside they had a fire burning and rockers where you could take a rest and inhale maple fumes.

 Examples of syrup containers used over the years.

 It seems everyone has a different number as to how much sap it takes to make a gallon of syrup.

 Examples of different taps.

A grand Victorian on the square.  More tomorrow!