Most of you reading this today no doubt have our gracious Parisian brethren on your minds. For many like moi, our connections to Paris are separated by the miles and language, but the distance doesn’t prevent us from appreciating their culture and steely resolve to rise above the cretins responsible for the bloodshed. So before I proceed with today’s post, please take a moment to
Now on to our sugary post.
Maple Syrup: A Gift from Mother Nature
Before traveling to Vermont on my Backroads trip, I rarely indulged in the delicacy of true maple syrup because it usually required calorie-laden pancakes as companions. One of the many reasons to take a Backroads adventure is to experience the local culture, and the outfitter takes great care to provide encounters with it. Because the maple syrup industry is vital to the economy and is prominent in Vermont’s heritage,
the Backroads folks scheduled a stop to see how the syrup is made.
Sugaring refers to the process the native Americans developed when they tapped the sap from the maple trees and boiled it down to raw sugar for their diets. Today it refers to the process of making maple syrup. We stopped at Thunder Mountain Sugarhouse
to watch to Jeff Vinton describe his sugaring operation.
After tapping the trees at the right time in the winter, they employ a tube and vacuum system to move the flowing sap from the trees to the sugarhouse
where it will be filtered, evaporated
and packaged for wholesale
and retail sales.
The syrup was the souvenir from my trip. We were startled at Mr.Vinton’s old-school method of doing business. To place an order we wrote our name, address and phone in his spiral pad, noting the items and quantities we desired. He doesn’t take advance payment, has no website for ordering and doesn’t even email. He says this way works just fine. Simply write or phone him and leave a message. About 10 days later my order showed up with a hand-written invoice for the amount due, payable by check. His trust in his customers was shocking, yet comforting. Look to the end of the post for ordering information.
Believe it or not, maple syrup has nutritional value. A quick search online yielded oodles of articles touting the health benefits of maple syrup: naturally occurring minerals and antioxidants making it more nutritious than all other sweeteners including honey. Because it comes from a plant without significant processing, researchers have found it contains beneficial
phenolic compounds, commonly found in plants and in agricultural products such as blueberries, tea, red wine and flax-seed.
(source: Vermont Maple Syrup Makers Association)
All of the above is what makes maple syrup Paleo-friendly, according to Alison our Paleo expert.
Now that you are feeling good about adding this elixir from Mother Nature (and our friends from Vermont), here are a few ideas for adding maple syrup into your healthy diet.
Balsamic Maple Dressing
My easiest tip to incorporate a touch of maple syrup is to stir a tablespoon (or more to taste) to your favorite balsamic dressing. Use on a salad of greens, cheese, nuts and fruit, like strawberries or blueberries. The tangy and slightly sweet dressing complements the ingredients.
Glaze Your Veggies
The Daily in Carytown offers the BEST Crispy Brussel Sprouts side dish. You only get one choice as to the secret ingredient: maple syrup. It’s fairly simple to do at home. Clean and trim the sprouts, toss in a tablespoon or two of olive oil and lay in a greased glass dish with coarsely chopped pecans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and using a brush, glaze the sprouts with maple syrup. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or so until crispy. (note: you could also add the syrup to the olive oil before tossing the sprouts).
Maple Pumpkin Cookies
While in Woodstock I couldn’t help but pop into an inviting bookstore. There I found this paperback, whose small size secured a spot in my luggage,
and no-nonsense title fueled my new quest for all things maple syrup. Given the time of year, I went straight for the Maple Pumpkin cookies.
They are easy to make, have a cake-like texture, and would be tasty accompanied by a cup of tea or glass of milk.
To order maple syrup from Thunder Mountain Sugarhouse, call or mail your order to:
5095 VT Route 12A
W. Braintree, Vermont 05060
Call Jeff for complete product listing, but this is what I purchased:
pints – $11
1/2 lb. maple cream – $7
Now that I am on my new quest, I wonder: do you have a favorite maple syrup recipe to share?
November 17, 2018