Mud and Syrup

Cold feet, warm sap.
Cold feet, warm sap.

This week the sap is flOWING! At the weekend we fired up the sap evaporator for the first time this year and it was still a bit gloomy with a touch of flurries. The cat loved the new heater.

Cat Purring Loudly.
Cat Purring Loudly.

We added a rack to get heat flowing better to the sap.

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Watch out, Kitty!
Watch out, Kitty!

Smart animals kept their distance.

Studies say 1 in 5 farm kids will enjoy sapping outside on a blustery day.
Studies say 1 in 5 farm kids will enjoy sapping outside on a blustery day.

I break for a Nala photo.

She loves sapping.
She loves sapping.

I then break for coffee and some light reading. Did you know in the US that a jury can disregard a law if they think it unjust?

Power of the People!
Power of the People!

I can’t stand still so I head down to the goats and chickens for some mud.

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http://thewickedchicken.net/2015/03/17/mud-is-healthy/

I attempt a goat and me selfie, but it’s not really successful. The John Deere cap and scrunchy will keep this shot out of the fashion manuals.

Mollie watching her footing. She detests mud.
Mollie watching her footing. She detests mud.
Mollie, stand still.
Mollie, stand still.

Yes, on sapping days there’s no such thing as glamor, but life is definitely sweet.

 

It Doesn’t Feel Like Spring But . . .

Windswept Woods
Windswept Woods

Spring has sprung, my friends. I know this because we tapped our trees today. The sun was out but it felt this grey and cold as we nailed metal spouts into the maples.

The tap and the hose . . .
The tap and the hose . . .

We switched to stainless steel taps which we soak in alcohol year to year (to keep away bacterial build up). The plastic taps are fine but you have to throw them away after using and the stainless are prettier in my opinion (you need pretty when you’re out and it’s still 20 degrees).

Speaking of pretty, Nala came to supervise.

I'll sniff the air for squirrels while you tap . . .
I’ll sniff the air for squirrels while you tap . . .

We store tons of buckets in the garage. We have another little supervisor in there.

My job is to look handsome.
My job is to look handsome.

After shoveling paths through our woods and a neighbor’s, washing all the buckets, stumbling up hills in knee-high snow and chain-sawing fallen trees we tapped 25 trees. The weather this week looks promising–a few days over freezing with cold nights. That means next weekend after gathering sap we get to sit by the fire till the sap turns to syrup.

Cold bucket waiting to be filled with sweet water.
Cold bucket waiting to be filled with sweet water.

LINKS:

Pure Maple Syrup Drippings

Maple Recipes

 

Easiest Dessert Ever

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When you have 6 dozen eggs in the fridge and a new dozen coming again tomorrow you have to eat eggs. I’m always happier with protein and a little sugar in my system so this works.

Milk Pudding

Preheat the oven to 350

8-10 eggs

1 spoonful of sugar for each egg

Dash of vanilla, maybe some cinnamon

You beat this until it gets really foamy.

Meanwhile on the stove you slowly heat about 4 cups of milk until it gets warm.

Add it to beaten mixture and beat some more. I forgot about it for about 15 minutes and it got nice and foamy.

Fill a baking pan with warm water (1 inch). You can use little cups like the ones I used this time or a bigger oven proof bowl (which I’ll probably do next time because I feel kind of greedy eating two bowls of anything). Take some real maple syrup and pour enough in each cup to cover the bottom. Then pour the egg mixture in the cups, put them in the baking pan and slide them into the oven for as long as it takes for the centers not to giggle. For me it took about an hour though recipes I’ve found say a lot less. (Maybe I need to get my oven checked)

My daughter and I have decided that this works as a good breakfast food as well 🙂

I’m thinking with strawberries or raspberries in early summer . . .yum.

Overrun With Milk And Cheese–Not A Bad Thing

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Most of the soft cheese is kept plain and frozen, but I’m experimenting with a breakfast cheese with maple syrup (of course), cinnamon, walnuts and a dash of vanilla. We used it for ricotta pancakes last night and even with a double batch we hardly kept up with demand.

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fluffy-ricotta-pancakes-48085

Don’t these look so good? They are.

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Maple-Spice Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup of maple syrup

2 eggs

4 cups unbleached or all purpose white flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger (The dogs go insane for these cookies and their aroma)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

granulated sugar

Preheat oven 350, grease cookie sheets, cream shortening, brown and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup and eggs, one at a time.

Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger cinnamon and salt. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture a little at a time till blended.

Make sticky balls of dough (it doesn’t really taste good until it’s cooked). Dip them in some sugar. (I didn’t say these were healthy) Place the balls two inches apart on sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on sheet to a minute and that’s it.

The recipe comes from a great little book by Ken Haedrich called Maple Syrup Cookbook.

We test fired the syrup evaporator last weekend, coffee mugs in hand (just like February!). Husband is still tweeking the set up but as usual I was pretty impressed.

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How great is it that the wood will be dry this year and so close! Husband built the shed too and the chipmunks are in heaven keeping homes in the nooks and crannies of the wood.

MOUTH-WATERING MAPLE SYRUP RECIPES:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/magical-ways-to-use-maple-syrup-recipes

Weekend Project Boondocks, USA

Earlier this week my husband played the hero as he often does so when he asked if I’d help him finish making his maple syrup evaporator what could I say?

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In the last month he picked up two old oil tanks, some angle iron and a welding machine off Craigslist. I steered clear of the sparks that he said could blind me until the tank looked like this:

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The tank was empty so he welded the shelf within–I had no idea what it all meant until it began to come together today. First we put in some sand and leveled it:

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Then I had the job of cleaning old mortar from the bricks also gotten off Craigslist while husband cut a door into the tank.

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Have you ever heard metal being sawed through? It’s painful.

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Now I began to understand what we were doing.

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We painted it with a high temperature paint.

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The syrup boils on top in this big pan and the fire burns beneath it. We have to wait until February, but I’m pretty impressed with my husband’s handy work.