Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Taste of Timeless New England

Even more revered than molasses and corn, maple syrup was the most widely used of all foodstuffs in New England since its colonization, and even long before.

The production of food products from this deciduous tree is almost exclusively limited to North America.

Long before the arrival of colonists, the natives knew about the sap that ran from a hole in a maple tree. They boiled it down until most of the water evaporated and they, in turn, showed these white men how to do the same.

By the early 19th century, the yearly sugaring that began anywhere from January to March, became a reason to hold festivals throughout Yankee-land. Many authors, journalists, diarists, historians and poets have joyfully regaled of the original maple candy, when, in the old days, hot syrup was poured on the snow, left to harden for a minute then eaten with pickles(of which most sap-houses still do today. Or of the fun sport of sleighing during the end of winter to an event held in every New England town at someone's home or business to celebrate with friends and family the first trickle of sap.

Everyone went home with a jug or two of real maple syrup to enjoy in almost every dessert made by mother. Two of my favorites are the long forgotten Maple Skimmer and Crisp Maple Cookies.


Crisp Maple Cookies

Once of the most amazingly "homy" cookies you can make, winter or summer, and one of the easiest. This cookie ranks as high as gingerbread, apple pie and molasses cookies when it comes to New England comfort food.

Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated or brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup(1/2-stick)butter or margarine
1 cup real maple syrup *
1/3 cup apple jelly, whisked smooth
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Blend the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry knife, two forks, or your finger tips until it resembles large crumbs. Combine maple syrup, apple jelly and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Add to flour mixture and stir it with a sturdy spoon, or a paddle attachment on a mixer, until to comes together in a cookie dough.
Dollop tablespoon measures of dough onto prepared cookie pan, leaving at least an inch in between cookie dough mounds. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp around the edges. Remove from oven to cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

NOTE: This cookie is great as a 'rolled' cookie as well. Simply roll a tablespoon measure of the dough between your palms. Place dough ball on prepared pan and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with the bottom of a glass, dampened by water to prevent sticking. Continue as directed for baking.

* The darker and more intensely-flavored maple syrup, the better

Maple Skimmer

This beverage tops any flavored coffee I can find in any coffee house, and is also a welcome treat hot, during the colder months. Simply omit the ice cubes and plop a big fat marshmallow into each mug before serving. But try this during the hot months.

Coffee Ice Cubes
2 cups freshly brewed, strong coffee
1(15-ounce)can evaporated milk
1/2 cup real maple syrup *

To make Coffee Ice Cubes, do I really need to tell you to pour brewed coffee in an ice cube tray and freeze? Add remainder of ingredients in a pitcher, mix well and chill until completely cold. Pour over coffee ice cubes and serve.


I also like to heat maple syrup in a saucepan and any one of my favorite jellies, jams, preserves or all fruit. Whisk well, and let cook over medium heat until hot and the jelly has dissolved. Remove and serve over your pancakes, French toast or waffles. Or dip some homemade biscuits into it.

Here are some great links to further your interest in the making of maple syrup, the particular festivals held all around New England and to order pure maple products.

Bet you didn't know there was a museum dedicated to maple did you?

Here is a great link to show you what is involved in maple sugaring. My great friend, Kim Knox Beckius is a New England writer and a self-confessed Yankee who truly loves her profession.

How about keeping that "home and hearth" smell in your home year round? Yup, even Yankee Candle has the fragrance, although it is mingled with another great Yankee favorite, but delightful none-the-less.

Mainah' ya' go! Everything you could possibly want using maple as the key ingredient. Hey, Canada can't take all the glory!

The BEST pepper I have ever had, and one that you have never heard of. Take a peak inside.....

A more in-depth look at all things Maine and Maple.

For all my friends in Vermont, you truly are greatly, and widely, known for maple syrup and all its glory.

The Granite State is a top contender for maple products as well. YOU go!

Looking for a festival near you? Visit this site not only for what's happening in the way of maple, but a great place to learn so much more about our New England heritage.

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