Life on Regal-Hill: March 26, 2008

Spring is the time of year to make maple syrup. Here at Regal-Hill two buckets were put on one tree. It is nearby and the maple tree is on the level so it is an easy walk to gather the sap. Allegra talked grandpa into hanging the buckets on the sixth of March, a day when the sun was shining and it was 40 degrees or warmer outside. As soon as the buckets were hung, the sap began to flow and by night there was at least a gallon to gather. It was just enough to boil down into syrup on the kitchen stove. So, the next morning boiling began and about half a cup of light amber syrup was made.
Saturday for breakfast pancakes were made and of course, the new syrup was poured over them. Nothing tastes better than new maple syrup on freshly mixed up, made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes.
We soon plan to make maple cream. For cream you just boil the syrup until it reaches the lock-jaw stage and them stir it until it thickens. It tastes delicious on toast.
It seems like it has been 10 years since we have had a good maple season so I am glad we aren’t trying to produce maple syrup to sell. I recently read that New York State’s maple producers’ production in 2007 was down 11 percent from 2006. As with any farming, the weather plays a big part in its success. Cold weather and then a long warm spell when the temperatures don’t go below freezing at night hinder the sap from running, as was the case in 2007. So far this year the weather has been better.
We have made about a quart all together. There would have been more, but we didn’t watch it carefully and it burned so it couldn’t be used. What a sticky mess to clean up! Guess who got to clean it up? The next batch came out fine and made a whole pint at once this time. Then we poured the hot syrup into pint canning jars, put a lid and band on it, then once we were sure it was sealed it was taken downstairs, where it is cold but not freezing, until we want to use it. I am hoping that there will be several gallons made before the trees begin to bud and the sap stops running.
This year Maple Weekend is March 29 and 30 all across New York State from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Check your local newspapers for locations of producers taking part in it. They will show you each step from tapping a tree to boiling the sap down to syrup. There will also be samples to try and products to buy as well.
Maple syrup is always a wonderful added ingredient to any recipe. There is also nothing better to put over pancakes, waffles or French toast and vanilla ice cream.
Try these recipes and see if you don’t agree that adding maple syrup really made them taste better.

Maple Breakfast Rolls
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 tubes (6 ounces each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, nuts and syrup. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out each biscuit into a 4-in. circle. Spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture down the center of each biscuit. Bring dough from opposite sides over filling just until edges meet; pinch to seal. Place seam side down over nut mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm.
Yield: 8-10 servings
2004 Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking Annual Recipes

Maple Bacon Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
In a large bowl, combine flour, bacon, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and syrup until moistened. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.
Yield: 1 dozen
2004 Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking Annual Recipes