Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sugar Maple Time in Vermont ~

The sun was warm, but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

I have taken this poem from King Arthur Flour's 200th Anniversary Cookbook because I found this page earlier today and like the information it gives. The introduction to making doughnuts continues by saying:
There are no better words than Robert Frost's in Two Tramps in Mud Time for conjuring up that sharp, sweet and temperamental season of early April in Vermont. One of the most exciting changes of this quickening season happens both unheard and unseen. With longer, warmer days but still freezing nights, those lifeless looking maple trees that dot the northeastern landscape turn into gigantic pumps, pulling gallons of water out of the thawing ground, mixing them with nutrients and sugars and sending them up and out to nourish buds that have been waiting patiently in a dormant state through the long New England winter. 

Along with the new life pulsing throughout the North, you'll see "sugar houses" punctuating the hills, steaming away and transforming the precious spring sap of the Sugar Maple into maple syrup.

For those of you who have ever tapped a maple tree, you know what an exciting event this is. To drill a hole, hammer in a tap and watch those first drops of sap well up and spill out into your bucket make one look in wonder at all the trees in the landscape, knowing that, even though you can't see it, something quite miraculous is going on.
The taste of the first syrup is sweet and exciting. The traditional way to prolong this pleasure is to make and eat "sugar on snow." To create this once-a-year indulgence, we boil down a pan of fresh syrup until two or three drops form a ball when dropped in a cup of cold water. Then we pour it over fresh snow or crushed ice and watch it stiffen like taffy. We eat this chewy sweet with sour pickles (put up from last summer's garden) and homemade doughnuts while sitting and savouring the early spring sunshine. 

Cake, or baking powder, doughnuts were developed in New England many years ago. They were originally shaped like nuts, hence their name. (The Pennsylvania Dutch added the holes.) Combining these with pickles and "sugar on snow" is probably one of the oldest traditions in America and a sweet finale to this section.

Now I ask many cookbooks do you own that are worded in such a  beautifully picturesque way? I use maple syrup all the time...for coffee sometimes, and for sweetening my yogurt, or for making my hot milk taste really good. And I'm remembering that my husband gave me a book by Noel Perrin titled Amateur Sugar Maker. Perrin eventually married Anne Spencer Lindbergh...or should I say she eventually married him, as he was her third husband. As a fan of Charles and Anne Lindbergh and Noel Perrin, this fact caught my attention. 

Tomorrow I'll give you the recipe for Doughnuts for "Sugaring." I'm going to lunch with Alice today. Her husband is in the hospital after having a heart attack and undergoing quadruple by-pass surgery on Monday. She's sneaking away for a little R & R with me...just an hour or two. God bless her and her husband Mike. 
Everybody have a good Thursday!



  1. Hi Mimi,
    Thank you so much for reciprocating my blog follow! It's lovely to see the number of people who are interested in my blog go up! I can't wait to hit 100... I have about 60 more to go! lol.
    Journals and writing have always been a passion of mine, so I guess bookmaking is kind of the next step in my journal writing process. :) I find it hard to write in my own books, but I'm getting better at it. I have several that I can't stand to give away, so I keep them and end up using them for my school work, or to keep track of my Bible readings, etc.
    God bless! Have a beautiful day.
    - Elise

  2. Elise...So nice to hear from you. Where did you learn to make books? I love that you read the Bible every day. Do you know about the NaNoWriMo writing contest every year in November? Write (depending on your age) a book and they'll send you a copy for free? I wrote 52,000 words this past November. Sounds like you might enjoy it. My granddaughter is 13 and wrote 10,000 words and my grandson is 9 and wrote 1,200 (I think.) Thanks very much for responding. Blessings...Mimi

  3. Hi again, Mimi!

    My math is horrible in that post up there... I actually have 80 people to go before I hit a hundred. I think I must have been tired.

    I'm definitely trying to read every day! I'm reading Amos right now, very interesting book!

    I'd never heard of the NaNoWriMo writing contest. Do they have a website? That actually sounds like a lot of fun. I'd love to try it.

    I'm actually 25 years old, so your granddaughter and I are quite a bit apart in age. I have a little sister who is going on 10 years old. She's started doing journal writing quite a bit, makes me wonder if she'll write as much as me when she gets older.

    I'll do a blog post on my bookmaking in the next week or so and I'll let you know when I post it. I'd like to do it tonight, but it'd probably be best to go to bed (I've got work in the morning.).

    Goodnight! :) - Elise

  4. Well, I'll say you have a light spirit like a younger girl, which is good! Do you make notes as you read the Bible? That can take you deeper even though it's slower (and you could use your journals!). I apologize if I sound as if you don't know what you're are right on track really. Right now, I'm trying to begin writing an introduction to the Old and New Testaments. My brother has asked me to do it because he wants a softer approach (read: not preachery). I've written 80 lessons for people to use to study, mostly on the Old Testament, but a few on the New. My brother has written the memory verses, the review questions, and comments when necessary. He goes to Russia, to South America, and to Mosambique, which creates a need for some lessons for these new Christians to study.
    YES! NaNoWriMo does have a web site! Please go there and see what you think. If you have any questions, please let me know. I'd love for you to be part of it. Now that the month of writing is over, we have until June to do editing and add more, or do whatever we want to get it finished. I hope it appeals to you.
    I think your sister will do very well with her writing, and it will be so nice to share as you go along. I look forward to your new post!

  5. Yes, I do write down things when I'm reading the Bible. I think that it definitely helps me to remember more and dig a little deeper into God's Word. =)
    That's great that you've written so many lessons on the Old Testament. And writing intros for the old and new testaments, that's awesome. Will they be published in a particular version of the Bible, or are you writing them for your lessons?

    I will definitely look at the website for the writing contest. The whole thing just sounds like too much fun to pass up, so I'll definitely check it out!

    I'm writing this comment from my phone, so I think I'd better get it posted before I lose the whole message. Have a beautiful day!
    - Elise

  6. I think you're doing just about everything right! I've just looked at your blog a little closer, and I'm impressed with your creativity. 365 days of making something is a challenge for sure.
    The introductions are for the lessons that I've already written. My brother had begun a set in the NT before he asked me to write, but he didn't get the intros done. Because all of this isn't a "formal" book, he just publishes what he has. He'd like for me to do them right away, but so far I haven't gotten around to them.
    Let me know if you are interested in the NaNoWriMo site. I also have my novel to complete (add to, change, edit, etc.). The timing isn't all that good...with Thanksgiving in that month and Christmas right after, but it was very nice to do.
    Your new camera sounds wonderful! I did a blog with suggestions from Johnny Pignozzi, a guest on the Martha Stewart Show. Turns out, my granddaughter didn't agree with something he said! If you want the link, let me know.
    Good luck with all your're quite amazing, and I still think my granddaughter would find you an inspiration.

  7. Ok. I understand what you mean about the intros now. That's really great. :)

    Absolutely send your granddaughter a link to my blog, if you like! I think it'd be great to chat with her. I actually have 4 sisters, my youngest is the 9 year old I mentioned earlier.

    So, I looked up NaNoWriMo and saw their website and I realized that I'd actually heard about this, or at least something like this, at my university. I'd been waiting for a class in the music building and I noticed a paper on the wall that said something like, "Write an entire novel in one month!" So, I wrote the website down, but never got around to looking at it. So, I'm really glad you brought it up. It's great!

    I hope that I keep up with the challenge of making one thing a day. I've gotten used to it, now, but sometimes I sit down late at night and have to hurry and make something before I need to go to bed. I'm a little bit bad about procrastination. :)

    I hope you're having a lovely night.
    - Elise

  8. Oh, and I forgot to say, my newest book that I posted (with the dark colored pages) can be used for pretty much anything. The pages are acid free, so they'd be perfect for scrapbooking, or pictures. If you had a nice opaque paint pen or metallic pen, it could be used as a journal too!

  9. Thanks, Elise, for all the good info about your journals. So interesting to me. And I agree that the shiny pages are really neat. I have so many journals, but I'd like to have one that would be suitable for keeping information about my health in. Say, when I read something that tells me I need Vitamin D, if I don't keep that information somewhere, then I forget why I'm taking it. I've done that several times and am a little put out that it happens!

    Do you have a sister that is around 13 years old? Quinlyn is being homeschooled--really an online school--and she enjoys having friends to talk to. She has a blog and a YouTube account and a Picasa account, but some of the girls she talks to on Windows Live Messenger have not been so nice to her. I'll give her your site address, but whether she'll look at it or not, I have no idea.

    I'm glad you like the NaNoWriMo site. I really need to work on my novel, but so far I haven't.
    I haven't felt very well this week (forgive me for saying so) and it seems that it has passed quickly and without much being accomplished.
    Hoping for more productive days soon.

    Have a nice evening...Mimi