Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Steamed Brown (Maple) Bread

In much of North America, a brown bread is just a type of whole wheat bread (usually a 10% mix), but in the Canadian Maritimes and parts of New England, brown bread is a type of white bread made with molasses. On the Care2 website, I found a recipe for Steamed Brown Bread made with Maple Syrup instead of molasses. Sounds pretty nice.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Quick While You Still Have Time: Jack 'O Lantern Quesadillas with Chipotle-Maple Pumpkin and Black Beans Recipe

Via CD Kitchen, here is an interesting recipe: Jack 'O Lantern Quesadillas with Chipotle-Maple Pumpkin and Black Beans. If you're sick of pumpkin pie (what!), these quesadillas just might be another option for those looking for more pumpkin-maple options.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Recipe: Maple Walnut Bars

Via Recipezaar:

This is a quick and easy bar cookie made with a cake mix crust. I was given a huge bottle of maple syrup on the condition that I make cookies and this is what I used it for. These are not overly sweet and a great fall cookie.

Today's pick is a recipe for Maple Walnut Bars. Of course, you can always start from scratch rather than using a cake mix like the recipe. As well, walnuts are nice, but I'm more of a Pecan man myself, so it might be worth doing a little substitution.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Maple Creme Caramel


  • 500ml double cream (if none available, use whipping cream)
  • 1 big vanilla pod
  • 100g granulated maple sugar for the creme caramel mixture
  • 6 flat teaspoons of granulated maple sugar for the topping
  • 6 egg yolks
  • approx. 75ml maple syrup
  • canola or other light oil for greasing ramekins

Note: Use your judgement with this recipe and adjust ingredients to suit your style or diet. Double cream makes the best creme caramels, but it is incredibly fatty. Most of the ingredients are adjustable so you'll still have a very nice creme caramel, don't be afraid to experiment.

Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the cream. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and maple sugar together in a large bowl to blend. Bring the cream back to a boil, adding the egg mixture, whisking all the time until thick.

You are going to need six "3/4-cup" custard cups or ramekins, lightly grease the cups with oil. Pour a little maple syrup into the bottom of each (enough to cover the bottom + up to 1 Tbsp. per custard cup more). Arrange the cups on a baking pan.

Make sure you strain the egg mixture through a fine sieve, then divide mixture into the cups. Before placing in the oven, pour into the baking pan enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the cups.

Place the pan on the middle shelf and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the custard sets, it should still be a bit wobbly in the middle. A fork inserted into the creme should come out clean. Avoid overbaking or the custard will become rubbery. Remove from the water and allow the cups to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Chill overnight if possible.

When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle one level teaspoon of maple sugar evenly over the surface of each creme cup.

If you are brave, you can caramelize the maple sugar with a blowtorch.

If you aren't that brave, preheat the broiler. Place the dishes on a baking sheet. Broil for about 2 minutes (rotating the sheet twice for even cooking) or until the sugar begins to caramelize.

Chill until the caramelized sugar hardens.

For a change, you can make "Maple" Crema Catalana by using a stick of cinnamon instead of the vanilla pod.

Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A. Y. Jackson's The Red Maple

A. Y. Jackson was one of a group of Canadian painters (seven at first) --all highly influenced by the Impressionist movement-- who became Canada's most important art movement. When I was younger, one of the art projects we were given was to reproduce a painting by the Group of Seven. A humbling task, given the talent of these painters, able to suggest a storm, a forest, or a river with just a few flecks of paint.

The Group (along with Tom Thompson, who died just before the Group formed) frequently travelled along Georgian Bay and in Algonquin Park, which are in the vicinity of Sweet Marie's neck of the woods. Eventually they moved far afield to British Columbia and Nova Scotia in search of ever more rugged landscapes. Their numbers expanded beyond the original seven and they became the Canadian Group of Painters.

CBC Digital Archives hosts "The Group of Seven: Painters in the Wilderness" a video series about the Group of Seven

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Maple Music

On the theme of great maple songs, one of my favourites is "Love and Maple Syrup" by Gordon Lightfoot:

Love and maple syrup go together

Like the sticky winds of winter when they meet
When lonely lovers come to rest
Beneath the trees they do their best
But still they can't be free
I first found the song on his "Summer Side of Life" album, but apparently it was originally written for a 1969 Canadian musical also called "Love and Maple Syrup". The musical featured five Lightfoot songs, as well as songs by Joni Mitchell and Ian and Sylvia. Who knew?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Maple Syrup Time

A tribute album to Pete Seeger called "If I Had a Song: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 2" has Canadian band, Moxy Fruvous covering his song "Maple Syrup Time". Something I didn't know, Pete Seeger taps his own maple trees.

Quick Bits: Maple Candy

Sweet Marie's post about the sugar-on-snow (which I've never tasted) got me curious about Maple candy.

The 18th Century Cuisine blog has an short entry with some photos about boiling down sap and making maple sugar.

Baking911.com has a page on maple candy which talks about the various types of maple candy. Here are the ones they list:

  • Maple Sugar (Granulated or Molded)
  • "Crunchy" Hard Maple Sugar
  • Molded Soft Sugar Candy
  • Maple Spread (Cream or Butter)
  • Maple Fondant or Nougat (Ohio Maple Cream)
  • "Jack Wax" or "Maple on Snow"

I assume the last one is the same as "Sugar on Snow". Apparently their source was Ohio State U., I wonder what other regional names there are for different maple candies like "Sugar on Snow". I kinda like "Jack Wax", though it doesn't sound too appetizing.

If you're in a rush, Astray has a 14 minute Maple Candy recipe ...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Make Your Own Sugar-On-Snow

Most maple fans have had the experience of visiting a maple farm during syrup season and being treated to a sticky helping of sugar-on-snow. The traditional maple treat is made from nothing but pure maple syrup, however, if you tried to pour the bottle from your fridge on the snow bank in your yard, you'd be sorely disappointed. What's the trick? Unlike hardwood carving, you CAN try this at home... (Ask your Mom and Dad first) Boil approximately 1 cup of pure maple syrup (Aunt Jemima's won't work!) until it reaches 236 F on a candy thermometer. If you boil the syrup a little less, it will be very soft and sticky. It you boil it a little longer, it will be more brittle. Pour syrup directly over clean snow or crushed ice. You may pour small round servings, or choose to pour strips which can then be rolled onto a popsicle stick. Either way, prepare to get sticky, and watch out for loose fillings!

How To Begin WoodCarving with a Utility Knife

Wikihow, a shared knowledge website, has a section on how to begin carving with a utility knife, they suggest using a soft maple as a beginner wood. Just make sure it is soft, carving the harder maple woods is NOT easy. Their tip is that if you can mark the wood with your fingernail, it's probably easy enough to carve.

This blog does not endorse carving wood or using a utility knife without proper knowledgeable supervision. Really! Don't chop your hand off because of us!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tasting Maple Syrup ... for Science!

From Scienceblog comes an article about the effects of technology on the taste of maple syrup:

Tim Perkins, director of UVM's Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill Center, has decided to find out. This week, he and his staff will start boiling sap at a new research building to test exactly what effect new technologies have on the chemistry, flavor and quality of maple syrup.

"This is the only such facility in the world," Perkins says. "Nobody since the 1940s has done these kinds of experiments, and the industry has changed a lot since then."


And maple syrup science really is a nose -- and mouth -- science. The technical term is organoleptic. "Which means you put it in your mouth and taste it," says Perkins, smiling. "We get people who know the flavor of maple syrup, and off-flavors, and they try each one." Laboratory tests using gas chromatography provide a breakdown of the many compounds in the syrup, which supplements the tastebud approach. "These air injectors appear to make the syrup lighter," Perkins says. "The real question is: how do they impact the flavor?"

Maple syrup is a natural product, but it is not simple. The interplay of seasonal tree biology, boiling temperature, microorganisms, sugar chemistry, storage time, final container -- and a long list of other subtleties -- makes each glinting amber-to-chocolate bottle nearly as distinct as varieties of wine. "Syrup is not just concentrated sap," Perkins says, describing how the sugar in the water is broken from sucrose into glucose and fructose, darkened by bacteria, and carmelized by heat.

World's Largest Maple Sugar Candy Doesn't Make It Into Guinness

From The Shoreline Beacon's article "No Guiness record for maple candy":

Saugeen Valley Conservation Foundation is still puzzling over its failure to win a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the largest Maple Sugar Candy.

The giant confection lost out to an oversize metal sap bucket.

"It was in a category we were rather surprised (about)," said spokesperson Shannon Wood. "They actually lumped us together with the largest sap bucket in the world. We really couldn’t figure out how you compare apples to apples in that respect."

Not having a Guiness Book handy, I turned to Google and the most recent reference I could find for a world-record setting sap bucket was one built in Elmira, Ontario, about 6 years ago, which was 40 inches tall and held 133 gallons. It's big but not really THAT impressive, however the 1,469 lb jack o' lantern carved by Scott Cully from the world's largest pumpkin back in October 31, 2005, now that's impressive!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Maple Syrup Pad Thai

While looking for maple syrup recipes, I stumbled across a type of Pad Thai made with Maple Syrup. Pretty cool ... I haven't tried the recipes, but they look good:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jamie Oliver's Maple Syrup and Pecan Tart

British chef, Jamie Oliver takes a stab at making a maple syrup treat:

Maple syrup and pecan nuts are fantastic Canadian flavours. What I've done here is make a traditional English treacle tart, but I've used maple syrup as well as golden syrup and have added nuts.

Go to the Guardian website and check the recipe out!

North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting

250 Canadian and American maple syrup producers will be meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin for the North American Maple Syrup Council annual meeting and International Maple Syrup Institute.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Maple Syrup Diet aka Lemonade Diet

So several celebrities including Beyonce are promoting this supposed miracle diet called the Maple Syrup Diet or the Lemon Cleanse or the Maple Syrup Lemon Diet or whatever.

Even though Maple syrup has an abundance of trace minerals that are essential to good nutrition: potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, copper and tin, as well as calcium, the fact is that Maple Syrup is still primarily a sugar. It should be enjoyed in moderation and as part of a good healthy diet. Don't bother with fads like this, you might lose some weight for a period of time but will do nothing to improve your overall health, instead try to keep your calories down and get some exercise.

CBC's Canadian Maple Syrup short feature

Broadcast in December 13, 1978, "Canadian maple syrup" from The CBC Digital Archives Website. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Kottke on cleaning up Maple Syrup spills

Last year, Jason Kottke had a maple syrup spill and requested advice from his readers. Here is a quick summary of some of the (mostly serious) suggestions on how to clean Maple Syrup:

  • pour a bunch of salt all over the spill (kosher or table, whatever you have), then leave it for a minute or so. the salt will soak up most of spill, keep it from spreading and make it much more manageable for cleanup.
  • pour a bag of flour onto it and walk away for a while. come back with the dustpan and a spatula
  • take a wet dish cloth, put it on the syrup and use an iron on the dish towel
  • find two hard, flat items (i.e. a dough scraper and a spatula) and put them at opposite 45 degree angles, sweeping together until they are flush. voila, syrup squeegee
  • Place a large piece of wax paper directly on top of the puddle of syrup so you get a good stick. With a spatula or paint scraper or whatever you've got handy, begin to flip the wax paper over by spooning the syrup onto it. Pretty soon you will have transfered all the syrup onto the wax paper and you can dispose of it quickly *and* easily.
  • Liquid nitrogen, and a chisel. Quickness depends on wether you keep liquid nitrogen around. Easy depends on how brittle the floor is.
  • pour some diet coke on it - the carbonation cuts right through and is a great cleaning aid, a can yields less fizz than from a bottle.
  • take out some ice cube trays, or drop a bunch of cubes into a metal container along the lines of an 8x8 cake pan, then cover the pan with a dish towel to insulate. come back in an hour, and the syrup, while not frozen, should be much more manageable.

Go read the full entry ... the real thing is much funnier than this summary.

Maple Syrup info on Wikipedia

Simple entry on Maple Syrup is available on Wikipedia, including info on the difference in Grades between Canada and the US

Found an entry for Birch Syrup which I had never heard of before. Apparently it is 5 times more expensive than Maple Syrup. Huh!

McCutcheon Maple Syrup site under construction

The website for McCutcheon Maple Syrup a.k.a mccmaple.com is under construction right now. Carley has sent some good ideas for the site and I'm busy doing sketches and schematics for it.

McCutcheon Sugarhouse

McCutcheon Maple is located near Coldwater, Ontario (which is near Orillia and to the north of Toronto). Ken and Rene McCutcheon were big winners at the 2005 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. They are members of the Ontario Maple Producers Association.