Affects of Snow on Maple Syrup Production

All the snow that’s been piling up in the woods here in and around Amenia has added to the maple sugar farmers’ workload. Over the past decade or so, they’ve been tubing the trees; running lengths of clear tubing from one tree to another all to collect in big tanks at the terminus.

a winter forest with snow on ground. Trees are connected with tubes to collect syrup. There is snow on the ground

The tube collection method of syrup collection

But this year with snow remaining three or more feet high, there’s no way to get into the woods to set the systems up, or adjust them. Some of our local sugar farmers are resorting to the old spike and pail method–snowshoeing their way in, drilling, spiking and hanging them good ole sap pails. We’ve even heard the maple is overflowing. Sugar farming is very unpredictable, like the weather–ha, ha, and comes with its own window that opens then closes shut.

Most local sugar farmers are just starting to boil now, mid March; one said it was the latest start he’d ever witnessed. Usually up here in the Oblong Valley the sap flows from January and ends about March, but when the maple flow starts late, generally it ends late. A frozen layer on the ground can insulate the tree and prevent the buds from forming which is the clear signal to stop drawing sap. That buddiness is what detracts from the taste of the maple syrup. Cold never bothered those old maples–it’s the rain that will hamper the flow. I take that back about the cold–What they need to emit an abundant harvest–after all you need 30 gallons of sap to make  a gallon of finished maple syrup–is the weather we have right now, the freezing nights of about 20 degrees F and warmish days of about 40. For the sake of the maple syrup we cherish in our B’n B, let’s keep the cold going for a while. (Though I’ve just about had it with these freezing nights!)

For more information on Maple Syrup, see our Blog from March 27, 2014. And if you read this early enough, you can still catch the Sharon Audubon’s Maple Fest going on this Saturday March 21st Adults $6 and children $4–can catch a guided tour leaving every hour or so, that finishes up at the boil room. I’ve done it myself and I learned a lot about maple sugaring. It’s just across the border into Connecticut, about 15 minutes away. They suggest you call ahead to see if they’ll be boiling…Go to their website at sharonaudubon.org

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedintumblr

EASY ORANGE-PECAN GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES

Baking mixes have their place in this world, just not in MY pantry or kitchen : ) This is a true kitchen story of how I came to conquer gluten-free pancakes—

2 Gluten-free pancakes on a plate with all the best ingredients including Red Mill Almond Flour

The best baking requires the best ingredients. No getting around it

As a little girl I would watch my mother bake and she would always tell me “Sandy, use the best, the highest quality ingredients you can find.” She would bake for church dinners and everyone would ask for the recipe. Inevitably “everyone” would bake that recipe and use cheap ingredients to save money, i.e. margarine in place of butter etc., and then ask Mom why theirs didn’t come out as wonderful and delicious as hers? LOL!

So it has become my mantra that if you’re going to take the time to bake something for someone, use the very best ingredients you can find or don’t bake at all. Just go buy something at the store or bakery.

Then came the new challenge. GLUTEN FREE.  Because I am new to the whole gluten free thing, up until now, I’ve resorted to using the gluten free mixes because if you’ve experimented in gluten free baking at all, you know that it’s wildly expensive, considering all the special ingredients that are typically used like arrowroot, xanthum gum, and potato starch to name a few. And P.S. the gluten free mixes taste like a yellow cake mix. Sorry, but yuck.

Package of Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour So I’ve started with pancakes since they are the most requested breakfast dish here. I was determined to find a scratch pancake recipe that didn’t involve all those special ingredients. I wanted fast and simple. Ok, listen closely:  ALMOMD FLOUR! (chorus) All I can say is WOW! I wish I’d found you four years ago.

So here is my twist on the best of pancakes. Believe me, you won’t even know they’re gluten free:

HILLTOP HOUSE’S EASY ORANGE-PECAN GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 TBSP ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1/2 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP baking powder
  • zest from one full orange
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Melt two TBSPs butter.
  3. Beat eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk in milk and butter.
  5. Add orange zest and mix.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  7. Stir in pecans.
  8. Cook on lightly greased griddle until edges look dry, then flip and cook for one or more minute until browned.
  9. Serve with pure maple syrup and…
  10. Watch your gluten-free guests’ eyes light up!
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedintumblrFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedintumblr