Sunday, March 31, 2013

The sweetness of trails

Follow the trail of cans through the woods. They glint in the sunlight, hanging from maple trees, just under the taps we have pounded into holes Dave drilled. One of these days, the temperature will get above freezing and the sap will rise in the trees.  Theoretically, it needs to freeze at night and rise above freezing during the day for the maple sap to run. We’ve now had three weekends of cold weather and two days of above freezing weather. The sap didn’t run either of those two days. “Maybe it’s because the wind was out of the southwest,” we said the first day. Maybe it’s because there is at least three feet of snow on the tree roots, it can’t tell the air temperature is above freezing,” we said the second day.

It actually doesn’t matter. The days spent in the snowy woods are full of joy, beauty and conversations  with good friends and family. The sap will rise in the maple trees sometime this spring. It will drip from the taps we’ve installed and fill the silvery cans. We’ll empty the sap in the cans into buckets and carry it back to camp where we’ll boil it down over an open fire until there is only a quarter inch of thick, sweet liquid in the bottom of a 6” deep pan. Then we’ll pour off the syrup and use it for pancakes, granola, pecan pie, and a new discovery this year, maple syrup sauce on vanilla ice cream or snow.
At this time of the year, following a trail through the woods can lead you to incredible sweetness.

Pecan Maple Syrup Sundae
1 cup maple syrup
2 T butter
¼ cup undiluted evaporated milk
vanilla ice cream or fresh snow
Boil syrup and butter together for six minutes or until mixture reaches 225 degrees. Cool. Stir in ¼ cup evaporated milk.
Sprinkle pecans over ice cream or a scoop of clean fresh snow.  Pour sauce over pecans.  The snow absorbs the sauce so that there is none in the bottom of your bowl. Our friends Budd and Marguerite had snow sundaes when they were children with cream and sugar. The maple syrup and pecans are a modern variation.

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