From Sap to Stack: Ohio Maple Syrup

It takes 40 gallons of sap to generate just one gallon of pure maple syrup.  It’s a labor and time intensive commodity.  But when you pour it on a stack of hot cakes or incorporate this liquid gold into a recipe…you know it’s worth it.


My family and I, along with some friends, headed to Lake MetroParks Farmpark in Kirtland for their Maple Sugaring Weekends.  Lots of hands on activities to show visitors how maple syrup is produced.  


We took a wagon ride to the Woodland Center.  We were shown how sugar maples are tapped, and given a taste of what sap, pure from those trees tastes like.  (Water, sweet and slightly thick).  


My kids got a look at collection buckets hung on those trees.  Once inside we saw how the water like sap is transformed through a boiling process to make pure maple syrup and other naturally sweet products.

  

Visitors can tap a tree by hand, see how maple candy is made, sample syrup, maple stirs, and maple candy.  The schedule also has backyard sugaring lessons, sugar bush tours, maple leaf crafts, mukuk (bark) bucket making, and maple candy making.  


The history of maple sugaring is also on display inside.  Very cool to see a more than 100 year old tree marked by all the places it was tapped throughout the decades and the significant things that were happening in the world when it was.

 

National Pancake Day is coming up this week. Seems only fitting to study its lifelong companion.  Head out to Lake MetroParks Farmpark and check it out for yoursefl! 

Too Much Take-Out

We’ve started a new routine in our household that we’re trying to stick to.  I’ve asked my husband to take care of dinner on Friday nights.  It’s a pretty rare occasional when he actually cooks.  Doesn’t matter.   Most of the time, it’s take-out.  And that’s just fine with me, as long as the task is taken off my plate.  And with take-out…whether it’s Chinese, pizza, or your favorite neighborhood wing joint….there’s usually leftovers. 

When my husband orders take-out, his eyes are generally bigger than both of our stomachs.  He recently came home with a box…not a bag, a box…full of food from a locally owned and family-run Italian restaurant we’ve become quite fond of.  He placed and picked up our dinner order rather late, and I noticed they threw in an entire to-go box full of bread sticks (probably end of dinner service and they didn’t figure they’d be good after that night, and/or hostess who took the phone order thought they were feeding a family of 8, given the size of said order).   I couldn’t find room for even one….between the wedding soup, salad, chicken piccata and homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  But these were bakery-quality bread sticks and I hated to toss them.

breadsticks

I try to make something for breakfast on the weekends that’s different than the usual scrambled eggs or soggy cereal.   The breadsticks were just what I needed to whip up some quick French toast sticks.   A few easy steps and my children were gathered around the table gobbling them up.  Crack a couple of eggs, add a generous splash of milk, about teaspoon of cinnamon (or more if you prefer) and a teaspoon or more of vanilla.  Then whisk everything together.  Dunk each piece of bread in the egg mixture so that it’s totally coated.  Warm some butter on a flat top, frying pan or griddle pan.  Cook the French toast sticks until each side has a nice golden crust.  Most would butter then and serve with maple syrup.  But I’m not too fond of maple flavored anything, so I like to sprinkle a little sugar on top instead.  The best part?  These could also freeze and be on stand-by for a quick go-to weekday breakfast.

What do you often find yourself left with after take-out night?  What have you done with it?

Black Friday Breakfast- Overnight French Toast

Since I work with leftovers, Thanksgiving is pretty much my Super Bowl.  (see previous posts on The Pilgrim Pocket, and 5 Better Things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers) And I know, I know….the last thing you want to do on the day after Thanksgiving is cook.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I hate wasting food…especially food that I, or someone from my family, have put so much time and love into.

I also have the unfortunate luck of working on Black Friday (no, I’m not in retail!) So I whipped together an overnight French Toast with some of the Thanksgiving Day remnants to help me get out the door quicker, fuller and help out my husband who has a special “daddy day” planned with his daughters.

My inspiration was a Ziploc bag full of leftover “Monkey Bread” we were sent home with after stop one on Thanksgiving.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a bundt pan of guilty pleasure made with biscuit dough, butter and sugar.  A friend of mine challenged me to make French Toast with it.  I recalled an overnight recipe I’d made before from the The Yummy Mummy Kitchen by Marina Delio.  Of course she uses fresh French bread, but I didn’t see why this couldn’t be adjusted.

I pulled apart the “monkey balls” and placed them in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Then, I took some blackberries from my produce drawer and the remainder of the homemade cranberry sauce from the day’s feast and filled in the gaps.

making black friday breakfast

I whisked together a couple of eggs, some vanilla and added whole milk.  But here is where you could use some of the massive amount of half and half you bought for the coffee you served with pumpkin pie, or the rest of the heavy cream you purchased for your potato recipe.  Use what you’ve got!  (I also left out the syrup that the original recipe calls for, as there’s already so much sugar on the monkey bread) I poured the mixture over the bread/berries then covered it with plastic wrap and left it in the fridge overnight.  (if you’re in a hurry, try doing it without the “overnight” element…and let me know how it turns out! I’m curious myself)

Black Friday morning, I melted some butter, added brown sugar and some crushed walnuts and sprinkled that mixture on top.  Here’s another good place to use leftovers, like pecans you have from the pecan pie you made.  I placed in a 375 oven for about 40 minutes.  Top it with syrup, and enjoy!

What do you have leftover from Thanksgiving? I am looking for inspiration and another challenge!!