Category Archives: YouthWork&Learn

tick tock

Today at Smokey House we went on a hike to the beaver pond, and I got a couple ticks on me. And I absolutely hate ticks. The first tick I found in the van on my chest, and I ripped it off and gave the demon the fiery death it deserved. The next one I found behind me ear at the table, and I gave that one a fiery death, too. The third one I was sitting here with my blog post and I felt it crawling on my left buttock. I put it in the sink and it went down when I washed my hands. I hate ’em. They should all go back to the fiery hellhole they came from.

I was the only one who found any on them, which is stupid. The reason why is because I ventured off where other people didn’t dare to. I was looking at prints, trying to find tracks. I found a deer track, bigfoot print, and some print I couldn’t identify. The venturing off was not worth getting them ticks over, because they carry lime disease and they’re just evil little creatures that deserve the fiery death that they will get. ticks

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The Best Chicken And Rice In Wine (Modified)

For the last day of the POD, we modified this chicken and rice in wine recipe to meet our taste, budget, and legal needs. The original recipe called for four boneless chicken breasts, four tablespoons of butter, half a cup minced onion, two tablespoons minced garlic, one cup fresh mushrooms, one to two cups of chicken broth, half a cup dry white wine, and three-fourths of a cup of rice. Instead of wine we used nothing, because wine is illegal to have on school grounds. Instead of mushrooms we used carrots because we like carrots more. Instead of one cup chicken broth, we used beef and chicken bullion cubes because we didn’t have the broth. We used thighs instead of breasts to fit our budget. We used a cup of rice instead of three-fourths a cup. Finally, we added mixed Italian herbs.

Step 1: Brown the chicken in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.

Step 2: Scatter onion and garlic over chicken.

Step 3: Add carrots, cook for five minutes.

Step 4: Add the rice.

Step 5: Pour broth over chicken and rice; make sure there is no rice on top of the chicken.

Step 6: Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

It came out delicious. No, it was not what I expected. The rice was really moist, and the texture was a little off, but it still tasted delicious, even though I don’t normally like rice. The carrots tasted good and the texture was soft and cooked. I believe the carrots gave the rice its moist and kind of sticky texture. In the end it was one of the best chicken and rice meals that I’ve ever had.IMG_9704

The Lost Glove

We were collecting benthic macro-invertebrates, small little bugs you find on rocks, from a stream. It was cold, obviously. We caught them with a net. We had our hands in the water and Tom almost got hypothermia. We were trying to determine which species they originated from by using a key. We found black flies, mayflies, and caddisflies.

As we were determining which bugs were which, Tom realized he was missing a glove. So I take off and try to find it; they were expensive gloves. I got halfway down the river, about. Tom was yelling at me to come back. He said that the glove was all the way down the river by now. So I turned around, starting walking back, and then started walking back again in the same direction as before. Tom was yelling “you can’t see it, it’s already gone by now.” But I keep walking anyways. He’s still yelling at, “come back, it’s gone!” So I yelled back, “it’s right here! I can see it!” So then I go over, grab the glove, and almost fell in, water almost got to the top of the boots. He was lucky I didn’t fall or get water in my boot, because I would’ve kept the glove, even if they were a gift. And that’s how the story went.IMG_9680

History of Maple Sap Evaporators

The First Maple Syrup Production

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Sap being boiled in a log
  • Logs were filled with sap and then hot stones were added to boil the sap.
  • Hot stones would continue to be added until there was a large enough quantity of syrup produced.
  • Myths suggest that eastern woodland Indians such as the Iroquois began boiling sap that the Creator had provided for them.
  • In 1775 a young colonist was captured and witnessed the Indians boiling what is now know as maple syrup.

History of The Evaporator

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Settlers pouring sap collected in buckets into a kettle
  • —Written accounts of sugaring date back to 1557, the exact origins are unknown.
  • —Multiple kettles were adopted to decrease the boiling time as well as the quality of syrup.
  • —What is known is that maple syrup production began officially in the 1700’s.
  • —In 1858 D.M Cook patented the first evaporator pan
  • —In 1864 David Ingalls patented a evaporator pan with baffles in the bottom to help channel the boiling sap.
  • —In 1872 H. Allen Soule or Vermont designs the first evaporator with two pans and a metal arch or firebox further decreasing boiling time.
  • —Europeans introduced metal kettles which became common place and decreased boil time.
  • —Written accounts of sugaring date back to 1557, the exact origins are unknown.

First Maple Production Innovations

maple20syrup

  • Flat bottom pans was one of the first major innovations to boiling sap.
  • Increased surface area allowed for unprecedented evaporation speeds.
  • The flat bottoms pans were also enclosed and helped keep out wood ash.
  • Both increased fuel and boiling efficiency.

Modern Evaporators Today

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A modern evaporator boiling sap
  • Incorporation of deep channels or “flues” to again help decrease boiling time.
  • Enclosed heat source underneath the pans doubled the efficiency of fuel and heating times.
  • Reduced fuel and time also decreased production cost and thus decreased syrup prices.
  • Wood is still being used however, alternative fuel sources are used such as: Fuel oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas.

(Sources) : NORTH AMERICAN MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCERS MANUAL, Maple History Timeline

The Great Canadian Syrup Heist

It happened in Quebec in 2011.  No one knew about it until 2012.  What was it? A bunch of people stole millions and millions of dollars worth of syrup from a warehouse over a matter of months.

How it happen?   Here are the details:syrup!

  • The federation of quebec maple syrup producers was being stolen from.
  • They are the legal “mob bosses” of the syrup industry.  They control who can buy syrup, who can sell syrup, and who can make syrup in Quebec.
  • There was a rival syrup distributor who had an inside man on the job who gained access to the warehouse legally because he rented a section it.
  • Hundreds of barrels of syrup were replaced with nothing or water.
  • It happened over several months, not just in one night.
  • They could sell it on the black market.  Some of it made it overseas, and to Vermont and New Hampshire.syrup@
  • An accountant went to do the annual books and climbed up on a barrel and it was
    empty.
  • 18.6 million dollars’ worth of syrup was stolen .
  • After a long investigation, 22 people in total were arrested. 

Sweet Maple in the Kitchen

We love maple syrup, and we have plenty of it, so we have been cooking up a storm in POD 8.  As we learned about the sugaring process and helped out in the sugarbush, we were also trying out different recipes, mainly relying on one cookbook:  Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich (Storey Press, 2001).

Some recipes have been more successful than others.  Here is the list:

IMG_9369Day 1 – Indian Pudding.  A traditional New England dessert, this might have been a real treat for us 200 years ago.  This version is quite luscious, and it smelled particularly good while cooking.  Not everyone was a fan of the texture or of the molasses flavor, but it’s something I will make again.

Day 2 – Maple Hot Chocolate.  We were busy in the snowy woods this day, so we made a rich hot chocolate that required 2 ounces of chocolate per cup of milk.  It was too chocolatey for some, but easily thinned with more milk.  The maple part of it was not impressive – a simple teaspoon of syrup in each cup.  You couldn’t taste the maple unless you added many more spoonfuls.

Day 3 – Maple Granola.  This was a standard granola recipe that uses maple syrup instead of honey.  Very tasty.  Again, some students thought it could stand to be sweeter, and some were not crazy about the nuts and sunflower seeds.  It’s very easy to adjust sweetener and additions to taste in this kind of recipe.

IMG_9496Day 4 – North Country Basting Saucy and Hot&Spicy Kabobs.  This was a winner.  The basting BBQ sauce was tangy, and with the addition of onions, lemon juice and spice made wonderful kebabs.  One student brought in venison, and another brought in shrimp.  Five stars from everyone.

gorp barsAlso on Day 4 – Gorp Bars.  These were a disappointment.  The description indicated a bar that was “moist and chewy” and great for taking on a hike. (Think “good old raisins and peanuts” plus oats.)   Instead, it was a bit dry and crumbled easily.  I won’t be making this again, but will look for a similar granola bar recipe.

img_9508Day 5 – Maple Fudge.  Made with maple syrup, sugar, and cream, it’s trickier than you think!  Working on a sample batch the day before,  I was beating it, and just as it was almost ready, the phone rang.  By the time I asked the caller to call back in 10 minutes, the fudge had set.  It was too hard to press into the pan, but the chunks and crumbs were delicious.  When we tried it again the next day, it seems that we didn’t beat it enough, or else we didn’t get the temperature just right.  It never set properly, so we ended up with a tasty maple caramel.  My portion is waiting in my freezer, as I’m still trying to figure out how to use it.  Perhaps next time it will by “just right.”

IMG_3111Day 6 – Lasagne.  This project was leftover from the previous POD.  We had already made the sauce, so it just needed an assembling of the pasta and cheeses.  However, we added some maple syrup to the sauce so it “counted” as a maple recipe. (Many recipes add sugar to tomato sauce, so why not add maple syrup?)

Day 7 – Maple Vanilla Tapioca.  We didn’t have much time for cooking this day, but tapioca is quick and easy.  Mix 3 Tbsp of instant tapioca crystals with milk, egg and syrup (instead of sugar.)  Let stand 5 minutes.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, add 1 tsp vanilla, and let stand 20 minutes.  Done!  It was well received by those who like puddings, the only critique being too much vanilla.

Day 8 – Maple-Orange Wings.  This was another disappointment – so bland and flavorless.  Looking again at the recipe afterwards, we noticed that it described the flavor as “delicate and subtle”. The wings were soaked in a marinade of orange, buttermilk, cinnamon and maple syrup.   Maybe they would have been better cooked on a grill instead of baked.  (With our old gas oven, we didn’t have the option of broiling.)  We won’t be making them again.

Also on Day 8 – Maple Baked Beans.  This was a winner that saved the day.  Earlier we had shelled the Vermont cranberry beans that had been drying in the barn all winter.  I soaked and cooked the beans, and baked them at home, bringing them in to share.  They had just the right mix of sweet and tangy, and the beans themselves had a firm, smooth texture.  Everyone loved them and filled up on beans instead of wings.

 

IMG_9576Day 9 – Maple Bacon and Buttermilk Pancakes.  We ended the POD with traditional pancakes and syrup and with bacon glazed with syrup.  Yum.  We reviewed at least four different buttermilk pancake recipes before deciding (by majority vote) on the NY Times version.  “Not as good as the Joy of Cooking recipe”, said Tom, “but still a good choice!”

My thoughts on the experience?  If I were doing it again, I would not rely on this one cookbook.  I trusted it too much, and we could have done better.  Instead, I would research the best IMG_9588recipes and reviews from a number of (mainly online) sources, keeping the best of what we have discovered.  I am already trying out more maple recipes at home.  (This week I made Maple-Pecan Sticky Buns – yum.) Also, learning from our experiments, I am now more comfortable substituting maple syrup for white sugar in a variety of recipes (1 for 1 volume, but reduce liquid).

Let the sap run on….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you wanna make syrup?

IMG_9376A small sugaring venture is a lot of time, money, and fun. If you are planning on starting a small operation of 150 taps, equipment could be around $4000, assuming you already have a sugarhouse built. This will make about 35-50 gallons of syrup. If you sell your syrup for $32 per gallon your revenue for one year would be $1300 to $1600. After operational costs you would have to work at least five years to make a profit.

Whats involved with making syrup? It takes most of your time and attention during the 6 week season.  From laying out and checking the lines to actually boiling the sap to make syrup is a lot of work, but is 110% worth it. In the end you want to sell your syrup, by finding people to buy this tasty treat.

If you still want to do sugaring after all the time and effort, this is what you will need to get you started:IMG_9488

  • Evaporator, wood or oil fire; sap goes in syrup comes out!
  • Tubing
  • Tubing washer
  • Gasoline powered tapper
  • Storage tanks
  • Filters
  • Fuel, jars and other small equipment