Tag Archives: Vermont

This Year’s Garden At Smokey House

This year’s garden at Smokey House is dope.  At first I wasn’t excited about it, but eventually I started to enjoy gardening.  It’s like tacos – you don’t know why you like ’em, you just like ’em!  Or, it’s kind of more like a cake.  You have eggs, flour, sugar and other stuff.  Each is one thing that doesn’t taste good at all.  Then you put them together and it’s enjoyable. Some of the ingredients for a garden are tilling, weeding, digging, compost, fertilizer, starting seeds inside, transplanting them outside.  It’s very satisfying when the seeds sprout up from the ground.  It’s gonna be my new hobby!

 

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Pumpkin Bread

IMG_7211We have so much pumpkin puree in the freezer.  It was from the Smokey House garden last year.  Kids grew it, then baked it until it was soft, and then scraped the insides out.

We had to thaw the puree before we could do anything with it.  Juanita mixed the dry ingredients and I mixed the wet ingredients.  Then we added the dry ingredients to the wet and mixed them until it was like batter.  We added the chocolate chips in the end,  then baked for an hour.

We made two loaves and ate them!  I usually don’t like the taste of pumpkin, like in coffee and pumpkin spice-flavored things.  This was really good because it wasn’t fake.

MY BEAN EXPERIMENT AT SMOKEY HOUSE!

Introduction

For the past few weeks at Smokey House we’ve been doing a bean experiment to determine if different music can change the growth of a plant. I used two very different genres of music, country and rap, and one bean with no music. I chose music because it was the easiest topic and plants do not hear things. People say that music can effect plants, but plants cannot hear. My hypothesis was that the music would not affect the growth of the plants.

Methods

I planted five beans, labeled two country, two rap, and one control. Two listened to rap music, two listened to country, and one listened to nothing. They each listened to music an hour every Friday in different closets, with the lights off, and the music playing at the same volume on each device. I measured the height of the stalk length every other school day. I gave them each a third a cup of water every time we watered them.

Results

Country #1 grew better than the rest of them. It grew 16cm by the end of the experiment, rap #2 and country #2 didn’t grow at all, rap #1 grew 1cm, and the control grew 2cm.

Conclusion/Discussion

I believe plant country #1 grew a lot more than the other plants because it was listening to country music. Because the country music is softer and not as verbally abusive towards plants. I was completely off on my hypothesis because the country music did change the growth of the plant, and the rap music changed the growth in a bad way and made it so it did not grow as much.

Next time, I would switch the rap to rock and see if it is the genre of music that affects the plants rather than. Water is another thing that may have affected the plant growth, and the density of the soil. We should have made the amount of water and how it gets water a controlled variable. The end.

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

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  • 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

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