Foodie Sunday- “Maple Madness” , Pancake Breakfasts and a very delicious giveaway!
In Northeast Ohio where I live, there is a beautiful little town called Burton. When I was a child, my sister and I used to drive there on beautiful fall days to see the maple leaves turn and in the early spring we’d go to the maple sugar cabin to by fresh syrup and pieces of yummy maple cream and sugary maple leaves that were so sticky and delightful that your teeth would ache from the eating of them. Then we’d take our syrup home to our mother who would heat it up and give it to us in little bowls so that we could take our spoons, stir it really fast and make our own maple cream that we then eat as fast as we could. To me, the flavor of fresh maple rivals any other taste that I know. My horses adore it too..they’re always bugging me for a piece of the naturally delicious sugar!
Burton , Ohio is also the home of The Great Geauga County Fair which is Ohio’s oldest county fair and in my opinion the very best. If I were to have to choose my last meal on this earth it would be the dinner that I eat on the first and last nights of the fair. Twice a season and with unabashed passion I’ll enjoy a meal of piping hot cornbread covered meltingly gooey swiss cheese on a stick with mustard, an ear of fire roasted fresh sweet corn dripping with melted butter, cinnamon and maple dusted sweet potato fries, fresh Birch beer and several pieces of maple sugar candy. You can’t even imagine how delicious this is and mingled with the smell of woodsmoke and draft horses, it just doesn’t get any better than this for a girl like me.
So I am sure that it won’t come as any surprise to you that the first home that Jim and I ever bought together was a small gentleman’s farm which we named Windesphere that was situated right around the corner from the Burton Fairgrounds and the old log cabin where they make all of the maple syrup for that part of Geauga County. Burton is a historical old town with a fabulous Century Village, a living bit of pre civil war Americana with war reenactments, seasonal festivals and one of the best antique fairs that I’ve ever had the pleasure of strolling through!
As you can probably imagine, not much happens in Burton except for the comings and goings of daily farm life. There’s not a Starbucks in sight, instead we have a wonderful little place called Coffee Corners, where you can get a really great latte, play a great game of chess or backgammon and just watch the locals go by which can really be fun. It is a community heavily populated by the Amish, so it’s not unusual to see horse drawn buggies interspersed with the cars and hay wagons
pulled by Hafflinger ponies sharing space with a few Harley's at the local diners. We make hay in the summer, apple and pumpkin butter in the fall and maple syrup in the spring. It was an absolutely magical place to raise a child.
Sometime in late February we'd begin to see the tin sap buckets beginning to be hung from the sugar maple trees and that was always my cue that spring was just around the corner. That and the wonderful smell of the woodsmoke that would fill the air every morning along with the fragrance of wet earth and running sap. Suddenly, my sleepy little town would spring back into life and we'd begin to see all of the maple farmers unloading their trucks at the little cabin on the square, where they'd bring their fresh maple sap to be poured into the huge wood fired evaporators. It takes hundreds of gallons of fresh sap to make a few gallons of maple syrup so the process is fairly labor intensive and goes on for about a month.
Every couple of days during the month of March, Alex and I would go to the sugar cabin to sit in the rocking chairs by a warm fire that's always lit in the beautiful fieldstone hearth and eat leaves of fresh maple sugar candy and maple cream with black walnuts. Sundays in March were always reserved for the delicious pancake breakfasts that we'd go to with our next door neighbors, sometimes at the High School, sometimes at the Historic Century Village Church and the Fire Station. Known as Pancake Town USA, Burtonites tend to take their pancakes very seriously, generally making them out of all of the right ingredients and slathering them with gallons of fresh syrup and heaping tablespoons of freshly salted butter. The smell when you walk into any of the places where they are being served is incredible; imagine the aroma of hundreds of sweet freshly cooked flapjacks , sausage, bacon and maple syrup with a hit of percolated coffee. By the time you manage to get through the huge lines you're practically starving which is wonderful because they bring you refills of absolutely everything. Then when you've eaten your fill, you buy some fresh syrup, some maple candy and home you go to slip into the ultimate food coma!
I tend to buy quite a lot of it because maple syrup is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with and also to use for a spring detox. A combination of maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, spring water and a bit of cayenne pepper is mother natures most delicious gift to a sluggish body that’s just waking up from a long dark winter and can be drunk warm or cold several times a day. Those same ingredients sans the water can also be mixed with a bit of bourbon, salt, pepper and onion to make a fabulous marinade and glaze for fresh salmon, pork or chicken. My favorite recipe for baked beans requires at least 2 cups of syrup in place of the more commonly used molasses.
How about an ounce or two of rye or bourbon shaken with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup, some fresh apple cider and poured over ice or simply take the best vanilla ice cream that you can find and serve it with warmed syrup and fresh black walnuts! So tell me….what do you do with maple syrup? Send me your recipes please!
In honor of springtime , this years sap run and also because I love all of you so very much, I’m giving away a gift of a quart of this years finest syrup, a big box of wonderful maple sugar candy and some Geauga County pancake mix from the Burton Chamber of Commerce! Just let me know in your comments if you’d like to be entered in the drawing!
Photo of Burton Log Cabin courtesy of northernohiotourism.com