Wednesday, March 21, 2007

To the Sugar Camp.

Today, March 21st …

Thoreau headed off to his red maple sugar camp at 10 am on this day in 1856, and these are his comments on the day:

“Found that, after a pint and a half had run from a single tube after 3 P. M. yesterday, it had frozen about half an inch thick, and this morning a quarter of a pint more had run. Between 10.30 and 11.30 A. M. this forenoon, I caught two and three quarters pints more, from six tubes, at the same tree, though it is completely overcast and threatening rain. Four and one half pints in all. This sap is an agreeable drink, like iced water (by chance), with a pleasant but slight sweetish taste. I boiled it down in the afternoon, and it made an ounce and a half of sugar, without any molasses, which appears to be the average amount yielded by the sugar maple in similar situations, viz. south edge of a wood, a tree partly decayed, two feet [in] diameter.

… got back before twelve with two and three quarters pints of sap, in addition to the one and three quarters I found collected.”

Maple Syrup is a magical thing – at least to this little blogger, born in the very temperate North of England and transplanted (not convict-transported) to the sub-tropics of Queensland, Australia. On my one short trip to Canada a few years ago I became instantly and seriously addicted to the Real Thing - which is obtainable here, but in small, relatively expensive bottles totally unsuited to an addiction situation. It may be rosy holiday memory too, but it tasted better 'over there.'

We paid homage to this lovely tree juice on Canada Day, and featured a number of recipes using maple syrup and maple sugar. I am delighted to have an excuse to pay homage to it again today.
Maple Sugar Frosting
Add one cup of sweet cream to two cups of rolled maple sugar; boil slowly until it will thread from a spoon, about three-quarters of an hour. Then let it get about half cool, stir in half a cup of chopped English walnut meats, beat until it becomes creamy, then spread it over the cake.
[The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book; c1909.]

Maple Sugar Cookies
One cup of sugar, one cup of crushed maple sugar, one cup of butter, two well beaten eggs, two tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of baking powder, and flour enough to roll out. Do not make too stiff. Bake in a quick oven.
[The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book; c1909.]

Maple Sugar Sauce.
Take half maple sugar and half light brown sugar, boil them together with a little water, clarify the syrup with an egg, strain it and melt a small piece of butter in it. All maple sugar, or all common sugar can be used. It is very good on puddings.
[Jennie June's American Cookery Book. 1870]

The cookbooks quoted from can be found at the Feeding America Historic Cookbook Project.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Teddy in the Wilderness.

This Day Last Year …

British Wartime ‘Restaurants’ were the topic of the day, in all their Beige Glory.

Quotation for the Day …

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong. George Carlin


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your food history writings~~

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks jeanne bee - I enjoy both the writing of them and the reading of comments.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Sweet -- one of my favorite desserts was a layer cake with maple frosting! Delicious!

Anonymous said...

Here in Holland, maple syrup is also quite dear. I can either obtain a small glass jug from the expensive import shop (which also sells very stinky cheeses) or, oddly enough, a plastic jug from the health food store, where it forms the main component of a 'diet drink' - maple syrup, chilis and water. Yuck! I prefer it on pancakes myself, but in Holland, they put powdered sugar on their pancakes, or kids use a sort of molasses made of apples.

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

I will be making maple sugar cookies this weekend. Will let you know how they came out!

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

I made them! They are perfect. Here is my version of the recipe and pictures:
maple sugar cookies

Thanks to The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book; c1909., and thanks to you, old foodie!