It's only one weekend a year, usually cold, snow covered and slushy. Today was cold, but not one flake of snow. Just the buttery, smokey smell of the syrup boiling in the sugar house. (Hard to see but the steam is bellowing of out the stack. All of the forest surrounding this place smelled like syrup.)
When my children were very young, I started buying pure maple syrup from a health food store in Illinois. Apparently, there was an older gentleman who made maple syrup and would drive down from Wisconsin to sell to a number of stores in the area. After buying a quart once, and we consumed it faster than it took me to buy it, every year after that I bought a gallon. A whole gallon would stretch out for nearly half a year. When I saw prices increase from one gallon to the next, I began buying two at one time. Fresh, just made maple syrup from Wisconsin.
Now, unless you think that we just sat around sipping syrup, there were a few basic ways that I used it. One was obviously for breakfast with pancakes, crepes, waffles or french toast. At Thanksgiving, I almost always substituted the corn syrup for maple syrup in the pecan pie recipes. Delicious improvement. I would also use it if I made sweet potatoes (rarely) or homemade granola (even rarer).
For the most part, it was a breakfast delicacy. However, with the purity of maple syrup, not just any pancakes would do. After experimenting with a variety of mixes (once I was over the idea that I had to always make it from scratch) I discovered that Aunt Jemima had a whole wheat mix that resembled the scratch version I usually made. Voila. No more measuring all those ingredients. No guilt, it was healthy.
Now, my version of those same pancakes contains an added two scoops of protein mix, a scoop of flax meal, and sometimes a couple spoons of yogurt. Really good, and you can immediately feel the energy that last for most of the day.
So, this year, I added to my supply of maple syrup that's on the shelf (no, the shelves in the picture are at the sugar house...not my house). Consumption rate is much slower, but we savor each and every serving. It's not uncommon that I end up giving these as gifts, it really is a little part of New England that's fun to share and a part of my philosophy for providing good wholesome food for the family. So, here's to another year of looking for more creative recipes for this nectar of the gods!