Food Alchemy Feed

Reaping the Harvest ~ Fried Green Tomatoes!


Reaping the Harvest~ Fried Green Tomatoes!

A bumper crop of tomatoes means a lot of things to me. Pasta Sauce,tomato and goat cheese tarts,tomato sandwiches, BLTs AND FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!

If you've never had a fried green tomato then you're missing out on one of lifes greatest treats. This is seasonal food at it finest... FGT's just don't taste right at any other time of the year. I was making a slow cooked garlic chicken for dinner tonight and the dish was just crying for a crunchy fried tomato dipped into a creamy Parmesan Sriracha sauce!

Out into the garden I went and brought in several fine specimens. I sliced them and dipped them into a trio of deliciousness ..first a buttermilk and Sriracha mixture, next a beaten egg and last but not least cornbread mix blended with chili seasoning .

To fry them I filled my cast iron skillet 1/4 of the way full of Canola oil and turned the heat on underneath it. I waited until it was hot enough ( the tomatoes should begin to fry as soon as they hit the oil!) and fried the tomatoes in several batches, flipping them several times until I got the right shad of golden brown. Take them out of the pan and lay them on paper towels to soak up the excess oil .

You could serve them with horseradish sauce but I mixed up a sauce of buttermilk, mayonnaise , garlic, shredded parmesan, cayenne and Sriracha .

Serve these while hot... I promise that there's nothing like the creamy taste of the tomato bursting through underneath the crunchy cornmeal coating. Be sure to make enough... They disappear quickly! A platter of these and a ice cold IPA is a summertime feast!



Reaping the Harvest ~ Fresh Tomatoes & Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing

Sep 1, 2013


Goddess I love tomatoes! I plant way too many .. at least 5 different varieties and they all grow up into a gigantic tomato jungle! I adore the smell of the crushed fresh leaves and I don't think that anyone will disagree with me when I say that a handful of fresh cherry tomatoes , sun warmed and right off of the vine is a better meal than can be found at any fancy restaurant . I feed them, ( organic chicken manure pellets) water them , sing to them and generally forget about them until late August when I suddenly have a bumper crop and it's time to harvest!


The Witches Kitchen~ Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

The Witches Kitchen~ Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

Yesterday I was out in the garden and I noticed an enormous heirloom tomato, perfectly ripened and begging for some attention. I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so I picked it. Normally I'd just eat it straight off of the vine but this one was literally the size of two fists. So I picked it , brought it into the kitchen , sliced it and put it on a bed of vibrant baby kale . I was out if purple onion or there would have been some of that too!

It was luscious all by itself, but it was begging me for a light dressing. Suddenly, I was seized by the desire for some bleu cheese dressing!

Lately I've been obsessed with buttermilk as an ingredient and I just happened to have some...and I also had some exquisite Rogue Creamery Smokey Bleu cheese! From there it was easy. For one and a half cups of dressing I blended with a fork 1 cup of fresh buttermilk and a half a cup of bleu cheese . ( this would have been just as good with Roquefort !) then I added a couple of teaspoons of chopped pecans, a clove of mashed garlic, literally half a teaspoon of organic ketchup, a dash of cayenne pepper, 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.

The result was light, zesty, healthy ,delicious and so much better than you could ever get from a bottle! Just so you know, if you don't have access to the Smokey Bleu cheese you can use regular bleu cheese and add a couple of drops of organic liquid smoke which will provide the same flavor!


The Witches Kitchen ~ Creamy Leek Tart

What a wonderful evening we had last night! Just as Jim and I were about go out to Whole Foods to enjoy Foodie Friday ( our absolute favorite 8.00 date night ~ 5 wines and five foods!!) my darling neighbor Michelle leaned over the row of blackberries and said" do you and Jim have any plans tonight?"" Let me convince you to come over for dinner!" Then she began to regale me with descriptions of sliced fresh peaches, grass fed filet, fresh sweet corn and the piece de resistance.. A fresh leek and gruyere tart!

So began a delightfully spontaneous evening spent with dear friends and their adorable children, a couple of bottles of perfect wine and that utterly unforgettable tart!

It has only 5 ingredients; gruyere cheese, butter, cream , leeks and a crust.
Just take a store bought pie crust and mold it into a fluted tart pan. Set aside.
Then sauté 3 chopped leeks in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 cup of cream and simmer for a minute and then stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of shredded gruyere cheese. Pour the leek mixture into the tart shell and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Allow to sit for ten minutes, cut into wedges and serve!

You owe it to yourself to make this at least once! A simple side salad and a luscious glass of wine is all that's needed to turn this into a perfect meal!

The Witches Kitchen ~ Creamy Leek Tart

Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup


Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup
Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup

This last weekend was my husband's annual guy-trek to the Indy car races. He goes with the same friends every year and every year his normally good eating habits get tossed to the wayside. Too much red meat, simple carbohydrates, lots and lots of beer and cigars are what he ingests for 4 days straight. Needless to say when he gets home it's time for a bit of a cleanse!

My gardens are wonderful this year because we've had so much rain here in Ohio and my herbs are really lush. It seemed like an herbal soup would be a good tonic to help him process all of that red meat, so into the garden I went. The following is a recipe that you can use all year round with whatever you're growing inside or out. It's really easy to prepare and it can be made in the blender, vitamix or on top of the stove. 

To start with slice a large cleaned leek (greens and all!) and put it into a pot with about 6 cups of organic chicken or faux chicken broth and let it simmer until the leek is soft. Take an immersion blender and blend the leek into the broth. Add three cups of fresh herbs (I used basil, dill, rosemary, parsley, sage, oregano, marjoram, summer savory, lemon thyme, tarragon , bronze fennel and chives!) simmer for a minute or two and blend once more until the herbs are incorporated. Add some salt and pepper to taste and a pint of buttermilk (more if you want it!) . Let the whole thing simmer for a few minutes and then serve it in bowls with fresh buttered croutons and a sprinkling of feta or parmesan cheese. It would also be wonderful without the buttermilk and served with soba noodles. The aroma is amazing...

To wet his appetite I served a salad of fresh golden beets with onions, fin herbes, creamy burrata cheese and peppery arugula. 

Green herbal energy in a bowl! Your body and your taste buds will thank you! 

Kitchen Apothecary ~ Fresh Herb and Buttermilk Soup
Golden beet and Burrata Salad


Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Every year in October , the Western Reserve Herb Society holds its annual Herb Fair, a wonderful day awash in homemade jams and jellies, herb and spice mixes , breads, pressed flowers and so many other beautifully handmade herbal Products, all made by the ladies of WRHS!

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Yesterday was spent with my delightful friends from WRHS making herbal soup wreaths. A soup wreath is a delicate little wreath of soup and stew herbs that can be thrown into the pot and then fished out when they are no longer needed. It was a wonderful morning... There was something about sitting at the table that was covered with fresh herbs just cut from the WRHS garden that sent me spiraling back in time.

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths


I looked around at my friends as we were quietly winding the herbs together and realized that I was taking part in a ritual that has been shared by women for centuries. It was such a magical experience . To make your own wreaths all you will need is some very strong undyed thread or twine and branches and stems of the herbs that you want to use. Rosemary makes the best base and chives are garlic chives are a wonderful wrap. Just wind everything together and wrap tightly with the thread. It will dry and be ready to use in a week or two. Remember that herbal flavors do concentrate so be mindful of the sages and oreganos... They can get very strong! To use, just throw one into  simmering pot of soup or stew. When your meal is cooked, just strain out the wreath and toss!


Kitchen Apothecary~ Herbal Soup Wreaths

Food Alchemy~ Quinoa Dark Chocolate Cake

Food Alchemy~ Quinoa Dark Chocolate Cake

Food Alchemy~ Quinoa Dark Chocolate Cake

To me, Food Alchemy is what happens when you take an ingredient that's usually meant to be used one way and then turn it into something that is by turns utterly extraordinary and totally unexpected. Such was the case with this chocolate cake. The recipe above came from last months Organic Spa magazine and the lovely young woman in the picture above is my sons girlfriend Angie. About three nights ago she asked me if we could try this recipe and I was completely intrigued. Quinoa in a cake... How bad could it be? If it worked I thought, there's one more gluten free cake recipe to add to the arsenal and I'm happy to say that it was absolutely delicious. 

We had a wonderful time making it and really the hardest part was cooling the quinoa down fast enough to make the batter. If you make it beforehand and cool it you won't have that problem! Indulge yourself if you have a copper bowl and whip the cream with a handwhisk. I added some rose extract, a bit of vanilla extract and date sugar to the whipping cream. It turned into a luscious, dense custard, just lightly flavored and perfect with the chocolate!

We sat in front of the oven for the 50 minute baking time just laughing, watching and smelling the luxurious chocolate aromatherapy that was taking over the kitchen. When the baking time was over we dusted the cake with cinnamon and ate it warm with the whipped cream. It was amazingly rich, dense and chocolate~ty. It was surprisingly not chewy and when you look at the list of ingredients, actually quite healthy! Have fun with this one. I'm going to make it again for  my next Herb Society meeting, but I'm going to slice it in half, fill it with bittersweet ganache that I've flavored with raspberry jam and then I'm going to cover it with clouds of whipped cream pineapple basil, candied violets and fruit. Let me know what you invent and my thanks to you Angie for all of the fun and inspiration! I probably would never have tried it if not for you!

Tea Leaves & Tarot Cards: Memories of High Tea & Jo Malones Sugar & Spice Collection



There is just something special about an traditional English tea. Everyone has tried to imitate it , but in my mind it's never been duplicated with the exception of the afternoon tea on Bergdorfs 7th floor which occasionally and with the right companion can come pretty close. Don't get me wrong, there are many lovely tea rooms here in America and I enjoy them all but there's a regality about a proper British tea that I thoroughly enjoy as well as a touch of whimsy which is allowable because tea is so entrenched in their culture that it's just understood and not worried about. British children have their own tea services for goodness sakes and It's a wonderful thing! More importantly and because the Brits are fairly addicted to sugar the sweets found at their High Teas are legendary and the savories are the perfect accompaniments.

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But in my world it was all about the sweets. You haven't lived until you've tasted a real British scone, with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, all buttery and warm I might add. You just haven't and I've never met an American scone that could come close. It's a bit like a southern biscuit…you must use Crisco or forget it. British scones are filled with butter…lots of butter and white flour.  Some things should truly just never be tampered with. Just eat one and then jump back onto the healthy band-wagon. For the majority of us, one won't hurt you and the reward is a rich and relaxing afternoon!

Tea has been a part of my world since I was a very young child. I've talked many times about my own mothers penchant for afternoon tea; raised by a very Patrician mother of her own she continued to believe until the day she died that it was the only civilized meal left to be eaten in the western world.   As a result of this passion when she died I inherited several pretty fabulous tea sets and was left with decades of wonderful memories. My father was a coffee drinker so she didn't really get to enjoy afternoon tea unless she was traveling with me.  My mother and I enjoyed  tea all around England, Scotland and Ireland and those images are engraved in my mind and heart forever. So are the smells and the perfect tea services!  I learned to love coddled eggs because of breakfast teas , egg and radish sandwiches, Scottish salmon croquettes and refreshing fruit soups!

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Because we were in the porcelain business we had appointments to visit every wonderful factory and in those days they always had a beautiful high tea prepared for us when we arrived.  I’ll never forget the high tea at the Royal Worcester / Spode factory , where the whole thing was served on  a set of Duke of Gloucester, with British sterling and Stuart Crystal…I felt like a Princess. I still remember that because because that was the first time that I ever enjoyed a buttered roast beef and watercress tea sandwich which is an absolute thing of beauty. I've even been lucky enough to have gotten the chance to enjoy many a cucumber sandwich and later in life a few martinis with Lord Wedgwood, a most charming gentleman who definitely knows his teas. More recently my nephew Michael is spending a year or two in Oxford in a masters program, and he keeps posting all of these lovely pictures of tea that he’s enjoying on a spring holiday that he’s taking through the English countryside with his darling girlfriend Molly, placing afternoon tea in the forefront of my mind once again. 

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So it came as no surprise to me yesterday when I was walking through Saks Fifth Avenue that my eye was drawn to the uncharacteristically vibrant display at the Jo Malone counter. I walked over and took a look at the display of 5 little bottles with sugar spun pastel labels displayed with a covered glass cake plate filled with sweets named most appropriately  “The Sugar and Spice Collection”.  I rolled my eyes and then the really sweet SA came over to talk to me and convinced me to take a closer look.  I’m not really one for foodie scents, but I’ve got to admit I was almost immediately smitten. I don’t know if it was the perfumes themselves or just the whole presentation, but as I sprayed them I became very happy, in a distinctly childlike way. By the time I was done I was wearing them all and they blended together beautifully like an elegantly set tea table amidst a blowzy English herbaceous border. All that was missing was the perfect hat, cartwheeling children and a couple of large lovely dogs!  I brought them home to my husband to see if  it was just a product of my overly vivid imagination ,  but he loved them and said that I smelled like a perfect country day. Enough said!

Here are the descriptions of each of these pretty perfumes straight from the Jo Malone site.


Ginger Biscuit

“Just-baked biscuit. Spiced with ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, melting into caramel. Butter-crumbly with roasted hazelnuts. Warmed by tonka bean and vanilla. Irresistible”


Lemon Tart

“The mouth-watering tang of lemon tart. Sparkling with citrus fruits and verbena, contrasted with swirls of meringue and lemon thyme. Refreshing.”


Red Currant and Cream

“A summer pudding. Sharp-scarlet juices of red currants, lush strawberries and raspberries, rippling through creamy musk. Vivacious and enticing.”


Elderflower and Gooseberry

“A voluptuous gooseberry fool. Crushed, summer-green gooseberries, juicy with lychee, enfolded into the soft delicacy of elderflower. Tender and feminine.”


Bitter Orange and Chocolate  

“The bite of bitter orange, layered with dark chocolate.  Orange peel counterpoised with warm, powdery cocoa, milky coconut and coumarin.  Sumptuous and addictive.”


They are all wonderful and I’d love to give a whole set not just to a granddaughter but to myself. I adore the Bitter Chocolate on it’s own and find the elderflower and Gooseberry to be something that I’d enjoy wearing all spring long. I must admit that until I smelled this collection the genre  of  sugary fruity gourmand perfumes had escaped me almost entirely, but there’s something about these  playful Jo Malone’s that’s absolutely delightful and makes the possibility of smelling like a warm ginger biscuit seem sophisticated and very romantic. They’re only available through March so you don’t have much more time and priced at 60.00 a bottle they’re easy to succumb to.  Take your inner child to tea (or at least a precocious niece or nephew!) and try them all!


 Photo Credits on each picture ~ this was originally posted on my favorite Perfume blog ~ Perfume Smellin Things

Bubbling in the Cauldron: Three Cheese and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese

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I found out today that Friday April 12th  is National Grilled Cheese Day. For someone like me, that's perfect. Cheese is actually my favorite food. I am told that it's an addiction, but I really don't care. Grilled cheese is one of my all time favorite comfort foods and there are so many different varieties. Generally I don't think that there's anything better than a plain old fashioned grilled cheese with   American cheese and tomato soup. I know, I know....

That being said  my favorite restaurant in NYC Artisanal is having a contest to come up with a fabulous new grilled cheese sandwich to put on their menu and I decided to try to come up with a submission in hopes of winning a fabulous dinner in their private cave.

I took my inspiration from my favorite appetizer in the world, the simple yet sublime Gougere. A Gougere is a simple puff pastry with with flavorings added and baked into warm little balls of cheesy deliciousness. They're cheese puffs, but  to call them that is actually an insult.A perfect Gougere is a sublime little puff of Pate a choux (think cream puffs!) filled with spices and cheese. I make mine with gruyere, jarlsburg and cumin and I love them.

 This grilled cheese began with me caramelizing the onions and ended with sandwiches of fresh pumpernickel bread and three different cheeses; Gruyere, Jarlsburg and to add the cumin flavor , a delicious Leyden which is a medium hard nutty cheese reminiscent of a Gouda  and is studded with cumin. I added apples and mustard seed to the onions because I wanted the touch of sweetness. I have to admit that it was very very good!


You will need for each sandwich:

 2 tablespoons of Caramelized onions.  I caramelized my onions with a few apples, a touch of honey, balsamic vinegar and mustard seed, but plain lightly salted caramelized onions would be just as delicious!

Two slices of a fresh Pumpernickel Boule about 1/2 an inch thick. (I got mine at Whole Foods)

2 or 3 hand sliced thin pieces EACH of Leyden, Jarlsburg and Gruyere.

1 or 2 slices of organic Black Forest ham  ( I didn't use it as we are not eating meat right now but I thought that it could be a great smoky addition)

1 tablespoon of Pasture raised organic butter 


The preparation is simple!

Lay the cheese in alternating layers on the pumpernickel bread and top with the onions. Close the sandwiches and  melt the butter in a  cast iron pan. Lay the sandwiches in the pan and begin to grill them. Take a manual panini press or if not a cast iron pan lid and press the sandwiches. They are done when the cheese is melted and the bread is delightfully buttery and crisp. 

Serve with a side of mushroom soup or an arugula and walnut salad! To drink I'd choose a delightfully refreshing hard apple cider or apple lambic!





Kitchen Apothecary: Maple Syrup and White Cheddar Poutine'



For over 20 years I lived in Burton Ohio, a sleepy little Northeast Ohio town that's known for apple fritters , maple syrup and Sunday Pancake breakfast's all during the month of March. I used to love to wake up every morning and look out over the hill from my front yard to watch the smoke from the little log sugaring cabin on the square rise up through the sky. They went to work early during those midwinter months, and often times I'd stop at the square before taking Alex to school  and we'd  eat breakfast and watch the diversity of the farmers driving in with buckets and vats of sap....a wonderful collective undertaking that makes Burton's Maple Syrup such an amazing and delicious labor of love. I still go back whenever I can. There's a  always been a debate among my circle of friends and family between Canada,, New Hampshire,  Vermont and Burton, Ohio, but when it comes to Maple Syrup I still think that my old town hands down makes the very best....Last year even one of my neighbors got into the act, tapping the trees on our city block and boiling the sap that he got down on his stove. We all got a little bottle of syrup. It was quite extraordinary to walk out my door and see taps on the trees. 


A couple of the sugar maples tapped on my city block!

My neighbor Phil, boiling the sap!


Maple syrup is one of those superfoods that's just so delicious that you can hardly believe that it's good for you. It's very high in calories, but supposedly chock full of antioxidants and anti inflammatories. It's even  been reputed to be safe  to a certain extent for diabetics. I love it because it's one of the original slow foods.. the only alchemy that is needed to turn the sap from the sugar maple into such a luscious product are the magic of heat and time. Maple syrup is one of the 4 ingredients of the traditional Master Cleanse that I and so many others use every spring. Just take a quart of spring water, the juice of one large lemon, several tablespoons of fresh maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of olive oil (I like to use a rosemary or blood orange infused oil) and about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Put it all into a large container, chill and shake, then sip all day long while eating regular light meals. I know many people who fast on this beverage alone for up to a week, but I've never done it. Those who do report a real boost in their energy but my particular constitution needs some food and I get very energized doing this. Be careful not to drink it for to long a period though as the lemon isn't good long term for the enamel of your teeth. 

Maple syrup is also one of the loveliest  flavorings that I know. Because it's so sweet it's fairly easy to overdue it, although there are those (My husband!) who would disagree with me. It's wonderful in a marinade for fish or chicken and I love to create salad dressings with maple syrup, walnut oil, a bit of onion and balsamic vinegar. It mixes beautifully with Jim Beams Red Stag Bourbon and barbecue sauce to make a wonderful grill sauce and for someone like me who grew up with a mother who would take every fresh snowfall as an opportunity to make "Sugar on Snow", it's simply the best of childhood memories.I've attached a page from one of Geauga's best Maple Cookbooks that has all four of the time honored childhood syrup recipes. I hope that they bring you as much joy as they did me when I saw them again!


Fast forward to yesterday when I was in the car with Angie, my sons adorable girlfriend. We were talking about food...actually we talk alot food becauses she's a masterful cook. She was describing a wonderful version of Poutine' that she'd had in Montreal last summer and my mouth started to water. For those of you unfamiliar with Poutine''s a classic street food from Quebec that consists of fried potatoes, brown gravy and white cheddar cheese curds all hot and glopped into an oozy, melty mess. It's delicious and I hadn't had it for years. What she described to me wasn't traditionally Poutine' but it sounded wonderful. Potatoes and white cheddar curds covered with a maple syrup and a sort of veloute type gravy. Enough said. I took it one step further and added some chicken sausage, cinnamon, Fines herbes',  tons of caramelized onion, fresh parsley and made the gravy from buttermilk, at least 3/4s of a cup of maple syrup and a bit of cornstarch. the whole thing was a mess of white cheddar, potatoes and sausage gravy. It was delicious and needless to say , the men in my life are happy. 


In a cast iron pan caramelize the onions in butter and add the chicken sausage and a bit of water. Add the herbes' of your choice. Let simmer until melting and cooked through.

Add buttermilk and cornstarch to thicken. Always mix the cornstarch in cold water then add it so you don't get lumps!



Add parsley and cook until thickened.

Place piping hot potatoes (I used baked waffle fries) into a bowl and top with white cheddar cheese and then with the hot sausage gravy.Stir and let the whole thing melt together...Eat and Enjoy!


Food Alchemy: Maple sap is running in a neighborhood near you!

Because I spent so many years in a town whose primary industries were maple sugar, apple butter and sweet corn when it comes to syrup season I'm a serious sap! Indeed, Burton Ohio and the surrounding territories make a big deal out of sugar season and I used to love to wake up to the smell of the woodfires burning in the sugar cabin on the square and the sweet smells that always hung in the air in the months of February and march when the sap would begin to run. Maple syrup is one of natures most perfect sweeteners and always amazes me with it's simplicity. It's a perfect example of food alchemy, take gallons of maple sap, pour them into a condenser, boil them for quite few hours and suddenly you've got golden ,sweet, perfect dense rich ambery maple syrup. 

Research has discovered what those of us who are addicted to it have known for years. They've finally labeled it a superfood and for good reasons. Maple syrup has some pretty serious anti -inflammatory  and antioxident properties and is high in zinc making it a fabulous slow food tonic for your immune system! For years I've used it as part of my master cleanser  which is a delicious lemonade of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and a bit of olive oil. It's a wonderful pickmeup for a system that's sluggish for eating so much heavy winter food!


They've also discovered that maple syrup could be very useful in the fight to stabilize blood sugar, making it a boon for diabetics. I don't know about you but I'd always take a tablespoon full of maple syrup in my coffee over a teaspoon of splenda anyday! It's the one treat that I can give my horse and pony both who have Cushings disease, because it doesn't cause an infammatory response in their bodies, unlike other commercial horse snacks. One maple sugar leaf is a huge treat for them and I notice that after that they're satisfied unlike when I give them a premade treat. It would seem that empty calories do the same thing in all creatures, by giving us a taste that we crave but no depth to the experience. Give me one perfect chunk of maple cream anyday over a candy bar. It's practically a religious experience for meespecially when it's laced with black walnuts!


When we moved from Windesphere, I knew that I would miss experiencing the annual sap run so I do go back every year. However this year I was to get a surprise! I walked out of my house the other day to find that one of my wonderful neighbors had hung sap buckets on all of the maple trees on the street. Now I live on a little brick street in the middle of a fairly busy city so this was definitely a sight that was out of the ordinary. I stood there with tears running down my face, I seriously did. There was something so touching to me about creating this perfect food wherever you could find it and not relegating it to a certain place . I called him immediately..."Phil, you hung sap buckets!". "Yep" he said...I thought that it would be fun to do with the kids. My street has tons of little kids who were about to learn something very important,that you can farm wherever there's land, that you can take the power into your own hands and control your food sources yourself. I thanked him and he promised me a taste of the syrup if he got enough. 


Three days later I came home to find my husband grinning from ear to ear. "You just missed Phil and the kids" he said, but there's a present in the refrigerator for you. I opened it up to find a little container of Haagen Dazs ice cream and an adorable little mapleleaf shaped bottle of syrup. I was astonished. More tears and then such an intense joy came over me. I ran down to their house to get a picture of my pals Frances and Griffin with their syrup and of course Phil was eager to tell me all about it. "I was up until three am...I really got to know it, how the sap would boil down and I could tell by the way that it looked if I was close. This batch is too thin, but now I know what to do with the next. Next I'm making cheese. Did I tell you that I love this guy? It just doesn't get much better than that! The syrup is amazing, with a taste that is so fresh and wild and infused with an extra ingredient called love.  My first plantings this spring will be sugar maples and maybe some birch trees too. I've got a goal to fill up the whole street with trees so that we can have buckets in front of every house. How amazing would that be?


I use maple syrup for all kinds of things...mixed with bourbon, teriyaki and a bit of olive oil, it becomes a perfect marinade and glaze for fresh fish or chicken. That same marinade with a touch of lemon juice and a wee bit of mustard and fresh garlic makes a perfect salad dressing! Try it baked on a wedge of fresh brie cheese with handfuls of buttery cinnamon toasted walnuts. A bit in my coffee with a touch  cardamom and cream is a perfect winters drink, to say nothing of a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup, bourbon and a bit of lemon juices shaken over ice and poured into a cocktail glass.  A little known fact is that maple sap over ice with a little bit of lemon juice and agave nectar is one of the healthiest things that you can drink, full of vitamins, minerlas, natural sugars and electrolytes, it's the perfect apre' sports drink and of course who could forget the time honored tradition of maple syrup on snow or hot maple stirs, that simple gift of booiled mple syrup in a bowl with a wooden spoon. You simply stir it quickly until it becomes maple cream....I lived for that treat every year as a child and I can tell you that life doesn't get any better,sweeter or richer than that!  


All pictures are mine with the exception of the maple sugar owl which is from the website Pieces of Vermont.