Archive for the ‘maple syrup’ Tag

03-05-2016 Journal–Spring, Here or Not?   Leave a comment

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Here we are, it’s the first week of March and everyone in Maine is in a tizzy about an early Spring.  I’ve been fooled too many times by that little rodent from Punxatawney, PA.  Living in Maine has given me a new respect for good old Mother Nature.   She can make a fool of us very easily it seems.  So I thought I’d come up with a few telltale signals to help me make my own decision. How to tell if an early Spring will be coming to Maine. Here they are.

  • The morning doves arrived this week, a few months ahead of schedule. Maybe they know something I don’t but then again they’re just stupid birds.
  • The daffodils are an inch high and going strong even though the night temperatures have remained in the mid-twenties.
  • I actually observed a number of groundhog loving idiots wearing shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops in the last few weeks. Morons!
  • I’ve also spotted large numbers of maple syrup collection pots going onto maple trees all over the area.

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‘Old-school equipment.’

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‘New high-tech equipment.’

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‘End Result’

  • The ice fishing huts are off the lakes and sitting on shore. The ice is either gone completely or too soft to walk on.

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  • Snowmobiles throughout the area have been parked in driveways with “For Sale” signs attached.  Always a telling sign.
  • The squirrels are out in large numbers already as reflected by the increased number of road kills I’ve been observing.
  • While road kill numbers for squirrels are up so are the number of bicyclists on the roads. Riding through piles of dirty snow must give them some kind of a perverse thrill.
  • Of course the crazy and obsessive joggers and power walkers seem to be everywhere all of a sudden. It’s a real chore trying to drive on the roads filled with joggers, walkers, bicycles, squirrels, and the slowly melting piles of dirty snow.
  • And finally now that the parka’s, gloves, scarfs, and sweaters are coming off I can once again begin my girl watching campaign for 2016.  For most of the winter it’s hard to tell who are the men and who are the women.

I suppose I should mention that when I woke up this morning I walked over to the window to check things out. To my chagrin we had just enough of a snowfall during the night to whiten everything.  This is Spring? I think not.

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Lesson #1 – Ignore weather forecasts made by groundhogs who don’t live in the state of Maine.

C’MON SPRING

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04-01-2015 Journal– A Mish-Mosh of Stuff!   Leave a comment

I suppose I could try and pull some lame April Fool’s joke but I won’t. I already got suckered once today on Facebook. Some moron sent an post that Tom Brady had announced his retirement from the Patriots. A-hole me immediately clicked to the site to read the news and got the big flashing screen with APRIL FOOL on it.  It still never feels good making an ass of yourself but you’d think by now I’d be considered a certified expert.

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“Sap collections continue.’

We had a new baby arrive this week and on top of all that excitement I received a formal letter from my dentist to announce his retirement. Every thing seems to balance out no matter how stupid it is.  Life just continues rolling along and dragging us along as well.

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‘Even the court houses allow their trees to be tapped by the locals.’

The flu and virus epidemics running rampant through the family continues apace.  All of the youngsters are over the worst of it but we adults are getting hammered hard.  We’re all hoping to be on the mend for Easter but who really knows.  Maybe grandson #1 will bring us another dose of something from that disease factory they call Day-Care.  I know it’s necessary for the kids to build a strong and healthy immune system by catching all of these viruses but c’mon.  My immune system has never been required to respond to so many different things in  my life.  If I survive all this nonsense I should have an immune system strong enough to make me bulletproof.

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‘My favorite farm stop for spices, jellies, and home grown fruit.’

The sun is shining during the day but our nights remain below twenty degrees and I’m soooooooo tired of freezing my ass off.  I need some warm temps, open windows, and fresh air.  I took the grill out of mothballs yesterday and cooked our first burgers and sausages for 2015.  They tasted great and were cooked perfectly. I was a little worried that the tassel hat, parka, and gloves might make cooking a bit difficult.  What harm can a splash of hot grease do to my new gloves?

With the better-half working an evening shift I think I’ll be chilling a bottle of my pomegranate wine.  Then over to Amazon Prime for a movie or two and some total relaxation.

03-17-2015 Journal–Spring is Now Officially Here!   Leave a comment

More light snow through the night last night but we’re expecting warmer temperatures today.  As we drove through the surrounding towns this morning it became fairly obvious that Spring has officially sprung.  It seems as if every maple tree in Maine is in the process of being tapped for their sap.  It’s one of the best indicators that Winter is on it’s way out finally.  These first two photos are examples of the old time way of tapping.

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‘Old School – Low Tech’

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Many of the local farming families have been doing this since just after the Pilgrims landed and like doing it the tried and true way of their predecessors.  Others have succumbed to the more modern ways and now use multiple plastic tubes from multiple trees that flow into a central container.  Take a look.

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‘New School – High Tech’

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The results are the same but there’s something really comforting about seeing it done the old way.  You can almost picture the pilgrims and their ancestors tapping trees in these same areas in the mid 1600’s.  History is just too cool.

As we made our way home I snapped this final picture of what looks to be a very lonely horse.  He’s just hanging around and watching the world go by. I think he’ll be just as happy as the rest of us to see Spring arrive.

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02-27-2015 Journal–Home Brewing Challenges!   Leave a comment

Today will be a short lesson on making wine.  As I’ve mentioned in past postings I’ve been attempting to make a batch of Honey/Maple Mead.  A few weeks ago I began the process and things were going quite well.  After the initial fermentation the color of the mead was a beautiful golden color and was clearing nicely as the yeast completed it’s alcohol production.   Maintaining a temperature of seventy degrees was the only challenge at first but things appeared to be going well.

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I siphoned the wine a second time two weeks ago and was feeling pretty good about things but I should know by now never to get overconfident.  After completing the siphoning and out of curiosity I decided to take a quick taste.  I was hoping for a smooth and mildly sweet mead.  Wrong, wrong, and wrong. It was extremely dry and tart with almost no aroma of either honey or maple. I’m afraid that the champagne yeast was a wrong choice for this type of wine. Champagne yeast is more resistant to alcohol giving the batch a tartness I wasn’t looking for. Normal yeast would’ve given me a much milder version that was a little sweeter and closer to my goal.

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What I’m really  trying to say is this batch is awful and I was sorely tempted to throw the entire experiment out. I then decided to attempt the impossible and fix the problem.  I needed to add just enough sugar to sweeten the mead to bring back the flavor that is being hidden by the harshness of the alcohol. After experimenting with different sugars I decided to stay with the theme of the mead and to sweeten it with Maple syrup.  I added one cup of diluted maple syrup to each gallon of mead which I hoped would give the mead a much sweeter flavor and a deeper color.  The maple flavor was wonderful and the aroma was amazing.

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I placed the jugs back into a warm room to determine if the yeast would reactivate.  So far it seems to be lightly fermenting which was expected.  I’ll let it sit for a few weeks to allow the yeast to die and for it to clear once again. Then a final taste test and I hope a successful bottling.

I’ll have my fingers crossed the entire time hoping against hope the problem has been resolved. I’ll let you know.

02-09-2015 Journal–Honey & Maple Mead!   1 comment

The cat and I are still in bed as I write this. My better-half is out in the snow storm on her way to work and I’m waiting by the telephone in case of any emergencies. The snow is relatively light but has been coming down steadily since last night and it’s anticipated to continue for the next twenty-four hours. The roads quite simply are a bitch.

To say I’m a little sick of the snow is a major understatement. I’ve decided that going out to clear the driveway will just have to wait until much later in the day. I’m thoroughly enjoying my coffee and cookies and I intend to stay warm and toasty for as long as possible.

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Having this cold weather keeps the house temperatures in the med to low sixties. That temperature issue gave me fits earlier in the week when I decided to make a new experimental batch of home made wine.  I’ve made Mead in years past which is basically nothing more than wine made from honey.  In keeping with my goals for 2015 I wanted to make something new and different.  After a lot of research I created a recipe that would make a Honey & Maple Syrup Mead. I had to make a few educated guesses with the ingredients but I pushed fearlessly forward.

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The basic ingredients consist of distilled water, Orange Blossom honey, Clover honey, and an all natural maple syrup made with the sap from local trees. My difficulty was going to be able to keep the primary fermenter warm enough to properly activate the yeast.  Our house is usually sixty three degrees but I need temps between 68-74 for the best results.

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I was forced to use a small heater that I purchased many years ago that was once a tropical fish tank heater. It’ been sitting in a box in the garage for a couple of decades. It’s a long glass tube that you insert into the fermenter and it’s thermostat maintains the level of heat you select.  After all these years the little devil worked perfectly.  I then added just a pinch of roasted fennel seeds and rosemary for a faint hint of licorice and pine which I hope will give the wine a little character. 

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Once the wine was siphoned from the fermenter into the glass jugs I moved them all upstairs to store them in the warmest area of the house.  The heat must be sufficiently high because they’re bubbling away as they should be. In a few months I’ll have something new and interesting to sample and it’ll  either be 25 bottles of tasty wine or something God awful.  We’ll just have to wait and see. Making wine teaches a person patience if nothing else.

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I’d like to keep writing but I’m wanting more coffee to help me find the motivation I need to get out of this warm bed and to go play in the snow.