Maple Syrup

Spring 2005
by Roberta Bailey

One of the best things about life is being able to step back and laugh at one’s self. Lately I’ve been chuckling over my decision to try to eat more locally grown food. I recently read Gary Paul Nabhan’s Coming Home to Eat, The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods, in which he chronicles a year of eating food raised or foraged within 250 miles of his Arizona home. Certainly not a laughing matter; I encourage everyone to aspire to such goals. I found myself chuckling as I went to the root cellar full of potatoes, carrots, beets, leeks, celeriac, apples, cabbage, or into my pantry full of hundreds of jars of canned and dried food, as well as dried beans, onions, squash and garlic, or when I rummaged around in my jumbled freezer full of greens, soybeans, berries and home grown poultry. You get the point. How much more local does it get?

So, I’ve got the surface layer covered, but my goal is delve deeper. Open the cupboard. Where do those water chestnuts come from? Or the flour? Why not buy more local flour? Why not use more honey or maple syrup than organic dried cane juice from I know not where? I’m not advocating fanatical purism, but a deeper mindfulness while walking the aisles of the grocery store; a simple shift in the menu here, a substitution in a recipe there. In a consumer economy, we truly vote with our wallets. In fact, this may be the one place we still have real impact. (And we get a paper trail of our decisions!)

Spring is here. The sap is flowing. I am celebrating maple syrup. It is so delicious. And local.

Experiment with using maple syrup in recipes instead of sugar. For each cup of sugar, substitute 3/4 cup syrup, and reduce the liquids in the recipe by 3 Tablespoons for each cup of syrup used.

Broiled Salmon with Maple Syrup and White Wine*

2 T. maple syrup
2 T. white wine
1-1/2 t. grated, peeled fresh ginger
1-1/2 t. Dijon mustard
1/8 t. ground black pepper
1/8 t. salt
2 6-ounce salmon fillets about 1 inch thick
cooking spray [or olive oil]

Preheat broiler. Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Place salmon on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray [or olive oil.] Brush salmon with half the maple syrup mixture. Broil until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 10 to 20 minutes. Baste frequently with the remaining mixture while broiling.

* Recipe courtesy of Maine Gold in Rockport, Maine (, with permission.

Maple Custard

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Blend together:
2-1/2 c. milk (can use part cream or all soymilk)
1/2 c. maple syrup
4 eggs
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. nutmeg (optional)
1/8 t. salt
(Fruit Custard add 1-1/2 to 2 c. diced fruit or berries.)

Beat all ingredients together, saving a pinch of nutmeg. Pour into a greased baking or casserole dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Place dish in a pan of hot water and bake until firm – 40 to 60 minutes depending on the depth of dish.

Carrot Almond Cake

1-1/2 c. steamed, pureed carrots
6 eggs, separated
11/2 c. maple syrup
3 T. ground almonds or 3 T. flour
1 t. orange zest
1 t. salt
2 t. cardamom
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan. Combine the carrot puree with the egg yolks, then the maple syrup. Mix in the almonds, zest, salt and cardamom. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff, then fold them gently into the carrot mixture. Spread in greased pan. Bake until springy, about 40 minutes. Cool. Frost if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature or warmer
3/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Berry Syrup

1 to 2 c. berries
2 c. maple syrup

In a saucepan simmer berries in syrup. Serve as is or cool and blend until smooth. Makes about 31/2 cups.

Sweet & Tart Mustard Dressing
For salads or chilled cooked vegetables.

7 T. olive oil
2 T. Dijon mustard
5 T. red wine or Balsamic vinegar
1 T. maple syrup
1/4 t. dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk everything together. Serve or chill.

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