Friday, February 19, 2010

Maple Syrup, Hoes, & Muddy Puppies

Today, friends, was a great day. Great, because it involved lots of hoes hose. The hoes hose was needed to collect sap from Sugar Maple trees on Xtina's parents' property! That's right kids, it's maple syrup time!

None of us have done it ourselves before! It was an exciting experience, especially since we learned how to do it from the intarwebs!! We currently have two trees tapped, and they're dripping profusely. We want more.

Our method was the cheapest tapping method I could find. Beginner's kits ranged in price online from $15 and up depending on what came with it. The taps (actually called 'spiles') are $5 each at the local nature center, and you'd still need hooks for hanging the buckets, and the buckets themselves. It's probably not too expensive overall, but I got two trees tapped for just $6 and some stuff around the house.

  • 25 ft of 3/8" polyethylene hoes hose for connecting to the tree and channeling sap - $6
  • Two large igloo coolers (the giant plastic food cooler things) to hold the sap. Or other large vessel of your choice
  • Drill (baby drill!) with appropriately sized bit (3/8")
  • Duct tape to secure hose
  • Scissors to cut hoes hose
And that's it! Really! You need to locate an appropriately sized (at least 10" in diameter) sugar or black maple tree (learn to identify it however you can). Then, take your drill, locate the biggest roots on the tree and drill a hole ~ 2 feet above ground level about 1.5-2" deep. Wiggling the drill bit around to widen the opening of the hole helped get the hoes hose in, and by only widening the opening, the hole pinches around the hoes hose to help seal. Then, it's simply a matter of securing the hoes hose in a way that lets them drip into the container without popping out. That's it! It will start dripping soon!

Apparently, the best sap flows happen on a warm day following a cold night, common this time of year. We'll be posting updates regularly. The next step is collecting and processing the sap, which will involve repeated freezings outside and removal of the solid ice (for those needed a chemistry refresher, the solid ice should be entirely/mostly water, and removing it will concentrate the sugar in the remaining sap, without the energy cost of cooking!). After that, cooking will happen, but I still have to find another container to hold the semi-concentrated sap after emptying the igloo.

Cy was eager to get started on the maple syruping from the get-go, but the ladies had more important things to attend to first...Puppy. Chow. Muddy. Buddies. Snack food of the gods - maybe someday we'll blog about something healthy. Maybe.

Pancake JUST decided that this dish is henceforth called Muddy Puppies. Let it be known. So it is done.

You might be familiar with this delicious and addictive delight. If you've ever checked out the back of a Chex box, you've seen the recipe.  We decided to jazz it up, and, OOPS!  It's VEGAN! 

4 cups rice Chex
5 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1 cup of peanuts (oven roasted)
3/4 cup almonds (oven roasted)
3/4 chocolate chips
3/4 peanut butter
1/3 cup Earth Balance
Powdered sugar to coat (as you desire)

Mix Chex and Cinnamon Toast Crunch in very large bowl.  Very, very large.  Add roasted nuts, and stir.  In a separate, microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate, peanut butter, and Earth Balance.  Microwave for 1 minute, and then stir until well combined.  Dip some Cinnamon Toast Crunches like nachos.  Eat.  Replace eaten Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Drizzle in 1/3 of the chocolate mixture to large bowl.  Stir.  Keep adding and stirring a little at a time until everything is coated.  Repeat with powdered sugar.  Eat.  Ruin your appetite.  Divine.  *We wanted to add pretzels to this, but we didn't have any.  You should try this at home.  Post your own variations--we'd love to read them!*

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