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March Maple Madness!
From the Cook & Tell Newsletter, February 1989
The sap is running in New England! Late February and into April, sugar house wood fires will reduce kettles of the pale liquid to light, medium and dark amber syrup. It’s a sweetener that simply cannot be imitated. Accept no substitutes. Pay the price and get the real thing.
Maine Maple Sunday®, always the fourth Sunday in March, is a long-standing tradition where Maine’s maple producers open their doors to their sweet operations for a day of educational demonstrations, Sugarbush tours, fun family activities and samplings of syrup and other great maple products. View a listing of 100 licensed sugarhouses who represent some of the many celebrations, and demonstrations happening statewide in honor of the state’s official sweetener.
There’s a legend about a Native American who, in late winter, hurled his tomahawk at a maple tree. When it struck the tree, it caused a wound, and sap began to run. It was collected in a bowl that was placed by the tree. The man’s wife, thinking it was water, used it to cook venison. After roasting, both the meat and the liquid had a delicious, sweet flavor. Thus was discovered maple syrup. Pancakes and waffles came later.
MAPLE BACON OVEN PANCAKE
The thin batter barely covers bottom of baking dish—it’s a pancake, people!—but it rises.
Makes 6 servings of 2 squares each
1 1/2 c. Bisquick
1 T. sugar
¾ c. milk
¼ c. maple syrup
1 ½ c. shredded Cheddar cheese
12 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Beat Bisquick, sugar, eggs, milk, syrup and ½ c. cheese with hand beater or electric mixer until smooth. Pour into greased and floured 13 x 9” baking pan. Bake uncovered at 425 for 10-15 min. or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle pancake with bacon and remaining cheese. Return to oven for 3-5 min until cheese is melted.
Cut into 12-15 squares and serve with or without maple syrup.
The husband turned up his nose at this dish until he took the first bite. I figured I had a hit on my hands when he asked for seconds. Just goes to show our mothers were right: you never know until you try.
As for maple syrup, I’m partial to Northwoods Nectar from Eagle Lake, a tiny Maine town as Northwoods as it gets. Owned and operated by Holly Hardwick and her husband Steve, friends I’ve known since high school, this sugarhouse is well worth the drive to The County. Not only will you find delectable maple syrup, maple drops and, yes, even maple cotton candy—all made exclusively from the 4,450 taps on their 80-acre maple farm, but you’ll also see Holly’s gorgeous illustrations and crafts displayed in the studio. Maple Sunday aside, Northwoods Nectar is always available online.
The Madness continues! Here’s an Extra Helping of Maple Baked Apples and a Maple Corn Dish that bears investigating.