Friday, March 20, 2009

Sugar Shack

Spring is quickly approaching in Canada. The amount of snow this year is much more tolerable than last year. Here's a video of my balcony last year.

This year, there isn't a drop of snow left on it (knock on wood).

Thankfully, there was some snow left on the ground, a couple of weekends ago, when we went skiing. The lake is melting...

And the snow is getting a crunchy from melts during the day and freezes at night.

But, the weekend was beautiful as always.

Another sign that Spring is on its way is the beginning of maple syrup season. Syrup producers are making up for lost time. Last year, with the insane amount of snow we got, syrup production was really slow. But this year, conditions are much better with overnight freezes but mild temperatures during the day.

We decided to go to a small sugar shack operation.

Often, sugar shacks include a full artery-plugging selection. Like this one I went to last year. This time, it was just a pancake breakfast.

I was fine with that. But, I must admit to being somewhat underwhelmed by the flat-looking pancakes. The pancakes at Giz's sugarshack looked more natural and fluffy.

But the syrup was delightful. Unfortunately, with reduced syrup production in previous years, the price of syrup is up about 40%. It'll take a couple more years to replenish the stock. Who knows if prices will every return to their lower amount. I paid $6 for 500 ml a couple of years ago. Now, it's about $6 for 250 ml (depending on the type of bottle you're buying, glass vs plastic jug).

For as far as the eye can see, there are maple trees with metal syrup-collecting buckets attached. This syrup is then reduced, for a much higher concentration of sugar.

It's always a nice touch at the end of meal, when you get your hardened syrup on a stick. Here's a volunteer from the sugarshack rolling it.

Extreme close-up!

Continuing with the maple syrup theme, I decided to make a recipe I saw on Cathy from Noble Pig's site and, subsequently, on Kevin from Closet Kitchen's site.

Maple and Mustard Glazed Chicken
(makes 2 servings)

2 chicken breasts (pounded flat)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
3. Dip the chicken into the egg.
4. Dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs.
5. Heat the oil in a pan
6. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
7. Mix the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, whole grained mustard, brown sugar and thyme in a bowl.
8. Place the chicken in a baking pan and brush the maple mustard mixture onto it heavily.
9. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 10 minutes.

The chicken was delicious. If you ask me, the marinade would suffice for 3-4 chicken breasts.

Check out Kevin's post all about recipes that include maple syrup. Also, don't forget to visit Giz's earlier post on her experience at a sugar shack.



Deeba PAB said...

Thanks for that wonderful & sweet post. I enjoyed taking a maple syrup tour & love the pictures, snow & all.Hope the prices do come down...that chicken does look so good! YUM!!

Ivy said...

Thanks for the tour. I liked the picture with the buckets on all the trees.

Cakelaw said...

What gorgeous photographs! Coming from a warm country, I am fascinated by snow. This chicken dis looks and sounds delicious!

Bunny said...

I love those pictures! I made a maple pork chop the other night and the family loved it so I'm trying the chicken too! Thanks for the recipe!

grace said...

i'm glad i'm not the only one who thought that those pancakes looked pretty puny. :)

Katie Zeller said...

That looks wonderful! I can even get maple syrup here, now. We tried to make it once... Lot's of work!

Melissa said...

Love the picture of the owl! And the closeup of your tongue hehe. It's sad how costly it's become, but it's oh so worth it.

Dewi said...

OMG, Maple and Mustard chicken sounds so sweet and delicious.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I love maple syrup too. Never been to any sugar shack yet. Thanks for the virtual tour!

Hopie said...

That owl is beautiful! I see what you mean about the flat pancakes but I'm glad the syrup was good. That's important!

Anonymous said...

Is there anything more Canadian than visiting the sugar bush? I love incorporating maple syrup into many of our favorite foods to give it that sweet, lush and fragrant taste. But with mustard? A FABULOUS pair. Your chicken looks scrumptious.

RecipeGirl said...

What a fun, fun experience! I guess I'll have to visit Canada sometime and check this maple stuff out!

OhioMom said...

our snows were heavy but brief this year (just Jan/Feb) too, none in March (which is odd) and spring-like temps already.

I love that chicken .. the salad looks inviting too :)

The pics were great!

Cynthia said...

I have some that I got from Vermont and I am treating it like liquid gold since I don't know when again I'll get some of that sweet rice syrup.

Maris said...

I don't know what picture left me drooling more...the gorgeous lake or those pancakes!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Now I really miss living in the East. We always found a sugar busg to head to no matter where we lived in Ontario.

Anonymous said...

I linked this to my rutabaga post. Hope that's ok, girls?

Shayne said...

I just want to grab one of those buckets off the tree and take a big drink. Growing up my family made maple syrup every spring and I have fond memories of warm spring days playing in the woods with my brother and stopping at a maple tree for a drink. it was always so cool and refreshing.

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