Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It must be maple sugaring time again!

In our rambling over the weekend, we came across this sap collecting sight! We have not run into it before, and to be truthful, I am not sure which county we were in. It was north of us. I have never seen the bags like these used.
I wondered if they would be easy to poke a hole in...wondered how they are transported, or are they just emptied into a container and put right back on the tree. Probably just emptied and put back in place. I really know next to nothing about the process of collecting sap and making the syrup....but will be learning some from my blog buddy Judy, over at Daily Yarns 'n More and Through My Lens as they make maple syrup for the first time at their Gentle Hearth Farm.
When we were kids, sometimes something sweet was what we had for breakfast. Mom usually kept Bob White Syrup for our use....it was dark and thick and really yummy if you like syrup and butter and biscuits. If she ran out, sometimes she would use water and white granulated sugar, and I think vanilla flavoring, but it is possible that it was maple...she would cook the water and sugar on the top of the stove till it became a thin syrup. I am not sure when she added the flavor, but would think near the end. Pour a little of that in our plate, add butter, and dip one of her homemade biscuits in it...

The other thing she made was a chocolate syrup. She made it using flour, sugar, cocoa, and what else I don't know. I don't remember if the liquid she added was water or milk....and I don't remember if she added any vanilla. I just know that it was so good...it was thicker than water but not slow like molasses. And there was nothing better in life than to have it and add butter to it while it was still hot, and dip one of her biscuits in it.

I think I have mentioned her biscuits before....I have never tasted any like them anywhere else in my 55 years of living. As with almost any of her cooking, she did not follow a recipe with measurements..not for the chocolate syrup, not for the homemade version of syrup, and not for the biscuits.

For them she had a pan that she always kept in the flour bin, and it held more than 25 lbs of flour. She, along with most of the mothers of the children I grew up with would never have dreamed of buying a 5 lb bag of flour or cornmeal. Making biscuits and cornbread were just part of their daily routine....they never gave it a second thought.

But back to her biscuits, she kept a little metal pan in the flour bin....and it always had a bit of flour in it....she would add more flour to it....by the time I was very old it was always self-rising flour. She would make a well in the flour, add a dollop of lard, and start mixing with one hand while she added buttermilk which she poured from a gallon jar. Homemade buttermilk, at that.

She did not fool with it long till she had it the right consistency. Then, unlike most people that roll out their dough and use a glass or biscuit cutter to get the same size biscuit each time...she just pinched off a small section of the dough, kind of held it in one hand and cupped the other over it and rolled it around...then placed it in a baking pan and flattened it a little bit. And all her biscuits were uniform in size...until maybe the last little bit of dough.

She always made a 9 x 13 pan full of biscuits, and if there was a little dough left over, sometime she would make a big biscuit and place in another pan...I almost think she made a big one in fun.

Those biscuits were delicious...they were not flaky at all. But were sort of holey...and were just so good. I would give anything to have some of them once again, as well as some of her dumplings.

I have tried making biscuits and I just do not have the knack for it at all....dogs won't eat my biscuits. And I am dead serious...it has been a long time since I tried and I keep thinking one of these days I will start experimenting again but I never do. At least I can make the good old southern type of cornbread with no sugar.

Sometimes, at night when I want a snack but nothing sounds good, I will just make a pan of cornbread. And nothing tastes better. As a kid growing up, I would never have imagined a time would come when I thought cornbread a wonderful snack.