April 23, 2014

RECIPE CORNER: Manna for the early settlers

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By Ginger Isham

 

History tells us that in 1784, Captain Charles Sias and two friends traveled what they thought was two miles through wilderness in Danville with a sled carrying the Sias children and items to a new cabin. Leaving the children, they again traveled what became eight miles back the next day, bringing the mother and rest of the family. One more trip finished bringing all they needed to set up house. If not for the Indians showing them how to make maple syrup, they would have died of starvation that winter. Could that be the beginning of Vermonters’ reputation as hardy, independent people rising above all odds?

 

Maple Syrup Dessert Sauce

1 cup maple syrup (medium or dark amber)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Bring maple syrup and butter to a boil in saucepan and cook for three minutes. Cool and stir in milk and nuts. Delicious over vanilla ice cream or a plain cake, or both.

 

Butternut Pie

1 cup milk

1 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon butter

3 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

pinch of salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup butternut pieces or other nuts

 

Heat milk and maple syrup in saucepan and let it cook a minute or two, nevermind how it looks! Add butter. Beat egg yolks with flour, cornstarch and salt. Add to the syrup mixture and cook until thick. Stir in nuts. Cool and pour into a baked 8-inch piecrust. Make a meringue of egg whites, adding 2-3 tablespoon sugar. Spread on top of pie filling and brown in oven. Whipped cream is better.

It is a rich pie that took very little time to make compared to the couple of hours I spent taking the nut pieces from the hard shells. The yield was 2 cups nut pieces. This did not include the time it took to crack the shells, which was done in the farm garage. I learned all over about patience and how haste makes waste. But I was a happy cook when a local gal gave me a pail of butternuts last year! I got to experience what the cooks of long ago had to endure when making a meal for their family!

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

 
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