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The sweetest time of the year

March 10, 2011

By Ginger Isham

It’s the time of year when we can’t wait for the sap to flow.

We have just finished last year’s maple syrup this week. My 1974 small history book on sugaring says the Indian women made the family’s supply of syrup and sugar. They started tapping when they heard the crows caw around the middle of March (the men went to hunt for food as winter supply was low). Special maple huts were built near the trees and handed down from generation to generation.

I want to thank my friend, Pamela, for her creation of a new maple recipe I am sharing this week. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, use large and small clean coffee cans. Put the ice cream mix in a small coffee can with a tight lid and set the can inside the large one. Then put crushed ice around the small can, filling to about 3/4 full and add about 3 tablespoons of salt. Place tight lid on top of big can and let the family take turns rolling and shaking until mixture is ice cream consistency. A fun project for everyone. Play some music and create your own moves.

Ginger’s Snap Ice Cream

1 cup maple syrup (medium to dark flavor)
2 cups apple cider
1 fresh piece of ginger (size of end of your thumb)
Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk  (I used low fat)
1 cup heavy cream
3 or 4 egg yolks

Place maple syrup and cider in a sauce pan. Add cut -up or whole piece of ginger and spices. Stir and cook over medium heat until boils; turn to low and let simmer until mixture turns to a syrup (can take about 40 minutes). Strain syrup or lift out ginger  piece/s and cool slightly. Add milk and light cream to the syrup. Cook until syrup simmers. Add small amount of syrup to beaten egg yolks and put back into rest of mixture and cook until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream.

Place in fridge to chill. When cold, put mix into ice cream maker or coffee can and churn till right consistency (I cooked syrup, milk, light and heavy cream together in microwave until hot and then stirred in beaten egg yolks, and put back in microwave and cooked until started to thicken. Then I put in fridge to chill).

Vermont Spring Chicken (old favorite)

1 chicken, cut-up (2 to 3 pounds)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (medium to dark flavor)
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
Pinch of salt and dash of pepper
1/4 cup almonds
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place chicken pieces in shallow pan. Mix ingredients and pour evenly over chicken. Bake uncovered in 400 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Baste occasionally.

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