Adirondack Maple Syrup – Liquid Gold

Is it Liquid Gold Time Yet?!

What has always been local and sustainable, is one of the oldest food industries in Northern NY and is exclusively made in only a few areas of North America?  It’s our “Liquid Gold” – maple syrup.

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Now that it is maple syrup time it makes me thankful for yet another wonderful food source available to us here in the North Country.  It has been used as a sweetener and health food for centuries, and is part of the North Country mantra – a sign of warmer weather – flowing sap means spring!

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A website that lists 125 of the “healthiest foods” calls maple syrup “one of the many wonders of the world.”   It gives maple syrup credit for a healthy dose of both manganese and zinc – trace elements good for your immune defense, health of your heart and – men – you need to check it out for the health of your prostate!

It is agreed that TOO much sugar of any form, even natural, is not a particularly good  “health” item.  But lets face it – sweet IS one of our major taste sensations is it not?  Did you know, that in 2011, the University of Rhode Island identified 54 beneficial compounds in maple syrup, five of which have never before seen in nature. These compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent illnesses including heart diseasediabetescancer and Alzheimer’s. And in comparison to honey, maple syrup contains fewer calories and has a higher concentration of minerals.

While cost can certainly seem a factor today even here where it is produced, don’t forget to go with the seasons and make a one of a kind meal for family or friends using maple syrup. It is stated that one-gallon weighs 11 pounds and is made from approx 40 gallons of precious sap! So as most people know, it takes a lot of sap to make a little of the product – but like any really good food – a little goes a long way.

Think “out of the breakfast box” when cooking with maple syrup.  While a great pancake is only made greater when served with the “real thing” (pancake syrup in the store can not come close) – there is much more to maple syrup than breakfast.  You can use it as a marinade for fish or meat, or to glaze & caramelize vegetables.  And desserts are a given – maple ice cream, maple pudding (with local fresh eggs- yum!) and even maple poached pears.  Then there is maple fruit bread, maple BBQ ribs, maple glazed carrots – the list goes on. And please, don’t microwave.

Experiment with replacing the present sweetener in some of your recipes with maple syrup. To substitute for sugar in cooking, generally use only 3/4 cup maple syrup to each cup of sugar. To substitute maple syrup for granulated sugar in baking, use the same proportions, but reduce the other liquid called for in the recipe by about 3 tablespoons for every cup of syrup and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of maple syrup used. When maple syrup is substituted for all sugar in a recipe, reduce the amount of liquid used by one half, if maple syrup is substituted for half the sugar, reduce liquid amounts by one-fourth.” Baked goods made with maple syrup should be baked at a slightly lower temperature than the same recipe using granulated sugar.

While sugars are always downplayed in the “healthy” food scene, we a have access to a wonderfully versatile sweetener. It has much more “culinary” potential than we give it credit for and in small amounts, we in the North Country get to satisfy our “sweet tooth” with a natural flavor that many other people in the world only get artificially.

You can stay at The Lake Clear Lodge and visit many of the maple producers nearby.  The Paul Smith’s VIC offers programs or you can visit the VIC’s sugar house. For  many more in this region see The Maple Weekend site.

The Lake Clear Lodge offers maple cooking classes both at “maple time” as part of the Stay Packages and throughout the year. Check them out.

Here are some of the basic maple definitions:

Maple sugar candy, has a semisoft texture and fabulous flavor, is made from syrup that’s boiled, cooled, stirred and poured into molds.

Maple sugar blocks are more granular ,and can be chipped or shaved and added to cereals or beverages.

Granulated maple sugar comes from syrup that is boiled, cooled, stirred and sifted. It makes a wonderful addition to baking and beverages.

Maple butter (cream or spread) is syrup that is cooked and stirred to give it the smooth, creamy consistency and flavor of soft maple fudge.

Pure (natural) maple extract is a flavoring made from alcohol and sugar maple tree oils. It adds maple punch to baked goods, frosting and fudge.

Imitation maple extract  uses synthetic ingredients to create flavor similar to pure maple extract.

PDF poster Benefits of Maple Syrup and its benefits

Enjoy Liquid Gold season!

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Chef Cathy Hohmeyer specializes in real food preparations that keep nutrients in

Follow my blog at www.OldWorldKitchen.net

Chef Cathy

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Broth Cuisine for the Flu Season

Guest Post by Lynn Cameron

The Old World Kitchen specializes in appetizing Soups and Entrees made with nourishing and easy to digest Bone Broths – delivering rich food value for those that choose carry-in meals regularly or on occasion.

Chef Cathy produces real stock created from hormone-free NYS farm-raised produce as it is available.  Beef, chicken and fish creations alternate according to seasonal supplies of fresh and natural ingredients.  The Lodge restaurant kitchen is NYS inspected and certified for catering/carry-out.

If you haven’t the time or resources to make enough broth in your own kitchen, and if you have the need or desire to get the nutrition and taste benefits of rich bone broth in your meals – call Cathy for the help you need!   Store some in the freezer for emergency health support or take it for supper to ‘grandmother’s’ house.

 

A simple broth soup may start a meal well

Add vegetables, grain and/or legumes,

 It becomes a sustaining main course

SOUP & SOURDOUGH take-away is available

Save time and 5% with Value 6-Packs for busy homemakers and caregivers.

Choose from a menu of simple broth for a convalescent to a hearty supper stew

ALL made with traditional bone broth stock base

& a sprouted grain, sourdough, or gluten-free biscuit

SOUP & SOURDOUGH SUPPERS are perfect for:

  • the nutritional requirements of housebound seniors
  • busy and dedicated caregivers of elderly relatives
  • tempting aroma & authentic taste for the sensitive palate
  • tasty, nutrient-dense suppers for picky eaters
  • satisfying, low-calorie comfort for those with special dietary needs
  • quick early suppers to sustain after-work activities
  • comforting, easy to digest late suppers after a long day
  • recovery support from illness

Broth-based soup does more than please the taste buds as convalescent care has proven.

Sadly, broth seems gone from the American tradition even as science validates what grandmother knew – rich homemade bone broths can regenerate a weakened system.

Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.  Broth and soup made with fish heads and carcasses provide iodine and thyroid-strengthening substances.

When stock is cooled, it congeals due to the presence of gelatin. The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. As supplements and medicines occupy center-stage in health research today, so two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food therapy. Although gelatin is not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, its protein is immediately ready for use in tissue building making it particularly nourishing for children, the convalescent and the elderly.  Gelatin, heritage from the French and probably the first functional food, is easily digested and tolerated well by all systems.  Gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid, which means that it attracts and holds liquids so crucial in diets of those on medications that cause dehydration.   It helps digestion in everyone by naturally attracting digestive juices for assimilation of food.

Gelatin has been researched and used continuously for the three centuries that diet was a major form of therapy for all illness.  Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.  It was found useful in patient convalescence from a long list of diseases including peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer and early cookbooks dedicated whole chapters to its proper preparation.

Only stock made from bones and dairy products provides

calcium in a form that the body can easily assimilate.

Broth is important because gelatin in properly made bone broth helps the body use protein in an efficient way – a rare protein-sparing nutriment when meat is a luxury item.  For the malnourished, those with a limited food budget, caregivers and senior homes, this is an important dietary consideration because quality protein is as essential as it is costly.

An important source of minerals disappeared from the American diet when homemade stocks were pushed out by easier and cheaper imitations.  This has provided enormous opportunities for long-term profit for all industrialized food processors.Image

The protein in food has receptors on the tongue called glutamates that the human body has recognized as the meat taste since Paleo times.  In the 1950’s General Foods and other food conglomerates discovered that hydrolyzed proteins could mimic this meat taste naturally pursued for eons by humans as a nutrient-dense food source. Because these fake molecules artificially satisfied the tongue, soup became popular as a powdered base from a package or can – which are likely to contain the disrupting chemical we all know as MSG.

The food industry has worked for decades to conceal from the public that MSG causes a wide range of reaction, from temporary headaches to permanent brain damage.  As early as 1957, scientists found mice blind and obese when MSG was administered; in 1969, MSG-induced lesions were found in the hypothalamus region of the brain.  Decades of studies all point to MSG as toxic to the nervous system.