Friday, March 21, 2014

Welcome Spring!

Oh boy, first day of spring!  The equinox was yesterday, but as the Willow and I were discussing this morning, that would probably count as day zero and this as day one!

We've had a long cold winter! 

I am glad that I tapped the maples over President's Day weekend.  We have been in the deep freeze since then.  A couple of days have cracked the freezing mark, but not enough to really get the sap flowing.  I have managed to eek out another gallon or two of sap by draining the small amounts out of the chunks of ice in the collecting jugs.

Two of the jugs I pulled off and brought in the house to thaw before I put them back on, and of course that ended up being one of the few days that the sap dripped a little bit!

I lost track of how much sap I have processed.  I think I started off with twelve gallons, plus a couple more.  I gave up trying to do it on the kitchen stove, and turned over one of my hot water pots on the woodstove  for sap reduction. I can put about a gallon and a half of sap in the pot.  Then of course by the time I want to go to bed, it is at a critical level.  Meaning, it will be burnt sugar by morning but too much to boil down on the kitchen stove before bed.  So, I usually just add another gallon of sap and go to bed.

I have to be careful though, because one year I kept doing that with a larger pot, and went to bed thinking it would be ok until morning, because there was several inches in it.  But I had lost track of how long I had been adding sap, and I woke up in the middle of the night to a house full of acrid smoke and two inches of black on the bottom of the pot.  Ugh.  I couldn't smell maple syrup for two years after that; the smell lingered for weeks in the house.

Yesterday morning we had had several inches of snow that turned to rain, what an icy floody mess!  Several of the animal houses were full of water because there was so much frozen snow the melt had no where to go.

The sap ran a little yesterday. I got two and a half gallons.   One tree had a half gallon of dark sap, and I would think some trickster had urinated in one of my jugs if I hadn't seen that in past years.  I don't know what causes it, but I set that one aside for now.

Today it is gorgeous out, a little windy perhaps, but well above freezing.  I have been stockpiling smaller pieces of firewood for the old kitchen woodstove that is outside.  Once I get buried in sap and have a nice day, I should have enough fuel to boil it down outside.

Right now I am trying to bake a chocolate Babka.  I had found this recipe online for chocolate doughnuts, which the Willow wanted instead of regular ones.  They are really awful!  It was 1/2 cup of cocoa to 8 cups of flour!  They look like a chocolate doughnut but are soooo bland!  And eight cups of flour! That made a lot of dough!  I fried off the first half and froze the other half.  Then I thawed it and tried a few more last night.  We even tried glazing them with chocolate chips and rolling them in sugar.  Uck!

So, I decided to take the rest of the dough and make a chocolate filling and bake it.

I think I should have added more sugar and still craving!

  I hope it's good I am starving!

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