Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Memories of maple

Maple trees and maple syrup from Canada

One of my favorite childhood books was Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. I liked many books in the "Little House" series but the first book had a certain charm that made me read it so many times that at some point I knew whole bits and paragraphs by heart. For an Israeli kid growing up in the city under the harsh Mediterranean sun, the descriptions of endless woods and melting snow were utterly dreamlike. Above all I preferred the chapter "Sugar Snow" I think it still has a magical ring to it. In this episode little Laura's Grandpa and Pa are producing maple syrup.  

I loved the depiction of the way Grandpa hammers the wooden troughs into the trees and the sap flows and fills the buckets. I didn't even know what real maple syrup tasted like till I was a grown-up. In my childhood, maple syrup was artificially flavored simple sugar goo. I know people my age that think to this day that the fake syrup tastes better than the real thing, maybe because it was what they grew-up on. My kids, on the other hand when given the bogus maple, were outraged and claimed it to be disgusting. They've grown up on organic maple syrup imported from Vermont.
Last August in our voyage to Canada, it was clear to me I'll come back with lots of maple syrup. I knew I wouldn’t meet Grandpa as he drill into trees but I thought I might have a chance of seeing something similar to what I imagined so many years ago. When we stayed at the small island of Ile d'Orleans in Quebec I finally saw maple groves. I thought it was beautiful. These days the trees have plastic tubes where the sap pours. But a lot of the process is still as it was 150 years ago, as you can see in the following link:
When we got back home with something like 3 liters of maple syrup we immediately put them to good use.  For example in this salmon entrée, that was the star of our Rosh-Hashana meal.
Maple mustard grilled salmon
4 salmon fillets about 170gr each
1/2 cup (125ml) maple syrup
1/2 cup good quality mustard
Salt and pepper.
Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
Whisk the maple and mustard together in a bowl. Place the salmon in the bowl and marinate for at least 2 hours or even over-night.
Pre-heat a heavy pan, preferably cast iron place the fillets in the pan and braise them 5 minutes on one side and a little less on the other.
Serve at once.
Salmon served with Israeli couscous 


  1. Beautiful post as usual. I love maple so much. It is so versatile. We have tried it on porc, prawns, chicken, fish, and even of all things,on pancakes.

  2. Love maple syrup and enjoyed reading about your sweet memories! I remember watching little house on the prairie when I lived in Nahariya, my favorite show. Funny, made chicken fillet exactly the same way-marinated all night long.