A culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and the joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food world ethos, especially in Vermont.

amuse bouche

I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:

Americans who have been to France and come home craving a reminder of their magical European experience, love Vermont cheeses.
—Allison Hooper, founder, VT Butter & Cheese Creamery

Practice not cleaning your plate: it will help you eat less in short term and develop self-control in the long term.
—Michael Pollan

Sweet taste buds develop before all others, that’s why small children love sweets.
—Bronwyn Dunne

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of milk.
—Michael Pollan

My rule of thumb is, when in doubt, cook more than you think you may need.
—Marian Cunningham, from Learning to Cook


Late Sugaring In The Northeast Kingdom

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.30.27 PM

I’ve known the Reynolds family and farm for most of my life. John and Carol Reynolds are step-cousins, related to my stepmother, Judith Jones. They are neighbors of ours when we are on our “farm”, our family summer home, in the very rural and beautiful part of Vermont called the Northeast Kingdom. The Reynolds have been making syrup ever since I can remember, an extra treat for the whole family, and an incentive to make pancakes at any time of the year!
I thought it would be fun to show Natalie, my California born and raised, UVM intern, what sugaring was all about since maple syrup is such an important “value-added” product for many small, diversified farms. We were lucky that it’s been such a cold spring in Vermont. It meant that John and his family were still hard at it producing syrup from sap, so we drove up to the Northeast Kingdom to see what was happening on the Reynolds farm. Read Natalie’s delightful experience discovering what sugaring is all about!
À Bientôt,

bronwyn-signature1

***

  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.13.37 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.51 PM

Tucked Away
Tucked away in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, John and Carol Reynolds are running a state-of-the-art organic sugaring operation on a 600-acre farm close to the top of Stannard Mountain. After years of working with old-fashioned sugaring equipment in a sugar house John built in 1980, he now taps 6,000 trees with a yield of 1,000 – 2,000 gallons of maple syrup in an establishment that rivals most home-farm sugaring operations.

This Was Crunch Time For John
Bronwyn and I visited John towards the end of April. Although it was late for sugaring in most areas of Vermont, with patches of snow up to a foot deep and temperatures near freezing at night, John estimated he still had at least a week in the season to go. This was crunch time for John, who often got up at three or four in the morning to ensure that the sap, traveling through lines of plastic tubing to the sugarhouse, wasn’t overflowing.

Preparation for this point in the season starts in late summer with collecting wood from the property and chopping it for the evaporator. In January, trees are selected and tapped, and a plastic spout is inserted into each small hole. These spouts are connected to the larger pipeline system which brings the sap to the sugarhouse where it is boiled down into maple syrup. In January, the pipelines are also checked for damages from animals or falling branches. Tapping the trees and repairing damages in the pipeline can be extremely tedious, especially in cold winter conditions and waist-level snow. The sugaring season then begins any time from late March through the end of April, where the sugarmaker only has around six or seven weeks to take advantage of the flowing sap, and only fifteen to twenty days to boil the sap down to syrup.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.33.47 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.37.57 PM

An Intensive Process
Because we visited the farm during the boiling of the sap, things were quite busy around the Reynolds household. Although not much maintenance is required with the plastic saplines, the activity around the multi-tiered evaporator was hectic. Gauges were checked and re-checked, levels in receiving vats and in the evaporation pans were carefully measured by experienced eyes, and the fire was stoked to ensure the right boiling point was maintained. As steam rose from the evaporator, it seemed as though there were ten things to be checked all at once.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.50.16 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.40.06 PM

Worth All The Work
Although John had clearly mastered using the new machinery, he emphasized that it wasn’t always this easy. He reflected on the first year of running the new, well-equipped sugarhouse after using thirty-year-old equipment, saying, “There was a BIG learning curve.” However, John who runs a diversified farm and also manages a herd of grass-fed cattle says that he’s “more sure of sugaring than beef” financially. It was worth the investment and all the hard work.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.31 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.42.46 PM

As John held up the finished product in a small glass bottle, he stated, “Don’t pay attention to color—it doesn’t determine flavor!” The Reynolds emphasized that in the past, a light-colored syrup was difficult to create because it requires specific sap, weather conditions, and boiling time. However, due to the reverse-osmosis machine, which extracts some of the water in the sap to reduce boiling time, a light syrup can be more easily created. In addition, darker syrups tend to have a stronger maple flavor; however, a rotting maple tree or spoiled sap can also cause the syrup to become darker. It is only by knowing and talking to your sugarmaker that you can get the best sense of the flavor of their maple syrup. Although it’s hard work, John’s end result makes it all worth it—a divine, rich, syrup perfect for pancakes, or even drinking by the mugful, which some of his volunteers have been known to do! For more information on Stannard Farm, visit their website here.

Natalie Lovelace

***

Posted: 5-16-2015

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I’ve known the Reynolds family and farm for most of my life. John and Carol Reynolds are step-cousins, related to my stepmother, Judith Jones. They are neighbors of ours when we are on our “farm”, our family summer home, in the very rural and beautiful part of Vermont called the Northeast Kingdom. The Reynolds have been making syrup ever since I can remember, an extra treat for the whole family, and an incentive to make pancakes at any time of the year!
I thought it would be fun to show Natalie, my California born and raised, UVM intern, what sugaring was all about since maple syrup is such an important “value-added” product for many small, diversified farms. We were lucky that it’s been such a cold spring in Vermont. It meant that John and his family were still hard at it producing syrup from sap, so we drove up to the Northeast Kingdom to see what was happening on the Reynolds farm. Read Natalie’s delightful experience discovering what sugaring is all about!
À Bientôt,
bronwyn-signature1

***

  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.13.37 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.51 PM Tucked Away Tucked away in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, John and Carol Reynolds are running a state-of-the-art organic sugaring operation on a 600-acre farm close to the top of Stannard Mountain. After years of working with old-fashioned sugaring equipment in a sugar house John built in 1980, he now taps 6,000 trees with a yield of 1,000 – 2,000 gallons of maple syrup in an establishment that rivals most home-farm sugaring operations. This Was Crunch Time For John Bronwyn and I visited John towards the end of April. Although it was late for sugaring in most areas of Vermont, with patches of snow up to a foot deep and temperatures near freezing at night, John estimated he still had at least a week in the season to go. This was crunch time for John, who often got up at three or four in the morning to ensure that the sap, traveling through lines of plastic tubing to the sugarhouse, wasn’t overflowing. Preparation for this point in the season starts in late summer with collecting wood from the property and chopping it for the evaporator. In January, trees are selected and tapped, and a plastic spout is inserted into each small hole. These spouts are connected to the larger pipeline system which brings the sap to the sugarhouse where it is boiled down into maple syrup. In January, the pipelines are also checked for damages from animals or falling branches. Tapping the trees and repairing damages in the pipeline can be extremely tedious, especially in cold winter conditions and waist-level snow. The sugaring season then begins any time from late March through the end of April, where the sugarmaker only has around six or seven weeks to take advantage of the flowing sap, and only fifteen to twenty days to boil the sap down to syrup. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.33.47 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.37.57 PM An Intensive Process Because we visited the farm during the boiling of the sap, things were quite busy around the Reynolds household. Although not much maintenance is required with the plastic saplines, the activity around the multi-tiered evaporator was hectic. Gauges were checked and re-checked, levels in receiving vats and in the evaporation pans were carefully measured by experienced eyes, and the fire was stoked to ensure the right boiling point was maintained. As steam rose from the evaporator, it seemed as though there were ten things to be checked all at once. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.50.16 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.40.06 PM Worth All The Work Although John had clearly mastered using the new machinery, he emphasized that it wasn’t always this easy. He reflected on the first year of running the new, well-equipped sugarhouse after using thirty-year-old equipment, saying, “There was a BIG learning curve.” However, John who runs a diversified farm and also manages a herd of grass-fed cattle says that he’s “more sure of sugaring than beef” financially. It was worth the investment and all the hard work. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.31 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.42.46 PM As John held up the finished product in a small glass bottle, he stated, “Don’t pay attention to color—it doesn’t determine flavor!” The Reynolds emphasized that in the past, a light-colored syrup was difficult to create because it requires specific sap, weather conditions, and boiling time. However, due to the reverse-osmosis machine, which extracts some of the water in the sap to reduce boiling time, a light syrup can be more easily created. In addition, darker syrups tend to have a stronger maple flavor; however, a rotting maple tree or spoiled sap can also cause the syrup to become darker. It is only by knowing and talking to your sugarmaker that you can get the best sense of the flavor of their maple syrup. Although it’s hard work, John’s end result makes it all worth it—a divine, rich, syrup perfect for pancakes, or even drinking by the mugful, which some of his volunteers have been known to do! For more information on Stannard Farm, visit their website here. Natalie Lovelace

***

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I’ve known the Reynolds family and farm for most of my life. John and Carol Reynolds are step-cousins, related to my stepmother, Judith Jones. They are neighbors of ours when we are on our “farm”, our family summer home, in the very rural and beautiful part of Vermont called the Northeast Kingdom. The Reynolds have been making syrup ever since I can remember, an extra treat for the whole family, and an incentive to make pancakes at any time of the year!
I thought it would be fun to show Natalie, my California born and raised, UVM intern, what sugaring was all about since maple syrup is such an important “value-added” product for many small, diversified farms. We were lucky that it’s been such a cold spring in Vermont. It meant that John and his family were still hard at it producing syrup from sap, so we drove up to the Northeast Kingdom to see what was happening on the Reynolds farm. Read Natalie’s delightful experience discovering what sugaring is all about!
À Bientôt,
bronwyn-signature1

***

  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.13.37 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.51 PM Tucked Away Tucked away in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, John and Carol Reynolds are running a state-of-the-art organic sugaring operation on a 600-acre farm close to the top of Stannard Mountain. After years of working with old-fashioned sugaring equipment in a sugar house John built in 1980, he now taps 6,000 trees with a yield of 1,000 – 2,000 gallons of maple syrup in an establishment that rivals most home-farm sugaring operations. This Was Crunch Time For John Bronwyn and I visited John towards the end of April. Although it was late for sugaring in most areas of Vermont, with patches of snow up to a foot deep and temperatures near freezing at night, John estimated he still had at least a week in the season to go. This was crunch time for John, who often got up at three or four in the morning to ensure that the sap, traveling through lines of plastic tubing to the sugarhouse, wasn’t overflowing. Preparation for this point in the season starts in late summer with collecting wood from the property and chopping it for the evaporator. In January, trees are selected and tapped, and a plastic spout is inserted into each small hole. These spouts are connected to the larger pipeline system which brings the sap to the sugarhouse where it is boiled down into maple syrup. In January, the pipelines are also checked for damages from animals or falling branches. Tapping the trees and repairing damages in the pipeline can be extremely tedious, especially in cold winter conditions and waist-level snow. The sugaring season then begins any time from late March through the end of April, where the sugarmaker only has around six or seven weeks to take advantage of the flowing sap, and only fifteen to twenty days to boil the sap down to syrup. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.33.47 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.37.57 PM An Intensive Process Because we visited the farm during the boiling of the sap, things were quite busy around the Reynolds household. Although not much maintenance is required with the plastic saplines, the activity around the multi-tiered evaporator was hectic. Gauges were checked and re-checked, levels in receiving vats and in the evaporation pans were carefully measured by experienced eyes, and the fire was stoked to ensure the right boiling point was maintained. As steam rose from the evaporator, it seemed as though there were ten things to be checked all at once. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.50.16 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.40.06 PM Worth All The Work Although John had clearly mastered using the new machinery, he emphasized that it wasn’t always this easy. He reflected on the first year of running the new, well-equipped sugarhouse after using thirty-year-old equipment, saying, “There was a BIG learning curve.” However, John who runs a diversified farm and also manages a herd of grass-fed cattle says that he’s “more sure of sugaring than beef” financially. It was worth the investment and all the hard work. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.31 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.42.46 PM As John held up the finished product in a small glass bottle, he stated, “Don’t pay attention to color—it doesn’t determine flavor!” The Reynolds emphasized that in the past, a light-colored syrup was difficult to create because it requires specific sap, weather conditions, and boiling time. However, due to the reverse-osmosis machine, which extracts some of the water in the sap to reduce boiling time, a light syrup can be more easily created. In addition, darker syrups tend to have a stronger maple flavor; however, a rotting maple tree or spoiled sap can also cause the syrup to become darker. It is only by knowing and talking to your sugarmaker that you can get the best sense of the flavor of their maple syrup. Although it’s hard work, John’s end result makes it all worth it—a divine, rich, syrup perfect for pancakes, or even drinking by the mugful, which some of his volunteers have been known to do! For more information on Stannard Farm, visit their website here. Natalie Lovelace

***

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I’ve known the Reynolds family and farm for most of my life. John and Carol Reynolds are step-cousins, related to my stepmother, Judith Jones. They are neighbors of ours when we are on our “farm”, our family summer home, in the very rural and beautiful part of Vermont called the Northeast Kingdom. The Reynolds have been making syrup ever since I can remember, an extra treat for the whole family, and an incentive to make pancakes at any time of the year!
I thought it would be fun to show Natalie, my California born and raised, UVM intern, what sugaring was all about since maple syrup is such an important “value-added” product for many small, diversified farms. We were lucky that it’s been such a cold spring in Vermont. It meant that John and his family were still hard at it producing syrup from sap, so we drove up to the Northeast Kingdom to see what was happening on the Reynolds farm. Read Natalie’s delightful experience discovering what sugaring is all about!
À Bientôt,
bronwyn-signature1

***

  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 7.13.37 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.51 PM Tucked Away Tucked away in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, John and Carol Reynolds are running a state-of-the-art organic sugaring operation on a 600-acre farm close to the top of Stannard Mountain. After years of working with old-fashioned sugaring equipment in a sugar house John built in 1980, he now taps 6,000 trees with a yield of 1,000 – 2,000 gallons of maple syrup in an establishment that rivals most home-farm sugaring operations. This Was Crunch Time For John Bronwyn and I visited John towards the end of April. Although it was late for sugaring in most areas of Vermont, with patches of snow up to a foot deep and temperatures near freezing at night, John estimated he still had at least a week in the season to go. This was crunch time for John, who often got up at three or four in the morning to ensure that the sap, traveling through lines of plastic tubing to the sugarhouse, wasn’t overflowing. Preparation for this point in the season starts in late summer with collecting wood from the property and chopping it for the evaporator. In January, trees are selected and tapped, and a plastic spout is inserted into each small hole. These spouts are connected to the larger pipeline system which brings the sap to the sugarhouse where it is boiled down into maple syrup. In January, the pipelines are also checked for damages from animals or falling branches. Tapping the trees and repairing damages in the pipeline can be extremely tedious, especially in cold winter conditions and waist-level snow. The sugaring season then begins any time from late March through the end of April, where the sugarmaker only has around six or seven weeks to take advantage of the flowing sap, and only fifteen to twenty days to boil the sap down to syrup. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.33.47 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.37.57 PM An Intensive Process Because we visited the farm during the boiling of the sap, things were quite busy around the Reynolds household. Although not much maintenance is required with the plastic saplines, the activity around the multi-tiered evaporator was hectic. Gauges were checked and re-checked, levels in receiving vats and in the evaporation pans were carefully measured by experienced eyes, and the fire was stoked to ensure the right boiling point was maintained. As steam rose from the evaporator, it seemed as though there were ten things to be checked all at once. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 6.50.16 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.40.06 PM Worth All The Work Although John had clearly mastered using the new machinery, he emphasized that it wasn’t always this easy. He reflected on the first year of running the new, well-equipped sugarhouse after using thirty-year-old equipment, saying, “There was a BIG learning curve.” However, John who runs a diversified farm and also manages a herd of grass-fed cattle says that he’s “more sure of sugaring than beef” financially. It was worth the investment and all the hard work. Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.43.31 PM  Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.42.46 PM As John held up the finished product in a small glass bottle, he stated, “Don’t pay attention to color—it doesn’t determine flavor!” The Reynolds emphasized that in the past, a light-colored syrup was difficult to create because it requires specific sap, weather conditions, and boiling time. However, due to the reverse-osmosis machine, which extracts some of the water in the sap to reduce boiling time, a light syrup can be more easily created. In addition, darker syrups tend to have a stronger maple flavor; however, a rotting maple tree or spoiled sap can also cause the syrup to become darker. It is only by knowing and talking to your sugarmaker that you can get the best sense of the flavor of their maple syrup. Although it’s hard work, John’s end result makes it all worth it—a divine, rich, syrup perfect for pancakes, or even drinking by the mugful, which some of his volunteers have been known to do! For more information on Stannard Farm, visit their website here. Natalie Lovelace

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