When the calendar turns to March, that means three things in Vermont: mud season, March madness, and sugaring time. The roads are marked with muddy tracks from the trucks carrying the squatty tanks used for collecting sap, so you know they’ve been up in the muddy hills. Cold nights and warm days is the best recipe for getting the sap running. Although, they’ve said the recent 70-80 degree weather we had for two weeks and nights in the 50s may be trouble for the industry, as many sugar shacks already have closed their doors for the season. But their open house weekend was popular, where tappers still served up sugar on snow (in this case for this winter, probably shaved ice) with a pickle on the side. That is just what we expect this time of year.
I always have a jar of maple syrup in the fridge. I’ll buy a half-gallon which can take months to use, sometimes even more than a year. I will divide it into glass jars, and put the remaining jars in the freezer. It lasts forever and thaws out quickly. And unlike other frozen foods, it loses nothing in the freezing process.
Since I always have maple syrup on hand, I am lucky in that I can add it to most anything; it’s sweetness always lends a distinct flavor. Past recipes include this salmon sauce recipe here and my granola recipe here. But of course, the best way to really get the flavor of the syrup is on pancakes.
I know pancakes lend no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever to your day, they are almost total carbohydrates, but sometimes you just get a craving for them! About once a year I’ll get the urge to whip some up on a lazy Sunday morning, usually in March. The mornings are getting brighter, the birds are chirping, and it’s getting warmer out. I’ve been using the below recipe I found in Cooking Light for years. I always feel a little better with a bit of whole wheat flour combined with the white. So in honor of sugaring season and my nephew’s tenth birthday, whose favorite food is pancakes (we took him to lunch, and his was five silver dollar pancakes!), I thought I’d bring you this recipe for pancakes, for breakfast, brunch, or an upside down day!
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups low-fat buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
¾ cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons butter
1. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and egg white, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist.
2. Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Spoon about ¼ cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter. (Yield: 6 servings (serving side: 2 pancakes, 2 Tablespoons syrup, and 1 ½ teaspoons butter)
• I use this recipe for the pancake recipe only, I don’t normally measure out my maple syrup and butter. I also oil the skillet instead of using cooking spray. It adds more calories, but I don’t use cooking spray on my cookware.
• Buttermilk always comes in a quart container, but it normally takes forever to use up. You can freeze it by the cup in freezer quart bags and just defrost!