Maple syrup, like many delicious natural products was discovered by accident. Most legends claim that Native Americans thought the liquid dripping from trees that had been cut by their tomahawks was water. After all, it was clear and colorless. They used it to cook meat and discovered that it turned into a delicious sweet glaze. It added wonderful flavor to everything and they began using it to sweeten many different foods. They also boiled it down to thicken and become chunks of maple sugar that could be put aside for winter, sustaining them through the cold months.
When settlers arrived with metal tools they began drillings holes and adding little wooden spouts to direct the sap into buckets and the “sugar maple” industry took off. Maple sugar was most popular in Vermont where there were lots of maple trees. In addition, its location far from the seaports where regular white sugar was imported made maple sugar the perfect alternative. Up until the 1930’s most maple syrup came from Vermont. In recent years things have changed and 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada.
Like sugar, maple syrup contains no vitamins; however, it contains small amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. These minerals are not lost during production because there is relatively little processing.
As production methods have improved over time the quality of maple syrup has too. Maple syrup is graded according to color and flavor. It may range from golden to dark amber in color and from mild to robust in taste. Colors and flavor are not indicative of quality, rather they are used so you can choose which flavor suits your taste best.
Dark syrup is usually used in baking while light amber or golden is more often found at the table. Avoid using “pancake syrup” which is not maple syrup at all. It’s most often corn syrup with some artificial maple flavor added. For best flavor in glazes and baked goods choose good quality syrup with a nice aroma.
¼ cup light olive oil
½ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 carrots, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 bell peppers, seeds removed
1 red onion
1 lb. mushrooms
2 zucchini or yellow squash,
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place all dressing ingredients in a container with a tightly fitting lid and shake to mix well. Let sit while cutting vegetables.
Cut all vegetables into 1-2 inch pieces. Place carrots and sweet potatoes in a foil lined sheet pan. Shake dressing and pour half of it over the carrot and potato. Toss to coat. Roast 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Add remaining cut vegetables and drizzle with remaining dressing.
Put the pan back in oven and roast for an additional 25-30 minutes, basting once with the dressing.
4 oyster steaks, 10-14 ounces each
3 large onions, sliced thickly in rings
6 cloves garlic, cracked open
Freshly ground pepper
16 ounces maple syrup, divided
1 cup bourbon (Old Williamsburg or Wild Turkey)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place onion slices and garlic in a roasting pan. Place oyster steaks on top. Season well with kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle with ¼ of the maple syrup.
Place remaining maple, bourbon, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon ground pepper in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until it is reduced to a sticky glaze. Stir occasionally so it does not burn.
Bake steaks, covered for 1 hour. Carefully remove from oven. Pour off most of the liquid accumulated in the pan.
Pour half the glaze over the steaks and return to the oven. Continue baking, uncovered 20 minutes or until it has form a nice crust.
Remove from oven and let the steaks rest 5 minutes. Slice across the grain and drizzle remaining glaze on the meat. Serves 8.