Laura Ingalls Wilder Inspires Kitchen Mess
March 16, 2007
Our house smells so good right now, like maple syrup, because we did it! We made maple candy just like Grandma Ingalls did in Little House in the Big Woods. The weather cooperated by providing us with fresh snow this morning. We boiled up maple syrup into the "soft ball" stage, which candy makers evidently know about, and which, by luck, we managed. Junior was great about stirring the syrup and then, when the big moment came, running outside for plates of snow. Because the mixture was so hot, I (not Junior) drizzled it onto the fluffy snow. And, lo, there was candy! The taste is subtle, a gentler maple flavor than I expected. Perhaps that's attributable to my store-boughten syrup; I don't know.
Our plan was to follow Grandma Ingalls's example and make maple sugar when our candy syrup started to "grain." That was not to be; the potion burned. No flames, don't worry. I should have turned down the heat, or congratulated myself on the first success and stopped. Still, it was fun, and a good activity for a snowy day. And our kitchen got very messy and sticky.
Here is the picture of a modern-day sugar house, at a local organic farm. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. Yesterday I wrote about some great books for children on maple sugaring, in addition to Little House.
I am SO going to do this next week!!!
I am also going to maybe bring along that Little House piece and have my sister (just turned 11) read it to me so we get ALL the directions...
...and then we're going to see what else we can get up to. Something with unsweetened Kool-Aid and snow...
Thanks for the great book-related idea!!
Posted by: TadMack | March 16, 2007 at 05:13 PM
TadMack, you're so welcome! Report back if you try it up in the mountains. It's really fun. Watch the boiling really carefully. If you are a candy maker, you are one step ahead of us. I'm not sure how long the syrup took to boil down, but it was a while, more than 20 minutes. We kept a cup of cold water on hand and kept testing the stuff to see it it was in a soft ball. That part is a little tricky.
I think if I'd been able to keep the sugar at the same temp, it might have grained. A project for next year!
Posted by: Susan | March 16, 2007 at 05:19 PM
How awesome, Susan! I LOVE LHintheBW. (Less so "on the prairie")
Posted by: Kelly | March 16, 2007 at 07:03 PM
Except for when she talks too much calico patterns, I am loving it, too, Kelly. Junior is taking a lot of it in. It was his idea to make the candy after we read the chapter about the dance at the grandparents'.
Posted by: Susan | March 16, 2007 at 07:16 PM
LHintheBW was always my favorite, too. They seemed to get in a lot more interesting shenanigans in that one! I wish we lived in maple syrup country, but we're about as far away as you can get and still be in the continental U.S....You'll have to enjoy your maple candy for me!!
Posted by: a. fortis | March 16, 2007 at 07:28 PM
hey, a. fortis! I can't remember much about the others in the series, other than Mary losing her sight in one of them. My dad, who read all the books to me, loved "Farmer Boy," and even stopped by Farmer Boy's hometown in upper New York State long after I'd grown up.
Posted by: Susan | March 16, 2007 at 07:47 PM
Sounds fabulous! I'm glad I didn't have to clean that sticky kitchen.
Posted by: wisteria | March 17, 2007 at 07:24 PM
I'm glad it worked! Thanks for sharing the photos.
Posted by: Emmaco | March 17, 2007 at 09:15 PM
Emmaco, it was a lot of fun, and taking pictures was kind of a hoot. I'm so glad we recorded our maple-sugar-making; they'll be great pics for the photo album. You and TadMack inspired me to take the photos! Thank YOU.
Posted by: Susan | March 18, 2007 at 07:49 PM
Another fan of the book. What a great task to set out to do. Well done!
Posted by: Michelle | March 19, 2007 at 05:35 AM
Posted by: Susan | March 19, 2007 at 03:22 PM
We did that when I was a kid too. What fun!
Posted by: cloudscome | March 19, 2007 at 09:17 PM
I am a Maple sugar country transplant living in Houston,Texas, Surely, we can make it here - I am going to try with snow-cone ice - if you don't have the real stuff, you have to improvise!
Seems I remember the "real" maple sugar is sweeter than the grocery store kind, but stores are getting better and better about carrying the good stuff. Cracker Barrel has it too.
Posted by: Holly K. | June 07, 2009 at 02:13 PM
Sno-cones might work. I never tried that! Good idea. We talked about tapping one of our own trees this year but didn't quite get to it.
Posted by: Susan (Chicken Spaghetti) | June 08, 2009 at 06:23 PM
I bought real maple syrup from Vermont or Maine-not sure this weekend
Posted by: Stephen | August 25, 2009 at 03:45 PM