Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sugar on Snow

There is one old Vermont tradition that my Kansas kids have adopted with a passion... sugar on snow.
I mean, how can you can go wrong with those two most glorious S words?
And the fact that it only happens one or two times a year in Wichita, packs an extra punch of excitement. It's the first thing my kids pester me about when those white flakes start gathering on the ground... And it starts with a fresh bowl of snow.

Megan didn't even wait to change out of her jammies.
The other part is to prepare the syrup, and this is where it gets a little choppy.
You have to use real maple syrup, 100% from a tree, not that maple flavored sugar crap.
(sorry, once a Vermonter - always a syrup snob)
Ok so real maple syrup, nothing vague about that, but then you boil it... some. How's that for specific? You boil it until it... changes. Is that better?
It's not going to become purple or republican or anything, but it will go through a subtle change, slightly darker and thicker. Subtle.

Once it has finished doing its syrup thing, let it cool... a little. (I know. It just keeps going.)
All right you want it hot but not boiling when you pour it on the snow.
Then the magic happens... it turns into a taffy-like candy, soft, sticky, chewy candy that my kids go crazy over.

Oops, I forgot to mention, you need to pack the snow down first or it sticks to the candy like... like white on snow.
Ok try again with packed snow...

There. Clean maple candy. If you set it down and try to save it for later, it will melt back into a thick gooey syrup, so only make as much as you want to eat in the moment. And don't worry, real maple syrup is packed with minerals and antioxidants like zinc and manganese, and ounce for once has less sugar than a pixie stick, I guarantee it in a vague, completely non-committal way... so, enjoy.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Mad Hatters

Several weeks ago, before the weather turned too bitter to enjoy opening the door, I went to bed listening to the giggles and whispers of the girls' best friend sleeping over.

Everyone knows that the addition of one extra child triples the volume of sound in your home, so imagine my surprise when I woke up, quite late, to a silent house.

Too experienced to trust silence, I explored the house in search of the four children I was sure were up to something, but I wasn't prepared for what I found.

It was one of those mornings when the sky is so gray and so low that everything seems soft and muffled in its moisture. And out in the middle of this soft, gray morning the children had set up a tea party, Mad-hatter style, on the patio.

They had even dressed for the occasion... to some extent, over their pajamas, and were taking turns pouring tea and passing the treats they had made.

The entire scene was so enchanting that I chose to overlook the copious and potentially dangerous use of candles on the table...

And the gratuitous use of sugar...

And grab my camera instead.

There has been plenty of time for discussion on fire and sugar since, not to mention extensive clean up of caramel and juice,

but for that morning, in the cool autumn air, trickled with their soft "tea-time" voices, I was completely under their spell.

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