Maple Syrup and Bagels

Spring is an in between time in the Gatineau Hills. There is still piles of snow, (there’s a mountain approximately 12 feet high beside my house) but it’s really mushy and muddy where the ground is exposed. You can still ski if you are keen, but there isn’t too many other activities that will take you outside for any length of time. The crows are active, the indoor cats are getting restless, the streams are swollen, and it is possible to sit outside to bask in some sunlight if there is a nearby fire to stay warm by.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Is there any better reason to sit around and knit outside in the snow, than participating in a little maple syrup production? (Not that we really need an excuse to sit around and knit!)
Maureen got ambitious this spring and tapped 12 sugar maples high on the hill behind her house. Collecting the sap and getting it down the hill to the fire is no mean feat. She filled 5 gallon water jugs that are barrel shaped, tied a rope to them and then rolled them down the hill. The rope is the insurance they won’t get away and bash up against a tree or rock. You wouldn’t want to lose a precious drop of the maple elixir. It is a delicate operation slip sliding down the hill on the sugary snow, trying to control the jug. At the bottom of the hill, 2 large plastic garbage cans are filled to the brim with sap and buried in the snow to ensure they stay fresh until the boiling begins. On good friday Julie and I  got the call, the fire pit was prepared and there was soup on the stove.Image

The ski hill in the distance is still open…

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The sap has got a good boil on

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Skimming the sap

Hopefully there will be a good gallon jug after two days of boiling. We had to taste the sap here and there as it boiled. Mmmmm, it is better than chocolate!

Saturday was another warm beautiful day. Much too nice to spend inside. So around this house we had to invent an excuse to spend some time outside by a fire. With no trees to tap we decided why not make our wood BBQ into a wood fired oven and make some Wakefield bagels. You can get a pretty good bagel in Ottawa but the best ones are in Montreal. Well it just so happens that I found a recipe eons ago for bagels from the famous Fairmont Bagel Bakery in Montreal. Steve dug out the BBQ which was pretty much buried in snow and got the fire going. I went to work in the kitchen. A crucial ingredient is malt powder or syrup. I knew we weren’t going to have any luck finding that at the General Store. I was just about to go ahead and make them without it when I had the brilliant idea of asking at the local bakery if they had any. I phone Phil at Pipolinka and lo and behold he had the malt syrup! He actually donated it to the cause although he did wonder if we were going to open a bagel shop in the village.Image

The top of the BBQ sticking out of the snow.

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Poppy seed and sesame seed bagels ready to be baked.

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Bagels cooking in the ‘oven’

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17 beautiful, delicious Wakefield Bagels!!! (one had already been consumed)

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Hannen gets the first one.

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What is bagel without cream cheese?

And because this is a blog about knitting not food here is a picture of the merino singles lace that will be going to Lettuce Knit in Toronto next week. Happy Easter!Image

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