It's not rocket science. It's just science. A tasty experiment, to be exact.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
I have always been an avid reader. As a kid, books were my best friends, and I would devour them by the tens a month. The Little House series was one of my favorites, especially the first one, Little House In The Big Woods. It was that book that taught me how to make bullets by melting lead and pouring the molten metal into a mold and waiting for it to harden, like Pa Ingalls did. (No, I've never made bullets. But maybe I could if I had to.) The story also taught me that if you butcher a pig, you can cook it's tail on a stick until it's hot and sizzly and toasty, and it's a great treat. (Nope, never did that either. But my Uncle George did give me a pig tail once. Should have given it a try.) Also, the bladder of the pig could be blown up, tied off and batted around like a balloon. (Haven't done that either, that's just gross.) This morning, while I was sitting around allowing random thoughts to pop into my head, I realized something. The very first recipe I ever tried was from Little House In The Big Woods. In the winter, Pa Ingalls would bundle himself in every fur ever known to man, put on his snow shoes and go out sugaring- pulling the sap out of the maple trees to make syrup so Ma could pour them over the johnnycakes or biscuits or whatever she might be cooking up with the pig-of-the-day recipe. He'd collect his buckets off the trees, and go back and cook the sap down until it became syrup. After he cooled it, he would thrill Laura and Mary (not blind yet) by pouring the syrup onto some packed snow, making them a frozen, chewy taffy. They squealed with glee as they ate the sticky treat. I wanted to do the same. Since my Pa had the modern luxury of "food shopping" I did not have to trek into the cold winter to procure my syrup, I just had to pull it from the top shelf on the door of the fridge. Out into the snow I went, my bottle of Mrs. Butterworth in one hand, a mitten on the other. After industriously packing some snow tightly into a cake pan, I painstakingly poured the syrup into a careful curlicue. And watched it completely disappear, sinking with amazing speed, into the snow. I was baffled, I had followed the directions so carefully. Completely disappointed that I was not sitting, waiting in anticipation like the Ingalls girls, for my maple candy to harden, I tried one more time, pouring more slowly this time. Same result. Now, there is no way I could have known that Mrs. Butterworth never went near a maple tree to get her bottle filled. All I knew was Mrs. Butterworth in the snow eaten off a spoon wasn't so bad. It wasn't good, but it was better than just snow. As I sit here writing this, looking out at the snow, and knowing I have real maple syrup in the fridge it's hard to not grab a pan and a mitten and go give it another whirl. But I think I won't. I remember my Dad laughing at my experiment, asking what other condiments I might like to pour into the snow, and it's a pretty good memory. Let's just leave it at that.