Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweet Inspiration from the North Country to Remedy the Mid-Atlantic Blues

Sugar maple, delicious, wonderful sugar maple season is here. I need a sugar bush. Climate change is troubling this native tree, Acer saccharum.

On Monday, we were snowed in. I worked from home. Beren was very, very crabby. Jared did his best to entertain and comfort (and he does a d*mn good job), but nothing could stop Beren from bursting into our home office repeatedly. He sought me out in every corner of the house.

Very early Tuesday morning, I woke to the sounds of a three year old retching near my ear. We had played musical beds, and I found myself in his bed. I hustled him to the bathroom and murmured somewhat comforting words and practical instructions, "This is scary. It hurts, I know. This is your body doing what it needs to. I am here. Lean over the toilet." Nothing came up. We hustled back to bed.

Previous day's crankiness explained.

Later Tuesday morning, I called out of work. My mom stopped by for a couple hours, hung out, played, did our breakfast dishes. I dialed in for a work meeting via conference call. Beren nursed and fell asleep in my arms while I listened.

The crankiness ebbed and flowed. And flowed. Knowing that we'd have yet another snow day on Wednesday (today) and possibly a power outage, we needed sweets to get through another day. Jared and I would be shoveling more snow. Possible cranky child. Possible ill child. We would need sweets. I would need sweets.

We made maple granola and pumpkin pie. We carved a cheesecake pumpkin from a vendor at the Hunterdon Land Trust Market* and steamed it up. Seeds were rinsed. I gave Beren the task of drying by pounding the seeds between two towels. I hoped the effort would left off steam. Seeds salted, went into the toaster. For the pie crust, I used pork lard that Jared rendered from unprocessed lard from Lima Family Farms*. Delicious.

Wednesday arrived under a layer of ever accumulating ice. Definitely very cranky child. Definitely needed sweets. In fact, I made cookies.

Pecan and whole wheat flour cookies sweetened with honey and maple sugar. I'm no food photog - misty effect created by when my camera lens fogged after being brought in from the cold.


I've long complained that sweets are just a vector for sugar. No flavor, no interest. Too sweet, even when I really reduce the sugar that is called for. Inspired by pecan and honey cookies that Jared made a couple weeks ago, I replaced the sugar with honey (from Tassot Apiaries*) and maple syrup and part of the flour with freshly ground pecans and almonds. We needed chocolate, so in went chips. My nervous system needed support, so in went rolled oats. Delicious.

Power went out. At least we had a very short stack of wood for the woodstove and sweets.

The chocolate and homeopathic remedies (Nux vomica followed by Chamomila) definitely worked. By dinnertime, he happily took the invitation to our neighbor's house for dinner by candlelight. Before heading over he liberally scooped spicy green salsa with blue corn chips and cheese. At dinner, he wolfed down his plate of venison meatloaf.

Jared and I took a deep breath. Thursday would be a better day.

*I mention some of the businesses here because Tassot's honey is excellent. Lima Family Farm's meat is very tasty and their eggs are the best I have had locally. In summer, Hunterdon Land Trust Farm Market has great live music.

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