I really wanted to make my own maple syrup last year. I thought about it, but that’s about as far as it got. As much as I am a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, last spring I was a little, um…shall we say distracted. And it’s a bit difficult to do a big, new, food-related project when you have no kitchen, no money, and your house is a construction site.
I did some reading, bought spiles and tubing, asked friends for containers (thanks Mary, Ruth, and Karen!), and a hotplate (thanks Tina and Andy!), and chose 5 trees. On the chosen day, the cordless drill failed. I ran to Wadeson’s to buy a plug-in drill, but they had none for sale. At the last minute, I spotted one for rent and ran extension cords to my trees. And my experiment with “sugaring” began!
I plugged the hotplate in on the deck; Sadie and I carefully monitored the first 2 gallons until we were down to a pint or so. Then I transferred my precious almost-syrup to the stove, momentarily lost track and promptly boiled away the proceeds, filling the house with smoke and making a huge mess of my favorite saucepan. I’d love to say I learned my lesson, but I made the same mistake with a later batch. Middle age onset ADD? Sap needs to be reduced 40 times to be syrup. It is a slow process, but when the sugar concentrates at the end; it’s a lot like making caramel. I have learned to practice mindfulness when making caramel and when making syrup!
All told, I made about 3 cups of syrup and gave most of it away. Earlier batches were lighter in color and flavor, later ones were darker. Brian reported that it makes a lovely Old Fashioned.
I’ve been keeping a few little jars on the counter to admire them; it’s as if I’d made liquid gold. Some has been used in my beautiful supper salads. Bob is hoping for pancakes for supper soon. The other night, I woke up with the realization that Mindfulness Bread (you know, because mindfulness?) would taste great sweetened with my syrup; and decided mini muffins would be a terrific variation. They are slightly sweet, nutty, filling, hearty, moist, and dense. Perfect for breakfast, a snack, or to pack on a trip or a hike.
If you’re a Mindfulness Bread fan, you will adore these. If not, you will adore these.
Maple Mindfulness Mini Muffins
These are naturally vegan and gluten free. They freeze beautifully, just thaw in the microwave or oven.
Makes 24 mini muffins, 12 regular muffins, or 1 loaf. You may need to bake a bit longer if you’re making bigger muffins or a bread.
2 cups rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Extra Thick)
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 tbs millet
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs hemp seeds
2 tbs sunflower seeds
2 tbs pumpkin seeds
2 tbs raisins or dates
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups water
cooking oil spray, preferably organic
Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. Let stand at least 2 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven to 325°. Use a portion scoop or spoon to fill the little muffin cups, compacting and mounding very slightly.
Bake for 25 minutes until the muffins are firm to touch and slightly browned. Turn off the oven and let them stand for another 20 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.
These are great plain, but even better with a bit of almond butter or coconut oil.