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Spring 2022 Newsletter

Welcome Springtime!

Sugaring season in the northeast ended in mid-April.  The taps have been pulled and our sugar maples are now in the phase of growing leaves which will begin the process of making next year’s sugar through photosynthesis.  We are also continuing the cycle of preparation for next year’s season. Right now the most pressing job is to cut, split and dry wood to be used in our wood fired evaporator. Read on for more news from the farm  and delicious, maple inspired recipes!

Sugarers were concerned when March started off with 60 degree temperatures, but the season quickly looked up as freezing nights returned. 

Maple sap starts at 1% or 2 % sugar and the rest is water and various nutrients. Maple syrup is 67% sugar. The nutrients remain and a lot of water is evaporated. We boil over a wood fire for the best caramelized flavor. Matt is always a fast moving blur during sugaring!

After several hours…maple syrup is poured off!

The finished product is hot packed into our new custom glass.

All our firewood is sustainably harvested. Most comes from trees downed in windstorms. Being on a mountain means lots of wind damage!

Finally we are seeing spring flowers! Check out this fun guide to Vermont’s Spring Flowers.

The songbirds are back! Our sugarbush is certified as Bird Friendly through the Audubon Bird Friendly Maple Project. Every spring we are amazed at the number of birds who make their home on our hillside until late summer. Learn how to Bird By Ear in this fun article by Gwendoyln Causer.

King of the sugarbush! On April 1, we celebrated two years with our our little pandemic sugar dog, Archie. As a stray from Texas it’s taken a couple of years for Archie to feel comfortable in the woods and with Vermont weather. He has come around though, and spent lots of time helping with sugaring this spring.

Finally we’re getting some heat in Vermont! As a full-time teacher I spend most of the day inside. As soon as I get home, Archie and I head out to the sugarbush to look for Matt, check on the songbirds or just enjoy the beauty of quiet nature.

Sweet Treats for Spring

Maple Sugar Bars

These delicious bars are reminiscent of pecan pie, yet the maple and walnut create a much more robust flavor. Serve once they have cooled, maybe with a dollop of whipped cream to create a special dessert.

Ingredients

Base

Topping

Instructions

Base

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine butter, maple sugar and flour and stir until the mixture is crumbly. Press mixture into an 8 inch greased baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Topping

  1. In a saucepan, combine the maple syrup, maple sugar and walnuts and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and stir until melted.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the flour and salt. Add egg mixture to maple syrup mixture and stir to combine. Pour over the base and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until set. Cool completely before cutting.

Extra Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

These pancakes are extra fluffy due to a shot of seltzer. See how it stacks up against your favorite pancake recipe!

Ingredients

Serves 4

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons Couching Lion Maple Sugar

1¼ teaspoons baking powder

1¼ teaspoons baking soda

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt

2 large eggs

1¾ cups buttermilk

½ cup cold seltzer water or club soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more

Pure Vermont Couching Lion Maple Syrup (for serving)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and wet ingredients in a second small bowl. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir. The batter will be slightly lumpy and should not be over stirred.

Heat a greased griddle or frying pan. Scoop out batter in 1/4 cups, leaving plenty of space for the pancake to expand. Look for bubbles to form and then flip.

We always heat the maple syrup for pancakes! Add about 2 tablespoons per serving to a small pan. Heat slowly and watch carefully. Maple syrup boils over quickly!

Serve immediately and enjoy the rest of the morning (or evening if you’re having pancakes for dinner….an actual real thing we do in Vermont)!

Enjoy springtime wherever you are! We look forward to sharing this season’s maple syrup with you. Click the green links or the button below to shop for your own springtime sweet maple syrup!                       

 XO From Huntington,

Chaska, Matt and Archie

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Spring Newsletter 2021

Couching Lion Maple Sugar Farm

Welcome Springtime!

Sugaring 2021 is here! Sugarers all over the northeast are welcoming the season we prepare for all year long. The sugarhouse is ready, the wood has been stacked and drying for 10 months, the sugar lines are stretched from tree to tree and the taps are in! Everything that can be  prepared in advance is done, and the rest is up to Mother Nature. Sugarers rely on cold nights and warm days. The global warming trend has sugarers worried and this year has been no exception. March started out very cold and then a string of 60-70 degree days put an early end to the season for many. We are fortunate to have survived the warm week, in part due to our high altitude, a little luck and Matt’s ingenuity! We’re hoping to get in several more boils before the weather warms up for good. Read on for news from the farm, recipes and more.

This warm weather has been a topic of conversation in the sugaring community and around Vermont in general. After a long winter, most people are thrilled for a quick change in temperature. So why are sugarers still yearning for freezing nights and a slow thaw? The answer is in how pressure is created within the sugar maples during the freeze and thaw cycle. When the temperature falls below 32 degrees, water and nutrients are sucked up through the tree’s roots and combined with the stored starch (sugar) created through photosynthesis in the summer months. As the temperature rises above freezing during the day, the sap is released out through the tap holes. When the weather is consistently warm, this pressure isn’t created within the tree and the sap stops running. Sugar content in sap can vary, but on average it take 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Luckily, the forecast has now shifted and Vermont will see a week of freezing nights ahead!

We’ve updated our logo!

Our original logo was created by our wonderful friend and colleague, Jesse Clarke. We loved the image of the Couching Lion with the sun and maple leaf rising above it. As we’ve gained traction as a Bird Friendly Sugarbush, we thought it might be good to add a migratory songbird, change up the font and make a few other slight tweaks. Local business, Gotham City Graphics helped us reimagine the new logo. 

We’re celebrating one year with our Sugar Dog!

Last year, on April 1, we did what so many Americans were doing during the pandemic: we adopted a little dog. Archie was a stray in Texas and there was little in his bio to suggest he actually wanted to live with humans. But…anyone who has ever had a dog knows the best one for you will come along, and he sure did. Archie has learned the joys of living indoors, sleeping in beds, playing with toys and eating whenever he wants. It turns out he’s also a great farm dog. He stays nearby, loves Gator rides, hangs out in the sugarbush and actually can’t get enough his humans.!

Pictures from Sugaring 2021

Sweet Treats for Spring

Maple Walnut Cake

The combination of maple and walnuts is an ultimate crowd pleaser. This cake is also delicious without the frosting. Bake it in a muffin tin or brownie pan for speedier and equally wonderful treat. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups Couching Lion Granulated Maple Sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • CANDIED WALNUTS:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped California Walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon Couching Lion Maple Syrup
  • FROSTING:
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 tablespoons Couching Lion Maple Syrup, divided

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 3 greased 9-in. round baking pans with parchment; grease parchment.
  • Cream butter and maple sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition. Fold in walnuts.
  • Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 11-13 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  • For candied walnuts, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; saute walnuts until toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in maple syrup; cook and stir 1 minute. Spread onto foil; cool completely.
  • For frosting, beat butter until creamy. Beat in 1 tablespoon maple syrup and salt. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to reach desired consistency.
  • Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup candied walnuts and drizzle with 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Repeat layers.
  • Top with remaining layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Top with remaining walnuts and syrup.

Maple Overnight Oats

This breakfast treat can be made the night before and dressed up the following morning with fruit, yogurt and nuts. 

For 2 servings, combine 1 cup of old fashioned oats with 1 cup of your choice of milk. Stir in 4 tablespoons of maple syrup. Either divide into 2 containers, or store in the refrigerator in a single container. The oats will soften after 2 hours but they are best when left in the refrigerator overnight. 

This is the basic recipe. You could also add for each serving: 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, 1 tablespoon chia seeds. Find what you like best! No matter what you add, your breakfast will have a base of healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Enjoy springtime wherever you are! While we love cold nights, we too are looking forward to warm days and being outside. Until then, we’ll be boiling and bottling some delicious 2021 maple syrup.   Click the green links or the button below to shop for your own springtime sweet maple syrup!                       

 XO From Huntington,

Chaska, Matt and Archie

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SHOP OUR MAPLE PRODUCTS!   Couching Lion Sugar Farm
Huntington, VT
(802) 434-5232
couchinglionsugar@gmavt.net
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