Arnprior Christmas Craft-Bake-Business Fair

I’ve been in the kitchen all day today preparing for the One of a Kind Christmas Craft-Bake -Business Fair, happening from 10:00-4:00 this Saturday in Arnprior at the Nick Smith Centre, 77 James St.  On the docket for today was 2 batches of maple butter.  Tomorrow I’ll change my focus to maple cones, then Thursday on to maple pies, and fudge on Friday.  By the end of the week my house will be full of sweet smells of decadence, aromas of maple perfuming the air.  This will be my first time attending the Arnprior craft fair.  It’s a bit further from home, yet still local and I’m still hopeful to see some familiar faces.  My hopes are that branching out to the Arnprior fair will help in distinguishing Julia’s Tree Stand Maple Syrup as a local, high quality maple syrup brand.

If you’re an Arnprior local, come find me at the fair!  For more info, click here.  Hope to see you there!

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Fall 2014 Recap

November 13 – This year’s first snowfall is underway.  Beautiful day today, about -3 and sunny; the grass is still green.  Outside, with the sun beaming on my face I obliviously thought ‘for this time of year that sure is a lot of pollen floating through the air’. I then continued about my business.  It took about 10 minutes before I stopped short and put two and two together, realizing that those white clusters drifting through the air were snow clusters.

I am proud to announce my maple butter won first place at the Carp Fair!  There was plenty of competition in the syrup categories.  I scoped out what the winners syrup looked like in each category.  They were all about a shade lighter than mine so I conclude that I should have entered all of my syrups a grade lower: my extra light should have been in the light category, light in the medium category etc..  Live and learn, now I know for next year.  As I’ve got time now I’m revisiting my list of improvements to make for next year.  Two weeks ago AJ and I built a folding shelf under a window in the sugar shack.  Today we bought some hardware to attach some cement slabs to the wall in the corner so we can safely tuck the finishing unit in closer to the wall.  Mundane tasks I know, but the hope is they will make our process more efficient when the time comes.  Only 4 months to go!

Fall

Fall is in the air.  The cold descends at night, coating outside in a crisp, white veil of frost.  A deceptive way of introducing colder temperatures and preparing us for winter.  Still, fall invigorates me; I convert garden produce into a variety of edibles and delights.  Tomatoes into salsa, cucmbers into pickles, horseradish roots into, well horseradish.  And the list goes on.  Tomatoes I find very versatile.  From salsa and chutney to tomato sauce, tomatoes are the base for such a diversity of foods.  Last year, with the garden abounding in tomatoes, I tried my hand at making sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.  While I only got one 500 mL jar from about 5 lbs of tomatoes, each morsel exploded with flavor and tasted out of this world.  This year the tomato plants didn’t fare as well and I didn’t have enough to make everything I wanted to.  And this year someone in the family planted potatoes.  (Personally, I didn’t really want to do potatoes because I didn’t want to be the one digging them up but I digress…kind of).  Now the planter is 8 months pregnant and has been ordered on bed rest so it looks like I’ll be the one digging them up after all.  She planted them along a fence.  In a field.  I know where the field is, and I know where the fence is, but that is the extent of it.  I’m begrudgingly going to dig up the ones I can find today before the frost turns them all into mush.  If it hasn’t already. For many people around these parts Fall means time for the Carp Fair, a local tradition.  The Carp Fair is both gardeners’ and farmers’ chance to display their pride and joy – their livestock, their produce, and their preserving abilities.  This year I’m entering hot salsa, my maple syrup, maple butter, and a stuffed baby toy (knitted stuffed caterpillar) I made for my brother’s soon-to-be-newborn.  (I have a sinking suspicion that if I were to sneak up on Mike and his baby spending quality nap time together, I’d find Mike snuggling with the caterpillar instead of the baby 🙂 ).  I had my tags printed off earlier in the week and I’m submitting my entries tonight.  They will be judged tomorrow.  I don’t mean to boast or anything but my maple syrup is pretty fantastic – it’s got good clarity, color, outstanding flavor.  The only thing I’m unsure about is the density.  Thick maple syrup is what I grew up on, what I consider to be the standard.  But I’ve heard others say that runnier maple syrup with a more delicate flavor is considered to be better.  And I think I’m going to have some pretty stiff competition.  There are a number of well-seasoned maple sugarers around these parts who know a lot more about making maple syrup than me.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see.  If it turns out runnier is what they want all the better; next year I’ll draw the syrup off earlier and run less risk of my pans foaming over 😛