A couple of years ago, I traveled to Vermont with my best friend and our combined five children to visit her family. I had never been to Vermont, but I’ve long been a lover of all things maple syrup. I think I ate a “Maple Creemee” every day we were there, and I still crave them. Adding maple syrup to my homemade yogurt is the closest thing I’ve been able to do. Recently I met a woman from Vermont who is a fantastic storyteller and loves to cook with maple syrup. She offered to share some of her stories and recipes here on the blog. So in honor of the “sugaring” season, for six days, I’ll be sharing a different recipe made with maple syrup.
The recipes will start with morning coffee, followed by two options for breakfast (one is a smoothie!), lunch, dinner, and dessert. If you happen to be a homeschool mom, or really any mom and would like to teach your children about maple syrup, it’s history, and how it’s made, be sure to visit my Maple Syrup Homeschool Resources post.
Now, enjoy our first story and a cup of coffee.
Going to the coffee shop every day gets expensive fast, but I love it! Who doesn’t! Any way I can find to bring the coffee shop home, I’ll find. It helps save money while giving that self-care attention I crave in a well-crafted cup of coffee. One of my favorite ways is this simple Vermont Fancy coffee recipe.
Coffee shops make fancy, complicated coffees that cost quite a pretty penny. There are a few tricks at home, that don’t require any special machines. Making stringer light coffee can help give you that caffeine boost you need while making a strong dark coffee will be richer in flavor. Simmering, and whisking the milk can help create that creamy frothy texture that is so hard to achieve. Adding ingredients like honey, maple syrup, caramel can give that special flavor that is craved.
Maple syrup is a Vermont staple. Maple syrup is even in the Vermont Emergency Medical Services protocols for EMTs and paramedics to treat hypoglycemia. It’s one of the most produced products in Vermont, rapidly gaining popularity over the past decade. When driving through the countryside, you’ll see taps on trees, and signs everywhere for maple syrup. Although you can stop anywhere, if you’re in the Northeast Kingdom, I highly recommend stopping with Mary and Mario at Fradettes Maple Syrup Farm. It’s even a season: sugaring season. The last week of January, until the first few weeks of March is when folks spend their time up and down the sugar bush collecting sap.
The maple industry has seen many changes over the years, from wood fires to electrical heat to boil down the sap, to using crushed glass as a filter. In meeting with the Fradette family, it’s clear Vermont is ahead of the game. There are many small farms learning all that they can about sustainability and efficiency. Some have sold out to larger corporations, while family farms like the Fradette’s continue to persevere through the decades.
Many communities in Vermont live by the sugaring season schedule. The family guys are often doing construction in the summer and sugaring in the winter. The Fradette’s farm started out decades ago when the family immigrated to Vermont from Canada. Mario’s father found an expansive piece of property for pennies on the dollar for what he could have paid in Canada. The property happened to border his brother’s who had immigrated not long before.
Speaking a little french with Mario took me back to my own travels. In middle school, we went to France on a regular basis in winter. Visiting the sugar shacks up there, we ate our hearts out, feasting on maple butter slathered hams and breads. The meals were simple, but the food was rich with flavor, always coming from maple syrup. Mario and Marie often use maple syrup in their cooking, but also use differently sized granules of maple sugar for baking and decorating. All are available for retail on their website.
When the family, Arsene, Denise, and their five children, first moved to East Hardwick, they moved a pig shed down to the river bank to serve as their sugarhouse. Their season was unfortunately cut short after a flood took out the shed. In the beginning, the family tapped the 3000 tree sugar bush all with buckets. Walking over the 30 acres the sap was manually collected by the family. Mary fondly joked about the days of walking the bush to collect buckets, noting that Mario knows the bush like the back of his hand.
Now, many decades later, the family taps the trees using a gravity system. The taps are hooked up to lines that go directly to the sugar shack where Mary and Mario live. Sugaring season is a from sun up to sun down season. Folks are out working the lines, making sure nothing is broken or predators didn’t get into the sweet sap hidden by the pipes.
As the family told their stories of the sugar bush, there were a few that stuck out. According to Mario, moose have a knack for getting into the sugar bush, however, that’s not the scariest predator. Mary was alone in the bush working on the lines when she turned a corner and ran into a bear. Just a few feet from the bear, she remembered all that Mario had told her to do if this fateful day ever happened. Off the bear ran, and back home Mary scurried.
After getting lost in the bush a few times, the family started naming the paths in between the trees after their children, and grandchildren. It’s become a great adventure for the children, who can bring their friends to see the roads named after them. The blueberry patch in the summer offers another connection for the grandparents to their many grandchildren. The patch started out as a business for the children, who now older, have grown on to other endeavors in their schooling. Both Mary and Mario talked fondly of how their farm has allowed for them to bond with their family and with their community.
Vermont “Fancy” Coffee
This recipe serves one, but easily doubles, triples, or quadruples for larger groups.
8-ounce cup of hot coffee
1 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk whisked
Whisk the coconut milk until frothy.
In a mug, pour the maple syrup, the hot coffee, and then slowly pour in the coconut milk.
Stir gently, and serve.
- 8-ounce cup of hot coffee
- 1 Tbs maple syrup
- ¼ cup full fat coconut milk whisked
- Whisk the coconut milk until frothy.
- In a mug, pour the maple syrup, the hot coffee, and then slowly pour in the coconut milk.
- Stir gently, and serve.