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March 10, 2013

Maple syrup has many uses

I love maple syrup. I love it on pancakes, on waffles, on French toast with fried eggs.

But maple syrup is so much more than just pancake sauce. Maple syrup is the nectar of the gods, an epicurean delight that is meant to be experienced. It’s amazingly full bodied, with a complex and enjoyable flavor that is, to me, what honey is to bees.

I use it in my coffee every morning. And I pour it over oatmeal and other whole-grain hot cereals. I enjoy it as a topping on fruit, yogurt, ice-cream and pudding. I like to drizzle it over popcorn. And I find it heavenly in baked beans, pies, cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, sticky buns, cobblers and corn bread. What’s more, it makes a fantastic glaze for baked ham, pork chops, chicken or duck, and a delightful addition to stir fries.

For those who would like to get even more creative, how about adding a little maple syrup when preparing your favorite marinade? Just think about a delectable maple-marinated pork loin or burgers, wings or chops. And what about potatoes and zucchini infused with maple marinade?

How about mixing a batch of barbecue sauce with a generous measure of maple syrup? Just thinking about basting baby-back ribs, chicken, portabellas or shish kabobs in a sauce that’s sweet and tangy makes me want to start the grill right now. And a little maple syrup can go a long way when it comes to making pickles.

For those of you into home brewing, how about a batch of maple beer? I’m not particularly fond of dark beers, but several years ago I tried a maple porter that had been crafted by a friend of a friend. It was a heady, dark beer that proved to be pretty darn good. He said the recipe had been styled after one passed down by his grandfather who would boil down late-season, mildly buddy sap partway to syrup, add the right amount of hops and yeast, and forget about it until it was time to bottle.

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