sap’s Running (so are the turkeys)
In Maine, talking about the weather isn’t just small talk…it’s an art form we hone carefully to keep our spirits up and remind ourselves that we’re not in this alone! For weeks now the temperatures have been wildly vascillating between freezing and inviting. We’ve been rocked by winds that shake the strongest trees and blow the waves way up over the retaining wall…I didn’t have my phone with me the other day to capture a picture but imagine seaweed hanging from a rosebush a football field away from the waters’ edge. The wind is even driving the wild turkeys down to the beach to forage…you might say that we’ve been experiencing an uptick in commuter traffic here on the Bay. 😆
March is more than wind though. March is for boiling maple syrup and Sunday was Maine Maple Sunday. The sugar in maple sap only appears where warm, sunny days and below-freezing nights follow each other for days on end, as they do in Maine’s long, slow spring. We celebrate every year by finding a new sugar shack to visit…this year we were at Simmons and Daughters in Morrill, about thirty minutes from the campground.
It’s tradition to boil hotdogs in the sap, pop maple corn and pour “sugar on snow” for a taffy like confection that we follow with dill pickles…the Simmons family had all of that PLUS maple syrup cotton candy! OMG…we’re going to find a way for you to taste this during one (or more) of the Wednesday Night music jams this summer…it is wicked good! I wished we’d bought more because we devoured the entire bag on the way home only to find out that if you pour vodka and lime over the confection, heaven is born…stir with a pussy willow if you’re lucky!
We didn’t plan it that way but Sunday was definitely about sugar! Before we drove to the maple house we stopped by the Only Doughnut in Belfast. It hurts my Yankee spirit to pay $3.50 for a single doughnut but before you judge, try their chocolate sea smoke glazed creation…no really, when you have the opportunity, don’t pass it up because it’s amazing! This fried confection has exactly the right combination of bitter dark chocolate, smoked sea salt and buttery glaze. In an effort to balance the morning, we took our doughnuts and hiked to the waterfall on the Little River Trail in Belfast…it’s an easy way to feel virtuous 🙂
But Sunday wasn’t just about the sugar…it was about the seafood too. Our lovely friends and beekeepers Sharon and Raymond had us over for the last of the season’s sea scallops. If you are ever lucky enough to buy a bucket of these sweet nuggets, run, don’t walk to get them. They are a treat that doesn’t compare to anything you can buy from a store…they must come straight from the diver and into your frying pan within a few hours to appreciate just how briney and wonderful a scallop cooked in a little bit of butter can be. And if your friends are truly amazing, they’ll match the scallops with 2 pounds of picky toe crab meat broiled into open face sandwiches. It couldn’t be easier or better (and this you can re-create in the summer when you get here). Use the best bread you can find (we have several bakers in the area so that’s easy), smeer the slices with mayonaise, top with crab, add a few slices of good cheese (we like the kind with hot peppers) and broil for a few minutes. Only a cold micro beer can make everything better.
I didn’t plan it this way but clearly our week was about food…maybe next week I’ll pretend that it’s about exercising and losing the winter roll we’ve carefully accumulated! Until then, be well and help the people who surround you…. stay healthy!