Another day to spend with Mrs. Buttersworth! What a gift. As far as food items that deserve celebration, this one is right up there. I guess syrup is a condiment, but it seems like it should be in a more elite class than ketchup and mustard. Syrup really changes what you are eating for the better. Can you imagine pancakes without syrup? Waffles? A McGriddle? Hard to do because it’s the syrup flavor that makes it so special. It’s also, as any holiday movie fan knows, one of the four main food groups for a North Pole elf: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.
That’s actually where I got my inspiration today, from Buddy the Elf. We woke up to a surprising amount of snow on the ground. Not that it was much (maybe two inches) but it was unexpected, at least by me. But there it was. We awoke to the sounds of the plow scraping across the road and then the sound of beeping as the plow backed up the road. Confused by the sounds, that’s when we realized it must have snowed and winter had come to Rhode Island. After a slow cup of coffee, I suited up and headed outside to do some shoveling. By the time I got out there, the snow had turned to a light rain so it was all really wet and slushy. But it was easy enough to move and with my headphones in and some holiday music in my ears, I tidied up the driveway as best I could. The first shoveling of the season was done. In a weird way, I’m looking forward to more of it, although not too much more.
When I came inside and after a quick shower, I realized I was hungry. So, in Buddy the Elf spirit, I put a pot of water on and when it was boiling, I dropped in the spaghetti. After it cooked, I drained it and put it in a bowl with a little pad of butter. Mixed it around, and then poured in some maple syrup. I ended up using the last of our Aunt Jemima syrup (apologies to Mrs. B.). I just felt like my celebration today had to be a little different. Sure I could have made some pancakes or waffles, but spaghetti seemed more festive.
I’ll tell you what – it’s really not bad. I felt like it was eating two things you like but they don’t necessarily go together, but they don’t clash either. It was more like I had gone through some kind of food buffet where I piled spaghetti on my plate next to some pancakes and the syrup ran off into the spaghetti. It was like a happy accident. It was good, but I think I was confusing my tastebuds who probably had no idea what was going on. After I was done, I asked Lola if she wanted a taste and she had once again been oblivious to my cooking. When I told her I had made spaghetti with syrup, she was delighted at my spirit. She gave it a try too and she actually really liked it. She thought it was a unique flavor. She immediately started thinking about what to add to it. She thought chopped Macadamia nuts and some white chocolate shavings might be a neat little addition to the party (in theory – she didn’t actually try that). In any case, she was a fan so I may come home one day and Lola could be enjoying a nice big bowl of the stuff. I kind of think there’s a place where this could be on the menu of a funky restaurant – a holiday special. I bet you some adventurous souls and aficionados of elven culture would order it up
I felt I had to do something else to mark the occasion today so I looked up “things to make with maple syrup.” I started reading off my options to Lola and she stopped me when I said maple scones. She said that’s the one, but she also wanted me to add in some bacon. Lola really has some keen culinary vision (and yes, I do take requests). So I found a recipe for maple bacon scones from our friends at King Arthur’s Flour. However, the recipe called for maple sugar which happened to be about $20 for a small jar at the grocery store. There’s ways to make your own maple sugar (which is simply made from maple syrup), but you need a high grade maple syrup (not Mrs. B’s) and it’s a bit of a complicated process. Too ambitious for my lethargic, belly-full-of-spaghetti-and-syrup self. I looked for other recipes. In the end and in the interest of time, I went with a recipe that looked the easiest. It was for Maple Syrup Cornbread.
This recipe was super easy. Flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, milk, one egg, butter and maple syrup. That’s it (although as I write this I just realized I forgot to add the salt). You mix it all up, throw it in a pan and then into an oven for about 20 minutes. It comes out looking great.
I’ve never made a cornbread that I’ve found to be great. I think that’s me. Maybe I’m just used to the Jiffy Corn Muffin flavor, but my cornbreads are always lacking a little something. I can’t figure it out. Maybe it’s the cornmeal that I use? Or maybe this time it was forgetting the salt. I always want it to be awesome – I love cornbread. But it always seems to miss that certain something. My maple cornbread was a little better, but still missing something. You really tasted the maple syrup in it so that was a big plus. I had a piece when it was fresh from the oven and then I had one when it cooled down, and the cooled down one was much tastier to me. Not sure why that was. It was good and I would be happy to serve it to someone, it just wasn’t the WOW! I was hoping for. It would be really, really good as the base of some kind of Eggs Benedict. It was hardy and moist, which is a good combo for an Eggs Benny and it would soak up the yolk and Hollandaise sauce like a champ. I’ll keep that in mind for a future breakfast. I’ll call Maple Syrup Cornbread a success even though I know I could do better.
Consider this day celebrated. I packaged up some bags of spaghetti and syrup into some Zip-Lock storage bags so we could have it for lunch throughout the week and keep the holiday spirit going. My lesson from today’s celebration is to not to forget to have some fun with my quest. Have I ever craved syrup on my pasta before? No. But I allowed myself this indulgence just because you need to mix it up every now and then. I ended up with a belly full of holiday spirit. So cheers to maple syrup! The elixir of elven life and one of my favorites.
Next Up: National Roast Suckling Pig Day