I am so happy that you have landed in my little corner of cyberspace. If you join me here, you will, hopefully, get to know a little about me. You will read my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, and see some of my favorite things. I hope you will visit often. I will try to update it regularly and hopefully you will see an improvement in the blog along the way. Thank you for stopping in to see me as I travel on this journey called "life"!













Sunday, March 27, 2011

MAPLE SUGARING AND A GIVEAWAY


It's maple sugaring season here in New England.  As you travel along the roads in New Hampshire, you see the snow melting on the ground and smoke rising above the trees.  The smoke invariably leads to sugar shacks - both large and small. 


Maple Sugaring is completely new to me.  Having been born and raised in Louisiana, I didn't grow up  eating real maple syrup, having "sugar on snow" or any of the other maple treats.  Oh, I had tasted "maple flavored" things like oatmeal or maple nut candies; but, our common household syrup was normally Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima or Karo Syrup.


While I didn't grow up with maple syrup, I wasn't completely deprived.  We would sometimes have ribbon cane syrup made from sugar cane as a special breakfast treat.  Ribbon cane syrup is particularly yummy when you mix it with softened real butter and spread that on a hot biscuit.  It's sooo yummy! At least, I didn't know that I was missing anything then so you don't have to feel sorry for me. 


My husband, on the other hand, grew up with maple syrup and the whole maple sugaring process as part of his life.  His dad did some "sugaring" on a very small scale when he was growing up so when the days started warming up and the nights were cold and the sap started to flow, his dad would tap some trees and begin the process of gathering the sap and boiling it down for syrup.  
 
 
When we moved up here to his home state last November, David was eager to revisit those memories of his childhood and visit some sugar shacks during the sugaring season.  He has told me about the process for years; but, there is nothing quite like experiencing it for yourself.  

 
New Hampshire Maple Weekend was held last weekend so we took advantage of the open houses to see the process in person.  We visited two sugar houses on Sunday.  One of them was a smaller operation as shown in the photos above and the other one was a larger operation.  


Ben's Sweet Maples Sugar House sits on a hill overlooking Route 103 in Newbury, New Hampshire.  You can see the smoke rising from the building this time of year to let you know that the maple sugaring process has begun.   It is open every weekend from 9-7 during the months of March and April and when they are boiling, they offer tours and treats to visitors who stop by.  We have passed by this place often and since it is so close to home, we decided to stop in there first. 


The Sweet Maples Sugar House one of two places of operation for Ben's Sugar Shack.  Ben, also, has Ben's Sugar Shack in Temple, New Hampshire which is open every day from 9-7 year round.  They have a fully stocked store with their syrup and other maple treats for purchase.  If you aren't able to visit the store during the season, Ben's is happy to ship to you.  You can visit their online store here.


One visit to Ben's Sugar Shack and you know why he is experiencing success in his chosen field.  This is a really professional operation.


Did you know that it takes 42-46 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup and that it takes about 45 minutes to go from sap to syrup?  Ben's processes about 500 gallons of sap per hour!  These guys aren't playing around.  Here are some other cool interesting facts about Ben's and maple syrup, in general...

(click the photo to enlarge)


You have to admire someone who knew from the age of 5 what he wanted to do in life and then immediately went after it. After a preschool trip to a maple sugar house, he was hooked. He came home and told his Dad what he wanted to do and the very next day they got started on fulfilling his dreams. Supportive parents are a blessing! By the age of 15, Ben won the Maple Producers Carlisle Trophy for the best syrup in New Hampshire. Way to go, Ben!


If you have ever smelled an open bottle of maple syrup, you can only imagine how wonderful it smells in there when the sap is boiling.  I truly wish I could have bottled that smell and shared it with you here on the blog.  It was ah-mazing. 



One of the benefits of visiting Ben's sugar house when they are in production is that you get to taste all sorts of yummy treats made from the syrup.  There were cookies, candy, baked beans and sausage with syrup.  There were baked goods and ice cream and hot coffee.  They had Maple Barbecue Sauce and Maple Mustard.  So many yummy products were available!

One of my favorite treats available during my visit was the maple cotton candy.  I was a cotton candy fan already but MAPLE Cotton Candy?! 

Seriously? 
Yes, it was that good.

Ben not only knows how to make delicious Maple Syrup; but, he knows how to surround himself with good people to help him along with his business.  Everyone there was so nice and friendly and genuinely seemed to enjoy what they were doing. 


Ben picked a winner with Meredith.  On the day we visited, she was busy making sure that everyone felt welcome and that the kids that were visiting didn't get away without trying the ice cream.  The kids loved her so much that she was getting hugs left and right.  We had such a pleasant visit with her too.  She shared with us how Ben got started in the business and about the different grades of maple syrup and about the products that were available for sale in the shop. 

And to think that it all starts with a tap on a tree just like this...





So, it's been about a year since I really started blogging.  I wrote my first post in July of 2009 but didn't write another one until March of last year.  From that point on, my whole life changed. 

I had no idea that I would be blogging my life away when I started this journey.  I had no idea that I would have readers or meet friends out in the blogosphere.  I had no idea that my whole view of life would change with each post.   There are so many wonderfully talented people out in the blogosphere.   I am not a writer or a photographer and I am awed by your blogs daily.   

Who knew that I would "meet" so many wonderful people by starting this blog? 

You inspire me....
You encourage me...
You bless me with your visits, your comments and your emails....

As a small gesture of "thanks" to you, my readers, I am going to
give one of you the following
"Taste of Maple Sugar"...


1/2 Pint of Grade A New Hampshire Pure Maple Syrup


a bag of yummy maple drops made with real maple syrup

And last but most definitely not least....


2 pieces of pure Maple Sugar Candy
compliments of Ben's Sugar Shack!

So what do you have to do to win
this yummy prize package?

All that you have to do to be entered to win is to follow my blog publicly through Google Friend connect, subscribe in a reader or via email and leave me a comment letting me know which one you do.  That's it.

If you would like extra entries....

Visit Ben's blog here and become a subscriber.  Please leave him a comment to say "hello" so that he knows you are new to his blog.  Be sure to come back and leave me a separate comment telling me that you've done so.

"Like" Ben on Facebook here and leave a separate comment here telling me that you've done so.

And last but not least, blog your favorite recipe using maple syrup and mention this giveaway in the post. You must come back here and leave me a separate comment with the link to your blog post. 

***In order to take advantage of the extra entries, you must leave
 a separate comment for each thing that you do. ***

This giveaway is open to all United States and Canadian residents and will end at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time on April 1, 2011.  A winner will be selected via random.org  and announced here on this blog. 

****This giveaway has ended now. 
Thank you all for entering! 
Congratulations to Jessica at Heart on Homestead!****

Thank you so much for a wonderful year!  I look forward to many more. 

Best Wishes, 



35 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so glad you came back to your blog -- I can't imagine not having you as my friend!!! That prize package looks amazing; I adore maple syrup, candy, anything. Following the blog, but you already knew that ... :) When we lived outside of town, my ex-husband tapped trees and we made syrup. It requires exceptional patience, especially getting to the critical point at which it thickens, and then you have to pay constant attention. The ex got tired of stirring ... you can guess the rest. There is nothing quite as lovely as maple syrup, and nothing quite as wretched as burnt maple sugar ruining your favorite stockpot!

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  2. Oh my goodness! i LOVE maple syrup. This giveaway is exciting! I'm a follower through Google Friend Connect.

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  3. Great post Candy, very interesting and informative....got me to thinking about Daddy and how much he loved syrup, especially ribbon cane....

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  4. What a wonderful giveaway!! I follow you through google friend connect. ;)

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  5. I am a fan of Ben's Sugar Shack on Facebook. Our family loves a trip to the Sugar Shack in Temple atleast 203 times a year - we hit him up at Pumpkin fest in Milford too. Thanks for helping to share his amazing story - it is inspirational. Your blog is an enjoyable read for sure - keep it going! Welcome to NH and thanks for the chance at a great maple giveaway :-)

    Kelly Rose Mullin on Facebook

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  6. Now this looks like a super fun weekend. I would love to smell all that maple just brewing. Oh and the Maple Cotton Candy sounds fabulous.
    Of course I am a proud follower.
    Blessings!

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  7. Great post, didn't know a thing about sugaring but I do love real maple syrup :) Sounds like a lot of fun to see these places in action!

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  8. I always make a point to buy real maple syrup. My fiance always gives me a hard time since it costs so much more than the name brand, but I think it's more than worth it!

    And I'm a subscriber through my google reader!

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  9. BE STILL MY HEART!!! Is there anything better than New Hampshire Maple Syrup? I actually just used all mine up last night. This post makes me happy! You have to visit Parkers Maple Barn in Brookline. They have the most amazing stuffed french toast. = )) Happy Monday!

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  10. What a splendid journey into the making of Maple Syrup! Lovely post indeed and wonderful photos!

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  11. I learned a lot this morning. It was a wonderful post and I loved to see how the syrup is made. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  12. What a nice tour of the sugaring operation! I am already a follower, so I don't know if there is something else to do to get on your list for this. :)

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  13. I thoroughly enjoyed this little tour! The only time we get to sample real maple syrup is when we go to Canada in the summer. :)

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  14. I wish I had known this place while being there! I had sure paid them a visit! And the girl is so pretty how can not like her? Children are attracted by beautiful people, just like we are. Beautiful contest Candace, I don't know if I am eligible but you know I follow you. Have a great day!

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  15. What a wonderful giveaway candace! I am thrilled about this because being your fellow Louisiana neighbor we too grew up with karo and log cabin on our tables. The first time I had real syrup was with my husband and his mother's family who live in Wisconsin and they were amused at how amazed at was at the perfect flavor of real maple syrup. It is just perfect, best way to describe it, the richness and level of flavor is amazing. Anyway, Love the story behind this and that boy ,now a man, is an inspiration to all of us to follow our dreams, regardless of what they are.

    I am so in on this giveaway! I follow you on google friend connect!

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  16. Thank you for your kind remarks on my blog. :) I just now joined Ben's blog and left a comment.

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  17. And I've liked Ben's Sugar Shack on FaceBook and left a comment. I am about to drown in drool, too, by the way. ;)

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  18. Now I've blogged a recipe using Real Maple Syrup!

    http://simplyhomemaking60.blogspot.com/2011/03/pancakes-with-real-maple-syrup.html

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  19. Isn't maple syruping just the most fascinating process! at such a great time of year, when things are finally coming back to life. I'm a follower, as you know, but I'm subscribing via e-mail too. Wow, I'd love to win this great giveaway!!

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  20. This is a wonderful post! I love the pictures you took to take us on the journey. Delicious! I love these things about New England! It is a great time of year! I hope you are doing great! Have a good day!

    Mama Hen

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  21. I LOVE maple syrup!!! I am seriously an addict! Great post :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  22. there is nothing like high grade syrup!!!! I am your follower via google connect AND I subscribe to you via RSS feed :) keep shining sweet bella

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  23. Great giveaway Candace!

    I am an email subscriber.
    We have a maple festival here and we love to go because they also have pancakes ans sausages for breakfast, too! :)

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  24. I'm a follower on Google. Loved looking at your pictures!! There really is an art and science to making good maple syrup.

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  25. I love maple syrup but have never seen the sugaring process before! Sounds like such a fun outing. Great post. And great giveaway! I'm a google follower!

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  26. What a wonderful generous give away.

    I follow you on Google Friend Connect

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  27. I went and liked Ben on Facebook. He looks so young. I liked him under my own name and not my blog name. I don't have one of those Facebook pages set up yet.

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  28. I want to go there!!!!


    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
    www.mawhats4dinner.com

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  29. Wow, I have never heard of sugaring or of Sugar Houses. This was fascinating to read, and happy blogiversary!

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  30. I love real maple syrup and I bet the smell was amazing!!

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  31. How did I miss this? Looks yummy,, I love maple syrup! I bet the smell is amazing.

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  32. I know I missed the contest but I still enjoyed the visit! I live in Utah so don't know much about the maple sugar process. Thanks for the info! I do make a yummy granola recipe that uses real maple syrup--called Crunchy Granola. You might like it. Just found your blog on Sweet Saturdays. I'll visit often. I'll also hop on over to Ben's.

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Thanks so much for visiting me today! I hope you have enjoyed your time here and that you will return again. Please leave me a comment to let me know that you have stopped by! I respond to each and every comment by email, if possible, and by returning a visit to your blog. Have a great day!