December 17th may seem like a strange time to celebrate National Maple Syrup Day, but it's a good reminder that this sweet treat can be a favourite ingredient all year round.
Long ago, the Anishinaabe used maple sugar to cure meat and store it for the long winter season when fresh food was not as readily available. Haudenosaunee tradition speaks of venison being cooked in sweet sap. Sugar cakes were stored in birch bark mokuks by First nations and later in wooden or cast iron molds by Settlers to provide a supply of natural sugar all year round. Today, maple syrup is a favourite ingredient in many seasonal treats including baked beans and Christmas Cake.
In celebrating Maple Syrup Day, try using some maple syrup to baste a meat dish or as a marinate for vegetables.
Here's a recipe for roasted vegetables marinated in maple syrup:
Maple Roasted Vegetables
4 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise
4 beets, peeled, quartered
4 parsnips, peeled, cut in half lengthwise
1 fennel bulb, outer layer discarded, quartered
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
Peel, cut and parboil the vegetables in salted water for 5 to 7 minutes, separately. When cooled, put all vegetables together in a bowl. Add maple syrup, oil, thyme and toss to evenly coat the vegetables. Add salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lay the vegetables in a roasting pan. Roast for 50 - 60 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy on the edges.
Serves 4 to 6.
Recipe adapted from: Sweet Ontario: Pure Maple Syrup
photo credit for mokuk: C. Smith
mokuk made of birch bark wooden sugar mold cast iron maple sugar molds
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.