OK, when it comes to food, I was pretty darn lucky to be born in Louisiana. But that blessing can be a curse at times, namely, whenever I'm outside of Louisiana. Maybe it's because I was born and raised there that leads me to believe they have the best food in the whole world. Of course I have only been out of the country a few times, and not really as an adult ever.
That puts me in a tricky spot when it comes to trying to decide what food I'll miss the most when I leave Michigan. But one only has to look at the local foods in ANY region to quickly find what's best there. In Southern Louisiana, it's shrimp, oysters, and rice. In Oregon, it's Salmon, berries and elk. Here, it's apples, cherries and maple syrup. We'll be moving close to one of the biggest apple and cherry growing regions in the country though (Washington State), so it's maple syrup I'm really going to miss the most! You can buy it at any farmers' market up here, and I even experimented with making it myself. It was a really fun thing to do with the kids, using the maple trees on our property. I quickly learned why the real deal costs so much! It takes 40-60 gallons of maple sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. That's a lot of buckets to empty and sap to boil. But it's oh so good!
I've been thinking about maple syrup a lot lately as I try to use up what we have (including some from our own trees). Maybe a bit of home made maple syrup ice cream is in order, or some maple walnut bread. Maybe a bunch of maple granola? It's such a wonderful treat! Lucky for me I'll be able to buy it easily in Oregon, but I'll miss those early Spring days when the sap is rising and buckets and taps appear in maple groves around the area. Here's a few pictures of our crude collection system, as well as a boiler we saw at Hartwick Pines State Park's "Maple Syrup Days". Enjoy!