29 September 2008

Why Maple Syrup Costs So Much

Sometimes it's nice to know why the price of something goes up. Sometimes it even makes sense, as is the case for maple syrup ( a favorite, occasional indulgence). No, thankfully, it's not because of market speculation, but something far bigger: global warming.

"Blame it on global warming, perhaps. But for the past three years, Quebec has seen cold winters turn very quickly into warm springs, which played havoc with sap collection. (Under ideal conditions, temperatures rise during the day and then dip back below freezing at night. This pattern encourages sugar maples to release their sap). That has cut sap production season in half, to two to three weeks. Quebec's output slipped to 58.7 million tons this year, down from 61.7 million in 2007 and 86.4 million tons in 2004."

Read the entire article, "Why Maple Syrup Costs So Much", by Pallavi Gogoi, at Business Week.

And, did you know: "Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, producing about 7 million US gallons in 2005. The vast majority of this comes from Quebec: the province is by far the world's largest producer, with about 75 percent of the world production (6.515 million US gallons in 2005). The provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island produce smaller amounts. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, with 450,000 US gallons in 2007, followed by Maine with 225,000 US gallons and New York with 224,000 US gallons. Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all produced marketable quantities of maple syrup of less than 100,000 US gallons each in 2007." Wikipedia.

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You can find a variety of maple syrup and maple syrup products online at E.D. Foods (Quebec) and Massachusetts Bay Trading Co.

25 September 2008

The Art and Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet

The high season of baking is approaching: The cooler weather, the abundance of autumn fruit, the holidays, and the pure joy of the act itself.

In time for this season, a new publication has hit the shelves (or in my case the internet bookstore), The Art and Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet.

From Jessica's Biscuit:

"The Art and Soul of Baking guides readers through the world of baking, where alluring aromas of chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon fill the air and tempt the palate. Culinary authority Sur La Table teams with professional pastry chef and baking instructor Cindy Mushet to create the ultimate book for bakers. The Art and Soul of Baking demystifies the friendly science of baking through delicious recipes and photography sequences that illustrate proper techniques for carmelizing sugar, or working with croissant dough.

From tantalizing tarts, decadent cakes, and delicious cookies, to more complex creations like crusty breads and flaky pastries, to melt-in-your-mouth meringues, and lighter-than-air souffles, The Art and Soul of Baking offers the instruction of a private baking class at home. Beautiful photographs and more than 250 fool-proof recipes, as well as information on over 100 popular baking ingredients and more than 50 pieces of baking equipment, ensure that Sur La Table's The Art and Soul of Baking is destined to inspire passion in any baker and make the craft of baking not just accessible, but a true passion."

The Art and Soul of Baking (HC )
by Cindy Mushet
Hardcover 464 Pages
Publisher: Andrews Mcmeel
Pub. Date: Sep 15, 2008
Color Photographs

Available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

12 September 2008

2008 Hudson ValleyGarlic Festival™; Garlic Pumpkin Cookies with Nuts recipe

Artwork: Vincent McDonough

It's coming soon: the 2008 Hudson ValleyGarlic Festival™, September 27 & 28, 2008, at the Cantine Field in historic Saugerties, NY.

Advance discount tickets are available for $5. Online ticket sales from the www.hvgf.org Web site will end midnight, Saturday, Sept. 20th.

In the newsletter heralding this year's event, an intriguing recipe was included, reprinted here:

Garlic Pumpkin Cookies with Nuts
From "Mad for Garlic - A Cookbook for Garlic Lovers" by Pat Reppert.

Yield: 60 cookies


1 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar 1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup white sugar 1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 large eggs (or 4 small) 1 cup finely minced garlic
1 can unseasoned pumpkin 2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or
1 cup flour walnuts)
1 cup rolled oats 1 cup raisins
1 tsp baking soda 1/3 cup crystallized ginger (chopped)
1 tsp baking powder 60 thin slices of garlic - cut vertically so
2 tsp salt they resemble slivered almonds

Garnish: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Raw or turbinado sugar


1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and continue to beat until well mixed.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt & spices. Gradually add that to the pumpkin mix, beating. Then beat in the minced garlic. Stir in the nuts, raisins and ginger.
3. Grease a cookie sheet, then drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto the sheet. Put a think slice of the garlic on top of each cookie (it looks like a slivered almond - take my word for it). Bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Take sheet out of oven and brush egg on top of each and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack - then store in air-tight containers. Good for 2 days at room temperature.
Refrigerate or freeze if keeping for longer period of time.

09 September 2008

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and Latin Evolution by Jose Garces

Two, new noteworthy food books for your consideration: The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and Latin Evolution by Jose Garces.

From Jessica's Biscuit, a synopsis on The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book:

"The eagerly awaited America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book is here. A companion to the wildly bestselling America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, this is a comprehensive cookbook with more than 700 kitchen-tested recipes. With recipes ranging from the simple -- bowl cakes, quick breads, and no-bake cookies -- to the more demanding -- artisan bread, wedding cake, and pastry --- this cookbook has it all. In addition to the recipes, there are test kitchen tips, recipes at a glance with mini tutorials, and illustrated troubleshooting guides. This practical guide will become the go-to book for many cooks, and makes a great housewarming, shower, and no-reason-at-all gift."

The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
by America's Test Kitchen
SP: 552 Pages
Publisher: Cook's Illustrated
Pub. Date: Sep 01, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs

And on Latin Evolution:

"Acclaimed Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Jose Garces, of Tinto and Distrito (and Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago) has released his first cookbook, Latin Evolution. It is the next chapter in Latin cuisine, taking its inspiration from the Basque region of Spain, Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and the beach-side restaurants of Ecuador. In Latin Evolution, classic dishes are reimagined with avant garde techniques and unexpected ingredients. As Garces says in the introduction, "The process of breaking down dishes and taking a fresh look at the elements--not just their flavors but also their shape, texture and colors--allows me to be inspired time and again by these 'original recipes.' My version of basic South America shellfish ceviche, for example, uses traditional techniques while incorporating nontraditional ingredients such as black truffles, Meyer lemon, and micro arugula. The result is a dish that reflects in every bite both my heritage and my contemporary style.'"

Latin Evolution
by: Jose Garces
HC: 256 Pages
Publisher: Lake Isle Press
Pub. Date: Sep 25, 2008
Photos: Color Photographs

Both are available online at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.