Monday, April 15, 2013

Where in the heck are the peepers?

The first day of trout fishing season in Northcentral Pennsylvania and, as always, we have to have a little snow.  Nothing but a few flurries, but snow nonetheless. I just love tradition, but this is one I could live without!  We haven't heard the "peepers" yet and the old wives tale says that the peepers have to freeze three times before it is officially spring. It sounds like this could take a while.

For those who have never heard of peepers, they are a tiny frog that makes a pretty loud peeping sound in the spring. We had a couple staying here one spring weekend a few years ago.  The wife come up from the farmhouse to the breakfast room in the morning excited about the "wonderful sound" she heard all night.  I explained about the peepers and she told me how she loved hearing them.  We can't wait to hear them because it's our sign that spring had sprung.  About a half hour later, in comes her husband looking like he's barely slept a wink and said, "What was that God-awful noise all night long?"  Talk about two differing viewpoints!

Joe and I, along with our daughter-in-law and grandkids, cleaned up the 3 miles of our road that we took responsibility for in the Adopt-a-Highway program about 15 years ago.  You can tell how far a 20 ounce bottle of Mountain Dew lasts coming from Coudersport.  Coming from the the town of Jersey Shore, it's been 69 miles without a rest stop, from the bottles with the other yellow liquid in them!

The cleanest road I ever saw was the Robert Byrd Highway in West Virginia, but about every 5 miles there is a sign that says the fine for littering is $3,000.00! Maybe that's the way to keep a road clean.

Maple syrup season is almost done.  The tree tappers like warm days and cold nights for the sap to run well.  We sure have had a bunch of cold nights, but only one warm day. I think we should have had a picnic that day...could be our only chance this year.  So, in honor of all the farmers around here that make the syrup we serve here at the B&B, today I made Maple-Rum Cream Sauce and Praline Bread Pudding for breakfast in the morning.  I try to have the sauce with Stuffed French Toast, but this morning we were out of it, so I took the time to make it. Got distracted, as usual, and boiled the cream over on the stove.  I got this recipe originally from the The Pioneer Woman's website.  The recipes I have tried of hers have all turned out very well.  She warned in her blog that it was addictive, but I didn't listen. Should have listened!  Didn't listen!  This stuff is good, way good. Put it on anything, pie, cake, ice cream, waffles, french toast, french fries (maybe not).
 I have changed the ingredients, but it is cooked the same as her Maple Whiskey Cream Sauce. I just like the taste of the rum with the maple better. I make a bigger batch and add some vanilla bean.

Maple-Rum Cream Sauce

3 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2-3 Tbsp rum

In a heavy sauce pan, bring the cream, maple syrup, corn syrup and vanilla bean to a boil. Watch it closely and stir very frequently with a flat edged wooden spoon.  Keep it at a gentle boil for about 15 minutes. It will thicken as it boils, so keep it stirred.  Remove it from the stove and add the rum away from the flame.  It will get bubbly, but just stir and it will be ok.  Don't add the rum over the flame unless you are an experienced fire fighter.  It WILL catch on fire. The chefs on TV make it look neat, but in real life, not so much!
Bring back to a boil and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly.  Pour into a jar, cover and chill before serving.  The sauce will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge or until you have sneaked it all, whichever comes first.  It will thicken and cling nicely to a spoon, but you will have rum on your breath so don't get near anyone or they'll think you're a closet drunk.

Toss the vanilla bean pod you scraped out in a small jar with a cup of granulated sugar and 2 drops of food coloring, give it a good shake and let it sit for about a week and you will have colored vanilla sugar for tea or sprinkling on sugar cookies. Make mint sugar the same way, but with 6-8 mint leaves instead of the vanilla bean.

Herbs are starting to come to life in the garden.  One of my favorites is Lady's Mantle with its tiny serrated leaves.  The dew drops cling to the little points along the leaves for several hours of the day, looking like pear-shaped diamonds in the sunshine.