This past weekend I took the daughter to Indiana to see my parents. This gave my folks a chance to see their granddaughter, but more importantly, it gave my wife a much needed weekend without the kid. Our daughter is almost 3 1/2 years old and my wife has not had more than a 24 hour break from her. It was about time. I could see it in her eyes. She was way overdue for a weekend alone. So I packed up the car and the kid and I road tripped to Indiana.
Like most grandparents, my parents had plenty of activities planned for the weekend. To my delight, one of them was “Sugar Camp Days” at Bendix Woods County Park. Sugar Camp Days is a weekend affair, where the public can see the maple syrup making process from beginning to end. I grew up in Vermont and my family had many friends who supplemented their income by sugaring, so for me it was a chance to reminisce about those days and a chance to introduce my daughter to the whole concept.
Of course what was presented was a disneyesque version of the process but I found it very enjoyable and there was a lot of information presented so that someone unfamiliar with the making of maple syrup, would understand where their syrup comes from and just why it is so expensive. My daughter, being 3 years old, couldn’t have cared less about the whole thing, and only found joy in playing on the playground, at the park, but my parents and I had a very enjoyable morning, watching the sugaring process and trying some of the maple products being sold.
The highlight of the day though, at least for me was watching them make Maple Kettle Corn over an open fire. I love kettle corn as it is, and the idea of adding maple had never crossed my mind, but sounded wonderful. Of course it tasted fantastic; sweet with just a hint of maple, offset by a subtle saltiness and a slight smokiness, coming from the fact that it was being cooked over an open fire.
Maple Kettle Corn
This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe they use at Bendix Woods as theirs makes quite a large amount. Doing this on the stove top, you lose that wonderful smokiness that comes from cooking over an open fire, but it is still a great treat!
1/4 cup popcorn, uncooked
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. sugar, granulated
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
Heat a stove top popcorn popper over medium high heat. Add oil, allow to heat for 30 seconds then add the popcorn, sugar and maple syrup. Cover with lid and stir constantly so that sugar doesn’t burn. Cook until all sounds of popping stop and immediately remove from heat to keep from burning. Pour into a large bowl and season with salt. Allow to cool a couple of minutes before eating so as to not burn yourself.