Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Backyard Sugaring, A Vermont Tradition

Maple Syrup Making 101
Weathersfield VT
Spring 2011
By Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
Every spring the good folks of Vermont, most with severe cabin fever, hang out all kinds of buckets to collect the sweet sap that runs through the maple trees around the state. These are the same trees that provide such amazing color during Fall Foliage, but in the spring before the buds or leaves, it's the sap that provides joy to the people of Vermont and beyond. "Liquid Gold" many call it and at today's prices it surely is liquid gold!

So what is this tradition all about...after a long winter, especially a long one like the winter of 2010-2011, folks start looking for signs of spring. When daytime temperatures start reaching into the upper 30s F it's time to tap the trees! Sap runs best with over night temperatures in the 20s F and day time temperatures in the 40s F.

To tap the trees, you'll need a 1/16 drill bit, taps and a hammer and some sort of collection bucket. We use old orange juice containers (reuse then recycle!) Drill a small hole, we try for south facing parts of the Maple trees. Tap in the tap, attach some tubing and hang your bucket! We run eight taps in seven trees.
Check your buckets for the sap running; we collect for a couple of weeks storing the sap in a collection container buried in snow to keep the sap cold; we skim the ice out every morning to help remove some of the water from the sap (more on this later).
When you've collected a lot of sap, say 20-40 gallons, it's time to boil. Sap is mostly water and to get to the good stuff, the syrup, you need to remove all that water. Get yourself an evaporating pan, a few cinder blocks or in my case big thick logs and start a fire!

Once the sap starts to boil, take it's temperature. Sounds silly but water and sap have boiling temperatures that differ with elevation above sea level. In the end you want the temperature of the boiled sap about 7 degrees higher than when it first started boiling. So if you are at sea level, which we aren't-we're about 1200 above, it should start to boil about 212 F therefore your end temperature should be about 219 F.

The faster you boil off the water, the higher the grade syrup you will end up with. One would think that to get a big fire roaring use big logs, well I've found small stuff burns hotter and faster speeding up the boiling process.

When the level of fluid in the evaporator pan starts getting low, it's best to finish the boil inside on the stove-top.

Watch the temperature carefully, if it starts to look like a boil over is going to happen add a pat of butter and the boil over threat will disappear. When the temperature reaches 219 F sea level (217 F for our elevation) you are DONE!!

I pour the syrup through a tea strainer lined with gauze to remove any outdoor debris stuff-twigs, ash, bugs etc. and store in mason jars or other freezer safe container. Or reuse your store bought maple syrup containers that have been rinsed/washed out really well.
Keep unopened containers in a cool, dry place. Because pure maple syrup contains no preservatives, be sure to refrigerate it once opened. If you're looking to stock up during syrup season, the freezer is ideal for long-term storage, as pure maple syrup will not freeze (the sugar content is so high it will not freeze!)
A Few Sweet facts:
  • It takes 30-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
  • Early settlers learned maple harvesting from Native Americans 400 years ago.
  • It is possible for a maple farmer to tap the same tree his ancestors tapped 200 years ago.
  • 1 tap hole gives 10 gallons of sap in an average year.
  • 3 - 4 maple trees are needed to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.

Nutrition Facts:
Potassium and calcium make up most of this mineral content, but maple syrup also contains nutritionally significant amounts of zinc and manganese.

Maple syrup contains trace amounts of amino acids, which may contribute to the "buddy" flavor of syrup produced late in the season, as the amino acid content of sap increases at this time.

Additionally, maple syrup contains a wide variety of volatile organic compounds, including vanillin, hydroxybutanone, and propionaldehyde.

Now it's time to enjoy the fruits, or in this case, the syrup of your labor!!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Kathy Mattea Lebanon Opera House Lebanon NH

Kathy Mattea
Lebanon Opera House
Lebanon NH March 26, 2011
By Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

Kathy Mattea performed at the Lebanon Opera House in downtown Lebanon NH Saturday evening March 26, 2011. She is currently on tour continuing to promote her CD Coal. Her website has some great photos showing her making the coal album and also a link to an interview that aired on NPR's Living Earth.
She played two 45 minute sets, then met with fans in the Opera House lobby for almost an hour after the show.

 More photos from the show on my Opera House page: http://www.photosbynanci.com/loh.html

Photos from the Meet and Greet may viewed on the Lebanon Opera House Facebook page!
This performance was sponsored by:
Courtyard by Marriott
Mascoma Savings Bank
KIXX 100.5 The Valley's BEST Country

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review--Grace Potter and the Nocturnals House of Blues Boston

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Blues and Lasers opened
House of Blues, Boston MA March 25, 2011
 By Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals took the stage at Boston's House of Blues (HOB) and rocked the SOLD OUT crowd in a solid two hour rock and roll love fest. The crowd was primed for this rock fest by the band Blues and Lasers, the Nocturnals guys plus John Rogone on bass and Steve Sharon on drums.
The Nocturnals are a "tiny little band from Vermont," Potter told the audience that first appeared on the HOB stage in 2004 for the Boston Music Awards.

The Nocs came out first and played a nice intro to "Only Love". Catherine Popper, bass, adds some angelic harmonies although folks that follow the Nocs know Ms. Popper is far from an angel!
With two hot guitar players, Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco the band tore into "Hot Summer Night."

Next up were crowd favorites: "Toothbrush", "Low Road", "Joey" about a man Potter told the crowd that she may or may not have known, "Mastermind" that had the crowd jumping, "Money"

"Apologies", "Tiny Light" then on to the acoustic set, which tonight was one song.

"Treat me Right" with Potter, Tournet  and Yurco on acoustic guitars.
Back to the rock with one of the "best bands on the road songs" "Stop the Bus", followed by a song that Potter said " I wrote this song for my grandmother"-"Big White Gate" with Potter on the Hammond B3.

Then Potter said to the fans "Let's take it back to the beginning..." which led in to "Nothing But the Water."

This was followed by Beyonce's "Why Don't You Love Me." They closed the set with "Paris."

After a brief break the band returned with Yurco on acoustic guitar playing the intro to Heart's "Crazy On You."

The band closed the show with "Medicine" just what the doctored ordered for this cold spring night in Boston.

Local Dates for the Band: 
Lupo's tonight 3/26 in Providence RI, there are still TICKETS for this show.

The band returns to Vermont for an April 2 show at St. Mike's College, TICKETS.

The band returns to Boston, August 20 at the Bank of America Pavilion, TICKETS.

The Potterville Posse was out in force. Some of the members from the former Street Team, a group of fans that helped promote the band in their early days, follow the Nocs all over the country.

Images from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Sound Check
Images from the Blues and Lasers Set

More Photos by Nanci images of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Please excuse the quality of the images I only had my point and shoot not my Nikon D300s


Blues and Lasers Opened for Grace Potter at the HOB Boston

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Blues and Lasers opened
House of Blues, Boston MA March 25, 2011
By Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

Blues and Lasers (B&L) opened for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the House of Blues Boston Friday night March 25.

 B&L are Scott Tournet guitars and vocals; Benny Yurco guitars and vocals, John Rogone bass and vocals, Matt Burr drums, and Steve Sharon drums.

It's not often that you get to see a band with two drummers but these guys work great together. Burr and Sharon add a level of thick rock and roll beats that a crowd can't help but head bang to.

The guitar playing of Tournet and Yurco are scorching.

 The guys played about an hour of solid rock and roll and even though the crowd was there to hear Grace Potter and the Nocturnals,  audience members were genuinely turned on to the B&L sound.

 This is how rock and roll music should be played, loud and with a great beat!

Stage Set List:
Fallen Friend
Forgot About Me
After All Were Only Human
22 Times
Take You Down

Images from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Sound Check
Images from the Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Show
More Photos by Nanci images of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Please excuse the quality of the images I only had my point and shoot not my Nikon D300s