This weekend I wandered over to Kortright Centre for Conservation for their Maple Syrup Festival. But before I tell you all about maple syrup, let me tell you about the marvelous sustainable house they built last year.
I took a tour of the million-dollar modular house that is hopefully to encourage consumers to ask for more sustainable housing. It boasts ecological sustainability for the Greater Toronto Area, including thick/recycled/light insulation (the house cinder blocks are built with cement mixed with wood chips), recycled water (grey water for the toilets, etc), and energy production through solar power (it sells all its energy for 80 cents and then buys what it needs for 10 cents!). It even had a machine to monitor instantaneous use of energy in the house, akin to the energy monitors in hybrid cars. Just knowing you save money by tuning off the lights (or not quickly accelerating with a car) is bound to change your behaviour, irregardless of efficiency. Despite (or in spite of) its practicality, the house was also gorgeous, but modular in a cookie cutter suburban design.
After a tour of these houses, I was off to see a gyrfalcon, the world’s largest falcon. In this case, she had escaped from her owner in Pennsylvania, and unfortunately became trapped in some nets in downtown Toronto before being adopted by the Kortright Centre.
And then, the real highlight was the sugarbush trail to see how maple syrup was made by pioneers and also by modern folk, along with tasty samples along the way. Sugar maples (and less likely silver maples) are used to make syrup through their sap (water and sugar) which is stored in their roots during the winter. During the spring, you can tap into the tree and siphon off the sap. The older the tree, the more you can tap. Earlier in the season, there is a higher sugar content (3%) and as it is distilled (water boiled off) you get syrup which is 66% sugar. Because of the higher sugar content from the early season, less time is required for distilling, so there is less caramelizing of the sugar and you get lighter maple syrup. It has a less distinctive maple flavour but is highly prized by cooks and chefs. Later in the season, you need to roast the syrup longer, so it is more caramelized, and hence darker. The darkest maple syrup is sold to food companies. Mid-range syrup (“medium”) is what most consumers buy from stores for pancake topping, etc.
Canada produces 85% of the world’s maple syrup and of that, 80% comes from Quebec. After enjoying a pancake meal complete with pure maple syrup, and a quick hike through the beautiful trails, I snatched some local maple syrup to take home, as I have been experimenting with more recipes using maple syrup. This is one such recipe.
Adapted from Closet Cooking (who has a host of other scintillating maple recipes that I am eager to try), this is a very easy salmon dish that is similar to salmon teriyaki but doesn’t require as many Japanese ingredients. It is sweet and salty and the marinade bakes on top of the fish, coating it so it remains light and moist. Delicious, simple and healthy, how could you not like it?
1 pound salmon
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated, optional)
1. Mix together the maple syrup, soy and ginger and marinate the salmon for 20+ minutes.
2. Cook the salmon at 400F for 20 minutes, pouring some of the marinade over the salmon every 5 minutes while cooking.
3. Place the salmon on a plate and pour some of the maple sauce from the bottom of the pan on top of the salmon.