Monday, March 1, 2010

Some Stale Bread

Well, the first batch of maple sap came in. Much of the bucket contained snow, despite it being mostly covered. But it seems to me like I had a decent amount of sap, about a gallon or so, and that I was on my way to making at least, like, two tablespoons worth of sap. Alas, another setback. Once I boiled off most of the sap, I had a maple syrup-like substance. It was sweet, with the sort of smoky rich flavor that real maple syrup has. But it also came with a shockingly bitter sort of flavor that really overpowered any good effects from the sweetness. It basically tasted like a combination of maple syrup and poison.

There's a pic of sap boiling off. Anyway, I've taken steps to better cover the spouts and will come back and check my containers on Friday for more sap. I did have a good time drinking beers with my grandfather while we tried to boil off the sap on his wood burning stove. It didn't boil much, but I had a few Long Trail IPAs that were really nice.

This past week, I made a few noteworthy dishes. Most of them are pretty basic. For instance, last night, I made some pea soup. Sorry, I'm not going to write out a pea soup recipe for you. Mine is pretty straightforward. Have a ham bone left over, buy some Goya split peas, soak 'em overnight, and follow the directions on the bag with the exception of bouillon cubes and flavor packets. Use your homemade broth dummy!

The croutons I threw onto my pea soup are worth expounding on, though. This is especially true since I've been making a lot of bread lately, and not all of it is great. So, as discussed previously, one of the things you can do with crappy old bread is make croutons with it. And it's really easy too. I used a food processor, but you really don't have to. If you have a garlic press, that would be helpful, but you could just chop the garlic and rosemary very finely.

Rosemary-Garlic Croutons

1 Tsbp. Chopped Rosemary
1 Clove Finely Chopped Garlic
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups of "Experienced" Bread, cut of shredded into crouton-sized bits.
1/2 tsp. salt

Notes: I don't generally condone cooking with extra virgin olive oil. The point at which extra virgin olive oil begins to smoke, chemically decompose, and lose its flavor and nutritional value is often lower than the temperature that it can reach while in a hot pan. This is called an oil's smoke point. But, our croutons aren't getting pan-fried or broiled, they are just going to soak up that oil, garlic, and rosemary flavor and get a bit of a crunch.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix oil, garlic, salt, and rosemary in a medium sized bowl. Use a food processor if possible, or just chop and mix with a spoon or fork. Add the bread and gently stir the bread so that it soaks up as much oil as possible. Spread the bread around on a flat surface. Discard any extra oil (or put it on your salad if you really love garlic and are in the sort of relationship where garlic breath won't be a dealbreaker). A baking sheet works best, but a casserole dish works too (just takes longer if the croutons are piled up). Put the mixture in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Stir if necessary halfway through. After 25 minutes, check to see how crunchy the bread got. It will vary depending on how stale the bread started out, how much oil it absorbed, the size and depth of the container, and whether you had to double stack the croutons. Give 'em another 5-10 minutes if need be.

Sorry I didn't take a picture of the final product. We were hungry! Besides, you know what croutons look like.


  1. I think the bucket could be a little suspect.

  2. Ok, good. I didn't put that bucket back, I put a cleaned out water gallon in there instead.

    Hopefully that's the problem.