Sometimes the oddest food cravings seem to come out of no where. If those cravings involve a real food item, I generally always give myself the go ahead to consume it. I feel it's my body and minds way of telling me I'm lacking something in my diet. Other times my food cravings are directly related to an idea, an emotion, a smell, a spoken word, or more often - an image. When my jaw dropped/eyes widened while viewing a stunning photo in the latest issue of Saveur magazine at the same time a hankerin' for dried apricots hit, chocolate turtles became my must-have on a rainy afternoon.
For those who don't know, Turtles are a chocolate confection/candy prepared and sold by Nestle. Full of chewy caramel, toasted pecans, and milk chocolate, Turtles get their name from the shape of the candy. The nuts peeking out the sides resemble feet, tail, and head while the rounded chocolate top resembles a turtle shell.
To satisfy my cravings, I decided to skip putting money into Nestle's pockets and prepare my own version of Turtles instead. If you're comfortable preparing a homemade caramel sauce, the flavour combinations you can create are endless and more importantly - delicious.
With the arrival of March comes hope, more daylight, and a new season of local harvesting in Elgin County. As much as I try to preserve the bounty produced by our local farmers when food is ripe, I'm not at the stage of being 100% sustainable all year round - and I probably never will be. I do the best that I can, when I can, but like the majority of people I resort to imported fresh fruits & vegetables when locally grown isn't available.
When March rolls in (like a lamb or like a lion?), one the first local food products to become available in the new year is ooey gooey, sweet & succulent, take-me-to-the-sugar-shack maple syrup.
The flavour, colour, aroma, texture, and versatility of maple syrup make it a favourite in my pantry. Although the price of the real stuff may intimidate some shoppers, I think it is worth the cost as an occasional treat. The bottles of 'table syrup' are filled with artificially coloured and flavoured high-fructose corn syrup and are in no way close to replicating the complexity and depth of the tree-sourced liquid gold. Authentic maple syrup contains just one ingredient: sugar maple sap.
The sugar shanty's will be open this weekend offering demos and tastings of local syrup. Take a little day-trip, enjoy the great outdoors and pick up a bottle to bring home to prepare the first of many maple treats this month : Maple Budino.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.