# Home Made Maple Syrup Part 2 – The Cook

April 14th, 2014 by Justin

You’ve collected enough sap, and now it’s time to boil down to syrup. The first weekend of April was it for 2014, the freeze thaw cycle is over until next year. So let’s talk about turning that sap into syrup.

You don’t need to be this scientific

First, plan on dedicating an entire day to cooking. Every year I’ve made syrup, it has taken me 12 hours from start to finish. When I make my boiling rig more efficient, I happen to get more sap and for some magic reason it always takes all day. Also, you want to boil outside. 5 Gallons of sap yields one pint of syrup. Would you be willing to dump 5 gallons of water in your kitchen?

# Grandma Nancy

March 31st, 2014 by Justin

Here’s a little anecdote about Jessi’a grandma that I wrote while we were driving to her funeral. I hope that people will celebrate the good times when I’m dead and gone. I’d like my funeral to be more of an after party – an after life party if you will

This may seem like an outsider’s perspective, as I have no blood relationship with Nancy Vandegrift. But my wife Jessi was close to her, and because of that I was able to get to know Nancy through their closeness.

# Home Made Maple Syrup Part 1 – Sap Collection

March 17th, 2014 by Justin

I went to syruping demonstration a couple years back put on by the Minnesota DNR. Syruping is an age old tradition, so there’s nothing really new here, In fact most can be gleaned from the handout I received at the demonstration. I just wanted to document it for someone looking to get started.

During a year with “normal” Minnesota weather, you would want to start gathering sap for syrup around Valentines day. But this year was extra cold, and we didn’t start having good daytime thaws until March.

You could still start now, you haven’t been missing out on too much sap production (from my standpoint). Here’s what you need:

# Achieving Normalcy

March 3rd, 2014 by Justin

Research shows that humans like variety. But we also relish the routine. It’s sometimes good to have a regular schedule so we can “get into a groove.” This goes for children and adults alike. While I enjoy the occasional personal day off, sometimes I wish I could just escape the constant barrage of wind chill, blizzards, partially recognized holidays, influenza, and streptococcus that this season has wrought upon us.

Sometimes I just want a normal 5 day work week (or two) to get s#*t done.

# Winter’s Superhero

February 26th, 2014 by jessi

Some days it’s so cold here it requires two masks. My mom recently asked Jules if he doesn’t like to go out and play when it’s cold. He blinked then probably thought it was a weird question because, duh, he always goes out to play even in the cold. He’s truly a Minnesota boy. Winter […]

# Don’t wake the baby

February 17th, 2014 by Justin

Imagine  a sleep deprived mother who has just managed to put an upset baby to sleep. A moment later, her husband comes home, bringing some rowdy friends. The careful soothing was for all-for-not, the baby is woken up.

I can’t say if I’ve done this before. But certainly every new parent, father or mother, has experienced the frustration of someone waking their baby too early. Sometimes you may accidentally wake the baby yourself. It is a guilty feeling, soon followed by regret and self-loathing.

# All this to say February sucks and then it doesn’t

February 5th, 2014 by jessi

I have lots of stuff to talk about but its been so hard to get anything done lately. I’ve probably stretched myself a bit thin with my time. Its hard to juggle a husband, kids, full time job, picking up another gig on the side, volunteering my time for a conference, swim lessons, tennis lessons, […]