We used to live in maple sugar country. Every spring at just about this time, the days get above freezing, while the nights stay below freezing. This temperature pattern makes the sap rise in the sugar maples, and we would begin to see the old buckets appear on each old sugar tree.
The more modern sugar people use a purple plastic tubing that brings the sap from each tree to a central collection point. No matter how the sap is gathered, it is slowly simmered in the sugar house, usually over a wood fire. It takes 20 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Well, we are far away from those maple trees now, and the syrup imported from back east is very expensive here. Even though our good friends, Jon and Gale, brought us this pitcher as a gift from New Hampshire (it comes from Great Bay Pottery, by the way), I'm afraid it rarely contains the real thing here at our home in New Mexico.
This brown sugar syrup, though not as complex in flavor, makes an acceptable substitute. It goes well with pancakes and waffles.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
Tiny pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir the sugar, water, and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, watching it carefully so it doesn't boil over. Turn the heat down and simmer the syrup for five minutes or so. Remove pan from heat, stir in the vanilla.
Makes about 1 cup.