Afternoon in Early Spring
The sun shines warmer today.
Water sluices from the tired yard’s
snowdrifts. The roof’s ice jam
runs - a trickle, a gurgle, a drip. Desolation Road Photos
Footsteps squelch, slipping
sideways and circular, drunken
in winter’s boot.
Grey juncos twitter and shush,
shying from my movement
between door and feeder.
A crow’s harangue echoes.
The breeze is slow and soft,
like syrup soon made. It
moves gently in the treetops.
Branches creak, click together.
Spring’s sounds make me drowsy
for a cat and a sun porch nap.
Curled in a crocheted cocoon,
I'll doze as a season awakens.
- Susan Miller-Lindquist
These very early days of Spring are such a tease! The sun is downright warm when I sit out on the sunporch at the south side of our grey cottage on the hill. I can look out and see the lilac buds swelling just a bit ... it's still a long time until May and their heady smell, but on these sunny days I dream about warm Spring days to come.
This is 'sap season' and on these days, you can sometimes see the maple or pine sap bubbling from the wounds that winter has made on the trees, if you happen to be walking the woods. A broken branch dangling may have the tree's juices dripping off it into the 'corny snow' at its base. I've tried tasting the maple sap, but alas I can't taste the sweetness, not even a hint. It's takes a much higher sugar concentration for my tastebuds to sense that maple goodness - dang!
Maple syrup time in the woods is a thing to see. Gone are the days when a farmer would hitch his team to the tank sleigh and trudge out along woodland paths to empty buckets that hung from the metal maple taps. Nowadays, most of the maple syrup producers have the taplines strung throughout the woods like ribbons. They run downhill like long catheter lines to a collection tank that gets emptied and taken back to the sugar shack for the real work ... it's quite a thing to experience the steamy, sweet smell of maple sugar being boiled to the right sugar content and consistency. Buying that jug and bringing it home opens the possibility for applesauce pancakes or maple walnut ice cream, or banana cake and maple icing, or baked beans sweetened with maple syrup, or salmon marinated in a maple soy marinade, or, or...
Today, though, I need a dessert for the church folk to enjoy! It's early Spring in New Hampshire and it's maple sugar time! Amen!
Grammy Lindquist's Banana Cake with Maple Frosting
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 large bananas
1/2 c. plain yogurt or sour cream
waxed paper for lining the bottom of the cake pan
Making the Cake:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a measuring cup and set aside.
Whip the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until it is creamy and smooth. Add the eggs and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Smash the bananas (I leave small chunks of banana) in a small bowl and mix with the yogurt, turn into the batter and stir in.
Stir in the flour and leavening mix, making a thick, smooth batter.
Turn batter into a greased oblong cake pan (I like a higher cake, so I use an 11x7 inch cake pan) that you have greased and paced a sheet of waxed paper (trimmed to size) in the bottom.
Bake for 35 - 45 minutes ... until a cake tester comes clean.
Cook for ten minutes on a rack, then carefully invert the cake to a cooling rack, peel the waxed paper away, and use your serving platter to invert the cake back to top up position. Finish cooling on the platter.
Frost with maple icing (recipe follows) and sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 c. confectioner's sugar
5 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tbsp. chopped walnuts
Whip the first three ingredients until smooth and creamy and sugar has lost its graininess. Spread immediately on your cake or cupcakes and garnish with nuts.
Note: This cake can also be made as tiny mini-cupcakes. I am a fan of hazelnuts and a halved hazel nut is the perfect little cap to a mini-cupcake that has been frosted with the maple icing... a cute and crunchy bite-sized snack when you don't want to mess with cake knives and serving plates/forks.