Saturday miscellania

It's a cold day here in Lake Woebegone southeast Michigan. I'm looking out the kitchen window at the thermometer: +11 F, which is apparently the same -11 C. From my kitchen table, I can see the neighbors let out the dog, who seems unfazed by the cold. He's some sort of little fuzzy white dog and he's currently sniffing happily. It's not quite cold enough for the air to have that extra clarity you see when it gets really cold, but I'm still not rushing outside.

It's pretty cold upstairs. We probably need to replace more of the windows, and I'm not so sure about our insulation, so we were cozily nested deep under the covers, sleeping the way you do when the air is cold and the bed is warm. This is, until there was a little knock on the door, and suddenly a third body in the bed saying, "I'm hungry I'm bored can we play I'm hungry can I have waffles now how come you're not saying anything?"

So now I'm down at the kitchen table, watching the neighbor's dog sniff around the trees. I'm drinking and enjoying my coffee (I can quit any time, really), and waiting for my Irish oatmeal to finish cooking so that I can pour some Michigan maple syrup over it.

If you are not blessed to live in a part of the country that makes maple syrup, you need to go find some. I don't know what's in those other syrup bottles (OK, I do, I just don't like to think about it), but real maple syrup started out in a maple tree in the late winter/early spring when a Michigander pounded taps into his maples and hung buckets on them, collecting the sap (unless he has one of those fancy vacuum systems). He collected the buckets, poured them in a vat, and cooked it down, filtered it, and bottled it. Now I'm eating it.

At some point I'm going to head out into the cold and make my way to the hospital, but meanwhile, it's coffee and oatmeal time.

In other news, I've posted my review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I posted it over at another site because I'm experimenting with reaching out to other audiences. I already have one post about the book here, and I hope to post more, since this is one of the best medical history books I've read in a while.

Happy wintry Saturday!

More like this

Maple syrup sounds good, but my pancreas doesn't like it so much. I'm sitting here at work in Maine, across from a man who actually taps his own trees and makes maple syrup! You're right; nothing beats real (Maine) maple syrup. That bottled stuff is just scary.

MI? ME? Pfaaugh! If it isn't from good God fearing NH maple trees, why bother?

By BikeMonkey (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

Confession time: As a child, I always imagined maple syrup to be this wonderful thing (too much Little House in the Big Woods). Then I moved to New England, and I discovered that I don't really love maple. At least not on pancakes or waffles. It's too runny and too sweet, and I really do prefer the corn syrup/pancake syrup. I guess I'll try to claim Southern heritage for that (does Texas count?).

But wow, 11? Here in the damp Northwest it's 45 and, well, damp, and I was feeling all wintery.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

I'm an atheist. Really.

However, real maple syrup is THE NECTAR OF THE GODS!!!

If I were to meet the White Queen in her sled, I would ask her for maple syrup. Goblin Men could seduce me easily with offers of maple syrup. If I were Persephone and Hades had offered me maple syrup, I'd have chugged the whole bottle and plunged the entire world into endless winter! And if the Tree of Knowledge were a maple tree, I'd have picked up that serpent and used his fangs to tap it! :)

By Perky Skeptic (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

I enjoyed reading your review of the Lacks book. It reminded me of other books that told both a personal and a scientific story. Janna Levin's "How the Universe Got Its Spots," which I enjoyed so much, came to mind. I just may read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". Your review made it sound so interesting. Thanks.

Maple syrup. Out here in California we have to buy the imported stuff -- you know, from out of state.

Can I just say I love your dad vignettes?

I have one maple on my plot. It's a sugar maple. I suspect it might produce just enough sap for a litre of maple syrup.... we shall see this spring.... mmmm... waffles.

PS. Quebec maple syrup is the one maple syrup to rule them all. Precioussssss....

Trader Joe's has a divine organic maple syrup available - get grade 'B' for a deeper and richer maple flavor.

Goes great with their steel-cut irish oatmeal.

By shadowmouse (not verified) on 30 Jan 2010 #permalink

The last time I bought maple syrup, it was a half-gallon container from Costco. Unfortunately, I dropped it, and it broke. It must have been one of the toughest messes I've had to clean up.

I do love it for my irish oatmeal, but I'm not sure what the "organic" label means, esp on tree sap.

What do people want/like to eat when it's really cold out? Yesterday evening,I was in New Haven,freezing,checking out restaurants on Chapel St.-my choices were Irish,Italian,Middle Eastern,Japanese,"Pan-Asian",Thai,SE Asian mix,Indian- those last three- all spicy-ish, were calling out to me.Spicy food and tea.(In NYC, there are a few Tibetan/Nepalese places- they should be the cogniscenti of cold- like *Canadians*!)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

Ahhh, Michigan maple syrup. I don't know if that's better than Michigan cherries, or blueberries, or apples, though. But it sounds like you had a rather cozy, pink-cheeked Saturday afternoon. :)

Organic means it's harvested from free-range trees...duh.


By shadowmouse (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

Echo the sentiments about maple syrup, but what you've all left out is the joy of the sugar shack! For those who've never experienced it, imagine a maple-scented sauna. Unfortunately, these days most are powered by an electric/propane/oil/other-non-wood furnace. For the headiest experience, I recommend an old-fashioned wood-fired boiler. Hmmmmmmmmm.