The Hill Team enjoys meandering along the country trails of Vermont to sample delicious food, especially cheeses and real maple syrup. I recently took a 10 day road trip during peak foliage through the green mountains and many lovely old villages. I learned some new tips for enjoying the robust bouquets of maple syrup from the home cooks and chefs I know or met along my journey.

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I learned that many chefs prefer the strongest, darker flavors of Vermont grade B syrup. I had thought that by paying more the expensive syrup would taste even better. Not true.
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If you like a more light and delicate favor, you may want Vermont Fancy, delicious over ice cream or drizzled over yogurt. I like grade A Medium Amber for pancakes, French toast, and in my bourbon and rum drinks. However, I experimented with grade B in two Vermont chef”s kitchens yielding many tasty surprises.
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First of all, I learned how to substitute maple syrup for granulated sugar. Instead of 1 cup of granulated sugar use 3/4-1 cup of maple syrup, to taste.
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Be sure to look  for”Pure Vermont Maple Syrup” on the label, if that is what you want.  I also enjoy the pure maple syrups and other maple products from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Canada.
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Here is a traditional New England winter warm-up recipe.
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Warm Spiced Rum, Cider and Maple Syrup
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Ingredients
!/4 cup bourbon or spiced rum. We like Sailor Jerry’s or Captain Morgans.
1/2 cup, or more of fresh cider
2-5 table spoons of maple syrup, to taste.. The stronger grade B was great in this drink.
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Method (for one mug)
Mix the 3 ingredients together in a pan on very low heat or in a crock pot, and heat until just warm.
Serve in warm mugs with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or/and fresh nutmeg. A cinnamon stick as a stirrer is handy. We enjoyed this libation around the fire before dinner with a hunk of extra sharp Cabot white cheddar and green apple slices.
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I couldn’t get enough salmon on our IFWTWA trip to Seattle and cruise to Alaska. Here is a recipe we tried in an old ski shack kitchen.
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Apple Maple Salmon
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Ingredients – serves 2 (very hungry like us) or 4
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (any grade, we used B)
1/3 cup cider (or apple juice)
3-4 tsp. soy sauce – reduced salt
2 -3 tbs chopped onion
1-3 minced garlic cloves
4 salmon fillets
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Method
Combine first 5 ingredients.
Marinade salmon in about 1/2 of the sauce in a shallow dish or sealed plastic bag, turning it to coat all sides..
Save half to use for basting.
Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
Discard marinade.
Broil salmon about 4 inches from the heat for about 4 minutes.
Baste with the reserved sauce. Broil another 4-6 minutes, basting often, until fish is flaky.
Note: Our team prefers salmon on the pink and juicy side, so test it often. You can always broil longer.
We served this dish with fresh spinach, rice pilaf and St. Michelle Merlot, because that is what I brought. It paired well with the maple and citrus. A white, rose wine or a Vermont Craft beer would also enhance this dish. Or serve cider, with or without the rum, with the main course.
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The apple pie we had planned for dessert was served the next morning for breakfast. It was a great way to start the day. We made this one with Vermont honey instead of sugar, with a hunk of sharp cheddar. A big pot of Green mountain coffee warmed us before our hike through the forest of deep red and golden leaves.

Brenda C. Hill
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
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