Although there are a number of variations in the telling, the First Nations legend about the origin of maple syrup is a story well worth reflection. Long ago, when human beings were new in the eastern part of Turtle Island, they barely lived through the long winters, their bodies and spirits weakened by the cold and dark. The Creator saw that, though they worked hard to hunt, gather and preserve enough food for those bitter months, it was never enough to keep them strong.
The Creator, caring for the beloved, accepted the offer of the leader of the Trees, the maple, which offered to give its blood to the people so they may be restored to health.
So it was that, as the season turned to Spring, the sap flowed freely from the maple. It was dark and sweet, a syrup the people could drain directly into their pots, almost without effort. Some time passed before the Creator was able to return. What the Creator discovered was cold fires, unkempt children, and the people drinking the syrup straight from the trees until they could no longer stand. The Creator was very upset and proclaimed that he would change the way in which the syrup was to be taken from the trees. No longer would it flow brown and thick but the people would have to make offerings to the maples, tap its sap and then work to make it into the nectar which would renew their strength.
By doing so they would come to appreciate this great gift.
Question: How has our Creator gifted you?
Recipe: Butter Tart Muffins The various health benefits of maple sap and syrup have been promoted in recent years. The calorie count of this recipe does not support that conviction but they are very good! Oven at 350 degrees; greased muffin tin. (Makes 12 depending on the size of the muffin cups)
1 ½ cups raisins (My mother would say “You don’t need that much. 1 cup will do.”)
¾ cup sugar; ½ cup butter; 2 beaten eggs; ½ cup milk; 1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp baking soda; pinch salt; ½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped;
¼ cup real maple syrup
In a heavy pot, heat raisins, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is hot and slightly thickened. Cool while you continue with the next part of the recipe.
Stir flour, baking powder, soda, salt and nuts. Make a well in the centre and pour in warm raisin mixture, stirring until just combined. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 12-16 minutes, until golden and a ‘cake tester’ comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately pour 1 tsp syrup over each muffin. Cool, then remove to a rack. Serve warm.