“Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August. “
Welcome to August!
I couldn’t agree with poet Denise Levertov more, there really is a sweetness that hovers in August. Vermont is so beautiful right now. The garden is overflowing with vegetables, our peach tree is drooping with fruit and the fields are bursting with wildflowers. I think the sweetness also comes from holding onto the days we have now as seasonal change is coming, along with a shift in our work routines. I’ll return to teaching and Matt will finish up his construction job and return to sugar farm work. While so much is different in our lives, there is still a consistency found in the good changes of seasons and work.
It has been a busy summer as I continue to seek out new ways to sell our products, and to refine the value added products we offer. I’ve had the time to do a lot of deliveries which has kept me connected to friends and family. It’s been great to receive orders from new customers as well. We continue to ship all over the country, and are seeing the growing importance of a web presence. I’ve been impressed with the ingenuity of several virtual stores who are creating a marketplace type platform for small producers like Couching Lion. Read on for news around the farm, our new online partner, a new product and a couple of cocktail recipes!
We’re excited about our new product, Maple Sugar Chocolate Sauce! This sauce combines some really fine ingredients and also stretches our interest in preserving bird habitat all the way to the Dominican Republic. While the maple sugar comes from our Bird Friendly sugarbush, the chocolate comes from Zorzal Cacao, a bird sanctuary in the northern mountains of the Dominican Republic. Migratory songbirds who summer in our sugarbush, fly all the way to the Dominican Republic for the winter. In fact, the same banded birds found in Vermont have also been found at Zorzal Cacao!
Our Maple Sugar Chocolate Sauce has only a few ingredients: Couching Lion maple syrup, Couching Lion maple sugar, chocolate from Zorzal Cacao, cream, butter, salt and vanilla. The chocolate is produced from Zorzal Cacao beans imported by local 3 Squares Cafe owner Matt Birong. He toasts the beans and grinds them into 100% chocolate. Nothing is added until I combine the chocolate with our maple products and add the dairy. The result is a rich, creamy, delicately sweet sauce. Pour it on ice cream, pair it with fruit or eat it right off the spoon!
What do Local Porter, A Slice of Vermont and BBz Delivery Collective all have in common? They all carry Couching Lion Maple Sugar Farm products! BBz Delivery Collective is the closest thing we have to a farmer’s market right now. Locals can order from the site and have fresh produce, flowers and Couching Lion maple delivered to the door. A Slice of Vermont carries only Vermont made specialty foods. Customers can order up a box of various high quality, Vermont made products including our maple syrup and maple sugar. We’re excited about our newest virtual partner, Local Porter. This site is curated by a Brooklyn chef who has an eye for special items for your kitchen. We completely agree that Couching Lion products would also fit right in on a top chef’s shopping list!
A sugarer’s work is never done! Our maple syrup is exclusively wood fired as opposed to fuel oil fired, which is the practice of most large scale sugarers. The difference in flavor between wood fired and fuel oil fired maple syrup in incomparable. When wood is used, the syrup is cooked much longer at varying degrees of temperature. This produces a much more nuanced and caramelized flavor.
Each spring and summer Matt processes 10-12 cords of firewood for the spring sugaring season. Dry weather makes firewood harvest much easier, so Matt has been up in the woods this week, pulling out seasoned logs. A very fun activity is taking Archie for a walk right to where Matt is working. Archie can’t believe his good luck when he finds Matt in the sugarbush!
It’s harvest season on the farm! All our fruit trees seem to have varying years of productivity. This year, our cherry trees are doing really well. The birds are eating most of the bounty, but I was able to get out just enough cherries to make a Maple Sugar Smoked Cherry Bounce. This is the amazing confluence of cherries smoked with cherry wood, fresh cherries, maple sugar and rye whiskey. It needs to sit for 3 months so we’ll enjoy trying it in November. You can find the recipe on our website by clicking on the photo or the link above. Enjoy!
If you enjoy mixing up concoctions that need time to cure, you might like to try the Maple Allspice Dram. This recipe combines several spices with rum and 5 days later, maple syrup. With nutmeg, vanilla, cocoa nibs, star anise and allspice berries, this dram has a quintessential fall flavor. Check out the recipe on our website by clicking the picture or link above.
Enjoy the rest of beautiful August. Here are some pictures from our neck of the woods.
It’s time to mow the trails. Archie loves walking on short grass!
The little kiosk is still stocked with maple syrup, but is also now a pick up site for these great signs.
It’s pinecone season! Our mainline goes through a spruce plantation and it is a very busy place right now. The red squirrels are actively throwing pinecones to the ground to collect for winter storage. There are signs of animals preparing for winter all over the farm, you just have to know where to look. To learn more about what is happening in Vermont forests and fields, check out the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Field Guide to August.
Late afternoon wood hauling in August.
Sugar dog Archie heads off for another day of fun.
As always, thank you for your support, encouragement, humor and interest in the maple sugar world. We are infinitely grateful to all of you who show up in our lives in different ways. Good luck as the season changes and remember to breathe in the sweetness of August!
XO Chaska and Matt