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20 Apr 2007
Spring Break in Vermont


This photograph has been emailed around Vermont lately. I think it speaks for itself.

(c) 2007 [except photograph by unknown individual] Jeff Connor
 
General , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  14:37 | permalink



15 Apr 2007
Finding a Vermont Maple Syrup Producer to Visit
I mentioned Two Old Saps maple syrup producers yesterday which is a great place to buy syrup but difficult to visit because of their location. However, there are many maple syrup producers all over Vermont who are well geared up for visitors and in fact welcome them either seasonally or year around.

Our favorite recommendation is Morse Farm located a little north of Montpelier. They even have a small theater set up to show the entire process from tapping the trees to bottling the syrup. They also have a wood fired evaporator boiling down the sap so you can see the process in person. There are guided tours of the sugar house and knowledgable staff on hand to answer questions. And there is a store with all their products plus other Vermont products and souvenirs.

For a list of maple syrup sugar houses open to the public, go to the Vermont Sugar Makers Association website which shows the sugar houses by county.

The way the weather is going, there may be another couple of weeks of good sap flowing. In fact, some Vermont sugar makers are back to getting Grade A Fancy syrup which usually only happens early in the sugaring season. Then they progress through Grade A Medium, then Dark, and then Grade B which has a very heavy, musky maple taste and is usually used for cooking but some folks like it on their pancakes too. Not much Grade C is produced because there is not much demand for it. It's usually sold to flavoring companies who use it for flavoring in manufactured food products. By the way, some "maple syrups" are actually maple flavored corn sweetners like Aunt Jemima's which has just a few percent syrup in its contents. A lof of hard working Vrmonters would prefer that you buy the real thing, of course. And we'd prefer you come here to enjoy our beautiful state and buy your syrup here too. But if you can't visit now, many of the syrup producers are happy to ship.

Here are some interesting facts from the Morse Farms web site History Page :

"On the average, it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of pure maple syrup. We drill 1 tap hole in each of our maple trees, which gives 10 gallons of sap in an average year. So, 4 maple trees, 40 to 200 years old, are needed to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.

"Maple sap is 2% sugar and weighs 8.35 lbs. per gallon
Maple syrup is 66.9% sugar and weighs 11 lbs per gallon
One gallon of maple syrup makes 7 lbs of maple sugar
Maple syrup contains 50 calories per Tablespoon
Corn syrup contains 60 calories per Tablespoon"

That history page also explains why producing maple syrup is called "sugaring."

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
 
Advice , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  22:00 | permalink



14 Apr 2007
Vermont Chocolate Show May 26 and 27
I know that I'm way out in front of this May event but I wanted to have it on record for readers who search by category or use the search function. And I will mention it again in this blog closer to the event date.

The 1st Annual Vermont Chocolate Show will be held May 26 and 27 2007 at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe Vermont. Note on the website that they are looking for volunteers so maybe you can help out and snag some free candy.

Someone has put a lot of thought into this one. Look at these events: chocolate art display; chocolate education programs, including cooking demos and healthful tips; children's chocolate land; chocolate martini bar & beer Lounge; ultimate chocolate breakfast; chocolate spa treatments. Sounds yummy. Don't forget to bring insulin.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
Events , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  17:01 | permalink



29 Mar 2007
How to get Rich and Famous, and Travel the World


Yes, you too can become rich and famous, and travel the world. Read on to take the first step:

You may have seen and clicked on the Travel Rants link in the left hand column. It's a well done travel blog and, contrary to the name, is not always a rant. Often there are raves and usually there is helpful and interesting news and information.

Darren Cronian, the editor of Travel Rants, is holding his first "Travel Rants Blog-a-thon" which he hopes "will persuade more people to blog and share stories about their travels and unearth future travel writers." So here is your chance to become a paid travel writer. If you win, you will receive not only great wealth and fame (long term of course), but also some nifty immediate rewards.

First place will also win 200 Euros (about $266) worth of Amazon vouchers donated by sponsors SA-venues.com ; second place wins two Lonely Planet guides; and third place receives two Strider Expeditions t-shirts.

A panel of travel experts will judge the entries and choose the winning entries which will then be featured on the Travel Rants Blog (the first step on the road to fame).

The challenge is open to anyone even those who do not own a blog.

"Rules:

• Your blog post most be no more than 350 words
• The blog post must be useful for travellers and travel consumers
• The blog post must be unique [they will be checking]
• You can include links to other travel sites [but not your own!]
• The deadline is midday [GMT] on the 31 May 2007
• The Judges decision is final

Please email your blog posts to editor@travel-rants.com before the deadline."

Have fun. Let me know how you do.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
General , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  21:56 | permalink



18 Mar 2007
Bag Balm: Probably Vermont's Second Most Famous Brand


When I was in college I worked at a pharmacy. One of the funniest (to a 20 year old) products at the store was something called Bag Balm . The pharmacist told me it was developed to keep the skin on cow udders moist so they would not become so dry and chapped that the cow would find milking painful. And the pharmacist also told me it was the best skin moisturizing product even though it cost far less than the upscale cosmetic creams the pharmacy also carried.

Bag Balm was not that well known back then but it is today, and it is still made in Lyndonville Vermont by The Dairy Association. The Dairy Association founded the business in 1889. Bag Balm became known nationally when famous reporter Charles Kuralt featured it on his television news series “On the Road” and in his 1985 book.

Bag Balm is great for hands dried by winter weather and it helps year around for cuts, scratches, skin irritations. Dog owners, groomers, and veterinarians use it on paw abrasions, and you will usually find it on farms where it is used on all types of animals.

The Dairy Association also makes products for horse hooves and leather goods but they will always be best know for that funny-sounding but great-working product called Bag Balm.

Interesting side note: The Dairy Association has been headed by only three people in its 118 year history and only four secretaries (or administrative assistants, as they are called today).

The Dairy Association's town of Lyndonville is a nice place to visit. It is located in the Northeast section of the state known as the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont's most rural and least populated area.

Lyndonville is one of three villages that comprise Lyndon. The other two are Lyndon and Lyndon Center. Yes, I know it's goofy but that type of arrangement is common in Vermont.

The town of Lyndon had already been organized 75 years before Lyndonville was built in 1866 to serve as a major railroad center, making it Vermont's only railroad-built town. Today the population is about 5,500, not one of whom has dry skin.

Vermont's best known brand? Ben & Jerry's ice cream, naturally!

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
 
Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  22:00 | permalink



13 Mar 2007
Vermont Maple Open House Weekend March 23 - 25, 2007


Rustic buildings you see around Vermont, like the classic example above, are where maple syrup is made (I photographed this one because it's a good example and it had the advantage of being very near our inn.). These sugarhouses are being opened now to begin one of Vermont's longest and most popular traditions, maple sugaring season. It usually starts around March 1 in southern Vermont and works its way north as the days become longer and warmer. The best way to get maple sap flowing is with cold nights and warm days. It's a short season lasting only four to six weeks. And like most agricultural crops, there are good seasons and bad ones.

If you get off the highway and take some of the main two lane roads such as Route 100, you will likely run across a maple sugaring operation underway. But most of them are off the main roads and it's best to do a few minutes research on the internet to find a couple in the area of Vermont you plan to visit. The best website to visit is the Vermont Sugar Makers Association

In ten days, the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend will be held at sugarhouses throughout Vermont. The Sugar Makers web site lists sugarhouses open to the public throughout the state. You can watch maple syrup being made, learn how the process works (it's more technical than you might think), perhaps get a fresh sample and even taste "sugar on snow" candy, a rare treat and something you should make a point to experience if you have not done so. It's made by drizzling hot syrup on packed snow to make a chewy candy, and it is usually accompanied with a bite of cake donut and then a bite of a pickle. Or the other way around - I forget which. Seriously, that's how it's done. Keep in mind that we've been living through long winters here and we have time to think of stuff like this. It's not just a Vermont tradition by the way, you will find it in other maple sugaring states and Canada.


(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
Events , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  21:43 | permalink





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