Oh, I’ve been given the most Canadian of ingredients. I have to say that I was pleased to see it here, on this most American list of foods. I consider it a little nod our way from our neighborhoods to the south.

I’ve got one Old Happy Memory and one New Happy Memory to share with you, with respect to maple syrup.

The Old Happy Memory:

My parents took J. and I to Quebec and the Maritimes on a summer road trip when I was about 10. My dad, who grew up francophone, was on the hunt for his happy childhood memory: sucre a la creme pie (think of a butter tart made without the nuts or raisins,  with maple syrup rather than brown sugar, and some cream).

My dad was persistent on his quest. As we drove along the Gaspe, my dad sampled as we went. None of the pies were “like my mother’s”. He kept trying. It wasn’t until the family road trip was well out of Quebec that lightening struck: at a Shell station outside of Fredericton, my dad found his sucre a la creme nirvana. I’d have to hazard that the woman at the gas station was surprised to sell the entire pie to a tourista.

My dad tucked away his prize in the trunk of the car.

And then promptly took pie breaks at 50 min intervals for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, that pie didn’t see sunset.

New Happy Memory

This winter B. invited me along to Salt Spring Island to see our very own cabane à sucre in action. A local SSI businessman has planted sugar maples and was tapping the trees and boiling the sap down to sugar. With no snow to pour the syrup on, it wasn’t the traditional experience, but nonetheless, it was fun, and it was great to see this tradition much closer to home.

(The enjoyment of the day was also given a boost by our pit-stop at the SSI Cheese Company (so yummy!), some very cute goats, our cameras, and a mostly well behaved baby!)

For today’s blog, I thought I would make a twist on the classic apple crisp – this time I thought pears would be nice, and having been inspired by a desert a year ago at B.’s Birthday Dinner Extravaganza, added asian flavors of candied ginger and chinese 5 spice.

Pear and Maple Crisp with Ginger and Spice

(note: this is not exactly what I did, but what I would do next time…things can always be improved, no? Also as you will see in the photo, I only made a 1/3 recipe)

For topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For pears
3 1/2 pounds firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chinease 5 spice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Combine all of the topping ingredients in food processor or cut them together until small moist clumps form.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Toss all the filling ingredients in large bowl to blend. Let stand 15 minutes. Transfer pear mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle topping over pears. Cover with foil and bake 20 min. Remove foil and bake another ~ 20 min, until pears are tender, juices bubble thickly and topping is golden and crisp. Let stand at least 10 minutes, it’s pretty juicy when hot but when it cools there’s a nice sauce.  I would suggest serving it over ice cream…