For me, Arbor Day this year is a special one. My grandfather, who recently passed away in December of last year, was a talented arboriculturalist and tree surgeon in Connecticut – he was a lifelong companion of Mother Nature. Hally fondly loved all she had to offer too and loved passionately; the woods, gardens, brooks, sunshine, and the simple shade of a tree on a hot summer’s day. When not working in the trees, he relaxed at his summer home in Vermont among the white birches (my favorite tree) and the magnanimous evergreens that canvass the hills as far as the eye can see. As a larger family, we spent the summer holidays together every year and together have created memories that are comparable to none.
In the 1940s, he became an entrepreneur who opened Sikes Tree Service in Connecticut with my grandmotherfor decades before passing the business to my late Uncle Brian – a gentle, humorous soul and also a second-generation arboriculturalist. His son, my cousin Nathan, now operates Sikes Tree Service and can proudly carry on not only his own business but the legacy of my grandfather, his father, and the love of the trees.
To mark Arbor Day, I want to get in the kitchen this morning and whip up something that reminds me of my grandfather. Betwixt the maple cream and Vermont syrup, I think this is a pretty good idea to capture nature today before I head out of the flat and into Prague’s parks to enjoy the outdoors.
Celebrate Arbor Day with my Vermont Maple Cream Pots! Catch the recipe below but first, I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes;
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet and alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow.”
½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1½ cups milk
1½ cups heavy cream
⅓ cup quality, fine maple syrup (Grade B)
Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C, set baking rack in lowest part of the oven
In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, yolks, and eggs. Whisk until smooth (about 2 minutes)
Add the vanilla bean or extract, milk, cream, maple syrup. Whisk until smooth (about 2 minutes). Remove vanilla bean (if being used)
Pour and distribute equally in the ramekins then arrange in a large baking/roasting dish. Pour boiling hot water into the baking dish until it reaches half the height of the ramekins
Place in oven and bake for approximately 50 - 60 minutes until the custard is firm & set yet moves slightly in the middle. I like to rotate my dish for equal baking after about 30 minutes or so although each oven is a bit different.
Set aside to cool then refrigerate. Refrigerate for min. 2 hours before serving