There was a footpath through the woods from my grandparents’ farm east of Hayward to the home of Grandpa Hopp’s friend John Frogg south of Little Round Lake. Grandpa told me that John Frogg was a chief of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribe and a very good man. Grandpa and John must have walked that path pretty often because it looked well used on both ends. Grandpa told me it was about 3 miles through the woods but that it was pretty easy walking, and he didn’t get tired. I walked only the first few blocks of it following Grandpa when he cut firewood along the path.
Near John Frogg’s home the path hit a road that led to a summer estate where my Aunt Helen and Uncle Ernie were caretakers. Grandma never said so, but she may have walked that path to visit her grandchildren and their parents. Of course, by then you could drive there, so maybe only Grandpa and John used the path.
One winter day as we were on our way to visit Aunt Helen and Uncle Ernie and my cousins, Dad saw that John Frogg was cooking something in a big iron pot hanging over a fire. We stopped and tumbled out of the car.
“Hi John, how ya doing?” asked my father.
“Doing good, Hans,” said John as he stirred the pot with a stick.
“What you cooking?”
“Maple syrup. It’s maple syrup time,” answered John.
“Do you sell any?”
“Dollar a quart.”
And so we ended up with a quart of John Frogg’s maple syrup.
I did not like it. It was smoky and very thick. At the age of eight I still preferred Karo in the can. Dad said it was delicious, Mom said it was pretty good, but my two younger sisters took one small taste and poured more Karo on their pancakes.
Today I wish I could taste John Frogg’s maple syrup again. It might not win any prizes, but it would bring back some great memories. We get most of our maple syrup today from John Hanson who sells it out of his home near Grandview, Wisconsin. and we use a gallon or so during the year, not just on pancakes and waffles but also in baked beans, barbecue sauce, caramel rolls and Pat’s Maple Oat Bread.
One day at church our friend Pat told me about a bread she makes with maple syrup and oatmeal. I asked for the recipe and she emailed it to me. I made the bread first to go with a roast turkey, and it was a hit. It is a moist sweetish bread that keeps well. It is delicious by itself slathered with butter or with roast meats or various cheeses.
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. salt
About 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 T old fashioned oats for topping
Put some water on to boil. Stir 1/4 tsp. sugar and the yeast into 1/3 cup warm (100 – 110 degrees) water in a small bowl or cup. While the yeast proofs, process the oats in a blender until coarsely ground. Transfer the oats to a bread bowl and stir in one cup of boiling water. Add the syrup, oil, and salt and a cup of flour to the oat mixture and stir until smooth, then allow it to cool to warm.
Stir in the yeast, then add about 2 more cups of flour one cup at a time and stir well. Keep adding flour until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough on to a well floured bread board and knead lightly until it is smooth and elastic. Let it rest while you grease an 8 inch pie pan. Form the dough into a ball, put it into the pie pan and cover it with a damp cloth.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the dough rise until doubled in size.
Beat the egg white with a teaspoon of cold water, brush the top of the bread and sprinkle it with some rolled oats. Bake the loaf on a middle shelf for 35 to 40 minutes until it is a rich golden brown. Tip the loaf out of the pie pan and tap on the bottom. The bread should sound hollow when you tap on it. If it does not, put it back in the oven for a few minutes. Let it cool well before you slice it.
NOTE: You may need to loosen the loaf around the edges of the pie pan with a knife.