Take the next step on your journey
Informal interviews with homesteaders, cooks, gardeners and employees will help you take the next step on your journey to a simpler life. Escape the chaotic, stressful world for about seven minutes and learn how to live a satisfying life, enjoying time with family and friends.
Michelle Visser: Cooking Up Something Sweet…With Maple Syrup!
Tune in to meet and learn from Michelle Visser. Author of the new book Sweet Maple (out now!) was was at Lehman’s to talk about how she has cut out refined sugar completely and is now exclusively baking with…yup, you guessed it, maple syrup. Living on her simple homestead she gets to live both her dreams of homesteading and writing! Hear her journey to the simpler life on this week’s episode of Solutions for A Simpler Life.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Welcome to Solutions for a Simpler Life. This is Glenda Lehman Ervin with Lehman’s on the square in Kidron, Ohio. We’re glad you’ve joined us. Hello and welcome to another episode of Solutions for a Simpler Life. This is Glenda Lehman Ervin coming to you from Kidron, Ohio with Michelle Visser author of the up and coming book Sweet Maple. Welcome Michelle.
Michelle Visser: Thank you.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Tell me a little bit about your journey to the simpler life. How did you get started?
Michelle Visser: Ironically it wasn’t even something I was looking for. In fact I actually can I say it? I didn’t even really know what homesteading meant and I never had a thought in my head I’d even have chicken not alone be raising meat and having a giant garden and having so much fun writing all about it. We actually simply made a move to a rural area for a lot of reasons that had nothing to do with homesteading. And we wound up plopping ourselves in a 220 year old farmhouse surrounded by 14 rural acres. And lo and behold I started thinking, “Hmm these 14 acres all around me they have been used for hundreds of years for some amazing things. Growing some amazing food and tapping these amazing hardwood Maples. Maybe I should kind of figure out how to do this.”
Glenda Lehman Ervin: So you actually are running a sugar bush now.
Michelle Visser: We are. I kind of laugh if anybody thinks that that sounds overly professional because we are still backwoods simple with our production. We do have many trees we haven’t even tapped into yet. But this last year we had a hundred ten taps and we made 14 and a half gallons of syrup which to some people I know it sounds amazing. It sounds pretty amazing to me but in the course of making my book I have talked to so many professionals, like the legit professionals, and I realize I am just a newbie still starting out at this great amazing thing called maple syrup.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: That’s really impressed me how many different things you can do with maple syrup. Obviously people think put it on pancakes. What are some of the other things that you can do with it?
Michelle Visser: Honestly Glenda I have completely remove refined sugar from our kitchen and believe it or not it really wasn’t that hard. And I have replaced it with maple syrup and maple sugar and then I add in Maple cream for extra fun. And it is really a simple process. I kind of break down the steps and give tons of ideas from sugar makers across the country of what they do with their syrup and sweet maple. But it’s a pretty simple process to take out the refined sugar and replace it with all natural, amazing, good for you probiotic, amazing stuff in it, maple syrup.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: You actually make kombucha with maple syrup.
Michelle Visser: I do. In fact when I started realizing I can take out that refined sugar which has literally ninety nine point six percent sucrose and the rest is just chemicals it like has nothing good for you in it. When I take that out and I can replace it with maple syrup. I started realizing I can do this in everything in my kitchen including the kombucha that I make.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: What are some of the other unusual things that you make with maple syrup? Baking perhaps? Cooking?
Michelle Visser: Absolutely. I mean it’s hard to tell you something unusual because I pretty much use it in everything. Everything that we bake, wherever you use refined sugar you can use all natural maple syrup. We also have bees. We started a bee area two years ago now. So we’re still learning that as well so we do also use honey another great source but whenever I can have all natural sugar instead of that refined stuff and that is what I use.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Oh that’s fantastic. We actually have bees in the store. I mean not flying around.
Michelle Visser: [Laughter]
Glenda Lehman Ervin: They’ve got their own hive but I am fascinated by bees and the colonies they create. I read someplace that the combs that they design would take a multitude of mechanical engineers to figure out the structure that keeps the honey not too soft, not too hard, but just how they they work together and that’s fascinating in and of itself. What other livestock do you have on your property?
Michelle Visser: Well we started with chicken I was joking with Jill the other day we lived there for about nine months before my daughter kind of was squinting looking over across the field and pointing and saying, “You know that dilapidated little kind of shack over there that like needs a new roof and one wall has kind of collapsed? I’m pretty sure that’s a chicken coop.” So we have this really old chicken coop that we kind of renovated a little bit. We started with chicken. We brought home ducks and meat rabbits and our giant garden that we love producing and canning from.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Oh that’s fantastic. Now how did you hear about Lehman’s? What is your connection to us?
Michelle Visser: Lehman’s… You know it’s this superstore out… you know I picture just a middle of a cornfield I heard about this place like this mecca for homesteaders and I really I thought I really didn’t know anything more about it except it was this magnet you know for people like me who are trying to live a more simple life. So I don’t remember how I first heard about you but this weekend is the first time I actually made it here. Coming from New England it’s not like in my back door you know and it blew me away. Thank you so much for the tour yesterday and the incredible stuff you have here. I just love it.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Well great. It’s kind of like 10 stores in one because we’ve got the pantry that has the food, the toy store, the food preservation store, I mean it just goes on and on and on.
Michelle Visser: Absolutely. I didn’t tell you we had two milk cows unfortunately we had a barn fire last year and I no longer have them so I forgot to tell you that. And when I saw your dairy section here. Oh my goodness I was so I wanted to cry that we don’t have our cows because the selection you have in every area is amazing just aisles and aisles.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Well thank you that’s what we want to be your one stop shopping whether you choose to live without electricity. We have what you need for heat, food, light, and water. But as we’ve talked about before you don’t have to live off grid to be a homesteader. You don’t even have to have a lot of acreage.
Michelle Visser: Absolutely. I like my electricity actually.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Yeah. Yes I do too. I do too so final question. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing what would your life look like?
Michelle Visser: Well that’s hard because I’m kind of doing both. Is it fair to tell you that if I wasn’t homesteading, my dream would simply be to be an author and to be writing and I get to do both.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: Well good for you. Thanks again for traveling from New England to Kidron and we look forward to reading your book Sweet Maple.
Michelle Visser: Thanks Glenda.
Glenda Lehman Ervin: This is Glenda Lehman Ervin with Lehman’s where we stand for a simpler life. Thanks for listening. For more visit lehmans.com.