When I was a little girl, my mother and aunts spent a lot of time reading to me. Some of the books that they read to me captured my imagination and have stayed with me for 30 odd years - Teddy Robinson being ex-and-shoff at a birthday party, Millie Molly Mandy's pink and white striped frock, the Beaver's house on the dam in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Of course, me being me, a lot of the things that have stayed with me have involved the food in those books - marmalade rolypoly, marrow and ginger jam, ginger biscuits with ham as picnic food. And maple syrup sugar on snow in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Little House in the Big Woods. When I got Diana Henry's excellent winter food cookbook Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, I discovered that I was not the only one. The image of gathering the maple sap, boiling it in big cauldrons and pouring it onto fresh snow to make a sticky, dark brown toffee was unimaginable alchemy to me.
Now, as you may have heard, the UK has had an unusually snowy winter. The first two years we were here there was hardly any snow at all. Last year there was quite a lot. This year there has been an enormous amount, as this video of Urchin's first venture into it attests. She was initially very sceptical, but she took to it after a while.
As we had sufficient clean snow, I decided that the time really had come to try my own sugar on snow. I bought a bottle of organic Canadian maple syrup, fetched a pan of snow and set to it. It's really not rocket science, but a candy thermometer takes the guess work out of it.
It froths up a lot as it boils, so use a larger pan than you think you need. The traditional accompaniments are sour pickles and doughnuts. I didn't have either - I just lifted the lacy toffee off the snow with a fork and ate it. Pouring the boiling syrup onto snow and not having the snow instantly melt really is magic. And it is delicious, with a much more complex flavour than a plain cane sugar toffee. But that being said, now that I have done it, I don't need to do it again, unless some day we end up in Vermont in winter.