Sweet Balsamic Syrup for a Sweet Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of those fantastic moms out there! I tend to not get into the whole Mother's/Father's Days because I find them to be more or less silly. Don't get me wrong - I love my parents and they absolutely deserve recognition for all of the incredible things they do, particularly for my sister and me. It's just that spending $4.00 on a piece of thickened, colored paper that has some generic well-wishes on it and showering my Mom with diamond necklaces or roses that will fade in a few days...I find it all to be very trite. I try my best to spend time with my Mom all year long, and even if I don't look her in the eyes every day and say, "Mom, you're awesome, thank you for being who you are and who you are to me," I try to show it in my actions. 

So when Mother's Day rolls around, I'm all about the homemade cards and the smaller gestures. I took my mom out to lunch today to this adorable little cafe that she had been to recently with a friend, and even if I hadn't paid or even offered to paid, I still would've considered it a Mother's Day well spent. Because to me, it's so not about the money or going somewhere or anything like that. It's just about having some nice Mother-Daughter time, while still getting my Mom back to her sunny back yard while it's still bright and nice enough out to get some gardening in. 

I understand that Mother's Day is a bigger deal in some families. I lucked out in that my mom also doesn't get wrapped up in the hoopla of Hallmark, so my less-than-traditional approach (though I think decidedly more sentimental) to the whole thing is entirely forgivable. Because I know my opinion is not the only one, and I'm sure once I have little rug rats of my own toddling around I'll be singing a different tune (slightly, anyway), I wanted to have a post dedicated to the day nonetheless. I'm sure no one is sitting here at 3:15pm scrambling for a last minute recipe, but if you are, or if you want to get a head start on Father's Day or Mother's Day next year, or even just a nice, spring/summer soiree, this balsamic syrup is the way to go.

I found this recipe on Healthy and Gourmet, and was intrigued enough to give it a shot. You give me two ingredients that sounds kind of funky together, and all I want to do is try it. I brought the syrup to L's Easter celebration along with a tray of kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and sliced banana, for a sort of "fruit salad bar," using the syrup as the dressing. It's strong so you only need a modest drizzle, and it's certainly an addition to fruit that would be welcomed more by some than others, but if you like the play of sweet and sour off each other, and you like the light-yet-complex tones of a balsamic vinaigrette, I would highly recommend this. Although mine was much less viscous than the pictures on Healthy and Gourmet led me to believe it would be, it still wound up being a pretty solid hit at the dinner. I can imagine it going well with just about any fruit, alongside French Toast, over sorbet or gelato, mixed in with just the tiniest bit of liquid chocolate...and the list goes on. It's the easiest way to dress up a dish - I mean, how easy is it to cut up some fruit while this is simmering on the stove top? 

I apologize for the lack of pictures - as is generally the case when I make food to take somewhere else, I forgot to snap a picture before I left and did not think to bring a camera with me for on-the-scene, last minute shots. Besides, Healthy and Gourmet's pictures look tantalizing enough. No need for my amateur point-and-shoot practices getting in the way of true beauty!

Sweet Balsmic Syrup, courtesy of Healthy and Gourmet
Yield: Approximately 2/3 cup (a lot!)

The Ingredients
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
The Method
Combine the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat, and cook until thick and bubbly, 7-8 minutes.* Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and serve (immediately**) over...well, really, anything your imagination can think up! But fruit or ice cream are pretty safe bets.
*As I said, mine did not really thicken all that much. I'll play with it next time, maybe let it really cook down, but I still enjoyed the flavors without the thickened consistency.
**Also as I mentioned above, I didn't serve this immediately. I tasted some of it right when it came off the stove and then again when I actually served it later that day (warmed in the microwave, though the stove would also be acceptable) with the fruit, and couldn't really discern a difference. Just refrigerate it until you need it.

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