There are only so many times I can sell tobogganing the hills of our local park as the height of winter fun to my kids, Esme, five, and Julian, two, before they begin to eye-roll. By late February, we’ve already skated every rink and waged every kind of snowball battle, and they can see we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. But just when we’re getting truly desperate, the calendar flips over to March and it’s maple syrup season.
Last winter we headed to Shaw’s, a family-run operation just north of Toronto. Tom, the fifth Shaw to run the farm, explained to me that March and April are the syrup months because you need a warm day after a cold night to get the sap flowing.Photo: Maya Visnyei
We piled the kids into the farm’s big horse-drawn wagon and trundled slowly through the forest. Although there were a few tin pails hung on trees near the main building for nostalgic effect, the sap actually runs through the 6,000 trees via blue tubing, creating a kind of modern-art look. Good thing, too, since it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of delicious syrup.
The kids loved the ride, but the real payoff for a trip to the snowy woods was sampling the goods. The pancake house was wall-to-wall with newly unbundled families, and before long we were sitting in front of short stacks of silver-dollar pancakes, baked beans and, of course, lots of maple syrup. I picked up a couple of bottles in the gift shop and started thinking about all the things I could make with it — because I knew I’d need some cooking and baking projects to do with the kids to make it through spring!Photo by: Maya Visnyei
This crumble is also known as "pie cake!," according to Ceri's son, Julian.
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No-fuss scones work for breakfast or as a mid-afternoon snack.
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This classic winter drink has a syrupy-sweet vanilla twist.
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