Hello Londoners!

Do you know what time of year it is? It’s maple syrup time! Just in time for March Break for the kiddies too. That’s right, I know all of you parents have been dreading anticipating next week’s break since your children were home at Christmas. Have you figured out what to do with the kids just yet? Well, a trip out to a sugar bush should be on your list of activities. We are lucky enough to have several sugar bushes in the area as well. Let’s take a look at a few of them, shall we.

First off, there is Crinklaw’s Maple Products at 4570 Westminster Dr. in London.  They have been producing maple syrup for over 175 years on this family run farm. You can see maple demonstrations, go on a wagon ride, and of course sample this year’s crop of maple syrup. This weekend, Crinklaw’s is holding a Maple Syrup Festival as well. The hours are Saturday March 10th and Sunday March 11th from 10am-3pm, with a pancake breakfast available until 2pm. Don’t forget to pick up some maple butter, maple mustard, maple balsamic salad dressing, BBQ sauce, maple sugar, maple tea and of course various grades of pure maple syrup! You can even purchase a cookbook, so that you have lots of recipes on hand when you get home!

Maple syrup displays at Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush

Another local sugar bush worth visiting is the Kinsman Fanshawe Sugar Bush. Operated by the Kinsmen Club of Greater London since 1972, this fun venue is educational for the kids (and adults alike) as well. Once you make your way out to their location at 21201 Lakeside Dr. in Thorndale, you are in for a treat. There are great displays showing the history of maple syrup production since the natives collected it, right up to modern-day practices. They are open from 9am-4pm every weekend in March (last weekend is March 24th-25th), plus every day during March Break. The kids will love the horse-drawn wagon ride, walk through the bush, and of course the feast of pancakes and sausages topped off with fresh maple syrup.

And what child doesn’t like their face painted? How can you resist log-sawing, maple leaf branding, storytelling, a shanty tour, plus pancakes, waffles and baked ham! You get all of that at Palmer’s Sweet Maple Experience and more. Head out towards Fingal (not far from Port Stanley) and watch for the signs to direct you towards their location at 34308 Lake Line (off Union Rd), or call them for further directions at (519) 769-0007. They are open from 9am-3pm every Saturday and Sunday in March, but if you still need a maple syrup fix after that, call them for an appointment!

Well, wherever you end up for your maple products this March, make sure that you pick up some maple syrup to enjoy at home. From one more local source today, I’ll share a maple recipe that you can use with all that maple syrup you just bought. Just east of London, at 20422 Nissouri Rd., lies Heeman’s Greenhouses and Strawberry Farm. They offer beautiful bedding plants, fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as a friendly and knowledgeable staff that you just can’t beat. The folks at Heeman’s can be found on Twitter, Facebook and of course at their website and that is where I came across this delicious sounding muffin recipe that follows. In fact, I just might get the kids to make these Sunday morning.

Have a great weekend folks!

BLUEBERRY BANANA MAPLE MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1-1/3 cup fresh/frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup Greek plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar blend
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts for topping*
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork until they have not lumps and are very liquid-like.
  • Add eggs, sugars, Greek yogurt and vanilla to banana mixture. Whisk until everything is well combined and there are no lumps.
  • Add blueberries (and nuts if desired) to dry flour mixture.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and fold in mixture until just combined.
  • Pour batter into a greased muffin pan and distribute evenly. Top with chopped nuts.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes depending upon oven and muffin cup size used or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
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