Written by: Brenna Bartley, Educational Programming Coordinator
Have you met Ollie, Odyssey, Ruby, Judy and Brooke? These gentle giants are the hard working Percheron horses that will be pulling the wagons in Mountsberg’s Maple Town starting on February 28th and running weekends, holidays, and March Break until April 6th.
Percherons were first bred in the fertile French region of La Perche (located in Normandy), from which they get their name. They are well known as draft horses, commonly used in agriculture, but also used as artillery horses in World War I due to their ability to tolerate loud noises and challenging conditions. One of the many differences between Percherons and Thoroughbreds are the positioning of their legs. Percherons have been bred to work in teams and consequently, their legs are positioned more closely together under their bodies. Another, more obvious, difference is their size; Percherons can reach 6’4” (19 hands) in height at the withers and up to a colossal 2400lbs in weight. Throughbreds, in comparison, can reach 5’8” (17 hands) at the withers and up to 1100lbs in weight.
Ollie (age 9), Odyssey (age 8) and Ruby (age 10) are the core members of the 2015 Maple Town team. Ollie is the matriarch or grand dame of the group. She is a key member of the team; due to her temperament and work ethic she can be paired with any of her team mates. Odyssey is a gelding and the only male member of the 2015 team. He is our largest team member weighing in at almost 2000lbs and, despite his large size, is very affectionate with his handlers. Ruby is our eldest team member and has led a previous life as a lead show horse. Her show background still shines through, she is eager to pull and show our guests and her team mates how things are done.
Two new team members have been added for 2015. Born only one day apart, both Brooke and Judy are 2 years old and are still growing into their frames. Horses are carefully selected for our team to make sure they are a good match for our other team members and that they enjoy the work of pulling a wagon at a busy education centre. Both horses are a little shy, but curious about people and we are excited to watch as they learn the ropes.
In celebration of the teams’ French heritage we are featuring a traditional French Canadian recipe for our second maple recipe of the season. Tarte au Sucre is a traditional French dish brought to Canada by early French settlers. Lacking access to white or brown sugar, the settlers turned to maple syrup and sugar to make the recipe and Maple Sugar Pie was born.
There were so many variations on this dish that we decided to try two different recipes.
For a more custardy pie with a flavor reminiscent of maple syrup drenched French toast try recipe number one, courtesy of Kitchen Vignettes.
For a less custardy pie with stronger maple flavor, try recipe number two curtesy of Tastefully Julie.
We enjoyed both recipes to the last piece of their sticky maple crusts. If you are a true maple afficianado, use the darkest grade of maple syrup you can get your hands on for the best flavor. Substituting a little brown sugar for some of the maple syrup results in a sweeter pie with a pleasing crust.
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
1 Tbsp. unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 9” pie shell (unbaked)
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the maple syrup just to a boil.
Cook the maple syrup at a gentle bubble, reducing the heat if necessary, for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.
Stir in the cream.
Transfer about 1/2-cup of the mixture to a small bowl; whisk in the flour and salt and then whisk this back into the mixture in the saucepan. Allow to cool slightly.
Beat the eggs and whisk them into the mixture in the saucepan. Pour the filling into the pie shell.
Bake in a 325 to 350º oven until the centre is golden brown and bubbly, and firm when lightly touched, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely to room temperature and set for at least 3 hours, for clean slicing. Serve at room temperature.
1 and ½ cups pure maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 9” prebaked pie shell
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the syrup and heavy cream.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water
Heat the maple mixture over medium to medium-high heat while whisking in the cornstarch liquid.
Bring this mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Cook at a low boil being careful not to scorch the bottom. The mixture will thicken.
Pour into the pie shell and refrigerate until set. Store pie refrigerated.
Stay warm and stay tuned to this blog for more maple recipes to come throughout the month of March. For more information on how to enjoy Maple Season in our Halton Parks look for Mountsberg’s Maple Town and Crawford Lake’s Sweetwater Season at conservationhalton.ca/events. Or follow this link for a sneak peek into a day at Maple Town.