Five Days of Canadian Food {with recipes!} Day 4 – Beaver Tails

Whether it’s skating on the Rideau Canal, taking in the ice and snow sculptures at Confederation Park, or taking the kids down the snow slides of the Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier Park, no Winterlude experience is complete without Beaver Tails! In case you don’t know what they are (does anyone not?), Beaver Tails are fried pastry treats all done up with cinnamon and sugar or other tasty fixings. They are wildly popular; and while the small, family business originated in Ontario and are a hallmark of the National Capital region, they have spread across the country and even into the US!

My kids LOVE Beaver Tails, and we enjoy them annually when we visit Winterlude, Ottawa’s fabulous winter carnival. My husband grew up in the National Capital Region, and has enjoyed them all his life – and he was quite impressed with my homemade version! The kids were all smiles too, and I have a feeling they will be asking for them again soon! They were just as delicious in the sunshine as they are in snow!

So here is Learning Mama’s own Mock Beaver Tail Recipe!

(yields 10 tails)

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • a pinch of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup white flour


  • oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and 1 pinch of sugar in bread maker, and let stand until the yeast begins to foam and form a creamy layer, about 5 minutes. Add in milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, egg, and vegetable oil, and flours. Using the dough setting on your bread maker, have the dough mixed and rise in your machine (approx 2 hours).
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form the dough into 10 small balls. Using a rolling pin, flatten them out into long oval beaver tailed shapes.
  3. Hear oil in a pan, at least 2 inches deep (I used coconut). Do not heat oil too hot! I burned the first one and filled my kitchen with smoke!
  4. Using tongs,  lay one “tail” into the oil and cook until golden and flip; about 1 minute per side.
  5. Remove cooked “tail” and place into shallow dish filled with sugar/cinnamon mixture and cover, using a spoon if necessary. Remove to side plate.
  6. Repeat for each tail.Homemade Beaver Tail Recipe |
How great would these be, served after some winter play? Or maybe plan your own little winter carnival for the kids and serve these along with some hot chocolate to the participants!

Five Days of Canadian Food {with recipes!} Day 3 – Tourtière

Today’s Canadian recipe is  for real, French Canadian Tourtière. This recipe was given to me by my very first francophone friend, my childhood neighbour whom I called Ma Tente, before I even knew what that meant. For those who may not be familiar with the dish, it is a meat pie most commonly eaten at christmastime by French Canadians. No New Year’s celebration or réveillon is complete without it!

French CanadianTourtière

  •  lean minced pork and lean minced veal. Allow a half pound of meat per pie.
  • chicken bouillon
  • allspice (approx. 1 tsp for every 2-3 pounds of meat)
  • fine bread crumbs
  • double pie crust
  • 1 beaten egg


  1. Cook meat on the stove top at a very low heat adding a 1/2,cup of chicken bouillon to start and stir occasionally until well cooked. Keep adding bouillon so that meat does not dry out.
  2. While meat is cooking, add allspice (to taste really -no actual measurement).
  3. When ready the meat should be juicy -add fine bread crumbs so that meat remains juicy but not soupy.
  4. Prepare your pie crust ,roll out dough,generously fill with cooled down prepared meat,add top crust, brush with beaten egg.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30-35min .They freeze well!

Enjoy with ketchup or green tomato chow

Five Days of Canadian Food {with recipes!} Day 2 – Chow

Today’s recipe is a family favourite. It’s my mother’s recipe for her grandmother’s green tomato chow; she brought the recipe with her to Ontario from Nova Scotia  around 80 years ago. I grew up on this stuff – it is especially delicious served on roast beef. I even remember taking a jar with me when I left home, and eating it on my Kraft Dinner!  As far as I know, my mother is the only one in the family who still makes it, which is probably why my cousins raid my mother’s pantry when they visit. While I have done some canning myself, I admit that I have never made this particular preserve. My mom does a good job of keeping my supply stocked!


East Coast Green Tomato Chow - an old family recipe |

Great Grandma’s East Coast Chow

  • 8 Pounds green tomatoes (Full 3 L basket)
  • 2 1/2 Pounds onions
  • Pickling salt
  • 1 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seed, pickling spice, cloves (put in spice bag or just cheese cloth)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard, allspice, and cinnamon


  1. Slice tomatoes and onions and layer in a large crock alternating tomatoes, onions, and about 1 TBSP course salt. Continue until done. Let sit overnight or 8 hours. Drain well.
  2. Put spice bag in large pot. Add vinegar, sugar , dry mustard, allspice, and cinnamon. Heat to boiling and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add tomatoes and onions. Lower heat and simmer uncovered until tomatoes are tender, between 30-60 minutes.
  4. Pack into sterilized jars and seal. Process in water bath for 20 minutes Remove and allow to cool undisturbed.
There it is! Our family’s favourite condiment! If you’re on the east coast and this relish is familiar to you, please let me know! I’ve not seen it anywhere else in Ontario and my family is convinced it originated in our eastern roots.

Five Days of Canadian Food:

Day 1: Maple Syrup/Maple Butter Nut Granola

Day 2: Great Grandma’s East Coast Chow

Day 3:

Five Days of Canadian Food {with recipes!} Day 1 – Maple Syrup

Today’s post is the first in a series I’m doing featuring Canadian food and recipes! Every country or culture has it’s own unique cuisine that make up it’s own particular identity. Canada is a country made up of people of various cultural backgrounds and traditions. I’m going to be featuring foods ranging from sweet to savoury that are part of our collective heritage!

Is anything more Canadian than maple syrup?

Nothing says Canadian like real maple syrup! -

My girls have loved our sugar shack visits! Mid March every year in our neck of the woods is maple syrup season. It’s a fun field trip to take the kids to a local outfit and start the day off with a pancake breakfast followed by a nice hike through the woods to see where the sap is collected each year. It’s great if you can find a place where the kids can participate and collect the little steel pails and bring it to the huge cauldron boiling over an outdoor fire. A maple syrup taffy demonstration is always nice too.

Nothing says Canadian like real maple syrup! |


There is no Aunt Jemima at our house. Never has been, never will be. We are a 100% maple syrup household! Nothing is better on pancakes and waffles (except maybe butter AND maple syrup). I also use maple syrup as a sugar substitute in many recipes. My usual salad dressing is equal parts olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.  It makes a delicious glaze for salmon or carrots. We top our morning oatmeal with a dollop.

My favourite maple syrup recipe by far is my Maple Butter Nut Granola recipe, which I will share with you today! My family loves this stuff! It is great on its own, with a little milk or served on top of yogurt. My favourite way to eat it is layered with frozen blueberries, yogurt and granola on top. Yum yum.

Maple Butter Nut Granola Recipe! | Learning Mama |


So here’s the recipe! I usually double it, because everyone wants some and it makes a great gift in a pretty glass jar. This is going to make your house smell SO GOOD!


Maple Butter Nut Granola

  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp nut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats, seeds, almonds, cinnamon & salt. I ALWAYS use way more cinnamon. Just shake liberally if you love cinnamon like I do! Mix well
  2. Melt butter in saucepan. Add syrup & nut butter. You can use peanut butter if you want to, but almond butter is. so. good. Stir, remove from heat and add extracts. I’m pretty liberal with those too 🙂
  3. Poor wet mixture over dry and fold with spatula until it is evenly coated.
  4. Spread on cookie sheet and bake at 325° until dry and golden, about 45- 60 minutes, turning/stirring every 15-20 minutes.
There you go! Now you can be a crunchy granola, homeschooling mama too!

Five Days of Canadian Food:

Day 1: Maple Syrup/Maple Butter Nut Granola

Day 2: Great Grandma’s East Coast Chow

Day 3: Tourtiere

Day 4: Beaver Tails

Day 5: Nanaimo Bars



Nature Study: A Relaxed, Enjoyable Education for Summer

Do you do any nature journalling or notebooks with your children? If not, this a great time of year to start! We’ve been enjoying learning all about our local wildflowers as they are appearing both in our backyard an along our hiking trails. We are also amazed at the opportunities for birdwatching close to home, even in our own backyard! The most notable bird we have seen this year was back in February when we spotted a snowy owl; what a truly amazing sight that was!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Nature study is a really great way to keep your learning going during the summer break; it’s fun, gets you into the great outdoors, builds curiosity, and can encompass many different aspects of learning that you might not have though of. Did you ever consider that nature study could encompass physical exercise, science, language arts, and art? Here’s how!

  • Physical Exercise –  take the kids on a nature hike! You can vary the level of physical activity depending on your own fitness goals and the age of your children. Some trails can be quite challenging or long, so pack a snack, put on your sunscreen and head off on an adventure!


  • Science – This one is  the most obvious. Nature study ties in especially nicely with biology lessons, but you could also have some fun with earth sciences. Observe the life cycles of birds, insects, etc. Discuss the parts of a plant, invasive species,  land formations, and weather.


  • Language Arts – Really? Yes, really! Nature journals provide opportunity for your children to practice penmanship, copy beautiful poetry verses about nature,  or compose their own thoughts. A great read aloud to accompany your nature studies would be The Burgess Bird Book For Children.


  • Art – Sketching what they observe is a great way for children (and parents!) to practice their drawing skills. Explore art further with watercolours or chalk pastels! Allow nature to inspire you!

Here are some recent examples of what we’ve been learning and observing in nature:

Nature Study: mama killdeer | Learning MamaJust this past week we were visited by this lovely killdeer mama and two little chicks, not yet able to fly! We were amazed to learn that killdeer eggs take extra long to hatch, and emerge from their shells with their eyes open, ready to run about looking for food!



Nature Study: killdeer chicks | Learning Mama

Back in May, we noticed that two black-capped chickadees were busy coming in and out of a birdhouse on the back of our garage. We watched them for about a month when we began to hear a chorus of cheeping greeting their return after each trip! Such a lovely sound! The chickadees were quite friendly with us, and not at all fearful. They actually had a habit of landing on the line beside me while I was pinning the wash out to dry! Well, one day a week or so ago, the chickadees came no more. I was so disappointed that we missed their exit from the little wood box that had been their home!

Nature Study: nature journalling with watercolour pencils | Learning Mama

Nature Study: nature journalling with watercolour pencils | Learning Mama

We’ve been busy adding our observations to our notebooks. We drew/traced them with watercolour pencils and then went over them with a wet brush which produced a lovely effect. We also used the Chickadee Chalk Art Tutorial from Hodgepodge to make some beautiful pictures.Nature Study: nature journalling with chalk pastels | Learning MamaNature Study: investigating a bird house | Learning Mama  Just yesterday we pulled the house down off of the wall and opened it up to see what they may have left behind. We were wondering if it would be full of egg shells and bird droppings, but all we could see was some white fluff and moss.

Nature Study: Investigating the inside of a bird house | Learning MamaIf you haven’t tried nature study yet with your kids, why not give it a try this summer? It’s a great way to keep little minds and bodies active during the summer break, or all year through!



This post is linked up at  Charlotte Mason Moments, Trivium Tuesdays,  Hip Homeschool Hop! and at Weekly Wrap Up.



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Five Reasons I Love Peace Hill Press!

If you’ve seen my curriculum choices, you will have noticed I use a lot of Peace Hill Press’ products! We are currently using Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, First Language Lessons, Story of the World, and Writing With Ease.  Here’s what I love about their programs:




Peace Hill Press is led by the authors (Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer) of The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. This book is among those I consider to be the most influential both in my decision to homeschool and in my overall educational philosophy. PHP’s products follow the methodology set forth in TWTM’s particular flavour of classical education.

Teacher Friendly (Open & Go)

You most definitely can homeschool according to TWTM without using PHP’s programs. There are many other curricula recommended in the book aside from their own, as well as information on how to put together your own course of study. Before I started homeschooling formally, I planned on using relevant passages from our history and literature selections for narration, dictation, and copywork. While I still think this is ideal, as a new, busy, and inexperienced homeschooler I decided to go with their prepared writing curriculum which uses selections from children’s classics.  No preparation required.  FLL, OPGTTR, WWE, and SOTW are all well scripted and easy to use. Of all their programs, SOTW requires the most prep and even that I find minimal. I request the recommended supplemental books from the library a few weeks in advance and make photocopies of maps, templates, and colouring pages. That’s it! If there is a craft or activity I want to do with the kids, I do have to assemble the materials.

Non Consumable and/or reproducible

As a homeschooling parent with multiple children, I really appreciate this! I can photocopy extra colouring pages for my 4 year old without violating copyright, AND use the whole program again with her when we cycle through history with her later. The WWE & FLL workbooks also allow copying for use within your own family. FLL 1 & 2 and OPGTTR are also completely non consumable. So once you purchase a given level of any of their materials, you’re good to go for the rest of your children!


Peace Hill Press’ products are not costly. For example, OPGTTR can be purchased for less than $20. Compare that to leading phonics programs that requires teacher’s manuals, student worksheets, manipulatives or readers. PHP materials can also be purchased on Amazon, unlike many other homeschool curriculum that must be purchased either directly from the publisher or from homeschool/educational suppliers. This means free shipping and no duty, which for me as a Canadian is definitely a plus! While I do recognize that you may be able to provide your child with a first rate education solely with a library card and an internet connection, the cost of purchasing curriculum from PHP is small compared to the cost of some of the boxed curriculum providers which cost around $1 000/year per child!

High Quality, Simple & Effective!

It is amazing to me how simple, yet effective their programs are. My first daughter learned to read using OPGTTR just a few short years ago and now there is no stopping her! When you are finished with that book, your child is reading at a 4th grade reading level. Which for her was early in the first grade. I love the emphasis on focusing on the basics in the early grades and building skills rather than emphasizing creativity which the child will be better able to express once they have mastered the basic skills required for doing so. I’ve only seen the fruit of two years of writing and grammar instruction, but I am amazed so far!


Some other things about Peace Hill Press that may appeal to you:
  • Their books are available for PDF download offering both financial savings and ease of use for printing those reproducible work pages.
  • The have high quality audio companions for many of their products, most notably The Story of the World read by Jim Weiss. He’s so talented and a treat to listen to!
  • They now offer “School in a Box” with all the recommended curricula including those not published by themselves. They are currently offering Kindergarten through Second Grade packages.
Are you a Peace Hill Press user? What do you like most about their products?


This post contains affiliate links.


This post shared on Trivium Tuesdays and The Hip Homeschool Hop.


Favorite Curriculum 2016

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Celebrating Canada – Lapbooking the Provinces of Canada {Free Printable!}

Canada Day is one of our family’s favourite holidays! We usually celebrate by dressing the part and taking in our local festivities. We attend our community’s pancake breakfast, parade, and fireworks.This year we are having some extra fun by adding some Canada themed activities to our studies as well!

Here are some ideas to incorporate some national pride and celebration into your homeschooling days:

Maple Leaf Cookies – make your favourite cut-out cookie recipe or use this one .

Canada Playdough!– die your usual recipe red or use this recipe from The Chaos and the Clutter. She’s got an awesome method for making playdough that will give your arms a break!

Celebrate Canada with Canada Day Playdoh!


Handprint Flag

This is a super easy project for all ages! My sensory loving 4 year old just loved covering the palm of her hand (and later, both palms!) with the red paint.

Celebrate Canada with handprint Canadian flags!

Maple Leaf pancakes  – use a mould or a large cookie cutter to make maple leaf shaped pancakes! Don’t forget to use real Canadian maple syrup on them!

Maple leaf pancakes |

Canada Lapbook – Use my Lapbooking the Provinces of Canada lapbook to add some Canadian content to your homeschool! We had fun exploring provincial flags and flowers, natural resources and industries, and First Peoples coast to coast. Download your own colourful, 24 page lapbook! This lapbook is available for free to my subscribers, enter your email in the box below this post and click “subscribe” to get yours!

Lapbooking the Provinces of Canada | FREE printable |

Stop by the Canadian Homeschooler and check out what Canada Day themed activities and resources the other members of the Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team have put together! And link up your Canadian resources below!

Thoughts On Self Education

One of my great goals and aims in educating my children is that they develop self discipline and become life long lovers of learning. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? We want to see our children grow in knowledge and develop a passion for some subject or other.

But what do we know above all about how children learn? As the old maxim goes “children learn what they live”, and our children are watching us. What kind of example for learning and self education am I setting? Do my children see me pursuing my interests? Do they see me struggling to learn or master something new, trying again until I get it right?

There have been a few things I have been interested in learning in the last few years. When my oldest was quite young, I wanted to be able to make decent, homemade birthday cakes for family celebrations. This was “pre Pinterest” so I took a few classes and can now whip up a nicely decorated buttercream cake for my girls’ birthdays. Then, I wanted some basic sewing skills. I took a weekly, evening class and can now (usually) correctly thread my sewing machine. I truly hope my children see that adults are still learners as they are!

One area I do believe I have been neglectful both to my own personal development and in setting an example to my children is in keeping my mind fed. Before becoming a mother, I was a voracious reader. I spent HOURS each day reading. I lost track of time reading. If in the middle of a good book, I could read all night without even noticing the passage of time.

As the years have passed, I have been reading less and less. These days it seems I am constantly checking books out of the library only to  return them several weeks later unfinished. I still LOVE books. I love booklists. I love book reviews. But actually sitting down and getting through a book has become a real challenge to me.  Add to this the desire to be able to read the classics and the great literary works, and I have been feeling pretty defeated.  Is it possible that I am no longer able to really READ a book anymore?

This past year, for the second time, I checked the book,  The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had out from the library. I really wanted to read the books listed. I really wanted to read those classics in each genre. But I knew I just couldn’t.

It’s time to model that growth mindset, that perseverance, and that love of learning to my family! Surely I can spare 30 minutes a day to build the habit of reading back into my life! Starting today, I commit to reading a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Will you join me? Follow along with me on Facebook, and I’ll post each week what I’m working through! If I don’t, you can give me a nudge!

Here is what is currently on my stack:

What's on my stack! /Learning Mama @

How to Read a Book

I had this one out from the library a few months back and returned after having only read the introduction. It had a request on it and couldn’t be renewed. I’m on chapter 5 now, and I’m hoping it will make a better reader out of me. I’m taking notes!

The Story of Art

This title came highly recommended to me when I was searching for a way to chose and organize my own art curriculum for our homeschool. My knowledge of art history, art, and artists is really lacking and so far this book is really interesting!

The Bible

This book is always on my stack! I can remember the first time reading through God’s word when I was about 16-17 years old. I really felt my eyes opening as truth was revealed to me so freshly for the first time. I truly hungered for it!  I confess that it hasn’t been so in recent years.

What are you reading? Do you have a hard time fitting reading and self education into your busy days?

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First Language Lessons – Memory List Printables

Poetry memorization hasn’t been much of a problem for us, and we have really enjoyed working through the selections in Levels 1 & 2 of First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. Less enjoyable, but still easily accomplished were the parts of speech definitions. We have, however, been hitting quite a roadblock with the memorization lists for pronouns, state of being and helping verbs, conjunctions, articles and prepositions. Oh, the prepositions! There is nothing fun about these lists!

I can’t believe we have gotten this far in the program and I am just now taking the plastic off the Audio Companion CD and putting it in the CD player! I bought the older, combined Level 1 &2 edition used for $5 a few years ago, and the lady I bought it from also threw in the CD, and she hadn’t used it either.  And it turns out it’s really good! It may be late in the game, but we are going to be using it from now on. Even the 4 year old was starting to recite the prepositions at odd times during the day, and I’ve also caught myself singing “These are the prepositions we sing about!” while I’m puttering away in the kitchen. The guitar and lyrics by Mike Smith are really enjoyable, and surprisingly not annoying!

Here are the memorization lists I prepared for Big Sister’s grammar notebook, to follow along with the chants and songs on the CD:

First Language Lessons Printable - Memory lists (articles, prepositions, state of being verbs etc)


You may also find my Parts of Speech Prints useful, as well as the Poem Printables  available from Homeschool Creations.


What have your children found the most challenging to memorize? Are you seeing the benefits of memory work for your students?Free Homeschool Printables Week from the Bloggers of the iHomeschool Network
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