Some like it hot: cooking the perfect winter chili

In today’s post, Chef Deb Rankine, a.k.a. The Fridge Whisperer, shares her favourite campfire chili recipes.

Chili is perfect winter camping fare.

Cook it low ’n slow in a cast iron Dutch oven set over smoldering embers, or on a gas barbecue over indirect heat with the lid down. Or — if you’re on a serviced site — in a slow cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Today’s recipes use everyday pantry ingredients that are easily sourced and, for the most part, require no refrigeration.

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Eyes on the skies — February, 2017

Welcome to the new Ontario Parks “eyes on the skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

The month of February brings the promise of both warmer weather and clearer skies. So grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, dress warmly, and spend the day outdoors.

And when the sun goes down and the stars start to shine, don’t forget to head back out to enjoy the season’s beautiful night skies!

Here are our astronomical highlights for February, 2017:

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The beaver in winter

Pop quiz: do beavers hibernate? Today’s post — from Natural Heritage Education Specialist Dave Sproule — answers common questions about beavers.

beaverIf you’re near water, especially in our northern parks, you might see signs of one of the most important animals in the Ontario landscape, one that molds the landscape to its own needs.

But in the depths of winter, with much of Ontario frozen and white, what are these aquatic creatures up to?

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Skiing Quetico’s frozen wilderness

Today’s post comes from Quetico Provincial Park‘s Superintendent Trevor Gibb.

The smell of crisp clean pine and spruce trees. The sight of fresh moose, wolf, otter and hare tracks zigging and zagging across the path in front of you. The chirp of a chickadee. The crunch of the bright white snow and the gentle bite of the winter air on your cheeks.

This is cross-country skiing in a wilderness park. This is what winter is all about.

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Romantic winter adventures worth travelling for

If you love to cross-country ski, snowshoe, skate or simply explore the outdoors with your significant other, Ontario Parks has a romantic winter adventure for you.

Rent a cozy cabin, cottage or heated yurt at one of seven parks that offer winter accommodation. Pro tip? Book mid-week if you can. That’s when you’ll find the best availability.

Cozy winter getawaysTwenty-six provincial parks offer drop-dead gorgeous landscapes where you can reconnect with nature on a fun day trip or try an overnight park stay. Local ski clubs help keep hundreds of kilometres of park trails groomed or track set for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Try skating through the woods on a cool ice path at Arrowhead or MacGregor Point Provincial Parks.

And don’t fret: our roofed getaways have all the facilities you need to cook up a romantic candlelit dinner for two.

Holiday and New Year’s Eve events, ski loppets, snowshoe races, and other events are planned every winter.

Here is a sampling of winter adventures worth travelling for:

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Tips from a trail manager: prepping for the perfect cross-country ski day

Ready for a day of cross country skiing? Preparing your skis properly can make a big difference in whether you have a fun outing – or a frustrating one.

Peter Crooks, the trail manager for Kamview Nordic Ski Centre in Thunder Bay, has been cross-country skiing for nearly half a century.

Here are his top 7 tips on how to “read” the snow and use the right waxes for your classic skis:

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Where to snowshoe in Ontario Parks

Nature looks completely different under a glittering blanket of snow. Why not strap on some snowshoes and experience Ontario Parks in a whole new way this winter?

Check out our list of winter parks with top-notch snowshoeing opportunities:

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How to get your kids to love cross-country skiing

Did you know 19 of our parks have cross-country trails, about half of them groomed?

Cross-country skiing is a great way for families to get outdoors and enjoy the winter together! It’s less expensive and safer than alpine skiing, it helps keep kids fit, and it’s a skill they’ll have their entire life.

Here are our top seven tips for getting kids hooked on cross-country skiing:

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Where to skate in Ontario Parks

The air is crisp and clean. The evergreens are covered with snow. If you’re lucky – and observant – you might spot a cardinal, a finch, a waxwing or a blue jay as you glide along the ice.

And when the sun goes down, you can huddle around a big bonfire with a cup of hot chocolate and warm up before relacing your skates and heading back out to skate under the stars.

It’s simply magical.

This winter, plan a skating trip to these four provincial parks:

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