West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

Chocolate Mint Cookies

June 16, 2013 by Susan

Stirring it up:

IMG_2120

Help your self.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? And what about chocolate and mint? A yummy combination to be sure. These absolutely delicious chocolate cookies have just a hint of peppermint and pack a mouthful of chocolaty goodness.

Makes 36 cookies
Oven 350F
Bake 5 – 6 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 6 T. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. peppermint extract
  • 4 T. milk (whole, 2% or fat free)

In a bowl, beat sugar and oil until crumbly. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and gradually beat into the sugar mixture. Add the milk and mix well

With lightly floured hands roll dough into 36 balls and place 2″ apart on a parchment lined or non-stick sprayed baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 425° F for 5 – 6 minutes just until the edges are set and the tops crack. Cool a couple of minutes before removing to cooling racks. Enjoy as excellent plain chocolate cookies or make cookie sandwiches with some fluffy vanilla butter icing or you could make larger cookies and make ice cream sandwiches with them – now that would be great for a 4th of July party!

Dishing it out:

Outside our Garden Room we have an herb garden which at this point is growing like crazy because of all the rain we have been having. The first crop of chives has been snipped and dried in the oven for use in the winter and the remaining sprigs have flowered. The flowers make a lovely garnish and are good in soup and cream sauces as well. You’ll see in the photograph that I have put some mint along with the cookies. This isn’t just ordinary mint but chocolate mint. It looks like “regular” mint but it has a chocolate brown stem and it actually smells and tastes like chocolate mint—like the cookies! While I considered chopping the mint and mixing it into the cookies I wasn’t sure how guests would react to bits of green stuff in their cookies. Maybe I’ll try that another time. In the meantime, this mint is really nice floating in black tea or just in hot water. A real treat is mint with strawberries and some whipped cream. There is a tasty summer watermelon salad that has mint, feta cheese, english cucumber among other ingredients—you’ll find that in the June 13, 2010 blog. Happy munching.

Add a Romantic Dinner to your Bed and Breakfast Stay

May 4, 2013 by Katie Pate

Are you looking for a simple Vermont weekend getaway? Having half of your meals covered makes a trip a bit easier to organize, right?

This spring, we are offering our “Add Dinner to a Bed and Breakfast” package. Stay for two nights in the room of your choice and add dinner to one of those evenings. Your meal will take place at the Common Man, one of the best restaurants in central Vermont. You get a three-course meal (selected off the menu) along with coffee and tea.

About the Common Man Restaurant

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Over 150 years old, the soaring hand hewn rafters of the timbered interior are lit by crystal chandeliers, soft candlelight, and a huge open hearth fireplace (lit during the cool nights). Now in its fourth decade of continuous operation the restaurant has earned scores of prestigious awards and accolades including Three Stars from both The Boston Globe and the Mobil Travel Guide.

A couple sample items from the menu:

  • Smoked Salmon Burschetta. Red onion, apple, potato, lemon caper aioli
  • Halibut, served with potato, cauliflower, swiss chard, mushroom in a white wine emulsion

See the full menu on the Common Man’s website.

Common Man Reviews from Yelp.com:

“Go. Just go. Get a sitter. Save the money and splurge. It’s worth it.
Boston ain’t New York but I’ve had my fair share of great meals. This makes the ‘Top Ten’ list. Food, service and ambiance combine to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.” – Christopher L. 2/19/13

“Lorien, Adam, and their staff continue to amaze. New York strip was a beautiful cut cooked perfectly with a side of au gratin potatoes that were out of this world. They now have house made blue cheesed stuffed olives for you martini people. The desserts were unbelievable too. The service was impeccable. The Common Man is hands down my favorite restaurant anywhere right now. Do yourself a huge favor and have a meal here next time you are in the Mad River Valley!” – Chris H. 12/20/12

Keep in Mind: This offer is available Tuesday through Saturday night. Please order this dinner add-on when you book your room. Taxes and gratuities for dinner are included. Drinks are additional.

Fantastic Pancakes

February 12, 2013 by Susan

breakfast

Stirring it up: Pancakes…just the name conjures up the sights and smells of a marvelous breakfast. These Ricotta Pancakes are easy to make and will provide you with great taste, fluffy pancakes and enough energy to tackle a day on the slopes.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T.  sugar
1-2 t. finely grated orange zest
4 T. melted butter
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 lg egg
1/2 c. orange juice
1/3 c. milk (or almond milk or silk)
1/2 t. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, soda, salt,  orange zest,  and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta cheese, egg, orange juice, milk, and vanilla. Combine the wet into dry ingredients until just blended,  the batter will be thick and you may add a bit more milk if you wish but you still want it to be fairly thick.  Onto a lightly greased, medium-hot skillet pour about 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake. Flip when bubbles appear on the top of the pancake. Serve with all the fixings and don’t forget the maple syrup.

Dishing it out: In our house they were flapjacks. My dad was a great flapjack maker and we loved the mornings when we would smell them cooking. Dad would tell the story of Paul Bunyon and flapjacks: Paul Bunyon was a giant of a lumberjack. Paul’s lunber jack friends (who were also very large) loved flapjacks too so Ole the Blacksmith, made a griddle so large you couldn’t see across it when the smoke was thick. Sourdough Sam had fifty men with pork rinds tied to their feet skating around the griddle to grease it. The batter was mixed in large barrels and it took a strong cook just to turn the flapjacks, let alone get them to the table. Check here for more Paul Bunyon stories. We would always ask Dad if he would  make Paul Bunyon sized flapjacks for us. He never made them  quite that large but they were delicious and we gobbled them up just the same. I think Paul Bunyon would have liked Dad’s flapjacks!

Whether you call them pancakes, hotcakes, flannel cakes, drop scones (Scottish),  oatcakes (English), griddle cakes, or flapjacks this is one breakfast that will surely hit the spot.

Fluffiest Cornbread Ever

January 30, 2013 by Susan

Bring on the honey-butter!

Stirring it up! Cornbread is often thought of as a southern US food and seldom served in the northern states which is a pity. This cornbread recipe has become a favorite of our guests especially when served warm with honey-butter and along side an eggy breakfast casserole. Can’t say where I found this recipe as it’s been in my collection for ages.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal  (I use coarse cornmeal)
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 2-3 T. Sugar
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 can creamed corn (8oz)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten

Turn the oven temp to 450°F. Pour 2T. of melted butter into an 8×8 pan and bake for 5 minutes until the cake pan is very hot. While the pan is heating, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the creamed corn, milk, egg and the remaining 2 T. of melted butter. Stir until smooth then pour into the hot cake pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown and tests done in the center. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Makes 9 pieces.

Dishing it out!  When I was about 10 years old, a friend and I decided to start a cooking club with only ourselves as members and our moms as consultants. We took turns week about in each other’s kitchens and choose recipes from our mom’s recipe collections. With their  blessings we’d cook up a storm and of course have to clean up after, this part was not nearly as fun as the making part!  I cannot remember what we made or how long we did this but I do remember we enjoyed the time in the kitchen.  I wonder if Brenda still loves to bake?

Chestnut Soup

December 25, 2012 by Susan

 

Hearty soup and artisan bread, what a meal!

Stirring it up! Until a few weeks ago I had never cooked with chestnuts. Many years ago I had chestnuts roasted on an open fire  (as one does at Christmas time!) from a street vendor in Toronto but nothing since then. I purchased some a few weeks back, sautéed them with some bacon and red onion and the results weren’t bad at all. The  next day however,  I decided that left-over chestnuts weren’t going to be on my list of favourite foods. Always ready for an experiment though I decided to try making some Chestnut Soup. I opened the pantry and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chestnuts, precooked and roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 slices bacon cut into 1/4″ bits
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 2 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • thyme, a couple of good shakes
  • salt & pepper

In a heavy bottom saucepan, sauté the bacon bits till cooked but not quite crispy.  Add the red and yellow diced onions and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and the bacon is crispy. Add the diced potatoes, chestnuts, thyme and stock. Cook on low heat until the potatoes are soft then simmer for a bit so the flavours can blend. Using a hand blender, purée the soup to a smooth thick consistency. Use caution when blending the hot soup and do NOT pour hot soup into a blender or processor to purée it.

Dishing it out! My dad was the soup maker in our family and his experiments in making vegetable soups were renowned amongst our friends. Dad could make soup out of just about anything and it was always “terribly healthy”. Although at the time we often thought  “Not soup again”, recently a homemade soup experiment  is often dinner for Peter and myself. Dad would be proud!

Time to Retire Bottled Water? Yes!

December 8, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Bottled waterSome facts to ponder:

  • Bottled water costs the eager buyer up to 10,000 as much as tap water.
  • We are shipping 1 billion water bottles a week around the U.S. in ships, trains, and trucks.
  • Plastic bottles require energy to make and transport. Currently, the amount of oil we use to produce water bottles each year (17 million barrels) could fuel over 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.
  • Only 22% of the bottles get recycled; the rest end up in landfills (or worse).
  • Roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year — 140 million every day!
  • It takes over 700 years for plastic to decompose.
  • The University of Vermont UVM will be the first public university in the country to end the sale of bottled water, effective January 1st 2013.
  • Tap water in the United States is subject to more stringent federal safety regulations than bottled water.
  • West Hill House has beautiful spring-fed well water available free of charge from every faucet in the B&B.

Bottles in LandfillWe think the above says it all! As a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State, West Hill House feels it is time to encourage a change in perspective.  While we have never offered bottled water to our guests, effective immediately we are updating our booking page and confirmation information to also request that guests do not bring bottled water to the B&B.

To help the process along, by January 1st 2013 each of our guests will be offered a complimentary West Hill House re-usable aluminum water bottle to use while they are here and take home with them if they wish.

Please make giving up bottled water YOUR New Year’s resolution!

Winter Wedding

November 29, 2012 by Susan

Ryan & Jeff married by Greg Trulson, Justice of the Peace

 

With early season snowflakes whirling about them, and the temperature sitting at about 28°F, Ryan and Jeff were married in the meadow at West Hill House B&B. Our favorite Justice of the Peace, Greg Trulson officiated at the wedding making it a very meaningful occasion, as he always does. Following the ceremony,  the newly married couple asked Peter to continue taking photos as they enjoyed a short stroll around our wintery gardens.

Warming up by the fireplace a few minutes later Ryan and Jeff enjoyed an intimate wedding reception complete with wedding cake, made here at West Hill House, and a bottle of  Champagne. They were kind enough to invite Greg and Peter and Susan to join them.

Ryan loves experimenting with recipes. Check out her food blog called Skinny Supper. It’s a fun site with lots of photos to help you along.

Celebrate the 254th birthday of Robert Burns

November 27, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Robert Burns

On January 26th 2013 we will be holding our 5th annual Burns Supper at West Hill House to celebrate the 254th anniversary of the birth, on January 25th 1759, of this great Scottish Poet, often referred to as “The Bard”. (Bard is a Scots word for a poet.)

A Burns Supper is a significant tradition in Scotland and among Scots around the world. The evening will consistent of traditional Scottish fair including Haggis (which really is worth trying!) and Scottish Trifle. Wine will be served with dinner and a wee dram of Scottish whisky will be served  to toast The Bard (for those 21 and older; soft drinks will also be available).

The Haggis will be piped in by a local piper and will be addressed in the traditional manner by Peter:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm. …

We will then encourage you to try some Scottish Dancing after dinner – we’ll show you how!

The Burns Supper will be held in our handsome Red Barn and we have room for only 30 guests. We expect a sell-out so don’t wait till the last minute to book. Tickets must be purchased by January 21st.

The Burns Supper is just $50 per person (including tax), and it is sure to be a memorable evening. Book two nights including the 26th and we will include the supper at the reduced rate of $80 per couple. Advance reservation is required for all tickets.

Bird Seed Granola

August 25, 2012 by Susan

Bird Seed Granola with melon.

Stirring it up! This past week breakfasts were gluten, soy, lactose and pork free. Wanting to increase my repertoire for such recipes, I searched the internet for something new and different. As often happens I got ideas but no recipe was exactly what I wanted or indeed, what I had in the pantry. So… here’s my made up recipe – and no, it doesn’t contain bird seed, it just looks like it does.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. honey (or you can use maple syrup)
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1  1/4 c. almond meal/flour
  • 1 generous pinch of  sel de mer (or 1/8 t. table salt)
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 3 T. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. craisins
  • 1/4 c. chopped almonds
  • 3 T. pine nuts

Preparation:

Set the oven to 350°F.

Mix oil, honey and vanilla in a medium bowl. In another bowl combine almond meal, salt and baking soda and gently stir to mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the liquids and mix together. Add seeds, nuts and fruit, mixing well. Grease an 8X8 pan and press dough evenly into the pan. It is sticky so damp hands work well. Bake for 20 minutes.

Let the pan cool for about 15 minutes and you can use the granola right away by spooning it out of the pan and sprinkling it on, or layer it under, a bowl of  fresh fruit, yogurt or even ice cream. It’s is fairly sweet so you don’t need a lot. When the amount remaining in the pan cooled completely I it cut it into squares which was ok but they didn’t really stick to gather all that well so when nibble, a crumb -catcher  is a good idea. Hummm, guess that recipe needs a bit of tweaking before I can turn it into a good, stick-together snack bar.

Dishing it out! Before becoming an innkeeper/owner/chief cook and bottle washer, I had heard of lactose intolerance and celiac disease and had one recipe for gluten-lactose free cornbread. Now, over the last six plus years, I have prepared  numerous types of breakfasts including vegan, frutarian (that one bothered me), dairy free, no pork, egg-free as well as oxalate free breakfasts. Thanks to the guests who have needed these I have had a chance to cruise through recipes on-line and in numerous cookbooks new and old  and have discovered many great recipes, and made up a few along the way.

Vermont Cheese Tour

July 30, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Vermont Cheese Trail

Guests Laurent and Julia created this list of some of the excellent Vermont Cheese makers–and they visited many of them as you will see from their comments!  If you like cheese you may want to follow in their footsteps.

See also the Vermont Cheese Trail which is the source of the map on the right – the numbers before each Cheese maker refers to their number on that map. The header image on this blog is also from that site.

The letters following Cheese maker names mean the following:

  • C = Cow’s milk
  • S = Sheep’s milk
  • G = Goat’s milk

Cheese makers are listed south to north:

16. Grafton Village Cheese C
400 Linden St/Rte 30,
Brattleboro
open daily, 10-6
Comment: Large store, good amount of samples, must pay to see animals, can view cheese making through window.

40. Vermont Shepherd S                             
281 Patch Farm Road, Putney
Farm Store is open year round 9-5
Comment: No people around to greet or show you around. Small honor store. No samples.

34. Taylor Farm C                                    
825 Route 11, Londonderry
Open daily 10-6
Comment: Small store. Free range chickens running around. Some samples.

17. Hildene Farm Signature Cheese C & G
1005 Hildene Rd, Manchester
Open daily 9:30-4:30

Southwind Farm C (not on map)  
3783 Vermont Route 30, Pawlet
Open daily 9am-6pm

11. Consider Bardwell Farm C & G
1333 VT Route 153, West Pawlet
Self-serve farm store is open year
round ~ The farm is open to visitors on weekends
Comment: Small store. Can pet goats. Some samples.

27. Plymouth Artisan Cheese C
106 Messer Hill Rd,
Plymouth Notch
Open to the Public

24. Neighborly Farms of Vermont C                           
1362 Curtis Rd,
Randolph Center
Open Monday-Friday 8-4
Comment: Small store. Gave free tour of cheese making.  Can pet calves.  Some samples. Unpaved roads.

 Fat Toad Farm G   (not on map)                            
787 Kibbee Rd, Brookfield
Open daily
Comment: Best small farm experience. Small store. Lots of samples of cheese and caramel.  Got tour of farm. Unpaved roads.

Turkey Hill Farm C   (not on map)                             
55 Turkey Hill Rd,
Randolph Center
Farm store is open daily 7am-5pm

38. Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery C & G                       
40 Pitman Rd, Websterville
Open Monday-Friday 9-5
Comment: More industrial.  Small visitor center.  Samples only when asked for.  Save time and buy it at other stores.

8. Cabot Creamery Cooperative Visitors Center C
2878 Main St, Cabot
June-Oct 9-5;
800.837.4261
AlsoWaterbury 802-244-6334 and
Quechee 802-295-1180, 9-6 daily

Dakin Farm  (not on map)   
5797 Route 7
Ferrisburg, VT 05456
Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – seven days a week
Comment: Not a farm.  Medium size store. Lot’s of samples of cheeses and jams.  Good Maple frozen yogurt.  Has a sugaring house.

31. Shelburne Farms C                           
1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne
Open during summer 9-5

43. Willow Hill Farm S & C                     
313 Hardscrabble Rd, Milton
Farm store and viewing
room open daily 9-5

Lakes End Cheeses C & G   (not on map)                                
212 West Shore Rd, Alburg
Open 10-7 daily mid-June
through Labor Day

Green Mountain Blue Cheese (not on map)   
2183 Gore Rd, Highgate Center
Open daily 7am-7pm

4. Boston Post Creamery G                                    
2061 Sampsonville Rd,
Enosburg Falls
Open to the public: Tuesday-Friday
9-5, Saturday 9-4, Sunday 10-3

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