West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

Soft Ginger Cookies

June 29, 2012 by Susan

A yummy treat.

Stirring it up! While cleaning rooms the other day I clicked on the TV and found The Barefoot Contessa featuring a batch of the Ultimate Ginger Cookie. They looked absolutely scrumptious so after finishing the rooms I cleaned up and headed off to the kitchen to cook up a batch for our weekend guests. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients called for in that recipe so I made my own version of ginger cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg ( I grate nutmeg so  just eyeballed the quantity)
  • 1/2 t.  ground ginger (I used a tiny bit more than this)
  • 1/4 t. fleur de sel
  • an additional 1/3 c. granulated sugar for rolling cookies in before baking
  • 1 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/3 c. unsulfured molasse
  • 1/4 c. to 1/3 c. crystalized ginger, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)
Preparation:
Set the oven to 350°F. The cookies will bake for about 12-14 minutes. I made 22 cookies.

Put the first 7 ingredients into a large bowl and set it aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer,  mix on low speed, the brown sugar, canola oil and unsulfured molasses. Note that the dough is fairly stiff so I don’t recommend using a hand mixer. With the mixer still on low speed add the egg, mix for about 1 minute and remember to scrape the sides of the bowl – stop the mixer first. Without changing the mixer seed, very gradually add the dry ingredients which are in the first bowl. If the mixer is going too fast you will find yourself and the mixer covered in a fine white dusting of flour! Increase speed and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the crystalized ginger and raisins (optional) and mix until incorporated. Make dough balls about 1 T. in size and roll in the reserved 1/3 cup of sugar. Place dough balls on a parchment lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake until the cookies are crackled on top but still soft to the touch. Cool cookies on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to complete cooling. These freeze well if they last long enough for you to get them into containers!

Dishing it out!  One sunny summer day, my dad and I decided to take a drive along a nearby lake so stopped off first at the grocery store for sustenance for the journey. While I choose a well aged cheddar cheese, my dad went off to find crackers or so I thought but back he came with a box of gingersnaps. Supplied with these items and the thermos of tea from home, we set off on our adventure. This was the day that I learned how well cheddar cheese and crunchy gingersnaps go together. While these ginger cookies are soft, they are still pretty darn good with a cup of tea and a chunk of strong cheddar cheese.

Enjoy!

A 4th of July to Remember

June 16, 2012 by Susan

Red stunt planeOur Sap-bucket list is overflowing with activities for one super week of 4th of July celebrations for all tastes and interests!

The 3rd annual Stars and Stripes Air Show on June 30 will bring excitement to the Sugarbush Airport in Warren with vintage planes, stunt flying by both planes and gliders, glider rides, classic motorcycles, food and fun for children and adults alike. Tickets may be purchased on line or at the gate. Check out the air show website for more information and some video of last year’s show. Sorry but dogs and coolers must be left at home.
Cooking class

If cooking is your delight, you can learn to impress your family and friends at the cooking classes at The Kitchen at The Store in Waitsfield.  Chef John shares his wisdom and makes learning in the kitchen most enjoyable.

On Saturday, Chef’s Table-Aound the World offers participants not only the opportunity to create food from 4 different countries but to eat it too!

July 2 and 3 will have you creating scrumptious pies at the Butter, Sugar & Sin-Pies class and the Easy Entertaining-Soups and Paninis classes. The best thing is you don’t have to be an expert cook to take these classes, they are fun for all skill levels.

Of course on the 4th of July is the world famous, wild and wacky, 4th of July Parade which makes its way down the main street of Warren to the delight of thousands, yes thousands, of spectators. Family fun, kids games, music, food an more follow the parade in the town as well as up at Sugarbush. FireworksThe parade starts at 10AM but be there early, no cars are allowed in town but buses will be making the circuit from various parking places to town. The day closes with a bang a fireworks will light the sky over Sugarbush starting shortly after 9PM.

As well as all these activities, don’t forget there are mountain walks, energetic hikes, river and lake kayaking, refreshing swimming holes, eclectic shopping, golf and plenty of relaxing to be had here in the valley.

Join the residents of the Mad River Valley and celebrate the 4th of July Vermont style. With the many lodging opportunities here in the Valley, from welcoming B&Bs to condos and rental houses, there will surely be something perfect for you.

See you soon!

Farmer’s Market

June 15, 2012 by Susan

Waitsfield Famers' MarketA must on our Sap-bucket list is our local Farmers’ Market which is held every Saturday morning from now until October 20th–rain or shine–on the Mad River Green in Waitsfield.

Local farmers bring a vast array of items including seedling plants, freshly harvested vegetables and fruits, cheeses, local meats, maple syrup, honey, eggs, jams and fresh baking–ummm I can almost smell the fresh pies! When you are at the market, be sure to visit the artisans’ booths where you’ll see beautiful intricate blown glass, colorful woven goods, hand crafted wooden items, finely turned pottery pieces and much more. Everything’s super and everything’s for sale.

If you are visiting the valley and had to leave your canine baby at home you’ll especially love the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market as dogs are invited to attend as long as they promise to stay on their leash and  be polite and friendly to everyone they meet.

Healthy ‘Green’ Shopping Bags

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Person With Bag on Head

An questionable fashion statement.

Green is in – especially here in Vermont. Among other things, here at West Hill House we use “green” light bulbs, we have solar panels to preheat our hot water, we have rooms with individually adjustable temperature controls, we drive a hybrid car and, we use reusable bags for our shopping.

Every conference that we have been to in the last 10 years has given out conference material in a reusable bag. After our most recent conference our count is now 43 reusable bags with about 10 others having been already “retired” due to wear.

Bags

7 of 43

So what to do with all those bags? A friend made throw pillows and is thinking of making a quilt top which would use up some of her bags.

While he promised to use his new bag for its intended purpose, we got a photo of this young man’s first and somewhat questionable fashion use for his new bag.

We encourage the use of ‘green’ bags, just be aware that all kinds of germs can be transferred to you from your bag. Think of all the places your bag (or purse for that matter) has been recently; the floor of a shop, the soccer field, the locker room, a public washroom, or the floor of your car. If you use your bags for carrying groceries, remember that raw food can transfer germs to the bag as well as to other foods in the bag. Bags often end up on the kitchen counter where the germs are happy to go forth and multiply. Think green. Stay healthy. Wash your reusable bags frequently.

Picnic by the pond

May 21, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

West Hill House Bed and Breakfast

Grace & Charlie enjoy a picnic.

A basket filled with Vermont cider, cheeses, crackers, home made cookies and other goodies brings smiles to Grace and Charlie who welcomed the warm spring weather with a picnic by our pond. Spring has indeed sprung in the Mad River Valley. Signs of the season are all around us; chipmunks are sunning themselves on the rocks, peepers are singing our guests to sleep each evening and our beautiful gardens are coming back to life with brilliant daffodils now in bloom. We won’t even mind a few April showers. Sugarbush has opened the golf course, folks are out walking and cycling as well as hiking on the many local Green Mountain trails.

Though we can’t guarantee that there will be warm picnic weather when you come, we can guarantee that a warm welcome awaits you.

See you soon!

A Gem of a Restaurant

March 28, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

A kitchen with space to work.

Today Peter and I (Susan) had a marvelous lunch at MINT, a local vegetarian restaurant in Waitsfield.

In the wake of  tropical storm Irene, which flooded the restaurant with 5 feet of muddy water, MINT has been reborn through the hard work of  it’s owners Savitri and Iliyan. The restaurant now boasts a new layout, including an open kitchen, comfortably cushioned chairs and a colorful, relaxing and inviting ethnic decor with much of the decoration having been done by the owners themselves.

Thinking we would just stop for a pot of one of their many tea varieties, we were enticed by the menu and chose lunch instead; mushroom and flava bean soup, a tomato-mozzarella sandwich, and yes, a pot of tea, White Darjeeling. The soup was as tasty as it was aromatic (I should have ordered a large bowl!) and was accompanied by a lightly grilled slice of hearty artisan bread.

A tempting tart.

A small salad of mixed greens was served with our toasty warm sandwich making it hard to decide which to start on first. Tea of any kind hits the spot with me so enjoying a pot of perfectly steeped tea at the end of our meal was delightful. Unfortunately time was ticking away and we had to forego dessert but the Pumpkin and Chocolate tart with Belgian chocolate and crunchy crust sounded awfully good!

The lunch and dinner menus are inventive and delectable so don’t expect a vegetarian menu of plain-old pasta with tomato sauce. Using an abundance of local produce allows the creativity of both Iliyan and Savitri to shine through in both menu and presentation.

Whether an omnivore or vegetarian your appetite is surely to be tempted and satisfied at MINT,  it is a gem of a restaurant in the heart of the Green Mountains.

Tell them Susan and Peter sent you!

Photos taken from the MINT website.

Valentine’s Day – Romance is in the snow!

January 31, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Sleigh Ride in the Mad River Valley Vermont

Sleigh Ride in the Mad River Valley

A picture postcard Valentine’s Day package awaits you…

A snow covered landscape, a beautiful room with a double Jacuzzi tub in its ensuite bathroom, a sleigh ride to whisk you through the snow, and a delicious dinner at The Common Man restaurant.

We have two all inclusive packages:

  • The Logan Suite for any 3 nights including the 14th of February  – just $999 inclusive
  • The Mountain Room for any 2 nights including the 14th of February – just $649 inclusive

Extra nights can be added at our regular rates less 10%.

Your package includes:

The Logan Suite Master Bathroom at West Hill House

The Logan Suite Master Bathroom

  • Your beautiful room and a delicious breakfast each morning
  • A wondrous sleigh ride with views over the Mad River Valley
  • Dinner at The Common Man Restaurant on the 14th
  • 6 Roses – that you can take home with you
  • A bottle of Champagne and two souvenir Champagne flutes
  • Lake Champlain chocolates
  • And most of all – a peaceful get-away among the snow covered Green Mountains of Vermont
Please plan ahead as these packages will doubtless sell out quickly.

Ajver

December 12, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Homemade Ajver

This past summer we were delighted to get to know Martina and Tanja, university students from Macedonia. While they were here I purchased a jar of Ajver for them. I had no real idea of what it tasted like but it looked good and I wanted to give them a small taste of home while they were so far away. The four of us sat around the table and enjoyed this tasty treat along with hearty bread and cheese while the two girls told us of how Ajver is made and how in the fall, the wonderful aroma of roasting red peppers wafts through the villages.

Having some red peppers on hand, I looked up Ajver recipes on line, chose one and yesterday made some beautiful looking Ajver. While it looked right, it lacked that special taste. Martina and Tanja, what’s the magic ingredient? Help!

Pecan Snowballs

December 8, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Stirring it up! Special baked goods play a key role in many of the winter holidays whether it be Christmas, Chanukka, Pancha Ganapati, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year or any  number of others celebrations. Here’s a yummy recipe for cookies to help us encourage winter, Pecan Snowballs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. pecans
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. icing sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2t. vanilla
  • 1 c. icing sugar (for rolling cookies in)

Preparation:

  • On a baking sheet, bake the pecans at 350° for 7 to 9 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring once. Let cool then chop finely and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in vanilla.
  • With a wooden spoon, stir in flour, salt and pecans using your (clean!) hands to finish the mixing and to form the dough into a mound.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Form dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 325° for 18 – 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Remove to racks and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Using the 1 cup of icing sugar, roll baked cookie balls in icing sugar then return to rack to cool completely.
  • Roll once again in icing sugar.
  • Snowballs can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 40.

Dishing it out! My first Christmas in Texas, my friend Jacquie invited me to a cookie exchange at her home. While I can’t remember the exact number of guests, I believe were each to make 5 dozen cookies of the same recipe, bring them festively wrapped in groups of four,  along with 12 copies of our recipe and a cookie tin for our own collection of cookies. One dozen of the cookies were for refreshments at the party, the others were for sharing,  4 of each variety went into our tins. We visited over glasses of wine and plates of cookies – what a wonderful variety of delights for so little work!. I’m not sure how Jacquie managed to organize it, but after several years there were, I think, upwards of 30 ladies at the cookie exchange. No, we didn’t have to make 30 dozen cookies – Jacquie did some mathematical magic and we each went home with a super selection of our friends’ baking. Thanks, Jacquie, for your recipe for Pecan Snowballs.

Cinnamon Crumb Cake

November 13, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Cinnamon Crumb Cake

A great breakfast starter.

Stirring it up! Here’s a never fail coffee cake which is quick to make and yummy to eat.

  • 2 c  all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c  butter
  • 1 c  white sugar

Rub these three ingredients together to the crumb stage. Put 1 cup of the mixture aside to use as topping

Mix the remaining mixture (from the above) with the following:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. sour milk
  • 1/2 t  baking soda
  • 2 t  baking powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t  ground cloves
  • 1 c  raisins, dry cranberries or dry cherries -add these to the dry ingredients before adding the egg and this will help keep the fruit distributed throughout the cake rather than sinking to the bottom.

Pour the mixture into a well greased 9″x13″x2″ (33cmx23cmx5cm) pan and sprinkle the 1 cup of topping over the batter.
Bake at 375• F (190• C) for about 25 minutes. Cool slightly and serve or can be served cold and goes very nicely with an afternoon cup of tea. Freezes well.

Dishing it out! Ever been the new kid in school and hoping to make new friends? In a family that moved numerous times, come the first day of school the big question was, “who will be my friend?”. Starting a new school in grade 7 there was little time to worry about this as I was soon befriended by Maureen. We were in the same class, went to the same church and discovered we liked many of the same things. For three years we were best friends then a new job for my parents took us to a new home across the country . Maureen and I have kept in touch by email and  have only seen each other a couple of times in all these years. All this to say, Maureen sent me this recipe hoping it might be something I could use and every time I make Cinnamon Crumb Cake I silently thank her for making another breakfast enjoyable for both the cook (me) and our guests. Thanks Maureen!

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