West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

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!

Farmers’ Market-Top Rated

June 29, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Local produce

Yankee, in the July/August 2011 magazine, ranked the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market as one of the 5 best Farmers’ Markets in New England. Here’s what they say…

Waitsfield Farmers’ Market
It seems that the entire population of the Mad River Valley turns out to partake in a boisterous round of festivities: face painting, arts and crafts, live music, picnicking, and more. More than 60 vendors; space is equally shared among agricultural, craft, and prepared-food booths. Mad River Green, off Main St. (Route 100), Waitsfield. Saturdays 9am-1pm, May-October. waitsfieldfarmersmarket.com

We agree!  This weekend, whether you are here to attend the Vermont Symphony outdoor concert,  the Warren July 4th parade, the air show or the fireworks at Sugarbush be sure you take in the fun and excitement of the Farmers’ Market.  On this July 4th long weekend it will be the place to be if you are in the Mad River Valley on Saturday morning.

The gang's all here.

Quaich Single Malt Bar

May 27, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

West Hill House B&B Quaich Single Malt Bar

Quaich Single Malt Bar

A Quaich Drinking Cup

A Quaich

We invite you to enjoy our Quaich Single Malt Scotch Bar.

Just in case you are wondering, a Quaich is a traditional Scottish drinking vessel that was used to offer a guest a cup of welcome and also as a farewell drink, usually a dram of whisky. The inspiration for the name came from the gift of a Quaich to Peter, during our visit to Scotland, from his university class mates at the 40th reunion of their graduation, which Peter helped organize.

Our Quaich bar is open for resident guests each evening till about 10 PM. We are featuring a variety of malts from Speyside and the islands, and for those whose preference does not run to a fine single malt we also have a nice selection of liqueurs. All are available at very reasonable prices.

We hope this new feature will be just one more reason why you will want to come and visit us (again) at West Hill House B&B, where we don’t compete with other B&Bs, we simply surpass them with our service, our comfort, our beautiful location, and our unique breakfast desserts!

Watch this short video to understand more about the making of Scotch Whisky:

Scrumptious Sauce

April 26, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Quick curried fruit sauce on roast pork.

Stirring it up! Unexpected guests for dinner? This quick curried fruit sauce has come to my rescue more than once. Good on a variety of meats or on rice or quinoa, this sauce is quick and easy to make.

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2-3 t curry powder (more if you are a curry lover)
  • 1/4 t  salt
  • 2 – 14oz tins fruit salad (mixed fruit) drained

In a saucepan, heat butter, sugar, curry powder and salt. Stir the mixture while cooking, until the butter bubbles and the sugar and curry powder are blended together. Continue to stir and add the drained fruit and bring it to a boil then turn the heat to low and allow the flavours to meld. If it is too thick, add a bit of the drained juice. Serve hot over your choice of food. Can be made ahead and heated before serving.

Dishing it out! My dear friend Jyo makes the best curried food on the planet! Our families have spent many happy hours together enjoying fellowship and her fantastic cooking. While she would not consider this a very authentic curry sauce, I know she would appreciate that I think of her when I make it and I wish that we lived close enough to each other to once again gather around the table.

Tea Primer

April 23, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Granny's favourite.

When we moved to Texas from Canada, two new friends, knowing of our Canadian & Scottish backgrounds, offered us tea – cups with water heated (not to boiling) in the microwave and presented with a tea bag on the side. YIKES! My mission from then on was to teach them to make a good cup of tea, properly made! Both new friends, who have since become near and dear, were excellent students and can now make a great cuppa’.

Here are a few basic terms that are useful to know when reading about and making tea.

Tea pot -The vessel from which hot tea is poured. Buy a tea pot if you haven’t one. Whether from a simple Brown Betty tea pot or an ornate fine china tea pot, pouring tea from a tea pot makes the experience of having a cuppa’ all the more enjoyable. (don’t use aluminum though it reacts badly with tea).

This small 2-cup tea pot along with its wee cream and sugar was used for many years by Peter’s Granny who lived to be one week short of 100 years old. In the latter years of her life Granny was confined to bed and Peter’s mum brought her tea in this little set each morning. Looking as good as new, sadly its tea cup is missing.

Tea kettle – the vessel in which you bring fresh water to a boil. Can be electric or stove top.

Tea cup – A china tea cup or mug are my favourites – but then, I’ve also drunk tea from a birch bark cup so I’ll take tea no matter!

Infuse or Steep – the process of extracting the flavour of the tea from the leaves to the water.

Loose  leaf or Tea bag – Use good quality loose, leaf is best. Most commonly used are tea bags which contain tea dust which is known for it quick extraction. With a myriad kinds of tea, make a visit your local tea shop for advice on what to purchase. (If you are in the Mad River Valley checkout the tea shop and restaurant called MINT- they have about 50 different teas and tisanes.)

TisaneThough prepared in the same manner as tea, tisane is a combination of dried flowers, herbs and fruit and does not contain tea leaves.

One-for-the-pot – This refers to how much loose leaf or how many teabags to use. My guideline is 1 bag or one slightly rounded teaspoon of loose leaf per 10 oz of water. You preferences may vary for weaker or stronger tea.

Tea Ball or Tea Infuser  or Tea Egg – A tea ball is not a fancy dress dance, it ‘s a device into which loose tea leave are put for steeping. Once in the tea pot, the hot water poured over it  can seep through the mesh of a tea ball to the leaves.

Ready to make some tea? Stay tuned!

We know how to make tea!

April 15, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

A Ceylon tea set which was purchased by Peter's grandmother when she and her husband lived in Ceylon in the early 1900s.

Over the past few weeks I have attended two conferences, each providing various meals followed by coffee and tea,  but only if you asked for it.

My latest tea challenge came just the other day. I was brought a cup filled with very warm water (not hot enough to have been boiling) and a wooden case from which I could choose from about a dozen types of teas and tisanes. The tea bags were tucked into little cardboard boxes  1.75″ x 1.25″ x .75″ and wrapped with plastic wrap with a pull tab much like the wrapping on a cigarette package. By the time I had chosen my tea, finally removed the plastic from the box, got the box opened and the tea bag into the cup, the water had gone from very warm to warm. While the quality of tea was good, full-leaf tea in a triangular tea bag, I could only imagine what this would have tasted like had it been properly made.

It’s time tea was made and served correctly!

When you visit West Hill House, if you request tea, we will make you a proper cup of tea.Tea as it should be!

Beautiful New Mugs

March 29, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Liz  enjoys a homemade biscotti and hansels  our brand new mugs.

We recently received our beautiful new hand-thrown, signature stoneware mugs from Deneen Pottery of St. Paul, Minnesota. Deneen Pottery is a family owned and operated company and their products are handmade in the USA.

Liz and Joe from Fairbanks, AK were B&B guests the day the box of mugs arrived and Liz was the first to hansel our new mugs (hansel: to use something for the first time). They loved the mugs so much they bought two to take home with them.

We are delighted to offer these marvelous mugs to our guests for their hot beverages as well as to purchase as a reminder of a wonderful time at West Hill House B&B.

Find us on Facebook!

January 28, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Burns Supper at West Hill House

Burns Supper at West Hill House

While we post regularly to our blog here, you can also follow us on our Facebookpage. Often we duplicate postings but usually there is more on Facebook than here on the blog.

For example we just posted a photo album from our Burns Supper, held for the first time in our newly renovated Handsome Red Barn. (Click on the photo to see the full album.) About 25 local residents and B&B guests joined in the festivities, celebrating the 252nd birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns who was born on January 25th 1759.

In addition to pipe music, we enjoyed Haggis with the traditional fixings, Scottish Trifle, some Burns poetry then Scottish Country Dancing led by Don and Martha Kent. A good time was had by all. Be sure to come next year!

So “like” us on Facebook to keep up with ALL the news!

Baked Blueberry Croissant French Toast

January 25, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Stirring it up! Can you think of a better breakfast than hot steaming Baked French Toast on a cold and blustery winter morning? Me neither! The other day I made Baked Blueberry Croissant French Toast for our guests. I often create and adapt recipes when I cook and don’t take time to write them down so I had to think about this one for a bit – it was one of my “let’s try this” recipes. It is easy to do because you put this together the night before, refrigerate it and cook it in the morning. I made this for 20 people and that is a bit much for the ordinary family so here’s is how to work this out on a smaller scale.

We're feeling blue.

  • 1 slightly frozen croissant for every two people (Real croissants, not the brand name pop-open-the-container and bake kind!)
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk (or Silk) per person
  • 1 egg per person plus 1 extra egg for every 4 people
  • 2 T softened cream cheese per person
  • 1/8 t vanilla per person – a little more if you like a stronger vanilla flavour
  • 1/4 cup medium sized blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 T brown sugar per person
  • 1 t melted butter per person
  • 1 T chopped nuts per person (pecans or almonds are nice)
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Whipped cream
  • Powdered sugar

Grease a pan large enough to hold the croissants in one layer. The pan should have 2″ high sides. Depending on number of folks you are feeding you may need several pans.

Carefully cut the croissant while still slightly frozen and spread each half with cream cheese, spreading is easier this way. Place the croissant halves cream cheese side up in one layer in the greased pan.  Combine the eggs, milk and vanilla in a bowl and beat until well mixed and all eggs are incorporated. Pour the mixture over the croissants so that they are just barely covered with liquid. If you find that you need more liquid make more 1 egg, 1/4c milk mixture until you have sufficient. The actual amount will vary depending on the moisture content in the croissant. Lightly dust with cinnamon then grate a sprinkling of nutmeg over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and tuck into the fridge until morning.

In the morning,  about  an hour or so before you wish to eat,  set the oven to heat to 350’F. Remove the pan from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes or so to warm up to room temperature. While it is sitting out, mix together the brown sugar, melted butter and nuts. Dot croissants with spoonfulls of the sugar mixture and carefully spread it around with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with blueberries. Cover lightly with foil and pop into the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes to brown.

Let it cool just a bit then serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, some real maple syrup or blueberry syrup and some bacon or sausages. Yumm!

Dishing it out! About three years ago I decided our blueberry bushes were way too tall, at this point they were about 10′ tall, and even with poles and ladders, getting a net over the top was neigh on impossible. In fact it was a useless exercise and that year we harvested the 3 berries that the birds missed! The obvious thing to do was to trim the bushes – but how? After consulting several agricultural extension sites on the internet a plan was devised, the tools were gathered and with lots of TLC the bushes were cut back to a respectable size . The results? Great bushes for the last three years but not a single blueberry in sight. Most disappointing and we’re feeling quite blue – what had we done wrong?  Thank goodness for the local farmers’ market where we can purchase this fantastic fruit from our neighbouring farms.

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