March 18th, 2013 by Katie Pate
The spring equinox is only two days away. Soon, the snow will melt and spring will reveal green buds on the trees, blooming flowers and sunny days. But not yet…
Get your fix of your favorite winter sports before its too late!
You don’t have to drive anywhere to nordic ski if you are staying at West Hill House. Our Inn is located across the street from the Sugarbush golf course. If you rise early after a snowfall, you can blaze your own trail. A little later in the day you can undoubtedly follow a trail forged by someone else.
Mad River Valley Cross Country Skiing Centers
Catch a couple more weeks of X-country skiing before spring sets in.
Ole’s (2355 Airport Road – 15 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) As of this posting, there are four inches of fresh snow, a combo of silky packed powder and loose powder, on the ground at Ole’s. It’s 17 degrees and beams of gleaming sunlight are breaking through low clouds, illuminating the fresh snow. At least 20k of trails are groomed and tracked for both for classic and skate skiing.
Blueberry Lake (424 Plunkton Rd – 10 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) Blueberry Lake received 3 inches of fresh snow last night and the temperature is slightly warmer at 23 degrees. They have 11 trails, totaling 30 km for classic, skate skiing and snowshoeing. There are trails for both beginners and advanced skiers. Many of their trails are wooded, with the occasional overlook to wide open meadows with beautiful views.
The Catamount Trail: This is not a ski center but an unmanned ski trail that runs the length of Vermont. It is 300 miles long and has been in the making since 1984; it was fully linked together in 2008. Thousands of skiers and snowshoers take to the trail every winter season — most only spend a day on a section of the trail. However, some ambitious adventurers ski end-to-end. What you are sure to enjoy about the Catamount Trail is the pristine backcountry, farmland and village surroundings along the way. The Catamount trail passes directly behind our B&B.
March 9th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren
Last week we signed up for a year-round composting service with the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD), as part of our ongoing efforts as a Green Hotel to reduce our environmental impact.
While we have tried composting before, it never worked out very well. First of all it was practical only in the summer months when the ground was not frozen, and during those warm months there was often the problem of animals getting into the food scraps before they were fully composted.
The program now provided by CVSWMD for commercial operations solves these problems nicely. We collect the food scraps then store them in sealed wheel-able totes, which are emptied monthly. The truck then takes all the food waste to a central processing location where it is efficiently turned into beautiful compost and sold to farmers and gardeners.
Organic materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, comprise 20 – 40% of the waste Vermonters send to the landfill. Not only do these organic materials take up a lot of landfill space, they produce greenhouse gases as they decay. However when used to form compost, farmers and gardeners can build healthy soil for growing healthy plants. Healthy plants suffer from less pest pressure—which means less botanical and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are needed to grow the vegetables and fruits we serve and which are used in our local restaurants—and that’s good for all of us.
So while we hope you will not leave any of our wonderful breakfasts on your plate, you can rest assured that any such scraps will now be put to a good use!
February 28th, 2013 by Katie Pate
In this era self-promotion via Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it is said that an amazing experience is worth just as much as an expensive watch. People are willing to pay more for memories they can treasure (and share), rather than a physical object which might lose its luster or become unfashionable.
If this reasoning resonates with you, we have a suggestion for the experience of a lifetime: Dog sledding. Envision yourself as an Inuit native guiding the dog team to hunting grounds. Or perhaps you’d prefer a Jack London-esque setting, where you are a gold seeker in the 1800′s. Taking a trip on a dog sled can help you understand those stories and histories better.
Be the leader of the pack with a Dog sledding excursion!
October Siberians is our preferred tour provider for dog sledding. They are one of Vermont’s best kept secrets! Offering tours in the Little River State Park in Waterbury Vermont, their Huskies are friendly, energetic, hard working dogs that literally transport you to an era when human and dog depended on each other for more than companionship. Little River State Park is about 30 minutes north of our B&B in Warren Vermont.
One reason we like October Siberians is because they make sure you are part of the group, not just a tag-along. You will have a hands-on experience working with a dog team. Share in the beauty, peace and history of the Green Mountains and the sport of Mushing.
We can book the adventure for you, however, it is important to let us know ahead of time as there is limited availability and outings are weather dependent.
February 24th, 2013 by Katie Pate
Are you interested in exploring Vermont back country this winter? Why not have a true backwoods snowshoe experience with Clearwater Sports? We think this company offers superb tours through unmarked and off-trail areas. On special dates you can snowshoe through the scenic Mad River Valley forest to a secluded log cabin nestled into the woods and enjoy a warm fire, delicious hors d’oeuvres and a hearty, down-home Vermont dinner. Here is more information about the tours that Clearwater Sports offers through the Mad River Valley. Come up to Vermont and enjoy the end of the winter!
For the speed seekers: Meet the Rocketsled!
Try out the infamous Mad River Rocketsled. Conceived and built here in Warren, Vermont, this totally controllable sled allows you to carve down the mountains.
The rocketsled! Brought to your by Clearwater Sports in Warren VT
Snowshoe up the Green Mountains along the Lincoln Gap road, which is closed during the winter. This curvy, steep road becomes your rocketsled route the whole length down. You can control your speed by the way you carve your way down. This is a fun and safe adventure that will make you feel like an Olympic champion! $55 per person (including equipment rental) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, reservations required.
Vermont Back Country Snowshoe Tours
Clearwater Sports offers true backwoods experiences with experienced guides. The showshoe trips lasts three hours and brings you to unmarked and off-trail areas. Choose a level of difficulty from beginner or if you are able, a more strenuous level. Guides are naturalists that provide plenty fun animal tracking and naturalist skills. This is a truly wonderful Vermont winter experience!
A Big Breakfast and a Beautiful Bed
Complete your winter trip to Vermont by staying at our B&B. Whether you plan to hit the slopes or snowshoe, we know a hot and filling breakfast is the right way to start your day. Every morning, we serve a three course breakfast. Menu items in the past included: Sweet Pepper Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Casserole, Ginger Pancakes with Lemon Sauce, Pain Perdu (French Toast) with local Mad River Valley Maple Syrup, Asparagus filled Crêpes, or Granny’s Cheesy Soufflé. Along with amazing breakfasts, we have nine private, unique and comfortable guest rooms. We look forward to seeing you this winter!
February 18th, 2013 by Katie Pate
One of the aspects of Mad River Glen that makes it so unique: the ski resort is a co-op. Those that love this place are committed to seeing it remain in pristine condition. Plus, everyone skiing is happy to be there – they love Mad River! So even on busy weekends, the crowds are personable, not snarly or competitive.
But please note: there is no snowboarding at Mad River Glen.
About Skiing at Mad River Glen
Mad River Glen is famous for its beautiful and varied trails, with routes for both beginners, intermediates and experts. It is also home to the nation’s last surviving single chairlift – which was completely rebuilt a few years ago.
The extensive trail system follows the contours of General Stark mountain to a single base area, making it easy for families and friends to ski together. Located in the “snow corner” of New England, Mad River’s 250 inches of annual snowfall combined with a pristine mountain environment to create a wonderful skiing experience!
West Hill House Bed and Breakfast Ski & Stay Package
For the rest of the 2013 ski season, West Hill House bed and breakfast has a great deal for any skier. Until March 31st (with some blackout periods) we have three and four day ski packages that include lodging and breakfast at West Hill House, along with “passports” for skiing at Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Ole’s cross-country skiing.
The Innkeepers at Mad River Glen
These Ski Passports also include coupons for discounts or freebies at local stores and restaurants.
Come during the week and stay for four days. Come during a weekend and stay for three days. The price for both packages is the same. So, if you can afford to get away during the week, you get rewarded with a better deal and less crowded skiing conditions!
Transport to the Ski Resorts
The Lincoln Peak base at Sugarbush is only two minutes away and there is a free shuttle bus from our front door. You can come back anytime during the day. Mad River Glen is about a 15 minute drive, and Olé’s is about a 10 minute drive.
February 12th, 2013 by Susan
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.
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.
February 1st, 2013 by Susan
Welcome to Chinatown, Ottawa, Canada
The magnificent 11 meter tall Royal Arch, a symbol of Bejing-Canada friendship, welcomes visitors and residents alike as they explore Chinatown in Ottawa, Canada. Built entirely of reinforced concrete and stone it is in the style of the wooden arches found in China. Artists from China undertook the detailed hand painting and finishing work. The Royal Arch glistens in the sun and even on a snowy day like the day we took this photo, the colours are outstanding and the size quite amazing. After many years of planning and fund raising by the local Chinese business community, the Arch was officially dedicated in 2010.
Many Asian cultures including Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese are represented in this area of Ottawa which is replete with shops, markets, restaurants and residences. If you are in Ottawa it’s a “must see” – you will find the Arch at Cambridge St N and Somerset St. W.
January 30th, 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.
- 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?
January 30th, 2013 by Katie Pate
Sugarbush is famous as home to the most diverse terrain in the North East. In fact, it was ranked #1 in Terrain Variety by SKI Magazine in 2010. Many Olympian skiers and riders fell in love with the sport and perfected their technique on the Sugarbush slopes.
Sugarbush resort is only a couple of minutes from the front door of our B&B in Warren. The ski shuttle will stop here to whisk you from the inn to the slopes in style.
Experience the adrenaline rush of a ride down a Sugarbush slope!
We’ve also found that the Sugarbush riders and skiers are among the friendliest at the top ski resorts in the North East.
First Tracks Tours at Sugarbush Resort
If you are an early riser, than let us book something really special for you: A first-tracks tour. 12 passengers can ride the Lincoln Limo and experience pristine, deep powder as they cruise down the mountain before anyone else. The route taken is determined by the weather and snow conditions on the mountains that day. Tours may go to the top of Heaven’s Gate or North Lynx, into the Slide Brook Wilderness Area or elsewhere, based on the judgment of the guide. The tour includes an en route pastry breakfast from Timbers Restaurant, a movie to get the adrenaline pumping, Sugarbush guides and one or two cat-served runs. (First Tracks-trips are available for advanced skiers and riders only.)
Our Vermont Ski & Stay Package
From now until March 31st (note black-out periods) we are offering you great prices AND flexibility for an inclusive skiing vacation in Vermont. Stay at our Bed and Breakfast and receive two Ski Passports per room. The Ski Passport includes skiing at not only Sugarbush, but also Mad River Glen and Olé’s cross-country. The Passport also provides promotions like freebies and discounts at local stores and restaurants. Visit our Ski & Stay page for prices and further details. We look forward to seeing you this winter!
December 25th, 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.
- 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!