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Skiing at its best

December 20, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

Have you been reading “Top 10″ lists over the last few weeks? If so you will have you see lists of almost everything under the sun, Top 10 Ugliest Cars, Top 10 Best Places to Live, Top 10 Best Companies to Work For, Top 10 Best Universities, and who knows, maybe even a list for the Top 10 Best Top 10 Lists!

Well…  here’s our “Top 4″ list – Four Great Reasons to come Ski in the Mad River Valley this Winter.

1.  Mad River Glen - Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can. Seriously, don’t miss out on skiing this legendary co-op owned ski area. Ranked by Ski Magazine as one of the most challenging on the east coast of the US, Mad River Glen provides an opportunity for skiers of all levels to ski a variety of trails on natural snow though narrow trails which follow the terrain. Riding the Single Chair, chairlift is an absolute must! Lessons, ski shop and General Stark Pub are hillside amenities. Down hill, telemark, and cross country skiers will love MRG but be warned snowboarders… you will  have to look elsewhere for your downhill excitement as no snowboards are allowed.

Mad River Glen's unique single chair.

Don’t miss this ride to the top of Mad River Glen.

2. Sugarbush Ski ResortAs one of the largest ski areas in the northeastern US, and with two mountains to choose from, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy the range of it’s 111 trails from beginner slopes to the more challenging black diamond runs. Sugarbush is locally owned and offers lessons, a variety of places for foodies, ski shop and accommodations.

3. Blueberry Lake Cross-Country Center- Is a cross country skiers’ delight. Designed for the average skiers,  outdoor enthusiast can enjoy the classic or skating style of skiing or can snowshoe on the 11 trails which includes 30km of groomed trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available as are lessons. Pre-skiing age children can also enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of a pulk which can also be rented. And for dog lovers, your well behaved dog is welcome and please, remember to clean up after your pooch.

Skiing at Olé's.

Skiers at Olé’s.

4. Olé’s Cross-Country CenterOffering about 40km of groomed trails, lessons, rentals of both skis and snowshoes, a deli and friendly staff, Olé’s beckons to cross-country skiers of all ages to come and enjoy winter. With relatively flat terrain skiers can explore the trails while getting great mountain views and if quiet woodland trails are your choice you’ll find them here too. There are about 15km reserved for snowshoeing only and today’s modern snowshoes are a lot easier to walk in that the old, oversized ‘tennis rackets’ and you don’t need special boots, your regular winter boots fit these snowshoes nicely.

Ready. Set. Visit!

The Mad River Valley offers skiing of all sorts, comfortable B&Bs and slope-side accommodations, friendly folks, great food, beautiful shops, gorgeous mountains, stately trees, as well as wonderful snow, more mountains, more trees, more snow and lots of fresh, crisp mountain air.

Get your mittens and scarf ready and consider this your invitation to visit Vermont, winter in its natural state. Come experience skiing at its best. We’re ready and waiting for you…what are you waiting for?

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

December 15, 2014 by Susan

MV5BMjA0Mzg0OTU0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTM4MjY5._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_Dreaming of a White Christmas but live where there isn’t any snow? Stop dreaming and come live your dream. Come to Vermont!

The movie White Christmas is indeed a classic and a must see Christmas movie in our family and perhaps yours too. The holidays are not complete without a visit, via DVD, to the the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont.

Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as successful broadway producers, and Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen as a sister, singing act, a twist of fate brings the foursome to The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, in late December. Dreaming of a white Christmas and that “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow” the four arrive and find, to their great disappointment, that there is no snow at all. The sisters find, with few registered guests, their singing contract is to be cancelled. Meanwhile, the two men discover that the innkeeper is their former commanding general.

Despite the lack of guests and the challenge of the weather, the four decide to stay and the story develops as a light-hearted romance suitable for family viewing. With songs sung by Crosby and Clooney and beautiful dancing by Vera-Ellen and Kaye, the movie is a good way to spend a winter evening.

WHH_Winter_Logo

While there is no Columbia Inn, there is West Hill House B&B in Warren, Vermont, a place to enjoy a white Christmas and winter in all its glory.

We can predict with some degree of certainty that we will have a white Christmas and we most certainly have a copy of the movie for you to watch!

Ski Catamount Trail - the Length of VermontSkiing at  Mad River Glen  and Sugarbush will be in full swing with people from around the world enjoying the opportunity to ski some of New England’s best slopes. On the Sugarbush golf course just behind our Handsome Red Barn, is a perfect hill for sledding on one of the Mad River Rocket Sleds created here in Warren. If your pace is slower, there are miles of cross-country skiing at Olé’s and  Blueberry Lake only 10 minutes from West Hill House B&B. If skiing isn’t for you, our snowshoes are perfect for exploring around our property or farther afield.

If you’re not an outdoors type or your skiing days are past, there are numerous artisan shops, small stores and coffee shops to visit but that will have to wait for another blog.

If  a white Christmas to you means looking at snow through a window,  how about curling up in a big chair by the fireplace and losing yourself in a good book, or playing a board game with your special someone.

If you are dreaming of a white Christmas look no further than Vermont in winter. Winter in its natural state!

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

November 24, 2014 by Susan

Serving it up:

These peanut butter cookies could be called by any number of names: I Can’t Believe It! Magic!, Too Simple To Be True!, the list could go on and you are welcome to make up your own name for these delicious, miraculously quick cookies. Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies will have to do for now. Perfect to whip up if unexpected guests drop in and, like Old Mother Hubbard, your cookie cupboard is bare. Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies can be created in 5 minutes and cooked in 15 minutes fresh cookies can be ready by the time the coffee is perked or the tea kettle is boiled.

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Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 measures of tender loving care!

Measure the peanut butter, sugar and egg into a bowl.

Mix together until smooth. The batter will be slightly thick.

Using a scoop or teaspoons, scoop out dough about the size of a walnut.

Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

If desired, pattern the dough by pressing with a fork or by dressing it up with a chocolate chip. If you are making larger cookies use a Hershey’s Kiss- unwrapped of course! I leave the cookies in their rounded state prior to cooking so they flatten out while they cook becoming crackled on top and slightly chewy in the center.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Keep an eye on them.

Cool on the pan for a few minutes then remove to racks to continue cooling.

Serve with tea, coffee, milk or just a plate!

Makes about 24 amazing peanut butter cookies. They freeze well so you can stock up for the holidays.

Dishing it out:

My Dad would have loved these cookies – peanut butter was a favorite; on toast, with carrots or celery, with a spoon!, with just about anything. I remember as a child we always had peanut butter in the pantry and in two or three pound jars. We even had peanut butter in large bear shaped glass jars and I still have a couple of these jars, empty of course!

Peanut butter is a staple many North American kitchens but not so in the United Kingdom or Europe. When growing up in Scotland, Peter seldom had peanut butter and when living in France we only found peanut butter in pricy, small containers.

This recipe is from amazing peanut butter lovers like Carol and Colin who were guests here at West Hill House B&B while attending the 50th year reunion of Vermont College and Norwich Military Academy respectively. Carol mentioned that Colin liked peanut butter cookies and she proceeded to give me this recipe. I’m not prone to disbelieving recipes which are shared with me, and I’m usually ready to experiment, so I made these cookies then and there and about 20 minutes later presented Colin with a plate of his favourite amazing peanut butter cookies. Give the recipe a try, I’ll bet you say, “I can’t believe it, these are amazing peanut butter cookies!”

Learn more about things that include peanuts – check out the information on George Washington Carver.

Your 12-13-14 Wedding Special

June 24, 2014 by Susan

RingsOnly one special package is being offered for a wedding with just the two of you on the special date of 12-13-14 (for the numerically challenged that’s December 13, 2014). 

It has now been booked! However our normal wedding and elopement packages are available for other dates.

All of the following are included:

11:12:13 Wedding Special photo Portrait

  • An excellent Justice of the Peace who will officiate at your wedding ceremony and contact you ahead of time to work with you to personalize your ceremony
  • Digital photographs of your ceremony and a CD of your photos
  • A wedding cake
  • A bottle of sparkling wine or sparkling pear or apple juice
  • Seasonal flowers as bouquets or boutonnieres
  • Two signature West Hill House B&B coffee mugs
  • Two West Hill House B&B keepsake Champagne flutes
  • Two nights of accommodation in the Paris Suite
  • Two luxurious West Hill House B&B “Doe Skin” robes
  • One Ted E. Bear complete with matching robe
  • Dinner for two on Saturday at either excellent restaurant: The Common Man or 275 Main at the Pitcher Inn

This great package is offered for $1516.17 plus 9% tax. Call us at (802) 496-7162 to book.

The Small Print: This offer is only good for a wedding to be held at 1:00PM on December 13, 2014. No change of time or date will be considered. A $500 non-refundable, non-transferable deposit for this special wedding package is required at the time of booking. Note that the deposit does not entitle the couple to any of the offerings should the wedding be cancelled. 
 

Fresh from the Farm

May 6, 2014 by Susan

If you live in or near a farming community you have doubtless heard of CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, which enables consumers to purchase local, seasonal produce direct from the farmer.Unknown

Farmers and consumers both benefit from the CSA scenario. Farmers have time to market their food before the start of their long days in the fields, they receive payment for their produce early in the season which helps with their cash flow, and they have the opportunity to meet the people who purchase the results of their labors.

Consumers benefit as well with absolutely fresh food full of vitamins and flavor, they learn about new foods and new recipes, they know where their food is coming from, and they develop a relationship with “their farmer(s)”.

Here in the Mad River Valley there are several CSA programs underway and we recently bought a “share” in Muddy Boots, a CSA collaborative effort between three organic farms, Kingsbury Market Garden, Wood’s Market Garden and Burnt Rock Farm. Other smaller producers will also be involved  so we will have the option of also receiving fresh bread, butter, sunflower oil, dry beans and a variety of other wonderful items.

Claytonia

Claytonia ready for harvest.

Aaron prepares his tractor,

Aaron prepares his tractor


Muddy Boots recently had an open house where we met one of “our farmers”, Aaron of Kingsbury Market Garden, who was getting his tractor ready for onion planting, and Marisa of Bragg Farm in Fayston, one of the smaller producers, who will be providing butter and cheese products.

Not only did we meet these two, we met a new-to-us food, Claytonia, which is quite delicate in appearance, tastes somewhat sweet, is full of vitamin C and will make a lovely addition to a salad of fresh greens.

This year at West Hill House B&B we will be incorporating items from our CSA share into our breakfasts so you, our guests, will be able to taste fresh, farm-to-tummy produce from our neighbors.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

June 16, 2013 by Susan

Stirring it up:

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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.

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?

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.

The Red Chair visits West Hill House B&B

November 2, 2012 by Susan

Red Chair warming up and being admired by Snowball at West Hill House B&B

Warming up with Snowball

The Red Chair getting shelter at West Hill House B&B

Dry again!

The Red Chair checks out the Lincoln Gap - the highest road crossing in the State of Vermont

I feel high!

Ski School for the Red Chair at Mad River Glen

Teach me if you can!

The famed Single Chair at Mad River Glen has a date with the Red Chair

I am sure I could ski it – need snow!

The Red Chair visits with the Sugarbush cow

Please don’t sit on me!

Red Chair socializing with skier at Sugarbush

This guy looks a bit stiff

Hay there! The Red Chair enjoys a high perch at Hartshorn's Farm in Waitsfield Vermont

David Hartshorn gave me this perch

Red Chair at the Hartshorn Farm Stand in Waitsfield VT

I can’t help feeling squashed!

The Red Chair visits the Alpacas at Hartshorn's Farm in Waitsfield Vermont

I think they are staring at me!

Red Chair at Warren Vermont covered bridge

The river is not too Mad today!

Hi everyone, I’m the Red Chair that has been traveling throughout New England for the past several months.

I arrived at West Hill House B&B in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and rain was the order of the day. Fortunately my hosts offered rain boots and an umbrella so I stayed pretty dry. Inside I was given a place by the fire to warm up a bit even had a pussy cat come curl up with me for a bit.

Once the weather cleared my first stop was at the top of the Lincoln Gap Road, the highest road pass in Vermont, where I set foot, or should that be feet, on the Long Trail. The air was so fresh I’m felt I could have walked the full 273 miles of the trail but I had places to go and things to see.

With winter just around the corner I wanted to be introduced to the Mad River Glen ski area. I checked out the ski school meeting place then of course had to have my photo taken with the single chair.

From there we went to Sugarbush where I had my photo taken with a local cow before going  to sit beside the year ’round skier. He didn’t say much, we just enjoyed the solitude of the moment.

I visited the Hartshorn Farm and hey, for fresh food, maple syrup from their own trees and hay, head to their farm stand. And speaking of stand – look at me standing atop a huge bale of hay!

With my feet firmly back on the ground I posed with some squash then climbed up on the wall to sit with the boxes of pumpkins for a while.

My legs were getting a bit cramped so I hopped down and headed over to visit with the alpacas, The Finkles,  who didn’t seem to mind my company.  I certainly did not expect to see alpacas in Vermont!

A stop to pose in front of the Warren Covered Bridge that spans the Mad River then back to my temporary home at the West Hill House B&B and ready for a warm cup of hot chocolate and a little cake.

Wow, have I had fun! I can’t wait for my next adventure! Tomorrow I am off across the Green Mountains to visit Middlebury, Vermont – I wonder what adventures await me there.

 

Mad Marathon: The World’s Most Beautiful Marathon

June 21, 2012 by Susan

Covered bridge on the route.

Our Sap-bucket list has just the thing for you runners, the Mad Marathon!

Billed as the World’s Most Beautiful Marathon, July 8, 2012  is the date for the 2nd annual run and it’s not too late to register to take part in either the full or half marathon. Walkers are also welcome.

Joining runners from around the world, the run will take you through the beautiful Mad River Valley on back and dirt roads offering breathtaking views of  the Green Mountains, covered bridges,  barns and of course, Vermont cows!

Professionally organized, this marathon course is certified and sanctioned by the US Track and Field. Check out the Mad Marathon website for full details.

West Hill House B&B, like many B&Bs in the area, requires a two night booking on the Marathon weekend so plan to stay for a few days to enjoy the many less strenuous activities such as visiting Ben & Jerry’s, photographing the covered bridges, standing in awe at the foot of beautiful waterfalls, enjoying the many great restaurants or just relaxing in a hammock.

The countdown is on to the World’s Most Beautiful Marathon – come be part of this amazing event.

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