Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Chestnut Soup

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.

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!

Pecan Snowballs

December 8th, 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.

White Christmas in Vermont

November 28th, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Christmas finery

Picture yourself doing your Christmas shopping and enjoying Christmas music in the quiet serenity of the green mountains of Vermont.

Saturday, December 3 marks the 13th annual Country Christmas Open House in the Mad River Valley. Over 30 local shops and services are offering special discounts which will make your pocketbook happy and may offer free refreshments which will make your tummy happy. Pick up a punch card at any merchants displaying the Participating Merchant sign then visit 5 businesses and have your card punched at each. When you leave your card with the 5th business it will be entered for a prize drawing. Check out the list of participating merchants and services.

On Friday, December 9 The Vermont Symphony Orchestra presents Holiday Pops “Fun and Games”  at the Barre Opera House, just under one hour from West Hill House. Favorite Christmas music with a twist as they take a look at the youthful side of the holiday. Fun for everyone. Tickets required.

Thursday, December 15 the Warren United Church will host the Vermont Symphony’s Brass Quintet and Counterpoint for a perfect mix of brass and voices to ring in the season. Free admission although tickets are required.(802-496-9714).

And of course the area also offers skiing and riding at Sugarbush, skiing at Mad River Glen, and cross country skiing at Ole’s and Blueberry Lake. Dog sled rides, sledding, skating, and moonlight snowshoe tours are just some of the other ways to enjoy a white Christmas in Vermont – oh and you can also curl up with a warm beverage and watch the movie White Christmas.

Scott Joplin lives at West Hill House!

July 5th, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Morning Serenade

A Scott Joplin serenade after breakfast – what a treat!

Jeanne and John, long time friends from Texas, were making a cross country tour in June and stopped in to visit us. Always traveling with this very small trumpet he has often times surprised folks with a musical interlude.

They told the story of being stuck in an airport around Christmas one year, and, as happens in such a situation, found themselves wandering up and down the terminal. They came upon a group singing carols a cappella. They listened for a bit, then, unbeknownst to the singers, John slipped in behind the group, pulled out his trumpet and began to accompany them. Were they surprised!

Thank you for the visit and the wonderful music.

We’re Engaged!

January 3rd, 2011 by Peter MacLaren

Kathryn & Peter got engaged at West Hill House B&B, Warren, VT

Look who just got engaged at West Hill House.

Kathryn and Peter visited us in the spring and came back during the Christmas holidays for some R & R – Relaxation and a Ring!

“Your bed and breakfast is so relaxing and enjoyable and I’m so glad that we were able to have it as our engagement location. I can’t imagine anywhere else where I would have done it and Kathryn thought it was perfect. We can’t wait to come back again.”

Thanks Peter and Kathryn, we loved having you here and look forward to your next visit.

Christmas Carols at West Hill House

December 27th, 2009 by Peter MacLaren


This Christmas at West Hill House we were delighted to have two musical families staying with us.

Here are Rick & Ben, accompanied by Rick’s daughter Nicole on the pump organ, singing a Carol on Christmas day in the Sun Room, just before dinner.

»