At this time of year many of us pause to remember Christmases past. Do you remember receiving a special dress your mother made for you, or a the doll you were wishing for, or a new book by your favourite author (and you still have that book today)? Perhaps you received a model train or Meccano set. Did you attend a Pantomime or the Nutcracker during the Christmas season? Do you remember hot cocoa with marshmallows and special baked goods on Christmas morning? Or perhaps a big family dinner after the presents were opened, did it feature ham, turkey, tourtière or haggis?
One of the fondest memories people have of this special season is of food, we bake (and eat!) cookies and special cakes, we bring out the eggnog, peppermint candy canes, ribbon candy, and oranges for the stockings. We prepare special meals and we invite friends to join us around the table. Food traditions are a big part of this season.
In Scotland Christmas Day didn’t become a public holiday until 1958, Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) was, and still is, the big public holiday. Today as Christmas approaches, the winter days are short, with sunrise about 8:30 in the morning and dark skies again at about 3:30 in the afternoon so Christmas celebrations help to brighten up the long wintry evenings. A fire is set in the sitting room, the drapes are pulled against the darkness of the evening and in the kitchen a flurry of activity takes place as mincemeat pies are popped into the oven, fruit cake with thick marzipan icing is wrapped for giving to neighbours, and preparations are made for the Christmas evening feast. Particular consideration is given to pudding (the general name for desserts of all kinds), would it be Sherry Trifle, Clootie Dumpling or perhaps Dundee Cake? Hmmm, this year for a memorable pudding, let’s try Cranachan, a lovely, creamy fruit and oat creation.
At West Hill House B&B this Christmas Dinner our guests will enjoy this scrumptious ‘pudding’ made following recipe I have used and adapted from the BBC Good Food. The number of servings depends on the size of the presentation glass but I’d say about 4 servings. The recipe is fairly happy to be adjusted according to your taste.
- 3T original rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
- 1 cup of whole raspberries, blueberries or strawberries,
- 1 t. white sugar (optional)
- 1 1/2 c. heavy cream, whipped or Greek yogurt
- 2-3 T. good whisky
- 3 T. honey, lavender honey is especially nice
Putting this together should take about 15 minutes.
Place the oatmeal on a jelly roll pan under the broiler and toast until it smells nutty. This may happen very quickly so keep a careful eye and nose on what’s going on in the oven.
Remove from the oven and cool the oatmeal on the pan.
Take about 1/3 to 1/2 of the berries and puree them, adding the white sugar if needed for sweetness.
Whip the heavy cream while slowly adding the whisky until the cream will hold a peak. Be careful not to over whip. If you are using Greek yogurt instead of cream, carefully stir the whisky into the yogurt.
Fold in the oatmeal until it is nicely mixed.
Present in clear glass dessert dishes alternating layers of the cream mixture with the whole and pureed berries.
Drizzle the top with the honey.
Cool for a few minutes prior to serving.
Where ever you are on Christmas day, what ever your Christmas meal, may you be around a table with special friends and wish them, as we wish you, Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.
Prince William and Katherine did it in London. Prince Albert and Charlene did it in Monaco. And you too can do it …it’s not too late to have a summer 2011 wedding at West Hill House!
Whether an elopement with just the two of you or a small wedding with yourselves and an intimate group of friends, we are here to help you have a stress free wedding and one which won’t break the bank.
A beautiful garden to be married in, a handsome barn in which to dine and dance, an inviting bed and breakfast in which to relax, and a magnificent Vermont setting – what more could you ask for?
Make your dreams come true with a Vermont wedding this summer. We only need a couple of days to help you get everything organized.
The holiday weekend in Warren is chock full of excitement this year, starting on Friday July 1st and running through to Monday July 4th. Plan to stay at West Hill House for all four nights and we will make all the arrangements you need to enjoy your visit at an all inclusive price!
July 1st. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra offers “Symphony Royale” with Anthony Princiotti, conducting music fit for a king…or a summer evening in Vermont! Handel’s fireworks begin the program and Northstar’s fireworks conclude it, in this musical homage to royalty. The noble procession includes Scheherazade’s Kalendar Prince, the King and Queen of Troy, and the King of Siam. In honor of Independence Day, we celebrate our freedom from monarchical rule with America’s own version of royalty, Duke Ellington! The performance will be crowned, as always, by the majestic 1812 Overture and selections from Sousa, the March King. The performance is being hosted at Sugarbush.
The gates open at 5:00 PM for an included barbecue dinner and the concert begins at 7:30 PM.
July 2nd. The renowned Waitsfield Farmers’ Market will be open from 9AM till 1PM. You will find fresh produce, flowers, seedlings, honey, wool, eggs, meat, cheese and other farm products. In addition you will find crafts made in Vermont, baked goods, and prepared food. There will also be live entertainment provided by local musicians. You will also find community groups such as the Vermont Festival of the Arts, Localvores, local libraries and fire departments.
Dinner on Saturday evening will be your choice from the many excellent nearby restaurants.
Still on July 2nd enjoy a performance by the excellent Valley Players of the classic George Bernard Shaw’s play “Arms and the Man”.
The play is set during the four-month-long Serbo-Bulgarian War that occurred between November 1885 and March 1886, this play is a satire on the absurdity of glorifying war, as well as a satire on the foolishness of basing your affections on idealistic notions of love. These themes brought reality and a timeless lesson to the comic stage. Consequently, once Shaw’s genius was recognized, Arms and the Man became one of Shaw’s most popular plays and has remained a classic ever since. The Performance starts at 7:30PM.
On Sunday July 3rd enjoy the Stars and Stripes Charity Airshow at Warren-Sugarbush airport featuring bi-plane aerobatics and other great stunts. This year there will be a model airplane demo, glider aerobatics and with both vintage plans and classic motorcycles on display. Check the video to see what you will be in for! Gates open at 11:00 a.m. and show starts at 1:00 p.m. All proceeds to benefit the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization which serves to meet the emergency financial needs of the men and women of the Vermont National Guard and their families.
On Sunday evening we will make reservations for you at The Common Man Restaurant, in our view the best restaurant in the area. (It will be open specially for the Sunday of the holiday weekend.)
Over 150 years old, the soaring hand hewn rafters of the timbered interior are lit by crystal chandeliers, soft candlelight, and a huge open-hearth manor fireplace in season. (See the photo alongside.) Dining is elegantly casual and casually elegant, definitely romantic, and is applauded by Vermonters and visitors alike. The restaurant has earned scores of prestigious awards.
Then the pièce de resistance on Monday, the 63rd consecutive Warren 4th of July Parade.
The event celebrates independence with a wild, wacky, and wickedly fun parade, street dance, and family festivities! The theme is “ACT LIKE A LOCAL:_________” (blank to be filled in by the participants!). This is always an “interesting” event with political correctness being left at home as floats assembled by area denizens broadcast their point of view to visitors from far and wide! The Parade starts at 10AM. Live Music will begin following the parade with Jimmy Yozell at the Warren Store porch for the big street dance and Mad Mountain Scramblers at Brooks Field (elementary school), a short walk from the village.
The video was compiled by Sugarbush from last year’s parade.
On Monday evening West Hill House will provide an alfresco dinner sitting out on our Garden Terrace overlooking our gardens. Then in the evening about 9:45PM you can watch an amazing Fireworks display at Sugarbush.
Enjoy this exciting and unique long weekend with an all inclusive price from West Hill House, with four night packages starting at $999 per couple. The price includes tickets for all the events and meals described above, one of our beautiful well appointed en-suite queen-bedded guest rooms for four nights, and breakfast each morning of course. (Only extras are lunches, dinner at your choice of restaurant on Saturday evening and any alcoholic drinks.) We will also be happy to customize the weekend package to your preferences. Tickets for the various events are subject to availability.
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.
Mint Restaurant in the heart of Waitsfield’s Historic District offers the Mad River Valley a vegetarian alternative with a primary focus on natural, organic whole foods and ingredients. The restaurant opened in November 2009 and we at last had the opportunity of a free evening to try it out for ourselves, after getting rave reviews from our many guests who have dined there.
We concur with our guests: Mint is an experience not to be missed. The menu choices prepared by chef and co-owner Illyan are varied and interesting, and have an international flair. While vegetarians will recognize some of the choices, many are original creations and can be thoroughly enjoyed by diners more used to meat based entrees. The flavors are often surprising and delightful. Co-owner Savitri has integrated the amazing and varied tea selection from her former tea room across the laneway, and provides knowledgeable guidance to match teas with your meal. Also available are a small wine and beer list at reasonable prices.
Make it a point to visit Mint during your next stay at West Hill House. Open Wednesday to Sundays year round for dinner. Price for a 3-course dinner for 2 including a glass of wine each will be about $75.
No meals to cook, no dishes to wash, no beds to make, no housework to do!! Our Girlfriends’ Getaway means you do the relaxing and we do the work.
Come browse our artisans’ shops, be pampered with an “in house” massage, check out the local sites, catch up on your current craft project, or relax in a comfortable chair with your latest book and in the evenings enjoy meals out at any number of great local restaurants. Our rooms are well appointed and very comfortable.
There are lots of Things to do nearby. Whether you come in the winter and take part in the local outdoor activities or enjoy looking at winter from our three large common areas, or you are here in the summer, hiking, kayaking, biking or relaxing in our gorgeous perennial flower garden, you are sure to have a wonderful time.
Come before May 13th and get 33% off a stay of 3 nights or more AND we will cook you a table d’hôte dinner one evening at no extra charge!
Gathered around our big dining room table, our guests joined with us and enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings. One of our guests was a professional meat cutter and volunteered to carve the turkey.
The evening was an enjoyable mix of good food, good company, and new friendships.
We also have a special dinner on Christmas Day and a Burns Supper on the Saturday closest to January 25th each year.