Vermont Fall Scene

Meet The Mad River Rocket Sled

March 14th, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Rocket

Catching air on a Mad River Rocket.

Born in Warren, Vermont, the Mad River Rocket Sled has gone from humble beginnings to becoming the foundation of a popular, new winter sport: back-country sledding.

The allure of the great outdoors – no matter the season – can be particularly hard to ignore when you live somewhere as beautiful and appealing as Vermont’s Mad River Valley and outdoor recreation is a great platform for creativity. It’s how so many of our favorite, outdoor pastimes came to be. That’s certainly true of the Mad River Rocket!

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Very Yummy Granola

March 9th, 2015 by Susan

Stirring it up:

Our guests love this granola. It takes little time to prepare and packs a good measure of fiber into your daily diet. Granola is great sprinkled on fruit, eaten as breakfast cereal or used  as a topping for a fruit crisp or ice cream!

Tastes as good as it looks.

Tastes as good as it looks.

Very Yummy Granola

  • 4 cups oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1 cup grape nut flakes
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ to ½ cup real maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup Craisins

Mix all dry ingredients together in big a bowl, except raisins, craisins and dates and any other dried fruit you use—they will be added later.

Mix liquids together and pour over dry ingredients.

Stir well until completely moistened.

Spread evenly on a large jelly roll pan which you have lined with parchment paper or very lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake in 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, but keep an eye on it as it will go from toasted to burnt, quickly.

Stir 3 or 4 times during cooking – this is important so that the oats toast evenly,  you want them to be golden brown.

Add fruits after baking is done and while the oat mixture is still warm.

Cool completely then store in an air-tight container.

Experiment with ingredient, more nuts, different dried fruits, chocolate chips, wheat germ, ground flax… remember to adjust the amount of syrup and oil when you add dry ingredients. Dice larger pieces of dried fruit such as apricots, peaches or the like, into raisin sized bits.

Have fun and enjoy the fruits, nuts and oats of your labour.

Dishing it out:

Growing up, granola was a staple in our home. My dad had his special recipe and for years I thought this was the only taste for granola. Not that Dad’s recipe wasn’t good, actually it was quite wonderful, it’s just that I guessed it was the recipe everyone used. I was soon set straight on that one, and when I cook,  Dad’s words echo in my mind, “Be creative and never be afraid to experiment.” His granola recipe?  He was creative and made it up himself. Thanks Dad!

Maple No Mistake: It’s Sugaring Festival Time

February 28th, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Sugaring Time Festival 2015

It may be hard to believe right now but, soon, warm days and cool nights will start the flow of sugar maple sap and it’ll be sugaring time in the Mad River Valley – not only that but Sugaring Festival time!

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Vermont Bed & Brew Spring Tour 2015

February 18th, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Bed & Brew TourWhat better way to enjoy a Vermont vacation than from over the top of a pint glass filled to brimming with fresh-brewed craft beer? If you read this and immediately shouted out “none!” then a Vermont Bed & Brew Tour 2015 is for you!

The Vermont Bed & Brew Tour is back for 2015 with more opportunities to sample the best central Vermont has to offer in vacationing, lodging, and locally brewed craft beer. The brain child of the Mad River Valley’s Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Bed & Brew package consists of an opportunity to tour and sample the offerings of local, award-winning, craft breweries, plus two or more nights lodging Vermont’s lush Mad River Valley.

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Mad River Valley Cross Country Skiing

January 31st, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Valley Cross Country SkiingWhen old man winter blows his snows, the only thing to do is grab your hat and mittens and head out into it and enjoy it while it lasts. Vermont is a winter-sports wonderland and the Mad River Valley cross country skiing options are excellent!

Take a look:

Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center
2355 Airport Road, Warren, VT
www.olesxc.com
Ole’s Cross Country Center offers some of the best Mad River Valley cross country skiing and snowshoeing. With 30 miles of moderately rolling groomed trails, skiers of all abilities can comfortably ski and enjoy both panoramic views and the rare quiet of the deep woods.

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Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day Getaway

January 17th, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Valley Valentine's Day

With February just around the corner, love is in the air and now is the time to plan your West Hill House B&B, Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day Getaway!

February is for lovers, as they say, and we here at West Hill House B&B in Warren, VT are not immune to affairs of the heart. On the contrary, we truly enjoy helping you to express and celebrate your love. With that in mind, we have created a number of specials, packages, and add-ons designed to make your Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day getaway the best it can possibly be!

To help you celebrate this special date we are offering a Valentine’s Weekend Special.  It includes our Romance package, dinner at The Common Man, and more for a three-night weekend at an all inclusive price. (SOLD OUT! However we would be delighted to work with you to customize a similar getaway at some other time.)

Or you can choose the West Hill House B&B Romance Package, for only $75 in addition to the cost of the room of your choice, which includes:

  • Six Roses in your room, awaiting your arrival
  • A Bottle of Bubbly for two
  • Two Champagne Flutes
  • and some delectable Lake Champlain Chocolates

You are more than welcome to take the roses and flutes home with you. The champagne flutes make a nice keepsake, reminding you of the wonderful Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day you spent together!

A romantic dinner may be one of the most universal ways of enjoying time together with that special someone in your life – and we have a special with just that in mind:

Add Dinner to your Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day getaway for one or more evenings and enjoy the reward of fine dining AND savings. We’ve teamed up with two of the best restaurants in the area to give you a fantastic, 3-course dining experience that wont break the bank. Taxes and gratuities for dinner are included in the price while beverages are additional.

Seating is still available at The Common Man for Valentine’s Day evening, but will doubtless sell out soon. It features a wide range of selections on their menu for you to choose your three courses from – and the romantic ambiance of an historic barn will go a long way towards making your evening the best it can be. The Common Man is just a few minutes drive from West Hill House B&B, adding convenience into the mix.

West Hill House B&B also has a number of delightful add-ons for your Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day:

You can have a Bouquet of Flowers awaiting you in your room. We’re also more than happy to wrap them up for you to take home, should you so desire.

How about some champagne? Our Champagne on Ice Package nets you a bottle of our house French bubbly on ice, in your room and ready to serve in two, beautiful champagne flutes that are yours to keep. Upgrades from our house champagne to Duval-Leroy or Moet et Chandon are also available.

For pricing and more details about our Mad River Valley Valentine’s Day getaway specials, please visit our specials page. Be sure to mention the special, package, or add-ons you’re interested in at time of booking and, if there’s something else you’d like, please don’t hesitate to inquire!

Icelandic Vínarterta – A Shortbread Style Cake

January 14th, 2015 by Susan

At breakfast on January first I presented our guests with my variation of  the Icelandic dessert Vínarterta, a Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake. If you want to learn more about our amazing Icelandic Experience check our January 5, 2015 blog.

So, with thanks to the Icelandic cooks for the inspiration which I gained from the Vínarterta recipe and apologies to Icelandic cooks for the changes I made to their much enjoyed special occasion cake, as promised, here is my recipe.

The Spread

  • 5 oz dried apricots,  finely chopped
  • 7 oz, dried figs,  finely chopped
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 3/4 c. cranberry juice

Put these ingredients into a blender and puree. Add a bit of water or more cranberry juice if this seems too thick to puree. The resulting spread should be on the thick side. This will make enough spread for the dessert as well as a good amount which can be kept for toast, muffins or filling for a small genoise cake.

The Cake

  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1 c. (two sticks) butter slightly softenedThe West Hill House B&B version of Vínarterta.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. whole milk

Mix the flour, baking powder and cardamom together in a bowl and set aside.  In a larger bowl, by hand or with a mixer, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, mixing between additions. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead for about one minute. Break dough into balls about the size of a large walnut. With a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball on the floured board, to a thin circle (about 1/6″ thick) and about 4″ across. Carefully lift the dough and place it on a parchment covered jelly roll pan and chill for at least one hour. I  covered my pans with plastic wrap and chilled them overnight. This dough is not like a cake dough, it is more like we’d call shortbread.

Bake chilled dough on the parchment lined pan in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though!

Cool then spread with the fig and apricot jam and top with a slice of pear and enjoy.

Icing  (I didn’t use icing on my presentation)

  • 2 c. icing sugar
  • 1/4 c. brewed coffee, chilled

The traditional method of preparing this cake is to baking circles 7″ across, cooling them then spreading a very thick jam on each layer except the top layer. Stack the jam covered circles and pour the icing over top of the whole thing and chill it until the icing is firm. Slice and serve. Friends in Iceland tell me that using a thick jam between the cake layers should make the cake pretty sturdy and able to be cut neatly. My next try at this will be to make Vínarterta in the traditional way. Wish  me luck!

An Icelandic Experience

January 5th, 2015 by Susan

Iceland , ‘The land of Ice and Fire’. If you have ever dreamed of an Icelandic holiday, stop dreaming and go!

As we have in past years, we kicked of 2015 by watching and listening to, via a live web cam , the midnight fireworks from Reykjavik, Iceland.  The closer it got to midnight the more fireworks lit the dark sky Icelandic. It seemed as though every family in the city was illuminating the sky with their own fireworks display.

Why, you might ask, do we do this? In April of 2002 our family explored Iceland and had an absolutely amazing time; even our teenaged son had a wonderful experience! From the moment we spotted Iceland from the plane till the moment it disappeared from view when we flew home, we were captivated.

In researching travel to this island country I discovered Isafold Travel which operates out of Reykjavík. After correspondence with the owner, Jón Baldur Þorbjörnsson, we booked a private tour and were all set to start out on an Icelandic adventure. The people we met were very friendly and their English was waaaaaay better than our (non-existent) Icelandic! The landscape seemed to change with every kilometer we traveled, the waterfalls were spectacular, the views breathtaking, and, because we were there at the end of winter, every spot of green grass was a sign of spring and greeted with exclamations of joy.

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon was our first stop and shouldn’t be missed by anyone traveling to Iceland. The geothermally heated water is a comforting 38°C (100°F). The turquoise blue colour is a result of  the silica which the water picks up on its way to the surface and the way the sunlight reflects off it. Enjoying the many spa related facilities there or just enjoying the water makes a good start or finish to any Icelandic adventure.

Water from rocks!

Water from rocks!

Of the many waterfalls we stopped to gaze upon, Gullfoss, Skógafoss, and Hraunfossar were our favourites. Each spectacular in its own way and each with a captivating legend. Hraunfossar was perhaps the most geologically interesting as it flows underground from between the layers of lava then spills into the icy Havítá River.

Þingvellir was another stop on our adventure. Here marks the meeting of two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate, and a rift is clearly visible. In places it is very wide and in other places along the rift anyone with a good wide step can have one foot on each plate. It also marks the location of Althing, Iceland’s original parliament, the oldest parliament in the world, where for hundreds of years people of this nation would gather to discuss issues of concern and make laws to govern.

Icelandic Lobster

Icelandic Lobster

The food was delicious! We enjoyed langoustine (Icelandic lobster), wholesome multigrain breads, thick stews, skyr, bananas—grown in Iceland by the way!—and yes, a taste of rotten shark meat, which wasn’t really that bad.

The country is dotted with sites and sounds which in various ways record the history of Iceland:  historic turf homes, small country churches,  original farmsteads, museums illustrating early domestic life as well as detailing the life of Icelandic folk who emigrated to North America, The Great Geysir, volcanoes, glaciers, music, the list goes on.

Guests at West Hill House B&B have come from all around the world (including from Iceland!) and many have traveled the world bringing back special memories of their adventures. Doubtless there will be a time, perhaps in the morning around the breakfast table or in the evening in the living room, when adventures are recalled and shared. We might hear of driving in Australia with kangaroos hopping across the roadways or a trip to Europe to hike in the Alps, or a journey to China to see the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Army.  All who listen travel vicariously as a stories unfolds. If asked about a favourite adventure of ours, we are always happy to recount highlights of our wonderful time in Iceland.

At breakfast on January first I presented our guests with my variation of  the Icelandic dessert Vínarterta, a Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake which was enjoyed by all. As promised, you’ll find my recipe if you check West Hill House B&B recipes.

 

Vermont Wineries: Feeling Vine, Doing Grape!

December 28th, 2014 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Wineries: Feeling Vine, Doing Grape!

Ice wine – one of Vermont Wineries’ many specialties

Vermont is known for many things – skiing, hiking, beautiful foliage, welcoming inns – but did you know about the state’s burgeoning wine industry? If not, you soon will as their success and fame can only grow – and what better way to get acquainted than with a visit to one or more of the many Vermont wineries?

There’s no stopping the current growth of Vermont’s wineries. Our state’s unique and popular fruit wines have been a regional specialty for decades but the proliferation of Vermont’s fine wines, hard ciders, and meads rival the state’s production of syrup – and that’s saying something!

Some of this success is due to up and coming grape species that work well in Vermont’s shorter growing season. Marquette, Frontenac, and La Crescent grapes thrive in Vermont’s climate and soil to create award-winning wines. Vermont wineries are also some of the only ones in the country producing the sweet and delicious dessert wine made from grapes left on the vine until they freeze: sweet ice wine!

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Scottish Christmas Remembered

December 22nd, 2014 by Susan

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.

Ingredients:

Creamy and crunchy at the same time.

Creamy and crunchy at the same time.

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

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