Vermont Fall Scene

Maple Syrup? Pancakes? Vermont’s Got It!

March 25th, 2016 by Susan

Glenn at West Hill Maple Orchard

Glenn at the door of his West Hill Sugar Orchard

Maple syrup and Vermont go together like, well, maple syrup and pancakes! Forty years are required to grow a sugar maple tree large enough to tap. A tree ten inches (25 cm) in diameter is considered minimum trappable size for one tap. A grove of sugar maples is called a sugar bush or sometimes a maple orchard. It takes 4-5 taps to produce enough maple sap (40 gallons – 150 liters) to produce one gallon of syrup. And right now the sap is being boiled down to make the world famous Vermont Maple Syrup with Maple Festivals happening here in the Mad River Valley as well as across the state.

Maple Sap bucket

Maple Sap bucket

Vermont has strict Maple Laws governing the production of maple syrup to ensure that you get the highest quality maple syrup. For such a deliciously complex flavor, maple syrup is surprisingly simple to make. Seeping spring-time sap from a maple tree is collected and boiled down to a golden syrup. Nothing is added in the entire process and only water is removed, leaving one of nature’s remarkably culinary gifts.

For years, Vermont maple syrup has been divided into one of four grades based on color and flavor.  As consumer preference has changed over the past century, so too has the grading system evolved to provide a more accurate description based on consumer preference.  The names of each grade, however, did not necessarily provide a meaningful description of the syrup.  With the old system of grading, Grade B was often mistaken for being a lower quality than Grade A, when in fact the quality was just the same it just had a stronger taste.

Beginning in 2014, Vermont maple syrup producers started using a newly developed “Vermont” grading system that provides a better description of each grade, or class, of syrup.  

Read the rest of this page »

The Covered Bridges Around The Mad River Valley

March 25th, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Covered Bridges around the Mad River Valley - Northfield Falls Bridge

Northfield Falls Bridge – one of the 8 Covered Bridges around the Mad River Valley

Unique, quaint, and picturesque: Vermont’s covered bridges have an undeniable universal appeal. The covered bridges around the Mad River Valley are no exception and touring the countryside to see all 8 of them makes for a wonderful outing.

There’s just something about a covered bridge. It doesn’t matter if the bridge is long or short, painted or unfinished, with or without windows: people love the things. I personally think it’s because the covered bridge combines the bridge with the tunnel, two of the many things we humans seem to enjoy making and being around.

What a lot of folks don’t know is that the covered bridge is covered not to provide protection for people or their vehicles but, rather the bridge, itself! Replacing shingles or even wall planks is much easier than replacing bridge timbers, thus the cover is there to keep the bridge in better shape, longer.

Vermont’s Mad River Valley contains or is close to eight of these iconic covered bridges, each one unique and worth a visit.

Read the rest of this page »

Along the Vermont Cheese Trail

March 14th, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Cheese TrailThe Vermont Cheese Trail stretches from New York to New Hampshire, from Rhode Island to Quebec, and all points in between. Curd lovers visiting Vermont’s Mad River Valley can get in on the fun, too!

The farm-to-table movement may be one of the most exciting (and delicious) dining trends we’ve seen in a long time. The emphasis on fresh, locally harvested and crafted foods is a good thing, no matter how you serve it up.

Regional craft cheeses have long been a “thing” but public awareness of them is growing and with it, cheese tourism. We here at West Hill House B&B not only understand, we thoroughly agree! Part of what makes life so worth living is good food – and cheese is one of the most amazing and delightful foods there is!

Read the rest of this page »

Lorne Sausage is a great breakfast accompaniment.

March 6th, 2016 by Susan

Serving it up 

Lorne Sausage, also known as Square Sausage, Flat Sausage or Slice Sausage, is a traditional Scottish  food made with beef and pork. It is said to have originated in Lorne, Argyll in Scotland. If you are in Scotland and ask for a full Scottish Breakfast you will see Lorne Sausage on your plate.

The following recipe is my version using turkey. It has received “thumbs up” from our guests who prefer not to eat beef or pork.

Ingredients:

Lorne sausage in a lined pan

Lorne Sausage ready for the first freezing.

  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 c. Fine Bread Crumbs   (seasoned or not as you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 c. of Water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3 T. Maple syrup (optional)

Method:

Slicing Lorne sausage ready for second freezing.

Slicing Lorne sausage ready for second freezing.

  • Mix really well by hand then place in a wax paper or saran lined oblong pan about 10″ x 4″ x 3″.
  • Fold the wrap over top of the meat and place in the freezer until it’s just starting to set.
  • Remove it from the pan and peel the paper away, it might be a bit sticky.
  • Cut into slices to the thickness you like.
  • Separate the slices with wax paper, wrap the whole sliced loaf in waxed paper and put it into a freezer bag and put it back in the freezer.
  • When required, pop off a slice, defrost and fry it in a little fat or oil until crispy brown and cooked through.

If you make this using the traditional recipe, instead of using ground turkey, use 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of ground pork – neither being too lean or the sausage will be dry. You may wish to leave out the egg as these meats will have more moisture than turkey. Recipe can be doubled however use a very large bowl.

I serve this on half a lightly toasted English muffin or Kaiser roll or on toast and topped with mornay sauce. Next time I think I will make it with chicken instead of turkey and see how that turns out.

Lorne sausage with a fried egg.

Lorne Sausage topped with a fried egg.

Dishing it out

When we travel in Scotland, if we aren’t staying with family, we usually stay at B&Bs as it is a real treat to have someone else make breakfast for us!

fry_up-e1418992494674

A typical Scottish Breakfast

If you have never had a typical Scottish Breakfast, aka ‘Fry Up’, at a B&B or hotel (if you must!) here is a sample of what you will find on your plate and traditionally it is the same breakfast which is served every day. Ready? Going clockwise: baked beans, parsley (just for show), fried mushrooms, tomatoes -again the basil is just so you can say you had something really healthy, pork sausages, bacon, Lorne sausage or haggis, and tattie (potato) scone. OK, push back from the table now and you’ll want to loosen your belt about now – or maybe reach for something to settle your tummy.

If you keep eating these breakfasts belt loosening won’t help, you’ll need new clothing. I certainly don’t recommend eating like this every day of your Scottish holiday but you need to do this a few times just for the experience! We get smart after a couple of days and ask for the full breakfast minus whatever we have had enough of previously and often end up with egg (not fried), scone and Lorne sausage or haggis.   Now the average family is not subjected to this high fat diet so oatmeal, breakfast roll with butter and marmalade, some fruit and tea are the main stays and greatly enjoyed.

 

Mad River Valley’s Best Restaurants

February 26th, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Valley's Best RestaurantsOne thing we’re always excited to pass along to our guests is what we think of as some of the Mad River Valley’s best restaurants.

Vermont has no end of great dining options and the Mad River Valley is no exception. Finding fantastic dining here isn’t the problem – choosing from among the crowd of mouth-watering options is!

It is with this in mind that we offer up a short-list of what we would consider some of the Mad River Valley’s best restaurants.

Presented alphabetically, this small selection of some of the best dining in our area is provided as a friendly guide for the next time you find yourself in the Mad River Valley and ask the age old question: where to eat?

Read the rest of this page »

Discover Vermont Craft Beer!

February 15th, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Craft Beer tastingsAmerica’s craft beer movement has certainly taken off – did you know there are over 50 craft beer breweries in Vermont, alone? We’re first in the U.S. for breweries and brew pubs per capita.

Beer lovers can be equal parts thrilled and confounded by the volume and variety of the Vermont craft beer scene – where to start?

Luckily, along with all the craft beer pubs and breweries, there are now numerous tours and trails one can take to discover and taste the very best that Vermont’s craft beer industry has to offer.

Read the rest of this page »

Cats -Three Cheers Fur our General Manager

February 2nd, 2016 by Susan

smoky keeps any eye on things

Surveillance kitty style.

Hello all, I’m Smoky, I usually help greet you when you arrive at the B&B and I am introduced to you as The General Manager.

When our humans bought West Hill House B&B nearly 10 year ago now, they knew that it was a house just calling out for a cat to complete the home-like feel of the place. Being thoughtful humans, they decided that two cats would keep each other company and lots of good things come in pairs so what could be better than two cats.

Thus we were adopted from Turner’s Simplicity Farm on the north end of Waitsfield. We moved from being B(arn) kittens to B&B kittens and we are quite at home here. We are indoor cats, we don’t go outside as there are nasty critters out there that just might like cat for their dinner—yikes!

In an earlier blog (May 24th, 2015) you met my brother Snowball, we’re great buddies and each have our jobs around the B&B. Since arriving, I made it my job to keep an eye on everything that was going on in the B&B. I undertook surveillance duties when I was quite young and became very good at doing this subtly so that no one would notice me. Sometimes I got down very low, under a table for example (I was better at this when I was a tiny cat) and now that I am bigger I hightail it, sorry—no pun intended—up the spiral stairs to get a good overview. Other times I just stretch out pretending to do my cat yoga just to get out there and take a good look around.

Keeping an eye on things from the stairs.

Keeping an eye on things

Serious yoga

Serious yoga

Please don’t think that I just a lazy lay-about cat, absolutely not. I help with many tasks for example, at Christmas I help to organize Christmas wrapping paper.

I know that in this B&B business it is important to stay up to date with the latest in technology so you can often find my helping Susan at the computer and I must say, as a cat I have become quite adept at using the keyboard. For me, 5 ‘finger’ typing is so last Tuesday, I have 6 toes on each foot which makes much more of an impact on typing emails and gets a good rise out of Susan too! And I try my darnedest to keep up with my reading, taking every opportunity to stick my nose into a good book.

Helping with wrapping paper.

Helping with wrapping paper.

Tech savvy

Tech savvy

While you are here at West Hill House B&B, please feel free to give Snowball and me a pat, we may even jump up onto your lap for a little snuggle or even a cat-nap. Remember though, we are cats and we have our own cat agendas which may include visiting, sleeping, eating, or being sociable. On the other hand, we might just plain ignore you but don’t take it personally because, if you are a cat, that’s what you do.

Keeping up to date with my reading.

Keeping up with my reading

Focused on other things, it's what cats do sometimes.

Focused on other things

Moonlight Skiing at Sugarbush!

January 22nd, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Moonlight skiing at SugarbushImagine yourself moonlight skiing through deep powder that sparkles under the full moon’s glow. Well, hang on because you can do more than just imagine it – you can live it with Sugarbush’s Guided Moonlight Skinning and Snowshoe Tours!

Sugarbush resort’s guided moonlight skiing tours are a popular – and rare! – opportunity to enjoy an evening of skinning or snowshoeing on Vermont’s third highest peak, followed by a hearty dinner, drinks, and fun! This is a great opportunity to discover skinning or snowshoeing and connect with nature in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.

Read the rest of this page »

A Year of Vermont Elopement Specials

January 15th, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

A Year of Vermont Wedding Specials at West Hill House B&BThe Mad River Valley makes a stunningly beautiful setting for any Vermont wedding and West Hill House B&B is offering a Year of Seasonal Vermont Elopement Specials!

The impetus for our decision to offer a year of seasonal Vermont specials – beyond the fact that we simply love to host weddings at our Mad River Valley B&B – was the advent of the 2016 Leap Year: its coming only once every four years made it seem the perfect rare and special date to offer a wedding special on.

Then we thought: why should February 29th get all the fun?

So, with that in mind, please allow us to present to you the first installment of West Hill House B&B’s Year of Seasonal Vermont Wedding Specials! And keep in mind: these specials are singular, one of a kind – once they’re booked, that’s it: they’re gone!

Read the rest of this page »

Happy New Year from West Hill House B&B!

December 28th, 2015 by Corey A. Edwards

Happy New Year from West Hill House B&B!Here it is, almost New Year’s Eve, 2015 – and what a year it has been! Can you believe the year is almost over? West Hill House B&B, here in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, has had a great year: wonderful, fun, and busy – and we give much of the credit for our great year to you, our guests!

We love what we do and where we do it. Living in the Mad River Valley is treat enough – but being able to share it with so many guests over the year, and then hearing how much they enjoyed their stay with us? Priceless.

Read the rest of this page »

»