Monday, April 27, 2015

Peterborough Players 2015 Schedule

The Peterborough Players are preparing for their 2015 season of seven professionally performed productions. This season appears to be the year of fabulous comedies sandwiched between two dramas.

Below is the schedule...check it really looks awesome!  Remember, we do a special package of dinner at Del Rossi's Italian Trattoria, tickets to the show and overnight accommodations.  We laugh because with our B&B being built in 1870, we are the new kids on the block as both Del Rossi's and The Players are housed in buildings/homes dating back to the 1700s.

June 17 - 28 Red: The season kicks off with "Red", winner of six Tony Awards about the work of famed abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko.

July 1 - 12 Intimate Exchanges: Nominated for London’s prestigious Olivier Award and New York’s Drama Desk Award. The New York Times called it an “abundant buffet of domestic comedy.” The idea is simple: at many junctions in life we are faced with either/or decisions, and the consequences can be vastly different. Ayckbourn’s comedy of chance leaves its outcome to the audience. 10 characters are played by two actors, and you choose how the comedy works out. If you don’t like the ending, you have no one to blame but yourself!

July 15-26 Outside Mullingar: Tony nominated for Best Broadway play in 2014. Set in rural Ireland, it tells the story of the Muldoon and Reilly families, and of their rival heirs, Anthony and Rosemary. Each are loners, eccentrics, approaching 40, and just possibly, meant for each other. This romantic comedy is a very Irish story filled with delightful off-kilter humor, and so tender it could melt a stone.

July 29 - August 9 Charley's Aunt: One of the most successful and entertaining farces of all time, Charley’s Aunt centers on two Oxford undergraduates without an appropriate chaperone for a proper visit from their girlfriends. A quiet luncheon turns into a hilarious masquerade as the young ladies are introduced to the boys’ friend posing as Charley’s Aunt from Brazil — where the nuts come from. When the real aunt shows up, classic comedic confusion ensues!

August 12 - 23 Born Yesterday: Millionaire junk-dealer Harry Brock goes to Washington to buy a Senator, and in the process hires a sophisticated writer to polish up his seemingly dim-witted girlfriend, Billie Dawn. Brock soon learns that a little learning can be a dangerous thing. A comedy of men, women and politics that ran for three years on Broadway.

August 26 - September 6 Stella and Lou: Is a second chance at love still possible — for two people who have a lot of miles on them? Lou is just about to close up his bar for the night when Stella, one of his favorite regulars, walks in. When Stella suddenly reveals an unexpected surprise and even more startling suggestion, they wrestle with the realities of aging, loneliness, loss and dreams unrealized. With humor and warmth, the two come to grips with their past, present, and possible future together.

September 9 - 13 Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece: In the dark of night, a violent crime is committed — and nothing will ever be the same. Dan Hodge, the first of Peterborough’s Whitmore award winners, returns to the Players to perform his own one-man interpretation of Shakespeare’s epic poem. “The the sort of bravura, visceral acting that makes you want to grab the lapels of friends who care about theater and shout Hodges’ praises until they agree to see it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

20th Annual Maple Syrup Weekend, It's All "Grade A"

This weekend (March 27th - 29th) is the 20th Annual New Hampshire Maple Syrup Open Doors Weekend.  This is a great event and a lot of fun for people of all ages.

Read about our 2011 Maple Syrup adventure for ideas on how to plan your weekend.

I thought I would use this blog posting to note a change that we have heard is coming for years and has finally come (and honestly makes things more self explanatory).  Maple Producers are changing the grading system.
  • Grade A Light will now be Grade A Golden
  • Grade A Medium will now be Grade A Amber
  • Grade A Dark remains the same
  • Grade B will now be Grade A Very Dark
Check out this link to a more in depth explanation of the different grades.

For the record, at Little River B&B we use Grade A Very Dark all the time.  It is richer in nutrients than the other grades and it has a rich maple flavor.  Its great for cooking but we think its great for everything.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Travel Planning: Places to See, Things to do!

Harrisville, Hancock, and Madame Sherri's Forest
Every week (or so) I receive an e-mail from Yankee Magazine called "Your New England Minute" that features places to explore in New England, recipes, and home and garden ideas.  Recently, I clicked on their story about "Tubing in NH" (at Pat's Peak in Henniker, NH) and found myself happily lost in the Explore New England blog on Yankee's website.  What I found were some great articles, written by real people, on places and events to visit all over New England, including many in the Monadnock Region and nearby.  Part of the fun was that we've been to all of these places, and have blogged about a few of them ourselves, but the Yankee bloggers give a different perspective and some new ideas.  So here are some of the Explore New England blog postings that caught my eye!

Parker's Maple Barn and Pickity Place in Mason, NH
Nearby towns:
     Jaffrey Center
     Amherst (NH)
     Brattleboro (VT)
and last, but not least... Peterborough!

and places:
     Madame Sherri's Forest (in West Chesterfield, NH)
     Pickity Place (twice) (in Mason, NH)
     Parker's Maple Barn (in Mason, NH)

Scenes of downtown Peterborough
If that's not enough to have you planning your next outing in the Monadnock Region, here are links to the blog postings that we've written on these and other local places:  Madame Sherri's Forest, Pickity Place, Mason (including Pickity Place and Parker's Maple Barn), and Harrisville.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cookie Tour 2014 - Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookies

The 2014 Currier and Ives Cookie Tour took place on Saturday, December 13th with partly cloudy skies and cookies galore!  This was our fifth year participating and as has become our tradition... we had a new cookie to share. This year's Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookie is fun to look at and fun to make!  The recipe is a pretty simple slice-and-bake-type refrigerator sugar cookie dough, but there is a little bit of technique involved in shaping the dough into the peppermint-swirl shape.

A bit of background first...  the inspiration for these cookies started over a year ago with some adorable Peppermint Candy Sugar Cookies I saw on the Bakerella blog via Pinterest.  I loved the way they looked and the way they were packaged with the two twisted ends, but when I read the recipe and realized the beauty was in the icing, I was pretty sure I would never succeed in making the 300 - 400 cookies we need for cookie tour.  So I pushed the idea to the back of my mind and moved on to other things.  Fast forward to October of this year when I tried a recipe for Candy Corn Cookies. They are basically a slice-and-bake sugar cookies that has been layered and cut to look like candy corn.  I didn't think there was anything too special about the way the cookies tasted, but they looked really cute.  So, if I could make slice-and-bake cookies that looked like candy corn, why can't I make slice-and-bake cookies that look like peppermint candies, right?

So after some general Internet and YouTube browsing didn't turn up any ready-made solutions for my idea, I decided I would need to figure it out for myself.  I did, however, find a cool YouTube channel by yoyomax12 where she makes really cute slice-and-bake cookies with a panda face!  So if yoyomax12 can succeed in making cookies with a panda face, I should be able to make cookies that look like peppermint candies, right?

And off to the kitchen I went.  I made a basic refrigerator cookie dough (my recipe is below, but if you already have a favorite recipe, you could probably use your own), divided the dough in half, colored one half red, left the other half plain, and got to work making the design. To be honest, the technique for forming the pattern in the dough is not all that difficult.  I actually got the technique to work reasonably well on my first try, but it is really hard to put into words so I'll just have to count on pictures... and even a YouTube video... to show you how.

Here's the video...

Or if you'd rather just see photos, here you go.

Start with two equal-sized discs.

Cut each disc in half and join one red and one white half.

Cut disc in half again and flip over one half to get alternating colors. 
Cut again, into fourths, diagonally across white and red segments.

Rearrange segments to alternating colors.

Start squeezing dough together and rotate in one direction to start forming swirl.
Occasionally flip-over cylinder of dough, but make sure to switch directions when you flip.
So if you start rotating in the clockwise direction, make sure to switch to counter-clockwise when you flip the cylinder over.

Turn disc on its side and start rolling into a log.
Make sure to keep rolling in the same direction.

Roll until cylinder is about 2 inches thick and 8 inches long.

Wipe off flour from outside of dough to help sprinkles stick.

Roll in sprinkles or pearl sugar.  Wrap in waxed paper
and chill for several hours or overnight.

Cut chilled dough with a sharp, serrated knife.

Transfer cookie slices to prepared baking sheets and bake as directed.
Ta da!

Even cuter when wrapped to look like peppermint candies!

Here's my recipe for the cookie dough.  It contains cream cheese in addition to the butter, which makes a soft, not too crumbly cookie.  The peppermint flavor is not overwhelming, and the recipe includes just a bit of vanilla in addition to the peppermint to give it some nice flavor.

Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp

1 ½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

3 ½ cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
red food coloring gel
nonpareils, sprinkles, or pearl sugar
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening

Make dough: In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, egg, vanilla and peppermint extract. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix until combined. Divide dough in half and add red food coloring to one half until desired color is obtained.  Wrap each half of the dough in plastic and chill for 15 to 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

Shape dough: Working on a lightly-floured surface, form each half of the dough (red & white) into a thick disc, about 5” diameter. Using a large knife or bench scraper, cut each disc into 8 wedges of equal size. Next, rearrange the wedges so you have two discs that each resembles a wagon wheel with alternating red/white segments, making sure all the points meet in the center. Carefully start squeezing the pieces together and rotating in one direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to start forming a cylinder.  Turn the cylinder over, and rotate in the opposite direction.  Lay the dough cylinder on its side and finish rolling the dough into a log, about 2 ¼ inches in diameter and 8 inches long.  To get the characteristic swirl, make sure to continue roll in the same direction.  Put a thin layer of sprinkles in a shallow pan and roll each log in the sprinkles to coat, pressing lightly to adhere.  (If you use a lot flour when rolling the dough, dampen outside of dough with a wet paper towel to help sprinkles stick.) Wrap each log in wax paper and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Bake and finish cookies: Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Working with one log at a time, use a sharp, serrated knife to cut ¼” slices and place slices on prepared baking sheets.  (Note: Dough will cut best when cold. If knife gets sticky, clean it between cuts with a damp paper towel.) Bake 8-10 minutes, until cookies are baked, but before edges start to brown.  Let cool. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips with shortening and frost bottoms of cookies with chocolate.  Place cookies, chocolate-side-down, back on silicone baking mat or on a clean piece of wax paper and allow chocolate to fully cool and harden.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry location.

Makes 3 ½ to 4 dozen cookies.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Peterborough and a Chocolate Factory

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."
  - Charles M. Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts

As we progress through the holiday season, it is hard for me not to think about sweets... especially, chocolate!  Cookies, cake, brownies, candy, hot chocolate... you name it... it all holds a special place in my heart.  Now, Peterborough has it's own chocolate factory to add fuel (cocoa and sugar, of course) to my dreams.  Chocolate maker Neely Cohen opened the "bean-to-bar" Vicuna Chocolate Factory and Cafe at 15 Main Street opened in October. During the week, Vicuna Chocolate Factory produces five varieties of chocolate bars including Pure, Maras Salt, Cocoa Nibs, Coffee, and Yellow Chili.  On Saturdays and Sundays, the cafe is open offering tastings of the chocolate bars, a variety of homemade cookies and pastries, hot chocolate, tea made from cocoa bean husks, and locally roasted coffee.

Neely's own story is fascinating.  Still in her 20s, she has studied dance, fashion design, religion, political science, and languages.  She graduated from the chef training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and worked as a pastry chef.  She moved to Peru and worked as a chocolatier for Choco Muzeo (Chocolate Museum) in Cusco, Peru, teaching bean-to-bar chocolate making.  She competed on the Food Network show "Sweet Genius"... and won! (These, and other stories, are shared via the Vicuna Chocolate Facebook page.)

As a special treat, Vicuna Chocolate made the Boston Globe's list of New England chocolatiers who "set the bar high".

And if that isn't enough chocolate, the multicultural Mariposa Museum across the street will feature their "World of Chocolate!" exhibit through January 31, 2015.  The exhibit invites you to learn the stories of many cultures through the trail of chocolate.  From ancient Mexico, to sugar plantations in the Caribbean, to chocolate factories in Europe, the United States and more. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, learn about the author's fascination with chocolate and how he came to write his story.

Chocolate, chocolate, everywhere!  Peterborough sure is a great place to be!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Peterborough - Celebrating 275 Years!

After months, even years of planning, the week-long celebration to commemorate Peterborough's 275th Anniversary began under less-than-ideal weather conditions.  And well, yes... it did rain on our parade... but it didn't seem to dampen spirits! The parade stepped off Saturday, October 11 at 10:00 AM, led by the 6th New Hampshire Regiment (portraying soldiers and civilians from the Civil War), followed by the Governor's Horse Guard, marching bands, antique cars, local organizations, floats, and more!  (For more photos of the parade and other events of the day, please see our Facebook page.)

6th New Hampshire Regiment Infantry Company E leading the parade.

Peterborough Food Pantry "Float"... very creative!

William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps

The Lexington Minute Men


Monadnock Community Hospital - The most enthusiastic marchers on this rainy morning!

Fred Marple, the official Frost Heaves "dignitary" in the parade.

The celebration also included special tribute to William Diamond, a Revolutionary War drummer in Lexington, Massachusetts under Captain John Parker.  In April 1775, a teen-aged William Diamond beat his drum as the call to arms, summoning the village's minutemen to the start of the Revolutionary War.  He is famously portrayed as the young drummer in the "Spirit of '76" painting by Archibald Willard.  In 1795, William Diamond and his wife Rebecca settled in Peterborough, purchased land to farm, and raised their family here.  He died in 1828 and is buried in the town's cemetery on Old Street Road.  The tribute to William Diamond featured participation throughout the day by the William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps, The Lexington Minute Men, and the 10th Regiment British Soldiers.  In addition, William Diamond's drum and desk were on display at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, courtesy of the Lexington Historical Society.

The Lexington Minute Men, the 10th Regiment British Soldiers, and the William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corp gathered for the special presentation in front of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture

Actor portrayal of William Diamond, giving an account of his life

William Diamond's drum

Other activities in town also included demonstrations by Colonel Ebenezer Hinsdale's Garrison Company recreating aspects of 18th century colonial community, a traditional blacksmith creating late 16th and 17th century armor such as that worn by the Polish Winged Hussar knights, music performances by the Temple Town Band and the NH Pipes and Drums band, the rededication and grand opening of the original Main Street entrance to the Town Library, a special Farmers' Market, food court, and activities for all.

Participant in the Garrison Company's community cooking chicken over the open coals (said to take about 4 hours to cook this way).

Blacksmith working on armor

Tent in the 6th NH Regiment's camp

The day ended with a great fireworks show over the rivers in downtown Peterborough at Depot Square Park, sponsored by The Peterson's Real Estate.

But the party isn't over just yet!  Additional events this week include a talk on Peterborough in the 60s at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Wednesday, concerts on Friday, and Ken Sheldon's Frost Heaves live comedy show, an Open Hearth Cooking demonstration, the Peak into Peterborough Festival, a contra dance, and more on Saturday, October 18, 2014!

(For more photos of the day, please see our Facebook page.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hiking Mt Monadnock - The Marlboro Trail

This past month we invited our friend Andrew on our annual hike up Mt Monadnock and we decided to tackle yet another new trailhead ( for us).  After having peaked many times starting at White Dot, Old Toll Road, Dublin Trail and Birchtoft, we knew we needed to check either the Pumpelly or Marlboro trailhead off our list.

We were on a bit of a time schedule and knowing that Pumpelly is the longest trail on the mountain, we decided to tackle Marlboro.  We had never done it before and were unsure what to expect and it definitely threw us a few curves.
Paula and Andrew at the Marlboro trailhead
The first curve was finding the trail head.  Although we knew where it was, we didn't know an AWD vehicle with a taller clearance is recommended for getting down the bumpy dirt road to the parking lot.  Lucky for us we were in the Highlander and not our little two seater.  We got to the lot and were just the second car.

That was a good sign we were going to have plenty of solitude on the hike (which we were hoping for).  That was the case as we passed nobody on the way up and just two groups on the way back down.
Views from mid-climb
The second curve came as we got to the middle of the climb.  Spellman Trail may be the steepest trail on Monadnock but Marlboro is clearly the most challenging climb on Monadnock we have done with plenty of scrambling over rock and lots of steep parts.  Halfway up we went through a scramble and when we rest at the top of it we thought the good news was that we had finished the worst of it.  We were wrong, as we hit another steep scramble higher up the trail and near the top it became a free for all picking the best rock trail to the peak.  It was a lot of fun!

The last curve was the views.  Even just halfway up Marlboro the views were expansive and spectacular.  I am sure it didn't hurt that it was a beautiful day but Marlboro is the only trail whose views look Westward towards Keene.
At the top of Monadnock
As I mentioned, I would rate this the most challenging trail on Monadnock (we have climbed from five of the six trailheads) but also one of the most rewarding and satisfying climbs as well.  If you are looking for a workout, we highly recommend this route!