Friday, July 17, 2015

The Shattuck Golf Course...without the golfing

I know avid golfers might cringe to hear this but...Paula and I are not golfers.  What this means is that we have never had the opportunity to explore The Shattuck, a beautifully scenic golf course at the foot of Mt Monadnock just fifteen minutes from the B&B.
The view of Monadnock from the course
That has all changed now as The Shattuck has now opened itself up to non-golfers like ourselves.  For a reasonable fee, the course is open for self guided golf cart tours.  The package includes drinks, a snack box for the ride, and of course the cart (can seat two people per cart). driving a out!
From the moment we drove into the clubhouse parking lot I was taking pictures of the great views of Mt Monadnock.  Inside the clubhouse, we sat with a few golfers while Tony served us drinks (yes alcoholic if you want) and put together the snack box.  Our snack box had fresh strawberries, crackers and cheese spread, and some slices of deli meat.
It's like Jurassic Golf Course...very cool :)
Tony got us settled in the cart and gave us directions we headed out.  We started with the back nine which might be the more scenic side saving the front nine for later if we had the time.  We were told we would be sharing the course with golfers so that we should stay on the cart path and be considerate and not drive past while they are playing through.  It wasn't a big issue as we had planned our tour for later in the day when the course was quieter but it is something to keep in mind if taking the tour when the course is busier.
These boardwalks over the marshlands are sweet!
The tour is really scenic!  There are plenty of wetlands, wooden boardwalks to drive over, views of Monadnock and of course...some wildlife.  At one point the cart path winded through a densely wooded area and I thought we were in Jurassic Park...minus the Velociraptors...thank goodness :)
Did I mention the wetlands?
We took about forty-five minutes t drive the back nine stopping several times to enjoy our snack box and drinks and to take some pictures so we decided to proceed to the front nine: more boardwalks, we spotted a hawk close to us in the trees, and the best views of Monadnock.  If it were sundown it could have been spectacular!
One last view of Monadnock with wetlands in the foreground.
If you are not a golfer this is a great way to see some scenery you would normally miss and if you aren't a hiker this is a great way to get a close up with nature.  We had a fun ninety minutes and we think our guests will as well!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Kayaking Halfmoon Pond

My last blog posting was about my three hour hike on the BU Sargent Center property.  This time Paula and I went out together and instead of hoofing it, we explored the property with paddles.
A panoramic of Halfmoon Pond
Halfmoon Pond is so close to us we can easily be on the water within fifteen minutes of leaving the B&B parking lot.  Its surrounded by camp property so other than a few cabins the shoreline is completely undeveloped.  I think we were able to spot Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down (the peaks at The Harris Center) while we were on the water.
Paula at the spillway
The pond is about sixty acres in size and has an interesting shape so you can easily spend two hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of the shoreline without getting bored.  We spent an hour just on the Eastern half of the pond and exploring the spillway off the Northeast corner.  The spillway was quite interesting as we stayed close to the 20' high sheer cliffs checking out the large spiders and other creepy crawlies darting in and out of the rock face :)

So if you are staying with us or in the general area and are looking for a quick and interesting trip out on the water, Halfmoon Pond is a great choice!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hiking Boston University Sargent Camp

OK, it is hard to admit: the wonderful BU Sargent Camp (BUSC) hiking trails (managed by Nature's Classroom) are just three mile from Little River Bed & Breakfast but it took me more than ten years to explore them.  I remedied that situation last month with a solid three hour easy - moderate hike exploring many of their scenic trails within the 700+ acre property.
A beaver habitat in the middle of the wetlands
My beautiful blue sky afternoon began by popping my head into the camp's HQ and letting them know I would be out on the trails.  The trails are open to the public but you are parking on private property so they do like to know who is around.  This is not a bad idea as they are also helpful in making suggestions to make sure you get the most out of your day.
Halfmoon Pond
The trail system is centered around Halfmoon Pond, an interestingly shaped sixty acre body of water which connects Edward MacDowell Lake (to the South) and its spillway (to the North).  We have kayaked Halfmoon before but never hiked the trails.
It's called Boulder Trail but it should be called Beaver Trail :)
As I hit the trails, I decided to start with the Peninsula Loop which takes you out to a point in the middle of the pond.  I then proceeded clockwise around the pond to the spillway, along the camp's northerly boundary, down the Boulder Trail and finishing up with the Dinsmore Pond Loop.
At the spillway
Along the way I helped a kayaker who was portaging his boat to Dinsmore Pond, decided not to tackle a cable bridge that crossed Nubanusit Brook (next time), and passed by some wetlands that were clearly serious beaver territory (on the Boulder Trail).

As I lingered along the wetlands admiring all the work the busy beavers had done, I watched herons and hawks soaring overhead.  And then a big "SPLASH" in the water.  Figured for sure it was a beaver.  I kept searching and about five minutes later yet another "SPLASH".  I could tell where it was coming from but couldn't spot the culprit.  Five minutes later another "SPLASH".  I was thinking: 'Grrr...just give me one good look at ya!'  Sadly it was not meant to be but as I continued through the beavered woods, I spotted three beaver habitats like the one I posted above.  Very cool...and what a beautiful blue sky to boot :)  This was definitely the highlight of my hike.

So it may have taken me ten years to finally explore the BUSC trails but it won't take me ten years to  return.  There are plenty more trails there to hike...and of course that cable bridge to tackle :)

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.

Try something different and fun...

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.