Monday, December 12, 2011

Harrisville - A short drive... and well worth the trip!

An early morning view of Harrisville Pond.
 A bit of background first… During our first summer in New Hampshire, after we had started working on the renovations for the B&B, Rob decided to “go exploring” on his way to Keene.  In this case, the scenic route took him through Harrisville.   He was so impressed that the next morning, as I was getting ready to leave on a business trip, he insisted that we HAD to leave extra early for the airport so he could take me to see his discovery.  I am always rushed when leaving on a trip, so it was a tough sell, but eventually I conceded and off we went!  As busy as I was that morning, I can’t deny… it was worth the trip!

Harrisville, New Hampshire is a sweet little historic mill village just 10 miles away from Peterborough.  (Ask us for “the scenic route” directions and we’ll suggest you go past Half Moon Pond and Skatutakee Lake on your way.) Harrisville’s history and current feel is based a lot on its mills.  As described on the Harrisville Designs website, “Woolen yarn has been spun in the water powered, brick mill town of Harrisville since 1794. This small village is nestled in the Monadnock Highlands of southwestern New Hampshire and is the only industrial community of the early 19th Century that still survives in America in its original form. In 1977, the Department of Interior designated Harrisville a National Historic Landmark… It is recognized as the only 18th century textile village in America that survives in its original form.”

We’ll usually plan to stop for lunch or a snack at the Harrisville General Store, which is a treat in itself.  The chairs on the front porch and warm wood interior just make you feel welcome.  Across the road from the general store is Harrisville Designs, a weaving center and retail store with yarns and products for weaving and knitting enthusiasts.  Even if you aren’t into fiber arts, Harrisville Designs it is a feast for the senses!   The big bright windows, the old worn floors, and the beautiful colored yarns are total eye candy, and the sounds of the river rushing right underneath your feet is hypnotizing!  And then there’s the town library, the walking path around the cemetery that takes you out on a small peninsula that juts into Harrisville Pond, and the rest of the mill village to explore.

Historic Harrisville, a nonprofit public foundation which owns the core mill buildings within the historic textile mill village, has developed a self-guided audio walking tour which feature’s some of Harrisville’s history and architecture.  The goal of Historic Harrisville is to preserve the integrity of the village, not as a museum but as a working community.  Restoration and renovation of the mill buildings has allowed for adaptive reuse in support of a variety of businesses including artist studios, general offices, and light manufacturing. An MP3 and map of the self-guided tour are available at the Historic Harrisville website.

 Back in October, we made a quick trip up to Harrisville to peek in their “Open Doors”.  The event celebrated Historic Harrisville’s 40th anniversary by allowing visitors to tour 10 of the buildings including the Twitchell House, Harris Mill, Harris Storehouse, Harris Boiler House, Harris Sorting & Picker House, Harrisville General Store, St. Denis Church, Cheshire Mills Boarding House, The Temple, and the Cheshire Mills Complex.  Here are just a few more photos from that day:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cookie Tour 2011 - Granola Cookies

Well, I did it!  The 7th Annual Currier & Ives Cookie Tour here in the Monadnock region is coming up this weekend and I actually have my recipe completed with time to spare!

If you are interested in participating in the tour, it will be this Saturday, December 10, from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM.  The tour includes 15 different B&Bs, inns, and specialty shops in Peterborough, Jaffrey, Rindge, Troy, Fitzwilliam, Swanzey, and Marlborough.  Each stop features a homemade holiday treat (with recipe) and other refreshments.  Visit at least 10 of the 15 stops and you can be eligible for a gift certificate valued at over $100.  Tickets cost $10 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Helping Hands of Troy, an organization that provides food and donations to Monadnock region residents in need.   Tickets can be purchased at our B&B, and also from Inn at East Hill Farm (Troy), Monadnock Inn (Jaffrey), Woodbound Inn (Rindge), and Inn of the Tartan Fox (Swanzey).

So for our treat this year, we are offering... Mmmmm... Granola Cookies!

The inspiration for these cookies started this summer when we began making and selling our homemade granola at two of the local farmers' markets (Fresh Chicks Outdoor Market, and Depot Square Market, both in Peterborough) and we started thinking about all-things-granola!  At the time, I came across a King Arthur Flour Company recipe for Granola Brownie Bars.  (I'm a huge fan of KAF - their products, their people, and their recipes!)  The bars were pretty good (although I probably would call them "Blondies" rather than "Brownies") and really versatile (you could add your own favorite combination of granola, dried fruit, nuts, chips, etc.) and a note with the recipe suggested you could make them as cookies.

Hmmm... Granola Cookies... that could work for this year's Cookie Tour!

So off to the lab... oh, I mean kitchen... I went to work on the recipe.  The original recipe for the bars was a little too sweet for our taste and the dough was a little soft for cookies, so the first adjustment was simply lowering the sugar and increasing the flour.  The first batch of cookies were a little too cakey and still a little sweet, and they didn't spread out at all.  For the next batch, I decreased the sugar a bit more, substituted all-purpose flour for some of the whole wheat (to make them a little more delicate) and substituted baking soda for the baking powder (baking soda is known to increase the spread in cookies and the brown sugar has enough acid to react with the baking soda so it doesn't leave a residual taste).  I also added some rolled oats to the recipe thinking this would give them a little more "texture", but this was not an improvement because the cookies ended up with too much "stuff" and not enough cookie!  So, for the third batch, I took out the extra oats, added just a little more flour, and decided on the "right" combination of granola and mix-ins.  Dried cranberries and white chocolate chips seemed just right for a holiday cookie, but the options could be endless!  And sure enough, the third time was the charm!  (It almost seemed too easy compared to last year's quest for the "perfect" Mint-Filled Chocolate Fudge Cookie!)

Here's the recipe:  Little River Bed & Breakfast Granola Cookies


Maybe we'll see you on the tour on Saturday.  You'll be able to sample the cookies (in addition to the one you get to bring home) and we'll even have some of our own homemade granola available for purchase.