Monday, October 31, 2011


Today, rather than celebrating Halloween with you, I would like to celebrate the final day of National Cheese Month by telling you about Liberty Hill Farm, where we spent two wonderful nights a couple of weeks ago!

Liberty Hill is situated on the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest near Rochester, Vermont.  It's surrounded by lush mountains which, when we visited, were tinged red and gold.  We arrived in the late afternoon and were welcomed by Beth's warm smile and the delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen.  While we ate dinner in the cozy dining room, Beth shared some of the farm's history with us.

The farm was founded in 1780 by John Emerson.  Bob and Beth Kennett purchased it in 1979, and have been taking in guests since 1984.  You could say they were pioneers of the now-popular agritourism industry!  They raised two sons--David and Tom--who went off to college, then returned to the farm to work and live with their growing families.  Bob and Beth both come from old farming families - Beth's ancestors starting farming in Maine in 1641, and Bob's in New Hampshire in 1742.

The inn is clean, homey, and deliciously quiet, especially to our noise-conditioned city-mouse ears.  It really felt more like we were staying with extended family.  In the morning, we awoke to a pink sunrise over Rochester Mountain.  After a delicious hearty breakfast, we borrowed some of the rubber boots that are kept on the front porch for guests and started exploring. 

Liberty Hill Farm is a member of the Cabot Co-operative.  Every morning before dawn, a truck comes to pick up the milk.  I was amazed at the volume of milk the farm produces every day - each cow produces about 60 pounds per milking, and they milk about 100 cows twice a day.  That translates into 12,000 pounds, or about 1500 gallons every single day!  100% of Cabot's profits go directly back to Vermont family farms.  Many of their products are only available locally or online, but you can get their Cheddar in the fancy-cheese aisle at most grocery stores and Costco.  And their butter is the best I've ever tasted - the second night at dinner, I ate extra bread just so that I could eat extra butter.

Kitten on the prowl!  They have tons of barn cats who just wander around.  This one was so teeny!

This calf was only about a week old!  The little ones (about a month old or younger) all have their own little calf pens, and they get fed a calf formula (cheaper and more consistent nutritionally than milk) twice a day.  When they hear the food coming, they all start mooing like crazy!  I got to help a little by putting the buckets of formula into their little calf-house windows.

We had a wonderful time, and I can't wait to come back with our kids someday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Have you seen this video yet?  Eeeeyikes.  Can you imagine living across the street?

We're not big Halloween people.  I bought a $5 bee costume-in-a-bag last year, complete with antennae and wings, and I fully intend for that to be my go-to costume for at least the next few years. There's a lot to hate about Halloween, like the parade of sluttily-costumed drunk girls, the constant barrage of candy, and the pressure to love scary stuff.  I think Joy's take on Halloween is spot-on.

I don't like being scared.  Last year we went to this haunted trail thing with some friends, and there was a portion of it that was inside... I tell you, that was terrifying.  And I think the worst thing is that you can't bail!  You can't get scared mid-haunted house and say, "You know what, I don't like scary things.  I'm out."  The only way out is through!  And who knows what that means?!  My heart rate is rising just thinking about it. 

What with the aforementioned barrage of candy, I'm guessing you probably don't need a recipe for another treat.  Chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with awesome chocolate Halloween-shaped toppers on them?  Cookies in the shape of candy corn?  I mean, these things sound fabulous, but why oh why am I baking when I have a giant bowl of candy sitting in my house?  I should be running away to two-a-day yoga classes!  And let's be serious... I live in the city.  How many trick-or-treaters am I really going to get?  (Oh please, kids, come to my house.  I don't want to eat this candy all by myself!)

What you need, this time of year, is a way to be festive without baking yourself into a diabetic coma.  At least that's what I need.  And in the spirit of that, here are some spooktacular savory recipe ideas!

from The Food Network
Tomato soup in little vials = vampire blood?  Some kind of potion?  You decide.  Grilled cheese sandwiches on pumpernickel cut into Halloween shapes!  Love this!  So simple.

from Martha Stewart
Of course Martha has a million great ideas on her website.  There's a whole list, but my favorites were the Cauldron Curry (above), Spider Web Eggs, and Mashed Boo-tatoes.  Some of the other stuff on that list... I don't know.  How disgusting do you want your food to look?  How far will you go in pursuit of creepy-ness?  I prefer to err on the side of cute and still-appetizing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

to live deliberately

"I went to the woods because
I wished to live deliberately.
To front only the essential
facts of life.
And see if I could
not learn what it had to teach
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived." -Thoreau

As we tripped our way through all the former haunts of famous literary figures in New England, I constantly found myself thinking about creativity.  About inspiration and quiet, nature and art.  About what it must have been like to be among the first people to be classified as "American" writers, poets, artists, and what that meant in the grand scheme of the world at that time.

We visited Concord, home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau.  We drove past Sleepy Hollow.  We walked around Walden Pond, and saw the site where Thoreau spent two years living by himself in the woods; where he penned Walden.  We traced the steps of Robert Frost on a trail in the Green Mountains, close to Middlebury, Vermont.

Whenever I return from traveling, I feel this nagging sense of unease.  Doesn't everyone?  I've just opened myself to new experiences, absorbed beauty, met new people, learned new things.  Then I come back to my life, and it is as it was when I left.  I always feel this pull to start changing things.  A resolve to bring some of that sparkle of adventure into my daily life.  To start living more deliberately.

The thoughts usually start with a kind of recurring minor regret from my past in which I think, "If only I had... *studied literature and creative writing instead of music, gone to a small East coast liberal arts college, read more books, kept writing for the school paper, focused on something and gotten myself into a Master's program blah blah blah,* ...I would magically feel different and more fulfilled right now."

"If only"s are so tricky, aren't they?  That's where I always start, until I realize that I have control over my thoughts.  Then I adjust my mental course.  I remind myself that the sheer fact that I haven't done all the things I want to yet doesn't mean that it's all over and I've missed my chance.  Girl, please.  That's nonsense.  Also?  Also?  Just because you can't stay ahead of the laundry and you would rather eat cookies than work out most days and your bathroom's not that clean does not make you a failure.  No it does not.

So I will take those rankling thoughts and turn them into hopeful action.  I'll start working on the idea for a novel that popped into my head as we wandered through a lighthouse in Maine.  I'll remind myself that life is not settled at 25.  And I will read more, write more, imagine more.  I'll seek out every opportunity to be fanciful, whimsical, and inspired.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Things to Eat in New England!

It's been a hectic week around here!  No time for posting!  I'm seriously sad about that, but in lieu of several long, self-indulgent posts about all of the things we ate on vacation, I will translate them into seven little quick takes!


Cannoli!  Mike's Pastry in the North End of Boston has about a million flavors - I decided to try espresso and pistachio ones.  They were fantastic!  I ate a giant dish of linguine alle vongole (omg yum) before we went for cannoli, so I wasn't able to eat them all, but leftover cannoli?  Unbelievable breakfast.  I ate them out on our little balcony overlooking these old brownstones, and writing in my journal.


Dim sum at Myers + Chang.  These are kimchee pancakes.  We also had short rib and pork bao, pork dumplings, noodles with spicy peanut sauce, and  miso-glazed carrots, which I will be recreating for Thanksgiving.  So delicious.  And a great Sunday lunch in the middle of a long day of riding bikes around Boston! 


ICE CREAM!  Maybe it's because famous-for-dairy Vermont is next door, or maybe it's because we were on vacation, but this was some of the best ice cream either of us is ever had.  J.P. Licks.  Believe.


Oysters!  I've been wanting to eat oysters ever since I read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast a couple of years ago, but wanted to wait until I was sure to have a good experience before I did.  I finally took the plunge last week, and I'm both glad I tried them and glad I waited.  Atlantic Fish Co.  in Boston was the perfect place to eat such an amazing food for the first time.  More to come about oysters later, but for now, this is one of the loveliest pieces of food writing ever crafted:

"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."  (from A Moveable Feast)


Clam chowder.  I ate it a couple of times, but the most fun chowda stop was this roadside diner in New Hampshire.  The sign outside said, "Come hungry, LEAF happy."  BAHAHAHA!  Gotta love puns.


A lobster roll.  At a lobster shack.  By a lighthouse.  In a place called Cape Elizabeth (in Maine).  On a blustery, rainy, cold North Atlantic day.  Fabulous.


Spit-roasted rabbit at Fore Street in Portland, Maine.  Another first for me.  Actually tastes like chicken, but it's just leaner and more muscley.  It was served with a lentil/cranberry/ginger sauce that made me crazy (and felt like more Thanksgiving dinner inspiration...).  Fore Street is a really cool restaurant, too - the open kitchen is in the center of the restaurant, so you can see the action.  Everything was fresh and seasonal and local and delicious.  So fun.

Have a great weekend!  Hopefully next week will be a little calmer and I'll be posting more often!

Visit Jen for more quick takes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We're back!

The Coppertop Guy and I spent the last week adventuring in New England, peeping at the fall colors, learning about the roots of our country, and eating! 


We flew into Boston on Saturday, spent a couple of days there, drove up to Lexington and Concord, and then up to Vermont.  We stayed at Liberty Hill Farm, and did some hiking in the Green Mountains.  I fed a baby cow!  Then we drove over to Portland, Maine and spent a couple of rainy days eating lobster and looking at lighthouses.  I feel so refreshed and rejuvenated.  I'll tell you all about it over the next few days, but for now I just wanted to say hi, how are ya, I missed you and I'm baaaaaack! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Maple-Cinnamon Poached Pears

I know it's Wednesday, but that's not too early to start thinking about brunch again, is it?  This thing I made last weekend is a combination of two of my favorite things: fall and breakfast!  Oh cinnamon, how I love you.  Oh, pears.  Oh, cool weather and clear crisp skies and sunshine on bright red leaves!  ...Are you annoyed?  Sorry.  I can't help it!  I hope these ridiculously delicious waffles make up for my unendurable enthusiasm for the changing seasons.

Maple-Cinnamon Poached Pears

These are particularly good with toasted pecans on top of waffles or pancakes! 

4 ripe pears
1/3 cup apple cider
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Cut pears into eighths, and cut out the cores with a paring knife.  Place the pears in a pan over medium heat and pour cider, syrup and cinnamon over.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, until liquid is thickened and syrupy and pears are soft.