Little River Bed and Breakfast
Innkeeper(s): Paula & Rob Fox
Cookie Tour 2016 - Inside-Out Eggnog Snickerdoodles 8 Dec 2016, 9:48 amI am very excited to be getting this blog posting up BEFORE the Cookie Tour this year!
(Granted, it is only a day or two before, but it is still before.)
The 12th Annual Currier and Ives Cookie Tour is taking place this Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM in southwest New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region. This year’s tour includes 19 different bed and breakfasts, inns, specialty shops, and other locations in Peterborough, Dublin, Jaffrey, Rindge, Troy, Fitzwilliam, and Swanzey. Each stop features a homemade holiday treat (with recipe) and other refreshments. Tickets cost $12 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to My Neighbor’s House of Troy, an organization that provides short-term, transitional housing and services to those in need. Tickets can be purchased (with cash or check) at our location (Little River Bed and Breakfast in Peterborough), the Inn at East Hill Farm (Troy), Monadnock Inn (Jaffrey), Woodbound Inn (Rindge), and the Swanzey Historical Museum (Swanzey). Visit at least 10 of the 19 stops on Saturday and you can be eligible for a $150 gift certificate.
|Recognize the snowman?
It seems that he has become our Cookie Tour mascot!
Our cookie this year is an Inside-Out Eggnog Snickerdoodle. If you are just looking for the recipe, you can skip to it HERE as a pdf.
And if you are looking for the “re-mix” of our 2015 Cookie Tour Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies as Raspberry Almond Crumble Bars, you can find that recipe HERE as a pdf.
To my surprise, this year’s Cookie Tour recipe was a little harder to create than I expected. My idea was to make a cinnamon-stuffed snickerdoodle… sort of an inside-out snickerdoodle. While a good snickerdoodle cookie recipe is easy to come by (there are a huge number of versions available), it was the cinnamon filling that was the stumper. I wanted something that would still be soft in the middle, even after the cookie had cooled. To start, I went with a filling based on brown sugar and butter (like you would find in a cinnamon roll), but the filling tended to leak out of the cookie and got
too crystalline when the cookie cooled. After a few failed
attempts trying to improve this filling, I decided to try something
completely different… cinnamon chips (like chocolate chips, but
cinnamon flavored). I started with with cinnamon chips melted
with sweetened condensed milk, which showed some good promise right
from the beginning, but still had the problem with leaking and it
also caused a dark crater in the center of the cookie. So I pressed
on, trying versions with heavy cream (like a ganache), cream
cheese, butter, white chips and more, without much success.
At the same time, my cookie dough recipe migrated from a
traditional snickerdoodle dough, to a version I had tried a few
years ago that has some eggnog in it. At that time, I was
just trying to make use of extra eggnog I had in the house, but the
cookies were delicious and it is the holidays, right? So
eventually I decided my answer to the cinnamon filling was also in
the eggnog… and a little bit of flour added to the filling helped
avoid the problems with the filling leaking or causing a big crater
in the cookies. And since these cookies were now an
Inside-Out EGGNOG Snickerdoodle, a little nutmeg in the filling
just seemed to add the right touch! An eggnog glaze with more
cinnamon and nutmeg, and a few festive sprinkles on top of the
cookies sealed the deal.
|Um... that's not really what I meant by inside-out.|
- This recipe makes a large amount of a very thick and somewhat sticky cookie dough… a large stand mixer is definitely recommended for mixing up the dough.
- I like to portion out all of the filling “rounds” and all of the cookie dough “balls” before I start assembling the cookies. That way, I can make sure I have the same number of each, or can adjust if needed, before I start making all the cookies.
- The dough will become a little sticky as it warms up. Flouring your hands works well to keep the dough from sticking too much. I also discovered (by accident, actually) that if you wear “lunch lady” gloves (food service gloves), the dough doesn’t stick to them at all and very little flour is needed... which actually speeds up the cookie assembly process.
- Make sure the cookies are fully baked. If the cookies are not fully baked, you may end up with a bit of a depression in the center of the cookie (over the filling). It is nothing a little eggnog glaze can't "fix", but it can be mostly avoided by making sure to fully bake the cookies.
- If you don’t want to do the eggnog glaze on top, the cookies taste just as good when you dip the tops of the cookies in a traditional cinnamon-sugar coating before baking… you can even add a little nutmeg to the coating as well. A good mixture is 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 3/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg.
- If you are going to store the cookies for a while (in an airtight container, in the freezer or a cool, dry place), you might want to wait to drizzle on the eggnog glaze until an hour or so before serving.
For those who like pictures, here are a few of the cookie-making process... with the recipe following below.
|Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. If yours is like mine, it always went through a very clumpy phase (during which I would slowly increase the mixer speed) until it loosened up to become "light and fluffy".|
|After adding the egg and vanilla, then adding about half of the flour mixture, I drizzled in the eggnog with the mixer running before adding the rest of the flour mixture.|
|Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to fully mix all of the ingredients. The dough will be very thick and sticky. If there are any dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl that did not get incorporated, mix these in by hand.|
|While the dough chills, make the filling and scoop it out onto a wax paper-lined sheet. I found it easiest to get similar-sized portions of filling by using my smallest cookie scoop (#100) and filling it a little less than half full.|
|Flatten dough balls into a disc about the size of your palm.|
|Place filling "round" in center of dough "disc".|
|Wrap dough around filling.|
|Smooth a little, then place on prepared baking sheets.|
|Bake until cookies appear fully baked and are golden brown on the edges. Making sure the centers of the cookies are fully cooked will help insure you don't get a little depression in the center of the cookie over the filling.|
|The finished product... with glaze and sprinkles!|
Inside-Out Eggnog Snickerdoodles
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup eggnog
1 cup Hershey’s cinnamon chips
2 Tablespoons eggnog
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons eggnog
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Make dough: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternately with the eggnog, scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough will be very thick and slightly sticky. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Make filling: Combine cinnamon chips and eggnog in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 15-20 seconds, stir, then heat on high again for another 15-20 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. Add flour and nutmeg and stir until combined. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and scoop out about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon portions of the filling onto the wax paper. Make about 40 filling "rounds" and place in refrigerator.
Assemble and bake cookies: Preheat oven to 350 F. Scoop chilled cookie dough into approximately golf ball-sized balls. Using floured hands, roll smooth, then flatten into a disc, about the size of your palm. Place a filling round in the center of the cookie dough and wrap dough around to completely cover the filling. Smooth gently with your hands. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone liners (cookies are larger than typical, so you will have to put fewer on each baking sheet than usual). Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on edges.
Make glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, eggnog, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix until smooth. Add water (1 drop at a time) if needed to thin. Drizzle over mostly cooled cookies, add decorations if desired, and allow to dry.
* * * * *
At this year’s Cookie Tour I am also planning on sampling a variation of last year’s Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookie transformed as a Raspberry Almond Crumble Bar (sorry, no picture yet). In addition to the standard recipe ingredients, you’ll need a little extra raspberry jam and some granola for the transformation. Here’s how to do it…
Raspberry Almond Crumble Bars
(inspired by Raspberry Crumble Bars, by Ina Garten)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Make cookie dough as directed (recipe HERE). Pat two-thirds (to three-fourths) of dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, coming up sides an additional 1/4". (If needed, use a piece of plastic wrap between the dough and your hands to help smooth the dough out.) Spread 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam over surface of dough, leaving a small border outside edge. Combine remaining dough with 3/4 cup granola and mix with hands to make the crumble topping. Distribute crumble topping over top of raspberry jam. Sprinkle surface with 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if desired.
And as I’ve done in the past with my Cookie Tour blog post, here are the links to previous year’s cookies. Enjoy!
An Abundance of Apples 26 Sep 2016, 12:40 pm
We love fall! The warm days and the cool nights! The daily surprise of colors in the trees! Pumpkins, mums... and apples! You gotta' love the apples! We took some time last week to do a little apple picking of our own. Our destination... Alyson's Orchard in Walpole on a sunny hillside overlooking the Connecticut River Valley. Alyson's grows over 50 varieties of apples, as well as peaches, plums, pears, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries and quince. The exact dates for picking each fruit/variety vary growing season to growing season, but from mid-summer to late fall, Alyson's pretty much has something to be picked.
Now, the big decision is what to make with all of our apples... Apple Walnut Breads, Apple Butter, Caramel Apple Baked French Toast... or try something new? Or maybe I should start practicing my pie baking skills for the The Old Farmer's Almanac Apple Pie Baking Contest sponsored by The Old Farmer's Almanac and King Arthur Flour to be held at the Peak into Peterborough celebration on October 15, 2016.
Note: Although we had wonderful luck picking apples at Alyson's this year (2016), not every apple orchard in the region fared as well. After a warm winter, a late cold spell in the spring damaged many of the apple blossoms and the lack of rain this summer put additional stress on many of the trees. Some orchards in the region, in addition to Alyson's, are still open for PYO: Birchwood Orchard in Mason, McLeod Brothers in Milford, and Washburn's Windy Hill in Greenville. Unfortunately, others will not be opening for PYO apples this season: Norway Hill in Hancock, Holt Brothers in Lyndeborough, and Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough. For a more comprehensive list of apple orchards in New Hampshire, go to www.applepickingorchards.com. And wherever you plan to go, it makes sense to call ahead to make sure they will be open for PYO picking.
More Monadnock: Cliff Walk to Bald Rock 13 Sep 2016, 6:35 amour hike of the Pumpelly Trail on Mount Monadnock this past July, Rob and I were inspired to write our own set of trail descriptions for our guests at the Bed and Breakfast to use when deciding where to hike on the mountain. While we often suggest the Old Toll Road trailhead as a nice alternative to the trails starting from the State Park Headquarters, we realized that other than going up the Halfway House Trail to White Arrow Trail, and coming down the smaller trails (footpaths) past Monte Rosa, we didn't have a lot of experience with the trails on the southern side of the mountain. At about the same time, I found a write-up in a trail guide that described the Cliff Walk trail as one of the "finest scenic trails" on Mount Monadnock. Well... I like scenic trails! So the plan was set... our next hike on Monadnock would include the Cliff Walk.
So on a beautiful afternoon in late August, we set out with our niece Casey from the Old Toll Road Trailhead on the Old Toll Road, a wide dirt road with a reasonably gradual incline. After about a half-mile, we turned off onto the Parker Trail, a mostly level trail that was both wooded and rocky, and within another quarter-mile we were at the start of the Cliff Walk.
|Paula and Casey at the start of the Cliff Walk trail|
But the trail was more than just climbing boulders. It moved in and out of the woods, sometimes hugging the outside edge of a ridge that gave fantastic views... with terrain that was sometimes gradual, and sometimes steeper. It intersected with numerous small trails with cutesy names like "Point Surprise" and the "Do Drop Trail".
It featured named viewpoints, like Hello Rock, Black-Throated Blue Point (named for a warbler bird of the same name), Ainsworth's Seat (named for the first minister in Jaffrey), Thoreau's Seat and Emerson's Seat (named for Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson).
|Not sure if this was Ainsworth's Seat
Black-Throated Blue Point...
but it was a great view!
It is worth noting that many of the smaller trails and viewpoints on this portion of the mountain date back to when the Halfway House hotel existed (from the 1860s to the 1950s) and many of these trails were blazed by guests.
Let's just say... I was really liking this trail. And I liked it even more as we climbed towards Bald Rock and got a peek at Monadnock's peak. Whether looking up the mountain or towards the south, the views from Bald Rock were awesome!
|View of peak from Bald Rock|
|View outward from Bald Rock|
From Bald Rock we had to make a choice though, climb up to the peak via the Smith Connecting and White Cross trails (or the Amphitheater and White Arrow trails), or start to make our way back down to the trailhead. Given our late start at hiking, we decided that we probably would not have quite enough time to comfortably reach the peak, so we made our way to the Side Foot Trail and our route back to the trailhead via the Old Halfway House Trail.
So here were our stats...
- Time: 3 hours and 45 minutes, total (Two hours to Bald Rock, including many stops at viewpoints for photos; and about 1 hour and 45 minutes down, including our break time at Bald Rock.)
- Miles: 3.75 miles, round-trip
- Experience: Great! (As mentioned above, I really liked this trail!)
Getting a Better View: NH Fire Lookout Towers 29 Aug 2016, 10:47 am
|View from Pack Monadnock|
We are lucky to have three of the active fire towers within a short drive of Peterborough... at Pack Monadnock in Peterborough (Miller State Park), at Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, and at Federal Hill in Milford.
|Fire Lookout Tower at Pitcher Mountain|
|Fire Lookout Tower at Pack Monadnock|
|View from Pitcher Mountain|
|Fire Lookout Tower on Mount Kearsarge|
Hiking the Beech Hill Trails in Dublin 22 Aug 2016, 7:15 am
We love hiking new (to us) trails, so with a break in our day of just a couple of hours, we decided to check out the trails on Beech Hill in Dublin and get a little exercise in! The Beech Hill Hiking Trails are located on a 62.7-acre property protected by conservation easement through the Monadnock Conservancy. The property is the former site of a substance abuse and treatment center (known as Beech Hill) that closed in 2001. In 2007, the Beech Hill-Dublin Lake Watershed Association acquired the property and began restoring the site, removing all but one of the buildings and eventually creating a network of trails that provide views of both Mount Monadnock and parts of the Wapack Range.
Lucky for us, the property is only about 10 minutes away. To get there, take Route 101 to Dublin and head north on Dublin Road (adjacent to the Fire Station). Go about 0.4 miles and turn left on Beech Hill Road. Travel about 0.2 miles on Beech Hill Road (paved, but a little rough) to the parking area and trailhead with kiosk. (A full trail map and guide for the Beech Hill Hiking Trails is available on the Monadnock Conservancy website.)
Our plan was to take the Zig Zag Trail to the top of the hill, then make our way over to the South Overlook, head back to the Ridge Trail to stop at Eagle Rock, then continue on the Old Carriage Road back down and around to the parking area. Right away, we noted the that trails seem rather lightly used. Although they were still very easy to follow and well-marked, the ferns and blackberry bushes were starting to push their way back in to the path a little bit. Given the light use of the property, we figured we might see more wildlife than we typically see on other trails, and sure enough we were not disappointed! Before we got to the top of the Zig Zag Trail, we came across a fairly large porcupine a little ways off in the brush. See him? (in the photo below) No? Oh. Since this was both of our first real-life experience with a porcupine, we were both excited to see him (or her), but clearly, a porcupine in the brush does not photograph well.
From the top of the Zig Zag Trail, we started to make our way towards the South Outlook, or so we thought. After a short bit of travel on the Old Carriage Road, the trail emerges to a dirt road that passes some large fenced-off cell towers poorly disguised as trees. We continued on the dirt road until it sort of faded away into a field of wildflowers. At this point, we really couldn't identify a trail per se, but it seemed like we were headed in the right direction from the map. So we continued on until we came upon the old white mansion that had been used as the treatment center. Surrounded by chain link fence with broken windows and doors, the house itself was a sad sight, but the view of the Wapack Range from that location was really nice.
At the time, we were pretty sure this was not the South Outlook we had been looking for, but as we had seen signs of no other trails, we decided to head back towards the cell towers and back to the Old Carriage Road to continue our plan. But for better or worse, we are not ones to give up easily, so once we were back at the cell towers, we decided to try one more time to see if there was some trail marker we had missed... and it turns out we had! See... on the utility pole... the three white circle reflectors? (There is actually a 4th one on the ground which is what caught our eyes.) That's the trail marker! And beyond the brushy area at the edge of the field, more round white trail markers can be seen on trees in the woods.
|The trail markers are small, but they are there.|
|This is the view from the cell tower area. The trail markers are on the second utility pole from the right.|
So after just a short walk in the woods, we were at the South Outlook... and we were so glad to have found it. The view of Mount Monadnock with Dublin Lake in the foreground was shady, cool, and really great!
Then it was back to our plan to take the Old Carriage Road to the Ridge Trail and Eagle Rock, another nice outlook where we added a geocache to our finds, and back to the Old Carriage Road for the "long route" back to the car. The Old Carriage Road seemed a bit longer than we were expecting and we had to pay attention to follow it closely as there were a few trails that broke off in other directions, causing us to stop and check our map at times. It also crossed over some of the Dublin School's cross-country ski trails a few times (which we didn't expect), but eventually we passed the start of the Zig Zag Trail and were back at our car. Our total time hiking (including our missteps and geocaching) was about two hours.
We are thrilled to have "discovered" this trail network so close to home and can't wait to visit again to experience the natural beauty in other seasons.
August is New Hampshire Eat Local Month 9 Aug 2016, 8:49 amWe are lucky here in New Hampshire to have so many farms, farmers' markets, and ways to enjoy local foods. In order to highlight our abundance, the month of August will be celebrated as New Hampshire Eat Local Month. And to add an extra highlight to the celebration, this week (August 7 through 13th) is National Farmers' Market Week. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat local!
In Peterborough, we have two farmers' markets each week: Fresh Chicks Marketplace, Mondays, 11 AM to 3 PM at Monadnock Community Hospital, and the Peterborough Farmers' Market, Wednesdays, 3 to 6 PM at the Peterborough Community Center. But on almost any day, we can find a farmers' market here in the Monadnock Region: Tuesdays and Saturdays in Keene, Wednesdays in Jaffrey, Thursdays in Rindge, and Fridays in Harrisville. And for those looking for an even stronger tie to their local farms, the region has numerous CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farms to join.
|Beautiful eggs from Jen at FiberDreams Farm in Temple|
In addition to visiting farmers' markets, a favorite way to eat local is to visit PYO (Pick Your Own) farms. Right now is blueberry season and so far this year we've picked berries at Propect Street Blueberries in Jaffrey, High Hopes Orchard in Westmoreland, and Pitcher Mountain (wild blueberries) in Stoddard, and have more plans to visit Odd Pine Farm in Ashburnham, MA, and Richmond Blueberries in Richmond before the season is over! We also love picking strawberries (June), as well as peaches, apples (Rob's favorite), and pumpkins!
Despite our lack of real experience, space to garden in, and rain this summer, we've got a little patch of garden that is happily producing zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and herbs.
We know that so many of our local restaurants purchase much of their produce and other products from local farms and suppliers, but we can't help but smile when we walk into Bantam Grill and are greeted by their chalkboard highlighting all of their local purveyors.
For even more ideas on how to "Eat Local" this month, see the article "31 Days, 31 Ways to Celebrate" at the NH Eat Local website. And for great information on farms, farmers' markets, and PYO locations in the Monadnock Region, visit the website for Monadnock Table magazine. Eat up and enjoy!
Hitting for "The Cycle"...Mt Monadnock Style 18 Jul 2016, 7:11 pmNew Hampshire loves baseball... and hiking. In baseball, "Hitting for the Cycle" means hitting a single, double, triple and homerun in the same game. It may seem like a bit of a stretch, but I think Mt Monadnock has its own version of "Hitting for the Cycle" (this is, of course, my own creation). So here's how it goes...
There are six main trailheads on Mt Monadnock:
- White Dot/White Cross (From the Monadnock State Park Headquarters)
- Old Toll Road/Halfway House
- Dublin Trail
- Marlboro Trail
- Birchtoft Trail
- Pumpelly Trail
The first three trailheads (White Dot, Old Toll Road and Dublin Trail) are like hitting a single. That's not to say these are easy trails, they all gain approximately 1700' in elevation over a two mile climb (about four miles round trip) covering plenty of rocky terrain but they are your easiest routes to the top.
|Do we look tired and hot yet? It was 90 degrees!|
|Paula stopped to pick and eat wild blueberries...yum!|
|Thorndike Pond, we paddled there just a couple weeks ago|
The homerun is Pumpelly and is also the reason I am writing this blog post now. Paula and I have been climbing Monadnock at least once a year since we moved to New Hampshire and up to this year we had peaked from every trailhead on the mountain except Pumpelly. It was mostly elusive to us because we had to commit a lot more time for the hike and we never seemed to be able to schedule it...until last week.
Pumpelly's elevation gain is 2000' over 4.4 miles (8.8 miles round trip) but that is a very deceiving 2000' gain. The hike began gentle enough as we started by hiking through some forested land right off Dublin Lake. But then the trail started to climb...not steep but consistently up. About 1.5 miles in the trail got steeper and rocky and we had to start scrambling a bit. This trail definitely progressed getting more challenging the further we went.
|There's the peak...looks far away :(|
When we reached the top of the first steep section after the 2 mile mark, the views became glorious to the East and West and we realized we were on a ridge. That's the deceiving part. For the next 1.5 to 2 miles we were constantly ascending and descending the rocky ridgeline so the elevation gain may be just 2000' but my guess would be we had gone up closer to 2500' (and of course that means you have some more climbing to do on the return trip). About 3/4 of a mile from the peak, we merged with the top of Red Spot and made a "dash" to the peak.
|Yup, that's the ridgeline with our return destination way down at the lake|
As moderate hikers, this trail really challenged us, but the views were outstanding and the lack of other hikers on the trail was welcome. It took us four hours to get to the peak (although the two younger hikers that started at the same time as us probably did it in closer to three) and it took us three more to get back down to the trailhead.
Anyone looking for a challenge in the Monadnock Region will find no better challenge than Pumpelly, but no matter which trail you choose, the views from the top are worth the climb!