Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata : Another Classic Stone Hill Inn Breakfast 9 Sep 2014, 3:56 pm
The strongest flavor in this distinctively tasty breakfast results from a vegetable that is related to variety of species of thistle (scolymus – commonly referred to as the golden thistle). Now, right away, doesn’t that sound tasty? (ugh!) Yes, but studies have shown this vegetable to aid digestion, hepatic and gall bladder function, raise the ratio of HDL to LDL and strong in antioxidants. (No it is not cod liver oil!) It was also used as a food among the ancient Greeks and Romans in the 1500’s. Native to the Mediterranean area, its initial processing includes removing all but 0.2–0.4” of the stem along with about a quarter of scales so as to delete its residual thorns. (Fortunately when you purchase them in the store, this has already been done.) With such a history, no wonder they have such a unique taste. What is it? An artichoke (Cynara scolymus)! We love them and they have become a delicious addition to Stone Hill Inn Breakfasts!
Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata
- 10 ounces of artichoke hearts (or I 10 ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts thawed)
- 1/3 cup (about 1 ½ ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ½ loaf country-style white bread (we like to use sourdough) cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
- 1 ¾ cups 1% low-fat milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- Cooking spray
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in artichoke hearts and garlic; cook for eight minutes or until artichoke hearts begin to brown – stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in herbs de Province. Cool 10 minutes.
Combine milk, black pepper, salt and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the yummy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and bread; toss gently to combine. Stir in artichoke mixture. While you let this stand for 20 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spoon half of bread mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half of goat cheese, and top with remaining bread mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of goat cheese over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly!!
To the Tables
Our breakfast service usually lasts for about two hours, and guests often arrive depending upon the activities in Stowe they have planned for the day. Thus everyone is rarely available when the strata initially comes out of the oven. So we remove the strata from the oven to avoid its drying out, and we warm a piece when requested by the guest. We plate the strata with a small mixture of fresh lettuce and cherry tomatoes flavored with a light oil dressing – adding toast and meat accompaniment, as requested.
How we pitch it
Our breakfast this morning includes a wonderful combination of flavors – an artichoke/goat cheese strata. We form a base of sourdough bread in a baking dish and add a mixture of artichoke hearts, goat cheese, and some additional herbs so as to enhance its naturally Mediterranean flavor. We bake that in the oven until browned and serve warm with along with a small salad.
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British Invasion Car Show : September 19th-21st 19 Aug 2014, 9:51 am
It was Christmas 15 years ago. We had just purchased a new home within the past year, everyone was employed, and we were looking forward to its second Christmas. Our current car was seriously old and becoming more expensive with each 1000 miles. Somehow a picture of a new car that we had never seen slipped across Linda’s desk producing an immediate plea from Linda to swap old for new! Of course the price was problematic.
The car was absolutely lovely. Even I liked it (all except the price.) Christmas was coming so I, like all males, continued to protest the price and the frivolousness of such a purchase while quietly considering the possibility and looking for a solution. So, Christmas morning Linda’s brother – on cue – drove the new car down our driveway wrapped with a huge red ribbon and bow on top. Linda vaulted out the front door in robe and slippers to view the car you see below – a 2000 Jaguar S Type – the first of its kind in the US. Built in Birmingham, England and designed by Geoff Lawson, the key designer for Jaguar. We still have this car and Linda still drives it to Shaw’s grocery store to get Yogurt, fresh fruit, and dozens of other ingredients for those fabulous breakfasts she designs at our charming Stowe bed and breakfast.
So, this September 19-21 you are likely to find us attending and reviewing many of the entries into the 24th annual Stowe British Invasion car show. This is North America’s largest British Classic Sports Car and Motorcycle Event! Its mission is to provide a “Three Day Celebration and Salutation to the Great British Motorcar and all manner of other things British.” It includes participants primarily from the US and Canada with over 600 cars on field, and approximately 1000 total.
The 24th annual Stowe British Invasion Car Show:
Registrant’s Reception- Friday
The official kick-off reception for this year’s British Invasion is to be held under the tent at the STOWE EVENTS FIELD. This event is open to all Pre-Registered participants in the British Invasion Weekend, Car owners and Vendors alike.
Stowe Main Street Party- Friday
Come and join the celebration of things British as Main Street will be awash with people in a festive mood and, of course, lots of British Motorcars. Enjoy live music, food, and beverage service. The local shops and restaurants will also remain open. Main Street will be closed to through traffic and reserved for British Motorcar parking on Friday evening.
Concours d’Elegance- Judging on Saturday
The Concours d’Elegance is a “Judged” competition that attracts exceptional show cars. Requirements: must be British, over 15 years old, and may NOT be replicas. Judging of entrants in the Concours d’Elegance competition will be based on a 100-point system, similar to the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) judging rules. Criteria for judging includes mechanical operation, paint, interior, woodworking, undercarriage, chrome, engine compartment, and authenticity. A minimum of 90 points is required for 1st place, 85 for 2nd place and 75 for 3rd place. In case of a tie score, multiple awards will be presented. All entrants will receive participation ribbons.The Concours d’Elegance is a pre-registered ONLY event.
British Pub Saturday & Sunday
Our British Pub will be open to present fine English ales, wine and perhaps a mixed drink or two.
Tailgate Picnic Competition- Sunday
A display of creativity, good food, and things British. This event has become a “Classic” and perhaps one of the best Tailgate Competitions on the East Coast! Awards will be given for “Most Elegant”, “Most Creative”, “Most British”, “Best Costume”, “Best Tasting”, and “Most Humorous”.
British Market Place & Auto Jumble- Friday
noon to Sunday
A collection of British Companies and vendors selling British, and British like products and services. Hard to find car spares, motoring accessories, motoring teddy bears, British candy, Regalia, Barbour jackets, and more.
British Car Corral – Friday noon to
An opportunity to buy or sell a British Motor Car or Motorcycle.
Come join us at the show. One of the judges of the Concours d’Elegance will be staying at the Stone Hill Inn with us!
Luxurious Gardens 6 Aug 2014, 12:08 pm
Having survived Minnesota for 23 years, I promised myself when we moved back to PA that I would avoid residences with climates that dominate your life; i.e. a six-month winter. Besides the emotional “stir-craziness,” they impose upon its denizens, they are especially hard on the golf game. Not that golf needs to be the center of existence, but when you visit old friends that live in Florida or San Diego and try to compete with their year-round play, you often come out on the short end of the contest.
Today, I still enjoy golf, but two things have changed: (1)Despite my promise, I have returned to a very NORTHERN climate, so I’m back on the six-month program; and (2) in my aging years I’ve found something I enjoy as much and often more than golf: gardening. Having passed the Penn State gardening course back in 2007, a little knowledge has encouraged me to literally ‘dig in,’ such that I often find myself losing track of time while getting my hands dirty! I love it! That’s what this note is about. So, let’s talk gardening.
Stowe, Vermont – Zone 4. This is a definite contrast to PA — Zone 6 — where a mild climate allows you to grow darn near anything. After almost three years I’m still learning Vermont plants, and surprising to me, (given 20 below winters with six to ten feet of snow each year) many are striking. As an example, this plant (pictured), is one that I find to be exquisite – one of the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen (short of some of the Longwood Garden orchids located just outside of Philly).
This is currently blooming in our gardens. Each of our guest rooms has a sliding glass door that allows them to walk directly into the back yard and explore the perennial gardens along with the man-made, 80’ path of streaming water lined by blooming flowers that ends with a three foot drop into a small pond.
The objective of these gardens is to mirror the luxury found throughout the inn and its guest rooms. Plus, the gardens provide locations where beauty overcomes everyday concerns, thus, naturally encouraging romance! Yea!
Do you know this plant? Isn’t it beautiful? It is part of a small genus of flowering plants in the Iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. They can be evergreen or deciduous perennials that grow from basal underground corms. Ours are deciduous. Do you know its name? Let me know if you think you can identify it.
We have many noteworthy plants in the gardens. Gooseneck Loosestife (white) is very stunning but it is nearly invasive (the purple version of Loosestrife had been declared an outlaw in MN because it is so invasive and loves water — MN has 10,000 lakes!) Because their blooms last a long time we will occasionally use the white Loosestrife among the daily flowers that adorn the dining room tables for breakfast. However, because it’s so aggressive and has taken over too much territory, this Fall I will dig several hundred of these plants. Hopefully some will find a home with other gardeners.
No doubt you’re aware of Heliopsis helianthoides? Me neither. Stone Hill was the first time I had ever seen them. Early bloomers, they light up the garden with a blanket of at least a hundred square feet with brilliant yellow flowers. They last for about two weeks and when not blooming are comfortable taking over new territory in the garden via rhizomes. They aren’t cutting flowers.
Rudbeckia looks like daisies; also called coneflowers or black-eyed-susans. We’ve got a bunch of them – and in groups of several hundred they are impressive – a sea of joy and energy. About 2-3 feet in height, yellow-gold and they last for weeks. We often use them in the dining room.
There’s tons more, but you get the idea. Try to imagine the luxury of enjoying Baptisa, Euporbia, Lysimachia, Weigela and a dozen other species that make the gardens at Stone Hill Inn a delightful romantic encounter! Oh you can bring your gloves if you want!
57th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show 28 Jul 2014, 12:20 pm
August 8-10, 2014
As a young lad in college I had a small picture of a 1964 Corvette convertible hanging on my dorm room wall, just above the army barracks bed that I had fortified with a piece of ¾” plywood to prevent the cushy 4” mattress from sagging.
Corvettes during those hormone-driven days, especially romantic convertibles, often held my attention longer than polysci or english lit. The 1964 Corvette was both luxurious and beyond cool. It came with a standard three-speed manual transmission, a 327 engine, which when fuel injected generated 360 HP – and fuel mileage probably less than 20?
However, as I look back on Corvettes, I like the 1967 version best – the one pictured above. In mid-March of 1965, Chevrolet’s Mark IV big-block was first offered in the C2, displacing 396 cubic inches and rated at 425hp. For 1966, the thundering 427 was released in 390hp and 425hp varieties. In 1967, the 427 was offered with 390, 400 or 435hp. (Feb 2010 Hemmings Motor News.) You can only imagine the tasty fuel mileage from this rocket!
Alas, I never bought a corvette; only drove one once (1964 with the 327 engine). Today I require much more practicality in my transportation (2008 used Honda Pilot), but if I can finish my Stone Hill Inn chores early, I might slip down to see what the corvettes look like in the Stowe, VT., 57th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show. August 8-10.
After 56 years, this Stowe car show has gotten pretty good at capturing some of the most interesting Antique cars from all over the U.S. while making the show quite charming. After a restorative night’s sleep and healthy breakfast at our Stowe inn, you are ready for a full day of Stowe and the Antique car show! Here’s the line-up for the event (only cars 1989 and earlier may enter the judging):
Friday, August 8:
7 am to 6 pm – eats! Food concessions.
8 am to 6 pm – vehicle registration
8 am to sunset – flea market open (non-automotive items not permitted – of course!!)
Saturday, August 9:
7 am to 6 pm – eats! Food concessions.
8 am to 3:30 pm – vehicle registration
8 am to 5:00 pm – flea market open (non-automotive items not permitted – of course!!
10:30 Fashion show judging at Nichols field (costumes must be of the same era as the year of your vehicle – sort of!)
11:00 Hot Wheels racing.
1:00 pm – Senior class judging and youth judging
3:30 pm Parade leaves the field on the parade route – past the review stand and down to Main street Stowe.
7:00 pm 10 pm – Street dance in Stowe village. (We’ll show you the back way into Stowe if you’re dining at one of the local restaurants.)
Sunday, August 10:
7 am to 4 pm – eats! Food concessions.
8 am to 4:00 pm – flea market and car corral
9:00 – technical judging begins
11:00 – valve cover racing
Early afternoon: Awards ceremony; three awards per class
Well, I’m not sure if the 1967 Vette, pictured above, will be part of this year’s Stowe car show. But if so, that’s where you will likely find me!!
Baked Crème Brulee French Toast 17 Jul 2014, 11:31 am
Another classic Stone Hill Inn breakfast
Perhaps you have noted among the recent reviews for the Stone Hill Inn, the mention of one breakfast dish that seems to claim particular favor. While many guests have generally praised Linda’s breakfast creations, this devilishly tasty entre is often mentioned by name. Such distinction requires, of course, exceptional taste, but one wonders if the name itself plays a role, for how could you say Baked Crème Brulee French Toast without causing a sly smile to adorn the face? Now a favorite at our Stowe bed and breakfast, especially among returning guests who quickly intercept Linda to request this bewitching meal soon after they arrive! As said in A Real American Breakfast Cookbook: “A true luxury, this is worth every last calorie.”
-1 quart heavy (whipping) cream
-1 vanilla bean
-8 large egg yolks
-¾ cup sugar
-3 – 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
-Real Vermont Maple Syrup (Grade A; medium amber)
-Sliced fresh strawberries or other seasonal fruit
-Softly whipped cream
1 ¾ to 2 lbs Challah or other soft textured egg bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
Begin. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap the bottom and sides with foil, making the pieces long enough to fold up and over the top of the pan while baking. A criss-cross pattern of two or more long pieces of foil works best.
Mix. Combine the cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat just long enough to warm the cream – 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep until cool, about 15 min. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, straining out the vanilla bean. Cut the bean open lengthwise and scrape out all the fragrant little black seeds. Stir the vanilla seeds back into the cream.
The Magic. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the cream, then whisk the custard mixture until well combined and uniformly light yellow. Make a layer of bread slices, cutting or tearing slices as needed to fit evenly. Pour about a quarter of the custard mixture evenly over the bread. Repeat with 3 more layers of bread and custard. (Yum!) The bread may rise a bit above the rim of the pan on the last layer. Pour the remaining custard over it slowly so that you get minimal runoff over the pan’s edge. Fold the foil up over the top. Arrange a plate over the foil and weight with a can of beans or other heavy can. Refrig for about one hour allowing the custard to soak through the bread thoroughly.
The Bake. Shortly before the mixture is finished soaking, preheat the oven to 325F. Place the springform pan in a water bath that comes about halfway up the pan’s side. Bake for 1.5 hrs, until firm at the center. Open the foil top and cool the French toast. Fold the foil back over and chill until ready to use.
To the Tables! When you are ready to serve the French toast, preheat the oven to 350F. A Real American Breakfast suggests: “Cut the French toast into 8 wedges – more/fewer as you wish. Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet, then brush each wedge lightly with melted butter. Bake for about 10 minutes until warm in the center and lightly toasted/crisp on the surface. (You don’t actually have the caramel topping of crème brulee, but you get its familiar creamy custard and contrasting crunchy surface.) Now, arrange each wedge on a plate, surround with a pool of maple syrup, and garnish with fruit and whipped cream.” However, we serve individual plates at Stone Hill — one wedge per plate with bacon or sausage and fruit garnish accompanied by a glass container of warmed, Vermont Maple syrup. We add powdered sugar but pass on the whipped cream. Definitely yummy!
How we pitch it. This morning we have Baked Crème Brulee French Toast! We take Challah bread and place into a springform pan and soak the bread with a rich custard mixture. We place all of that into a water bath and cook it for 1 ½ hours. Then we cool it overnight. This morning we cut a 3-inch high wedge and warm until the top is just a bit crispy. We serve with bacon/sausage and warmed, Vermont, Maple syrup! (Let us know if you like it!)
Stowe Hot Air Balloon Festival July 11-13, 2014 24 Jun 2014, 11:57 am
After a Spring of wonderful weather we head into Summer and the many festivals that dot the Stowe calendar. First up – the 28th annual hot-air balloon festival held less than a mile from our Stowe bed and breakfast - the Stone Hill Inn. Over 25 of these beautiful creatures will paint the sky with vibrant colors from July 11-13. A wonderful photography venue but better yet – you can go for a ride!
Ballooning, as you probably know, is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. The first flight was a two-person journey on November 21, 1783 from Paris, France! (Wikipedia)
We’ve arranged for several of our guests to go hot-air ballooning this Spring using our local balloon provider Jeff Snyder and his Above Reality balloon company. A recent couple celebrated their honeymoon by ascending 1,600 feet and traveling over 11 miles. Weather is always a factor and Jeff, designer and builder of balloons, is very conservative. He suggests not betting on only ONE day, but have at least two or three days from which to choose in order to be more assured of getting weather needed for a flight.
According to Jeff, very few say that they are afraid once they are in the air. He says that it’s because unlike a cliff, there are no edges to look over when you are in a balloon. We had a chance to experience a taste of ballooning two weeks ago – 75 feet up from in one of Jeff’s tethered balloons. Quiet, soft, fresh perspective. Looking for a great way to celebrate life together! Come!
Honeymoon in Vermont : Two Couples Celebrate at Stone Hill Inn 21 May 2014, 11:08 am
At Stone Hill Inn we love celebrating special occasions! Pictured below are Annabel and Jamie, who arrived Friday May 16 to celebrate their honeymoon in Vermont. Dominic and Stephanie from Ottawa enjoyed their honeymoon at Stone Hill Inn just a few days earlier.
Jamie is in the retail business and loves animals. Annabel loves to paint and is also an actress and will be in two pictures soon to be released. The first picture stars Cameron Diaz; the second stars Denzel Washington!
These bring the total number of honeymoons celebrated so far at Stone Hill Inn in 2014 to eight! If you are considering a honeymoon in Vermont, be sure to check out our Vermont Honeymoon Package, which can be customized to your wishes.
Best wishes to all our newlyweds!
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Select Registry – Vacation of a Lifetime 14 May 2014, 3:42 pm
Yesterday Montreal denizens, Michael and Sossi honored our Stowe bed and breakfast as their third stop on a one year tour (gratis!) of all Select Registry properties. They have a year to stay at as many locations as they want, each for one night – a Vacation of a Lifetime!!
They are one of three couples chosen at random among those who either have opened a rewards account or have stayed at a Select Registry property during 2013. The more nights you stay during the year, the more chances you have of being selected.
Michael is a retired police officer from the Provincial police where after being an investigator he now is credit director (F&I) for the past 8 yrs in a major automobile dealership in Montreal. Sossi worked for almost 25 years in the travel industry; even owning and operating her own travel agency. An extraordinary program and it was such fun to be with them even if only for a day!
Spring. At Last! 7 May 2014, 11:13 am
The Garden Awakes. Undaunted, despite a winter for the record books, the Geraniums and Day Lilies emerge (picture) and soon will begin to add texture and beauty to the garden! Spring! We’ve removed several hundred pounds of sand from our driveway and parking lot (we have it hauled away for reuse), captured dozens of renegade branches that have escaped their trees, begun serious weeding and pruning, completed our normal, April “deep cleaning” of each guest room & shampooed rugs throughout our Stowe inn (yea Tony!). We’ve painted the interior trim around windows and doors, initiated a major change for the West Branch room, completed plans for a new exterior lighting system, and commissioned a new landscape plan for the front of the inn. Strategic mulching today and window washing, and opening the “Back Porch” with new rattan furniture, are on the agenda for tomorrow. Today we’re deciding about painting the inn! Temperatures in the 60’s this week.
March Blizzard : Stowe VT Snow Report 12 Mar 2014, 3:53 pm
Well, the early estimate was 12 – 18 inches. But Wednesday night
snows of 2 inches/hour brought the total to 18-22 inches of fresh
powder. Temperatures Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be in the
20′s and 30′s. Perfect skiing conditions! Perfect Nordic
conditions! Perfect snowshoeing conditions! (You need snowshoes in
Come! Three incentives in addition to perfect Vermont skiing conditions:
- 1.) The Stone Hill Ski & Stay package provides lodging discounts (Sun – Thur) of 20% and lift discounts of 15%.
- 2.) 8% off all lodging all days of the week for the rest of March. (Celebrating Trip Advisor’s 2014 pick as eighth best Inn/B&B in the U.S.)
- 3.) Get creative – 20% off during the week and 8% off on the weekend! Hmmmm!
Stone Hill Inn. Perfect for winter sports.