Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages
Brownsburg VA tells its story at the community museum 20 May 2016, 2:38 pm
The village of Brownsburg, VA is a short, 15-minute drive from Steeles Tavern but in some ways, it seems like light years away. Brownsburg was established in 1793 and the structures and size of the town have changed very little since late 19th century. The town prides itself on its historic heritage and authenticity. The museum is a real gem and has been called “first class” by the Lexington News-Gazette.
The town’s position on the main stagecoach route between Lexington and Staunton, caused the village to be an important center for commerce, trade, and even education. The village boasted nearly twenty homes, blacksmiths, three general stores, two mills, tailors, a saddle maker, and churches The town continued to grow and more businesses made their home there. By the mid-1800’s, there were cabinet makers, wheelwrights, a tanyard, carpenter, and a hatter added to the list of businesses in the village. There were also two Taverns in the village – Lavelle’s Tavern and Nicholas Spring’s Tavern – so weary travelers had accommodations on their long trips. It was quite the hub-bub of activity!
One of the oldest homes in the area was a log and stone structure built by Samuel Wilson in 1790. It remained in the Wilson family until sometime in the 1930’s. The house was purchased by the current owner in 1979 for 250 bales of hay! The home still has the original doors and hardware.
Brownsburg saw action in the Civil War too. The Shenandoah Valley was a supply route for General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, so Ulysses Grant ordered that the route be blocked. Union troops camped at Brownsburg on their way to Lexington.
In 1880, the “Iron Horse” track was built through the Shenandoah Valley and it bypassed Brownsburg. When US 11 and I-81 were built, they two passed by, rather than through the town. As a result, the village remains untouched by truck stops and fast food restaurants. But what remains is a quaint town with an awesome museum!
The Brownsburg Community Museum (BCM) may be small but it is packed with many irreplaceable articles that have been entrusted to the BCA. The museum plans to preserve, catalogue, and display historically significant items so that future generations can learn of the importance of this small village.
The museum has a permanent collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century regional memorabilia, and works on special exhibits from time to time.
The latest special exhibit, “Grain Into Gold”, highlights the importance and prosperity that grain farming, mills, and distilleries brought to Brownsburg. One of the street names in the village is “Still Alley”, so you can understand that stills played a role in the town’s life. Hays Creek was the water source that powered the mills for the area.
Visit the historic town of Brownsburg and the museum to get an indepth glimpse at life in the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is open every Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm from April through November. Admission is free (donations are appreciated!).
Crabtree Falls Hike near the Blue Ridge Parkway VA 28 Apr 2016, 5:57 pm
One “must do” hike in Virginia is the Crabtree Falls Trail located just a few miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 27) in the George Washington National Forest. The trail follows Crabtree Creek and provides beautiful views of the tallest (series of) waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.
There are three distinct sections of the trail and five major, beautiful cascades of falls. The overlook for the first cascade is near the bottom parking area and is an easy hike in to see the falls. This is a great stop to make when driving the Parkway and you need to stretch your legs a bit.
If you want to hike farther up the trail, you will encounter four other overlooks along the 2-mile trail to vistas of Tye River Valley. The trail climbs quickly and uses steps, wooden walkways, railings, and switchbacks to climb the steep terrain. “Be careful” is an understatement because the rocks on parts of the trail are coated with a transparent algae that makes them as slick as grease! Caution is not only advised, but encouraged on this trail!
The trail is mostly well-graded and maintained with a few rocky sections. It follows fairly closely to the Crabtree Creek but sometimes the switchbacks may lead slightly away form the water. Even when that happens, you can hear the water while you’re hiking through the woods.
At about the 2-mile mark, you will reach the top of the trail and will find the Tye River Overlook. It’s such a vertical drop that you can’t see the falls that you’ve just walked along side of! Stay within the stone walls of the overlook platform for your own safety. If you wish to continue on the trail, you will reach Crabtree Meadows which is a short hike from the Appalachian Trail.
This is a beautiful hike in all seasons and is adaptable to several levels of hiking ability. Start your day from the B&B with a hearty breakfast and return later in the day for a relaxing, rejuvenating rest.
Homemade granola recipe from Steeles Tavern Manor 18 Apr 2016, 6:08 am
Breakfast is delivered to the cabins at Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cabins. Your breakfast arrives complete with fruit and this wonderful granola – which also used in parfaits and fruit dishes in the main B&B. All the ingredients are purchased locally from The Cheese Shop in Stuarts Draft, VA.
The Cheese Shop offers bulk foods – that’s important when you’re making lots of homemade granola for guests or if you have a large family. Spices can be found at almost half the price of those in super markets. Gluten free products, old-fashioned candies, hard-to-find baking products, and jams & jellies are all on the shelves of the store and most can be purchased online. The Cheese and deli section of the store offer Amish-made Heini’s Swiss cheese and New Holland (PA) beef jerky. Heini’s and New Holland Meats, Inc are two companies that are centered in Amish regions of their respective states and value traditional methods of production while incorporating the latest technology for improvements of the foods delivered to The Cheese Shop. The variety at the store is just amazing!
Here is the recipe for Steeles Tavern Manor B&B’s homemade granola. All the ingredients are purchased at The Cheese Shop. Please note that Melissa makes A LOT at one time because the guests love it. You may want to cut the recipe for your home use.
In a large stainless bowl, mix:
- 5 lb bag oatmeal
- 1 ½ cups toasted wheat germ
- 2 cups (.6 lb) sunflower seeds
- 2 cups (.6 lb) pumpkin seeds
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup cinnamon
- 1 heaping cup brown sugar
- 1 cup honey (heated a little so easier to stir)
- 1 cup canola oil
Mix together. Spray 4 large cookie sheet or jelly roll sheets with PAM. Divide mixture into fours and spread on baking sheets. Bake each one 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (should be brown on top). Take 2 pans at a time and pour granola back into aluminum bowl. Mix granola and then place back in baking sheets – no need to spray pans again. (Mixing allows for even baking).
1 large (14 oz) shredded coconut
Separate coconut into 4 parts. Take each part and sprinkle over baked granola. Bake until lightly brown, maybe another 10 minutes.
Place pan contents back into bowl and stir. Continue to add each pan of baked granola to the bowl and stir. Continue to stir every so often until cool.
Store cooled granola in gallon size ziplock bags – dividing the granola into 3 bags – store in the refrigerator.
You can add Cranraisins when serving the granola.
Enjoy this healthy recipe in parfaits, on ice cream, or as your morning cereal!
New Plein Air Festival partners with Staunton Garden Week 31 Mar 2016, 8:16 am
A new celebration of art will compliment Staunton Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. Twenty-three plein air painters from five states will be in Staunton to paint ”in the open air” April 21-23, 2016.
Beverly Street Studio School (BSSS) is sponsoring the first Plein Air art Festival where artists will paint downtown Staunton, the gardens of Staunton homes open during Garden Week, Rolling Hills Farm, and Polyface Farms.
April 22nd begins with a “Paint Staunton Quick Draw art competition”. This event is intended to get the community involved in the timed painting contest. Professional and amateur artists are invited to compete. Gena Adams, a local artist, is reaching out to local schools to get the youngest artists involved in this event. The competitors will have three hours to work on their painting. Then the piece will be brought to Sunspots Pavilion to be judged. Three cash prizes will be awarded in each category.
Later on Friday, April 22, 2016, at BSSS, Lauren Andreach will give an artist demonstration. This event is limited to 25 people so register soon.
On Saturday, April 23rd, the plein air painters will go into the Historic Gardens included on the garden tour. The works they produce will then be on display at BSSS later that evening. The display titled, “Fresh Paint”, will open with a private preview at 5:00pm then opens to the general public at 5:30pm with a reception running until 7:30pm.
More arts and culture will be featured in Staunton that weekend including the “Hot Glass Festival”, Bridge Day, the Historic Garden Tour, and the Shakespeare Block Party.
Plan your visit to the Shenandoah Valley for this special weekend in Staunton, VA.
Bike the Shenandoah Valley in Wheels for Meals 14 Mar 2016, 4:51 am
On Saturday, March 26, 2016, the “Wheels for Meals – Ride & Dine” event will benefit Meals on Wheels, and Senior Programming in the Rockbridge Community. This is a new event and promises to be great fun and as challenging as you wish.
There are three bike routes planned. The family-fun route is just 7.5 and is located mostly within the town of Buena Vista.
The second and more challenging route is 28.1 miles and runs north for about 14 miles then turns south and follows along a scenic stream, The Chalk Mine Run and then the Maury River. This route also travels just next to the George Washington National Forest, so you know it will be a beautiful ride!
The third route – for the really serious biker – is 46.6 miles. This route climbs from an elevation of 865 ft. to over 3200 ft.! About 20 miles of the route is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It just doesn’t get any better than that! The route returns by way of South River Road – along the picturesque stream and the National Forest.
All routes start from Maury River Senior Center in Buena Vista, VA and all routes have rest areas planned for the participants.
After the ride, Southern Inn Restaurant and Urban Farm Girl Antiques will offer a unique dining experience. Devils Backbone Brewing and Rockbridge Vineyard will offer adult beverages. There will also be an auction of hand-made quilts produced by Mrs. C’s Quilting Club. Music by Late Blooming Onions (a favorite local band) will continue the festivities into the evening.
The ride packet pickup begins at noon with the longest riders starting out at 1:00pm, followed by the 30 milers at 2:30 and the family riders beginning at 3:30pm.
Dinner will be served at 5:30pm, with a “snack-e-tizer” station at 4:30pm. Dressing rooms and a shower facility will be available for bikers (bring your own towel).
Registration is open to Ride and Dine or just Ride or just Dine. Cost is $50 for a rider and $50 for the dining experience. Sign-up for both and help supply twice as many meals to seniors. This ride is a great way to start the spring biking season while supporting a worthy cause! Register now!
Virginia Military Institute Full Dress Cadet Parade 27 Feb 2016, 4:41 pm
You know that spring is on its way when the cadets at VMI renew the tradition of the Full Dress Cadet Parade on the parade grounds. Most Fridays in February and April, you can see them strut their stuff on post! Witness the drama and precision of the cadets marching in formation and to music of the VMI Regimental Band and Pipe Band.
VMI is the oldest state-supported military college in the nation. The military academy was created on the site of the Lexington arsenal in 1836. The cadets at the school may be called into action by the governor of Virginia. During the Civil War, the cadets were called to action 14 times and they still carry on a tradition of honoring their cadet brothers who fell at the Battle of New Market in 1864.
Living conditions at VMI are more austere than at the other service academies. All cadets are enrolled in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and can accept commissions in any of the US Armed services. They also may pursue civilian careers upon graduation. The school has high academic standards and includes studies in engineering, liberal arts, humanities and the sciences.
Some notable VMI alumni include George Marshall, George Patton, Frank McCarthy, Robert Q. Marston, Bobby Thomason, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, and Fred Willard. All of these distinguished alumni marched in the Full Dress Cadet Parade when they were VMI students.
Visit VMI the next time you stay at our B&B. The VMI Museum is located in Jackson Memorial Hall (named for “Stonewall” Jackson – once a professor at VMI). The Virginia Museum of the Civil War is the place to begin an exploration of the New Market battlefield where you can earn how cadets from VMI made a difference in battle. In downtown Lexington, visit the Stonewall Jackson House where the emphasis is on his influence as a church leader, professor, businessman, husband, and community leader prior to the civil war. Don’t miss the Full Dress Cadet Parade most Friday afternoons starting at 4:35PM.
Virginia Maple Festival March 12-13 & 19-20, 2016 15 Feb 2016, 3:20 pm
Virginia is for lovers and lovers enjoy the sweet maple syrup produced in Highland County, VA! During the 58th Annual Highland Maple Festival, you can taste the sweetness of maple products, watch the process involved in making maple syrup, and be entertained too.
During the second and third weekends in March 2016, seven different “maple sugar camps” will open their doors to explain and demonstrate how maple syrup is made. The participating producers are Eagle Sugar Camp, Laurel Fork Sap Suckers, Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard, Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard, Southernmost Maple Products, Sugar Tree Country Store and Sugar House, and Duff’s Sugar House.
Arriving from the Staunton area via US Rt. 250, the first stop would be Sugar Tree Country Store. While antique maple producing tools are on display, this operation uses a modern reverse osmosis concentrator and oil-fired evaporator. What a great contrast of the old and new operation! Foods and country store merchandise are available at the store to enjoy while enjoying the guided tour of the maple syrup production.
Turning north on Rt. 654, you will find Eagle Sugar Camp in the little village of Doe Hill. The Eagle family has been producing syrup for more than 200 years and still use open pan wood-fired evaporators. Local honey, buckwheat, cornmeal, and baked goods will be available along with locally made arts and crafts.
Heading west, you will find Puffenbarger’s and Rexrode’s Sugar Orchards. Puffenbarger’s have rebuilt their operation after a devastating fire in 2008. They employ miles of plastic tubing in the sugar water collection process. Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard feature a stand of maple trees that are over 200 years old and still producing lots of the sweet stuff! Get some real VA country ham, chili dogs, and BBQ sandwiches to give you more energy to continue the maple tour.
Southwest and up the hill, along Rt. 250, Laurel Fork Sap Suckers await you arrival. This is the highest point of any of the sugar camps in the county. They offer a ¾ mile long loop trail through the woods that includes activities for the kids. Tree taping demonstrations and guided tours are available each Saturday of the festival.
Travel south on Rt. 600 to find Duff’s Sugar House. Duff’s is a small family operation where the trees are still “opened” by hand and the sugar water is collected in buckets. This operation shows the old ways of processing maple sugar that has continued for hundreds of years.
Southernmost Maple Products funnels sugar water into the only “piggy-back” evaporator to be found in the southern states. You can see a different way of syrup production using this method of heating and evaporation. Maple pit-cooked BBQ, pork skins, and maple doughnuts can be found in the rustic country store on site.
In addition to the maple production demos, you can find a unique gift or craft item from the festival Arts & Craft Show that runs from 8:30 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and 8:30 am to 4 m on Sundays during the event. Over 150 artisans and crafters will be showing and selling their creations at seven different venues around the town of Monterey.
This part of Virginia is home to some great Bluegrass music and it will be one of the featured entertainment offerings during the festival. Don’t miss “Southern Rail Express” for some toe tapping music. Also, “Mountain Heritage Cloggers” and “Little Switzerland Cloggers” will be providing some great down-home country dance entertainment. There is an admission fee of just $3 for parking, a tour map, entrance to the Arts & Craft Show, and to enjoy the entertainment.
Yes Virginia, there is real maple syrup made in the highlands of the Commonwealth! Come for the festival and take some VA natural sweetness home with you.
Winter Wine Festival Fun in Historic Staunton VA 27 Jan 2016, 2:40 am
The Historic Staunton Foundation will host its 6th Annual Winter Wine Festival on Saturday, February 20, 2016. Nine Wineries are currently participating in this weekend sampling of fine wines that Virginia has become known for. The tasting will take place at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center located in downtown Staunton and just a 20 minute drive from Steeles Tavern Manor & Alpine Cottages. Advance tickets are just $20 ($25 at the door) and can be purchased online.
Each of the nine participating wineries is family owned and operated. Each family has a great story or two about how they named their winery and how the business was founded. For example, the Mattaponi Winery is a Native American name originating from the four rivers that flow through Spotsylvania County, VA: Mat, Ta, Po, and Ni. The four rivers join to form the Mattaponi River.
At Bluestone Winery, you can help to pick the grapes during harvest season. When the grapes are at just the right ripeness, it’s important to pick them immediately so they have just the correct sweetness for the wine they will become. Grapes are picked by hand so volunteer harvesters are utilized to ensure all the grapes are picked at just the right moment!
Fincastle Winery, a gravity-fed operation, can actually be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sit on the porch and view the mountains while enjoying a sip of their wines.
The land for The Homeplace Winery has been in the family for four generations. Originally a tobacco farm, the Williams family changed with the times and started planted grape vines in 2005. Logs from the tobacco barns has been re-purposed to build the log cabin tasting room. You can feel the history here as you enjoy the fruit of the vine.
Nelson and Elsie Stanley, owners of Stanburn Winery, are just down-home, unpretentious folks. To make a point about that, they named one of their wines after a stream that runs through their county: Poorhouse Creek. Their Poorhouse wine contains 100% Chambourcin grapes fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral barrels. Tis wine pairs well with cheesecake or chocolate desserts.
Westin Farm Vineyard & Winery is another family operation. When you visit the tasting room, you will be greeted by a family members or close friend – and the family members may be the four-legged kind! Don’t be surprised to find Charlie and Suzie (canine family members) greeting you. Stroll around the farm with your wine glasses to see the horses and miniature donkeys too. In addition to the Pinot Frigio or Petit Manseng, you can taste various fruit wines too.
The founders of Democracy Vineyards, Jim Turpin and Susan Prokop, have quite a collection of political memorabilia and a passion for wine. They decorated the tasting room with campaign paraphernalia and red, white and blue. All their wines have politically-styled names such as Declaration 2014, Emancipation 2012, Parliament 2011, or Constitution 2013.
Barren Ridge Winery (our personal favorite local winery) sits on the ridge overlooking the vineyards where there was once an apple orchard. The patio is the perfect spot to view the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying some award-winning wines. There are fourteen wines to choose from so take your time and relax.
Patio, picnic spots, and play areas are all available for your visit to the newest of the participating wineries – Hunt’s Vineyard. The first vines were planted in 2009 and these new owners are learning more about growing grapes everyday. While the vines are growing, so is their population farm animals. Bring the kids and your pet to share a day on the farm and taste some Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin “Red” or Sangria.
Come for the Winter Wine Festival, purchase some wonderful wines. Come back in the spring, summer, or fall to enjoy the vistas, the farm life, or the sunsets at one or more of these family owned Virginia wineries.
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in Lexington VA 15 Jan 2016, 6:57 pm
Washington and Lee University will honor the life and work of Martin Luther king with a week-long celebration beginning on January 15th, 2016 – the actual birthday of this brave American. The college is located an easy 20 minute drive from Steeles Tavern, VA.
The University kicks off the celebration with a toast accompanied by cupcakes on Friday, January 15th 2016. On Sunday, January 17, 2016 Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will speak on “Reviving the Revolutionary King”. This Georgetown University Professor of Sociology will respond to a question-and-answer session following the keynote address.
On Monday, a panel of distinguished attorneys and professors will discuss the relevance of one of Dr. King’s speeches in “In His Own Words: Lessons from Dr. King for Today”.
In the continuing series of “The Ethics of Citizenship”, Dr. Claudia Rankine will expound on “The Creative Imagination and Race: The Making od Citizen”. Dr. Rankine holds the Aerol Arnold Chair of English at the University of Southern California.
Thursday, January 21st 2016 offers a viewing of the movie, “Selma” with a discussion following the movie. Panelists include three professors from Washington & Lee’s departments of history, English, and law.
The Martin Luther King Remembrance Concert on Saturday, January 23, 2016 completes the celebration of Martin Luther King’s life in the Shenandoah Valley. This concert has become a tradition with the W&L University Singers, Cantatrici, the Men’s Glee Club, and the MLK Combo. The concert includes a reading of the famous “I have a dream” speech and includes audience sing-a-long musical pieces as well. The free concert is held at the First Baptist Church in downtown Lexington, VA – just a short drive from Steeles Tavern Manor.
The long weekend celebration starts with a Virginia state holiday, Lee Jackson Day. This day honors the two most well known Lexington residents: Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee rescued a small college from financial ruin. That college is now known as Washington & Lee. “Stonewall” Jackson was a leader in the community and a professor at the Virginia Military Institute.
Take a long weekend, relax from your workload and learn about thess American gentlemen who had such a great impact on our country.
Christmas cookie recipe and Christmas decorations 29 Dec 2015, 5:54 pm
Here at Steeles Tavern Manor, Christmas cookies and Christmas decorations will be featured up until the New Year is firmly in place. All the decorations give me a very warm feeling and I hope the guests have the same reaction. In fact, the trees outside are wrapped in lights all year long to welcome and light the way for our guests. When guests enter the Inn, they see garland, lights, and red bows adorning the banister leading up the stairs to their room. At the top of the stairs, just outside the guest rooms, we have a Christmas sign that reads “and to all a good night”. We put it there as the last thing our guests see before they go into their rooms.
We have two Christmas Trees – one in the formal living room and one in the social room where guests often congregate together. Christmas cheer continues with lots and lots of Santas that I have collected through the years.
Cookies are a special part of the whole holiday celebration for me. My favorite Christmas cookie is Chocolate Mint Squares. I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA and my mom got this recipe from the wife of the 3rd base coach for the Pirates who served the team in the 80’s. This is the most requested Christmas cookie recipe from my kitchen for almost 30 years. Try this recipe any time of the year for a yummy treat!
Chocolate Mint Squares
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 16-oz can Hershey Syrup
Mix first 4 ingredients together (one at a time) using an electric mixer. Add flour & salt. Then add syrup & mix until smooth.
Place in greased/floured 11×17-inch pan.
Bake 350 for 20 minutes.
½ cup butter
3 tbsp Crème de Menthe liquor
2 cups powdered sugar
Using electric mixer, cream butter. Add crème de menthe slowly to mix together. Then slowly add the sugar. Mix to the consistency of an icing. Spread on top of the cooled brownie layer. Then place the pan in the refrigerator to allow the icing to harden.
1 6oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp butter
Place ingredients together in a microwavable small baking dish. Microwave using Defrost setting for 4-5 minutes until melted. Stir glaze to completely smooth. Spread over top of mint layer. Refrigerate to cool. Cut into small squares.
Happy New Year from our house to yours!