Elm Creek Mascots 10 Oct 2020, 1:56 pm
If you’ve already been to the Manor, you have likely had a run in with Brennan and Bailey. These two little rambunctious critters are the unofficial ambassadors of Elm Creek Manor. They have been with us for years. Brennan is a Yorkie while Bailey is a Silky… they look like the same type of dog, and in fact they are close cousins, but technically a different breed.
Both breeds of Terrier were developed for the dual purpose of family pet and rodent destroyer. Yorkies came from England, and then were later brought to Australia where they were bred with Australian Terriers to produce a bit sturdier breed of dog as Aussie rodents were in general a bit sturdier breed of pest. If you’ve ever seen pictures of the gigantic Australian spiders, you know what I mean!
In the end the real importance of why we chose our lovable little imps is that they have a coat that is more like human hair than other dogs with a traditional fur type coat. This is important because as you obviously know, our home is an inn as well. It was important for us to choose a companion type that was both good in a country setting complete with squirrels, field mice, and other rodents that might get into the gardens, and also not be an issue for guests with dog allergies.
Because of the difference in coat type, the hair style doesn’t produce dog dander, and therefore is considered to be safe for those with allergies to dog dander. This is good for us because Brennan and Bailey (or “Bobs” for short) are both very friendly and social animals, and often, Brennan will follow guests around the property. It’s very common that we will be looking for him and a guest will pop out of a room petting or holding him as he soaks up the attention, and they always say he came right in with us! Though, he’s quite obedient, it’s never been an issue when someone tells him to “stay” at the door.
We’ve had Yorkies since my children were very small, and now 2 of them have their own families with their own Yorkies. The quirks of their personalities are really interesting because it’s such an intelligent breed. Brennan is obsessed with squirrels and balls, whereas Bobs couldn’t be bothered, as she is more dainty like a flower. My daughter has a son of hers, Comet, from a litter she once had, and he is as spoiled as it comes. My daughter told me that she takes him with her to Starbucks each morning and he gets a “puppachino”. He’s still not too stuck up to get dirty with her 3 kids, though.
Festing in Covid Times 7 Oct 2020, 3:26 pm
Once again, Oktoberfest is coming to Muenster. One nice thing about our place is that it is in itself a destination at a destination. If someone comes out here, they can visit fun kinds of places in the area. There are wineries, restaurants, and unique shopping options nearby that people really enjoy. But we are also a place that people can come to and have an entire experience without leaving the grounds. This is something we have that is unique in that it is an annual treat.
It feels so strange these days to think about a festival in a world where interoffice exchanges are often conducted from home in your pajamas. Here at Elm Creek we have changed our already stringent health policies to make sure that everyone is comfortable and safe to a point where we feel it competes with some hospitals. It became our new normal to be so sanitary. The idea of a festival is almost so foreign that I was curious about so many things about the application of such an event.
I looked into it, and there was a fundraiser they used over the summer to see what practices were workable with the local community. From what they learned, they said they are implementing some precautionary measures. They said that it came down to requiring the food servers to wear masks, as well as the bartenders, and the patrons. Also, everyone entering the festival will be temperature tested, and all the tables will be spaced apart in safe distances along with physical dividers around the music stages that prevent large groups of people from gathering together. Throughout the festival there will also be many hand sanitizing stations as well as volunteers to circulate and remind people to maintain social distancing.
I was both surprised and relieved that they had put so much effort into looking at the safety of their guests. Being so long since social events were allowed, I guess they were willing to go the extra mile to make sure that the community could finally come together to celebrate the local culture.
This is always a fun time, with the typical festival accoutrement like cotton candy, art and craft vendors, beer and turkey legs. However, Oktoberfest adds uniquely German accents to the party with sausages, polka, chicken dancing, etc, as well as free admission if you wear lederhosen! There is also a very popular bicycle race that draws a lot of attention.
If you are looking for a unique experience apart from an already unique experience, come to Muenster and join us at Elm Creek for a fun weekend you won’t forget.
Baby it's Cooler Outside 7 Oct 2020, 3:16 pm
This time of year is a nice period of change. The winds are blowing cooler and the days are getting shorter. Going away are the bluebirds, here to stay are some new birds. As fall approaches, I get to start looking at new outfits and old sweaters. My Christmas decorations are dangerously close to getting unpacked and new vegetables are growing in the garden.
I’m excited to write a new fall menu as the seasons begin to change. With new plants producing new flavors, we are canning all the fruits left from the summer harvests. I’ve got a busy week starting with 3 cases of pears to preserve! Once canning and pickling of the summer growth finishes up, it’s a fun time of creative exploration.
I, of course, have certain staples on the menu, but these times are always a great time to move forward and release creative energy with new ideas about dishes to put together. Recently, I had to do this unseasonably as a fox quite literally got in the hen house and we had to come up with a few less egg-based breakfast ideas. I reminisced on a trip to Tuscany and came up with a few locally nontraditional options.
One of the popular items came in the form of some home grown fruit preserves and house made chevre, toasted on bread we bake fresh each morning to make a more breakfast styled bruschetta.
This time of year, however, it’s anticipated and proactive instead of a reactive bout of creativity. I’m looking forward to kicking into “hearty” gear and adding much more squash based dishes and new desserts. My son says that it never feels like summer is over until he smells rosemary in the kitchen.
Aside from the foods that we are switching up for the seasonal changes, we are also looking at the activities that we will be looking forward to. Summers end means that the pool won’t be quite the “hot commodity” it once was! Instead of lounging in the relaxing shade and lazily cooling off in the water, it’s time for warming up. S’mores by a fire and long walks around just watching the leaves change color oare the order of the day.
Spring Is Springing!! 9 Feb 2020, 12:18 pm
Well, now that winter's chilly veil is wearing thin, and the robins are showing their red breasts for the first time this year, I can finally feel spring coming. This is a time of year that really makes me feel alive. The trees are still bare, but new life is seeping into nature.
Fall or Christmas Outdoor Decorating with Nature 24 Jan 2020, 10:12 am
Having lived all over the world as a youngster, I have seen Christmas decorating in all cultures and all walks of life.
People mistakenly believe they need to go out and spend a great deal of money to achieve amazing eye popping decor.
Actually, nature provides some of the best decor for you!
Some hints on how to get fresh greenery... If you do not live in an area that has a variety of greenery, where you may go out and fresh cut, then stop by your local tree lot. When the tree lots cut off the bottom of the Christmas tree for customers, they are happy for you to collect the branches. You would be surprised how many branches and varieties of greenery you are able to collect. They just throw that away.
We put all delicate plants away before the first freeze. We then fill our pots with a variety of cuttings, and evergreen branches such as Holly, Nandina, Pyracantha, Fir, Pine, Cedar, Rosemary, etc, be creative (you may need to replace them after a month -but hey- they are free).
As the months grow cooler, many bushes produce beautiful and vibrant berries. Look around your yard or neighborhood and gather many of these.
In the fall, we place a variety of our leftover veggies from the garden, such as corn, pumpkin, squash, okra (we let okra and squash get large and tough to use as decor), in and around the pots.
When the Christmas Season is upon us, we take away the fall veggies and add Winter flair.
Make a garland of cheap plastic Christmas balls. Collect, fun shaped sticks, and branches that have lost their leaves. I often spray them gold, red, silver or leave natural to create a beautiful tall accent in pots.
Our flowers do not go back out into nature until March, so we see our Christmas decor morph into "Winter Decor". We remove the balls and other obvious Christmas decor, refresh the greenery in the pots so they look fresh, and we continue to have a Winter theme.
I have been known to stop the car and jump out and cut a unique evergreen from the side of the road (be careful to respect private property).
Three Sisters Planting Method 29 Oct 2019, 9:38 am
- As the eldest sister, the corn offers the beans needed support and a climbing tower.
- The beans, the caring sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
- As the beans grow through the squash vines and up the cornstalks toward the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.
- The large leaves of the squash protects the three plants by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeps it cooler, moist and prevents weeds.
- The prickly squash leaves also deter pests.
We plant the corn in early May (after last frost). Soak the seeds for 4 hours before planting in a slight hill or elevated row and keep the soil moist
When the corn plants are 6" tall we plant squash, pumpkin or zucchini between every other corn.
Then plant pole beans in the skipped spaces. We plant this in long rows, many forms of this technique suggest circles or a square pattern. We find the circle/square is harder to maintain and weed. The row method allows access on both sides to pick vegetables and weed.
Note that this style of planting should be repeated each year as the nitrogen converted by the beans, will not be left till the plants are nearly mature and they have broken down. You may need to use organic fertilizer the first year.
One little trick Brad loves to do is as the watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin vines are dying, he plants his seeds for snow peas in the ground. The vines add a bit of warmth and protection to the young plants. While they are about 6 in long and have not spread- he cuts the summer plants away and lifts then off the new peas.
Enjoy and love you garden!
Pear Harvest Time & Pear Tart Time 6 Sep 2019, 10:09 amOne of our largest crops would be our Pear harvest. We pick nearly 500lbs of pears each fall.
Pear has become such a versatile fruit for us. It gives us so many uses.
We keep about 50 lbs in a cool dry dark location sprinkled with dry lime. We will be able to use the fresh pear in salads, desserts and breakfast fruit for nearly 4 months.
The remaining 450 lbs, we peel, core and freeze in bags of 16 pears each. This gives me food to use for the winter months when the garden is far more selective in what it will produce. Freezing food in a quality manner is a good way to preserve foods.
We also dry about 50lbs as well, that we serve on our Charcuterie trays. Typically we dry, pear, fig, and cantaloupe each year for the Charcuterie Trays.
One of my main uses for pear is to get a large 8-gallon pot and place the frozen pears (96) on a very low stove for 6 hours. I will often add a bit of honey, cinnamon, nutmeg near the end. I pour off the liquid (which is usually about 2 gallon) for our pear juice to serve with breakfast. Then I use my immersible blender and emulsify the pears. I use this puree for charcuterie pear butter, for fruit kolaches, I add it to make my curried pear vinegarette and I
use it in some of my fruit bread.
French Country Tarte
- Crust: whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Add the butter - cut the butter into the flour mixture until you get a pea size course texture. Combine the yogurt and ice water. Using a fork, gradually mix the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture. Pat the dough into a 5-inch round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 25 min.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and prepare the filling. Peel the pears, core them and cut into 1/4-inch slices ( use a mandolin if you have it). In a large bowl toss the pear slices with the lemon juice. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, brown sugar, nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon and toss until the pears are evenly coated. Set aside.
- Place the dough in the bottom of a tart pan. Press chilled dough to the edges and up the pan sides. If the dough breaks - patch it up with your fingers.
- spread the ricotta mixture on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the pears in a fan effect around the top to form a pattern.
- Bake the tart for 15 minutes at 425, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, keeping the tart in the oven all the while, and bake for another 40 minutes, until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.
- In a small bowl stir together the honey and boiling water to make a glaze. When the tart is done remove it from the oven and brush the honey glaze all over the top of the fruit and crust. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Cut into 8 wedges and serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream.
Cold Cocktail Time By the Pool! 22 Jun 2019, 12:07 pm
Pool time - Fun time!
This time of year, nothing says summer better than easing back into a chaise lounge, with a cold delicious cocktail in your hand. As you close your eyes and slowly melt into the cushion with the trickling sound of water cascading from the pool fountain, you begin to feel the slow yet soothing waves of relaxation take over.
Wait - let's add the cocktail!
Daniel- our favorite Cocktail maker and son, has given us an amazing Craft Margarita, which he will be showcasing for us at our wild and crazy Fourth of July bash!
Daniels Secret Craft Margarita Recipe:
My Captain Morgan Rum Punch
2 OZ ORANGE JUICE
2 OZ RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT JUICE (do not use canned)
1 OZ CRANBERRY JUICE
1. COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS INCLUDING CAPTAIN MORGAN COCONUT RUM IN A PITCHER AND STIR.
Marcia's Midori Splash!
- 2 ounces Midori
- 1-ounce vodka
- 1-ounce coconut rum
- 3 ounces of orange juice
- 2 ounces ginger ale
- Shake all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker.
- Pour over ice into a highball glass.
- Garnish with melon balls, and serve.
Spring Always Brings Lots of Growth and Births At the Manor 1 Jun 2019, 10:40 amAs a Fully Farm to Table Inn, renewal is a necessary and rewarding necessity.
Master Chef, Marcia creates all of our artisan cheeses from our own Goats milk. Typically we have 2-3 dairy goats at all times. With this number of lady goats, we receive about 1 1/2 - 2 Gallons a day. Half of our milk goes into Chevre and the other half is used to create our hard cheeses ( Gouda, Cheddar, Asiago, Gorgonzola, etc).
This year we have 8 little adorable kids, that bound around the pastures and show off to our guests.
Many of our egg hens are naturally broody and we encourage this natural method of hatching chicks. We do not use heaters or artificial methods to hatch our chics. Typically in one year, we have 7-9 hens that will hatch out approx 70-90 egg laying chickens. We keep the younger hens and allow these hens to lay for 2 years. After that time we use them as meat for our family, but not guests, as they are larger and not as tender as our younger meat chickens, we use for the guest's entrees.
When the corn is 6 inches tall, beans and squash are planted around the corn, alternating between the two kinds of seeds. This agricultural knowledge has been used for 5,000–6,500 years.
The three crops benefit from each other. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a "living mulch", creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests that bother the corn and beans. Nature working to help nature in a healthy and organic ecosystem.
Wild Foraging 6 May 2019, 11:04 am
|Wild Mustang Grape|