Monday, March 28, 2016

Maple Sugaring in New Hampshire

In late February and most of March, when the weather is above freezing during the day and below freezing at night, many folks in New England begin tapping sugar maple trees.  The rising temperatures creating pressure below and above the ground in the maple tree cause the sap to flow.  The girth of the maple determines how many taps to put into it.  The sap resembles water and tastes slightly sweet. 

March is when the New Hampshire Maple Syrup Producers open their doors each weekend to visitors viewing their large scale sugaring operations where many sell maple syrup to candies.  We serve award-winning maple syrup at breakfast made by the multi-generational, family-run business Fuller’s Sugarhouse in Lancaster, NH. Their grand scale operation produces more than 4,000 gallons of maple syrup each year. 

When we moved up to New Hampshire from New Jersey, we saw that some of our neighbors tapped their maple trees running plastic lines from tree to tree emptying sap into a plastic barrel.  We decided to join in the fun and tap some of our sugar maples, including one over 100 years old.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to yield 1 gallon of dark, thick maple syrup but we pressed on not caring how long it would take us to boil it down.

Bill drilled a hole into the tree and hammered in a copper spile that he fastened to an empty plastic milk jug collecting the sap.  Each day, we would empty the sap into a large stock pot, bring it to a boil on our gas stove, turn off the flame, and let the heat from the pilot light under the pot generate enough heat for condensation of water in the sap to occur.  A slower process that took about one week, but the end result was the same as if we boiled it constantly.  The sap eventually reduced down to a dark amber maple syrup that was thick and sweet.  Our small scale operation yielded over 1-1/2 quarts of syrup which we proudly bottled for our children in New Jersey.

Our neighbor was more ambitious. He boiled sap on a wood fire pit near the edge of the forest where he tapped the sugar maples.  This larger scale home operation was more efficient because plastic tubes were connected to taps in about a dozen maple trees dripping sap into several large containers.  The sap was emptied into metal trays and boiled over the fire at a faster rate.  The wood was replenished all day until the sap became maple syrup.  The family rotated monitoring the sap boiling process.  It’s an enjoyable way to spend the day in an idyllic setting of forest, stream, and mountains.

Outdoor photos courtesy of Brian Boyle
Bottled photo courtesy of Bill Petrone

Friday, March 11, 2016

March Maple Madness Inn-to-Inn Tour – March 19, 2016

If you enjoy maple flavored treats, both sweet and savory, come stay at the Buttonwood Inn on March 18 and 19, 2016 for the March MapleMadness inn-to-inn tour.  Participants travel to the inns and maple sugar houses sampling maple-inspired treats and  receive the recipes.  If you go to each inn and obtain the puzzle piece, you will have a chance to win first prize of a $200 gift certificate for a weekend stay at any of these inns, including other gifts in the basket.

It’s a fun event because you not only sample maple treats, but tour each inn while meeting the innkeepers.  Some folks are interested in the Buttonwood Inn history which we elucidate them on or they can read it on our wall in the Mount Surprise Room.  It’s a full day of stops at ten inns and five sugarhouses where you can view their sugaring operations.

You can reserve online or call us at 1-800-258-2625 for this fun-filled and delicious event!

Chef Paula will be making Maple Ice Cream with Grade B maple syrup that is darker amber and more concentrated in flavor purchased from  Fuller’s Sugarhouse.  We serve their Grade A Amber maple syrup at breakfast.  Try this very “mapley” and creamy ice cream recipe:

Maple Ice Cream

2/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
1-3/4 cups heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl of half ice and half water.  Heat the maple syrup in small saucepan over medium heat, simmering until reduced by a quarter, about 5 minutes, and set aside.

Heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until just simmering, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk the yolks in a medium bowl until light in color and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Once the milk mixture is simmering, remove from the heat and pour about ½ cup into the yolks, whisking constantly.  Return the yolk mixture to the saucepan with the milk mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes (when you run your finger on the back of the spoon, the line should not run back onto itself).

Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the maple syrup reduction and salt.  Pour the custard into a strainer into a large bowl and place it over the ice bath until chilled, about 40 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Then freeze the ice cream custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

27th Annual Chocolate Festival…

…is always a popular event on the last Sunday in February because chocolate lovers can cross country ski or snow shoe the trails, while consuming chocolate treats along the way.  Other participants walk or drive to each chocolate laden stop.

The Buttonwood Inn was off the beaten path and folks came up to our Bed and Breakfast sampling Paula’s chocolate delights and toured the inn.  Our inn was open from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. A few of the participants mentioned that they had been doing the Chocolate Festival for many years skiing the trails and stopping at points in North Conway village, but didn’t have enough time to come to the Buttonwood Inn. When they heard from others that our chocolate treats were the best, they had to come up this year to sample it.  A mother and daughter who live nearby came in just under the wire and asked, “Can we still receive the chocolate treat because we heard yours was the best?”  I said, “You’ve come all the way up here, so, of course, you can try a mini blackout cupcake.”  As they ate it, their faces expressed joy of the chocolate deliciousness and said, “We are so glad we made it up here because this is the best chocolate treat today.”  Every chef likes to hear their food is the best we’ve ever eaten because you know and your guests know how much attention and love you put into preparing it.

When I researched various chocolate recipes, I thought that a Chocolate Blackout Cake, a three-layer very dark chocolate cake (almost black) with chocolate pudding layers and frosting coated with chocolate cake crumbs, would be irresistible no matter how many chocolate treats were already consumed.  We were pretty much the last stop, but it was unanimous by everyone that the velvety dark chocolate pudding coated with dark chocolate cake crumbs on top of the moist, black chocolate cake layer was exquisitely luscious.  

Later at our afternoon tea service, I served our guests a regular sized Blackout Cupcake who commented, “this was the best cupcake they’ve ever had.”  I make cupcakes every Saturday afternoon because they are so popular among everyone.  When guests see them on the buffet table, I enjoy hearing them exclaim, “Oooh, cupcakes!”  We never found any left on the plate the next morning.

Reserve online for next year's Chocolate Festival or anytime at the Buttonwood Inn or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Have fun trying this recipe.

Chocolate Blackout Cupcakes

Yield:  About 30 cupcakes


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Fill cupcake pans with paper liners. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then stir in cocoa for about 1 minute.  Take off the heat and whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla and add to the flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake papers with the batter.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.  Reserve 2 to 3 cupcakes to grind into crumbs in a food processor.

Pudding Frosting:

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, cook the sugar, chocolate, half-and-half, milk, cornstarch and salt over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes, or longer.  Stir in the vanilla and pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap tightly to the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight until cold and very thick.

Frost each cupcake with a ½ inch thick layer (or more) of pudding frosting and sprinkle cupcake crumbs on top.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Polar Express Excitement in December!

Tickets are now available for this year's Polar Express event. Call for details at 1-800-258-2625.

Here is what you will have to look forward to so don't delay.

As the first families began arriving for their Polar Express experience this past December, the Buttonwood Inn was decorated throughout as Bill and I had begun decorating the week before Thanksgiving.  Our own children are married and live in New Jersey, so we do not always get to spend the holidays with them.  We are transported back to those Christmas holidays we experienced with our own children when families arrive at the Buttonwood observing their excitement and wonder as the children “discover” all the Inn has to offer.  Cupcakes and hot chocolate await them on our Dining Room table at our afternoon tea service.  On Saturday afternoon, I put out my hand-decorated sugar cookies for the children and their parents to enjoy before they leave for the Polar Express train ride.  

The Journey to the North Pole - Polar Express event is a re-creation of the 1985 Chris Van Allsburg book and the 2004 animated movie starring Tom Hanks.  It originated in North Conway back in the 1990’s.  On Saturday, our families arrive at the Victorian Conway Scenic Railroad station located behind the charming New England green, which faces the decorated shops and restaurants.  The slopes of the Cranmore Mountain Ski Resort, which overlook the town, are all lit up and conjure up visions of Santa Claus and his reindeer’s impending arrival.  Everyone is ushered onto the train traveling through the forest to the North Pole where the magical journey begins.   

Back here at The Buttonwood Inn, when we are all alone, we can hear the train whistle blow several times marking the beginning of the Polar Express journey to the North Pole.  That train whistle always sparks my memory of our Polar Express experience several years ago.  We were caught up in the merriment of the passengers singing carols while hot chocolate and candy was passed out by the chefs on the train.   Upon arriving at the North Pole, we all filed off the train and proceeded up the lantern-lit path while being greeted joyously by elves.  When I looked back down the hill at the Polar Express lit up inside waiting for us to return, I felt like we were seeing the same vision of it as if we were in the movie. 

The next morning at breakfast, the children happily tell us about meeting Santa Claus and show us the bells that they received from Santa. There is joy in air as the children of the different families finish breakfast and head down to the Mount Surprise Room to play games with each other.  We had two fathers take turns on Saturday and Sunday mornings leading the children in playing “Cooties.”  The young children were laughing and squealing with delight so loudly that one of the mothers and I ran down to make sure they were happy noises…of course, they were.  This kind of merriment is what we take pleasure in most when families or other guests come stay with us because they are comfortable enough in our home to share their cheerful moments with us. 

Several families have come back to The Buttonwood Inn for the Polar Express.  If you are interested in coming back or you would like to reserve with us for the first time, please call us at 1-800-258-2625 for information and pricing.

PO Box 1817  64 Mt. Surprise Rd.  North Conway, New Hampshire 03860-1817800-258-2625  603-356-2625  Fax: 603-356-3140  Send us an E-mail!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March Maple Madness!!! Maple Meatballs Recipe

Today, March 21, 2015, from 10 am to 5 pm, we received many visitors to The Buttonwood Inn for the annual March Maple Madness inn-to-inn tour.  In order to win the grand prize, we provided them with answers to questions and a piece to solve the puzzle.  The participants also sampled maple inspired treats, either sweet or savory, at each stop.  Check out our package and book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 for next March 2016! 

I created a low fat recipe of Maple Meatballs that are my riff on Swedish Meatballs made with ground turkey.  I've been obsessed lately with incorporating toasted and mashed juniper berries in sauces for various meats and fish.  When toasted and mashed, juniper berries are complex and smell like the forest with honey, pine, berry, and bitter at the end.  I added them to the sauce, while adding garam masala to the meatballs.  Here's the recipe which is great as an appetizer or entree served with creamy polenta, rice, or pasta.

MAPLE MEATBALLS                                           Yield:  About 50 1-inch size

2 pounds ground turkey
½ cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon juniper berries, toasted and mashed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Form into 1-inch meatballs and drop with a 1” cookies scoop into a hot saucepan in 2 tablespoons of canola oil until browned on both sides.  Fry in several batches (may need to add more oil to the pan) and place on a sheet pan until all are done.

In the empty sauce pan, add chicken broth, maple syrup, juniper berries, bay leaf and bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile mix the corn starch and water until dissolved and add to the pan to thicken the sauce.  Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.  Then add meatballs and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes until completely cooked.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snow Shoeing and Trail Mapping

All of us who live on Mount Surprise and Abbot Brook Roads that border Bartlett Mountain have been reveling in the fact that we can strap on the snow shoes and hit the trails.  The soft snow this winter has also been perfect for downhill and cross-country skiing. 

This afternoon, Bill and I strapped on our snow shoes and “bootied up” the dog to map out the Buttonwood Inn and Mt. Surprise Loop Trail beginning in our back yard. This is the first of many more trail maps on Bartlett Mountain we will create for guests to download on their Smart phones and follow without getting lost. 

It was a balmy 39 degrees Fahrenheit with a crystal clear blue sky with not a cloud in it.  The sunlight revealed the glittery snow in the field and the shaded path reflected blue on it.  Britt’s (the dog) coat exposed its pinkish red hues that complemented his red booties, so I nicknamed him “Ginger.”  We were taking in the view of the Moat Mountains at our favorite spot on the Buttonwood Inn trail.

Along this loop trail, we observed a lot more deer track paths intersecting the snow shoe trail this year.  We also noticed the hollowed out snow where they slept.  It’s a good sign that the coyotes have gone deeper into the Whites for the winter allowing the deer population to flourish.

All along the trail, we periodically stopped listening to the quietude of our enchanted forest.  Once along it, we heard a bird chirping in the distance, otherwise nothing but peace.  This is the attraction not only for us to enjoy the serenity, but for our Buttonwood Inn guests and neighbors too.

If you want to explore these beautiful, peaceful trails behind the Buttonwood Inn, you can reserve online or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Valentine’s Day – a celebration of love…

And romance in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.  It is believed that Valentine’s Day may have originated in the 5th Century in Rome, while there are other versions on how it may have begun at

The first time I became intrigued with this holiday, I was in grammar school in the 1960’s and our teacher encouraged us to handout simple Valentine’s cards to each member of the class.  When I went to middle school, this tradition ended.  In high school, I met my real Valentine in my late teens and we’ve been exchanging cards and chocolates since then.  We like to keep it simple because we both feel it’s more important to show our love and appreciation for each other every day with modest gestures.

Valentine’s Day weekend is also fun for us as innkeepers because we are fully booked at The Buttonwood Inn and have a lot company.  During this cold winter weekend, Bill has both fireplaces roaring in the Living Room and Mount Surprise Room making it cozy for everyone.  It gives me the chance to bake chocolate confections for afternoon tea service and make more creative gourmet breakfasts.  Since I’ve been making breads lately, I plan to make a new sweet breakfast of Cinnamon Swirl French Toast stuffed with Hazelnut Chocolate, Slivered Almonds, and Bananas.

If you would like to join us next year, check out our Valentine Weekend Lovers Package and reserve online or call us at 1-800-258-2625/

For family, friends, and guests we will not see on Valentine’s weekend, we wish you a lovely and romantic one with your sweetheart.

Monday, July 7, 2014

B&B's best food Daily Meal


“providing the best in service, hospitality, and attention to detail”

Bill & Paula Petrone
Innkeepers at the Buttonwood Inn
P.O. Box 1817
North Conway, New Hampshire 03860-1817
Fax: 1-603-356-3140

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Can you guess what this is a photo of?

This photo was taken during the Photography Workshop: Winter Landscapes.  Joe Klementovich, local professional photographer, provided guidance to the amateur teenage photographer who wanted to learn more after taking a photography course in school.  Having learned the mechanics of operating his camera, this student wanted to go out in a natural setting and apply his knowledge in a creative way.  He proved that he has an artistic eye in shooting photos from zeroing in on the minute aspects of nature to capturing a landscape. #Winterlandscape of #WhiteMountains.

Joe took this young man and his father out to Diana’s Bath during the morning shooting many photos.  Joe’s style is to provide guidance on camera use and allow the student to freely shoot photos.  Afterwards, they came back to The Buttonwood Inn #TheButtonwoodInn for lunch prepared by me and reviewed the photos.  Joe goes into the semantics of photography providing information on whether the shot is good or how it can be improved upon.  Other workshop participants favorably remarked that they felt the workshop was beneficial and enjoyable because of the intensive one-on-one instruction.
If you enjoy photography and are either new to it or more experienced, you may want to sign up for this half day workshop on Winter Landscapes held on March 21, 2015 or the Photography Workshop:  Capture Waterfalls held on April 18, 2015

Check out our two-day photography workshop packages at #TheButtonwoodInn for Winter Landscapes or Capture Waterfalls.  You can either reserve on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 today!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our Guest Friendly Outdoors in the Forest

Bill and I wake up to a morning like every other looking out our windows viewing Merriman State Forest and various mountains which are part of the Green Hills

For example, if we look out our office and kitchen windows in the morning light, we see Bartlett Mountain and notice the wildlife, mainly birds.  On some mornings, we may get visited by a bear cub trying to scoff up some bird seed for its breakfast.

We've noticed over the past seven years of innkeeping at The Buttonwood Inn, that guests enjoy our acres of serene property as much as we do. We have purchased some very comfortable cedar Adirondack chairs, double benches, double Adirondacks, and an 8-foot long picnic table/benches, coffee table and various birdhouses from local Jackson woodworkers, RandR Woodworkers, who hand-cut and screw all furniture together from scratch.  Bob and Robin (the R&R in R&R) make a great product.

Here are a few photos of the woodworking as Bill prepared to stain it with Cabot Australian Timber Oil.


Of course, whether it's hiking or snowshoeing you can always take the Buttonwood or Mt. Surprise trails right from our backyard and explore to your heart's content!

July 4th Cookout at The Buttonwood

July 4th  Cookout at The Buttonwood Inn

As the summer approaches, we thought we'd talk about activities and events at The Buttonwood Inn this past July onward in this blog.  

2013 was another great year at the Buttonwood because we welcomed back many return guests and new guests who stayed with us from 3 to 12 days.  We enjoy it when guests stay for longer periods of time because we get to know them much better.  We especially enjoy it when our return guests come through the door because it feels like friends came to visit again.  We catch up on each other lives and we all feel comfortable and at home.

During the July 4th holiday week of 2013, we had several families return and stay nearly the full week.  The weather was beautiful, but hot, which was great because all of our guests returned early to mid-afternoon.  They either swam in the heated pool, relaxed on the recliners, or conversed over a glass of wine by the table under the umbrella.  The children and adults also played the bean bag and ball string toss lawn games in the back yard, and the croquet game set in the front yard garden area.

Last summer, we added a new 10-foot long cedar picnic table, benches, and more Adirondack chairs from R&RWoodworkers.  In June, we purchased more vinyl Adirondack chairs to accommodate more guests in the evening around the fire pit.  We also purchased more pool tubes and lawn games for our guests of all ages to enjoy.

The Saturday after July 4th, we invited all of our guests to a backyard cookout.  Everyone attended and got to know each other.  Paula made potato salad, pasta salad, and baked beans.  Bill manned the grill making hot dogs and hamburgers.  The hamburgers were especially delicious because the Johnson family provided their ground beef and goat combination burgers from animals raised organically on their farm.

We set out the food on the new picnic table and everyone gathered around to eat and tell their stories.  It was particularly enjoyable for Bill and me because we don’t get to spend time with our own families during holidays and our guests allowed us to be a part of their families for this short time.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our Story
We are always asked the question by our guests, “Why did you become innkeepers?” Here is our story…
In the winter of 2007, we made the serious decision to leave New Jersey and purchase a Bed & Breakfast in New England. We almost bought one in Brattleboro, Vermont but decided it wasn't the perfect place for us. We continued on with our search in New Hampshire and Maine. Though we had often vacationed in Maine and enjoyed the seacoast, we were not convinced that we should live and work there. After viewing several Bed and Breakfasts in New Hampshire, we fell in love with The Buttonwood Inn. In the heart of winter, we were amazed by the amount of snow and the serene beauty and peacefulness. Driving past the Village Green in North Conway that evening, we spied families ice skating and marveled at all the shops and restaurants decorated in holiday lights and holiday greenery, as snow fell around us. Above the town, Cranmore Mountain’s ski slopes lit up the night sky creating a veritable winter wonderland. We were sold!
The inn is located on nearly six acres on Mount Surprise with access from our back door to the hiking trails in and around Merriman State Forest and Bartlett Mountain. This location was particularly appealing to us because we wanted our guests to be able to explore the peaceful surroundings and enjoy the solitude, while being only minutes away from the village and wonderful shops and restaurants.
Please Join Us in The Heart of New Hampshire's White Mountains 
Innkeepers: Bill and Paula Petrone
PO Box 1817  64 Mt. Surprise Rd.  North Conway, New Hampshire 03860-1817
800-258-2625  603-356-2625  Fax: 603-356-3140  Send us an E-mail!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Latest Improvements at The Buttonwood Inn

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Paula and I as we complete the addition of a new roof and thirteen new energy efficient windows on the West Wing of the Inn.

The roof is burgundy in color which is our dining room's theme color. The contrast with the clear blue sky really sets the old facade off nicely.

Once the roof was done and the windows arrived the job of removing the old windows, and storm windows took a few days but it's always best to take your time when removing both the outer and inner trim to preserve as much as possible for the installation. 

We had extra insulation on-hand to make sure that the benefits gained form these multi-paned, vinyl clad windows wasn't lost on leaks around the perimeter of the windows.Even though the forest and mountains surrounding the Inn are very quiet we immediately noticed that the rooms were even quieter. The other benefit was that more light is now let in compared to the older windows. Another plus, the new windows are super-easy to clean both inside and out now and both Paula and I were amazed by how simple it is to remove the new windows totally from the frame, pop out the screens and, voila, gain easy access to the 2nd floor roof and front and side of the dormers! This is going to make cleaning and touch-up in the future a breeze!



On my next installment of this renovation project I'll let you know how we made out with the final exterior and interior trim patching, priming, and painting.

Please Join Us in The Heart of New Hampshire's White Mountains 
Innkeepers: Bill and Paula Petrone
PO Box 1817  64 Mt. Surprise Rd.  North Conway, New Hampshire 03860-1817
800-258-2625  603-356-2625  Fax: 603-356-3140  Send us an E-mail!