Sunday, June 20, 2010

"The inn thing was a pleasant surprise"--nashua

Recently, Richard Learned and his wife, Jan, stayed with us at The Buttonwood Inn.  Bill and I very much enjoyed their visit to the inn.  It's alway fascinating learning about folks from the "greatest generation" and listening to their stories.  Our parents were from this era too and it brings back fond memories of their experiences.

Richard is a writer of books and a weekly column for the Sunday Nashua Telegraph.  Surprisingly, he was interested in interviewing us for an upcoming article about in-state (NH) vacations as an alternative to more expensive lengthier vacations taken by most people pre-Great Recession.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bird watching at the Buttonwood

Just four years ago, it was determined that in the U.S. there were 3,000,000 dedicated bird watchers.  Bill and I have been fascinated for years watching birds.  

As a result, we put out feeders with bird seed all year round and hummingbird feeders in the spring and summer.  Bill makes the sugar syrup with a ratio of 3 cups of water brought to a simmer, then stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved; let solution cool completely before adding to the feeder.   

On occasion the hummingbird feeders have attracted a bear, which soon learned that in trying to drink the syrup, it didn't get any "bear candy" because he drained it onto the ground when knocking off the bottom of the feeder.  Last time that happened, our guests were very amused and privileged to see a young bear on our front porch and captured the event on film.

In our New Hampshire location, we are amused by hummingbirds throughout the day from May until early September when they fly off to South America for the winter.  We've seen countless other types of birds from piliated woodpeckers to Cooper's hawks.  When you come to The Buttonwood Inn, you can view a video in the Mt. Surprise Room of our wonderous nature, both fauna and flora.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Time to harvest the rhubarb and make cake!

Time to harvest the rhubarb this weekend.  I usually get about 70-80 stalks from the two plants growing in the yard behind the inn.  It seems every other neighbor grows rhubarb up here in New Hampshire, since it's a cool season, perennial plant.

I clean it and slice it up in the food processor and freeze it in separate plastic bags to use in my Honey Rhubarb Walnut Bread.  But I wanted to try a dessert recipe for Memorial Day as we had friends over for a barbecue.  Here's a wonderful recipe for Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake that is packed with flavor due to the tart, yet sweet, flavor of the rhubarb accented with orange zest on top of a dense, buttery cake.

RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE              Yield:  1 10-inch Round Cake, Serves 10

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10-inch round cake pan and dot with 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces.

Crumb Topping

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

Mix together until moist and crumbly, and put aside.


1 pound rhubarb sliced sharply on the diagonal ½-inch thick
¾ cup sugar

Toss rhubarb with sugar and let stand a few minutes, then toss again.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon of orange juice
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread rhubarb evenly in the baking pan over the dotted butter. Then spread cake batter over the rhubarb and crumble topping evenly over batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.