Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gluten-free Breakfasts Made from Scratch at The Buttonwood Inn

At The Buttonwood Inn, when a guest informs us that (s)he requires a gluten-free breakfast, we can provide it.  I refer to my gluten-free cookbook or research recipes on the internet.  Our gluten-free guests can rest assured that they will not become ill while on vacation and can also enjoy the same breakfast as everyone else. 

I prepare a pancake and waffle mix using a gluten-free flour mix that I keep in my pantry. When I bake muffins, quick breads, cookies, brownies, or cakes containing wheat-derived flours, I substitute gluten-free flours.  I also store a gluten-free bread that I make from scratch in the freezer to use in our Baked Cheddar Cheese Omelet or Baked French Toast recipes.

With a little thought and mindfulness, we can provide delicious gluten-free foods at our inn.  Many of our fine area restaurants can also accommodate a gluten-free diet.

Recently, a guest was delighted with his gluten-free pancakes, stating that since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, this was the first time he had them for breakfast.  A few weeks earlier, a father and his daughter (who requires gluten-free) returned to The Buttonwood Inn for their annual hike up Mt. Washington.  On one morning, I prepared a packed "hikers breakfast" containing freshly cut fruit, Morning Glory Muffins, and a Breakfast Panini of scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon.  I substituted gluten-free flour in the muffins and gluten-free bread in the panini. 

Our guest's daughter was also thrilled that I baked her gluten-free brownies that were moist, velvety, and rich in chocolate.  Here's the recipe for them, which I hope you enjoy!

Gluten-Free Velvety Brownies
Yield: 16 2” brownies
Note: low-fat and low cholesterol

2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 egg
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Optional: 1 tablespoon chopped pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8” x 8” pan with vegetable oil.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and egg slightly. Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and vanilla and whisk until blended, but don’t overbeat. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour into baking pan and sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. Bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Friday, June 3, 2011

MAGRR New England - Canine Adoptions

Bill and I have two adopted dogs that reside with us in our owners' quarters at The Buttonwood Inn.  We adopted Clyde, our Black Labrador Retriever/Doberman Mix, in New Jersey five years ago.  His former owner kept him in the basement and one day he escaped.  Unfortunately, he was hit by a car on a busy highway and suffered a severe injury to his back right leg.  Fortunately, a person from the area shelter drove by and rescued him, then arranged emergency surgery at the Raritan Animal Hospital to save his leg.  Clyde healed fairly quickly and now goes on hikes with us.

When we moved to The Buttonwood Inn the Summer of 2007, Clyde had a canine brother from NJ, Gus, a Golden Retriever.  He was rescued by our son, Tom, when he jumped up and down in the dog pound expressing adopt me!  Tom informed me immediately since we lost our beloved Golden to cancer and knew I wanted to get another dog.  When Gus turned nine years old, he contracted mast cell tumor cancer.  At Raritan Animal Hospital, the tumor was removed and he underwent chemotherapy, which put him in remission for a year.

After we moved to NH, Gus was enjoying life roaming the 6 acres around the inn until he developed another mast cell tumor.  Six weeks later he passed on.  Finding it difficult to live without our good-natured Golden Retriever, we decided to adopt another one as a new companion for Clyde who also missed his buddy, Gus. 

In searching PetFinder.com, we found Britt, a Golden Retriever/Collie Mix, at MAGRR (Memphis Area Golden Retriever Rescue).  This is a non-profit rescue organization located in Tennessee fostering and adopting out Golden Retrievers from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas to folks in the Northeast.  They strive to match up dogs with suitable owners by having you fill out a detailed form about yourself and your home environment.  Bill and I recently made a home visit with Britt to a home in Maine to determine if the future Golden Retriever owners would be suitable.  They are and will be matched up with a Golden Retriever that will come up to NH in the next few weeks.  Volunteers from Tennessee drive about 40 dogs in enclosed pens outfitted with beds in a renovated horse carrier.  They make stops in each state over a few days to unite them with their new owners.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vegan Breakfasts at The Buttonwood Inn

Recently, a return guest brought his daughter to stay at The Buttonwood Inn.  He thought he was dropping the bomb on me by stating that she prefers a vegan diet and that she would be satisfied with cereal and fruit for breakfast.  I know that when I go on vacation, I would appreciate being served a special breakfast at a B&B, whether or not I was a vegan. 

Admittedly, I was challenged with the task of creating a vegan breakfast for his daughter.  But the internet always turns out to be my friend and I was able to find recipes with ingredient substitutions.  So I ran off to the supermarket and bought most of what I needed in the health food section.  The more mysterious ingredients were available in The Local Grocer health food store.

Vegans elect to avoid animal protein and dairy products. So I was able to find an egg replacer (soy based) and substituted soy milk for cow's milk.  Vegetable oil can replace butter.  So with a little research and extra effort, I was able to serve our guests the same breakfast items which turned out to be delicious!

Here's a recipe for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Luxuriate in Mt. Washington Valley Spa Treatments

When you come to The Buttonwood Inn for our Romance Package, you can add a body massage spa treatment.  Even if you don't book a Romance Package, you can still opt for a one-hour massage in-house with Moondance Massage, for an additional charge, their therapists set up in your guest room.

If you choose to go off-premises, the massage therapists at Debony Salon in Jackson provide wonderful body relaxation treatments at their salon.  The massage therapists at both salons are experienced and considerate offering various types of massage therapies to suit your individual needs.  Debony Salon is a full-service salon offering facials, hair, and nail care services and also provides services to bridal parties.

Either way, you'll luxuriate during a one-hour body massage releasing all your muscle tensions and stresses.  I've experienced massages at both of these salons and always come away feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated.  I highly recommend that you treat yourself to this delightful, relaxing experience!

To reserve at The Buttonwood Inn for our Romance Package or just stay with us, you can book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Buttonwood Maple Trees are Yielding Maple Syrup

On our 5+ acres at The Buttonwood Inn, we have sugar maple trees that Bill tapped for the past two weeks. After noticing that many of our neighbors collected sap from their sugar maples during March and April, we also wanted to make it ourselves.

There are several ways to collect the sap.  Some folks hook up the traditional metal  buckets attached to the spiles inserted into the tree trunk draining the sap.  Others connect plastic lines to the spiles running from tree to tree accumulating sap in a 50-gallon container.  Bill followed a neighbor's technique of hooking up plastic gallon milk cartons to homemade spiles draining our maple sap.

Depending on how much sap is collected at one time, it can be boiled on the kitchen stove, or some neighbors boil large amounts outside on woodburning stoves.  Since we tapped five of our sugar maples, we've been boiling it on our kitchen stove.

When the cartons are half full, Bill collects the sap and boils it down in a 3-gallon pot on our stove.  It takes about one to two days to boil the sap down into maple syrup.  We've boiled 15 gallons of maple sap, so far, to yield about 1.5 quarts of maple syrup.  Bill and I will use our homemade maple syrup for our own personal consumption. 

We will continue serving maple syrup to our guests from the 4th Place Winner in Yankee Magazine's contest of top maple producers in New England--Fullers Sugarhouse.

If you would like to learn more about maple sugaring techniques, you can explore these links:  http://umaine.edu/publications/7036e/  and  http://www.tapmytrees.com/coprsap.html

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Buttonwood Inn Guest Room Amenities

Bill and I are always thinking of ways to make our inn comfortable and inviting for our guests without them having to ask for anything.  Last year, we added flat screen TVs/DVDs to the remaining guest rooms without them.  Guests can either turn on the news and weather, view their favorite TV show, or play any one of the 300+ DVDs in our Mt. Surprise Room. 

I also bought a few interesting coffee table books for our Living Room like: 

"Bears:  A Brief History" a short read about people's encounters with this mysterious and fascinating animal throughout the centuries all over the world.  Most of our guests are excited about the prospect of sighting a bear when they arrive at The Buttonwood Inn. 

"Space" shows never before seen NASA photos taken in outer space.  One could exlore the universe for hours.

"Smithsonian Natural History" compendium depicts crisp photos and descriptions of all flora and fauna on our "good" Earth.

We also display the "National Geographic World Atlas" so our guests can explore other parts of the world with the aid of our magnifying glass.

Responding to guests requests for the best hiking trails, we also furnished the inn with AMC Hiking Guides and maps to trails of various levels of difficulty to help them plan their daily hikes.

Deneen Pottery now supplies us with hand-thrown inividually made stoneware mugs (previously mentioned on our Blog), which most of our guests have been purchasing as keepsakes!

In our guest rooms, we've upgraded our bathroom towels which are provided by The Turkish Towel Company.  Many guests enjoy using them because they are larger than most towels and, of course, more absorbent and plush.

We also installed shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner dispensers in our showers that are filled with hand-made soap products and mixed by us with a refreshing scent called "Spring Rain."

Check out our Guest Rooms page from time to time to see what else we may be adding to our guest rooms and common rooms for the enjoyment of our guests!  Better yet, book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 to reserve a pleasurable time at The Buttonwood Inn!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two Weekends in March to Sample Maple Treats

On March 19 & 20, the NH Maple Producers are sponsoring an event at over 60 sugarhouses across the state where you can sample their maple syrup products.  The sugarhouses will be open to the public who want to see how maple syrup is made during this time of year. 

The following weekend, March 26 and 27, The Buttonwood Inn, along with other inns in the Bed & Breakfast Inns Mt. Washington Valley association, will host an inn-to-inn tour for guests who stay with us.  Participants will sample sweet or savory treats at each of the inns, learn about “sugaring” at maple sugar houses, and visit participating “Maple Country Partners” shops and vendors along the way.

Those participating in the Maple Madness "March" will have the opportunity to gather points toward winning prizes as they travel a specific tour route guided by directions "riddled with clues." The ticket holder who scores the most points will win a $200 certificate good toward a two-night stay at a participating BBInnsMWV Inn.

Join us at The Buttonwood Inn for this enjoyable and fun event and book on-line or call us to reserve at 1-800-258-2625!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baked French Toast Recipe Published in Pamela Lanier Cookbook

Bill and I were asked to submit our Pecan and Wild Maine Blueberry French Toast recipe (our signature breakfast entree) to be published in Bed and Breakfast Guide for Food Lovers, Bed and Breadfast Collection by Pamela Lanier.  Our recipe is one of 130 recipes submitted by various B&Bs in each of the 50 U.S. states, ranging from sweet and savory entrees to muffins and coffee cakes.

We sold three autographed copies so far and have more books available for purchase at The Buttonwood Inn.  The book is also available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

22nd Annual Chocolate Festival Was a Success!

Our 22nd Annual Chocolate Festival was very successful this year with over 700 folks going to the various inn and business stops in North Conway enjoying chocolate treats of all varieties!  Our guests very much enjoyed the event because they cross-country skied the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Foundation trails, which allowed them to enjoy the guilty pleasures of chocolate while burning off the calories.

At The Buttonwood Inn, participants sampled a dark chocolatey Texas Sheet Cake iced with chocolate ganache and topped with toasted pecans. 

If you enjoy chocolate, book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 now to reserve a two or three-night package for the 23rd Annual Chocolate Festival on February 26, 2012!



2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Chocolate Ganache Icing

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease with butter an 18 by 12-inch rimmed baking pan. 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and sour cream in another bowl until smooth.  Heat the chocolate, butter, oil, water, and cocoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.  Whisk the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture until combined.  Then whisk the egg mixture into the batter and pour into the baking pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack.

For the Icing

About 5 minutes before the cake is done, heat the butter, cream, cocoa, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove from the stove and whisk in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla.  Spread the icing over the hot cake and sprinkle the pecans over it.  Let the cake cool about 1 hour, then refrigerate for 1 hour until the icing is set.  Cut into 3-inch squares.

Monday, February 28, 2011

New!--Hand-Thrown Stoneware Mugs Available at The Buttonwood Inn

Bill and I just received our second order of our newly designed hand-thrown stoneware mugs because our guests purchased more than half of our original order of mugs.  They were designed by us and hand-made by Deneen Pottery.  Each mug is unique since they are made individually with two glazing applications. 

We chose the 10-oz. Queen cup size in plum with burgundy white glazing.  Our guests like to purchase them as keepsakes before they leave The Buttonwood Inn.

Come to The Buttonwood Inn and enjoy your morning coffee or afternoon tea in one of our Deneen Pottery mugs.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February Guests Celebrating Their Silver Anniversary!

Four of our guests, the Galinats and Pierces, from northern New Jersey came up to The Buttonwood Inn for their annual Presidents' Week vacation.  It's a five-day vacation where they cross-country ski, snow shoe, shop, and relax in between their excursions.  This year, however, was special since they celebrated 25 years of staying at our inn.  In fact, they've already prebooked for their 2012 vacation.

Bill and I decided to honor their "Silver Anniversary" by preparing dinner and "breaking bread" with Lorraine, Bill, Laura, and Jeff.  We also surprised them by inviting our neighbors and former innkeepers (who they knew the longest), Claudia and Peter, to celebrate and reminisce about their past experiences at The Buttonwood Inn during the 1990s.  Bill and I enjoyed hearing the stories about the history of the inn.

Laura and Lorraine brought us a beautiful vase of flowers and Bill bought Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  Dinner was served in our Dining Room by candlelight. 

We started with tossed salad dressed with a mustard viniagrette and homemade whole wheat bread with gruyere cheese and walnuts.  The entree was French-Style Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Agri Dolce Carrots, and Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic.  For dessert, we served Baked Apple Dumplings with homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

We had a leisurely meal with our guests who we consider to be friends and look forward to seeing them again next year.  This is one of the most enjoyable parts of innkeeping and we plan to prepare dinner for the Pierces and Galinats again next year.

If interested, here's the recipe for the Baked Apple Dumplings.

Yield:  8 apple dumplings


2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
3/4 cold buttermilk


8 Golden Delicious apples
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons golden raisins, chopped
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

For the Dough:

Process the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined.  Scatter the butter and shortening over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture becomes grainy in texture.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.  Pour in the buttermilk stirring until a dough forms.  Place the dough on a lightly floured counter and knead until well combined.  Press the dough into a 4 by 8-inch rectangle and cut in half cross-wise.  Wrap in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the Apples:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  In a second bowl, combine the butter, raisins, and 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Peel the apples and slice off 1/4-inch off of the top.  Remove the core leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch on the bottom of the apple.  Pack in the butter mixture.

On a lightly floured counter, roll each dough half into a 12-inch square and cut it into four 6-inch squares.  Working one at a time, lightly brush the edges of each dough square with the egg white and place an apple, cut side up, in the center of each square.  Cover the apple one corner at a time, crimping the dough to seal in the apple, leaving a 1/2-inch vent hole at the top.  Cut out leaves out of dough scraps and press on the tops of the apples, if desired. 

Arrange each apple on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush the tops with egg white and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  Bake until golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool the dumplings on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Snowshoeing the Buttonwood Inn Trails

We strapped on our snowshoes yesterday and took the dogs on a hike heading out the back yard to the Buttonwood Trail.  To access it, we walked past the pool house through the neighbor's field to the point where you can either proceed on the Buttonwood Trail or hike the Mt. Surprise Trail.  We chose the Buttonwood Trail following the already trodden path by other snowshoers. 
This trail goes halfway up Bartlett Mountain and we snowshoed from East to West on a path that is just below the rock outcroppings.  We passed over several small streams through woods and partially open fields.  I was reminded that humans were not the only visitors wandering around these woods, as I noticed coyote, deer, turkey, and fox tracks near the trail. 

Just below the rock outcropping on Bartlett, the view opens up to reveal the Moat Mountains and Loon Mountain further west near Lincoln.  Just past this scenic lookout point, we snowshoed a little further and decided to head back down on the loop, rather than proceeding up the steep part of the trail which goes up to the Barlett Ledges.  The view from the Bartlett Ledges is phenomenal because you can see the Moats, North Conway Village, Cathedral Ledge, and off to the Northwest, the Presidentials in all their glory.

We proceeded down the trail and had glimpses of the Moats.  We crossed over a few more small, frozen streams before we connected to the Mt. Surprise Trail, which led us back to the field where we started our snowshoeing hike.  From the Mt. Surprise Trail, you can also hike up Nan's Loop (which is the summit of Mt. Surprise at 900 ft.) to view the Moats.

You too can enjoy these trails.  Just bring your snowshoes or rent them from Ragged Mountain Equipment in Glen for a day.  It's just you and the beautiful, peaceful forest and mountains.  Reserve on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Featured Valentine's Dessert + Recipe

I'm a chocoholic, and a traditionalist, so I plan to make moist Chocolate Cupcakes with a Ganache Filling topped with a Creamy Chocolate Frosting for one this Valentine's Weekend dessert.

The fireplaces in our common rooms will be generating a toasty atmosphere to warm your hearts and create comfort when you return from your winter excursions.  We have discount tickets for the slopes and cross-country/snow shoeing trails. 

We still have some rooms available at The Buttonwood Inn, so please reserve on-line or call us at 1-800-2625. 

If you can't join us this weekend, reserve for another.  Here is the recipe for the yummy chocolate cupcakes.  Enjoy your Valentine's weekend!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield:  12 cupcakes

Ganache Filling

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Ganache Filling

Place the chocolate, cream, and confections sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the mixture is warm to the touch, about 20-30 seconds.  Whisk the mixture until smooth, then refrigerate until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degress.  Line a 12-muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.  Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth.  Refrigerate until completely cool, about 20 minutes.  Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pan cups.  Place one slightly rounded teaspoon of the ganache filling on top of each cupcake.  Bake until the cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes.  Cool the cupcakes in the muffin pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.   Carefully lift each cupcake from the muffin pan and set on a wire rack.  Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
pinch salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (between 85-100 degrees)

Combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer, then place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Heat the mixture, whisking gently but constantly, until slightly thickened and foamy and it registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2-3 minutes.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on medium speed in a standing mixer until it reaches the consistency of saving cream and is slightly cooled, 1-2 minutes.  Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy.  (The frosting may look curdled after half of the butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.)  Once all the butter is added, add the cooled melted chocolate and the vanilla and mix until combined.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the beater and sides of the bowl.  (The frosting can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated covered tightly.  When ready to frost, place the frosting a microwave-safe bowl and microwave briefly until just slightly softened, 5-10 seconds.  Stir until creamy.)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Great Doggie Day Care and Vacation Spot in Conway, NH

During our last two trips, we reserved a "room" for our two dogs, Clyde and Britt, at Karla's Pet Rendevous in Conway, NH.  It's located 15 minutes south of The Buttonwood Inn on Route 16, a convenient drop-off and pick-up point.

Karla's Pet Rendevous is a one-story building set up with a reception area, dog bathing and grooming room, and individual glass-enclosed rooms for the pets to stay during their vacations.  Beds and blankets are also provided, but you provide your pet's food.  The place is clean with no hint of pet or cleaning agent odors.  The staff is friendly and interested in interacting with your pet.  Our dogs were immediately greeted by their caretaker and taken outside in the back yard to play with the other dogs (under supervision to ensure that everyone got along), while we checked them in.

When we returned to pick up Clyde and Britt from both trips a week later, they were calm and quiet, yet happy to see us.  So that is my clue that they were well taken care of while we were away.  I almost didn't recognize Britt, our Golden Retriever/Collie mix, since he was bathed and trimmed/combed of all of his unruly hair (looking 5 pounds thinner).  Clyde was also bathed, groomed, and nails trimmed, providing him with a shiny, new coat.

So if you want peace of mind in leaving your pet under someone else's care while you're traveling, we would highly recommend Karla's Pet Rendevous. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

From the Camden Aquarium to Dinner at Babbo in the Village

When we visited our children last November, we spent time at the Camden Aquarium with our son, Tom, and his wife, Lori.  It's well designed where there are individual exhibits of various fish and marine life from all over the world, including penguins, seals, and hippos. 

The next day, the two boys, Bill and Tom, went with me back to Camden harbor to explore the most decorated battleship in U.S. history, the U.S.S. New Jersey.  The tour guide, a retired Navy officer, elucidated us about the design and workings of the ship which was first used in World War II. Both of these venues are worth a full day of sightseeing.

OK--Now onto the NYC trip with our daughter, Alexandra.  She purchased tickets for the 2010 Tony-award winning play, "Memphis." It was based on an interracial couples' relationship during the late '50s/early 60's with the evolution of blues/soul music as a subplot.  It's definitely a must-see if you're in the City!

Alex made the mistake of asking me where I would like to go for dinner after the play.  I replied, "Mario Battali's restaurant, BABBO, of course!"  She said she would try, but not to get my hopes up.  She lucked out and scored a reservation and we enjoyed an absolutely fabulous meal featuring dishes from the various regions of Italy.  In Italy, every part of the animal is used in culinary preparation and at Babbo in very creative ways.  I plan to add The Babbo Cookbook to my Cookbook Library.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine's Special Dessert - Which one would you like me to serve?

For Valentine's Weekend (February 11-14. 2011), everyone enjoys some type of dessert with chocolate in it!  I have several in mind and would like your input as to which one I should make at The Buttonwood Inn and serve to our guests.

1)  Turtle Brownies - dark chocolate brownies with caramel swirling through them and glazed on top with a whole pecan decorating each square.

2)  Texas Sheet Cake - a thin, moist cake (the height of a brownie) containing two kinds of chocolate (making it almost black since it's so chocolatey) covered with a chocolate ganache icing and chopped pecans.

3)  Chocolate Cupcakes - a chocolate cupcake (with three times the chocolate) that is baked with a chocolate ganache filling on top, then iced with a creamy chocolate frosting (not too much chocolate, in my opinion).

4)  Chocolate Malt Sandwich Cookies - a double cookie sandwich with a malt flavored chocolate filling in the center.

You tell me...hard choices, I know.  Email us at innkeeper@buttonwoodinn.com with your Number 1-4 choices in order of preference.  The second place winner will be made for the Chocolate Festival during February 25-27, 2011.  First and second place winning recipes to follow!

March Maple Madness - Buttonwood Delectable Ice Cream Treat & Recipe!

Come join us and stay at The Buttonwood Inn March 25-27, 2011 for March Maple Madness touring various inns sampling maple-inspired treats.  We will make homemade ice cream this year for participants who will also have a chance to win a stay at any one of these inns as just one of the prizes.

Please check out our March Maple Madness package and book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 to reserve.

Here's our recipe for Maple Pecan Ginger Ice Cream--enjoy!


Yield: About 4 cups

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 cups half and half

5 egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped

½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

In a saucepan, heat the maple syrup and half-and-half until scalding. Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is starting to foam, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the scalded cream mixture while whipping rapidly. Place the combined mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in heavy cream. Let the custard cool, stirring every 5 minutes, to prevent a skin from forming. After slightly cooled, cover with plastic wrap setting it directly on the custard and up the sides of the bowl to prevent the skin from forming. Allow the custard to chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Towards the end of freezing, stir in the pecans and crystallized ginger. Store covered in the freezer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year's Eve Celebration - 2010

For the past several years, we've had guests stay at The Buttonwood Inn on our New Year's Eve package, which includes New Hampshire made chocolates on arrival. 

On New Year's Eve, champagne (or sparkling cider) and appetizers made by Paula are served in our Living Room by the fire followed by a 5-course dinner at the Thompson House Eatery.  At breakfast the next morning, our guests raved about the 5-course dinner because they were able to order from a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts and the servers were friendly and attentive.  The majority also exclaimed it was possibly the best meal they've ever enjoyed!

When our guests arrived back at the inn, if they were still in the celebrating mood, they could have watched the ball drop at midnight in NYC Times Square on our big screen TV in the Mt. Surprise Room by a toasty fire.

Here's a recipe for the crab strudel appetizer that was a big hit, among the other tasty appetizers:



12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

3 scallions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper. Add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

Polar Express Families - 2010

As I take down the Christmas tree, I'm reminded of the weekends that we had families stay at The Buttonwood Inn for the Polar Express event.  After returning from our vacation visiting our children in NYC and NJ, we quickly erected the Christmas tree and decorated the inn inside and out for the first arrival of children and their parents the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I decorated the tree with hand-painted ceramic Christmas ornaments of mice in holiday attire, Peanuts, and Sesame Street characters that I made for our own children's tree when they were babies.  

On the first day of the family's arrival, I baked mini cupcakes decorated with light-green frosting sprinkled with shiny clear sprinkles, resembling freshly fallen snow.  After searching through my huge tin container for the Christmas cookie cutters, I made hand-rolled sugar cookies decorated with Royal icing in seasonal colors, sprinkles, and piped designs.  These cookies were served as a special treat for the children to enjoy dressed in their pajamas in the Mt. Surprise Room watching the Polar Express movie before they boarded train that evening.

Though all of the families expressed that they had a wonderful experience on the Polar Express and visiting Santa at the North Pole, there is one family that made it a complete surprise for their two young children.  Thus, the parents and grandparents were able to observe the surprise and merriment of the children when they finally met Santa Claus.

Another family on the last weekend comprised two mothers with four older children who simply wanted to experience the "magic" of riding the Polar Express, drinking hot chocolate, and singing songs on the way to meet Santa.   After the last family left The Buttonwood Inn, we read their comments in our room guest books writing that they not only felt the majic of visiting Santa at the North Pole, but also felt the majic of The Buttonwood Inn.

This is why Bill and I work very hard to make each families experience memorable and enjoyable allowing us to experience the true spirit of Christmas.                            

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ladies Shoppers Weekend - November 2010

Bill and I enjoyed hosting the fourth year of the ladies shoppers group during the second weekend last November. From the moment they arrived usually by noontime, they began their shopping excursions and girlfriend lunches catching all of the major sales before the Holidays. We reserved a group dinner (22 ladies this past year) at Vito Marcello's Italian Restaurant on Friday night where they arrived via a taxi van.

The next morning, we put out coffee early for them so they were all able to gather in the Living Room in their PJs and talk and laugh before breakfast. Afterwards while Bill cleared the Dining Room, I chatted with them about the good buys they got on clothing (to which Bill retreated to the kitchen). Then the ladies were out the door by 10 am off shopping and lunching in smaller groups.  Bill and I provided them with shopping handbags that had "survival" provisions (drinks and snacks) and the VIP coupon good at most stores.

At the end of the day on Saturday, they came back to the inn to wrap gifts and prepared for their party in the Mt. Surprise Room. They rearranged the furniture so they could all sit together to enjoy drinks, appetizers, stories, and games. Bill and I retreated to our owners quarters and saw them at breakfast the next morning.

So if you would like to reserve The Buttonwood for a shoppers weekend or any other type of group gathering any time of year, we can accommodate your needs in our spacious common rooms and idyllic location nestled in the mountains very near North Conway.