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.