Friday, July 1, 2016

HIKING Mount Kearsarge North

My neighbor and friend, Pennie, and I have been training for the last month by walking our Golden Retrievers, Shawnee and Britt, on the various mountain roads and trails for one to two hours several days a week.  Our mission is to summit the 4,000 footers in the White Mountains

Yesterday, we hiked to the summit of Mount Kearsarge North that we both see from our backyards.  Many of our guests enjoy hiking this trail because it’s located one minute away from the Buttonwood Inn on Hurricane Mountain Road and there is a 360 degree view at the top.   There is also a well-maintained fire tower with a log book for hikers to sign about their experience going up the trail. 

It is not a 4,000 footer, but a very good start because it’s a 6.2 mile round trip strenuous climb that can be achieved in five hours.  We started out at 9:30 am and were fortunate that the day was crystal clear blue sky and sunny with a cool 60 degree temperature.  We reached the summit at 3,268 feet in 3 hours, but we had to stop many times to catch our breath on the steep trail incline.  It gave us a chance to feel the cool breeze and catch the morning sunlight dappling the evergreen trees that the forest offered us. 

About two-thirds of the way up, we came out into the sunlight onto the rock outcroppings.  A little further up, we rested for a time to drink water, eat snacks, and take in the view West of North Conway, the Moats, and Cathedral Ledge and the many mountains beyond. From there, we continued climbing another hour and reached the summit at 12:30 pm.  How exciting it was for us because we’ve been talking about climbing this mountain for several year!.  

Our perseverance paid off because the 360 view was astoundingly beautiful.  We spent an hour at the top having lunch, taking photos, and climbing the fire tower signing the hikers’ log book of our excursion up the mountain.

At 1:30 pm, we proceeded down the trail which seemed much easier on our cardiovascular system as our breathing returned to normal.  The challenge was to carefully proceed down the rocky and root-bound craggy trail until we reached the gently slopping  rock outcroppings.  Back in the forest, we were shielded us from the mid-afternoon sunlight and the dogs were able to dip into several little pools of water to cool down.  The last 20 minutes of the trail rewarded us with a gentle climb down to an almost level trail on the soft pine needles.  Pennie and I reached the end in two hours and “high fived” each other on our first mountain adventure together!  We plan to summit South Moat Mountain on our next hike and will keep you posted.

Come stay with us for your hiking adventure at the Buttonwood Inn and BOOK NOW or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Pierogies are all the rage!

It’s a tradition in our family to make Potato and Cheddar Cheese Pierogies as a side dish for Easter.  It’s a Polish comfort food consisting of a noodle dough pocket encasing the potato cheddar cheese filling, our families' favorite which are consumed as soon as they arrive on the table.

Various cooking magazines and websites have been featuring pierogi recipes with novel fillings like beef, onion, and cheddar; bacon, onion, and spinach; or cottage cheese and blueberries.  My Polish cookbook contains seven different dough recipes and forty different fillings, both savory and sweet.  I also have made mushroom filled pierogies with minced mushrooms, onions, parsley, heavy cream, salt, and pepper.

Shortly after Easter, I was asked by my daughter and her sister-in-law to teach them how to make Potato and Cheddar Cheese Pierogies.  My daughter needed a refresher course having helped her grandmothers make them growing up.  Though it’s time consuming to make about 50 pierogies, I do it in two steps.  First, I make the potato and cheese filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to solidify.  Meanwhile I make two separate batches of the dough in the food processor and let it rest for a half hour.  The gluten in the flour relaxes making it easier to roll out this very forgiving dough.  The trickiest part is carefully lifting the filling on the dough off of the counter and gently holding it to pinch the dough shut.  Once you master this, you can make 50 pierogies in about an hour.  After the pierogies are all formed, boiling each batch of 12 takes about 3 minutes.  I serve them with melted butter and sautéed chopped Vidalia onion.  The creaminess of the filling and the soft delicacy of the dough is to die for!  Check out my recipe.  

I also invite you to come stay with us at the Buttonwood Inn for my creative gourmet breakfasts and afternoon baked treats.  BOOK NOW or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

POTATO AND CHEDDAR CHEESE PIEROGIES                       Yield:  About 48 pierogies


2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
½ cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

In a food processor, blend the eggs, water, and sour cream.  Then add the flour and salt and combine until the dough forms and moves away from the sides of the processor.  Remove the dough, split it in half, wrap it in plastic wrap, and let rest for half an hour to relax it for easy rolling.

Note:  You may have to make one more batch of dough to finish off the potato filling.


4 large Russet potatoes
1 to 1-1/2 pounds extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and boil until fork tender.  Drain and return to pot and mash with a potato masher or run through a food mill.  Add the shredded cheese to the warm potatoes.  Meanwhile, heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until tiny bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat and add the salt and pepper and pour over the potato and cheese combining until somewhat chunky texture,  Do not over mix to a creamy consistency like mashed potatoes because the potato mixture will slip out of the dough when pinching each pierogi.  Let the potato and cheese mixture cool to a firm texture for easy spooning onto the dough circles.

Rolling, filling, and pinching:

Unwrap the dough and slice into quarters and rewrap the three quarters.  Lightly flour a sheet pan and the table or counter and roll out the dough to 1/8” thick.  Cut out 3-1/2” circles with a large plastic drink cup. 

Drop 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of potato cheese filling and begin pulling over the dough to stick it to the opposite side.  Then pick up the pierogi and begin pinching at the ends being careful to stretch out the dough more over the filling to seal it in, then double pinch for a complete seal.  Lay each on down on the floured sheet pan until full and then tap off excess flour to avoid the dough from becoming tough.

Drop one dozen at a time into salted boiling water in a large pot and cook for about 3 minutes until they float to the top.  Give a quick stir if they don’t come up.  You can transfer them to a serving dish with melted butter.  I’ve also sautéed onions until translucent in butter or sage in butter as a sauce.

The rest can be frozen on sheet pan then put in gallon freezer bags for future use.  Note:  Do not defrost the frozen pierogies because the dough will become soft and the filling will leak out.  As soon the water boils, drop them in and cook as directed as above for the unfrozen ones.