Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I can't help myself.

I just received the Spring 2011 issue of Vermont Life magazine (notice the new look?). Heading straight to the food section "Cooking in Season: Spring begins with maple", I was snagged by Lara Atkins' (pastry chef and co-owner of The Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond) recipe for Maple Syrup Pie.

Let's do this.

Gather up a few basic food items. Nothing unusual, just some ordinary ingredients you'll find in your kitchen or down the street at the market: flour, eggs, butter, cream, and maple syrup (grade B). Do yourself a favor and choose fresh, quality products. I have no intention of guilt while indulging in this treat.


First on the list is a ready made, pre-baked pie crust. This is one item I didn't have. Desiring a more localvore and wholesome dessert, I made my own. Visit Simply Recipes if you need help (this makes two, throw one in the freezer), scroll down for further instructions on pre-baking. Only change I made with the crust was to use whole wheat pasty flour in place of all purpose, your choice.

Maple Syrup Pie

1 9" pie crust, prebaked and, ideally, warm
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups maple syrup, preferably grade B
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring maple syrup and cream to a boil and allow to boil for about 20 seconds. Turn off heat but leave pan on burner. Stir butter in to melt completely. Whisk a little bit of maple-cream mixture into the flour mixture to make a slurry and then whisk in the rest. Whisk a little of the maple-cream flour mixture into the beaten eggs and then whisk the tempered eggs back into the maple-cream mixture until completely incorporated. Wow, that's a lot of whisking. Pour hot filling into warm prebaked pie shell. Bake about 50 to 60 minutes until dark golden brown and set in the center such that a sharp knife comes out clean from the center of the pie. Pie will settle as it cools, be patient and give it a chance to cool completely. Serve at room temperature with ice cream and or whipped cream.


Not the prettiest of pies, but we're not done yet.

A sweet, buttery maple carmel rush. Landed me hook, line and sinker.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Run Sap Run

Here it comes.

Clouds of maple steam drift over the Valley. It's early spring, cold nights and warm days have sugar makers firing up their evaporators. Do yourself a maple flavor favor, step inside a boiling sugarhouse and breathe the dense, sweet aroma deep down in your belly, a sort of maple inhalation therapy.

Wednesday was early release day for the district schools. G & P (Gammy and Popi) made the rounds, scooped up the grandkids, and set off in search of the bubbling sap. Not a burning arch to be found, but that didn't stop us from delighting in the ritual sugar shack snack. What better sweet treat to share with a bundle of 4-10 year olds than taffy thick syrup drizzled over a bowl of fresh snow, complete with traditional sides of yeast raised donuts and dill pickles? S'mores are still number one on my list and that may be the result of having used grade B syrup for this confection. My advice: go for the gold, liquid gold, Vermont Fancy.

Our first taste of sugar on snow.

It's a maple party! Syrup here, syrup there, maple threads swirled in our hair.

Last weekend was the 10th annual Vermont Maple Syrup Open House and many sugarhouses continue the hospitality throughout the season. Go on, it's fat free.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beautiful Marvelous Mud

Drivers beware: do you really want to go there?

Photo credit: Craig Goss

Cruising down the back roads in the Valley can be a country girl's dream. Until... this dreaded time of year that has us swallowed up wheel well deep in muck, Mud season. Traveling the unruly rural mud-ways often reminds me of the fairytaleThe Three Billy Goats Gruff. Hiding under that vehicle sucking mess awaits the nasty little troll and, as we white knuckle navigate our cars through the challenging river of sludge, he yanks and shoves and rudely hurls unfair and nerve rattling threats. 
Listen not to the meanie, and by all means, never ever stop the car! Remember the story, how each little Billy goat talked his way over the bridge with tales of a bigger tastier goat on the way? Drive on, maintain your speed, ride the ruts high and let that muddy little demon know there's a Humvee right behind you and he shouldn't spoil his appetite.

Beautiful, marvelous, marvelous mud!

This is one time of the year I don't lament living down the idyllic Vermont country lane.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Have a Feeling

Spring is on the way and she's moving mighty fierce.

Can you hear the roar? Listen.... Nature’s shouting out loud. Mr. Blue Jay outside the kitchen window is sporting a new and unfamiliar tune and the brooks running under the snow pack, not yet visible are thunderously audible. The village dogs down the street converse loudly into the evening along with the young neighbors across the way, celebrating outdoors, a warm (above freezing) Saturday night (or is it Sunday morning). Then again, it could be the coyote's love calls
Spring’s job is momentous here in Vermont and her time frame is brief. So much to do, so little time. Tomorrow is March 17 (happy St Patty's Day to you) and we still have 3 feet of snow in our yard. The snowdrops are working hard (beneath that snow) to break ground and be ready for those first days of warm rains that rinse the valley clean. And though I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, anxious, excited and incredibly exuberant in anticipation of the Spring Peepers chorus, we have yet to get in our fair share of corn skiing. 
So, let's get crackin'.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tele Like Mad

We did it again.

NATO Telemark Festival 2011, Mad River Glen
Once a year my best friend gathers up our friends and colleagues, the best of the best in Telemark camaraderie. And we ski and network and clinic and trade and play and dance and laugh and ski some more....... you get the gist.

 Photo credit: Megan Schultz

I have tolerated the boots all winter, now what to do about this hat.

Telemarkers do justice inside as well.

What did I tell ya.

He dances like no other, this I like. :)

And my favorite: our wrap up of the weekend down in General Stark's Pub sippin a Lawson's and listening to the Valley's Mad Mountain Scramblers.

That was fun!

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Your Turn

Loading up the vehicles and on our way to Mad River Glen for a weekend of pure Tele-foolery and fun. So excited to see and ski with you all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brewing The Finest of Champions

Hello MRV, have you heard the news? A champion has been born brewed!  Yep, on March 5th Warren brew master Sean Lawson of Lawon's Finest Liquids (smallest licensed brewery in Vermont) beat out 127 contenders in a national India Pale Ale competition. Were talking real IPA's here folks, from well known breweries across the land: Sierra Nevada, Harpoon, Sam Adams, Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Port Brewing... among others.

Mad River Valley, I would like to introduce to you the crowned champion of Brewing News' 2011 National IPA Championship:

Lawson's Finest:  "Triple Play IPA".

Photo credit: Sean Lawson

A juicy tropical flavor with a tantalizing floral aroma sounds just about right for a sunny day after a record breaking late winter storm. Who couldn't use a little malt backbone with a one, two, three punch, an IPA I shall be honored to know bitter. Here's to going all the way Sean Lawson, you've done us proud!

I searched high and low to find a true sample of this winner to photograph, but as many of you know this is a crafted in the heart of Vermont lable that is well sought after (as it should be).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Somewhere in the Valley, on this late winter day, a tomato is waiting to happen.

We had the freshest lunch in town today, right here in our very own kitchen. Down the street in greenhouses surrounding the Kingsbury Market Garden Farm Suzanne and Aaron are raising these amazing little salad greens. Imagine eating a salad so vibrant you'd swear it was still growing as you gobble it down... we just did. And if you really want the perfect meal grab one or two of their fresh made pizza shells, add a little homemade marinara sauce and your favorite extra sharp cheddar, perfect company along side these fresh baby leaves.

Now, about that tomato...

Aren't they adorable? Wanna see something else sweet?

Tonions: a ton of tiny onions. :) Makes me want to get my hands dirty.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Told You So

See what happens when you (I) quit your (my) whining. March 3rd, -4 degrees and the sun is my hero (so's the fellow in the blue coat). 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Love You/I Love You Not

I used to not like winter. I mean really, really, hate not like winter. Just ask my best friend. Here's how I saw things...

No Morning Skinny Dips in the Pond (yeah, that's water under the three and half feet of snow and 8 inches of ice)

No Outdoors Picnic Lunch Breaks

No Smokey Ribs and Chicken for Dinner

No Telling Stories 'Round the Campfire into the Wee Hours of the Night.

That's the abbreviated list.

Then I discovered if you get outside a little each day, no matter the weather, you make a connection with 'Ol Mother Earth that hits you right upside the head (and heart). We live in one of the most beautiful environments on the planet and it's so much fun to play in (it's a given).

However, I'm sensing a twinge of "It's been a long cold winter" blues comin' on. Haven't seen my garden, bicycle, canoe, or flip flops in over four months and I'm dreaming of sweet green peas fresh out of the pod. A little garden dirt under the fingernails would suit me fine just about now.

I know....I'm on my way out the door. Wanna come?