Friday, September 19, 2014

Autumn in the Manchester Area

It’s inevitable – it happens every year – nothing I’ve ever been able to do to stop it!  The days get cool and crisp and get a lot shorter, the mums and pumpkins appear everywhere, the leaves turn:  you know the drill.  Some people thrive on this – I think it’s because it’s the last gasp of life before hibernation sets in.  And things certainly get active in Manchester and the Mountains this time of year!

September 20th  SVAC has “Art on the Hill” featuring arts, craft, music and all kinds of kids activities.

Saturday is also the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure – get out and run and do some giving back.

Mark Twain is making an appearance at The Dorset Theater – September 18th – 20th – an evening not to be missed, I’m sure.

Next weekend is the annual Peru Fair (September 27th) – if you’ve never been, this is one you shouldn’t miss.  They start with a parade that’s so short they parade down the street and then turn around and come back.  It’s adorable!  But the fair is a great country tradition – great artisans, music, kids’ activities and a fabulous pig roast.  What could be better.

The first weekend of October brings back the Weston Antiques Show and the Southern Vermont Crafts Fair…two of our favorite area festivals.

Columbus Day weekend features the Weston Crafts Show and The Dorset Players – our local thespians are bringing “The Heiress” to our Dorset Theater stage – Henry James’ classic tale of life in Washington Square


In between all of these happenings, there’s hiking, biking, leaf peeping, shopping, dining, or just plain relaxing.  I guess I can see why people like this time of year – OK, I’m convinced!!

Whatever your preference is, you can probably find it here in Dorset – give us a call – pay us a visit!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Enjoying Vermont

Chefs don't get much quality time outside of the kitchen. Luckily for us, we are surrounded by the great outdoors and Mother Nature's endless possibilities. This summer I was able to take two fishing and kayaking excursions to a few of my favorite spots!

Lake Champlain
The Connecticut River




















I was able to get away up to Lake Champlain with my son for a kayaking trip -- Now, there's a way to truly enjoy and appreciate all Vermont has to offer!

Back in the kitchen we've spent this summer enjoying all Vermont has to offer in terms of Mushrooms. Here is Chef Neil with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms delivered fresh from Ed!

Ed, Chef Neil, and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms




Here is another one of our favorite guys, Jameson -with all his mushrooms!












Thanks to both Ed and Jameson for keeping us in fresh local products!

Cheers to enjoying Vermont!
Chef Mark

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

21 Days Later

This is not a zombie blog. It is the incubation period of a chicken egg. Fertilized eggs will hatch after about 18 days -- you may even be able to hear the chick peeping in the egg and in response the mother hen will start to cluck back as encouragement for the chick to hatch. The mother hen will sit on as many eggs as she can, even those she did not lay. She might even move eggs from the nest boxes next to hers!


We take the chick out of the nest within a few hours after hatching. This serves multiple purposes -- the first being it allows the chicks the chance to dry out. The second reason for removal is to protect them from other chickens killing them in a natural reaction to something small, out of place, or just different.


We keep the chickens separated from the older birds because, first and foremost, the chicks only have down feathers after being hatched and aren't able to keep heat in until their real feathers develop. So, for the first part of their lives they are kept under heat lamps. After the heat lamps, the chicks are kept in a separate pen visible to the older chickens. This allows for all the animals to get acclimated to each other without putting the baby chicks at risk.

The term "pecking order" is directly related to a flock of birds as any change (loss or gain) will directly affect the hierarchy of the flock.


Cheers,
Chef Jason and daughter Rowan

Monday, August 25, 2014

Labor Weekend in the Manchester Area

Labor Day Weekend seems to be a natural time to celebrate the end of a fantastic summer and say hello to the start of an exciting autumn in Vermont. The warm days are turning into cool nights and it's time to turn in bathing suits for bonfires! Looking for fun things to do? No worries, you don't need to go very far! This coming weekend there are many different options for excitement!

Stratton Mountain has multiple events including a Food & Wine Event entitled "The Full Palatte." Aug 30 - 31, 2014. Celebrate the harvest at Full Palette, southern Vermont’s premier farm-to-table food festival. This two-day event unites a quintessential country farmer’s market with the culinary expertise of top chefs from Vermont and beyond.
Meet and greet local farmers, artisans and craftspeople in the Full Palette Pavilion. Learn new tricks directly from the pros during cooking demonstrations. Roll up your sleeves at one of the intimate, hands-on workshops. There’s something for every palate, including a Junior Iron Chef competition for aspiring chefs aged 12-18.


For more information about events at Stratton please follow the link: http://www.stratton.com/events-and-activities/index.aspx

If you are interested in staying closer to home, you will be lucky enough to be able to catch the last few productions of the highly acclaimed show "The Mousetrap" at the Dorset Theatre Festival. “Blood, gore, black humor, circuitous chatter…the play is substantial and the characters not just cardboard cut-outs. It’s woderfully structured – up there with A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — The Guardian.


For more information about the wonderful production, show times, ticket prices, or The Dorset Theatre Festival in general please follow the link: http://www.dorsettheatrefestival.org/

For something a little different, right up the road from Barrows House at Merck Forest and Farmland Center there will be a free concert from 5pm - 7pm on Saturday, August 30th. Bring your lawn chairs, blanket and a picnic supper to the evening bluegrass concert at Merck Forest and Farmland Center. Snake Mountain Bluegrass and the Connor Sisters will be playing in the Sap House, and people are welcome to set up inside or listen to the music from the Sap House deck.


For more information regarding the concert please follow the link: http://merckforest.org/news-events.php

Enjoy all Vermont has to offer this Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mud season is well behind us, the days are longer and the mercury is rising. I am often asked if there is anything to do in the area and I always respond……there is as little or as much as you want to do. From napping in a hammock, curling up with a book in a sunny window seat to the more thrilling activities of zip lining, there is certainly plenty of things to do for everyone.
Wildwood Berry Farm and Merck Forest are open to the public and blueberry picking is now in season.
The Dorset Quarry is the oldest marble quarry in the United States and is now a local swimming hole and well known for its jumping cliffs.
The Northshire Bookstore was founded in 1976 and has been a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Grab a coffee at Spiral Press Café and immerse yourself in some decadent summer reading.
Experience the first Aerial Adventure Park built in Vermont, featuring 63 elements spread over 5 courses, or the one-of-a-kind thrill of the half-mile-long, 50 MPH Sun Mountain Flyer, a ZipRider! Fun for the entire family!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Locally Foraged Mushrooms!!!

Fantastic. It has been a banner year for mushrooms! One of the pluses of cooking in Vermont is the natural variety of the seasons. First the Morels and now the boom of the Chanterelles and the Black Trumpets. The Hen of the Wood and the Chicken of the Wood will makes the scene soon. Menu development is easy when local foragers are crowding into the kitchen. Don't be tempted to bury these in rich sauce, toss them in Olive oil, season them and roast in high heat. Maybe finish with herbs from our backyard garden. Enjoy the the nowness of it simply. Appreciate it for what it is, it wont be around until next year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dressing Down Salad Dressings

Why is it that we spend so much money on Salad Dressings that have such lackadaisical taste? Have you read the ingredient lists for these mass produced and mass marketed monsters? Mono-di-what? Hydrogenated who? M. S. Gee Whillikers, no thanks! Theres enough poison floating around in the air why would I put it in my food?
Ranch, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Russian, Catalina, and Italian are the originals. Then sprang up Caesar, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Honey Dijon, and a host of others. What many people dont realize, and Kraft doesnt want you to know, is that salad dressings are really quite easy to make. Now I admit, Hidden Valley makes an awesome ranch dressing, but make it with the seasoning packet and your own buttermilk and mayo. Maybe tweak it with a little fresh cracked peppercorn or shaved parmesan.
Try a Raspberry Maple Poppy Seed Dressing for a change.
2 Cups Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Raspberry Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds
A Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Mix it up!
Lemon Herb Vinaigrette.
¼ Cup Minced Chives
¼ Cup Minced Parsley
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
½ Cup Olive Oil
A Dash of Nutmeg
A Dash of Dried Mustard
2 Dashes of Salt and Pepper
Whisk it all together and love it!
Mark Downey’s Maple Dijon!
1 Tablespoon Dijon
½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Maple Syrup
1 ¼ Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Make it so!
These homemade dressings have four things in common. They are easy to make, low in saturated fat, taste great, and flexible. Take away the poppy seeds and add orange essence to the maple dressing for a citrus twist. Change the vinegar to red wine for a smooth distinction. Slight substitutions change the personality of the dressing. Lemon Herb? How about Orange Rosemary, Cilantro Lime, or Lemon Basil!
Remember when it comes to dressings the sky, with your imagination, is the limit!
Ciao,
Jon