Chesterfield, New Hampshire
March 23rd, 2011 by Judy Hueber
Local Maple Syrup
After a long winter with snowstorm after snowstorm, spring has finally started to arrive at our Inn in New Hampshire. The daytime temperatures are now above freezing, most days, with temperatures dipping below freezing at night. It’s perfect “sugaring” weather! Maple sugaring is what our local farmers call the process of collecting the sap from our sugar maple trees and boiling it into maple syrup. As you drive along the back roads near our romantic northern New England B&B, you can see the local “sugar houses” with steam billowing out into the cold air as the sap is boiled down into maple syrup. One of my favorite things to do is top stop at a sugar house when they’re boiling and ask for a taste of the fresh maple syrup. It’s delicious!
All of this “sugaring” inspires us to use maple syrup in our cooking and the following Maple Cheesecake is one of our favorites!
2 cups ground graham crackers
3 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
6 T. melted butter
3 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 T. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 c. reduced maple syrup (1 cup maple syrup, simmered 4 minutes to reduce and concentrate flavor)
2/3 cup sour cream
2 T. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Wrap outside of 9 inch spring form pan in aluminum foil so that the base and sides are covered and sealed. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool on rack. For filling, beat cream cheese with electric mixer with paddle until very smooth. Add brown sugar, flour and salt. Beat until blended and smooth. Add reduced syrup, sour cream and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add eggs, 2 at a time, and beat just until well blended after each addition. Tap bowl on counter several times to release any air bubbles. Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake cake in a water bath ( pan of warm water about 1 inch up the sides of the pan) for 1 and a half hours. Turn oven off, open door a few inches and let the cake sit in the oven for an hour. Remove from oven and water bath and allow to cool on a rack. Serve with fresh berries.
February 11th, 2011 by Judy Hueber
One of the ways that New Englanders survive our long, snowy winters is to embrace the cold weather and go outside and play in it! The Brattleboro Winter Carnival has a 55 year tradition of playing in the snow, and the tradition continues this year starting on Friday, January 19th. Winter Carnival activities go on all week, and include outdoor activities for all ages.
Harris Hill Ski Jump
Don’t miss the Harris Hill Ski Jump competition! The ski jumping happens on February 19th and 20th this year, and watching the breathtaking ski jumping off of the 90 meter Harris Hill is an experience not to be missed. Join the crowd at the bottom of the hill, and cheer on the international participants as they fly (yes, they really do!) off of Harris Hill. So put on your snow pants and Sorels and enjoy the show!
After an afternoon of outdoor activities, come back and sit by the fire and enjoy some hot chocolate or even an Irish coffee at The Chesterfield Inn, our Bed & Breakfast near Brattleboro. Then maybe a quick nap, and dinner at our romantic New Hampshire restaurant while watching the snow fall, for the perfect end to a wintry New England day.
January 5th, 2011 by Judy Hueber
Chesterfield Inn Winter Morning
After last week’s snow storm, we have nice snow cover and it’s the perfect time to head out into the woods! If you’d like to go snow shoeing, you can bring your own snow shoes or rent them at Burrow’s Specialized Sports in Brattleboro, Vermont. There is no need to leave Chesterfield if you want to go snow shoeing: we have Pisgah Park, Friedsam Forest and the Madame Sherri Forest, all with great trails and all right in Chesterfield. We can supply trail maps at the front desk.
If you’d like to go cross country skiing, take your skis (you can rent those at Burrows Specialized Sports as well! ) over to the Brattleboro Outing Club trails at the Brattleboro Country Club on Upper Dummerston Road in Brattleboro. For more extensive trails and snow making, try Grafton Ponds in Grafton , VT, which is just a 40 minute drive from the inn.
For down hill skiing, we are an hour or less from Mount Snow, Stratton, Okemo, and Bromley Mountains. You can rent skis, boots, and poles at all of the ski resorts. Granite Gorge, just outside Keene, NH, is a great place to take kids for tubing,as well as skiing and snow boarding.
So dig out your ski jacket, find your skis and snow shoes and pile into the car for a weekend of outdoor activities. At the end of the day, you can relax in front of the fire at our romantic New Hampshire Inn with a glass of wine, enjoy a delicious dinner in our candlelit dining room, and sleep like a baby in one of our king sized beds!
September 14th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
One of the nicest things about Brattleboro is the way that the town center hugs the Connecticut River, nestled at the foot of Mount Wantastiquet. Mount Wantastiquet, being across the river, is in New Hampshire, and is a great place to hike without a long drive to get there. The trail head is just a ten minute drive from the Chesterfield Inn.
I often meet a friend there for a quick hike in the summer or fall (the trail is generally too wet in the spring with the snow melt rushing down the mountain. ) We meet at the bottom of the mountain , just behind the Hinsdale Walmart, where there is a small parking area. From Main Street in Brattleboro, go over the bridge to Hinsdale and take the first left on Mountain Road, a dirt road that ends at the parking area. Depending on your pace, you can get up and down Wantastiquet in less than 2 hours.
The trail follows switchbacks that start to climb immediately. There is a stream that cascades down the side of the mountain, so you can hear rushing water all the way up. The trail, an old quarry road, is wide enough for mountain bikers and is about 2 miles long. Just when you think you’ve had enough, the trail levels out along the ridge of the mountain, and you’ll see a short detour that leads to a rock outcropping with a small monument and an expansive view of the Connecticut River Valley, the town of Brattleboro and the Green Mountains in the distance. You see the ski areas Mount Snow, Stratton , and Bromley, as well as the rolling hills of Massachusetts to the south. The trail continues on to Mine Ledge, to the Madame Sherri Forest and then to Pisgah Park, but we usually stop to look at the view and then head down, back the way we came.
April 28th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
Mount Moosilauke from Black Mountain
We had some friends visiting from Boston last weekend who we have been hiking with for 30 years, so we decided to make the drive to Mount Moosilauke and climb it. We chose Moosilauke because it was less than a 2 hour drive from the Chesterfield Inn, and is a “real” mountain. It is 4800 feet in elevation, and is known for relatively easy trails and panoramic views. It was a beautiful spring day , about 55 degrees and sunny when we packed up our boots and lunches and headed north. The access road into the trail head at the Dartmouth Ravine Lodge was still closed for the winter, (that should have been a clue for us as to the conditions on the mountain) so we parked on the side of the road and walked a mile and a half to the trail head.
As we started out on the Gorge Brook Trail, we crossed the brook twice right away, and the water was high and rushing with the spring snow melt. We followed the brook for awhile, and started to see patches of snow beside the trail, at the shady sections. Soon the trail was covered with snow, and remained that way all of the way to the top of the mountain. It was still sunny out, but got cooler as we climbed, but it was still pleasantly warm and bright. The snow was grainy and we felt like we were walking uphill on the beach! It was slow going , but we were with old friends and had lots to talk about so the time passed quickly.
We were hiking in shorts, which was great, except for the occasional times when the crust of the snow didn’t hold and we fell through 2 feet of snow-very cold! We meandered our way on switchbacks up to the tree line when all of a sudden the views opened up and we could see Mount Washington in all of its snow covered glory, just to the north. The valleys were lush with spring greenery in the many green shades of new leaves. We kept scrambling through the snow to the rocky and windy summit, where we ate our lunches quickly, in a rush to get to a sheltered area where it wasn’t so cold. We then headed down the Carriage Trail, which was wider and had less snow. After 6 hours, we made it back to the car, happy and tired after a great day of hiking!
March 23rd, 2010 by Judy Hueber
After a week of sunny, warm weather, I woke up this morning to a steady downpour of rain, with temperatures in the chilly 30′s. Last week was just a preview of spring time in New Hampshire, but I couldn’t resist starting to prepare for the warmer days and delirious spring fever that all northern New Englanders get when spring finally arrives.
The work of winter clean up is arduous, and takes a couple of weeks here at the Chesterfield Inn. We did manage to get the crab apple trees pruned, and the tiny Christmas lights that deck the crab apple trees removed in the process. The Christmas wreaths were all taken down, even though most of them still looked fresh and green, a testament to cold weather (and an excellent florist, Taylor for Flowers). Some people wonder why we leave the wreaths up for so long here in the North, and it’s because winter lasts so long, it’s too drab with out some decoration on our buildings. My “rule of thumb” is to remove all Christmas wreaths by Easter!
Then to the driveway: we started raking the gravel off of the lawn and filling the potholes in the driveway left by the snow plow. This was just a start because most of the gravel is still frozen. We’ll need a few more warm days before the frost leaves the ground; just another reminder that winter is not over yet. All three of our cats enjoyed frisking around while we were working outside, chasing leaves, racing up trees, and looking for moles in the tunnels now exposed by the melting snow.
The weather was warm enough last week to allow us to sweep the winter debris off all of the terraces and put the lawn furniture out so that guests could bask in the sun and pretend that winter is over. The gardens will be next, but we have to wait now for more warm sunny weather. Snow is predicted for tonight, reminding us that we haven’t seen the last of the winter!
January 29th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
Sam's in Brattleboro 1940
One of the best things about Brattleboro , Vermont, which is 2 miles from the Inn, is Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters (Check out their web site at: http://www.samsoutdooroutfitters.com ). Sam’s is a Brattleboro landmark, and has occupied its half block of Main Street since the 1930′s. It was opened by the Borofsky family and is still is owned by the third generation of the Borofsky’s.
Sam’s is a great place to shop, for locals as well as people traveling through town. I have a friend from New Jersey who stops at Sam’s every time he visits us, to look for that one piece of fleece that he has to have. The prices are reasonable and the selection is great. Sam’s has everything from hiking boots to Carharrt jeans to fishing poles to ski jackets to long underwear to waders to yoga pants to guns. They have winter clothes for the entire family, as well as kayaks, canoes, cross country skis and snowshoes. In the summer, there are short and shirts of all kinds, as well as bathing suits and sandals. The store has multiple levels, connected by stairs, and rambles through the building. The popcorn machine , providing fresh popcorn to all customers on a self serve basis, is in the center of the store. The popcorn is a very helpful distraction when shopping with kids!
This weekend is Sam’s Pre-inventory sale and everything in the store is at least 20% off. I was delighted to find a pair of Merrill Gore-tex hiking boots at 20% off among the huge selection of women’s hiking boots and walking shoes in the basement of Sam’s. Then I climbed the stairs up to the men’s hunting section, past the popcorn machine, and down a couple of steps to the women’s clothing section. I tried on a Patagonia parka that was half price but the wrong color, and then found an alpaca sweater with a rolled collar that was 40% off. I managed to stop there, but keep thinking of the Smartwool sox that I should have gotten-maybe I’ll go back for another look this weekend!
January 5th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
Driveway at Dusk
I love the beginning of January
when the door slams shut on the old year
and we have a chance to start again.
Low time for New England innkeepers,
we order new sheets,
cook comfort food for our families,
Here I sit with my tuxedo cat,
warm by the fire
while the wind whips the snow into a dervish outside the window.
The Christmas tree leans against the porch in a snow drift
enjoying its second life as a bird feeder.
Each day I venture outside for my walk,
bundled up in my green Christmas scarf
breathing deeply the smell of the crisp clean air,
looking at the snow with the navy blue shadows
where the the meadow meets the woods.
The sky is heavy with snow,
slate gray behind the pines,
I hurry inside
as snowflakes fall in my hair.
July 15th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
Monadnock from Route 124
Last Saturday I had some friends visiting from out of town, and we decided enjoy the gorgeous summer weather and climb Mount Monadnock. Mount Monadnock is located in Jaffrey, and is about a 40 minute drive from the Chesterfield Inn. We had breakfast at the inn, got our water bottles, bug spray, and hiking boots, and headed to Keene to pick up lunch to eat at the top of the mountain. From Keene, we followed Route 101 East to Marlborough and turned onto Route 124 towards Jaffrey.
Mount Monadnock is one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world. Its name comes from the Abenaki word meaning mountain that stands alone, and has come to mean in geological terms any isolated mountain that rises above the surrounding plain. The mountain is 3165 feet in elevation and the top has a rocky crown that offers 100 mile views of of all six New England states on a clear day. The mountain can be climbed with starting points on all sides, and has about 40 miles of trails on its slopes. Click here for an overview of the hiking trails and more information on the mountain and state park.
View From Marlborough Trail
Phil and I discovered the Marlborough Trail years ago and we find it to be the fastest way to the top with the shortest drive for us. The trail head is on South Shaker Farm Road, which is a left turn off of Route 124 on the Marlborough/Jaffrey border. The dirt road is a bit rough but is fine for cars without 4 wheel drive as long as you drive slowly. There is a small parking lot and map at the trail head. The trail starts out on level ground but quickly turns up hill and soon you are climbing rock faces on the wooded trail. The trail is clearly marked with white dots, dotted lines, and M’s painted on the rocky surface. At some points the trails is marked by cairns , which are man made piles of rocks in a cone shape, strategically placed at trail turns and junctions. There were several points where we could stop and enjoy the expansive view of the valley below. We made it to the top in about 2 hours, moving at a steady but not too fast pace (not bad for 2 50 year-olds and 2 teenagers).
The top of the mountain has no trees, but is rocky and craggy, with great views, and many nooks and crannies to explore. There were plenty of people up there when we arrived, which was surprising, because we had seen only about 15 people on the hike up. The Marlborough Trail is not the most popular and there are many other routes for people to climb. We sat on the rocks and ate our lunch, which was so much more delicious than it would have been if eaten at home! It was sunny and breezy and cool, which was very refreshing after the long climb up.
We then headed down, back the way we came, and arrived at the bottom about an hour and a half later, with tired legs, but a great sense of accomplishment!
June 30th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
There’s a picture on our web site that several guests have asked about and said ” I want to go there!” There is a waterfall in Chesterfield Gorge, a small 13 acre New Hampshire State Park, located right in Chesterfield. Chesterfield Gorge is seven miles from the Chesterfield Inn, on Route 9 East. Dogs are welcome there, but you can’t take bikes or ATV’s on the trails.
The gorge is a terrific place for a short walk in the woods with a big pay off. You can park in the parking lot right on Route 9, and in 5 minutes, you are standing on the side of the gorge, staring at the rushing water far below. By definition, a gorge is a deep ravine carved from the landscape by flowing water. The gorge trail is very well marked, with red blazes (red wooden trail markers nailed to tree trunks every so often) as well as directional arrows. Footing is generally good and hiking boots are not necessary, although I wouldn’t recommend wearing flip flops. The trees are close to the trail, and it is shady and mossy. In the spring and summer when it’s green and lush, the forest reminds me of scene in Star Wars when the Ewoks and Stormtroopers are riding around on those flying motorcycles.
One of the Gorge Waterfalls
The trail winds down one side of the gorge, with several places where you can stop and enjoy the woodsy views of the cliffs and the Wilder Brook below. The park service has even placed metal fencing at the most precarious points so that you can look without worrying about falling. The trail slopes gradually downward to a flat area where there is a wooden bridge that crosses the brook , allowing hikers to continue on the other side of the gorge.
On the far side of the bridge, if you head up hill a few steps, and over to the edge of the water, there is a calm spot with a sandy area, where kids (of all ages) can actually play in the water. Once you’re finished dipping your feet in the water, and splashing around, you can get back on the trail and head down the far bank of the brook to the second bridge, cross back to the other side and wind your way back up the gorge. There are some very nice views of the waterfalls on this section of the trail, looking up from the lowest part of the falls and up through the cliff and woods. The gorge is a quiet place to walk and enjoy the woods and gorgeous scenery. There are no crowds there, and all you can hear is the wind and the birds singing. It’s a great place to “walk off” breakfast or for a quick walk before you head home.