Chesterfield, New Hampshire
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.
August 22nd, 2010 by Judy Hueber
This summer, I was very happy to discover that the Clark Museum of Art in Williamstown , Massachusetts, is only an hour and 20 minutes drive from the Chesterfield Inn. It was close enough for me to jump in the car on a Sunday afternoon and drive there for a much needed art infusion. The drive itself was a pleasant diversion. I drove west on Route 9 through West Brattleboro, Vermont, and across the rolling hills to Wilmington and then Bennington, Vermont. In Bennington, I headed south on Route 7 and soon Mount Greylock loomed on the horizon and I knew that I was in Williamstown.
I followed the signs to the Clark Institute of Art and parked. I had visited the museum many years ago and remembered their outstanding collection of French Impressionist art. My plan was to wander the galleries and bask in the gorgeous colors and shimmering shapes of the Impressionist artists.
However, before I entered the main museum building, I stopped at the Stone Hill Center, a separate building on the Clark campus. I was immediately drawn into the world of Juan Munoz, a contemporary sculptor. All I can say, is “don’t miss this exhibit”-it will be at the museum until October 17.
I then continued down a wooded path to the main museum and was happily surprised to see the featured exhibit “Picasso Looks at Degas”. This will be shown until September 12 and is well worth the trip. Stunning paintings and unexpected parallels between the artists can be seen throughout.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the permanent collection, until closing time , when I reluctantly left the museum, promising myself to return soon. I made plans to drive over on a September Sunday, when the leaves are turning in the higher elevations with beauty that rivals Impressionist paintings.
June 14th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
The terrace on a summer evening
On these beautiful summer nights in New Hampshire, we invite you to enjoy drinks and dinner on our terrace. We have a few wrought iron tables with chairs and green umbrellas on the blue stone terrace where you can settle in, have a cocktail or a glass of wine, and watch the sun set. Dinner is served on the terrace, from 5:30 until 9:00.
I had the pleasure of entertaining some friends for dinner on the terrace last week, and they thought it was the nicest outdoor dining in the area. The rolling hills, the lush meadow, and the gorgeous sunset all combined with delicious food make for a wonderful evening!
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!
April 8th, 2010 by Judy Hueber
One of the best things about Brattleboro, Vermont is the Brattleboro Food Coop. Phil and I became members of the Coop as soon as we moved to the area and have enjoyed shopping there ever since. I have never been one to use the words enjoy and shopping in the same sentence, but I do when I’m talking about the Food Coop. Walking through the door there is like a walking into an oasis in a busy world.
When you enter the Food Coop, you are standing in the wine section, where interesting wines, as well as the old standbys can be found. Wines are moderately priced and there are many organic wines stocked. Richard, who manages the wine department is very knowledgeable, and is available to make suggestions and answer questions. The beer selection is excellent too, with many local or regional beers as well as beers from around the globe. Then on to the cheese section, which features local artisan cheeses as well as cheeses from around the world. The deli is next , with delicious vegan, or vegetarian, organic, with and without meat, prepared foods. There is a salad bar with a couple of homemade soups each day, as well as a juice bar and a section of prepackaged deli items that you can grab if you’re in a rush.
Fresh flowers are displayed in florists buckets, offering a bright corner at the edge of the produce section. The produce section features mostly organic produce, and as much local produce as the season allows. It’s fabulous. The bulk section is towards the back of the store, where you can purchase beans, nuts, oils, coffee and tea, honey etc. in large and small quantities in bulk, with your own containers or containers provided by the store.
Then there are several aisles of groceries, which include fresh breads from local bakeries, organic cereals, soups, pastas, rices, corn and potato chips of all kinds, and baking supplies. This is where I find unusual ethnic and gourmet food items, things that people who live in a city take for granted. The dairy case is at the back, with local organic milk, yogurts, and lots of lactose free products. The freezer aisle features lots of frozen organic prepared food as well as a great selection of frozen yogurt, ice cream, and sorbets. The meat department has everything a carnivore could want, and all of it is organic, hormone and antibiotic free, free range or locally raised. Seafood is delivered twice a week and is available fresh or frozen. There is small area with things for the kitchen such as dishes, glasses and candles, and a large section for vitamins and food supplements as well as health and beauty products.
The people who work at the Food Coop are friendly and helpful, open to feedback and suggestions. The Coop is a community unto itself, welcoming , warm and inclusive. What a great place to shop!
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.
December 16th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
I love the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day because we cooks have license to use cranberries liberally. After the holidays fresh cranberries are not as widely available, so sometimes I stockpile them so I can extend the season a little bit. There’s something about the dark ruby color of the berries, as well as their tart flavor that sweetens when they are dried or cooked that makes them so appealing to me.
One of my favorite things to make for breakfast is our Cranberry Cream Scones. They are soft, flaky and delicious-a great way to start the day! Here’s the recipe:
Chesterfield Inn Cream Scones
1 cup unsifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Lemon Glaze: juice of half a lemon and enough confectioner’s sugar to make a glaze
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine eggs, cranberries, and heavy cream; stir into flour mixture with a fork, then mix with your hands just enough to combine. Divide dough in half.; shape into rounds about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut each round into fifths and separate wedges slightly on ungreased baking sheet. Brush with egg wash.
Bake for 15 minutes. While the scones are baking, mix up the lemon glaze. Note: it’s easy to over bake these, so remove them from the oven even if you think they’re not done. Let cool, drizzle with lemon glaze.
Another of my favorites for the holidays is a cranberry relish that my friend Betsy Bates taught me years ago. When you see how easy this is, and how delicious, you’ll never buy canned cranberry sauce again! All you need is:
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 jar orange marmalade
1/2 cup orange juice, and more if needed
Put the cranberries in a saucepan, add the marmalade and orange juice. Cook on low heat until the cranberries pop, and everything has melded together nicely. let cool. Refrigerate until needed. Keeps for at least in a covered refrigerated container.
September 28th, 2009 by Judy Hueber
It all began 5 years ago at the Strolling of the Heifers Parade in Brattleboro, Vermont. I was standing on the sidewalk with my friend Linda, watching the beautiful Jersey and Holstein calves, heifers and cows walk past. All of a sudden , there was a different kind of animal in front of us, not a cow, not a goat, not a llama! It was then that I saw my first alpaca! They look a bit like a small llama, with long necks, big eyes, and very soft fleece. I fell in love!
I rushed home to call my younger brother who is a farmer in Hardwick , Massachusetts, to tell him how cute this alpaca was, and to suggest that he get some! His answer was : “You go first! ” He said that he had plenty of animals and , since I only had a few cats, it seemed that I should be the one to get the alpacas!
Our 10 acres of land is plenty for alpacas, who like about an acre of land for each 10 animals. They do need fencing to protect them from predators, and at least a 3 sided shelter so that they can be protected from the snow. They need to be sheared every 6 months or so, and eat only about a bale of hay each week, in addition to grazing in the field. They’d look so picturesque from the Inn, grazing serenely in the back meadow, ready for guests to wander out and talk to them! The only draw back was the price- a female alpaca can cost as much as $8,000 and up. So, the alpaca dream has languished, as we take care of more immediate concerns such as painting the Inn or college tuition for the kids.
Last Saturday, I saw a box ad on the front page of the Brattleboro Reformer that an “Open Farm” was being held at Wildwood Acres Alpacas up in Newfane. After I finished cooking breakfast, I drove up to see the alpacas. There were 11 in all, some brown, some white, some black, some younger, some older, living in a beautiful meadow with a barn built just for them. The owner showed me around, and introduced me to the alpacas. One of them let me pet him: we stood nose to nose while I petted his neck and then he put his head on my shoulder. I was in heaven!
So, the dream still lives, and I know that I can go and visit Wildwood Acres now and then, even if we don’t have our own alpacas yet!