Overview of my Summer: 2013

Summer has come and gone, with little to no blogging accomplished. I have no excuses. I had every intention of displaying my favorite summer recipes that used all of the veggies out of my new garden, but instead gobbled most of these up before I had time to snap a couple of photos. No worries, though, I will be writing some more about the summer in the upcoming days. Then, maybe once I am all caught up, I can get back into current blogging.

Anyways, I really had another amazing summer. It was so great, that I feel fine with letting it go and welcoming Fall with open arms.

Trapp Family Lodge

Anth and I kicked Summer off with a visit from my parents. We were able to show them around some of Vermont including Burlington and Stowe and made sure they ate and drank the best of Vermont (maybe too much!). Trapp Family Lodge, pictured above, offers amazing views, delicious beer made on the premises, and a variety of luscious baked goods.

Young Garden

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After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also started our first real garden this year. We have been wanting a garden for the longest time, but have been moving in and out of new places with little to no land over the past two and half years during summer. This year, we moved to our new place, that had some room for a small garden in May, and were quick to start planting. Considering the hard ships many gardeners and farmers had this year with too much rain, we had a bountiful year. Here, you can see our baby kale turning into more adult kale. It was convenient and fun having kale, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and parsley whenever we needed it. In addition, we had beets, zucchini, mint, hot peppers, and chives at other times.

We didn’t end up camping as much as I had hoped but did get a trip in at the beginning of summer. Our favorite place to camp in New England is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This time we ended up at a cute little campground set right behind a covered bridge.

White Mountains

White Mountains

Shortly after camping, we made our way into Portland, Maine for the “Festival“, an amazing international beer event. There, we got to chat with some of our favorite brewers from across the world, while also sampling their beer. We love Portland, so we also enjoyed the weekend eating, drinking, and basking in the sunshine around the city.

Portland

As I briefly mentioned above, cooking this summer was fantastic. I had so much to cook with from the garden, plenty from the farmer’s markets, and it seemed like everywhere we went, we were ending up with more vegetables and meal ideas. Although soup is usually thought of as a savory winter meal, whenever the garden would get too overwhelming, I would end up throwing everything together for some of the best summer vegetable soups I have ever had. One of my favorite memories of this summer, is having the door wide open, Pup laying outside in the sun, while I cook up a hearty vegetable soup.

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer in Vermont is not complete without a trip to see Bread and Puppet. I have other posts on here just about Bread and Puppet, so if you have never heard of it, take a look here.

Bread and Puppet Show

Bread and Puppet Show

I continued my mentorship with Jeremy this summer and we ended up having all kinds of fun, finally getting to enjoy swimming holes and hiking. One of his favorite places ended up being Moss Glenn Falls which is located in Stowe, Vermont.

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

The Festival wasn’t the only beer festival of the year. Of course, we also enjoyed the Vermont Brewers Festival that takes place right on Lake Champlain. This year the underdog breweries were the highlight, and I will be adding an article about it shortly.

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Surprisingly, Anth, Pup, and I also took a trip outside of New England this Summer. We usually try to save those types of trips for the other seasons, but when my Mom invited us down to the Outer Banks for a few days, we just couldn’t pass it up this year. I was able to show Pup and Anth all of my favorite childhood spots, including my favorite Southern Lighthouses.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

This year, I finally jumped the Ausable River Gorge, right outside of Lake Placid. We had toyed with this idea late last Summer, but were never able to figure out the logistics of it at the time. This year, though, I took the leap.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Most of our Summer was spent enjoying hikes, covered bridges, and brewpubs right in our backyard of Vermont and New Hampshire. As usual, the Vermont Summer activities did not disappoint.

Martin Covered Bridge - Marshfield, VT

Martin Covered Bridge – Marshfield, VT

Sterling Pond - hike from Smugglers Notch

Sterling Pond – hike from Smugglers Notch

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

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Vermont’s Great Indoors: Waterbury

Blackback Pub

I’m on a constant quest to find small towns that offer all of my favorite indoor indulgences: delicious cuisine, top rate beer and wine, and friendly company. I’m on the lookout for towns I can visit that only require crossing the road to go from one great establishment to another. These towns may be far and few, but I recently found one more to add to my list: Waterbury, Vermont.  Waterbury, Vermont is the kind of town that appreciates food and drink. Known best for being the birthplace of the Alchemist Brewery (parents of the top rated beer Heady Topper), Waterbury offers a relaxed tone perfect for indoor amusements.

Mad Taco in Blackback Pub

Although the Alchemist Brewery no longer owns a brewpub in town, the Blackback Pub & Flyshop will give you exactly the atmosphere you are looking for. Located on the corner of Main and Stowe Street, Blackback is comprised of two rooms and one bar completely made out of old bowling alley flooring. Although there are a couple of televisions, the entertainment is mostly good conversation. On my last visit to the pub, there were 16 beers on tap with half of them being from local breweries and all of them being top rated craft beer. It didn’t take long for me to get comfortable with a Hill Farmstead beer, and a highly recommended burrito. In addition to serving great brews, the Blackback Pub & Flyshop is also home to the Mad Taco, one of the best known burrito spots in Vermont.

Cork's SelectionsWhen you’re ready for a change in scenery, it won’t take long to find your next destination. Cork Wine Bar & Market is Blackback’s neighbor and offers a variety of wines, beer, cheese, and other delicacies such as oysters on Wednesdays. The interior is simple yet gorgeous and there is a wide, carefully selected variety of wine by the bottle for sale. There is no better way to enjoy Vermont than with a glass of local wine, a wedge of local cheese, and a spot on Cork’s patio. Fridays and Saturdays can be quite packed at this local hotspot, but it is well worth it, especially for the live music on Saturdays.

If wine isn’t your thing, then head across the street to the Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room. With a whopping 38 draft beers, a full bar, and a pool table, you won’t be disappointed in your options. This place specializes in comfort food, but the outrageous beer list certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.  There is always something going on at the Reservoir including frequent beer promotions and live entertainment.  Cork is across from the Resevoir

You will undoubtedly visit Waterbury, Vermont because it is beer capital of Vermont, however, you are likely to come back because it offers all of the indoor amenities we value and appreciate in one place. To get to Waterbury, follow 89 North two exits past the Montpelier exit.

The Resevoir's Heady Topper Pool Table

Officially Spring: Wild Leeks

Officially Spring: Wild Leeks

You can’t come to Vermont without getting caught up in the localvore movement in some way. Vermonters love local food of all types. So, after a long winter of beets and potatoes from the year before, ramps (wild leeks) and fiddleheads awaken our collective taste buds, a welcoming reminder of the months to come.

Well, we were surprised with fresh picked ramps at the co-op this afternoon. For those of you who haven’t had a wild leek, also known as a ramp, these earthy greens are the perfect natural blend of onion and garlic flavors.

Tonight, we decided to introduce Spring into our meals by making Ramp and Cheese Enchiladas. These were easy to put together in less than 20 minutes.

Ramp Enchiladas

I took one bunch of ramps, and using both the bulbs and greens, chopped and sauteed them. Then, I rolled two tablespoons of sauteed ramps and three tablespoons of Cabot sharp cheddar cheese in a whole wheat tortilla. These were covered in a tomato black bean sauce and baked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Weekend Sabbatical: Lowell, Massachusetts for the Afternoon

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Historical Mill District from the river

Last weekend, last minute, we decided to attend the Stout Festival at the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Although we have enjoyed New England and the Boston area for four years now, we never actually spent any time in Worcester. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out both a city we haven’t enjoyed yet and one of the top rated beer bars in the world. And, yes, I did say world.

From Vermont, we usually take 89 south most of the way through Vermont and Massachusetts until we hit 93 south through Boston. This brings us through Lowell, MA which we hadn’t stopped at for a few years. Lowell is an old manufacturing center, mostly within the business of textiles. It is now, surprisingly, the four largest city in the state. The town is no longer centered on textile mills when it comes to the market, but the mills are still a major part of the town’s geography. In fact, much of the mill district has been restored, even becoming part of the Lowell National Historical Park.  Lowell is also the birthplace and burial place of Jack Kerouac, a well known novelist and poet of the beat generation.

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Upclose: Lowell Mill Equipment

We stopped for just a few hours, long enough to walk up and down the city streets, take in the old mill district, have some amazing lunch, and stop by Kerouac’s grave for the second time.

Highlights:

-History: You can learn a lot and get a better feel for the city if you take a moment to read the historical signs and outposts set up along the river, streets, and historical mill area. Having the mill as a backdrop to the city really allows you to envision it as it was in the 1800 and 1900’s.

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Jack’s Grave During Another Visit (Fall)

Jack Kerouac sites: Lowell is home to many important places in Jack’s early and later life. If you do some research before coming, you could stop by his childhood home, bars he frequented, parks he wrote in, and of course, where he is laid to rest.

-Culture and town life: When I hear of Lowell, I think of the average size Massachusetts town. However, Lowell is a city. Lowell is also a cultural hub, calling its home to many different ethnicities and cultures, evident by the different types of stores, churches, and clubs that call it home.

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Life Alive Wrap and Music

Before we left Lowell, we stopped by for music and lunch at Life Alive, located on Middle Street. This café calls a few different towns in Massachusetts home including Cambridge and Salem also.  There food is vegan and vegetarian, yet well known and delicious to all types of foodies. They infuse so much taste into every wrap, salad, and rice bowl, that it is hard to miss the meat. I heard this over and over from each meat eating foodie that stopped by. The atmosphere is also a lot of fun.

Eating Through New England: Vermont Maple Wine

I cannot “pass through” Vermont without devouring something maple. Most likely, my maple craving will be fulfilled with either a maple creemee or maple cream pie. However, we will save those for another day.

Vermont may be known for the abundance of breweries it has, but Vermont is also home to many wineries including Fresh Tracks Vineyard and Winery located in Berlin, Vermont. We made our way to Fresh Tracks on Saturday for their annual Mid-Summer Party. They had music, barbeque, and of course, wine. Fresh Tracks actually owns their own sugar house, also, so it is only fitting that they combine both maple and wine together. I fell in love with this concoction  immediately upon putting the glass to my lips. All Vermont wineries seem to have amazing woodwork, great tastings, and an abundance of cheese; Fresh Tracks is no different. Anth and I ordered a couple glasses of wine and then spent the remainder of the night walking around the vineyard, taking in the sunshine and folk music. When visiting Vermont NEVER pass up a local maple treat!