Fall Folliage 2013

Fall Folliage 2013

I blog for many reasons. One of those reasons happens to be to document those moments that I wonder about year to year. When was the first snow last year? Was mud season this horrible in 2012? Is this a late foliage season? Every year I wonder these types of things, and I have always looked forward to the day when I actually have it documented to look back on. I began last year with the first snow of the season. I was surprised looking back on it that it was as early as November 5!

Anyways, foliage season started last weekend with this weekend seeing A LOT of changes. On Saturday we got up bright and early to make it to the last Mad River Valley farmer’s market that the brewer of Lawson’s Liquids would be at to sell beer. Bright maroons were beginning to explode from the tree lines as we zig-zagged down route 100 towards Waitsfield. By the time we made our way back that afternoon, the tree line seemed to be even brighter and more magnificent before. Then, the very next morning we noticed more colors outside of our window. So, I believe this week will be the peak foliage, and hopefully, I can get some more pictures. I am planning on climbing Mount Elmore, as Pup and I do every year (this will be our third year!), just her and I. That should give me a good opportunity for Fall Foliage pictures.

 

Zwanze Day in Vermont

Zwanze Day in Vermont

Have you ever heard of Zwanze Day? Every year, beer enthusiasts celebrate the release of a special sour beer made by Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium. In Flemish, a zwanze is actually a joke, and Zwanze Day is meant to be fun day of drinking this rare beer that is different each year. Cantillon actually hand picks the bars and breweries across the world that they would like to participate in Zwanze day. Then, they send the Zwanze beer over to be tapped at the same time around the world (3 PM EST for us).

Zwanze Day Tickets

Zwanze Day Tickets

Here in Vermont, we were lucky enough to have a brewery that was picked by Cantillon to participate – Hill Farmstead. Hill Farmstead aka Shaun Hill (the brewmaster) really knows how to throw a party! Only ticket holders were allowed at the brewery for the day, and a tent was set up complete with five different beers: 2 Grassroots beers & 3 Cantillon beers (including Zwanze). They decided to approach the festival in a different manner than usual, handing out colored tickets that corresponded to each beer. Each person received one ticket per beer. This gave each drinker a guarantee that they would be able to try all of the beers so that they didn’t have to worry about waiting in any lines. For once, a beer event wasn’t all about getting a beer and drinking it in line so that you could get your hands on the next beer. Instead, we were able to hang out on Hill Farmstead’s beautiful land, enjoying each and every beer in a civilized manner. Shaun Hill mentioned that he is always trying to think of better ways to organize beer events, and I really thought this way worked well.

After the Zwanze event, we headed over the “Zwanze After Party” at a local restaurant, Parker Pie. This is one of our favorite hang outs in Northeastern Vermont. I’ve actually mentioned it before here. Parker Pie had some great Cantillon bottles and I was hooked on their Kriek as usual!

Post Zwanze Day at Parker Pie

Post Zwanze Day at Parker Pie

Veggie Recipes: Italian Style Eggplant & Spaghetti Squash

Veggie Recipes: Italian Style Eggplant & Spaghetti Squash

Just a couple weeks ago, the farms up here in Vermont were producing eggplant like crazy and just beginning their spaghetti squash harvest. I love spaghetti squash and how easy it is to make. I also love that it gives me a chance to really splurge on a pasta type dish, because without the actual pasta, I don’t have to worry about the carbs, calories, or sodium. It was also a chance to use some of our homemade tomato sauce. I decided to put together a meal that was 95% Italian. The other 5% comes from the Vermont cheddar cheese I ended up adding instead of mozzarella only because I didn’t have any on hand. It didn’t matter, the end result was delicious.

Italian Style Eggplant with Pan Fried Polenta and Spaghetti Squash

For the Eggplant Dish:

1 Eggplant, inch slices

Cheese to taste

Basil

Tomato Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Place eggplants slices in a small baking pan. Add basil, any Italian spices you may want to add, tomato sauce, and cheese on each layer that you may have.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Can bake concurrent with spaghetti squash.

For the Spaghetti Squash Dish:

1 Spaghetti squash

Tomato Sauce

Cheese to taste

1. Slice the squash in half long ways and scoop out the insides with a spoon (scrape the seeds and easy stuff out until you are scraping against the harder inside).

2. Although not necessary, you can sprinkle some pepper on the inside for flavoring.

3. Put a half inch of water in the baking pan.

4. Place the squash halves, open side down, on the pan and cook in 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. You should be able to stick a fork through the outside when it is done.

5. Take the squash out and put it right side up. Now, take a fork and just scrape it against the sides “fluffing” the spaghetti like pieces. There is a lot more there than you think! You should be able to scrape them off until you reach the skin.

7. After you have scraped all of the squash into spaghetti, dress it with tomato sauce and cheese. Place back in the oven, on broil, for about a minute or two.

For the Pan Fried Polenta:

1 Roll of Polenta

Pan fried polenta is an amazing side to any dish because it is crispy and delicious.

1. Cut polenta in thick slices, 1-2 inches thick.

2. Put a thin layer of EVO in a pan and place it on a medium heat.

3. Place the polenta in the pan. Season with Italian seasonings if you wish.

4. Sear on each side for approximately 10-15 minutes. The polenta will become smaller, thinner, and crispier. Keep checking it to make sure it does not stick to the bottom. Add more oil as necessary, but do not drown in oil or you will get soggy polenta.

All of these parts of the dish are very simple and easy to play around with, so don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe to strictly.

Burlington Brewers Festival 2013

Burlington Brewers Festival 2013

It’s July 19, just before 11:30 am, and beer enthusiasts from across New England, and beyond, crowd behind a single white string, their empty sample glass in hand. When time changes to 11:30, the white string instantly disappears beneath the crowd, and the beer tasting commences. This is the scene as the Vermont Brewers Festival begins, and although this year began much the same as previous years, 2013 introduced new breweries and beers to the thirsty visitors who were able to get their hands on completely sold-out tickets.

Burlington Brewers Tents

Burlington Brewers Tents

Tickets sold out, to all sessions, for this year’s festival in just 34 hours. The three sessions saw more than 7,000 visitors this year and for good reason. As New England’s oldest and largest beer festival, the Vermont Brewers Festival consistently showcases the best of what Vermont beer has to offer in addition to highlighting Quebec brews. This year, lines began forming early for certain breweries, quickly displaying what breweries had the beers highest in demand. Some Vermont breweries with longer lines included: the Alchemist, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, Hill Farmstead Brewery, Kingdom Brewing, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. In addition, a number of Quebec breweries saw long lines including Brasserie Dunham, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, and Micro-brasserie Le Trou du Diable.

Brewers Festival Goers Enjoying the View

Brewers Festival Goers Enjoying the View

I was most surprised by the lines that formed at Fiddlehead Brewing Company and Kingdom Brewing (whose line formed towards the end). These two breweries are lesser known outside of the Vermont community, but showed up with such great beers that became quick favorites. Fiddlehead’s stand out beer that brought forth the crowd was the ‘Hodad Vanilla, Chocolate, Coconut Porter’. It is described by Fiddlehead as “paradise in a glass” and did not disappoint. The coconut notes stuck out with a powerful chocolate porter punch that followed. Kingdom Brewing showed up with ‘Benedict Arnold’, a sour porter that hit all of the right notes in terms of sour and drinkability. It left me smacking my lips for more. Although I noticed quite a buzz about this beer, a later crowd formed for Kingdom’s ‘Addy Pearls Spice Maple Rum Ale’, an ale made with pure Vermont maple sap and stored in Thomas Tew Spiced rum barrels. I was amazed at the maple and rum tastes that hit my taste buds at full force as well as how much I ended up enjoying the combination of those tastes.

The Vermont Brewers Festival continues to deliver a different kind of beer festival in New England. It’s set in a truly idyllic location and features the best of what Vermont has to offer. The festival continues to reveal new and breakout brewers from across the region, in addition to groundbreaking and experimental beers, making it the most exciting beer festival in New England for both the visitors and the brewers.

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

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

Before

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

My May in Vermont

Ramps

Things change here in Vermont very quickly once we reach May. Spring turns from Vermont from mud and maple back to the Green Mountain State. Once the snow completely melts and the grass and trees are able to breathe a bit, different shades of green seem to sprout from the valleys to the mountains all at once. Then the dandelions begin to appear. Before we know it, the middle of May brings ramps, fiddleheads, and deep green fields covered in bright yellow dandelions.

We began May in the Mad River Valley, foraging for wild baby leeks (ramps) and exploring the valley before tourist season hits. We make the trip to the Mad River Valley a couple times a year, and also enjoy driving through it on our way to the Middlebury area. I’ve updated the site with an article on Warren, but the Mad River Valley has many towns, forests, covered bridges, and swimming holes to explore outside of Warren also.

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

Anth and his ramps!

Anth and his ramps!

You have to get your hands dirty!

You have to get your hands dirty!