Flowering Inside

It’s nearly Easter Sunday, and even if we have no blooming flowers outside and even if some patches of snow still remain in the shady parts of the yard, everything’s blooming indoors…with a little help from Trader Joe’s.  Can’t wait to see how it all looks with the table set on Sunday!

Not Over Yet

Just when we thought winter was over, (especially with Monday’s temperatures being near 80 degrees!), we awakened to at least an inch of snow coating everything this morning!  While the grass had disappeared beneath it, on the front walk it left an interesting pattern.

The daffodils and tulips were just sprouting.  I’m hoping that the effect on them will be minimal.  Time will tell.

t’s how springtime looks in the Granite State!


The days are slowly getting warmer, and the local hens are busy laying eggs.  Mmm…the freshness!  Around the corner from our home, there’s a lady who sells her free-range chicken eggs.  Whenever I see her cooler sitting below her mailbox, I pull over and buy some eggs, depositing my money in the canning jar inside.  Nothing beats the taste of a fresh chicken egg!  Tomorrow morning’s breakfast plan…scrambled eggs and a big bowl of cantaloupe.

Sunday Dinner

I made my new go-to meal for dinner Sunday.  It’s simple, delicious, and very minimal work.  Here’s my simple, made-up recipe:
Simply Delicious Chicken (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
a drizzle of olive oil for each chicken breast
2 cloves of garlic, minced
herb infused salt
freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rinse chicken breasts and place on rimmed baking sheet, or in a 9 x 13″ pan.
Drizzle each chicken breast with olive oil and brush with a pastry brush to spread it.  (The oil will make your chicken skin crispy.)  Sprinkle over each breast  1/2 clove minced garlic and a generous amount of herb-infused salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Bake for 45 – 60 minutes.  When done, juices should run clear.
Normally, I serve this chicken with two vegetables (typically roasted butternut squash and broccoli), but this time it was Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains and roasted asparagus.
Bon appetit!

New Discovery

Whenever Colette and I go to Boston, we stop in at L.A. Burdick Chocolates for a cup of their decadently delicious hot cocoa.  And even though we’re utterly charmed by their Boston store, we had yet to visit their main store in Walpole, New Hampshire.  But a couple of weeks ago I was in need of some chocolates as birthday gifts for cherished friends, so we headed west to Walpole.

By the time we arrived we were ravenously hungry.  And much to our delight, we discovered that this L.A. Burdick, unlike its Boston counterpart that is solely a beverage and bakery stop, this location has an actual restaurant.

We both ordered the french onion soup.  This was a first for Colette.  Up until that moment, I’d been the only one in our family to like french onion soup.  Consequently, I don’t make it for the family, but I order it in restaurants every chance I get.  And I must say that this french onion soup is about the second best I’ve ever had.  SO delicious!

We did, however, admire the cheese tray ordered by the 5-year old at the next table and might just order that next time. Their selection of local artisinal cheese is impressive.

No trip to L.A. Burdick would be complete without some cocoa and a little treat.  Colette tried their white chocolate hot chocolate topped with nutmeg.  And we shared a slice of chocolate-raspberry cake.

This has definitely become my favorite lunch spot in New Hampshire!

Pantry Cleaning

I have a love-hate relationship with cleaning my pantry.  I love how tidy it looks when it’s all clean and organized.  I hate how a room so tiny can consume half my day with the cleaning of it.  And it really needs a complete cleaning two or three times a year to keep from creeping completely out of control.  But I do so love my walk-in pantry!

Here it is at the end of the day, all fresh again!

When we remodeled the kitchen in our former house, I had two larger cabinets with pull-out shelves for my pantry.  At that time, I converted all my food storage over to glass jars, crocks with lids, and baskets.  I love how it looks and the ease with which I can find and see everything.
Baskets are good for holding: potatoes, garlic, onions, misc. packets of dip mixes, little things (birthday cake candles, sprinkles, food coloring bottles, bottles of extracts, canning supplies, and more.  The large one on the shelf on the back wall holds all our stainless steel and glass water bottles…just a nice way to keep them contained.
Crocks with lids are useful for: coffee grounds, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins, currants, etc.
Glass jars are the best!  Mine hold: crackers, marshmallows, pasta, flax seed, rices (converted, basmati, wild), quinoa, oatmeal, meusli, coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit, sugars (white, brown, dark brown, powdered, and raw), cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, etc.
Large staples that I buy in bulk (flour, sugar, oatmeal) are stored in tubs with gamma lids on the floor.  A lazy susan holds peanut butter, honey, agave syrup, and Nutella.  And pretty much everything else sits on the shelves.

Behind the door hang our aprons.

A small separate shelf (an antique store find) holds specialty spices, jars of herbs from the garden that have been dried, cheesemaking supplies, and my mortar and pestle.  Our hand-dipped candles hang from the side.

All clean and tidy…for another six months.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lion

March isn’t supposed to do this.  Ice storms when it ought to be lamb-like is most irregular.  Perhaps this is Narnia?

Clean Dishes

Spring cleaning has begun around here.  For years, I’ve collected red transferware dishes.  I’ve purchased them from antique stores all across America.  Slightly more than half of my collection is on display and gets dusted regularly.  And once a year, for spring cleaning, it all comes down and gets washed.

I limit my collection to floral patterns, a few English country scenes, and American scenes.  I am particularly fond of the American scenes…either Currier & Ives patterns or scenes of places we’ve visited as a family.
This scene of the signing of the Mayflower Compact brings to mind our visits to Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.
This Mount Vernon plate sits next to a Monticello plate on a kitchen shelf.  As a family we toured both in 2003.
The midnight ride of Paul Revere is depicted on this plate, with the Old North Church (been there many times) in the background.
My favorite piece is this pitcher that I purchased in a delightful antique store in the historic area of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Technohubby was on a business trip, and I spent the day exploring the many historic sites on the self-guided walking tour, visiting the fudge shop, and poking in and out of antique stores.  This piece, with it’s lovely floral pattern on the inner rim of the pitcher, is a sweet momento of that day and was carefully wrapped and hand-carried back onto the airplane for the trip back home.
Although my collection has grown to such a size that I really don’t (shouldn’t?) add to it anymore, I do cherish the ones I have.  And I love it when they’re all nice and clean!

The Sugar House

Since we were at Parker’s Maple Barn, and because it’s the New England thing to do to visit a sugar house in the sugaring month of March, we did the tour of their sugar house!  A perfect early-spring day for doing so too!…cloudy skies, cool and crisp air, and the delicious aroma of wood smoke wafting through the air.  Wood smoke is my favorite scent!

Spotted in the parking lot.

Colette and friends!

The bewhiskered man that gives the tour is, in my opinion, a New England classic!  Dry wit.  Warm sweater.  Knowledge and skill.  He’s got it all!  And all the while he’s telling us about how it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, the air is filled with the sweet steam of evaporating sap mingled with the wood smoke aroma.  Ahhh…positively delicious!

The wood-fired evaporators need a lot of fuel to keep them going…boiling, and boiling, and boiling the maple sap to syrup.

A delightful spring tradition!  The first crop of the season has arrived!

Maple Feast

March is sugaring time in New Hampshire.  The sap is running.  The sap is boiling.  And maple syrup is filling the jugs in the sugar shacks.  Such a delicious time of year!  We took our guests to Parker’s Maple Barn to enjoy a hearty breakfast in their rustic dining room.

French toast and waffles were ordered all around the table.  The maple syrup flowed freely!

Good to the last bite!

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