It’s Maple season here at Abbott’s Glen

Sugaring season
Sugaring season

As the owner & chef at Abbott’s Glen Naturist resort in Vermont, I always look forward to the sweet month of March. Sweet because that’s when sugaring begins. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it means drawing off sap from the maple trees & boiling it down until you have that golden amber maple syrup.

With help from our guests we tap about 50 mature trees lining our driveway. These trees can accommodate 3 buckets each. The sap begins to run when temperatures reaches over 40 during the day & falls below freezing at night. Generally a season runs from mid March to early April, if we are lucky. Abbott’s Glen produces several gallons of syrup which we utilize at the inn. The whole month of

Blueberry pancakes
Buttermilk Blueberry pancakes

March we host theme dinners celebrating the new syrup. Each course of the dinner highlights some maple in the recipe. Guests are also treated to a hot stack of buttermilk pancakes for breakfast with a warm cruet of syrup to pour a top.

Did you know it makes a fabulous marinade for salmon? How about a sweet potato & Peanut soup? How about enhancing your roasted veggies with a drizzle? Add some Maple syrup to your morning smoothie? Now that I have you thinking let’s get cooking. Just promise me you won’t use the fake product you find on your supermarket shelf. The real maple syrup is worth every penny..

Abbott's Glen Maple syrup
Assorted bottles of Abbott’s Glen syrup

Maple Ginger Roasted Salmon

¼ cup soy sauce or wheat free tamari

¼ cup dark maple syrup

1 Tbsp. white vinegar

1 Tbsp peeled grated fresh ginger

½ tsp crushed red pepper

1 1 ~ 1 ¾ lb. boneless salmon, skin on.

In a large baking dish stir soy sauce, syrup, vinegar, ginger, & red pepper. Lay salmon skin side up in marinade.

Preheat oven 425. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Lay fish on the foil, skin side down. Roast uncovered until fish for 12 minutes.

Pour the marinade into a sauce pan & cook down until syrupy. Pour it over the fish & serve with thinly sliced scallions.

Serves: 6 ~ 7

Maple Glazed Carrots

1 tablespoon butter

1 shallot, minced

¼ cup water

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ tsp cinnamon

5 cups sliced carrots, ¼ inch thick

4 tsp apple cider vinegar

Parsley or chives to garnish.

Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add shallot & cook stirring 1 to 2 minutes until soft & browned. Add water, syrup & cinnamon. Increase heat to high & bring to a boil. Add carrots & return to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Cover, reduce heat to medium to maintain a lively simmer, 4 ~ 6 minutes, until crisp tender. Remove lid & stir in vinegar. Increase heat, continue to cook until liquid has thickened & carrots are coated. Sprinkle with fresh chives or parsley.

Serves 6 ~ 8

Mardis Gras dinner

Mardis Gras regalia
Mardis Gras regalia

We celebrated Mardis Gras at the Inn last  Saturday night. What a fun event this is. Guests arrive for our theme weekend with masks, beads & funky hats. My husband Lindy makes sure we have music to accompany the weekend from zydeco to Harry Connick Jr.  We deck out Club Sugar Shack with all kinds of Mardis Gras regalia to create a fun & festive feeling for the party that will follow a great dinner.

Ingredients for shrimp & Grits
Ingredients for Andouille & shrimp over cheesy grits

This year, I decided to veer from my tried & true recipes from Gourmet , & try a few new ones. Our dinner  menu this year was a fabulous Shrimp & Andouille sausage melange served atop a mound of creamy cheddar grits. To accompany it, braised collards with bacon, brown sugar, onions & Worcestershire , came together with a splash of red wine vinegar.

A basket of freshly fried

fried hush puppies
tray of hush puppies

hushpuppies, with bits of red peppers , were placed on dining tables for guests to enjoy. Biting into the crispy crust & cheesy cornmeal interiors , one had to restrain from eating them all . Remember, sharing is a nice thing to do!

The one recipe I did prepare, that is always a favorite for this menu is sweet potato pie. A dollop of sweetened cream & a good cup of coffee & we were ready to head over to club Sugar shack to dance away the night.

Collards & bacon
Collards & bacon

Smoky Southern Collards

3 Tbs vegetable oil

4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 large onion, halved & thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 ~ 21/1 lbs of fresh collard greens, rinsed & chopped, center vein(stalk removed)

1 ham hock

1 tsp salt

2 beef bouillion cubes

3 Tbs light brown sugar

3 Tbs BBQ sauce

1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

several dashes of hot pepper sauce

1 Tbs red wine vinegar or balsamic

Heat oil in a large heavy bottom soup pot.Add bacon & cook until lightly browned. Add onion & garlic & cook until softened about 5 minutes.

Add collards & just enough water to cover the greens. Add ham hock, salt & bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Add bouillion to the pot & stir until dissolved.Then add brown sugar, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce & hot pepper sauce. Stir, then simmer for 2 ~ 3 hours uncovered. Add additional water, 1/2 cup at a time, if necessary to keep greens stewing but not drowning.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove hock & add vinegar. You may pass more vinegar at the table if you wish. Makes 6 servings

Big bowl of Andouille Sausage & Shrimp
Bowl of Andouille Sausage & Shrimp for Mardis Gras dinner

Shrimp  & Andouille Sausage with Cheddar Cheese Grits

2 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup green pepper, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes with their juices

1/2 cup chicken stock

salt & pepper

3/4 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined

2 andouille sausages, cut in half length wise, then cut in 1 inch thickness

2 Tbs chopped parsley & 2 Tbs scallion, thinly sliced

For shrimp: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon & cook until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Add onion & pepper to bacon drippings in skillet & cook until soft. Add garlic & cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes & stock & bring to a boil. Lower heat & simmer 5 minutes. Add sausage & cook 5 more minutes. Add salt & pepper. Add shrimp , cover 7 cook until shrimp are cooked through, 4 ~ 5 minutes. Add hot sauce & parsley., & stir.

For grits:

Cheddar grits
Cheddar Grits

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3/4 tsp. salt

1 cup quick cooking grits

2 Tbs unsalted butter, in several pieces

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

freshly ground pepper

chopped scallions

Heat milk & stock in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add grits, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Add butter, stir, & add cheese, 1 cup at a time. Cook until grits are thick but not runny. If too thick, add milk a Tbs at a time. Add chopped scallions & black pepper.

Makes 6~8 servings.

Beer-Cheese Hush Puppies

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup white flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 Tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 oz. cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

1/3 cup minced yellow onion

1/3 cup red pepper

1 egg, slightly beaten

2/3 cup light lager

Vegetable oil for deep fat frying

In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar & salt. Add cheese, onion, & red pepper, toss to combine. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In another bowl mix egg & beer. Add at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

In a large vessel, I use my wok, heat oil to 375. For each hush puppy, drop 1 rounded Tbsp. I use a small ice cream scoop. Fry 3 ~ 4 at a time until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. I hold them in a low oven while the remaining hush puppies fry up. Serve them up with some pepper jelly. In case you are wondering , 128 calories per. Oh my, you do the math!




A wonderful salad

A glen morning icy pine needles
iced pine needles

Every weekend, I prepare dinner for our inn guests. Unlike most restaurants, I create a new menu each weekend. Most of my dinners include a special salad.   This weekend I made a romaine salad, which included Compari  tomatoes, Swiss cheese, maple bacon,& toasted almonds. A light lemon vinaigrette with garlic, pulled the whole salad together. All of my guests asked for the recipe . So here it is for all to enjoy.

Company Salad

3/4 cup vegetable oil. I used avocado oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt & pepper

2 bunches or romaine

2 cups of diced tomatoes

6 strips of maple bacon, cooked z& crumbled

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 cup croutons( make homemade)

Prepare the dressing in a jar, shake & refrigerate.

Tear romaine into a large bowl. Add tomatoes, bacon, cheeses, almonds & croutons. Toss . Add dressing just before serving.

Serves 8 ~ 10.

I followed the salad with a Shrimp & Andouille Sausage served over cheddar grits. A great comfort food dinner.

Sleigh ride weekend

Adams Farm sleigh
Adams Farm sleigh

Every January, Abbott’s Glen hosts a sleigh ride weekend at Adams Farm in Dover Vermont. Our guests join us for an iconic winter experience. We dine earlier in the evening so we can reach the mountain for an 8:00 departure. A team of 2 draft horses ascend the mountain pulling 20 blanket covered guests over the snow covered meadows under a sparkling winter night sky. Once at the cabin, we unload to let let the horses rest awhile. We are greeted by a member of the Adams family who offers up some hot chocolate .The cabin is lit by kerosene lamps. A wood stove for heat & an old player piano allow for some ole time entertainment & warmth.

Spinach salad
Spinach salad with Apples & sunflower seeds

I always plan an easy home style meal that echoes a country feeling.  So a home made chicken pot pie seemed like a perfect fit. We started the meal with a spinach salad with sliced pink lady apples, thinly sliced red onion, & salted pumpkin seeds. It was offered with blue cheese & a home made honey Dijon dressing.

chicken pot pie
Chicken pot pie for 24

The chicken pot pie with a cheddar biscuit topping  was satisfying and delicious. Most of our guests had as second helping and everyone asked for the recipe.

When we returned from mountain , we served a platter of golden cupcakes with a chocolate ganache , topped with fresh sugared orange peel. Coffee & a warm fire was all the guests needed to rev them up for the from the remaining night of dancing in Club Sugar Shack.

yellow cupcakes
yellow cupcakes with ganache & candied citrus r

Baking on a gray day

country kitchen canisters
Abbott’s glen kitchen canisters

Winter in Vermont can be long. Often there are many  gray days in a row.  It’s easy to feel a little blue & lethargic. My remedy for the blues? Head into the kitchen & bake something comforting. Chocolate usually does the trick.

brownie pie wedge
wedge of brownie pie with peppermint ice cream

I found this decadent  brownie pie recipe in Ken Hadricks’ cookbook  appropriately titled” Comfort Food”. I have been using a lot of his recipes this January.   I have prepared several pots of soup, many 1 pan main dishes, & a few desserts. This brownie pie may become a favorite. I chose to top with a peppermint gelato and my  guests loved it. Sweetened whipped cream would also be terrific.


Brownie Pie

baked brownie pie
Brownie pie right out of the oven

1  9 inch pie crust, unbaked

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

brownie pie ingredients
brownie pie ingredients

1/2 cup white flour

1/2 tsp. salt

Optional: 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of chocolate chips & heat for a few minutes more, then remove from heat. Stir until chips are melted.
  • In a large bowl, combine eggs,sugars & vanilla & whisk until evenly blended.Add melted chocolate & stir. Add flour & salt & blend. Add remaining chips & nuts. Scrape the filling into unbaked pie shell & smooth top.
  • Bake  for 30 ~ 35 minutes. Do not test with a tooth pick in middle as it should be fudgy.
  • Serve warm with Ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8 ~ 12
  • Note: this is very rich so smaller pie wedges will still satisfy that chocolate urge.

A light whole wheat pancake?

As a long time subscriber to Cooks magazine, I have devoured every issue from its beautiful front cover to the last page of food illustrations, worthy of framing.

I have cooked numerous recipes over the years and know that these recipes have been proven to be perfect as long as you follow the directions. I love reading each article which describes  why something would not turn out right. It makes it so easy to not mess up when you know the chemistry behind the variables.

whole wheat buttermilk pancakes
whole wheat buttermilk pancakes

So this past weekend, my husband had a hankering for pancakes. I had just purchased a 10 lb bag of freshly ground whole wheat flour from the Knitty Gritty Grain company. If you haven’t hear of them, they are a small company in Vermont that grows their own corn & wheat organically. Their items are then ground & packaged in smaller quantities for the home cook or wholesale for businesses. We sell their Cornmeal products here at the inn along with several grades of maple syrup.

My husband made up a batch of buttermilk whole wheat pancakes from Cooks magazine while I  tended to the bacon. Now if you have tried to make a loaf of whole wheat bread & it turned out to be a 5 lb brick, you realize whole wheat flour has little gluten. Not great for bread making but fabulous for pancakes. It’s almost hard to believe that a whole wheat pancake could be lighter than one made with white flour but that is the truth. They were too good to be true and that’s why I am sharing this recipe with you. So enjoy without guilt. They are good for you. Of course a lump of sweet butter & some Vermont maple syrup make the perfect breakfast stack.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour  ( 11oz)

2 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp  salt

2 1/4 cups of buttermilk

5 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil

2 large eggs

Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar ,soda & salt together. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk, oil & eggs together. Make a well in the flour mixture & add the wet mixture. Whisk until smooth. Mixture will be thick.

Heat oil on a grill pan. I also use a tab of butter as it gives the pancakes more flavor . Gently ladel out a 1/4 cup batter into a 5 inch round. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. Flip.

Do not press the pancake down with a flipper as it will deflate the fluffy texture. Recipe makes about 15 pancakes.


Autumn inspiration

At our country Inn in Vermont, we celebrated Columbus day weekend with our guests & autumn inspired meals .

Fall sunrise at Abbott's Glen
Autumn sunrise at Abbott’s Glen Inn

Once the weather starts getting cooler my desire to get back into the kitchen emerges. I start thinking about baking up items that make the kitchen sweet with the scent of cinnamon & nutmeg. My entree choices become satisfying dishes like a home made pasta, roasted root veggies, cuts of beef or pork, braised or roasted, sweet potatoes & pots of soup to satisfy a fall palate. It is a time when the last of the garden herbs, like hearty sage , rosemary and thyme get a good pruning and make their way to our kitchen to be dried or made into herb oils .

The change of seasons is a time of transition from lazy evenings  out at the grill & freshly picked vegetables to days of visiting  road side farm stands for a variety of winter squashes & root veggies that will find there way to a stock pot or oven. There’s nothing better than a pot of stew or soup, comfort food we all love, when the winds turn chilly & a wood fire crackles with a woody scent.

If you were a guest of Abbott’s Glen this past weekend, you enjoyed

Portabello mushroom pizza
Abbott’s Glen portabello mushroom pizza

homemade pizza with toppings of roasted portabello mushrooms & spinach, with a base of fire roasted tomatoes & topped with a smoked mozzarella  from a local cheese maker.

Zucchini Salad
Zucchini Salad with a Caesar style dressing

A zucchini salad with grape tomatoes, a ceasar style dressing, & topped with grated parmesan cheese & toasted pine nuts was nice change of pace for a salad offering.

Dessert included a pumpkin chocolate chip brownie with a sweet chocolate ganache which we served over in the Carriage house aside a fire in the wood stove.

pumpkin bars with chocolate ganache
Pumpkin chocolate chip brownies with chocolate ganache

Part of our weekend menu included a harvest  dinner which began with a Spinach Salad chock full of fresh sliced Gala apples, toasted walnuts , a grating of Vermont cheddar cheese & tossed with a Cranberry pear Vinaigrette. A roasted Pork Tenderloin bathed in a sweet marinade of Maple, Dijon, garlic & fresh squeezed orange juice was complimented with a chunky mashed potatoes with a generous amount of butter, pesto & freshly ground pepper. I roasted up chunks of butternut squash until shiny, tender & lightly browned.

Every dinner must end with something memorable, preferably sweet but not too over the top.

Maple mocha pudding
Dessert, maple mocha pudding

I made an simple  maple mocha pudding topped  with a scoop of vanilla Hagan Das ice cream

Baked french toast
Cinnamon bread & sausage baked french toast
Platter of fresh fruit
Platter of fresh fruit for breakfast at Abbott’s Glen

Guests staying at Abbott’s Glen always look forward to breakfast They never know what the menu will provide, part of the fun! One morning a sausage & cinnamon baked  bread French toast lured guests from their rooms. Another morning a baked German pancake with sauteed pears had guests licking the last bit of maple syrup from a plate devoid of even a crumb. Truth be told, most folks do enjoy breakfast.



Naked Country cooking