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.

 

 

Mardis Gras at Abbott’s Glen clothing optional inn

Mardis gras beads & masks
Mardis Gras beads & masks

This past weekend Abbotts Glen celebrated Mardis Gras. Warm enough to enjoy the clothing optional aspect of our inn, guests adorned themselves with colorful beads, funky hats of gold & purple, and lots & lots of multi color beads.

Our Saturday planned celebration got underway on Friday evening with a casual dinner consisting of a white bean chili, salad of romaine, orange segments & avocado, homemade cornbread served with a crock of sweet aguave butter.

fresh salad
Salad with orange, red onion, avocado

The Mardis Gras celebration dinner was the early highlight of the night. We prepared the best pot of gumbo ever! The recipe is one I had collected from an issue of Cooks magazine. The perfect roux created a great base for this savory melange of vegetables, meats & fish. Guests ladled big portions of gumbo onto a base of

gumbo
Big bowl of Gumbo

white rice. A basket of perfectly fried hush puppies accompanied the dinner. Now no Nawlins dinner is complete with out collards. Ours was prepared with red onions sauteed in bacon, braised & finished with red wine vinegar & a touch of brown sugar.

collard greens with bacon
collard greens with bacon

Even guests who had never eaten collards were won over by its silky texture & sweet onion bacon flavors.

In years past, I had baked up a sweet potato pie or a bread pudding with a Bourbon sauce, but this year we shifted gears & decided to make a traditional Kings  Cake recipe. A  sweet yeast dough laced with cinnamon & sugar would be as at home in a breakfast line up as an after dinner sweet. Its traditional adornment is rustic sugar colored green, gold & purple. Served with a good cup of coffee, our Mardis Gras revelers were ready to dance it up in Club Sugar shack, bearing strands of colorful beads & masks & hats of every shape & color reflective of Mardis Gras .

table set for Mardis Gras dinner
A table set for a Mardis Gras dinner

 

 

New Years buffet dinner & dance

Every December, Abbott’s Glen clothing optional Inn , pulls out all the stops, for a spectacular New Years eve buffet & dinner dance. Held in Club Sugar shack, the night starts with an Hors d’oeuvres reception & cocktails.

new years menu
new years menu

Although we are nudists, the guests start the evening dressed in whatever festive look they care to portray. We transform this casual recreation space into a gold & silver  fantasy. Cocktail foods are displayed on gilded mirrors with candles & glitter. It takes 4 people to place this large mirror, which this year, held 2 rounds of brie cheese, one topped with pesto & slivered sun dried tomatoes and the other with jellied whole cranberries & Georgia pecans.  Assorted crackers & slices of baguette accompanied the display.shrimp skewers smoked oyster roll A smoked oyster roll topped with chopped pistachios provided another cheesy choice for nibbling.  Grilled Shrimp kabobs served with an over the top spicy cocktail sauce disappeared quickly.Swedish meatballs , always tender, napped in a dill sauce,had guests going back for more, even though a dinner buffet would follow.

New Years Eve Dinner & Dance
Fresh Salad Greens with Pears, Blue Cheese & Toasted Pecans
served with a Champagne Vinaigrette
Beef Wellington
Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp with Crab Stuffing
Wild Rice and Lentil Pilaf
Vegetable Medley
Dessert Buffet
Complementary Champagne at midnight

The dinner menu started with a Baby Greens salad topped with wine poached pears, Vermont blue cheese and toasted walnut pieces topped with a champagne vinaigrette.  The entrees included a beef wellington  & crab stuffed jumbo shrimp. A wild rice & lentil pilaf, along with roasted winter vegetables & a bread selection had everyone immersed in a full plate of holiday items. We wined & dined to holiday classics wafting through the room. The only thing missing from this New England holiday night was the snow!

Now no holiday dinner is complete without dessert. We let our guests start dancing before we brought out the dessert selection.  Home made cream puffs filled with an eggnog pastry cream, assorted cake balls filed with rum, chocolate & coconut cream. Assorted specialty cookies & meringues made up a glossy sweet delectable end to meal. Happy New Year!

 

Holiday foods & festivities

December at Abbott’s Glen was a full month of holiday foods & festivities. Like most kitchens, ours was busy with creating holiday cookies, glorious food for our Christmas party for guests and our families.

assorted cookie cutters
cookie cutters

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 3 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 egg , yolk

2 cups white flour

  1. In a large bowl,combine all ingredients except flour & beat until fluffy.
  2. Add flour & mix well. Divide dough into 2 chunks & flatten into disks. Place flat disk onto plastic wrap & chill 45 minutes.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven 375. Roll dough out onto a floured surface & cut dough with holiday cookie cutters. Bake 6 ~ 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool before decorating.Makes 3 dozen, depending on how thick you roll the dough out.

    baked holiday cookies
    baked holiday sugar cookies
sugar cookie dough
sugar cookie dough and rolling pin

Fall dining at the Inn

early morning-pondside-abbotts glen-coffee
Early morning, pondside at Abbott’s Glen, Vermont

Dining at Abbott’s Glen in October with our naturist friends is always so satisfying. The foods of autumn are so bountiful & nourishing. We find inspiration everywhere, from the last few leaves of kale in the garden to the baskets of apples we collect in our small orchard. Creating our menus to highlight the fall harvest is what this seasonal cooking is all about, and what guests expect when they come to our country inn, known for its food.

Let’s set the scene for welcoming guests in the fall. You drive down a long driveway lined with mature pines, cedars, and 100-year-old maples. A golden glow canopies the entire driveway as you approach the Abbott House. To the left of the driveway is a meadow punctuated by a pond and more stately pines. A cluster of red buildings with green tin roofs create a country scene, adorned this time of year with mums, pumpkins, and our dog, Tito (the official greeter!). Once parked, you are guided to the Meadow House check-in area. As you enter the main hallway, you see a fire in the lounge cracking with warmth. Two comfortable chairs beckon you to find a spot near the fire and enjoy a glass of wine or whatever. You are greeted by the Abbott’s Glen staff. With a warm hello, we dispense the information necessary to make our guests feel comfortable and on the path to a weekend of fun and relaxation!

tito-woodfire-abbotts glen
Abbott’s Glen lounge, wood stove, and Tito

Once guests are shown to their rooms, we often find they have changed out of their clothes and into an Abbott’s Glen terry robe. Many guests meander over to the Carriage house, where entertainment is yours to make. From billiards to Foosball, darts, or dancing, there is something for everyone. A wood stove heats this space and guests often gather in front of it to read or converse with other naturist guests. At this time of year, the Finnish sauna and hot tub take on fuller use as folks like to be warm, particularly our naturist friends.

During the month of October, we always host a Vermont cheese & cider tasting on Saturdays, from 5:30 ~ 6:30, as a prelude to the evening meal. Generally, three or four cheeses are represented along with the labels of their producers. A bowl of olives, assorted crackers, and novelty meats, such as venison sausage, fill the gap between lunch and dinner. It’s cocktail hour without the cocktails (unless you provide your own–we do not have a liquor license).

meadow-house-inn-dining-
Meadow House, Abbott’s Glen, Vermont

The Inn kitchen is located in the Meadow House. All those heavenly scents make their way through the Inn all day and start appetites craving for the beautiful dinner that awaits that night. This weekend was no exception. Our menu began with a butternut bisque, creamy and sweet, laced with a hint of nutmeg and topped with a dollop of sour cream. A basket of homemade maple oat rolls was a perfect buttered dipper for those last spoonfuls of soup. Our dinner buffet, set up on the side board, included a big wooden bowl filled with various greens, sliced apples, Vermont cheddar, and red onion. A new recipe for maple-ginger vinaigrette with soy sauce, ginger, and shallots topped the salad along with a sprinkle of salted pumpkin seeds. The entree of  chicken breasts stuffed with wild rice stuffing, napped with a cider veloute, melted in your mouth. To accompany the entree, a roasted root vegetable medley, with some new and unexpected additions, had everyone wanting this next recipe. Our meal concluded with cups of coffee and a silky pumpkin custard pie topped with maple whipped cream. Ahhhhh, another beautiful dinner shared with guests, where conversation comes easily and new friendships begin. Full, relaxed, and feeling good after a few glasses of wine, guests headed over to Club Sugar Shack for some dance time with more fun to be had.

Harvest Roasted Vegetable Medley
6 cloves of garlic, peeled & cut in half
3 shallots, quartered
10 carrots, peeled & sliced in 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 apples quartered (not Macintosh)
1 bunch radishes, tops removed, sliced
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed & cut in 1/2
1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into chunks
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary or Italian parsley
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
2. In a large bowl, combine garlic, shallots, carrots, apples, radishes, Brussels sprouts & rosemary sprigs. Add oil & butter and toss to coat. Season with salt, pepper & rosemary.
3. Bake for 25 ~ 30 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Garnish with chopped parsley & more fresh rosemary. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

 

Maple Ginger Vinaigrette
1 medium clove of garlic
1 medium shallot

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1. In a food processor, combine garlic, shallot, ginger, mustard, soy sauce, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar until well blended.
2. With motor running on low, slowly pour oil through the feed tube & blend until smooth.
3. Adjust seasoning. Strain if desired.
This is a delightful salad dressing, but can also be used to marinate salmon, pork, or beef.

 

Pumpkin Pie

1 single-crust 9-inch pie shell

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup white  sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tbs molasses

1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg

pinch of cloves

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups pumpkin puree

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg yolks, white & brown sugars, 1 Tbs molasses, & all the spices. Add in milk, cream & pumpkin. Pour filling into shell.
  3. Bake 10 minutes at 450° & then turn oven down to 350° & bake an additional 40 ~ 45 minutes, or until filling is set.
  4. Serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream & a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Oktoberfest at the Inn

 

Oktoberfest hats
Hats for Oktoberfest guests at Abbott’s Glen

Oktoberfest, held at Abbott’s Glen Inn in Vermont, is always a fun fall-getaway event. Each year our naturist guests join us from all over New England to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and a great dinner in celebration of Germany’s Oktoberfest. The menu this year, included “the best of the wursts,” representing five different varieties, two cabbage dishes, a spaetzle dish with a creamy Swiss cheese sauce, potato pancakes with homemade apple sauce,  potato dumplings in broth, and a variety of hearty German breads and mustards. No German dinner would be complete without a sauerkraut dish, simmered with beer, apples (from our orchard), and sweet onions.

Platter of Wursts
Platter of wursts for Oktoberfest dinner

New to our table this year was a relish tray, which is common in German restaurants. The tray offered horseradish-infused cottage cheese with fresh chives, a corn and bacon relish, a light white cabbage slaw with just a hint of vinegar and sugar, and saltine crackers to scoop it all up.

Oktoberfest dinner table
Oktoberfest relish tray

 

 

 

The meal was accompanied by German music, and the table was set with vintage linens, steins of various sizes, and candlelight. The aromas  wafted through the Inn all day, tempting guests to periodically pop into the dining room to ask, “What am I smelling, and when can we eat?!”

inneri table set for Oktoberfest
Table set for Abbott’s Glen Oktoberfest dinner

 

 

 

Our naturist guests were encouraged to contribute to the German atmosphere wearing any German attire they wish to adorn. Now this can get a little freaky with a bunch of fun-loving nudists, but we maintained some decorum when it was time to sit down and dine. Green felt hats with a variety of feathers were the uniform for most. My husband felt comfortable enough to wear a silly Dachshund hat most of the day and we had a great great time poking fun at him, with his suspenders connecting to an old pair of jean shorts. Not exactly lederhosen but, hey, he’s English, and anyone who knows my husband Lindy knows he definitely has his own special fashion sense. The guests and staff are given a selection of fun aprons they can wear: the ones for the women depicting buxom St. Pauli girl garb with steins of beer and tiny wastes. The men could choose either a lederhosen-wearing gent with six-pack abs holding the obligatory stein of frothy beer, or one depicting a more portly sort, with a beer belly, and sausages and fat German pretzels hanging from his lederhosen. All the garb we needed to enhance the sense of fun and revelry of this beer-drinking day. Abbott’s Glen does not have a liquor license, but guests bring German beers and wines, and sometimes a bottle of Jägermeister to share throughout the day.

The dinner concluded with a fabulous chocolate torte Eight layers of yellow cake held together with a chocolate pudding type of filling, glazed with a thick nap of German chocolate ganache. Although most of us had eaten more than usual, we all managed to enjoy the buttery sweet layers intermingled with a silky pudding filling and fudge-like topping. A cup of coffee gave us a respite from all the German beer and wine enjoyed throughout the meal.

German steins & Cake
German steins & cake

What a great way to begin the beautiful month of October. Vermont is legendary for its brilliant fall colors, apple orchards brimming with a variety of apples, and roadside stands full of pumpkins and winter squashes. We celebrate the harvest all month with beautiful meals reflective of the season. Stay tuned for more recipes from this beautiful time of year.

Kaese Spaetzle

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. each salt & nutmeg

1/8 tsp. pepper

3 eggs

3Tbs. butter

1/3 cup of milk

1 onion, sliced

1 1/2 cups shredded Emmentaler cheese

  1. Sift together flour, nutmeg, and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Alternately mix in the milk & flour mixture with eggs until smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Press batter through a spaetzle press into the water. (If you don’t have a spaetzle press, a large-hole grater can be used, but be aware that it will be messy!) When the spaetzle float to the top, transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Mix in 1 cup of cheese.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until limp and golden. Stir in spaetzle and remaining cheese until blended. Serves 8.

 

The foods of summer

Here it is the beginning of October at Abbott’s Glen clothing optional resort. Like most of us, we are asking where the summer went, perhaps feeling like we didn’t get in all the things we wanted to. On my list were a few more visits to our local organic farmers’ market on Saturdays, longer walks with our dog Tito, and more time to swim at Harriman Reservoir (more commonly known as The Ledges). What we did a lot of was entertain our Inn guests with glorious dinners and breakfasts served outside on the patio. Just in this past month we have celebrated the foods of Greece, Tuscany, and Mexico. We have BBq’d up lots of ribs and chicken as we danced and sang to live blues with our house band, The Reprobates. Leisurely Sunday breakfasts enjoyed al fresco included lots of farm fresh eggs, which we made into deviled eggs and fritattas with fresh herbs from the garden and platters of fresh summer fruits.

Classic BBq pork ribs
Country-style pork ribs
Zucchini Fritatta
Zucchini Frittata
Deviled eggs with Herbs
Deviled eggs

What a joy to be able to go our right out my kitchen door to pluck sweet basil, fronds of tarragon, and mint, which always invades everywhere, every year. Colorful nasturtium blossoms adorned many of our summer platters of food.

The garden had it’s challenges with cooler than normal temperatures, but we had many meals of green and wax beans, Swiss chard, and kale. Our tomatoes are just starting to produce and each day I harvest a pint or two of cherry tomatoes. This year we grew the sweet orange variety as well as a purple variety. Teamed up with fresh basil, thinly sliced red onion, and drizzled with a blood orange olive oil, salt, and pepper was all it needed.

Our fruit trees are fuller than we have ever seen. The plum tree branches are so laden with fruit they are almost laying on the grass. Our apple and pear trees are full of sweet smelling treats that will make their way into apple sauce, apple desserts, chutneys, and breads.

And how could I forget the zucchini?? Maybe I was trying to, as we ate it in every way possible! Our favorite recipe had to be a filo pastry filled with sauteed zucchini, eggs, feta, and fresh dill. Layered with filo and baked until golden, it was a perfect partner to the shish kebabs served for our “It’s Greek to Me” dinner.

greek cocktail hour
Greek mezze

Our guests started their evening with a mezze table, including items such as stuffed grape leaves, roasted eggplant dip, mini spanakopita, and mixed marinated olives.

Summer desserts included many ice cream treats, berry cobblers, and a frozen Margarita mousse we served for our “Taste of Mexico” dinner.

single serving berry trifle
Individual berry trifle

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most memorable evenings this Abbott’s Glen summer was the 12th Anniversary dinner celebrating our 12 years in hospitality. We always rent a tent and entertain about 25 couples. The menu included a cocktail hour pond side, where we treated guests to watermelon mojitos and a variety of little bites from sushi to roasted mission figs drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

Anniversary cocktail foods
Cocktail spread at the pond
celebrating 12 years in hospitality

Dinner included grilled shrimp served with a fresh peach salsa and cold roasted tenderloin with a chimichurri sauce.

Dinner buffet al fresco
Anniversary Buffet

 

Summer table set
Summer table set for dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was fortunate enough to steal away to Santa Fe for a week to visit a dear cousin who is a major foodie and a fabulous cook. I enjoyed a variety of cuisines from tapas in downtown Santa Fe to fabulous elk burgers cooked on a wood fire at my cousin’s ranch.

elk burger
Elk burger Santa Fe style

Hoping your summer was full of family fun, fabulous foods, and travel experiences that made your summer memorable!

 

 

Naked Country cooking