Monday, November 29, 2010

Beech Nut Hut

Beech Nut Hut
How could you NOT want to go to a place called the Beech Nut Hut? I first read about this trail in Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors (which I highly recommend you get yourself a subscription to if you love Maine!) It's taken us over a year to actually get there, but get there we did, just as the sun was setting- what were we thinking?!

It's about an hour and a half drive from here, so you might include this short detour (2 miles round trip) on your drive to Camden and points north.

on the trail

It's a short hike from the parking area to the top and most of it is on a packed sand driveway. The views are worth the walk, even at sunset and 35 degrees with the wind whipping around!

Blueberries are grown on either side of the path so dogs must be leashed at all times (leashes are provided at the trailhead!) and all walkers must stay on the path.

In the summer you can have tea inside the 'hut' overlooking sweeping views of Penobscot Bay and Mt Battie. For complete details on the hours, directions and a trail map, this is the website.

If you just want to go there, here are the directions: Rt 1 north to Rockport. At Hoboken Gardens (on the right as you are headed north), turn LEFT on Beech Hill Rd. Go approx 1 mile (you will take a sharp left corner in the road), pass the stone gates with fence and pull in at the parking area on the left. (If you get to Camden Village on Rt 1, you've gone too far.)

Penobscot Bay
The view from the front porch of the hut. I also took this quirky photo through the building (which is closed in the winter) but the windows line up pretty well! So you are seeing the trees behind me and the bay out the far window. (And those big, fuzzy things around the camera are my gloves!)

White Cedar Inn Bed & Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chocolate Bread Pudding-November Recipe of the Month

There are myriad variations on the recipe for bread pudding. The basis, tho, is stale bread and a few eggs. For this recipe (stolen directly from Paula Deen) the big ingredient is chocolate! Take a gander:

1 lb loaf of stale French or Italian bread, cubed
3 c whole milk
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c cold coffee
1 c sugar
1 c light brown sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
6 eggs, lightly beaten
8 ozs grated semisweet chocolate
whipped cream (optional) (Yeah, right, optional. Like you'd skip the whipped cream!)

Preheat oven to 325.

Lightly grease 13x9" baking dish and place bread in dish, covering the bottom. (I shredded the bread rather than cubing as it went faster that way.) In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and coffee. In a second bowl, combine the sugars & cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. To the beaten eggs, add the vanilla and almond extracts and the cinnamon. Combine egg mixture to the milk & sugar mixture, mix well. Stir in the grated chocolate (buy it grated, it's a bear to try to grate it yourself!)

Pour the mixture over the bread in the pan. Let stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to soak all of the bread evenly. All of the liquid should be mostly absorbed before baking. Bake for 1 hour or until set (no liquid should be evident). An inserted knife should come out clean.

Serve warm or cold, topped with whipped cream.

Notes from me: this was way too sweet and, I can't believe I'm saying this, way too chocolate-y. Next time I make it, I will reduce the sugar, probably by cutting out the white sugar altogether and reduce the amount of semisweet chocolate to 6 ozs instead of 8. I chopped the semisweet baking chocolate blocks rather than grating as the grating was taking damn near forever!

Guests told us they remembered their mothers making this with chocolate milk rather than the cocoa & semisweet, so that's an option as well.

You could also sub non-fat milk to cut a good chunk of the calories out. But, this isn't supposed to be a healthy 'meal', it's a comfort food dessert or breakfast starter!


White Cedar Inn Bed & Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, November 05, 2010

Tales of a lost chicken

What do chickens eat? Have you any idea? Neither did we, so we figured the chicken that made its way into the yard last week would make its way back out when it realized it was slim pickin's around here. Au contraire!

I'll post more about the vacation later on, but suffice it to say we were leaving for a few days the day after this chicken made an appearance in the shrubs by the stairs. It seemed perfectly content to completely dig out my flower garden looking for bugs but we didn't relish the idea of coming home to find a dead chicken anywhere near the house. So, being totally not the farming types, we called friends who keep chickens (and goats and alpaca and rabbits) to ask if they wanted a go at catching this one and giving it a good home.

And off we went on vacation.

We called our friends a couple of days into the vacation to ask if they'd had any luck. Apparently this chicken is Houdini's reincarnation. No matter what they did or how far they chased it, it eluded capture. (Maybe it's a fan of the movie 'Chicken Run'.)

Today the chicken has been greeting guests as they come up the stairs. BA, BA, BA, BAAAAK! I was told this means it's upset. Our friends will be back when the weather is more amenable to chasing chickens.

We have fed it seedless grapes, which it really seemed to appreciate. Well, sure it did. After scratching and digging for a few days, here was someone tossing food right to it. It's rained since yesterday so there is plenty of water pooling up here and there. Still, I will put out a bowl of water tomorrow to go along with the blackberries that are on the menu for breakfast, for the chicken, not the guests!

My mother always told me to not feed strays. And here I go putting out grapes and berries for a chicken that clucks at me and the guests! Hopefully our friends will be by soon. Before I start naming the chicken. (Tallulah? I'm kind of fond of that name.) And building it a coop. And bringing home other chickens to keep it company. You see how this gets out of hand!

Got a video camera I can borrow? Chasing the chicken around should be interesting...

"If I tuck my head, they can't see me, I'm invisible."

Tallulah update: If you were keeping track of the daily tales of Tallulah you know we spent a few days feeding her while trying to decide what to do with her. We found a neighbor with chickens who was willing to take her in, if we could all catch her. ('Hell on wheels' is the best description of this chicken!)

Well, while trying to catch her with a fishing net (yeah, don't bother to tell me), we attracted the attention of a neighbor's cat. I ran to scare off the cat, which was not budging, and instead, I scared off Tallulah who took for the streets.

She was across Main St later on in the day and her real family was over there trying to herd her back home. So, happy ending, I think. After all, over here she had the run of the yard, all the worms she could eat, yummy leftovers and no work. But, she also didn't have her 'family' so I hope she's happy at home!

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032