Archive for January, 2012

HOTTEST TRENDS IN HOT TEA, TEA ROOMS, TEA DRINKERS, JANE AUSTEN AND P. D. JAMES’S NEW BRITISH MURDER MYSTERY ALL BLEND TOGETHER AT COASTAL MAINE B&B BOOTHBAY MAINE

January 28th, 2012 by richard-pamela-riley

Surrounded by cookbooks, magazines, and my dog-eared notebooks, my head is swimming with the possibilities

Today here at Hodgdon Island Inn, it is a stay-inside-and-drink-plenty-of-warm-beverages kind of day so I am using it to do some more research on one of my very favorite subjects:  recipe development!  As I sit here sipping a cup of Red Rooibos tea infused with blackcurrant extract I am in seventh heaven.  Surrounded by cookbooks, magazines, and my dog-eared notebooks, my head is swimming with the possibilities for new breakfast starters, entrees and desserts.  Just think poor Richard will have to suffer through yet another round of “taste testing”.

In between reading up on the latest cooking trends, healthy ingredients, the importance of shopping locally and thinking about which recipe(s) we will try this week, I have been riveted to P.D. James’s new mystery novel, Death Comes to Pemberly.  It is every bit an exciting sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice as it is one of James’s very British murder mysteries (I keep waiting for Commander Adam Dalgliesh to appear)!

But I digress … I digress because I came across an interesting fact on the Internet today – January is National Hot Tea Month – which caused my mind to begin to wander and connect the dots between my delicious cup of Red Rooibos tea (infused with blackcurrant extract – yum) with the cure-all cup of tea in Regency England with what the so-called hottest trend in hot teas is at the moment.

January is National Hot Tea Month

According to the experts, this year’s hottest trend is “flowering teas”.  It is amazing to watch as hand-sewn sachets of tea and dried flowers bloom!  If you have a few seconds to spare, check out this video link:   http://www.whas11.com/video/yahoo-video/January-is-National-Tea-Month-13 and once you get there you may have to type in “January is National Hot Tea Month” in the video search section …

Now we know there are wonderful coffee shops and bookshop/cafes around the Boothbay Harbor Region where we have the occasional fresh-brewed cup of coffee and the calorie-busting frappucino, but I have to admit, under normal circumstances, to being a dyed-in-the-wool tea drinker.  In fact, legend has it, that my mother (being fromIreland), used to put milk with tea in my baby bottle.  And I am afraid I am not just a tea drinker, but I am a discerning tea drinker which means that I require water that is at a rolling boil, the appropriate steeping time, coffee-free vessels, and whenever possible, china cups or mugs.

So Richard and I have set out in search of local tea purveyors and found a gem right here in Boothbay:  McNab’s Tea Room up the road from the inn off Back River Road.  http://www.mcnabsteatoom.com/

Well, I’m off to put the kettle on and make dinner.  A possible new breakfast entrée is on taps for tonight:  baked eggs in bread bowls with Panko-crusted baked tomatoes.  I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out – you know if it is thumbs up or thumbs down from Richard.  Be sure to stay tuned … :-)

BOOTHBAY’S HODGDON ISLAND INN BED & BREAKFAST OFFERS “SHORTCUT PIE RECIPE” TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL PIE DAY JANUARY 23rd

January 21st, 2012 by richard-pamela-riley

I don’t know about you, but winter is one of my favorite seasons for cooking and baking pies.  Pies of all sorts:  sweet pies and tarts, savory pies and tarts, quiches, hand-held turnovers or pasties, vol-au-vents, pissaladiere, pithivier, tourtiere, cobblers and crumbles – with crusts of every kind, shape and texture.

There is something very soothing about assembling a pie.  Deciding though as to what kind to make is quite another story.  Should it be homemade or ready-made?  Do we want a galette, a bundle, a tartlet, a strudel, a triangle? Should we make it deep-dish, free-form or crustless?  Low fat?  Is it filo or Phyllo? And is Shepherd’s Pie really a pie?

If we go the savory route, there is always the traditional use of pastry to top off a delicious smooth and creamy chicken pot pie chuck full of winter friendly root vegetables as is the mouth-wateringly tempting wrapping of Brie and a medley of mushrooms in sheets of buttery Phyllo.  If we go the sweet route, there is always the ever-popular Lemon Meringue pie, cherry strudel, or Baklava even.

Celebrate National Pie Day with No-Peel Apple Pie; old-fashioned, but easier!

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking let’s keep this simple.  Good old-fashioned apple pie will do it any day of the year – and my motto is the easier the better!  So, here is a recipe for a “No-Peel Apple Pie” that I discovered about 20 years ago in a holiday insert of Better Homes & Gardens.  When you make No-Peel Apple Pie, you can skip the apple-peeling step.  Select apple varieties with tender skins like Golden Delicious, Jonagold, or Jonathan and use a ready-made piecrust and voila! Old-fashioned, but easier apple pie!

 

INGREDIENTS:

 1- 15-ounce package folded refrigerated unbaked piecrust (2 crusts)

6 large apples

½ cup water

2 TBS lemon juice

½ cup sugar

2 TBS all-purpose flour

1½ TSP apple pie spice

Whipping cream or milk

Coarse and/or granulated sugar

Whipped cream (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

_ Let piecrusts stand at room temperature according to package directions.

Meanwhile, core and slice unpeeled apples (you should have about 8 cups).

Combine apples with water and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl; toss to coat.

 

_ For filling, stir together ½ cup sugar, flour, and spice in a large mixing bowl.

Drain apples well; add to sugar mixture and toss gently to coat.  Set aside.

 

_ Unfold one piecrust. Place on lightly floured surface.  Unfold the second crust and place on top of the first.  Roll the two crusts together from center to edge into a 14-inch circle.  Ease the pastry into a 9-inch pie plate, letting crust hang over the edge.

 

_ Spoon apple filling into the pastry-lined pie plate.  Fold the pastry up and over the filling, pleating the pastry to fit.  Brush crust with whipping cream or milk.  Sprinkle the pie with coarse and/or granulated sugar.  Cover the edge of the pie with foil to prevent overbrowning.

 

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake about 30 minutes more or till crust is golden.  Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.  Serve pie while warm with whipped cream, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

SNOW DAY AT HODGDON ISLAND INN BED AND BREAKFAST NEAR BOOTHBAY HARBOR, MAINE

January 19th, 2012 by richard-pamela-riley

Snow Day at Hodgdon Island Inn

In nearby Boothbay Harbor today it is 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity is at 92%, the winds are from the north at 5mph and it’s snowing!  Here at Hodgdon Island Inn I am sitting at my desk looking out at a landscape which only can be described in terms of not black and white, but grey and white.

A multitude of grey for that matter!  As I look westward across the Inn’s circular driveway I can just barely discern the water at the end of the yard.  It looks like molten pewter, the sky overhead looks like a soft dove grey, the trunks of the horse chestnut trees are the color of ashes and the boughs of the giant pines standing watch over the north corner of the yard appear to be a dark brownish grey.

The water looks like molten pewter beneath a soft dove grey sky

The seagulls that can normally be seen perching on the rooflines of both the Trevett General Store and the Mill Cove Lobster Pond across the street are almost invisible as their grey and white feathers blend perfectly into the background. Of course all of these surfaces are being covered with lots of very wet and very white snowflakes.  In short, it’s beautiful!

It is so nice to be at home sitting at my desk.  Richard and I (and Charlie) have just returned from our annual sojourn south to celebrate the holidays with family and friends back in Kentucky.  We hope your holiday season was as joyous as was ours.  It is always nice to catch up on the “gossip”, overeat, visit the old haunts and in short, make wonderful new memories, but it is always good to come home.  And home it is here at Hodgdon Island Inn!  Last night’s run to Hannaford’s in Boothbay proves it:  we ran into someone we know at the grocery store! :-)