Tuesday Travel

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Tuesday travels. One of my favorite blog posts to write. This week, I am excited to share the itinerary from our recent weekend escape to Vermont. My girl had a big birthday last week and to celebrate I stole her away for a northern getaway. Did you know that Vermonters claim to have six seasons? Fall, twig, winter, mud, spring, and summer. Who knew?! Although the foliage was past it peaks, my girl and I managed to have a terrific little getaway in the Green Mountain State!

Stay

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I am a huge fan of Lark Hotels, a group of hotels in iconic New England locations {and soon expanding to Napa and Nashville} that focus on a sense of place and a bit of fun. Each location is designed by principal and head designer Rachel Reider, who was recently honored as one of the “5 under 40 designers” to watch. When I saw pictures of the newly opened Field Guide in Stowe, I knew this was the place to stay. Just look at our room above… updated cabin chic. We stayed in a King Suite in the Trail House, set apart from the main hotel. Our room had a fire place, deck, soaking tub and one of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in. And the best part, breakfast was delivered to our door each morning. I can guarantee this will be a place we stay for years to come.

Do

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Have I mentioned my girl is a huge craft beer fan? If you are in the know about craft beer, then you know Vermont is the place to go. And while there are several notable breweries in the area, my girl’s favorite is Hill Farmstead Brewery. Saturday morning, after enjoying our delicious breakfast delivery, we drove northeast for about 45 minutes to Greensboro. With luck on our side, we arrived a little before 11 am and joined about 20 fellow beer enthusiasts to wait for the 12 noon opening. And you know what? They decided to open early. We were fifth in-line to have our growlers filled {I won’t share how many we bought} and then enjoyed a tasting. I sipped on Works of Love, part of their philosophical series, which is a hoppy blonde ale brewed with Earl Grey tea and quite delicious. Heading to Vermont, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful and popular spot.

We always joke that my girl loves breweries and I love bakeries so of course we had to check out a local Vermont bakery. My pick Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury. Their sign claims they have “world-famous donuts” and I am here to confirm they most certainly do. I typically prefer mine with cinnamon sugar but they do a plain cake donut that is perfection.

Vermont is known for idyllic country roads and covered bridges. Before leaving Stowe on Sunday, we visited Emily’s Bridge, highlighted in this picture. For a full list of covered bridges in the state, check out this link.

Eat

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Since I knew we were going to be doing our fair share of drinking over the weekend, I wanted to make sure we started the trip with a good meal in us. After a bit of research, I decided to make our Friday dinner reservation at Hen of the Wood. This restaurant has one goal: to provide a true Vermont dining experience that showcases the vibrant foods of the state. What a dining experience we had. Perfection! If you are planning a trip to Vermont, I encourage you to get online and book now.

A few other spots not to miss:

Doc Ponds – sister restaurant to Hen of the Woods. They have a fantastic beer menu and delicious bites. A far more casual spot with the same attention to food and service.

The Bench – a stone’s throw from the Field Guide, this lively restaurant has a terrific menu of comfort food. Saturday night, we shared the pizza and a yummy spinach salad but the real star of our meal was the s’mores featuring a homemade marshmallow in a cast iron skillet with graham crackers and chocolate. Sinfully good.

Harvest Market – a two-minute drive from Field Guide, this was our morning coffee spot.

Prohibition Pig – located in neighboring Waterbury, Prohibition Pig is the place to go for lunch and/or dinner. Be prepared to wait. Fortunately we were able to grab two seats at the bar for a late lunch on Saturday post brewery. Burgers, mac and cheese, duck fat fries. Food to help cure a beer buzz!

And last but not least, should you find yourself in Woodstock, I highly recommend Worthy Kitchen. We stopped here for a late lunch on Sunday to break up the trip home. I told our waiter we may just drive north for their food. It really is that good!

While we didn’t have much time for shopping, might I suggest a quick stop in to the Stowe Mercantile to pick up some maple syrup, penny candy and snap a photo in the vintage Stowe mountain gondola.

All in all, a perfect weekend getaway. I think my girl would agree!

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In the Kitchen

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Apple picking really has become my favorite way to welcome fall. Last Sunday, K and I traveled to South Natick to meet up with my sister and her family to enjoy the day at Lookout Farm. And what a day we had: a train ride, camel ride, cider donuts and some of the most beautiful apple trees I’ve ever seen! With the help of my little pickers {my nephews}, we came back to the city with one giant bag of apples. Not wanting any to go to waste, I got myself into the kitchen to do some baking and thus far have made a cake and these muffins, which were super easy and super delicious.

Apple Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and diced apples (about 3 apples)
  • Brown sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Cream together sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture until combined. Note that the batter will be very thick.
  5. Add in diced apples and incorporate.
  6. Fill muffin liners to the top and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  7. Bake for 22- 24 minutes.

Yield is about 18 muffins. Next time, I may add just a bit more cinnamon to the mix. Oh and if you’d like to know, the ceramic muffin pan and napkins are from Anthropologie.

Away

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Happy Friday, sweet readers! As you read this, I’m on a plane en route to a very special place. Washington DC. For a girl who use to visit this political epicenter once a month for work, it’s hard to believe I haven’t been back in nearly 3 years. Can’t wait to see all that is new in the city. As always, feel free to come along with me on this adventure on Instagram following #awaywithmay. I hope you enjoy this first weekend of Fall. I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Fall Bucket List

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In preparation for Wednesday’s Autumnal Equinox, I wanted to put pen to paper for this year’s Fall Bucket List.

  1. Run a 5K. Aggressive, I know but I’ve completed a few in the past and think the time has come to dust off the old running shoes {or buy new ones}.
  2. Bake a loaf of bread. Would you believe I’ve never done this? A colleague of mine took a bread making class during her summer vacation, which has totally inspired me. Any beginner recipe suggestions?
  3. Binge Watch. With sunsets coming earlier, I have an excuse to stay inside and watch a little tv. And after watching the Emmy’s last night, I think I have two worthy contenders: Olive Kitteridge and Transparent. What do you think?
  4. Host a Pot-Luck. An oldie but goodie from a past bucket list  that never did get checked off the list. Thinking 2015 is the year to make this happen!
  5. Plan a Weekend Getaway. One of my summer bucket list items was to explore the Catskills. Check! This fall, I’d like to explore another new town. The research has begun but if you have any ideas, do let me know.

Speaking of my summer bucket list, I am humbled to report that I didn’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped. We did take a hot air balloon ride, though which may just be one of the highlights of my summer. I guess I have Harry Potter and the Wellfleet drive-in to look forward to next summer!

Fall Edit

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Although the temperatures are near 80 degrees in Boston today { I’m not complaining}, I’m having that ‘back to school’ urge for a few new fall pieces. I use to love back-to-school shopping. My best friend Meghan and I would fly over on her father’s company plane {trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds} and spend the morning and early afternoon at the Cape Cod Mall. Let’s be honest. I really would just be at the Gap deciding just how many things I could get with my modest budget of summer babysitting/bakery counter girl earnings. Those were most certainly the days!

I have a few rules to help keep my closet in-check: 1) if I haven’t worn an item within the last year, it’s time to donate and 2) for every new piece that comes in, one needs to be retired.

A few pieces I just don’t think I can live without:

  • This vest from Club Monaco. I am just so in-love with it.
  • These boots from Loeffler Randall. I am long overdue for a new go-to pair and I think these may just be the winner.
  • This cape.
  • And I am in desperate need for a new coat but haven’t found the right one just yet. Any suggestions?

Let me know what’s on your fall wish list!

An Island Holiday

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I know I am biased but there is no better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than Nantucket and you know what, the Vice President thinks so too! I have only missed two in my entire life. This year, with my parents being out in California, my sister and I decided to host our very first Thanksgiving dinner at our family home and what a day it was. The prep started Wednesday with Michelle mastering the art of baking a pie. After getting home from the shop, I took to the kitchen to make my Aunt’s delicious cranberry mousse and apple butter for my sister Marie’s Thanksgiving brunch (and checked another two items off the fall bucket list). Check out the recipes below.

While waiting for the apple butter to bake, I turned to our tablescape. I knew I wanted to incorporate the collection of beautiful gourds in yellows and greens I purchased at Bartlett’s Farm so decided on a purple, yellow and celdaon green color palette. I placed my favorite John Robshaw table-cloth on the table with our Simon Pearce belmont dinning plates and my “only for special occasion” Kim Seybert napkins. I have these fantastic yellow bud vases for Bodega that I turned into candle holders for our green tapers. Feeling a bit DIY, I made place cards and the menu from old Rifle Paper pieces I had on hand. We made little wreaths from rosemary and Michelle added a personal touch by writing each of our guests a little note letting them know we were thankful for them. I just loved the way it all came together.

I was a bit hesitant to handle the actual bird… 16 pounds and all. I guess I know why I call myself a selectarian (raw meat totally squimishes me out). Luckily I had some help and got the bird cleaned, filled the cavity with oranges, lemons, garlic, thyme and onions and put her in the oven. I used Ina’s recipe as a guide cause really, the Barefoot Contessa has never failed me.

My absolute favorite sides with my Thanksgiving meal have always been stuffing and butternut squash so I knew I wanted to try something different. I had seen a picture on Pinterest for a butternut squash bread pudding with leeks and prosciutto and I knew that was the winner. Absolutely sinful (2 1/2 cups of half and half) but well worth it. For the stuffing, the verdict was in that sausage is a must so once again I turned to Smitten Kitchen to be my guide. Add in some roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, mashed new potatoes and a kale salad with roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds and a Dijon cider vinaigrette and we had ourselves a feast.

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Hope you all enjoyed a lovely day with your friends and family. And now for those recipes!

Auntie Deb’s Cranberry Mousse
– 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
– 2 3 oz. packages of raspberry gelatin
– 1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (Nantucket has one of the largest bogs on the east coast)
– 1 large navel orange
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Open pineapple and drain liquid. Reserve 1 cup of juice.
2. Bring pineapple juice to a boil and stir in gelatin until dissolved.
3. In food processor, chop cranberries, sliced unpeeled orange and sugar to make a relish.
4. Combine relish and pineapple with gelatin in large bowl. Chill 1/2 hour, or until slightly thick.
5. Fold in sour cream and pour into a 2 quart mold. Chill until firm.
6. Unmold onto a serving plate.

* I should note I couldn’t find a mold so just poured into a large serving dish. Not as pretty as my aunt does but let me tell you, this cranberry mousse brings a leftover turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Apple Butter
– 4 pounds assorted apples, peeled and chopped
– 2 cups apple cider
– 1 cup packed light brown sugar
– pinch of salt
– 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– pinch of ground clove

Directions
1. Preheat over to 250 degrees.
2. Combines the apples, apple cider, brown sugar and salt in a dutch oven (I’m obsessed with my Le Creuset) over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove apples from the heat and stir in lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract and cloves.
4. Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth.
5. Return the mixture to dutch over and bake uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes. The total cook time is about 3 hours. The mixture will become thick and a deep amber color.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to n airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

* My sister Michelle used the remaining apple butter on Saturday night when she hosted friends for turkey soup. She spread it over brie, wrapped it in her pie crust and baked. Absolutely delicious!

Road Trip

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In my opinion, there really is nothing better than hitting the open road with the wind in your hair. Last week, I made a much needed escape from my little island and headed south to then head north and thus fulfilled another item on my Fall Bucket List. My first destination was Riverton, New Jersey, better known as the new hometown to my sweet little H and her wonderful family. On the drive down, I decided to make a quick detour to have lunch at Terrain in Westport, CT. Terrain is just one of those places where everything in life seems to be right. After devouring a delicious fall salad of quinoa and farro and sipping on a blood orange spritzer, I decided to do a little browsing for Christmas gift inspiration. But instead, I was more inspired by their kitchen displays. Isn’t this just breathtaking?
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My time in Riverton, a mere 20 minutes from Philly was exactly what my soul needed. My girlfriend Sharla is just one of those people in my life who truly gets me. Sitting on her porch looking out at the golf course with the sun on my face, I realized that I am so blessed. We spent a great deal of time talking about what’s next for me. An excellent question indeed. I won’t get into this too much at this time but will just say, I think I am getting closer and closer, which excites me!

I always love exploring a city through its food and Sharla always knows exactly where to take me. The first stop was a breathtaking coffee shop/gourmet food store (right up my alley) called Talula’s. For our last lunch together, we ventured over to the Navy Shipyard to the Urban Outfitters world headquarters. A fun little fact, there is a beautiful cafe there that is open to the public and serves the most delicious food. We enjoyed a vegetarian chili served on a slice of grilled polenta, potato leek soup and a chocolate chip cookie. Yummy! And the coolest part, we were surrounded by all these creative and hip types who work for one of the coolest companies, in my book. Made me realize I want to be part of something grand. I mean, wouldn’t you want to come to work here everyday!
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Having to end my visit a bit too soon to head north to Maine, I decided to make a lunch stop at a place that has been on my bucket list for years, Blue Farm at Stone Barn. And how happy am I that I did. Have you heard of this place? Simply breathtaking. An agricultural center with a working farm, a renowned restaurant, a killer cafe and a gift shop that is the most beautiful collection of gifts I have seen in quite some time. For lunch, I decided on the tomato soup (there was a bit of a chill in the air) and their newly released beet yogurt. Yes, you read that right. Beet yogurt. And let me tell you, delicious!
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With a quick visit to my home state of good old Massachusetts for the final World Series Game (Go Sox) I headed up to one of my favorite, Portland Maine for my big brother’s wedding. I will share all my Portland picks in a later post but let me just say, what a road trip it was. Until next time, stay warm!

My New Hobby

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I can officially cross one item off my fall bucket list! Scalloping. And what fun it was. Ventured out with my good friend David, a bee keeper and all around nature guru on the island. How does one scallop you might ask? It’s really quite easy. You need: 1) waders (or a wetsuit if you’re snorkeling for them); 2) a rake; 3) a bucket in a tube and 4) lots of patience. Scallops live in the eel grass around the island so we had to find a high destiny spot and start raking. Sadly, most of the ones we caught weren’t legal (need to be at least two years old and you can tell that by their growth ring) but we were able to collect enough for a delicious lunch. My favorite part of all… catching the amazing sunset from the water. A perfect night indeed!

Pictured above: my rake; a scallop (did you know that they are hermaphrodites… crazy); and our bounty the next day for lunch. Delicious!

My List

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It’s that time again… my seasonal bucket list. Fortunately, work life has slowed down just a bit so hopefully I will be a bit more successful is completing these (fell a bit short with my summer list)!

1. Go scalloping. Yes, I am a native and no, I have never been. Tragic, I know.
2. Make apple butter. Fall always makes me reminiscent of my college days and one of my favorite memories is heading to Judie’s in Amherst with my girls. They made not only the best apple butter but the popovers to accompany said apple butter were insane.
3. Plan a road trip. I don’t want to admit how long it has been since I have been out of the lovely state of Massachusetts. For a girl who use to always be on the move, I can’t believe I have stayed still this long. Let’s just say, a boat reservation for the trusty Volvo has been made and I plan on hitting a few states. More to come!
4. Host a pot luck. It really is time to bring all my island friends together in my home.
5. Recipe testing with cranberries. Nantucket has one of the most beautiful cranberry bogs and I would love to spend a day in my kitchen coming up with some new recipes. Inspiration is most certainly welcomed.