Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Approach to Weight Management: Eating for Stomach Hunger

We made it through the holidays without any problems. A couple of people in the “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program lost weight during the Week #4 weigh-in, some of us stayed level, and one of us gained just a couple of ounces while enjoying some of the tempting foods and desserts we associate with the holidays. Congratulations to everyone for keeping focused on your goals!

Our guest this week was registered dietician Virginia (Ginny) Flanders, RD, the Director of Nutrition and Food Services at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and a certified diabetes educator.

Ginny gave a great presentation on mindful eating, a new approach to healthy eating and weight management that eliminates the need to count calories or eliminate carbs. Mindful eating is all about being aware of the food you are eating. Not only do we need to choose nutritious and healthy foods to eat, but we also need to pay attention to our bodies, which tell us hour to hour how hungry we are.

All foods fall into one of three categories: proteins, fats or carbs. A fourth source of calories is alcohol. For the best nutrition and to give our bodies the energy they need to function optimally, we need a balanced diet – a variety of healthy foods, rather than eating only meats or eliminating all carbs.

Ginny led us through several exercises to help us determine why we eat like we do and to help us become aware of the triggers that lead us to eat even when our stomachs aren’t hungry. The Hunger and Fullness Scale lets you rate your hunger from 1 – Ravenous to 10 – sick. Right in the middle is 5 – Satisfied, which is the goal we should be aiming for. Buddhists say that we should eat until we are three-quarters full. Another way to look at it is to stop five bites before the end of your meal. Ginny explained that it takes about 20 minutes for us to feel full and satisfied. If you consume your food in less time, then your brain doesn’t recognize fullness.

We were all a little freaked out when Ginny passed out three tiny raisins to each of us. The objective of this exercise was to look into our bodies to decide how hungry we were on a scale from 1-10, and to assess where this hunger originated. We pretended we had landed on a planet and had to investigate what was edible with the only tools we have -- our senses of sight, smell, taste and touch. First she had us hold one raisin and look at it, then smell it, then place it in our mouths and roll it around. Only then could we take one bite. After chewing, tasting and swallowing it we had to rate our stomach hunger. Did it fill us up? Did we want more of the same food? After that we ate another raisin and had to rate our mind hunger – just what does our mind say about this food? Do our hearts say anything about it? Is it soothing or comforting? Would our hearts like to have more of this food?

Responses to this exercise ranged from “weird” to “it’s amazing how a raisin stinks” to “it makes you think about what you put in your mouth.” According to Ginny, if we slow down when we eat, we’ll become aware of each bite and eat less. “When you go to eat something where is the hunger coming from?” Ginny asked. “We need to eat for stomach hunger, rather than eye or nose or head or heart hunger. It’s a whole different way of approaching food and eating.”

Ginny also suggested that we should eat our meals without the distraction of television, computer or cell phone. Mindful eating is pleasurable eating, she said, and food can’t be enjoyed to its fullest when we are engaged in doing something else, like watching television.

Ginny recommended a couple of books we might find helpful if we choose to practice mindful eating:

- Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
- Savor. Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh

We especially enjoyed some of the approaches to eating in Michael Pollan’s simple book of food rules:
  • Don’t buy your food at the same place you buy your gas
  • Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • Avoid foods containing more than five ingredients.
  • Eat only animals that have eaten well.
  • Eat colorful foods.
  • Eat foods that have been pre-digested, like kimchee, a fermented cabbage.
  • Eat oily fishes.
  • The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.
  • Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital will begin a 12-week weight management pilot program in mid-January that is based on the mindful approach that Ginny shared with us. It includes mindful eating, exercise and stress management. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Ginny at

Healthy Snack:

This week’s healthy snack, a wonderful sweet potato soup, was prepared by Tinah, based on a recipe from Bob Greene’s “The Best Life Diet.” The soup was savory, with the taste and texture of ground chicken, even though there was no chicken in it, just chicken broth. Most of our group seemed to enjoy it, even the person who doesn’t care for yogurt, which is one of the soup’s ingredients, so this week’s snack gets a thumbs up!

Sweet Potato Soup
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt

Heat oil. Saute onion and cumin for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sweet potatoes and broth. Cook until potatoes are soft, 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Puree soup (if using a blender, work in batches and do not fill the blender more than half way). Return soup to heat. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the yogurt and serve. Delicious!

Next Week:

The beginning of a new year, and the countdown begins to the final four weeks of the “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program. We are staying on track, working toward our individual goals and excited that we have already completed a month’s worth of healthier eating and more exercise. We’ll try to have some weight loss figures ready to share, as well as some comments from individuals in the group about their successes and challenges to date.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Heavenly Massage!

Stress relief is what we were looking for in the third week of “10 Years Younger in 60 Days, which also happens to be the week before Christmas, a time of stress for so many of us. Innkeeper Ilja had arranged for massage therapist Tamar Smookler, owner of Inner Truth Massage & The Healing Arts Studio in Littleton, and her associate, Gina Formeister, also a certified massage therapist, to introduce us to the benefits of massage.
Massage feels wonderful, and it also has health benefits, say Tamar and Gina. It’s good for the detox process that some of us are experiencing as we change our diets because it brings blood to the body’s muscles and tissues, and helps get rid of toxins. Drinking a lot of water after a massage helps to flush out your system as well.

Massage helps your body recover if you are sore from exercising, it can help improve your spirits, is good for joint health, and aids in digestion. Getting a massage can also reduce anxiety and help lower your stress levels.

Getting a massage, says Tamar, stimulates our “happy hormones,” the feel good ones that produce a natural high. “It feels good and you don’t have to do anything!”

Gina and Tamar also demonstrated some simple self-care techniques we could use on a daily basis to help relieve neck and shoulder stress, one of the most common complaints of those who spend a lot of time in front of a computer or do any kind of repetitive job. Stretching to open your chest can relieve tension in the back and neck, as can gentle necks rolls or squeezing the back of your neck with your palms. Massaging your scalp and temples feels good and also helps release mental stress.

The massage therapists hold complimentary chair massages every Wednesday at 11:30 at the Littleton studio, followed by a meditation time. The complimentary sessions are open to the public. Learn more about the benefits of massage or book an appointment at the Inner Truth website at

Following their introductory talk, we got to the fun part of the evening with Tamar and Gina – enjoying a chair massage. Each of us had a short session in the chair, with one of the therapists massaging our scalp, neck, shoulders, back and hands. Those who had never experienced massage were pleasantly surprised with how wonderful and relaxed they felt after just 10 minutes. And those who had had massage before really looked forward to their session. One person said she felt like her entire upper body had opened up and was lighter feeling.  

We were also excited to learn that massage can affect your blood pressure. A couple of people took their blood pressure before and after their massage and noted a marked decline in their numbers following their massage. A very positive ending to our introductory massage experience!

Week No. 3 Weigh In:

We’re starting to notice small weight losses when we step on the scale. A pound or two doesn’t sound like much, but it is if you’ve had trouble losing weight before. If we keep this up we’ll see 10-20 pound weight losses by the end of the eight-week program. And, it’s rewarding to get a high five from our “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” buddies for our accomplishments.

One person noted how eating the wrong foods can affect us. She had eaten a lot of chocolate-covered popcorn and said that it made her feel bad. Another person had made chocolate candies, but resisted eating any, deciding to make good food choices that day. Someone else has stopped eating chocolate all together (notice a theme here!), and has cut out late night snacks, leading to her modest weight loss. Chef Orlo reminded us that dark chocolate is good for us, but only in moderation!

Healthy Snack:

Brad’s Carrot-Pineapple Smoothie received a thumbs-up this week. While we could smell the banana in it, we had difficulty identifying the ingredients of the icy, not too sweet, pale orange fruit and vegetable drink. One of us thought it tasted of strawberries, but – surprise! – no strawberries.

3/4 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 cup ice
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup carrots
1/2 banana

Blend until smooth and frothy.

“That is the recipe,” says Brad, “but of course a true chef puts his touches on any recipe and unfortunately I am no different. I just increased the quantities. More of everything -- carrots, pineapple, and orange juice. I didn’t put more banana in it so as to NOT upset my wonderful bride (aka Innkeeper Ilja) as she hates bananas!”

We decided this one’s a keeper, but be sure to watch portion sizes if you increase the quantities. You’ll defeat the purpose of the healthy snack if you guzzle it all down at once.

Next Week:

This is crunch week for us – making the right food choices over Christmas, when there are so many tempting foods to choose from. Our goal this week is to stay steady, and not gain weight. The scales will reveal whether we’ve been naughty or nice next Tuesday evening.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nothing Tastes As Good As Thin Looks!

So says Weight Watchers lifetime member Joe Palazzolo of Bethlehem, who gave a very inspiring talk to our “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” group on Tuesday evening. Joe lost 75 pounds in a year’s time and overcame severe health problems by following the Weight Watchers eating plan.

“Weight Watchers saved my life,” Joe told us. “I embraced the program, and it embraced me. It’s not a diet, it’s a way of life.”

In January 2007, Joe had already had a triple bypass and suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, high triglycerides and high cholesterol. By December, he had dropped 75 pounds (and his wife lost 60) by following the Weight Watchers food plan and beginning an exercise program.

Because we are all trying to eat more healthily during our eight-week program, we wanted to know how the Weight Watchers program works, and more significantly, could it help us eat better and lose weight. Joe says “Yes!” provided we do the work.

Weight Watchers is based on portion size and has a point system. All fruits are free, as are most vegetables, but other foods are assigned a point value. Each person who joins Weight Watchers receives a specific number of points they can use each day, based on their age, weight and gender. They also receive an additional 49 points they can use throughout the week.

When Joe and his wife joined Weight Watchers they weighed or measured all of the food they ate and counted points and they still do. “You have to change your mindset,” he says, “and it becomes a habit. We teach you how to eat, and you have to track what you eat every day.”

He recommends the Simply the Best cookbook for anyone interested in following the Weight Watchers eating plan or for healthy eating in general. A member of our group who had lost 15 pounds through Weight Watchers several years ago, also gave the cookbook a thumbs up.

We were impressed with the healthy choices that Joe and his wife have made. Anyone can join and change their eating habits – and their life – according to Joe. Meetings are held locally in Littleton, Lancaster, Woodsville and St. Johnsbury; check Weight Watchers online for details and times.

“Every meal you make the best choice you can make,” Joe told us in conclusion.

Week No. 2 Weigh In:The scale was waiting for us as we descended the stairs to Adair’s Granite Room, reminding us immediately of why we were here. With the results in, we learned that some of us lost a pound or two during the first week, and some of us gained. Resisting cookies and other goodies this time of year is difficult!

More Goals:Two more Adair employees joined the group on Tuesday evening. Both want to lower their cholesterol. One wants to drop 25 pounds, the other wants to stay healthy and run a race in the spring and then take on a marathon at a later date. When she’s in her 80s she wants to feel like she’s still in her 30s, she says. What a goal!

The Wave!There’s the wave you do at football games, and then there’s the Wave that Lynn brought along to show us. This piece of exercise equipment is somewhat like a half circle. Placed on its flat ends it’s stable and you can step off and on easily – perfect for step aerobics and other stationary exercises.

Place it on its curvy side and you can rock back and forth and get a different type of workout. It comes with a CD, and Lynn says it’s the best piece of exercise equipment she’s every purchased. Several of us tried it and thought it was a blast. Thanks, Lynn!

Healthy SnackThis week’s snack was yummy – apple and cheddar cheese slices provided by Lynn. Unfortunately, we learned that to keep it healthy, we could have just two slices of cheese. Plenty of apples, though.

Next Week:
Innkeeper Ilja will have another motivational speaker to inspire and educate us about an aspect of healthy living. We’ll be striving to make better food choices throughout the week, and find the time to exercise, so that when we hit the scales, we’ll see the numbers creeping downward.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Full Moon Snowshoe evening builds memories

By Eileen Alexander

BETHLEHEM — Tromping through snowy woods on a bright winter’s evening was exactly like a scene straight out of an old-fashioned postcard — or a Robert Frost poem, with a few tweaks to account for 21st century tastes. Crisp air, towering pines, the clack and creak of our snowshoes on the snowy trail, brightly colored ski clothes, deer tracks in the snow, nervous laughter when someone stumbles over the unfamiliar terrain, a little huffing and puffing on the uphills, and oohs and aahs when the clouds part to reveal a full moon.

I’m on a moonlight snowshoe hike with about a half-dozen other guests at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. I’ve been on snowshoes before, and I’m the only one in our group with any experience – not counting our guide, of course -- although experience is stretching the truth some. Years ago I’d done some snowshoeing using the old-fashioned wood and gut snowshoes, but this year I have a brand new pair of lightweight aluminum ones and I’m eager to try them out. The day before the hike I strap on my snowshoes and hike the field next to my house just to be sure that I can a) put on the snowshoes without falling on my face and looking like an idiot, and b) can make it around the field without keeling over from exhaustion. I manage to accomplish both without any difficulty so I figure I’m all set for my outing.

We’re a nice group of women, some of us young and some of us older. Everyone is keen to give snowshoeing a try under the guidance of Nigel Manley, the manager of the nearby Rocks Estate, a 1,400-acre conservation property that is managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. So, not only are we going to have fun on our snowshoe adventure, we’re going to learn a little bit about conservation, forest management, and the creatures that roam the woods and whose tracks we can identify in the snow. While we don’t see any moose, bears or turkeys on the trails we follow around the 200-acre Adair property, there are plenty of deer tracks to marvel over, as well as lots of fox prints – they always travel in a straight line, Manley tells us – as well as some teeny, tiny mouse prints that seem to evaporate into thin air. Not so, Manley says; the mice have burrowed into the snow at the places where the tracks end.

Adair is managed for multiple uses including recreation (hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling) and conservation (it’s a tree farm), to best enhance and preserve its fields, forests, soils, water and wildlife for future generations. During our hike we traverse some of this landscape – forested land along the trail opens into a small meadow; in other open areas downed trees have been left to provide food and shelter for birds and small mammals; we tramp along a snowmobile trail that crosses one edge of the estate; and stone walls are evidence of long-ago farming activity.

Innkeeper Ilja Chapman has filled us in on some of the property’s history. Adair, a beautiful, three-story Georgian-style building, was built in 1927 as a wedding gift for Dorothy Adair Guider, the only daughter of Frank Hogan, a famous Washington, DC trial attorney. Mrs. Guider lived in the house until her death in 1991, where she hosted everyone from presidential hopefuls and Supreme Court justices to actors (Helen Hayes was a lifelong friend) and sports figures. It became a nine-room inn in 1992, and is now owned by Nick and Betsy Young and managed by Ilja and her husband Brad Chapman.

We get to experience some of Adair’s legendary hospitality during the buffet that precedes our snowshoe hike. A hearty and appetizing buffet has been set out for us in the Granite Room, so called because of its stout, granite-clad walls. Dozens of photographs and newspaper clippings recall the career of Frank Hogan, but there are also plenty of comfortable couches and chairs, games, books and a pool table that could easily beckon guests to relax and linger in front of the fireplace on a rainy afternoon or after a day on the slopes. Tonight, though, we enjoy the food but are eager to head out to the main event. Guests are welcome to bring their own snowshoes or borrow the Adair’s. There are plenty to go around and not too many difficulties getting us all strapped in and set to go. The temperature is around 20 degrees, cold enough to be stimulating, but not so cold anyone wished they’d stayed home.

We set off with Nigel Manley, our interpretive guide, for an hour’s hike along easy to moderate terrain. I’ve brought my ski poles to help me balance (a good idea for the over 50 crowd!) and I lend one to another older woman who’s not too steady on her feet. There is a lot of laughter and camaraderie on the trail, we each find a pace that works for us, and many of us remark on the unfamiliar feeling of being outdoors under a full moon. We’re too used to going from the warmth of our cars to the warmth of our homes, and few of us spend any time outdoors at night.

The evening concludes back at the inn with s’mores and hot spiced cider around the flickering fire pit. Cameras come out and we snap photos of each other as the fire crackles and sparks add some interesting effects to our pictures. It’s the end of a memorable evening, and we’re all feeling cozy and a bit tired, but wanting the night to last just a little bit longer to savor all of the good sights, smells, tastes and new friendships.
“Committing to an activity in the cold was a challenge,” says fellow snowshoer Colleen Moritz, who was there with her sister. “However, we were pleasantly rewarded with a great fun evening. We can't wait to go again.”
One woman, who was there with her daughter as an early holiday present, noted that the evening was a reminder that the best thing to invest in are memories and that is why they had come.

Her feelings were echoed by Aliza Anvari, another guest. “My friend Ruth and I had a blast for first time snowshoers and visitors to Adair Inn. We vow to come back with more friends and family to create more lovely memories!” I couldn’t have said it better.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our First Weigh-In "10 Years Younger in 60 days"

Amidst grumbles and sighs, eight of us stepped on the scales for the first time Tuesday evening to begin charting our progress for the eight-week “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program. Not one of us was happy with what the scales showed -- pounds plus our BMI score -- but we dutifully recorded the results in our brand new notebooks, determined that the numbers we record during Week 8 will show some significant changes.

And along with finding out that our weight and body fat weren’t quite where we wanted them to be, we also had to face the measuring tape and record various body measurements, including chest, stomach, belly, butt, upper arm and upper leg. By eating better and stepping up our exercise regimen we hope to firm and tone these areas, lose inches or add muscle, and reduce our BMI number into the acceptable range.

Each person involved in the program has set some personal goals they hope to achieve over the next two months, with losing pounds, eating healthy foods and getting more exercise topping most everyone’s list.

Other goals shared among the group include:
 gain muscle, but keep my weight at 145 or under
 be able to run a mile in under six minutes
 strengthen knees to avoid surgery
 get fitter to be able to bike into town and back again
 keep in shape without hurting
 have more energy
 look good for my son’s wedding in February
 eat regular healthy meals
 take time for exercise and to de-stress
 undergo a fruit flush to rid the body of toxins
 strengthen back
 manage stress
 learn about healthy eating
 eat more fruits and vegetables
 exercise on a daily basis
 reduce stress to sleep better
 make juicing a daily habit
 participate in a half-marathon in Washington, DC in March
 climb Mt. Washington next year
 do more hiking and skiing

We also donned a blood pressure cuff and recorded that reading as well. Tracking all of these markers each week in our notebooks and sharing our challenges and successes provides an incentive to stick with the program, develop healthy habits and meet our exercise and nutritional goals.

We truly felt like a team when Innkeeper Ilja passed out “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” T-shirts, which we wore for our individual photos and a group pic. Ilja also encouraged everyone to check out Dr. Oz’s Transformation Nation website, which the Adair program is modeled on.

The evening check-in wasn’t without its humorous moments, with Ilja demonstrating various hand weights, including a floor roller, a lot of kidding about fat butts and assorted other body parts, and one Adair employee, who shall remain nameless, who had her body measurements taken over her underwear, rather than over her street clothes to knock off a few inches!

Healthy Snack:
This week’s snack, a platter of red grapes and orange wedges provided by Eileen, received thumbs up approval from the Adair gang, and was a step up (definite improvement!) from last week’s green spinach shake.

Next Week: We’ll talk about our individual Plans –Action, Exercise, Nutrition, and Health -- that will help us move purposefully toward meeting our “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” goals.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Climbing Wall is Kickoff to Success!

It’s official! Employees at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant are on their way to looking “10 Years Younger in 60 Days.”

Innkeeper Ilja arranged a terrific kick-off event on Tuesday evening at the indoor climbing wall at the White Mountain School , right here in Bethlehem. Student rock climbers Sawyer, JJ, and Ze’ev took us in hand and set us up for the evening, explaining everything from how to step into our harnesses to performing safety checks to learning the different commands each climber and belayer (the spotter on the ground who controls the rope that anchors the climber) needs to know.

“We wanted to do something fun and out of the ordinary to begin our two-month wellness program,” says Ilja. “The evening was such a success. Everyone participated and climbed the wall at least twice. Some, like Lynn and Brad went all the way to the top, inspiring the rest of us.”

Most of Adair’s employees had never climbed before, but were enthusiastic about learning, with “fun” being used most often to describe their experience. A couple of us liked it so much we plan to return to try it again. “It was fun,” says Chef Orlo. “It was a nice way to start off this adventure to better health.”
Our evening wouldn’t have been possible without our wonderful climbing guides from the White Mountain School. These young men were knowledgeable and extremely patient, making sure we were both safe and having a good time during our introduction to rock climbing. Thanks, guys!! The school’s climbing instructor Will Holets also let us know that, beginning on January 3, the climbing wall will be open to the public from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The first month is free, followed by reasonable rates. Give the school a call at (603) 444-0513 to learn more.

Participants in “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” have pledged to commit to a health & fitness plan to feel more energized, younger and better able to serve Adair’s guests in healthy ways. Now that we’ve kicked-off the program, we’ll meet each week for eight weeks for a weigh-in and blood pressure check, along with an inspirational program to help motivate us to give up our old habits in favor of healthy new ones, like exercising more, eating nutritious foods, and getting regular medical and dental check-ups.

Each week we’ll also share a healthy snack, and rate it here. On Tuesday evening, Innkeeper Ilja served trainer Drew Manning’s Spinach Shake, a recipe that was featured on the Dr. Oz Show. The Shake was a nice, bright green color, smelled like peanut butter and was refreshingly cold after an hour of climbing, but got mixed reviews, from the polite among us who made a face after tasting it, to the more outspoken, like one of our climbing guides who declared he’d rather stick with the sugary snacks he likes. Others in our group liked it a lot and wanted the recipe. For those who’d like to try it here it is (and just so you know, Innkeeper Ilja confessed that she made a mess in the kitchen putting it together!)

Spinach Shake
Makes 1-1/2 servings

3 cups spinach
2 cups ice
1/2 banana
2 tbsp of peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high speed, until completely mixed.

Next Week: Our first weigh-in and setting our personal goals for the “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 21, 2011

We’re Going to Look 10 Years Younger in 60 Days!

Yes. You read that correctly. From chef to housekeeper, innkeeper to waitress, many of the staff here at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant have made a commitment to participate in a two-month wellness program that we’re calling “10 Years Younger in 60 Days.”

It’s no secret. We all feel better when we get enough exercise, eat healthy foods and find some quiet time each day for ourselves. At Adair, we value our employees. That’s why we’ve designed a special program of diet, exercise, stress management and healthy choices to help each participant look “10 Years Younger in 60 Days.” The program will leave us feeling fit, healthy, and energized, and it’s our intention that our successes will inspire us to continue following many components of the program once it is finished.

To kick off the program that runs through December and January, we wanted a challenging and fun event that would get everyone excited and motivated to make changes in their lives that will result in healthier life-styles. Rock climbing seemed just the thing to get our juices going! On Tuesday, November 29, we’re going to learn rock climbing on the indoor climbing wall at the White Mountain School! Some of us are excited, some of us are fearful of leaving the ground, but each of us has made the commitment to try this new experience as we take charge of our health and fitness.

Following our kick-off, we’ll meet weekly for a weigh-in, blood pressure check and a short program to inspire, motivate and educate us to exchange our old habits for healthy new ones – our program menu might include nutrition tips, managing stress, revitalizing yoga, eating heart healthy, and exercising options during the cold weather months. Before and after photos will be a visible reminder of our successes, as will the individual notebooks that we’ll keep to record our personal goals and keep track of our progress.

Innkeeper Ilja has been lining up sponsors – local businesses that are providing incentives for us to eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, sleep better, manage stress, and take care of our health through regular dental care and a medical check. In return, sponsors will receive the gift of Adair; depending on the type of support, Adair can offer a gift certificate to our restaurant that can be given to one of your employees; arrange a cocktail party at Adair for your team; or even provide a romantic getaway at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant for you or one of your staff.

Throughout the program, we’ll be posting our progress to Facebook and blogging here about our challenges and successes. By the time we’re finished, we expect to look and feel 10 years younger and to be firmly committed to our own healthy living. We also want our experience to inspire other businesses to jump on board and take their own pledge to be “10 Years Younger in 60 Days.” We know we are better able to serve our customers when we are rested, exercise regularly and eat nutritious food, and that other businesses share this philosophy of healthy and happy employees providing superior customer service. Any business that would like to participate as a sponsor or who would like information about starting a program of their own, can contact Ilja at 603-444-2600.

In health,
Ilja and Brad Chapman, Innkeepers

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apples: The True Taste of a North Country Autumn

Fall is upon us and that means many things here in the North Country. The leaves are starting their annual burst of color bringing in the leaf peepers, the pumpkins are starting to become fixtures on porches, cool comfortable days are followed by crisp nights and, of course, apples are ready to be picked. Everywhere one looks there are apples and apple products. The apple harvest is one of the glorious aspects of autumn here in New Hampshire. Biting into a just-picked apple is one of life’s true pleasures.

Of course, eating a fresh apple is not the only way to enjoy the splendor of the harvest. Among the other products and preparations of apples are cider, apple juice, apple butter, apple jam and, perhaps most famously, apple pie.

Here in the States, apple cider generally refers to what other countries call apple juice. To keep things clear, hard cider is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple cider; apple cider is the unprocessed liquid extracted from apples; apple juice is cider which has been filtered and frequently sweetened. Different flavor profiles are determined by using any of the dozens of different varieties of apples grown in the area.

Cider is essentially apples which are cored, chopped, mashed and pressed into a liquid. This unfiltered drink is rich with a deep, fresh apple flavor. Served warm or cold, cider tastes almost as good as an apple straight from the tree. Once the liquid is filtered, it becomes apple juice. Sometimes sugar is added and the resulting beverage is much less tart and usually more kid-friendly. The juice is of course clearer and cleaner tasting. While very refreshing, it does lack that right-off-the-tree taste.

Hard cider is the term used for fermented cider. This was perhaps the most popular beverage in North America in the early- to mid-1800’s due to its availability, low cost to produce and freshness stability. The decline of its popularity started when Americans moved from rural towns to urban areas, cutting down apple orchards as the production of cider became less profitable. Then the new immigrants brought more of a taste for beer than cider, further contributing to its demise. Ironically, it is the renewed interest in craft beers that has led to the revival of the cider industry as well.

There are several other products made from apples, the most popular of which is applesauce. Making applesauce is perhaps one of the easiest things to do. With a mixture of sweet and tart apples, about the only other ingredients you will need are a cinnamon stick and some water. No extra sugar is needed when the apples are at their peak of flavor. I simple cut and core the apples and put them in a pot with just one-half inch of water and a cinnamon stick. Add a pinch of salt, cover and simmer until the apples are completely soft. Run it through a food mill. Check for desired sweetness and either leave as is or flavor with rum, bourbon or any other flavoring of your choice.

Another simple, though a little more labor intensive product is apple butter. Depending on the recipe (there seems to be as many recipes for this as there are varieties of apples), make your applesauce using cider instead of water, process through the food mill, add sugar and spices, then cook down until very thick — a crock pot works wonderfully for this. Apple butter is a beautiful spread full of spiced apple flavor that can add a special touch to many dishes.

Then, of course, there’s apple pie, one of the most enduring American desserts. While the pie has English origins, its original source probably goes back centuries before.

Finding only crabapples in the New World, (they are the only apple native to North America), English colonists brought over seeds and planted them in the rocky soil of New England, which was the perfect condition for them. Because of the great apple crops and the many varieties of apples that grew, apple pie soon became a favorite dish of the settlers. While there are differences in recipes depending on the country of origin — English, Dutch, Swiss, etc. — the basic recipe has changed little through the years. The addition of sugar is perhaps the biggest change to the basic recipe as people’s taste and desire for sweeter foods has increased. Apple pie in America is still one of the great treats of fall, though it certainly tastes wonderful all year long.

So, as autumn is in full swing, go pick some apples, eat some right off the tree and use the rest to savor the true taste of fall here in the North Country.

New England McIntosh Cake
This easy-to-make apple cake is good either as a dessert or for breakfast.
3 McIntosh or other New England apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 c sugar
1-1/2 cups canola oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" x 13" baking dish. Beat sugar and oil with a whisk or electric mixer. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in apples, nuts, and vanilla. Pour into baking dish. Bake 60-70 minutes. Cake should be golden brown and firm. Top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Savoring Autumn

Fall is one of the best times of the year to visit the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire and we are always pleased to welcome guests here at the romantic Adair Country Inn & Restaurant in Bethlehem to experience all the sights, sounds and flavors of the autumn season.

Enjoy the crisp air of a fall day -- perfect for a morning walk, an afternoon hike or a day trip along inviting back roads and byways to see the spectacular fall foliage: all those reds, yellows, oranges and purples just take our breath away! Check the development of the foliage here.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the color of autumn leaves is determined by several factors, chiefly length of day, rainfall, sugar accumulation in the leaves, little to no wind, and days of cool bright weather without a killing frost? Sunny and cool days and chilly -- but not freezing -- nights produce the brightest colors! Scientifically speaking, fall is when the tree’s production of chlorophyll, created by sunlight during photosynthesis, slows down. During fall’s shorter days, the green gradually disappears, and the leaves change color.

In fall, we like to stroll around the Adair grounds or sit on the stone patio and watch the birds. They are flocking now, getting ready for their fall migration to warmer climates. It’s fun to watch them flit from tree to tree, from branch to ground, or splash around in a puddle after a rainstorm. Their antics remind us of a family with a lot of kids getting ready to go on vacation – lots of bickering, a few tussles, but luckily for the birds -- no luggage!

For serious birders or for anyone who would like an especially nice walk, we recommend a trip to the nearby Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. From the parking area near the Whitefield airport, it’s an easy 1.5-mile walk along the wide, flat trail -- an old railroad bed -- to the viewing platform at Big Cherry Pond. Over 40 species of birds have been recorded during migratory periods, and it’s also not unusual to spot moose, deer and beaver. The views across the pond toward the Presidential Range of the White Mountains are spectacular, particularly at this time of year.

In September and October we love to go apple picking, from the trees on the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant's 200-acre property or at a nearby pick-your-own orchard. Pick an apple – or two – right off the tree and eat it or take some home to make apple pies, applesauce or apple butter. If you are a guest at the Inn or stop by for dinner in our restaurant, we know you’ll want to try one of Chef Orlo’s apple dishes, like the Vermont Country Farms Pork Chop that’s prepared with cider-braised onions and bourbon-spiked applesauce or the Apple-Popover Bread Pudding, a simply sinful Adair popover blended with apples and served warm with Jack Daniel’s custard sauce and cranberry compote. Chef Orlo has prepared a spectacular fall menu of seasonal dishes to tempt you after a day of birding, hiking, antiquing, or apple picking!

We hope to see you soon!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Garden Was in Full Bloom for WREN’s Garden Tour

Last Sunday was such a spectacular summer day, and the perfect day for a tour of Adair Country Inn & Restaurant’s gardens. We were delighted that our grounds were on the WREN Garden Tour this year, as we are very proud of their history – they were designed in 1927 by the Olmstead brothers – and because their casual beauty is always such an inspiration to us and our guests, with the pretty flower borders, the lily pond, the Gate Garden, and the rolling lawns giving way to gorgeous views of the White Mountains.

We were pleased to welcome over 150 gardeners and garden aficionados on Sunday, who strolled the grounds, enjoyed the plantings, and finished up with cool refreshments prepared by head chef Orlo Coots.

This was the 5th Annual WREN Garden Tour, and proceeds are used to support all of the work that WREN does through its programs, the Local Works store, and the art gallery. The tour featured seven outstanding gardens, all unique and beautiful.

Our tour began at Adair’s front garden, an area shaded by two huge maple trees and that features a large selection of hostas, complimented by astilbes, pulmonarias, and day lilies. We find this garden refreshing on a hot summer day, and visitors always appreciate its quiet beauty.

Following the path through the shade garden took our visitors around to the back of the Inn. Guests often enjoy breakfast on the stone patio that is bordered by plantings of phlox, bee balm, Siberian iris and peony. Some of the peonies may even be original to the property, as they sometimes survive 100 years or more. More than one guest on Sunday remarked on the beautiful bronze coleus growing in one of the patio planters; we’ll definitely put this beauty on next year’s must-have list.

Stone steps lead down the hillside and our garden guests were free to wander about and check out the Rose Garden, the Pond Garden abloom with pink-flowering lily pads and encircled with yellow day lilies, and the Gate Garden.

We have to admit, the Gate Garden is a favorite of ours. This was originally designed as a white garden, but over the decades other plants have been added, and now the palette is muted, rather than white. We like to sit on the stone bench, listen to the water burble in the fountain, and refresh and recharge among the flowers. In bloom on Sunday were several

big plantings of lamb’s ear, covered in bees that seemed deliriously happy to be sipping from the flowers! White astilbe, balloon flower, daisies, peonies and iris flourish here, along with a nice planting of hostas. The big iron gates leading into the garden provide a touch of drama -- and glamour -- to the setting, and are very representative of Dorothy Adair Guider, the property’s original owner, who entertained extensively and counted among her friends the actress Helen Hayes.

Just steps outside the Gate Garden, red bee balm adds a splash of color to the landscape, and helps draw attention to the croquet game set up on the lawn nearby.

A long flower border at the foot of the lawn provides a stopping point for the eye before it travels outward across a bog filled with cattails. We don’t know if any of our guests ventured into the bog across the wooden walkway, but we like to wander in that direction when we’re in need of some wild beauty and hope to see a critter or two.

Although it’s back to our regular schedule today, we are still savoring the memories of last week's garden tour and meeting all of the lovely people who stopped by for a visit at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant’s gardens.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spice Up Your Cooking with Herbs!

As the herb garden at my house grows, the aromas fill the air and I start to relate the smells of the herbs to culinary dishes I have used them with — basil, of course, makes me think of pasta tossed with summer tomatoes and pesto. Rubbing the leaves of thyme reminds me of freshly made soup seasoned and finished with chopped thyme. Rosemary brings to mind wonderful roasted new potatoes. Sniffing the cilantro plant immediately makes my mouth water with the thought of freshly made salsa with jalapenos, garden tomatoes and lime.

Throughout history, there have been many different culinary and medical uses of various herbs. Ancient Romans and Greeks crowned their leaders with dill and laurel. The Romans also used dill to purify the air. In the 5th century B.C., Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, listed approximately 400 herbs in common use. In the Middle Ages, herbs were often used to help preserve meat as well as cover the rotting taste of meals that couldn't be refrigerated. Herbs also helped mask the odors of people who bathed irregularly, if at all. This period was not favorable to the use of herbs in medicine. In fact, the Catholic Church began burning herbalists, having associated them with both witchcraft and paganism.

Herb gardens were almost an essential feature of pioneer homes. They were placed in sunny corners near the house to be readily available to the busy homemaker. As the population of the new country grew, people from many nations brought herbs with them. This resulted in an exchange of slips, seeds, and plants. Many herbs familiar to settlers from other countries were found growing wild in the new country. These included parsley, anise, pennyroyal, sorrel, watercress, liverwort, wild leeks, and lavender. American Indians knew uses for almost every wild, nonpoisonous plant, but they used the plants chiefly for domestic purposes — tanning and dyeing leather and eating.

Today, many herbs are still used both medicinally and for culinary purposes. I will list some of the herbs I use at the Inn. I certainly use some more frequently than others — thyme perhaps being my most favorite. It can be used for almost all types of food, from the lightest broth soup up to hearty beef dishes. While not a hard and fast rule, a basic rule of thumb is to use a softer and more delicate herb with a lighter dish. Chervil, which is very delicate, goes great with light salads, but would be overwhelmed by hearty red meats. Likewise, rosemary, a more substantial herb, can overpower light white fish, but goes very well with crusty roast meats. As always, feel free to experiment, but make sure to start with a small amount of any herb before adding more to suit your taste. Even a light herb like cilantro can overpower and ruin a dish if too much is used. Add fresh herbs only at the end of cooking or upon serving, while it is best to add dried herbs at the beginning and during cooking in order to release their oils and flavors. When cooking and seasoning with herbs, a little can go a long way towards making every bite count.

Arugula: While technically known as a salad green or salad herb, arugula can be added to lettuce, tomatoes and any other mixed baby salad greens to create new and exciting taste sensations. It makes a great pesto herb, though certainly much different than basil. Arugula is very low in calories and is also high in vitamins A and C. Arugula, also known as rocket, is very popular in Italian cuisine. Its leaves have a unique, peppery sweet tang, adding pizzazz even to the blandest salads. Although arugula provides a flavor impact, it does not have a strong aftertaste.

Basil: Sweet basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. Its flavor is strong enough to hold up to ingredients such as garlic, which make it perfect for pesto. Also indispensable for many Mediterranean dishes, the fresh leaf has a sweet, clove-like spiciness and is excellent with tomato dishes. Basil is considered one of the most important and highly used herbs in the culinary world and is popular in the cooking of many types of cuisine. Especially good in Thai dishes is the Thai Basil whose leaves have a spicy aniseed aroma with hints of mint and citrus. If this is not available, try mixing in a small amount of mint with your basil as a substitute in your Thai dishes.

Bergamot: Although limited in its culinary uses, bergamot imparts a wonderful citrus-like flavor and fragrance that complements fruits and summer beverages and teas. At one time native Americans used it to season and preserve meats. Bergamot oil, which is used in authentic Earl Grey tea, is extracted from this plant.

Chervil: Also known as Gourmet Parsley and Garden Chervil. Chervil is a delicate herb with subtle taste. It has a slightly anise-like flavor that can be quickly lost in cooking. Garnish salads with it, but serve it at the last moment. Chervil is a very popular herb in France. It is one of the classic ingredients in the traditional French herb blend, Fines Herbes and is very popular in French cuisine. It has a delicate flavor and is suitable wherever parsley is used. Chop the leaf into soups (in the last 10 to 12 minutes of cooking so its flavor is not cooked away), omelets, salads, and dressings.

Chives: Chives are a mild member herb of the onion family. Chives have many uses and can be added to potato salad, baked potatoes, soups, salads, omelets, dips and spreads, pastas and sauces. Use it anywhere you want to add onion flavor without the harsh pungency of onion. Add fresh at the end of cooking to preserve the flavor. The flavor is so brilliant that you will probably want a fresh pot of chives on your windowsill, even if you have nothing else in your herb garden. Store fresh chives in damp paper towels in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also chop fresh chives and freeze them with water in ice cube trays to use later when needed.

Cilantro: This is one of the first “exotic” herbs I used after graduating from culinary school in the mid ‘80’s. Back then, the most common herbs were the classic French and Italian herbs. Many herbs from other cuisines just were not popular yet in American cooking. Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley. Cilantro is used in many cuisines around the world. Most notably it is used to enliven Mexican and South American food as well as Thai and Vietnamese. This is a multi-ethnic herb that is used in everything from delicate Asian spring rolls to substantial Mexican dishes. Cilantro is the leafy part of the coriander plant. Its unique flavor is quite distinctive and can liven up even a simple chicken broth. Cilantro has a faint overtone of anise and a somewhat delicate peppery taste. Use cilantro in tacos, salsas, soups, stews, chicken and rice, salads, tomato-based sauces and as a garnish. Use sparingly, though as it can very easily overwhelm your food.

Dill: Dill is available as both fresh weed and seed, both fresh and dried. Fresh leaves can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or chop finely and mix with one tablespoon of water and freeze in ice cube trays. Dill or dill weed is an herb that produces clusters of small flowers from which dill seed is gathered and dill weed is obtained from the thin, feathery leaves. The light aroma of dill faintly resembles licorice. Dill weed is good in soups, omelets, seafood dishes, herring, salmon, potato salads, and steamed vegetables. Dill seed is used in breads, pickling, cabbage dishes, stews, rice and cooked root vegetables. Dill has a totally unique spicy green taste. Add whole seeds to potato salad, pickles, bean soups and salmon dishes. Ground seed can flavor herb butter, mayonnaise and mustard. The leaves go well with fish, cream cheese and cucumber.

Juniper Berry: The juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers that are herbal trees. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. Not all species of juniper berries are edible. Some are toxic and consumption is inadvisable. The mature, dark berries are usually, but not exclusively, used in cuisine, while gin is flavored with fully-grown but immature green berries. The crushed berries of the juniper tree have an aromatic, resinous flavor often featured in pâtés, marinades and stuffing for pork, venison and other wild game. They are also a popular flavoring for sauerkraut, sauces, ham and cabbage. They are also used with root vegetables, legumes and bean dishes.

Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb of the mint family. For a zesty, flavorful general seasoning, use it paired with tarragon. Adding some freshly minced leaves to lamb or fish marinades for the grill will add a wonderful layer of flavor. The taste of the leaves adds the perfect tangy note to fruit salads. Freshly steamed vegetables come alive when tossed with a chiffonade of Lemon Balm and a touch of cracked pepper. When using whole leaves be sure to handle with care, as they tend to bruise and turn black. Mix lemon balm with other fresh herbs for homemade herb vinegar. Freeze some leaves in ice cubes to serve in lemonade. This is a great herb for growing in window boxes. It does well indoors in a sunny window. The citrus aroma can help keep mosquitoes away as well.

Lemon Verbena: If you like lemon, this is the herb for you! It has a very lemony taste without any bitterness. Originating in Central and South America, this herb was carried home by Spanish explorers in the 17th century. Its popularity quickly spread throughout Europe. When sprinkled over salads and vegetables, it adds a wonderful lemony flavor. Use this to create flavor in stuffing for meat or poultry. Lemon Verbena is a great herb to use liberally when on a low salt diet due to its intense flavor. Also try combining lemon verbena with dried celery, ground peppercorns, lovage leaves or any mix of herbs and spices that taste well with lemon as a mild seasoning mixture.

Lovage: Lovage is also known as love parsley, sea parsley and smallage. The grated fresh root can be cooked as a vegetable or used raw in salads. Lovage is a hardy perennial herb, with ribbed stalks similar to celery with hollow stems that divide into branches near the top. It has yellow flowers and it leaves are dark green. Roots have a nutty favor. Lovage has a strong taste and aroma similar to celery and parsley
Marjoram: Marjoram is an herb that has a mild, sweet flavor similar to oregano (it is closely related and of the same family — Origanum) with perhaps a hint of balsam. It is said to be “the meat herb" but it compliments all savory foods. While fresh marjoram is excellent with salads and mild flavored foods, it has the best taste and greatest pungency when dried. Marjoram has a slightly more delicate flavor than Oregano. Because it is more delicate, marjoram should be added toward the end of cooking so its flavor is not lost. Marjoram goes well with pork and veal and compliments stuffing for poultry, dumplings and herb scones or breads.

Mustard: Mustard has been known since prehistoric times and has many culinary uses. The Romans named this herb from mustus (the new wine they mixed with the seed) and ardens (for fiery). The hot little black and brown mustard seeds are ground and mixed with water, vinegar or other liquids, and turned into a condiment also known as mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil, and the edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens. White mustard seeds are used in pickles as a strong preservative and in mayonnaise as an emulsifier. The yellow, four petal blooms of the plant that flower in mid-summer are also edible and contain a mild mustard flavor. They can be sprinkled on sandwiches or tossed on salads.

Mint: One of the most versatile herbs, thought mostly thought of as a sweet herb. Mint is an herb that comes in many varieties such as peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, lemon mint and even chocolate mint. Mint came to the New World with colonists, who used it in tea for medicinal purposes. Mint is used for seasoning lamb, vegetable such as carrots, bell pepper, and tomatoes, in yogurt dressings, and breads. It is also used in the Middle East for salads, tabouli and marinated vegetables. Mint is good in soups, salads, sauces, plain meat, fish and poultry, stews, sweet or savory recipes, extremely good with chocolate- or lemon-based desserts. Add near the end of cooking for a better flavor.

Oregano: Oregano is an herb that derives its name from two Greek words meaning "the joy of the mountain." It is a hardy member of the mint family that has been used for flavoring fish, meat and sauces since ancient times. Oregano goes well with vegetables, roast beef, lamb, chicken and pork. Generally used to season Mexican, Italian, Greek and Spanish dishes, oregano has a warm, aromatic scent and robust taste.

Parsley: Also known as curly parsley, flat leaf parsley and Italian parsley. Parsley is a great all around herb. It quickly adds a touch of color and texture to any recipe. The aroma and taste of parsley is very distinctive, which is in contrast to its reputation as being bland and only used as a garnish. Especially good in omelets, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soups, pasta and vegetable dishes, parsley also works nicely in sauces for fish, poultry, veal and pork. Use fresh leaves as garnish. Parsley has a delicate favor that combines well with other herbs like basil, bay leaves, chives, dill weed, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano and thyme. Flat leaf or Italian is used primarily in cooking because of its more robust flavor, which should be added at the end of cooking for better flavor.

Rosemary: Rosemary is an herb of the mint family. It is a small evergreen shrub that is native to the Mediterranean and likes warm climates, but will flourish in nearly any climate. It is grown all over the world. It makes a great addition to window boxes and is a nice natural mosquito repellent. Rosemary's aromatic flavor blends well with garlic and thyme to season lamb roasts, meat stews, and marinades. When used sparingly, rosemary also enlivens lighter fish and poultry dishes, tomato sauces, and vegetables. Some nice uses include dressing fresh steamed red potatoes and peas or a stir-fried mixture of zucchini and summer squash. Rosemary has a tea-like aroma and a piney flavor. Crush leaves by hand or with a mortar and pestle before using.

Sage: One of my favorite herbs is sage. It must be used carefully though as it easily can overpower a dish. Sage is an herb from an evergreen shrub in the mint family. Fresh sage sprigs have long, narrow grayish green leaves and, although it is a member of the mint family, it has a musty yet smoky aroma. Sage enhances pork, lamb, meats, and sausages. Chopped leaves flavor salads, pickles, and cheese. Crumble leaves for full fragrance. If using dried, ground sage, use sparingly as foods absorb its flavor more quickly.

Savory: There are two types of savory — winter and summer. The two look much the same, but winter is a bit more pungent. Savory smells and tastes like mint and rosemary chopped together. Savory is nicknamed the bean herb. It is typically used in soups, beans and as a meat and poultry seasoning. This herb tastes slightly warm and sharp. It is a very strong herb and should be used sparingly. Use summer savory, with its more delicate flavor, for tender baby green beans, and winter savory to enhance a whole medley of dried beans and lentils.

Tarragon: This is one herb that took me a while to enjoy. It was overused at some of the first places I worked and it has taken me years to appreciate its qualities. Tarragon is an exceptional herb. It has a subtle and sophisticated flavor and is an essential herb in French cuisine. Its flavor is delicate and almost licorice- or anise-like. Tarragon, together with parsley, chervil, and chives make a traditional French blend, Fines Herbes. Tarragon is exceptional in egg dishes, poached fish, mushrooms and other vegetables, as well as with chicken and in salad dressings. It is the main flavoring in sauce béarnaise. Tarragon is also used to infuse vinegar and olive oils.

Thyme: This is my absolute favorite herb due to it fragrance, taste and versatility. There is just something magical for me when I chop fresh thyme. It brings back memories of new and exciting foods from my early culinary jobs. Fresh garden thyme is an herb that has thin grayish green leaves and a subtle lemon, yet minty aroma and taste. Thyme is used in a wide variety of cuisine, but is most closely associated with French cuisine. It is often used in soups and sauces, with meat, poultry or fish. It is also a very important component of herbes de Provence and bouquet garni. Thyme is included in seasoning blends for poultry and stuffing and also commonly used in fish sauces, chowders, and soups. It goes well with lamb and veal as well as in eggs and croquettes. Thyme is also often paired with vegetables such as tomatoes as it brings out the fresh garden flavors of these foods.

Garden Fresh Basil Pesto
Makes 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (can substitute walnuts)
3 medium-sized garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine basil, pine nuts and garlic in food processor; pulse a few times. Slowly add oil in slow steady stream. Scrape down sides; add salt and pepper. Add cheese and process to desired consistency. Store covered in fridge. Push plastic wrap tight against pesto to keep from turning brown. A little fresh lemon juice will also help to prevent browning.

— Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking featuring local produce, cheeses and meats Thursdays through Mondays by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

‘Swing & Sweets’ is a Real Treat!

We can’t wait for the evening of Tuesday, June 14, to break out our dancing shoes for an evening of “Swing & Sweets,” a perfect blend of desserts and dancing to the sound of Swing North Big Band. We invite you to join us at the lovely Sugar Hill Meeting House from 7:30- 9 p.m. for a delightful evening of dancing and sweet confections.

The great music, dance and delicious desserts represent another aspect of our fabulous Fields of Lupine Festival that takes place all around the Franconia Notch region, with dozens of different events in Lincoln, Sugar Hill, Franconia, Easton, and Bethlehem. The Adair Country Inn & Restaurant is among the restaurants and inns that will present a selection of fine desserts during the evening to enhance your enjoyment of the wonderful music that the popular Swing North Big Band is providing during this “Open Rehearsal” concert.

Adair’s Chef Orlo will prepare a gorgeous Lemon Angel Food Chiffon Cake, topped with berries and homemade oreos. This light and airy dessert is one of our favorites and we can’t wait for you to try it, too!

Other desserts on the menu include a Vanilla Sponge Cake with lemon cream and chocolate mousse filling, Chocolate Ganache Cake, Chocolate Eclairs, and a Graham Cracker-Crusted Cheese Cake with fresh strawberries and cream, all compliments of the Café Lafayette Dinner Train; Strawberry Vacherin and Cocoa Nib Sliders provided by the Mountain Club on Loon; and an old favorite, Aunt Anne’s Blueberry Cake from the Franconia Heritage Museum.

Harman’s Cheese & Country Store will offer assorted cheese and crackers, as a delicious side note to all the sweets. Polly’s Pancake Parlor, Sunset Hill House, and Indian Head Resort are also contributing goodies for the evening. We won’t reveal what their chefs are concocting, but we promise it’ll be worth coming out for.

So, dust off your dancing shoes, grab your partner and join us for a wonderful evening of Swing-era music. Don’t care to dance? Come and listen and enjoy dessert while the 18-piece “Basie-style” band belts out some tunes. Their arrangements include everything from Count Basie and Glen Miller to Maynard Ferguson and Sammy Nestico.

Admission to “Swing & Sweets” is $10 per person or $18 per couple, paid at the door. Call us at Adair at (603) 444-2600 if you have any questions, or learn more about Festival events at

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meet the Author -- Bethlehem Plays a Part in Her Newest Novel

Curling up with a good book and a cup of tea is one of life’s simple and satisfying pleasures. Even better is being able to meet the author of a “really good read.” At Adair Country Inn & Restaurant, we wanted to give our Lupine Festival visitors, guests, and local residents the opportunity to meet author Lois Mathieu, who set part of her new novel in Bethlehem. She’ll be at the Inn at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, for a Tea & Book Signing, and we’d love to have you join us for refreshments and conversation.

Lois has just penned her latest book, “Debut,” the story of a mother and child whose bond is broken when the mother gives her child up for adoption. The two live much of their lives secretly yearning for each other. More than 20 years pass before they meet and come to realize how deeply they have both suffered from their irrevocable loss.

As in any good book, the plot reveals the challenges and obstacles the characters must confront: the birth mom, a New Hampshire girl bound for college, who gives up her first born, and goes on to marry and have three more children, but remains burdened by sorrow and guilt for giving up her first child; the adoptive parents who assume that unconditional love for their daughter is sufficient to keep her from opening the door to the past; and the adoptive child, who wonders about her biological heritage when her extraordinary singing voice becomes evident. The novel opens when she is preparing for her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House and is also hoping to receive a reply letter from her birth mother, after having contacted the adoption agency.

We’re intrigued that Lois chose Bethlehem as the home of the birth mother. “I chose it for two reasons,” she says. “The name evokes the feeling that something special will take place, and I wanted the birth mother character to live in a White Mountains town, in a rural community that would rub against the sophisticated lifestyle of Manhattan and Westchester County. I had a feel for the rural northern New Hampshire setting because my husband and I had hiked in the White Mountains on numerous occasions many summers ago. I was not familiar with Bethlehem, but when I discovered its remarkable history I felt that Bethlehem had chosen “Debut.”

Mathieu holds a B.A. degree from Syracuse University in New York and a Master's of English at Trinity College in Connecticut. She is also the author of the novel “Quiet but Dangerous,” and her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals.

Join us at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant on June 18 at 4 p.m., and enjoy a cup of tea and chat with Lois. She’ll be happy to answer your questions about the book and her writing process. It’s a great opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with an author. Copies of her novel will be available for purchase and Lois will inscribe a personal message for you, if you’d like. For more information contact the innkeepers at (603)444-2600

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Local Food: Know your farmer, know your food

As I started to write about the Local Food Movement, I was struck by the fact that eating local food should not be a movement, but rather just be the way everyone eats. Food is grown here and eaten here — what could be simpler? It was certainly the way our grandparents and their parents ate. When and why did it become easier to have our foods shipped from hundreds — if not thousands — of miles away? However, this is where we are. Getting foods which are grown and delivered locally, while easier than in recent years, is still harder than getting foods grown from the other side of the country.

Eating local has many more benefits than eating foods produced and shipped from other parts of the country.

• Eating local keeps more money in the local economy. You are giving your money to a local farmer, who, in turn, will spend his or her money locally.
• Locally grown produce is fresher. Food sold to large supermarkets has been picked, stored, shipped and stored again for days, if not weeks. Local food purchased at a farmers market or small independent grocer has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.
• The freshness also increases the flavor and the health benefits of the produce. Once picked, the flavor and nutritional value start to decline. A perfect example is the tomato. Eat a local tomato picked and sold within 24 hours and compare that to a tomato purchased at a large supermarket. That tomato was probably picked green and left to “ripen” inside a cardboard box for several days while being shipped across the country. After eating a locally grown tomato you will have a hard time eating a regular supermarket tomato again.
• Eating local food also leads to more variety. A small farmer can grow small crops that would probably never sell in large supermarkets. Larger farms do not have that opportunity as they have demands for large volumes of produce which makes variety more difficult. Local farmers plant what's delicious, healthful and in local demand.
• Eating local also cuts down on pollution and leads to better air quality. Less driving to ship the product and generally less harsh farming practices make local farming greener than large-scale farms. The average supermarket potato travels over 1,000 miles from farm to market. That requires many gallons of fuel and produces many pounds of pollution. Local food reduces or eliminates the costs, both monetary and planetary, of transportation, processing, packaging, and advertising.

While one downside of eating local can be the perceived higher cost of locally grown food, that really is not the case. While the dollar price paid may generally be higher, because the food is fresher it will last longer, giving you more time to eat it instead of throwing it away. Also, because it tastes better, you will be more apt to want to eat it, instead of looking at it and not be excited about eating it. Isn’t an apple you picked yourself more enticing than one taken out of a plastic bag? Another cost saving of eating local is the health benefit. If the food you eat is healthier, you will be healthier, spending less on medicines and prescriptions. Think of it as an extra health insurance policy.

Local food combines production, processing, distribution and consumption on a small scale, which helps to sustain local economies and a strong connection between farm and table. While local may be your neighbor or a farm within day’s drive, buying local ensures that you will often be buying the food from the person who grew it.

Some ways to eat locally include:
— shop weekly at your local farmers market or farm stand
— join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and get weekly deliveries of the season's harvest
— buy from local grocers and co-ops committed to stocking local food
— support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food
— visit local farmers and "u-picks"
— ask your grocer or favorite restaurant what local foods they carry

Native Tomato and Local Goat Cheese Salad

1 Large farm-ripened tomato
2-3 Tablespoons of your favorite local goat cheese
Garden fresh herbs
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice tomato into thick rounds, layer on plate.
Crumble goat cheese onto slices.
Drizzle with vinegar and oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Enjoy the fresh flavors of summer with farm fresh foods.

— Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking featuring local produce, cheeses and meats Thursdays through Mondays by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Almost Time for the Lupine Festival!

With the weather warming up nicely, we are preparing for the wonderful days of the Fields of Lupine Festival that takes place right here in Bethlehem and surrounding towns in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire over two glorious weeks at the beginning of June, from the 3rd through the 19th.

Even though there are dozens of planned activities, our favorite pastime during the Festival is taking a leisurely drive around the area to view the roadside lupine fields, with stops for some photo taking and oohing and aahing over the beautiful spikes of blue, purple, pink, white, and even yellow flowers that grace the countryside. Most of the lupine fields stretch away into breathtaking views of the mountains, so everywhere you look you are surrounded by natural beauty. Be sure to stop along Sunset Hill Road in Sugar Hill where a path is mown into a private field and passersby are invited to wander among the lupine blooms. The view is spectacular!

Did you know that lupines grow wild in North America and Europe, and have been cultivated for at least 2,000 years? Here are some interesting lupine facts from this year’s Official Program Tour Book:

• Lupines are named after the wolf because ancient peoples believed that the flower robbed the soil of nutrients. Lupines actually add nitrogen to the soil and are very often used as forage and green manure crops.

• The Karner butterfly feeds exclusively on lupines.

• Lupine seeds have been used through the ages for medicinal and magical purposes.

• Flowers from lupines were used to dye cloth.

• Lupines have been mentioned in the literature of Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as in the Jewish Talmud.

• In ancient times, lupine seeds were used by the poor to make bread.

We think this is the most amazing fact: A single lupine was the first plant to bloom on Mt. St. Helens two years after the volcano erupted in 1980. The plant emerged in the barren “pumice plain,” and within four years, 32,000 plants were in bloom from that one plant, creating a lush blue carpet on the volcanic rock. Truly magical!

After you get tired of looking at the lupines (not possible!), you’ll find plenty of activities – an Art Festival, wine tastings, live music and much, much more -- to keep you interested.

Here at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant, we’ll be welcoming guests each day during the Lupine Festival for tours of the inn, along with tea and cookies. While you’re here, be sure to take a stroll through our gardens, which were designed by the Olmsted Brothers. We also invite you to join us for a Cooking Show & Demo where you can learn all of Head Chef Orlo’s secrets or visit Innkeeper Ilja at the outdoor market in Sugar Hill for “a taste of Adair” food as prepared by Chef Orlo. On June 14th, enjoy great music, dance and delicious desserts at “Swing and Sweets.” Swing North Big Band will be performing an "Open Rehearsal" concert at the Sugar Hill Meeting House. Local Restaurants & Inns will present a selection of fine desserts, including Head Chef Orlo's specialties. Also on our menu of Festival events is our Father’s Day BBQ Brunch Buffet. To add to the enjoyment, we’ll have the Sugar Hill Fire Department’s bright and shiny Engine #2 on hand for picture taking with all the dads.

The events at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant are just a taste of what’s available during the two week Festival. There are so many exciting things to see and do that we recommend picking up a copy of the Festival Program Tour Book. There are special recipes contributed by local inns, restaurants and businesses, discount offers, maps that show where to find the best lupine viewing, a daily calendar of events, and other useful information to help you enjoy every minute of the Festival. Many of the activities are free for those presenting the Lupine Festival Tour Book. You can get yours for just $5 at the Franconia Notch Chamber of Commerce, at Festival businesses like Adair, and at

Hope to see you in June for some lupine viewing!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Sounds and Sights of Spring

It’s so nice to wake up to birdsong each morning now that spring has arrived at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. The birds just love the 200-acre Adair property with all its trees and shrubs, perfect hiding places for nesting and feeding. Pretty soon, the baby birds will join their parents in the morning songfest…we’ll keep you posted.

Now that the ice is out on the ponds and the ground has warmed up a bit, the spring peepers have made their appearance. While we’ve never actually seen these tiny (less than an inch) frogs in the nearby wetlands, their voices fill the air each evening at dusk with a high-pitched chorus of peeping. If you’ve never heard spring peepers before you owe yourself a trip to the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire and a stop at the romantic and cozy Adair Country Inn & Restaurant to hear this wonderful springtime choir in full voice.

One of our friends reports seeing five deer browsing in her field, along with a flock of 13 turkeys. Deer like to cross our property as well, and last year we had turkeys on the tennis court! You just never know what wildlife sighting each day will bring here at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant, so come and see for yourself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hot Cross Buns are an Easter Tradition

Easter season is upon us, and while many of Easter’s culinary traditions are associated with Christianity, most of them have been around much longer and have simply been adopted by the Christian religion.

Eggs are perhaps the first food that come to mind. Eggs symbolize rebirth and rejuvenation — just like spring. As Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ's Resurrection, with the image of him rising beyond the tomb just as a bird breaks through the shell of its egg. In early Christianity, eggs were forbidden during Lent. So on Easter, they became a very special treat. Christians in central European countries have a long tradition of elaborately decorated Easter eggs. Polish, Slavic and Ukrainian people create artistic designs on the eggs. They draw lines with wax, dip the egg in color and repeat the process many times to make amazing works of art. Yugoslavian Easter eggs bear the initials "XV" for "Christ is Risen," a traditional Easter greeting. Before the communists took control, the Russian royal family carried the custom to great lengths, giving exquisitely detailed jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Carl Faberge from the 1880s until 1917.

In Germany, eggs that go into Easter foods are not broken, but emptied out by piercing the shell with a pin. The empty shells are painted and decorated with bits of cloth, then hung with ribbons on a small leafless tree. The eggshell tree is one of several Easter traditions carried to America by German settlers known as Pennsylvania Dutch. They also brought the fable that the Easter bunny delivered colored eggs for good children.

The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God.
In the United States, ham is a traditional Easter food. In the early days, meat was slaughtered in the fall. There was no refrigeration, and the fresh pork that wasn't consumed during the winter months before Lent was cured for spring. The curing process took a long time, and the first hams were ready about the time Easter rolled around. Thus, ham was a natural choice for the celebratory Easter dinner. Also, the pig has long been a symbol of good luck, which everyone hoped for in the coming growing season.

Easter has always had a close association with food. The word comes from the name for the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and spring, Eostre, and special dishes were cooked for her celebration. Most important of these dishes was a small spiced bun. Through the centuries, the ritual of baking hot cross buns became a standard practice of the Easter celebration in English society. The English custom of eating spiced buns on Good Friday was institutionalized in Tudor times, when a London bylaw was introduced forbidding the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas, and at burials. In the Baltic region of Russia, the Easter cake is kulich, a yeast dough of enormous proportions lavishly decorated with crystallized citrus peel. The kulich is based on a baba dough, with more sugar, plus additions of candied peel, almonds, raisins, and saffron. The bulging top is iced and decorated, usually with Cyrillic letters standing for “Christ is risen.” Traditionally, the kulich is taken to be blessed at midnight mass on the eve of Easter Sunday.

One of the Innkeepers here at Adair Country Inn and Restaurant is from Holland and she has shared some of the interesting things the Dutch do for Easter. Dutch Easter (Pasen) usually refers to Easter Sunday (Eerste Paasdag) and Easter Monday (Tweede Paasdag). Good Friday is not a holiday. Traditionally, an Easter brunch is held on Sunday. The table is decorated with freshly painted Easter eggs, candles, spring flowers like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, and a vase with decorated willow branches (paastakken). Hanging from this “Easter tree” are chocolate eggs and ornaments like butterflies, bows and bunnies. The brunch consists of a Paasstol (a fruited Easter loaf with a center of soft almond paste), butter shaped like a lamb or bunny, bread rolls, hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, smoked eel, and other typical Dutch breakfast items.
Prettige paasdagen (Happy Easter)!
Hot Cross Buns

Makes approximately 12
1 envelope (1/4-ounce) dry yeast
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F.)
1 stick of butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup of raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3-1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Combine the yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the butter, egg and raisins. Mix for 1 minute. Add the salt, cardamom and flour. Beat on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then, beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the bowl and invert it onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Roll up the dough, beginning with the long side and stopping after each full turn to press the edge of the roll firmly into the flat sheet of the dough to seal. Press with your fingertips. Tuck and roll so that any seams disappear into the dough. Cut the dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Place the rolls on the baking sheet, 1/2-inch apart. With a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg evenly over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Bake until lightly brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a rack. In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and milk. Mix until smooth. Ice each bun with the frosting in the shape of a cross. Serve warm.

— Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn and Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking Thursdays through Mondays by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


As chocolate is one of our passions, we’re eager to share Chef Orlo’s secret chocolate truffles recipe with our Easter Getaway guests at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant in Bethlehem. Yummmm… we can already taste that melt in your mouth chocolate goodness. What could be better than a romantic weekend away and the richness of chocolate, unless it’s the Easter Bunny Treats Basket and Spring Flower Bouquet in each of our guest rooms? Oh, what fun!

We’re also preparing for our annual Easter Brunch Buffet on Sunday, April 24, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Along with the delicious foods that Chef Orlo is preparing — a Smoked Seafood Platter, Sticky Bun French Toast, Made-to-order Omelets, Glazed Smoked Ham, Luscious Desserts, and much, much more, guests can take part in an Easter Egg Hunt for Grownups (remember how much fun this was as a child!), along with great prizes and live music. It’ll be a hoppin’ event, so be sure to make your reservation today at (888/603) 444-2600.

Spring has taken its time this year, but we’re slowly seeing signs that it’s truly arrived here in the White Mountains. The sun is warmer, the days are longer, and the buds on the trees are popping. Drive along any country road here in the North Country, including the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant’s long driveway, and you can’t but notice the beautiful spring greens everywhere. And, don’t overlook the crocus and daffodils. These strong and sturdy flowers are among the true harbingers of spring — those clumps of purple and white crocus and the waving stems of brilliant yellow daffodils are a welcome sight for winter weary eyes.

If you decide to come to the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant in late April, you’ll find there’s lots to do, from shopping to hiking to culture. Littleton is a great place to spend a couple of hours browsing in the many small specialty shops on Main Street. Littleton also has Chutters (it holds the Guinness Book of World Records’ record for the longest candy counter in the world), and the Village Book Store one of those rare-these-days independent booksellers. Check out the toy department for fun gifts for you and the grandkids.

Littleton also boasts a wonderful pedestrian covered bridge over the Ammonoosuc River, and a nearby walking path that takes you over a long (and bouncy!) suspension bridge. This being New Hampshire, there are loads of covered bridges to choose from. A couple of our favorites are the Mechanic Street and Mt. Orne bridges in Lancaster, the Bath-Haverhill, Bath and Swiftwater bridges in Bath, and the Sentinel Pine (pedestrian only) and Flume bridges in Lincoln, all within easy driving distance of the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. If you want to go further afield, check out New Hampshire’s listing of covered bridges. Spring is the perfect time to roam around and check out these wooden beauties (many built in the 1800s). The rivers are running swift and high with snow melt, and it’s quite a thrill to drive across the wooden floorboards just a short ways above the rushing water!

In late April we also have a hankering for some of Polly’s Pancakes with real maple syrup, and a side of smoked bacon. Polly's Pancake Parlor, in Sugar Hill, is a North Country staple (since 1938), which relies on traditional recipes along with a dose of good North Country friendliness for its popularity. And, just up the road, check out the Sugar Hill Sampler, housed in the big red barn, for décor and gifts for the home, along with a museum, photo display and some of the best views around. And, just down the road apiece, there’s Harman's Cheese & Country Store which offers a large selection of delicious cheeses.

Looking for a little exercise to work off those Easter Brunch calories? Hike one of the many trails on the 200-acre Adair Country Inn & Restaurant property, at the nearby Rocks Estate or head on down into Franconia Notch State Park and take a stroll or a longer hike along one of the many trails there.

When you’ve finished exploring, a relaxing evening and a comfortable feather bed await you back at the Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. (80 Guider Lane, Bethlehem, New Hampshire ~