Friday, July 15, 2011

Easy home made fruit compote recipe

Here at the B&B I do my best to make as much of the things that we serve for breakfast myself from scratch using, whenever possible, local ingredients.

One of the things I make that people seem to love is a fruit compote and the good news is that it is really easy to do so, for all the people who ask for the recipe (though it is more of a technique really), here we go: 
  1. Start with a firm fruit typically pears or apples - I like Cortland. Peel, core and cut into bite size chunks. 
  2. Put fruit into a microwaveable container with about a 1/4 inch of water plus brown sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger. For 3 medium apples I would probably use 4 tbsp, 1/2 tsp and a 1/4 tsp respectively. Stir together and microwave on high for two minutes.
  3. Add a soft fruit - about a half cup if using 3 apples. Blackberries work really well but I also like plums or blueberries or whatever is in season. (In the winter you can use dried apricots or frozen fruit.) Stir and microwave 3 minutes. Test with the tip of a knife to see of firm fruit is now tender, if not microwave another 2 minutes but don't overcook otherwise you will end up with a puree.
  4. Stir one last time. Leave to cool and then refrigerate overnight which makes all the difference. Serve on its own, with yogourt or on cereal.
You will soon find your own favourite combinations of fruits and spices. I love apple and cranberry but if using frozen berries start with them first and then add the apples. Rhubarb is excellent with pears and a pinch of cloves is good with apple based compotes.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hiking Sutton's back roads

Here in Sutton we are almost spoiled for choice when it comes to mountain trails but I find that walking the backroads is the best way to discover the true beauty of the Townships. Old barns, babbling brooks, towering trees, wild flowers, vistas and views are all waiting to be discovered. Roads are wide making them ideal for a walk with friends and traffic is sparse so you can stroll along without danger.

The McClarty house - Sutton's oldest.
Look at a map and pick out a circuit. Drive to any point. Park. Walk. My friend Catherine and I have walked many circuits on Sutton's backroads. They take anything from one to two hours. We keep them fresh by returning in different seasons, varying our start point and walking both clockwise and counter clockwise. I guarantee that anywhere you walk will be a delight but here are a few suggesions to get you started:
  • Walk up Mountain which starts behind A La Fontaine restaurant on Principale. It takes you from the village up past increasingly rural surroundings with lovely views up to the Round Top. Turn back at Schweizer or, if you are feeling keen, turn right, continue over Principale and up Jordon, turn right on Westwood, follow all the way to Dyer, turn right and walk back to Principale. A great route but a solid two and a half hours.
  • About 15 minutes drive from Sutton try the Rosenberry, Muir, Turkey Hill, Mont-Echo circuit. Absolutely beautiful, off the beaten track all together. About 90 minutes.
  • Drive 10 minutes to Abercorn for the  circuit made up by des Eglises Ouest, Spencer, Hillcrest, Route 139, Thibault Nord.  About an hour.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A kayak outing in Sutton - total relaxation

One good aspect about the rain we have had recently is that the streams and rivers are all running at full pelt. The biggest river nearby is the Missisquoi which runs most of its 80 miles in northern Vermont but takes a loop for 15 miles here  into Quebec. The river passes through no main population centres and the section that runs from nearby Mansonville to Glen Sutton is totally rural and tranquil.
This weekend we arranged for two of our clients to take advantage of high water and warm temperatures with a half day kayak excursion. We use two different outfitters but the basic idea is the same: a 15 minute drive to Glen Sutton where you leave your car; the outfitter then takes you and the kayaks a further 15 minutes to the put in spot at Highwater or Mansonville; you paddle back at your leisure to the take out out point. Dependent on the speed of the current and how energetic you are feeling this can take anything from two and a half to four hours. You can stop on route for a picnic or a swim - your time is your own.
Last year Jay and I did a sunset kayak excursion which was just magical - we started off in the early evening, the river bathed in a golden glow, and finished in the dark by the light of our head torches! When you are on the river you seem far from everything. We often just let the current carry us as we looked for birds and critters. I did the same trip 3 years ago with my Mum and her enthusiasm and wonder at the experience remains  remains one of my fondest memories of her.
We can arrange for a kayak trip any day of the week. Guests should bring comfy clothes, sandals and a wind cheater plus an old towel as you always get wet! Bug repellent and sun screen are a good idea too. Absolutely no experience is necessary and you don't need to be able to swim as life jackets are provided. Allow for a minimum of 4 hours to really enjoy the experience. A two night package with a kayak excursion here at Vert Le Mont B&B starts at $110 pp - on a hot summer's day I cant think of anything nicer.
Jay leads the way on our sunset kayak excursion

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Vert Le Mont B&B

Many of the people who come to stay here at Vert Le Mont have never stayed in a B&B before, in consequence they are sometimes a bit apprehensive about just how it works. I am always happy to answer any questions a guest may have but here are replies to the questions I get asked most often:
  • Will I have to share a bathroom? NO! Each of the five rooms has a small (in some cases very small) private bathroom so you have a shower, toilet and handbasin. The London room has a tub. There are no jacuzzis and no swimming pool.
  • Is there a television? There is no TV in the rooms and, given different languages and tastes, we don't really offer TV. However, we can and do make exceptions. When the Vancouver Olympics were on and the Soccer World Cup was live from South Africa, we often had whole groups of cheering guests watching a events all together. This was loads of fun!
  • Are there restaurants nearby? Yes indeed. Within a four minute walk we have 8 different places to eat covering most tastes and budgets.
  • What time do you serve breakfast? Guests can come down anytime between  8am and 10am. I have no problem serving breakfast earlier (my record is 5.30am) but cannot make it much later as we have all the housework to do for that night's arriving guests. We offer lots of choices at breakfast and can accomodate gluten free, vegan and vegetarian diets.
  • Is there a fridge we can use? There is usually space in the main fridge, and in the summer we have an extra one available.  
  • Do you accept dogs? Not at all but the Bonne Nuit Beaux Reves B&B just opposite does. On the other hand you need have no concerns if you have allergies.
  • Do you accept children? Yes, though you will be the best judge of how well it will work because there is neither TV nor a swimming pool. In addition there is only one room (Alice Springs) where I can put a king plus a single or two or 3 singles; all the other rooms each has one queen bed. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A really yummy cake recipe

Jay bakes too: here is his award winning applesauce cake.

I dont know if nice people choose to stay in B&Bs or if there are just more nice people in the world than we realise. Regardless, we have lots of really nice people who come to stay here at Vert le Mont . A case in point are Edward and Agata who came to ski and cross country again this year and were rewarded with some great snow conditions.

Since opening B&B I have found that I really enjoy baking something to serve with afternoon tea. Agata is always very complimentary about my baking and very much enjoyed this cake. It was the first time that I had madeit but it's a definate keeper - foolproof and delicious. For Agata and everyone else here is the recipe taken from The Breakfast Book by Marian Cunningham.

Apricot Prune Coffee Cake
  1. Heat oven to 350C; butter and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan.
  2. Mix together 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and set aside.
  3. Finely chop and mix together 1 cup dried apricots and 1 cup pitted dried prunes. You can use any dried fruit but if they seem dry or tough pre-soak them for 10 minutes by pouring over boiling water then drain and pat dry.
  4. Beat together 2/3 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup melted butter.
  5. Stir together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.
  6. To make cake batter stir flour mixture into sugar mixture then stir in dried fruit.
  7. Spread a scant third of the batter over bottom of pan. Top with half of sugar mix. Spread another third of the batter over the sugar. Cover with remaining sugar mix and then finish with remainder of cake batter.
  8. Bake for 50 to 50 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted into center.
  9. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes in pan. Carefullly turn out onto a rack to cool completely before serving (easier said than done).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to ski Sutton using public transport

I have had a couple of enquiries recently about getting to and around Sutton via public transport so thought it worthwhile to pass on the following:
  1. Veolia transport runs between Montreal's Station Centrale bus station and Sutton's Esso gas station on rue Principale. There are two buses every day plus a third on Friday and Sunday. Returning it is two buses every day plus an extra one on Sunday. Check the Veolia Montreal Sutton timetable for up to date listings.
  2. Once in Sutton just walk into the village and turn left on rue Maple where it is fairly easy to hitch a lift up to the ski hill.
  3. At weekends and school break weeks, Mont Sutton provides a free shuttle to the ski hill from the bottom of rue Maple opposite Au Coeur des Saisons boutique. The shuttle goes up at 8.00am and 8.55am and returns hourly from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. It stops by request at lodgings along the way including right here in front of Vert Le Mont B&B.
  4. There is no way of coming to Sutton via public transport across the U.S. border unless you take the train to Montreal and then catch the bus down as I have just described.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sutton winter weather

My snowmometer!
So far 2011 has been exceptional snowy here in Sutton. Mont Sutton reports 488 cm snowfall to date and it keeps on coming.

We have this great microclimate in Sutton to thank for the snow but the downside is that weather forecasts tend to be very inaccurate for Sutton. There can be no snow a mile away but  here in the village it is pelting down. It can be drizzly in the village but up on the mountain it is snowing for all it is worth. And I must admit to being very dissapointed this morning when two sets of guests cancelled for today because it is apparently raining in Montreal!

I look at 3 different forecasts and over the years have found that in general Accuweather gives the best and most detailed predictions. The U.S. NOAA National Weather Service is pretty good too especially their radar visual to see what is coming up. Sadly the Environment Canada web site is the worst, especially for anything more than 24 hours out.

The very best way of finding out what the weather is like is to e-mail or give me a call at the B&B - all I have to do is look out the window and I am always honest because it is in my interest to have my guests come to Sutton and have a great time. Contact details are on my Vert Le Mont Bed and Breakfast website.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snowshoeing in and around Sutton

Recent guest Steve took this picture of  Huguette on their way to the Round Top
 We have had more and more guests here at the B&B this year who have come to snowshoe. Not surprizing because there is an excellent choice of venues nearby and we just keep getting fresh snow so conditions are ideal. Try and make it midweek if you can when you have the trails almost to yourself.

  • Sutton En Haut. Open Wednesday to Sunday. About 15 kms of fairly level trails arranged in 3 interlinking circuits in a old growth maple forest. Equipment rental. 3 minutes from the B&B. Day pass is $6.
  • Parc Sutton (PENS). Nearly 60kms of trails mostly on the flanks of the Sutton massif ie hilly! Great views from Round Top on a clear day. If you have at least 3 hours try the Moose Back. 5 minutes from the B&B. Day pass is $5.
  • Au Diable Vert. Lovely trails in open forest with great views at the start. A great spot on a sunny day. Dont forget to buy some organice beef to take home with you! 15 minutes from the B&B. Day pass $5 or $10 with equipment rental ($15 at weekends).
Here at the B&B, the $90pp Sutton snowshoe package includes two nights bed and breakfast plus two snowshoe day passes per person as well as hot chocolate and home made cake in the afternoon - I am sure you will deserve it!.

Further afield there is also Reserve naturelle des Montagnes-Vertes and Parc National du Mont-Orford about 30 and 45 minutes drive respectively but via some lovely scenery.

Best ski ticket deals at Mont Sutton 2010-2011

Sometimes it feels like you need a PhD to work out the best deals for skiing at SUTTON. To make life easier for my Vert Le Mont B&B guests I usually tell them "Tell me when you want to ski and I will get you the best price". For everyone else here are my top tips for getting the best deals for skiing at SUTTON bearing in mind that this season a regular one day adult ticket is C$60
  • If you can stay a night or two midweek then the Forfait Neige is an unbeatable value ski package. For $79pp plus taxes you get a ski ticket for a half day starting at noon plus the whole next day along with a night's lodging and  breakfast. n.b. this package is only available Monday to Thursday night (the mountain sets the rules not me) and you have to start with the half day.
  • On Thursdays, women ski for just $25 until 24 February plus you can get a free 10 minutes chair massage!
  • If you are a FADOQ member you can ski Mont Sutton for just $20 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Not much time? Half day tickets are pretty expensive but you can ski from 3pm every day of the week for just $15 or just ski half of the mountain using chairs 2W and 3 for $26.
  • If you are a beginner the Inniski program gets you equipment rental, a one hour private lesson and a lift pass for only $60. Schedule your lesson as early in the day as possible to get the best use from your lift pass.
  • Deals at the weekend are few and far between. Usually Costco has a special on Sutton lift tickets but I havent found it this year. Make sure, at the very least, to get a free Carte Blanche which gives you 10% discount your first visit, 20% the second and so on. Most Sutton lodgings should have them or else try the Sutton Tourist Information Office
Skiing is fantastic this year with more snow than we have seen in ten years! It gets pretty busy at weekends so either come midweek if you can or else plan on arriving early.
OK I admit it - this isnt me but it is EXACTLY how it looked on Thursday.