Flemington New Jersey Bed & Breakfast

Here’s a great Holiday recipe I share with our guests every year!  

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All-year round our guests enjoy inn-baked treats, made inn our kitchen, from scratch!  …and at Holiday time, its no different. We nod to the seasonality of ingredients, so at Christmastime, we are happy to share our Egg Nog Cake recipe.  Its always a crowd pleaser, even for those folks who THINK they don’t like egg nog.  So here it is, from our kitchen to yours!

Main Street Manor’s Egg Nog Cake

½ c. softened butter

3 large eggs

1 t vanilla extract

2 c. all purpose unbleached flour

2 ½ t baking powder

¾ t salt

1 c egg nog

1 ¼ sugar

1 T white rum

fresh grated nutmeg

Confectioners sugar

Whisk together dry ingredients and grate in nutmeg, about ¼ t and set aside. Beat butter until creamy and gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Blend in vanilla and rum. Add butter mixture alternately with egg nog, beating until smooth. Alternate blending wet & dry ingredients. Turn into greased and floured 10 inch tube pan.  Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until done.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and top with a bit more grated nutmeg and then with powdered sugar.

Quilt Crazy!

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Yup…Its that time of year again! Apples, pumpkins and quilts are back again! Talented quilters gather and feature the fruits of their labor at some of the loveliest venues nearby!2010 Autumn Quilts 018

Between us and Bucks County, Pa. there are numerous Quilt expositions happening throughout the next few weeks…so let me tell you the where, when. and how!

The 10th Annual Bucks County Quilt Showcase – through September 22, featuring quilts of various types shown at the Bucks County Visitors Center, 3207 Street Road in Bensalem, Pa.

The Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza takes place through September 21 and exhibits over 600 quilts!  200 vendors sell completed quilts, quilting supplies and related items.  The address is The Philly Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue in Oaks, Pa.

Quiltfest 2014 is held in Point Pleasant, NJ on September 20, from 9am to 5pm and features 100 locally handmade quilts by folks in that area.  Presented by the Jersey Shore Quilters, this exposition takes place at the Good Shepard Lutheran Church at 708 Ocean Road, Point Pleasant, NJ.2010 Autumn Quilts 003

Quilts in the Mill at nearby Prallsville Mill in Stockton runs an entire weekend, beginning October 3, and ends on October 5.  The Courthouse Quilters host this event at the Mill every-other year and it is a must do every other year for me!  The beauty of the venue and the diversity of the quilts that these ladies create, make it a wonderful way to spend an early autumn day!  Admission is $7.00 and the hours are 10am-5pm each day of the exhibit.  There are quilts, food demos and vendors…even drawings for door prizes and quilt contests.  DO plan to attend this if you are a quilt-enthusiast.

Aside from quilt-fests, apple + pumpkin picking is great nearby the inn too…so check back in a few weeks and we’ll tell you about the best farms for apple + pumpkin picking!  Inn the meantime, have an awesome Autumn!

 

Blog-Worthy Berries!

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A wonderful visit to Bonacorsi Family Farm today for ‘you-pick’.  Welcome inn guests to the Main Street Manor Bed & Breakfast‘s Strawberry Festival!  YUMSKIES………….

 

 The fields were brimming with beautiful berries which makes you just want to keep-on-pickin’!  These folks are smart as they set you up with a single quart box OR ‘a picker-built-for-six’…quarts that is!  and its a pickin-addiction thats hard to resist!

So, yes, SIX QUARTS of Strawberries picked in a matter of about 20 minutes…3 quarts of Earliglow (the first-berry….its a sweet-and smaller berry than the usual and takes a bit longer to pick but SO worth it) and 3 quarts of a more ‘traditional’ larger strawberry.  BOTH delicious, and if you’ve never had a just-picked strawberry…all I can tell you its like a taste of heaven!

Upon returning home, a certain someone thought these berries were all for him!  (Well, who could resist that face!…He did manage a few.)  Anyone who knows our Quincy, is aware that when the word ‘berry’ is mentioned…he comes running!

 My drive home from the Farm consisted of pondering all the miraculous concoctions I could create for our inn guests in the coming week (plus delighting in the ability to spoil our sweet child in fur!)  Do treat yourself and take a trip to Bonacorsi Family Farm!  You’ll love the family, the quality of the food they grow and the quaintness of the farm will have you going back every year as I do, Spring through Fall.  See the sign and address below…& happy picking!

Spring Delayed…

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Mother Nature’s delay of Spring has kept me inn-the-kitchen baking and when I am here, this is one of my favorite yummy’s to prepare!  You can make this recipe as cupcakes or a cake…whichever you prefer!

 

Main Street Manor’s Spiced Carrot Cake

  •  1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt (I use greek)
  • 1 cup finely shredded, packed (about 2 medium) carrots

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch round cake pan with oil. Place a round of waxed or parchment paper in the bottom; brush with oil, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cardamom, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugars, yogurt, and oil until smooth. Gently mix egg mixture into dry ingredients until moistened; mix in carrots. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes (if browning too quickly, tent cake with aluminum foil). Cool in pan, 15 minutes. Turn out of pan, remove paper, and cool completely on a rack, right side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar or frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).  Enjoy!

NOTE: Can be made into cupcakes…use a 12 cup muffin pan and line with baking cups.  Bake for about 20 mins @ 350 until done.  Cool and dress with cream cheese frosting (below).

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ lb cream cheese at room temp
  • 12 T unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • ¾ lb sifted confectioners sugar

 

Vermont Inn New Jersey!

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Poor birdhouse at the back of the property…seen better days.

I know we are Inn New Jersey, but I feel like we are living in Vermont this winter! Maybe the past few years we have been spoiled to have not been hammered…but this year its just been a little TOO MUCH!

The back of the inn..all snowy!

Four snowstorms…two ice storms behind us and one more on the horizon for this weekend!   If we only we had good skiing nearby it would at least be worth it to have suffered through the snow!

bbrrrrrrr……..

Needless to say, we will not be traveling to Vermont THIS YEAR for our usual ski & stay B&B vacation…we have enough snow right here inn NJ (minus the mountain)! Our usual go-to place is Okemo Mountain for excellent Vermont skiing and snowy Vermont B&B accommodations check out http://www.combesfamilyinn.com/

Our fave Vermont B&B!

SO, Geesh…an innkeeper has to find something to stay focused on in these quiet months besides shoveling and de-ice-ing…so we take to the outdoors in town for a stroll or some photography whenever possible. The beauty of this white and frozen-in-time season is all around us, but it takes on a different vibe for sure this year, as compared to years passed!

Our Wedding Ceremony Garden…all covered in snow!

Walks with Quincy in Winter require special navigational skills. One (or the two of us!) must be able to tackle single digit temperatures, uncleared sidewalks and the horrific chemical-rich salt and ice melt used on the cross-walks and town sidewalks…so we have tended to stay inn the yard and enjoy the back of the property a bit more than usual.

QUINCY!!!

A fun part of being outside together in the morning is feeding the birds and watching them delight in feeding time … as I take a few photos. (But they don’t really let me get that close!)

This cardinal is almost neon-red! SO beautiful…

Mrs. Cardinal was nearby, but she was way too quick for me to capture!  This sparrow sings a sweet song but looks oh-so-chilly as he waits his turn for some of the seed…

sweet sparrow….

Once inn-side and looking out our kitchen door, I wonder if our raised herb and flower beds will ever be the same.  The nasturtium, lavender, rosemary and cosmos were especially show-y in September and October and was the perfect entrance for our Autumn Wedding couples last year!  Quincy must be wondering the same he delves into the snow, nose-first and sniffs for signs of garden life…

inquisitive Quincy!

Well, its all good…and even with this crazy Winter weather giving us a real workout, we know that Spring will eventually arrive!  Until them, we will continue to remember slow down as Mother Nature intended us to do…and even though can’t stop to smell the roses, we can pause to feed the birds.

Not sure what kind of bird this is…but there are dozens of them and so cute! If anyone knows, please comment!

Private Wedding…No Vacancy!

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Wow!  I cannot believe how long its been since I wrote a blog post.   The weddings at the inn this year have kept us really busy and that is an awesome thing.   Jenny’s ecstatic expression after she & Kyle’s Wedding Ceremony,  totally conveys the innkeepers feelings about the weddings we hosted here at the inn this year!    

Our final wedding of 2013 actually took place on OUR 23 Wedding Anniversary, so we feel that the love came full circle in 2013 at Main Street Manor!  One of the things that is just the best about these weddings is getting to know our wedding couples and seeing the uniqueness of each one’s relationship.  The casual comfort of  a small and more intimate wedding allows for a relaxed atmosphere and personalities and playfulness throughout the day really shines through!

 

We encourage couples to personalize their wedding day with momentos that are uniquely ‘them’!  Favorite colors, flowers, music, and guest offerings are completely their choice!   The intimacy of a small wedding and the ambience of Main Street Manor is a perfect backdrop for embodying the personality and romantic journey of each couple. 

Here are some photos from a few weddings this past year…and how several couples made their day uniquely memorable for themselves and for their guests. 

Dana and Martin had their first meeting at a mutual friend’s Birthday party last year.  They chatted together at the party, surrounded by friends and shared lighthearted conversations while playing  skee-ball throughout the evening.  When they chose Main Street Manor as their wedding venue,  we talked about the flow of the day and how we could further personalize their wedding. 

…Well what better way to record well wishes from the wedding guests then to have a skee-ball as a ‘guest book’ for signing to keep forever as a memory of their first meeting and of their wedding day!

Our Mid-September wedding couple, Alison and Jimmy knew their special day would not be complete without spending a little time with their child-in-fur (we can relate!) …so a good friend of theirs brought Oliver to the inn for a few photo ops and some quality time with the Bride & Groom before the Ceremony.  Oliver was a complete gentleman …and as he posed for photos, he totally charmed everyone in attendance!  

The crispness of  October and pumpkin-time was perfect for their wedding for another of our creative couples!  Disney and all that the word evokes is something our October couple is absolutely crazy for…so it was no surprise to see dozens of  blue-glitter pumpkins delivered to the inn to be used to personalize their wedding.  The pumpkins would direct guests to the walkway of  the inn’s wedding garden and add a splash of the couple’s personality to the open outdoor space.  

They also brought mouse-ears cake pops as favors for their guests and the Bride made the cake topper herself as a surprise for her groom!  (The Bride & Groom also came with personalized mouse-ears which they insisted on wearing for a few photos after the wedding!)   It was a sparkly-fun-filled and sunshine-y day for all and ONE GUESS as to where they went on their Honeymoon?  :-)

Another of our couples loves the cardinal and the story of how this beautiful bird will fight to protect his nest, his territory and that the males and female typically mate for life.  For MaryClaire & Paul, the perfect cake topper (and the cutest one we’ve ever seen) is two cardinals, dressed for the wedding and happily snuggled together in their nest!

As we send our Brides and Grooms off to begin their life together we are happy to have made their day all that they wanted it to be! 

  …and we look forward to making memories for more couples for years to come!

An Inspirational Spring Stroll at Duke Farms

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Even innkeepers need to be kept on track with things that need doing, both for the business and in regards to self-care and to maintain creativity…which is why a photographer friend of mine and I have teamed up as each-others accountability partner.  We meet once a month to keep each other on track with our personal and professional goals.  I know that sounds like scarey stuff,  but the truth is that  I’m a bit of a procrastinator and get a little lost when left completely to my own devices in getting things accomplished.  Its great not having  ‘a boss’ in this business,  but  new ideas,  a fresh point of view and someone to be accountable to has been really helpful.   For our last accountability meeting, Jenna and I met at Duke Farms, in Hillsborough NJ and walked and talked for hours about things that are important to each of us.  It was a dreary day, but the conversation was illuminating and the beauty that surrounded us made for a glorious April day..even though it was just 50 degrees!  Here’s a peek at a little of our time spent at Duke Farms…

A close-up of that amazing magnolia tree…We couldn’t even imagine how old this baby is!

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The Old Hay Barn as it is after a fire on the property in 1915.

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The Hay Barn is an amazingly imposing and awesome structure…Here it is…both inside and out.

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This beautiful Victorian Conservatory houses Duke Farms collection of  Tropical Orchids.  This Garden under glass is filled with a wide variety of orchid species from tropical regions along with some of the magnificent orchids that have been cultivated at Duke Farms throughout its history.

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Some of the orchids inside…note the misty-ness of some of the pics…it was really warm inside the greenhouse and outside a damp and dreary 50 degrees…

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When we came upon this unbelievable statue and incredible display of daffodils it was the icing on the cake for me!  We plan to come back in a month or so, bring our bikes and see even more of this New Jersey jewel.   What a wonderfully inspirational day we had… Thanks so much Jenna and Duke Farms.

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A little info about Duke Farms: Duke Farms was created by James Buchanan Duke in the late 1800’s.   He excavated nine lakes, constructed over 40 buildings, built nearly 2 ½ miles of stone walls and miles & miles of roadway.  Approximately 35 fountains and  countless pieces of sculpture were added to the property.  His daughter Doris Duke adored the estate because it was a creation of her fathers, and she associated it quite closely with him.  It became a touchstone throughout her life and was the house that she identified as her home and principal residence.  A life-long environmentalist, Doris Duke expressed in her will that Duke Farms serve as a haven for native flora and fauna and be used for research that would help to drive positive change on issues related to conservation and the health of the environment.  On May 18, 2012, Duke Farms was opened to the public as Doris had dreamed it would be.   In just 12 months, over 300,000 visitors have discovered Duke Farms.  Through the beauty of its natural setting, the diversity of the wildlife, and the scope and quality of their educational programs, demonstrations and research, Duke Farms has begun to inspire visitors to transform their approach to conservation and start building a more sustainable future.  For more information on Duke Farms and the 1 year Anniversary Celebration, visit http://www.dukefarms.org/en/Visit/One-Year-Anniversary/ .

 

It’s apple-time!

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On a brisk  autumn day, I love the ritual of a day spent in the kitchen baking!  There’s nothing better than the aroma of a yummy treat to welcome our inn-coming guests…And an apple-y dessert is the perfect thing to set the stage for those who visit us to spend some time pumpkin or apple picking!  Here’s an easy and delicious recipe for one of my favorite apple desserts that our guests seem to love…and below a few of our favorite pick-your-own places to visit for apple-picking nearby the inn!          

Main Street Manor’s Autumn Apple Bread … (adapted from Morning Glory Farm’s recipe, October 2011)

2 ½ c lightly packed brown sugar
1 c soft unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 T lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
4 c all purpose-unbleached flour
1 T baking soda
1 ½ t salt
1 ½ t freshly grated nutmeg
½ t cloves
½ t ginger
1 T cinamon
5 c finely chopped crisp apples (I suggest either fugi, gala, cortland or pink lady apples for this recipe)

 Preheat oven to 350….grease 3 glass loaf pans

 Cream sugar, butter, sugar and then beat in eggs & liquids.

Add all dry ingredients to the wet & mix well until everything is incorporated nicely.  Stir in your chopped apples and then portion the batter into the 3 loaf pans and bake for about 1 hour.  Enjoy!

These days, there are tons of apple varieties to be had…here are a few of our favorite pick your own farms for picking, nearby the inn…

Bonacorsi Family Farm - 1137 Croton Road, Flemington

Melick’s Orchards - 472 Route 513, Califon

Peaceful Valley Orchards - 150 Pittstown Road, Pittstown

 

Zucchini, Tomatoes & Thyme, Oh My!!!…….

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Inn-the-Kitchen at the Manor!

Ya gotta love Summertime in the Garden State / New Jersey!  Whether its grown in your own garden or found at a roadside stand, you have to admit, July & August in New Jersey prooves that Mother Nature rules!!!  And any of you gardeners out there for sure feel the stress of wanting to use ALL of the veggies that you have harvested within these last few days to allow little or NO waste.  We, at the inn pull in all of our resources to maximize this full-of-flavour season…and proceed in making any and ALL of the things that will allow us to utilize and enjoy the bounty of our garden this time of year! 

With that said, here’s a neat recipe for a Cobbler that is a bit unusual, but none-the-less DELICIOUS!  Its a savoury cobbler that one of our angels-at-the-inn (Heather) shared with us!  We have tweeked it just a little  to include our favorite summer veggie (zucchini!) and we hope you will enjoy our rendition!

heirloom tomatoes & NJ zucchini

The inn's Heirloom tomatoes & Organic NJ Zucchini...nothing better!

Tomato & Zucchini Cobbler Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 1 hour

For the Filling: 2 T unsalted Butter…, 2 onions, diced…, 2 cloves of minced garlic…, 3 large tomatoes chunked…, 1 zucchini, chunked…, 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme…, 1/8 t cayenne pepper…, 1 tablespoon brown sugar…, 1 T kosher salt…, 3 Tablespoons flour to thicken

Topping / Bisquit: 1 c flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4 Tablespoons butter, 1/3 c buttermilk or regular milk, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme.

Cobbler in the works...

Cobbler in the works...

Butter a baking dish or a deep pie plate. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

  1. Put the tomato wedges and all ‘filling’ ingredients in a pan, stovetop and partcook. Toss gently to combine.
  2. Make the topping recipe while the tomato/zucchini mixture is cooking and set aside.

    Bisquits!

    Yum-O...the Bisquit topping!

Gently toss the tomato/zucchini mixture and spread it in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on top and smooth just a bit with a knife. (Try to leave some gaps so that the steam from the tomato mixture will have a place to escape as the cobbler bakes.) Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly underneath. Cool to just barely warm or room temperature. Serve within a few minutes and  scoop servings out with a large spoon.  ENJOY!

Completed Cobbler!

Ahh..mazing Tomato & Zucchini Cobbler!

A Honey of A Farm!

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This time of year we really realize how lucky we are to be living in such a beautiful place!  Within our town, we can walk to everything…the grocery store, all kinds of restaurants, post office…and even the best Farmers Market in the County!  And a 15 minute drive will allow us to take in the most amazing scenery, whether it be a small family farm with pick-your own berries, a sprawling vineyard with rolling hills and grapevine as far as the eye can see or a gentleman’s farm which focuses on their bees and beekeeping!

The hives at Buzzing Acres alive with honeybees!

The focus of this blog post is to introduce our friends, Jean-Claude & Bea Tassot, owners of Buzzing Acres Farm and Tassot Apiaries!   Jean-Claude has been looking after honey bees since he was a child in Burgundy, France and now produces about 10,000lbs.  of honey from Buzzing Acres each year!   There are several dozen hives at the farm and lots more spread over local farms across several nearby counties.  We met Bea early last year when we asked her to do a class about bees at the inn after we had our own ‘bee-situation’ at the inn, in Spring, 2011

Jean-Claude & Bea Tassot, Owners of Buzzing Acres Farm & Tassot Apiaries in Milford, NJ

The Tasot’s main focus is their bees at  Tassot Apiaries, but beyond the bees, beekeeping, honey production, etc,  they have an amazing farm that is oh, so welcoming!   They are happy to take guests on a tour of the hives and their honey-making facility!  &…it is most facsinating and totally Tassot-driven!  Jean-Claude will educate you on the plight of the honeybee and make you aware of bee-ing supportive of the local movement, especially where honey & the  honeybees are concerned!  (In case you did not know, honeybees are responsible for about 30% of our food source, nationwide!  So think twice before using pesticides and the like in your garden!)

More lively bee-hives!

Besides the honeybees and their dog, Princesse (the Tassot’s pet, beagle-mix k9),  Buzzing Acres is home to about 7 different varieties of chickens, a rooster and some really beautiful and interesting alpaca.  

Jean-Claude leading the ladies!

The chickens & rooster are free-to-roam and each variety of chicken lays a different color egg!   Plus you’ll find that each bird has her own distinct, unique demeanor and personality! (so funny!) 

The rooster and a few of the girls!

  The rooster, surrounded by a few of the ladies…he thinks ‘it’s all about him’ !  (well, of course, it is!)

And the rooster's in the henhouse!

 The day we visited the farm it was a perfectly cool June day.  We followed Bea out to the chicken coop to see what beautiful surprises were awaiting us…and here’s a sample of what Miss Bea collected from the girls!

Miss Bea collecting the eggs!

 We at Main Street Manor have been getting our eggs from Buzzing Acres for a little over a year now…and we have to say, besides the fact that the eggs are farm-fresh, we love to see the array of colorful eggs we get each week! 

Beautiful multi-colored eggs from Buzzing Acres Farm!

As for the animals, Jean Claude loves his alpaca and they were all so friendly and came right over to the fence to say HI!!  The Tassot’s host a shearing event every Spring when the alpaca shed their wool which includes a tour of the Farm and an opportunity for all visitors to see the alpaca getting sheared! (Around Easter Sunday)

Alpaca, alpaca!

I was a little freaked-out by this one nosey guy who kept after us on our visit to the farm…but Bea & Jean-Claude kept him at bay! 

The NOSEY GUY!!!

 Well…we love us some Buzzing Acres Farm and the Tassot’s and we know YOU WILL TOO!  Tassot Apiaries is present at  many Farm Markets all through New Jersey where they sell their wares (honey, beeswax candles, soap and honey related items such as bee-pollen!)  They will be present this year at the Bastile Day Faire in NYC  in on Sunday, July 15!  For bee-related information, visit the info section of their website OR better yet, visit the Farm in person for a tour and an up-close and personal view of their farm, honey production and their sweet-as-can-bee gift shop!  Do give a buzz  first to make sure someone other than Princess (the dog) is home to take you on your tour. (908) 264-4504.
 

The Most Awesome Peony Farm…right here in Central New Jersey!!!

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One of the cool things about owning a B&B is that you can actually justify a ‘field trip’ (better known as a day-off!)  to explore amazing places to send our guests.  THIS amazing place is one that I heard about awhile ago and have wanted to get to for several years…and this week, I finally did! Now some may think it strange that such a fleeting thing is the cause for so much excitement…but if you are as posessed by plants as I am, than you won’t think this is strange at all!  I am talking about one of the most unbelieviable creations in nature…the peony! …and in particular, this unbelievable farm called (of all things!)  Peony’s Envy.  

In short, this unbelievable farm is the brainchild of Kathleen Gagan, lady farmer and total peony virtuoso.  Peony’s Envy Flower Farm is a nursery and display garden in Bernardsville, New Jersey and the gardens feature over 50,000 peony plants with over two hundred and fifty distinct cultivars.  (She sells the treasures too in the sweetest little gift-shoppe!)  The farm itself is surrounded by trees which makes you feel like you are strolling through a very private, yet immense secret place….sort of like in a storybook! 

 
Lady farmer Kathleen tells me that the peony bloom in the display garden lasts for about 6-8 weeks every year.  When I visited, the coral and early herbaceous peonies were in bloom along with many of the iris, so my timing was great…it was at the beginning of the PEAK herbaceous peony bloom. (and the ‘Coral Charm’ Peony was totally peaked and just delicious!!!)  

‘Coral Charm’ in all its glory…

 And here’s a close-up and personal look at Coral Charm & some of her neighbors! … 

'Coral Charm' ...times two!

Peony bloom ‘peak’ is expected to last until the beginning of June, weather pending.  At this point the coming weekend weather is looking fabulous and we are invited back to see the progression of bloom.  On Sunday (May 20), there’s a ‘Peak-Bloom Celebration’ from 3-6pm, with wine included…so if you can, do come and visit!   (Kathleen told me she has had visitors from as far away as Iceland to see her Peony Farm!!!) 

Not sure of the name...but I love this one!

Words cannot descride the beauty and care I found here at this magical place, so let’s just allow the photos to speak for themselves…!  I’ll be back later with more info…for now, enjoy the pics I took!

Another amazing anemone peony...

A beautiful bed with more herbaceous peonies and some iris.

 

I do believe this is a pink 'rose peony'...?

Kathleen and I talked for quite awhile about our businesses, about New Jersey and of course we talked about peonies…  We are planning on combining our talents and doing some classes at the inn on peonies come late fall or early winter…so stay tuned!   (And speaking of staying tuned, Kathleen was recently on the ‘Martha’ Stewart Show …so if you love your peonies and want total information on planting, growing, etc, check out the show!)

Kathleen Gagan, proprietress of Peony's Envy & Lady Farmer

I strolled for about 2 hours and totally enjoyed my time here…completely immersed in the lovliness and peace that surrounded me…what a remarkable day…what a complete treat!

View from the rear of the Farm down to the house...

 So of course I had to go home with SOMETHING…!!! I have never, EVER seen a red peony…so I absolutely HAD TO take one home!…SO this is the grown-up version of what I purchased in that sweet little Gift Shoppe!

Donna's Peony Purchase...!

 So…before I close this blog post, a few things to know:  Peony’s Envy is Open 11-5,  daily during the bloom season. Admission is $5.00.  If you are a guest of the inn, we SOOOOOO want you to go, that we will pay your admission!  Peony’s Envy’s potted herbaceous peonies are available for sale at their nursery and it is suggested that you come early for the best selection! …and do visit the website if there’s ANYTHING you need to know about caring for your peony plants…there is so much fabulous information there and lots of pictures!  Do treat yourself to a field trip to this heavenly place…even if you’re not a innkeeper…your spirit will thank you!  

A May Day Walk in our Garden

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pansies

It’s been quite awhile since I last gave a tour of the inns grounds and with a few days some back-breaking work and dipping temperatures, much has changed.  It always amazes me how quickly plants can grow from day to day and so far, I am happy with what I see.  Thank goodness for the recent last few days of rain…it has helped us tremendously, especially because of the dozens of plants that were relocated!  

New Jersey Wedding Garden

Our Boxwood 'Wedding Garden'

This little Wedding Garden has really taken shape this year!  The boxwood has so much amazing new growth and the roses are blooming already.  The lavender and astilbe really got a jump-start with the warm weather we had in March.  We can’t wait for our May brides to see the garden when it blooms in its full glory!

Clematis Vine (MRS. N. THOMPSON var.)

The extra-warm early-Spring days seems to agree with this buddliah…Look at the blooms already and also the peony buds in the background!  

Our front-side sunny Garden...peonies & butterfly bush (Buddleia alternifolia) ready to POP!

Our huge Magnolia Tree bloomed a month early this year, and beneath her is the most diverse shade garden that has really evolved over the past seven years that we have lived here at the inn…I love using the unusual, less-known plants such as the Jack Frost Forget-Me-Not (not in bloom yet) and a variety of viola, heuchera, geranium and painted fern.

Viola labradorica better known as Labrador Violet...and the perfect plant for a shady location and a home with a Labrador Retriever!

Side shade garden with Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’ and Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum', Japanese Painted Fern, Hosta in the background.

 Our front veranda is a perfect vantage point to see the inns shade gardens up-close and personal.  All year round the garden never disappoints and is ever-changing!

Dicentra spectilis and an underplanting of ajuga

A beautiful 'Knockout' Rose in a Sunny side-garden after the morning rain.

Through the side, sunny garden around the back of the inn our birdhouses and bird feeders are host to many  of our feathered inn-guests!  

One of our many 'Miss Kim' lilac bushes

I love using herbs in a sunny bed..here's purple sage showing off in one of our sunny front garden!

Our May Day Garden stroll has come to an end…for now.  We’ll do another as the month progresses along with the Garden.  Do visit us at Main Street Manor Bed & Breakfast this Spring and ask one of the innkeepers for a personalized Garden Tour!  We’de love to share our love of plants and some of our knowledge with you! 

The 'official' greeter, always found at the inns front door!

 

Art, ‘Vine to Wine’ and Shad Festival all in April!

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Spring has truly sprung in Hunterdon County and Main Street Manor invites you come stay and play. Folks are strolling the still quiet streets and enjoying the crisp sunny days.  Pre-season events are popping up here and there that truly shouldn’t be missed. One of the most anticipated and popular is Lambertville’s Shad Fest and several others that we are looking forward to.  Come check them out and extend your time in the Country by staying with us for the weekend!

Mixing Palettes Art and Wine Weekend ~  Saturday, April 14 & Sunday, April 15, 2012 ~  Noon to 5:00 pm
The Delaware River Valley Wine Trail wineries will be hosting special exhibitions and art programs.  At nearby Old York Cellars, 25 live “en plein air painters” creating unique views of Old York Cellars.  These works will be featured in the Mixing Palettes exhibition, April 20th – May 27th. Artist Appreciation: Bring an “Artist ID” and get buy-one-get one free wine tastings and 10% off bottle purchases. (an “Artist ID” is anything that proves you are an artist, from a business card, to pics of your latest creation, to paint covered jeans). Unionville Vineyards hosts a complimentary Art Exhibit by My Picture Perfect Art. 

The 31st Annual Shad Festival ~ April 28 & 29, 2012 ~ 12:30-5:30 pm both days – no fee for admission – rain or shine! Each year the festival highlights our region’s arts community, the City of Lambertville, the Delaware River, and of course, Lambertville’s favorite fish, the Shad!  The Shad Fest has evolved from a local art show into a nationally recognized award-winning event. The area’s finest artists and crafters are featured with great food and entertainment.  What you can expect: Artists and Crafters…80 of the region’s finest artists and crafters featuring everything – jewelry, ceramics, furniture, apparel, accessories, home décor and more!  In The Food Court… everything from taco salads to fried Calamari!  There will be tried & true favorites: shad chowder, hot dogs, fried oreos, hamburgers, fries and fresh lemonade for the traditionalists!  AND Live Musical performances both days!  The best of regional bands – listen to rock, blues, jazz fusion and more!

Vine to Wine Festival ~ Saturday, April 28th & Sunday, April 29, 2012 ~ Noon to 5:00 pm
Admission: $10/person ~ Spring is blooming at Old York Cellars and the Winery is celebrating!  Brush off the winter and come spend the day at the winery.  Along with wine tasting, there will be live music, craft and food vendors, vineyard and bee tours. Visit and enjoy!

Every Mile Is Two In Winter…

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Our beautiful blooming 'Winter's Bliss' Lenten Rose - 21 February 2012

No reason to complain about Winter this year, right???…Wrong!  I don’t know if anyone else feels somewhat swindled and teased by Mother Nature, but due to the lack of a traditional New Jersey Winter, the gardener in me is itchier than ever to get outside in the garden and play in the dirt!  When one sees snow and temps dip into the single digits, hunkering-down with a good garden book or seed catalog and wait until April, is all an innkeeper can do.  However this year, it has been especially excruciating to watch my bulbs pop their heads through piles of leaves and debris and resist beginning a garden clean-up on one of the 50 degree days we’ve been having!   

A hopeful hyacinth - 21 February 2012

With that said and deeply felt, I had to do something to expedite Spring a bit this year so what better than to plan some garden-classes right here at the inn with my new BFF, Eve Minson, owner of JustOneSeed in Bucks County, Pa.  One of my sweet helpers and I attended a class given by Eve at Duke Farms, in nearby Hillsborough last Fall.  Eve spoke on Herbs in the Garden that evening and her contagious excitement, prompted me to give her a call.  I asked if she would be willing to do a series of garden-related classes here at the inn and together we came up with an awesome lineup starting  on March 14 with class #1,  ‘Seed Starting & Saving’.   We’ll be sowing some early lettuce  and other goodies so I am thrilled that very soon we’ll be in the dirt again, no matter what the temperature!  Students of Eve’s class will sow their seeds and take home their treasures for planting in the early-Spring garden, container or otherwise.

A persistant pansy in the herb bed off the kitchen - 21 February 2012

As long as I can remember, gardening, art, and cooking have been my passions.  They have interwoven in different ways throughout my life.  For almost 20 years I have been committed to organic gardening and the ‘whole’ natural foods movement, “Slow Food” before it ever had a name.  Over the years I have cooked for and hosted family, friends and guests with herbs and foods we have grown ourselves or harvested from our nearby organic CSA and have loved every minute of it!  There’s nothing like plucking something fresh from the garden either to cook, bake with or fresh flowers from the garden to adorn the table!

I feel blessed to have Main Street Manor B&B, where what I love and find interesting are integrated into my home,  work and life.  Our guests say this gives them a rich and really authentic experience when escaping to our inn.  If you’re as crazy about playing in the dirt and growing and caring for plants as I am,…or looking to discover  something new this Spring, visit us for a class (or all six!).   We’ll also provide you a respite if you find you need to take some time to rediscover yourself and what you’re passionate about.

For a listing and descriptions of classes we are offering, visit our ‘Noteworthy Happenings’ page on our website.  Come get your hands dirty with us!

Holiday Gift Ideas from a Locavore!

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Looking for local gifts this Holiday?  In a season that grows increasingly materialistic every year, why not support the local economy while showering your loved ones with presents?  Hunterdon County’s   and Central New Jersey local artists, assortment of farms, independent businesses, amazing restaurants,  all make for endless gift options. Our suggestions below lists nearby sources for holiday gifts that fit every price range and taste. Lets say ‘Goodbye Wal-Mart and Hello Hunterdon’ !

Dancing On Air Balloon Adventures - Town: Flemington – For: The Adventurer ~ An unforgettable gift and the ride of a lifetime in a hot air balloon!

 

Old Broad; aka:Broad Street Antiques - Town: Flemington – 110 Broad Street – For: The Collector ~  This shop has been opened for years and they have the best selection of antiques and collectibles in all of Hunterdon County!  One could spend a hefty sum on antique jewlery or any number of artsy pieces, but great gift options also exist for smaller budgets.  The extensive collection of ornaments, some antique and some “good replicas”  include great stocking stuffers. 

Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse - Town: Milford – 369 Stamets Road – For: The Baker  ~ Treat the baker in your life to a bread-baking class with master-bread-baker Nina White at Bobolink Dairy Farm.  Nina’s skills and old world style of bread baking make this class such fun and oh-so informative!  ( Not to mention the many loaves of bread you’ll have to savour all winter, long after class is over!) OR just stop in at the farm for some of their bread and farm made cheese to enjoy together through the holidays!

Main Street Massage - Town: Flemington – 4 Walter Foran Blvd – For:  The Stressed  ~ Invigorating or relaxing, massage is sure to re-balance that someone in your life who needs some ‘just me’ time!    

Teaberry’s Carriage House Boutique - Town: Flemington – 2 Main Street – For:  The Tea Lover ~  The tea aficionado in your life will appreciate most anything in this lavish emporium of  tea-related gifts and items of finery for ‘ladies who lunch’.   Teaberry’s Tea Room also offers gift certificates for a proper English High Tea or lunch Wednesdays-Saturdays.  

Kissimmee River Pottery - Town: Flemington – 12 Mine Street – For:  The Artsy Person ~ Choose from John Fulwood’s one-of-a-kind pottery creations or give the gift of pottery classes to that wanna-be OR artist in your life!  

Chef-Owned & Operated Restaurants - Towns: Flemington, Milford, Frenchtown – For: Anyone who appreciates a dining ‘experience’ ~ Our faves: Matt’s Red Rooster Grill, 55Main, The Milford Oyster House, The Race Street Cafe.  Eclectic, exciting, unique and creative…thats how we describe all these nearby dining spots.

Main Street Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn - Town: Flemington – 194 Main Street – For :  Those in need of a respite.  Fireplaces, featherbeds and comfortable elegance are just a few of the things you’ll love about our inn.  We source all our produce and foodstuffs locally and do all our own baking right here on premises. Local wine tastings are complimentary with a stay @ the inn and our gift shoppe features locally produced gift items.  Gift certificates are available in all denominations…Stop by this Holiday Season for a tour of the inn all dressed up for Christmas!  Merry Christmas and Holiday Blessings to you & Yours! 

  

Stangl Factory Opening!

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We are thrilled that Flemington’s Stangl factory building is bringing the art of pottery back to town.  Now known as Stangl Factory Artists and Artisans, the historic pottery factory building is being beautifully restored and updated.  The ‘new’ Stangl Factory will provide artisan workshops, art galleries, shops and food venues. 

The first resident to occupy the space is Kissimmee River Pottery who will be hosting an opening reception this Friday evening from 6-9pm.  In addition to the opening reception, Kissimmee River Pottery will hold its Student Pottery Sale all this weekend at the Factory.  We are planning on making a visit to see their work and to support the artists and this new project!    

Kissimmee River Pottery offers adult classes in the day and evening in 8-week sessions; parent and child programs are also available.  The studio hosts two student sales a year, one in Spring, the other in the Fall.  The sale this weekend will be the first at the new location, 12 Mine Street in Flemington, NJ from Friday, November 18 – Sunday, November 20th and the sale is open to the public.

Kissimmee River Pottery was opened by owner and master potter John Fulwood in Southwest Florida in 1989. The studio and school has been operating in nearby Frenchtown since 2003, but has now relocated to The Stangl Factory on Mine Street.  John’s classes feature a loose structure and relaxed environment where a community atmosphere allows students to learn from talented instructors as well as each other.  Classes attract beginners as well as experienced potters who continue to learn and share their craft. 

Founder, John Fulwood’s work is sold is in galleries across the country.  He has received a BA from Mercer University, Macon Georgia in 1976 and an MFA from the University of North Texas, Denton Texas in 1981.  John has been making functional pottery for over thirty years and still finds himself fascinated by what he calls  “the ever-changing characteristics of clay.  Although I have specific ideas about function, I believe that you have to allow the clay to have some control, some freedom of movement within the form, if you want your pots to have life”. 

We look forward to John and the rest of the artists bringing new ‘life’ to Flemington’s Stangl Factory…  We’ll keep you posted on the goings-on there as they occur.  For now, visit Stangl this weekend and get to know our local artists!  

     

Wonder-Fall…So Much To Do!

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fall porch

As long as we have owned the inn, fall has always been the busiest season for us here at Main Street Manor B&B, especially mid October leading to Thanksgiving time.  The colorful leaves, the crisp, cool weather, our award-winning rustic apple cake or pumpkin-spiced pancakes…all of these could be reasons for the steady stream of visitors.  Or maybe its that there is soooo much going on nearby, through Thanksgiving and even into December!  Here’s a sample of some FUN to-do’s for Fall just minutes from us:

Old York Cellars  ‘Wine Under the Stars’ & 1st Anniversary Weekend! 

Clinton’s ‘Haunted‘ Red Mill!

Flemington ‘Fairgrounds’ renowned Artisanal Craft Faire

Thanksgiving In The Country House Tour

Covered Bridges Artisans Tour

Thanksgiving ‘Wine Trail Weekend’

Check this link out for specific dates on tours & festivals and even more seasonal goings-on right here at the inn!  (Even Thanksgiving Dinner, right here in our Dining Room!)  We’de love to have you be our guests and are happy to help you plan an  itinerary to maximize your time with us.  We wish you a Wonder-Fall Fall!

A passion for Peaches!

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Homemade Peach Ice Cream!

I’m passionate about peaches this time of year…and if you’ve ever had a real, grown- in- New- Jersey-peach in July or early August (especially those grown by Sweet Valley Farms), you’de be passionate about peaches too!  Thats why when we were visiting friends last weekend for dinner, I decided to make Peach Ice Cream my dessert contribution. 

Its not that difficult to make…you just need an ice cream maker (I have a Cuisinart), about 8 ripe peaches and some ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen!

So here’s my simple recipe for peach ice cream…!  Make sure you use the ripest, local peaches you can find…that makes ALL the difference!

Perfect peaches from Sweet Valley Farms

Ingredients:  4 cups of sliced and peeled peaches, 1 cup half and half,  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1 +1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract…

Then: place the peaches in a blender or food processor; process until finely chopped. Combine peaches and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir a little.  Pour peach mixture into the freezer container of an ice cream maker and allow it to mix/process for about 30 minutes (thats how long mine takes!)  After the mixing process, spoon into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for about 3 hours until firm.  Then when its frozen…Enjoy! 

Here are a few other sources for beautiful local peaches, JerseyFresh  produce and farm-grown flowers nearby the inn!

Bonacorsi Family Farm     

Dvoor Farmers Market

Outdoor Weddings are Inn!

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Garden Arbor

The Inns Garden Arbor for Intimate Weddings

Wedding season is upon us here at Main Street Manor…and in full array!  Our new outdoor space for weddings is blooming with roses, and lots of  perennials and has already hosted two happy couples this past month.  

Ali & her Dad

Our Bride entering the yard with her Dad

Ali & Bob were our first couple to be married outside this year…and although there were a few drops of rain…no spirits were dampened!   

Ali & Bob after the vow exchange

Sometimes the weather doesn’t ALWAYS cooperate…so we did have to bring one wedding onto the front veranda due to a torrential downpour 5 minutes before the ceremony…We are thrilled to have such a charming spot outside, but protected for our secret couple’s very intimate wedding!

Over Memorial weekend another outdoor garden wedding took place at Main Street Manor with out-of-town guests taking the inn and enjoying the weekend to the fullest!

Standing room only for Lisa & Paul's Wedding!

The day was hot, hot, hot…but with the help of iced teas, lemonade and come icy cold champagne…the couple and all their guests had a great day!

Rings exchanged while the birds sweetly tweet!

We provide a formal sit-down dinner or casual buffet luncheons for our New Jersey wedding couples. Each couple can choose what they prefer – either casual or formal inside the inn or on the breezy front veranda.  

An intimate table setting inn-side our Dining Room

 

A beautiful cake & champagne table!

We love hosting intimate weddings at the inn and look forward to a Summer-ful of more to come.  Check back from time to time for more Wedding & Bridal Shower photos we’ll be sharing.  If you’re planning an intimate wedding or a romantic, private elopement in Central New Jersey, give us a call.  We would love to have you come and tour the inn and the property and we still have a few fall and winter wedding dates available…(including 11-11-11)! 

Amazing Peony bouquet!

We LOVE LOCAL…the Locavore experience!

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Hunterdon Land Trust ~ Dvoor Farmers Market

For those of you who’ve been to the inn, you know why we’re so in love with Hunterdon County.  The amazing farms and countryside surround us…and this time of year, I could not imagine living anywhere else!  Just last week we had our first taste of locally grown fresh asparagus… beautiful & delicate green-purple spires just bursting with flavor.  And so our love affair with fresh, local produce & Mother Nature continues. 

bobolink cheese

Amazing cheese in Bobolink's cave!

In an effort to share our excitement with the world, we have created a Local Flavor Getaway Package for guests of the inn…so read on and come let us introduce you to a taste of the country!

‘Local Flavor’ Getaway
Enjoy local flavor and discover the region’s fields and farms with our two night *Locavore package featuring regional products, tours & cuisine.  Main Street Manor B&B supports local and sustainable farmers and we are thrilled to introducing our guests to what we believe is ‘the best of ‘ local in Hunterdon County!  Your getaway includes a local cheese plate, a guide & map to nearby farms & farmstands,  a visit to a local dairy farm and bakehouse for a tour along with a cheese and bread tasting, a tour of a sustainable local winery and a wine tasting, vouchers for dollars-off at the best nearby Farmers Market at Dvoor Farm, just steps from the inn and eco-friendly farm market bag filled with a bottle of local wine, a copy of Edible Jersey magazine, and a souvenir of local honey to assure sweet memories of your stay with us. 

Organic Beets & Carrots at the Market

 Our Local Flavor/ Locavore Package includes a 2-night stay in your queen guest room with private bath,  a farm to table breakfast  each day, all  inn amenities and all items mentioned above – Stays are Friday through Sunday (2 nights)  May 15-October 30, 2011 and cost is $449 plus tax / double occupancy. 

 * Locavores are people who make a serious effort to understand where their food comes from, and then do their best to commit to eat  locally produced food as much as possible.

Our Favorite Christmas Tree Farm…

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What a thrill to live in the country and drive just 10 miles to the best Christmas tree farm ever right here in New Jersey!  Last weekend our Christmas tradition continues as we we chose and cut down our Christmas trees at nearby Cherryville Farms.  The picturesque farm is totally storybook and offers about 6 different species of trees from beautiful blue-spruces to the aromatic concolor firs.  Cherryville Farm has a sweet gift shoppe, offers hot cocoa and is family owned and run. 

Main Street Manor’s Christmas trees have come from this wonderful New Jeresy Christmas Tree Farm for the past four years!… and this year, a 9 foot blue spruce grace’s the Inn’s parlour and is decorated with vintage and antique glass ornaments…many from my childhood tree!   A smaller tree in the library is decorated in sort of an old world theme with animal, bird and vintage glass ornaments and is a tribute to the love we have for all animals,  especially our Labradors!

If you are in search of the perfect tree this Christmas, DO visit Cherryville Farms where you’ll find the perfect tree…AND if you need some Christmas inspiration, come by Main Street Manor on Friday evening, December 17 from 7-9pm when the Inn will be open to visitors for self-guided Candlelight tours of the inn’s common space.  The tour will benefit a local non-profit, K9Soldiers.  Join us in celebration of the Season and in the process, help support our K9 heroes.

DSC_0089

        

The Perfect Spring Salad!

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NJ Strawberries

Just-Picked Strawberries from Honeybrook!

This was a post a few years back…but it SO bears repeating!  Hope you’ll enjoy our favorite Spring Salad!

Just a quick post…this springy-clean-bright salad is soooo excellent, we just had to share!  First farm picking & pick-up day was last Thursday and I was thrilled to pick a quart of amazing strawberries, a big bag of arugula & 2 bunches of radishes.  After the harshness of  winter it was wonderful to get out in the sun and back to the land for picking…and the colors and taste sensation…just miraculous! 

Anyway…here’s our recipe for the most refreshing Spring Salad with arugula & fresh-picked strawberries…you’ll just have to make the poppy-seed dressing! (or buy your fave at the grocery store).  The flavor combo may seem weird to salad-purists but trust me on this one…it is out of this world flavor! 

Arugula & strawberries awaiting being dressed!

Arugula & strawberries awaiting being dressed!

 

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 c honey or 1/8 c white sugar
1 t dijon mustard
1 t salt
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced shallott
1 c canola oil
2 T poppy seeds

Measure the honey, mustard, salt, shallot & vinegar into a blender or food processer. Mix until smooth. Start your mixer of choice & gradually add the oil in a slow stream. Process until thoroughly blended. Stop the blender and sprinkle the poppy seeds over the top. Mix gently and transfer to a bottle.  Will hold for about 5 days refrigerated.

Put your arugula in a bowl and gently sprinkle the arugula with the sliced strawberries.  Top with your poppy seed dressing and toss really gently, so not to bruise the strawberries. Arugula & Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Sit back, relax, dig-in and enjoy!  And please let us know if you enjoy OUR FAVORITE springtime salad!  For other lovely and local taste sensations and experiences, check out  our website  for our locavore escape … AND the inn’s ‘Local Flavor’ Getaway . Come and taste what’s best at our nearby farms here in bucolic Hunterdon County. Visit us at the inn sometime this glorious season and let us spoil you!

*A great resource for New Jersey Strawberry picking !!!