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Hot Fruit Compote

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Hot Fruit Compote

Hot Fruit Compote

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I thought I would share our hot fruit compote recipe which is an easy to make fruit dish that works well when you have a large party to feed. I’m thinking about Thanksgiving or Christmas morning when you have a million other things to do and you don’t have a lot of extra time in the kitchen to think about cooking breakfast for the family that has gathered for the holidays. What makes the hot fruit compote a great dish (other than being super easy) is it is served warm on those cool fall/winter mornings. Obviously this time of year you don’t have many fresh fruit options so this one relies on canned fruit.  The optional ingredient, fresh cranberries, are available this time of year and add a little bit of tartness to the dish, plus it ties it into the season.  (Tip:  You can buy a bag of fresh cranberries and what you don’t use you can freeze so that you will have fresh cranberries throughout the year.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15 1/4 ounces each) sliced pears–drained
  • 1 can (29 ounces) sliced peaches–drained
  • 1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • optional–two cups fresh whole cranberries

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine the pears, peaches, pineapple applesauce and cranberries.
  • Spray a 9X13 baking dish with a cooking spray and then pour the mixed ingredients (above) into the baking dish.
  • Spread the pie filling over the fruit and sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  •  Serve warm.

We had a full house at the bed and breakfast last weekend and served this.  The guests loved it.  This can be cooked with an egg casserole at the same time in the oven so you can serve your family a filling warm breakfast that will satisfy them until Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Another option for this hot fruit compote is to sprinkle a light streusel topping on it and turn this into a healthy desert.

I hope you and your family/guests enjoy this recipe.  Kathy and I hope each of you have a great holiday season and that next year will bring you peace and happiness.

Happy Halloween

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interesting-halloween-facts-8 It’s almost here, Halloween, the second most commercialized holiday in the United States.  In preparation for Halloween Old City Cemetery had candle light tours of the cemetery the past two weekends, our neighborhood, Daniels Hill, had a ghost walk and this past Saturday was the third annual Zombie walk through downtown.  But here are a few fun facts that you may not have known:

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interesting-halloween-facts-13

 

We hope you have a great Halloween in a couple of days….Will you be dressing up for the occasion?

Photos above are from The Chive blog of September 9, 2013, “30 Interesting facts about Halloween”.

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

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chocolate pumpkin muffins

chocolate pumpkin muffins

Fall is upon us, the nights are cooler, leaves are turning colors, pumpkins decorate many front porches, and Halloween is right around the corner so to celebrate this time of year we are baking our spicy chocolate pumpkin muffins.  We chose this recipe because it had pumpkin and chocolate in them, two of my favorite foods. Speaking of pumpkin, if you missed our pumpkin waffle recipe a couple years ago you may want to check it out as well!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs-room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla then mix in the pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt,nutmeg and cloves.  Mix into creamed mixture.  By had stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This makes a dozen standard muffins or about 6 giant muffins.  (If making giant muffins you will need to increase cooking time.)

These chocolate pumpkin muffins are very versatile.  We serve them when we have a savory breakfast.  They are also great snacks and can be served for dinner, especially at Thanksgiving.  They are sweet and moist and can also be served for desert or as a midnight snack.  Of course if you have a nut allergy you can eliminate the nuts.  If you are watching your weight you can eliminate the chocolate chips and substitute applesauce for half the butter.  If you want these to be healthier you can substitute half the flour with whole wheat flour.  Finally you can cut down on the calories by using a mini-muffin pan rather than the standard or giant muffin pans.  Remember to reduce the cook time if you use a mini-muffin pan.

Remember, The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast posts a recipe once a month so you want to check back often so you don’t miss one of our monthly recipes!

 

Enjoy the fall colors by hot air balloon

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Hot air balloon is being filled.

Hot air balloon is being filled.

See the fall colors by air in a hot air balloon!  The Lynchburg area is a colorful area in the fall. The brilliant fall colors can be seen while driving the windy mountain roads, hiking the many trails trails, kayaking down the James River, strolling the paved walking paths of the Blackwater Creek Trail system or by air in a hot air balloon.

Almost ready for flight

Almost ready for flight

Kathy and I took such a trip last winter.  While it was too late to see the fall colors we enjoyed the peacefulness of floating above the trees, seeing the deer run through the forest and the quietness of flight (except when the gas valve was opened to keep the hot air balloon afloat).  If you would like to indulge yourself and do something very special then consider booking your flight on your next visit to The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  The company that offers hot air balloon flights is Freedom Flights (click their name to be linked to their website where you can book a flight or purchase a gift certificate).

What you need to know about taking a hot air balloon ride is that Freedom Flights will cancel the flight if the winds are too high or if the weather is too bad.  Obviously they are concerned with your safety so check the weather forecast before you book your flight.  Currently they are running a $50.00 off per person special through November 10, 2013 so don’t delay in purchasing your tickets or gift certificate.  The other interesting thing is that you will never know what you will see on these trips.  The wind takes you where it wants to so each trip is different.

Lynchburg hot air balloon

Our reflection as we floated over a pond

If soaring above the tree tops in a hot air balloon is not for you then there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the fall colors.  Here are links to a couple of hikes that we have taken that should be spectacular when the fall colors are at their peak.

High Bridge Trail is a park on an old rail road line.  This is a very flat and easy walk where you will walk over a very long bridge and see the fall colors from above.

Crabtree Falls is a moderate hike through the woods and up a mountain along water falls.  This takes you on a nice drive where you will also see lots of colors.  Don’t forget to stop at Woodson’s Mill and Bold Rock Hard Cider when you go to Crabtree Falls.

Falling Water Cascades is an easy walk.  You will be driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway and will see some great colors.

Disclaimer:  The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast or the innkeepers have NO affiliation with this or any other hot air balloon company.  For insurance purposes we are unable to recommend this company, however we had a great time when we went on our hot air balloon trip and would do it again,  Call us at 434-846-1388 to book your reservation at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and if you would like a balloon trip, click on the above link to purchase your tickets.

 

Ghost Walk

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daniels hill ghost walkThe historic neighborhood of Daniels Hill will be this years site for the Lynchburg Historical Foundation’s annual ghost walk.  Guests attending the ghost walk will hear about the neighborhood and its residents (some of whom have not left their homes, even after death).

This years ghost walk will start at Point of Honor (at their carriage house), the home of Dr. George Cabell who was Patrick Henry’s personal physician.  The tour will take you up Cabell Street where your guide will stop at various homes and share stories about the original owners both while they were living and after they died.  These homes were built by some of Lynchburgs most prominent citizens from the early to late 1800’s.

This is the first time the ghost walk has been in Daniels Hill neighborhood so you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn about the neighborhood and its residents.  Tours start at 6:30pm and run every 15-20 minutes.  Tickets will be sold the night of the walk and are available on a first come, first served basis.  Tours will be on October 24, 25 and 26 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday).  If you have a group of 10 or more you can by advance tickets by calling the Lynchburg Historical Foundation at 434.528.5353.

One of the stops will be the Watts House at 404 Cabell Street, now The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast.  Why not spend the weekend here and hear even more stories about the home and the Watts family.  If you are tuned into the paranormal you may even get to experience an encounter with one of them.  Disclaimer:  Our ghosts are very friendly!

To get to Point of Honor from downtown:

Proceed over the Rivermont Bridge and once you cross the bridge take an immediate hard right onto D Street.  Turn right onto Cabell Street to Point of Honor on the left.

 

Shrimp Harvesting in Central Virginia

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Sugar Hill Sweetwater Shrimp

A basket of fresh shrimp on shrimp harvesting day

When you think about shrimp harvesting and eating fresh shrimp most people think about the gulf coast states, Central Virginia is probably not on your radar when it comes to shrimp.  After all, it’s a 4 hour drive to get to the ocean.  But just outside the quaint little town of Brookneal (about 45 minutes south of Lynchburg, Virginia) is the Sugar Hill Sweetwater Shrimp farm.  Mark Guthrie’s family has owned the farm since 1908.  He, his father and grandfather grew high quality tobacco on the farm until pressures from government and big tobacco companies caused him to look for a different cash crop.  What made growing shrimp possible was the fact that when his grandfather was looking to buy farm land he wanted a place with a good water supply.  He found a property with a spring fed pond to not only supply water for irrigation of crops but as a good supply of drinking water for the family.  A hundred years later that spring fed pond provides the water source for today’s shrimp ponds.

Water from the shrimp pond flows into this wooden box where the shrimp are collected

Water from the shrimp pond flows into this wooden box where the shrimp are collected

Each spring Mark purchases the larva of Giant Malaysian River Prawns.  In the wild, the Giant Malaysian River Prawns lay their eggs in the salty waters at the mouths of rivers.  The larva then make their way upstream to the fresh water of the river and grow.  Mark keeps the larva in a climate controlled environment until the pond water has warmed up sufficiently to move them into the ponds.  A paddleboat type device keeps the water aerated to enable the shrimp to breath.  Like other farm animals, shrimp need to be fed from time to time, but if life gets in the way of farming and you miss feeding them they forage the pond for their own food.  Another advantage to farming shrimp is you are not at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to heat, drought or too much rain, disease, insects, deer and so on.  As summer comes to an end so does the shrimp farming for the year because the shrimp don’t survive if the water temperature drops into the 50’s.

Harvesting shrimp is a relatively simple job.  The shrimp ponds were built with a low spot on one end of the pond and the bottom of the pond is sloped to the low spot.  Think of his pond as a half acre bathtub.  On harvest day, Mark simply pulls the stopper out of the pond and the water runs out the drainage pipe into a large wooden box that catches the shrimp.  The water flows through the box and continues downhill to the large spring fed pond.  The shrimp are then scooped out of the wooden box and put into holding tanks.  This year the shrimp were larger than in previous years because he stocked the pond with fewer larva allowing each shrimp to grow larger.

 

Capturing remaining shrimp net at the pond drainage pipe.

Capturing remaining shrimp net at the pond drainage pipe.

After the pond has been emptied the net around the drain is checked for any shrimp that didn’t get carried out of the pond through the drainage pipe.  After all the shrimp have been collected they are put on ice to bring their temperature down to 40 degrees or lower then they are ready to be sold.

Shrimp Harvesting

Transferring shrimp into holding tanks.

Unless you live on the ocean you probably can’t buy shrimp that are any fresher than these shrimp on harvest day.  The shrimp are textured and colored much like lobster and very low in cholesterol.

A male shrimp

A male shrimp

A female shrimp

A female shrimp

The male shrimp has claws at the end of a long blue colored arm.  The fertile female shrimp have a yellowish colored underside where their eggs are stored.  When preparing freshly caught shrimp it is best to keep the head on the shrimp because it adds flavor.  Shrimp that aren’t sold on harvest day are beheaded because there are enzymes in the head that allow the shrimp to digest their food.  If the head is left on the shrimp, those enzymes can start to digest the meat of the shrimp.  Cooling the shrimp below 40 degrees stops that process, but it is best to remove those enzymes if the shrimp aren’t being consumed right away.  Mark will be flash-freezing any shrimp that haven’t sold on harvest day so if you are interested in buying some fresh shrimp give him a call at 434-376-5375 or communicate with him via his Facebook Page

Shrimp before their ice bath

Shrimp before their ice bath

If you are looking for a unique experience you will definitely want to put harvest day on your calendar next year.  Mark typically harvests the shrimp on the third or fourth Saturday of September.  Directions to his farm from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast are:

1. Start out going southeast on Cabell Sttoward D St.

0.01 mi
2. Take the 1st right onto D St.

  • If you reach C St you’ve gone a little too far
0.2 mi
3. Turn left onto Rivermont Ave/US-501A. Continue to follow US-501A S.

  • US-501A S is 0.1 miles past Hancock St
0.8 mi
4. US-501A S becomes Church St.

0.2 mi
5. Take the US-29 S ramp.

0.1 mi
6. Merge onto US-29-BR S.

1.0 mi
7. Take the US-460-BUS E/US-501-BUS S  (Campbell Ave.) exit, EXIT 3B.

0.1 mi
8. Merge onto US-460-BR S/US-501-BR S.

2.1 mi
9. Stay straight to go onto US-501 S/Campbell Ave. Continue to follow US-501 S.

7.9 mi
10. In the town of Rustburg, Turn right onto Village Hwy/US-501/VA-24. Continue to follow US-501.

  • US-501 is 0.1 miles past Honeybee Ln
  • Hardee’s is on the corner
20.5 mi
11. Stay straight to go onto Lynchburg Ave/VA-40. Continue to follow VA-40.

3.3 mi
12. Turn slight left onto Sugar Hill Rd.

  • Sugar Hill Rd is 0.5 miles past Swinging Bridge Rd
  • If you reach Mt Calvary Rd you’ve gone about 0.5 miles too far
0.1 mi
13. 179 SUGAR HILL RD is on the right.

  • If you reach Ball Park Rd you’ve gone about 1.1 miles too far
The last step on shrimp harvesting day...Selling to the consumer.

The last step on shrimp harvesting day…Selling to the consumer.

We had thought about serving our guests a shrimp omelet but unfortunately the couple pounds of shrimp we bought didn’t make it past dinner.  Lesson learned….next time, buy more shrimp!