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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!

Apple Pancakes with Applesauce Syrup

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A bed and breakfast recipe, Apple Pancakes

Apple Pancake with Applesauce Syrup

This month we are celebrating the start of fall with our Apple Pancakes.  Fall is here, the days and nights are a little cooler and the local orchards have a bumper crop of apples so we decided to feature apples in our September signature breakfast.  We took our ultimate buttermilk pancake recipe and substituted brown sugar for the white sugar, added apples that were peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes and created a great syrup out of applesauce.

Of course, if you don’t live close to an orchard or a farmer’s market you can pick up fresh apples at the supermarket.  I used granny smith apples because they hold up well when cooking and add have a tangy sweet crunch to the apple pancakes.

Below is the altered recipe:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons of brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk–room temperature
  • 3 eggs–room temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 medium sized granny smith apples, peeled and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces

First mix all your dry ingredients, (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl.  Next, beat the eggs in a separate bowl then add the buttermilk and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Add the cubed apples and gently fold until combined.  It is OK if the batter is lumpy.  If the batter is a little too thick you can add a little more milk but you don’t want the batter to be too soupy.

Preheat the griddle and pour about 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle. Flip the apple pancakes when you have bubbles that pop and don’t fill-in with wet batter.  Cook the flipped side until golden brown and then serve with maple syrup or Applesauce Syrup (below).

In keeping with celebrating the apple this month we made a thick applesauce syrup and topped the apple pancakes before we served them.  We hope you enjoy them as much as our guests did.

  • 2 cups chunky applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Mix the above ingredients in a medium sauce pan on low heat stirring constantly until mixture boils.  Remove from heat and serve over the apple pancakes.

Just a reminder that The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast posts a recipe to our blog each month.  There are now over 30 recipes on the blog!  We would love to serve you our legendary breakfast, but if you can’t make it to Lynchburg you can always try our recipes at home and let us know how you liked them!

 

Richard Thomas Watts dies

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Richard Thomas Watts
September 5, 1813-September 21, 1910

 

Richard Thomas Watts, better known as R.T. had the home at 404 Cabell Street built for he and his family in 1878.  Today the home is The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast in historic Lynchburg Virginia and was named as one of the top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in the United States by BedandBreakfast.com.  On the anniversary of his death we are reprinting the obituary that was published in Lynchburg News on September 22, 1911.

Citizen, Business Man and Veteran Passes Away After Long Illness.

Richard Thomas Watts, aged 78 years, one of the pioneer wholesale merchants and for many years a man prominent in the financial affairs of the city, died yesterday morning at his residence on Cabell Street where he had been ill nearly two years.  Mr. Watts’ illness dated back to a stroke of apoplexy which was sustained on November 17, 1908.  He recovered from that sufficiently to be about, but never gave attention to business.  For some days his condition had been critical and the end did not come as a surprise today, for it had been expected for the past day or two.

Mr. Watts was a native of Bedford County, having been born on September 5, 1838.  When but a youth he went to Salsibury, N. C. and at the age of 18 years started in business with the firm of G, M. and A. T. Jones.  Later, he went to Selma, Ala.,where he was a partner in a merchandise business with A. T. Jones.  When the war between the States broke out, Mr. Watts enlisted as a private in company A, Second Virginia cavalry, joining that command at Manassas Junction.  He served as a private and color bearer with that company until he was recommended by General T. T. Munford, now of Lynchburg, for promotion as adjutant of Whites battalion, this promotion coming for bravery.  He held that command until May 6th, 1864 at which time his horse was killed under him and he was wounded and taken a prisoner at Spotsylvania Courthouse.  He was sent to Fort Delaware, where he was held prisoner of war until the surrender took place, after which he returned to his old home in Bedford.

Later he came to Lynchburg and together with his brother, the late J. W. Watts, and brother-in-law, the late George M. Jones, formed the well-known house of Jones, Watts & Co., this being one of the first wholesale houses of the city.  In 1888 he retired from this concern and became largely interested in coal properties as well as holding other large financial and industrial institutions of the city.  Until his health gave way he was vice president of Lynchburg Trust and Savings Company and a director in the Lynchburg Cotton Mill, as well as in other private industries of the city.

Mr. Watts was educated at Emory and Henry College, having spent several years there before the war.

On April 22, 1874, Mr. Watts married Miss Emma M. Hurt, a daughter of the late Stephen H. Hurt, who, together with four sons and a daughter, survive.  The children are:  R. T. Watts Jr.,  Dr. Stephen H. Watts of the University of Virginia; James O. Watts, R. C. Watts, and Miss Mary Watts, all of whom were present when the end came.

Mr. Watts was a member of Court Street Methodist church, having been faithful in his attendance upon its services until sickness prevented him from doing so.

The funeral service will take place this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the residence, and the burial will be at Spring Hill.

General T. W. Munford, who recommended the promotion of Mr. Watts, has prepared the following tribute to the decease:

Adjutant R. T. Watts entered the Confederate Army as a private in Company A, Second Virginia Cavalry, from Bedford County, then commanded by Capt. W. R. Terry, who was promoted to the Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry as its colonel, succeeding Colonel Jubal A. Early, and subsequently becoming brigadier general of Pickett’s Division, Col J. W. Watts a brother of the deceased, succeeding Colonel Terry at the re-organization of the army in March 1862, was elected lieutenant colonel without opposition.  He detailed his brother as courier at his quarters.  He soon attracted my attention by his dash and strict attention to all duties.  At a sharp encounter between General Ewell’s division, to which we then belonged, and General Hooker’s division near Bristoe station the day before the second battle of Manassas, it became necessary for General Ewell to retire his battery because of the advantage of position and metal of the enemy, but is was a delicate .  Ewell was not there to bring on a battle nor to run, he ordered me to send a sergeant and four men to gather up the debris left by our crippled battery, not wishing to show that it was a retreat.  Courier R. T. Watts was dispatched for this detail and soon returned with the four troopers.  General Ewell said to me: “Where is the sergeant?”  The reply was: “He has not yet gotten up.”  I replied, “Watts will take them himself and the next time the sergeant will listen to his instructions.”  Watts was then told by General Ewell to go to that position and gather up every buckle that belonged to the battery.  We were watching and they were soon dashing up to where the battery had stood.  The enemy opened fire upon them, but they literally swept the deck and brought off everything.

General Ewell remarked to me: “That fellow should be a sergeant, for he has won it by distinguishing himself.”

The next day in the great cavalry fight he was made by my order sergeant major of the Second Cavalry.

Col Elijah White, whose original company had served some months  with the Second Cavalry, wrote me a note requesting me to send him a man to act as his adjutant and believing Sergeant Major R. T. Watts qualified he was dispatched and graciously accepted the offered position, and he more than once exemplified his qualifications and satisfaction for the promotion.

“Adjutant Watts was a quiet, unobtrusive, active soldier.  Like his noble brother, when his name is mentioned in the presence of old comrades it will ever be with pride which only Confederates felt toward each other and understand.”