Holiday Cookie Time – fill up your cookie jars and gift tins

It is that time of year again when we begin to fill up our cookie jars and gift tins with our tried and true cookie recipes.  While mixing the dough, have you ever thought about how cookies came about?  They are from the Dutch word koekje, meaning “small or little cake.”  According to culinary historians, the first historic record of cookies was their use as test cakes.  A small amount of cake batter was baked to test the oven temperature.  The English, Scotch, and Dutch immigrants originally brought the first cookies to the United States.  The simple butter cookies we make now strongly resemble the English teacakes and the Scotch shortbread. Chef Mike’s favorite cookie is Walkers English Shortbread. He is always trying new recipes to duplicate it, but he never gets it as good, one of the few store bought cookies found in the kitchen at Fox Hill.

Coming in second,  is Italian Pizzelles.  Chef Mike grew up in Philly in a predominantly Italian neighborhood where every Christmas, his mother and all the other neighborhood moms would bake holiday treats to share. I think some ladies had specialties and that’s why the task was split up. This recipe has been around since he can remember and he began using it at the age of 10. Chef Mike inherited his mother’s pizzelle irons that were originally purchased at Fantes Kitchen in South Philadelphia. Scroll down to see the recipe Mike still uses today

 

Eight Categories of Cookies

What is your favorite type of cookie to make?  Here at Fox Hill, our favorite is rolled as we have close to 100 cookie cutters!!!  There are eight categories of cookies – dropped, refrigerated, molded, bar, sheet, rolled, piped and wafer.

Drop cookies are made from soft, moist dough that is dropped from a spoon or ice cream scooper.   These would be Oatmeal, chocolate chip, or peanut butter.

Refrigerated cookie dough is rolled into logs or other shapes, wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled or frozen until ready to be sliced and baked.

Molded cookies are made from stiff dough that can be molded or shaped such as balls which can be left ball shaped or flattened on a sheet pan for baking.

Bar cookies are stiff dough formed into long, rectangular, flattened bars, baked and then cut into slices.  A good example is Biscotti  or mondel broit – a hardened sliced cookie bar.

Sheet cookies are made from a batter, thick or thin, easily spread evenly in a pan with sides.  Once baked and cooled, various shapes are cute.  Brownies are a good example!

Rolled cookie dough once mixed is chilled then rolled out and cut with various shaped cookie cutters.

Piped cookie dough is soft and easily pushed through a pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip to form various shapes.

Wafer cookies, also known as Tuiles, are a thin batter prepared from egg whites, sugar, flour, butter and cream spread over stencils placed on a silicon-baking pad.  They bake without changing shapes, and are easily molded while warm to form cups, tubes, mini bowls and even flowers.

Everyone’s Favorite Cookie

We can guess that everyone’s favorite is Chocolate Chip as there are 7 billion chocolate chip cookies eaten in the United States every year, with about 50% of those being homemade cookies.  That is amazing as the chocolate chip cookie was invented by accident. That’s right!  Being out of baker’s chocolate, a home cook chopped up a block of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate to use instead.  Expectation was the chocolate would melt and disperse through the cookie dough as regular baking chocolate would. Instead, the chocolate pieces retained their individual form, softening to a moist, gooey melt, and the world had its first known chocolate chip cookie!

There are endless lists of favorite holiday cookies such as 10 Best Christmas Cookie Recipes, All-Time Favorite Christmas Cookies, Best Christmas Cookies – Favorite Classic Recipe, etc.   We found this one – The Most Iconic Holiday Cookie In Your State – to be an interesting one!  When cookie season rolls around, Virginians bake up Lemon Cookie Cake and serve it by the slice.   We are sharing the recipe in case you would like to try something new this holiday season!

Lemon Cookie Cake 

Ingredients

¾ cup salted butter@ room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp. lemon juice*
1 tsp lemon zest
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½-¾ cup white chocolate chips

Icing

¾cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice*

* You will need a total of 3-4 lemons

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 or 10 inch cake pan by placing parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and spraying the sides with a nonstick spray.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Mix in egg, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add flour and baking soda.
  5. Stir in white chocolate chips.
  6. Spread the dough evenly into the cake pan. Bake for 21-23 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. The center may still look a little undercooked but it will firm up and continue cooking as it cools.
  7. Remove from oven and allow cooling until almost completely cool in the cake pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

ICING:
1. Beat the butter until smooth.
2. Slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
3. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and mix until smooth.
4. Ice cooled cookie cake.
5. Slice and enjoy.

If you decide to make this recipe, please let us know.  Snap a picture and share it on our Facebook page.

While visiting with us this holiday season, you are sure to be able to sample some of our holiday baking treats!   Of course, you are welcome to bring some of your homemade treats and we will gladly exchange!

Recipe courtesy of Life Love and Sugar

 

Sylvia’s Pizzelle Recipe

3½cups all-purpose flour                                                            
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 eggs
1½ C. sugar
1¼ C. Vegetable oil or melted Crisco
1 Tablespoon Anise Seeds
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Before you start assemble all ingredients.
Blend the flour, baking powder and Anise Seeds in a bowl & set aside

Beat eggs and sugar until your arm gets tired.
add the oil or melted shortening, a little at a time.

Gradually add the combined dry ingredients

This recipe is the way my mother wrote it, but today, I use a food processor or stand mixer.
This is a simple traditional pizzelle, that makes an awesome cannoli too!

This post is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who would have been 99 years old last month.

 

 

Apple Season Celebrations

Celebrating Apple Season

 

Here at Fox Hill B&B, we look forward to apple
season and of course, we end up picking more apples than we could ever eat.   One of the ways we can use apples in the kitchen is by incorporating them in either sweet or savory dishes.  Since we focus on breakfast here, we will be trying out a few new apples recipes.



Apple Cake

One will be Fresh Apple Cake and we are sharing the recipe! The
recipes ingredients include 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2
eggs, 2.5 cups of flour, and 1 teaspoon each of baking soda, baking
powder, salt and ground cinnamon.  The star of the show – 3
cups of finely chopped apples.  Simply cream butter and sugar
and beat in the eggs.  Add all dry ingredients, beating well
after each addition.  The batter will be thick so stir in
apples with a spoon or spatula.  Press batter into greased
9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

HARD CIDER

Some folks prefer a cool glass of apple juice (the hard stuff) over baking!  If that is you, we recommend visiting a Halcyon Days Cider Company for some fine apple sipping.
Halcyon Days Cider Company is a hands-on, family owned and operated small farm and cindery only  twenty-one miles from Fox Hill.  The family has planted more than 50 varieties in their labyrinth, which consists of about 2,000 dwarf apple trees. Through an 11-circuit path, you are able to wind your way through the modern American, heirloom American, classic European, and Central Asian ancestral apple trees to a pavilion with epic 360-degree views of the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges.  The apples are combined in several ways to create sweet and sharp flavors – one of the blends has a taste similar to that of sipping a glass of bourbon.  Others flavors are sweet and easy to drink.


Hot Cider & Cinnamon


Halcyon Hard Cider

Halcyon Days Cider Company

will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through
Monday.  After Labor Day weekend, they will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday and Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. https://halcyondayscider.com/

 

Right along Route 11, slightly across from the cidery is another family-run farm – Virginia Gold Orchard!  They are dedicated to growing the very best tasting Asian pears.  Also known as, “Apple Pears”, the Asian pear looks like a cross between an apple and a pear, but the resemblance is only skin-deep.  They harvest up to 16 different varieties of Asian pears, each one ripening at a different time.  Well worth a visit for these juicy delights! From August through October they are open 10 am to 6pm, Wednesday-Sunday.  From November through February, they are open 10am-5pm Wednesday – Sunday. http://www.virginiagoldorchard.com/

To round out your tasting adventure you can pick up some country-cured ham, Amish jams and pickles, or a hunk of hoop cheese at Layne’s Country Store.  For a nostalgic treat, stop by The Pink Cadillac Diner
and enjoy one of their daily lunch or dinner specials. They also
have an ice cream parlor for a variety of sundaes, floats, malts and
shakes. Did you know that November 9-18, 2018 is Virginia Cider
Week?  Tasting, tours, and festivals await you.  R&R is a
spacious comfortable suite, a delicious made-from scratch breakfast,
and beautiful fall colors await you at Fox Hill Bed and Breakfast.
Plan a stay and enjoy apples, cider, and adventure!


Asian Pears

 

County Fair, fun for Everyone

A County Fair is a time-honored event that celebrates food, competition, animals and skills!

The county fair’s importance dates back to a history when people loved to get together and celebrate. They celebrated successful learning and showed their best harvest and crafts. They taste tested entries to determine the best pie. The county fair was a celebration everyone looked forward to. It is one of the oldest forms of community celebrations.

Who doesn’t enjoy going to a county fair?  There is something for everyone from show barns, exhibit halls, and amusement rides.  Of course, there is always plenty of food to sample.  Are you a usual dinner and movie couple?  Try something different. Visit a county fair.

Our county fair, Rockbridge Regional Fair and Expo, will take place on September 6-8, 2018 at the Virginia Horse Center, 487 Maury River Road, Lexington, VA 24450.

There are plenty of Fair Schedule activities such as:

Coon Hunting Dog Show & Trials           quilt image at the county fair                             coon hunting dog at the County Fair

Farm Girl Competition

American Devon Milking Open Show

Oxen Workshop

Rare Breeds Horse Show

Quilt Show

Local Artists Show

The musical entertainment at the County Fair will include PRIME in concert on the fairway Friday night (Sept 7) and Saturday night (Sept 8) will be Tim Elliott, Carolina’s Male Country Artist of Year!

The Fairway will have fun activities for the whole family including inflatables, mechanical bull, rock wall, obstacle courses, carnival games and various other attractions.

Entry into the fair will be free and there will be no fee to park.

FAIR Hours are:

9/6 – THURSDAY | 4:00PM-10:00PM

9/7 – FRIDAY | 2:00PM-10:00PM

9/8 – SATURDAY | 2:00PM-10:00PM

Baking Competition Recipe

A county fair would not be complete without a baking competition.  Bakers of all ages and types come together to share their baking talents and hopefully win a blue ribbon.

Here is a recipe for Blue Ribbon Jumbo Blueberry Muffins that you can make at home!

You will need – 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk, ½-cup oil, 3 cups flour, 1-cup sugar, 5 tsp. baking powder, 1-cup fresh, and washed/drained blueberries.

Follow these steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. With wire whisk, combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry. Stir until combined.
  4. Fold in blueberries
  5. Divide batter evenly into the greased jumbo muffin tin. Finish them off by sprinkling with lots of sugar on top.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

Each county fair has its own unique specialty that sets it apart.

No two county fairs are the same even across county lines.  Come and enjoy the delights of Rockbridge County Fair & Expo!   After all the fun, rest up Fox Hill Bed & Breakfast Suites and share with us your favorite part of the Fair!  In case you are wondering, it is a quick 18-minute car ride from the Virginia Horse Center to us.

For additional information visit the Rockbridge County Fair & Expo

See you at the Fair!

Meet some of our local farmers 

 

 

Scratch made Bacon at Fox Hill

Scratch made BACON!  BACON!  BACON!

Scratch made Bacon has been the topic of many reviews on Tripadvisor and Face Book.  Afterall, we are a Bed and Breakfast and you better have a comfy bed and awesome mouth watering delicious breakfast when those words are in the businesses name.  You wouldn’t go to a burger joint and expect to order prime rib steak.  In the two years that we have owned Fox Hill B&B, we have developed quite a reputation with our breakfasts.  We cure our own bacon at Fox Hill! Staying more than one night guarantees that you will get BACON in one of your breakfasts. At Fox Hill, we make our breakfasts from scratch, whether its blueberry pancakes or butterscotch muffins, we get up early and start the fixin’ the treats to start your special.

Decadent Candy for Breakfast?

It’s like eating candy for breakfast. The little kid in all of us wants to break the rules when on holiday. So, we usually add a serving of fresh fruit with the candy. Back to the subject of Fox Hill’s homemade bacon.  Unlike store bought bacon, we start with a locally sourced pork belly. Then we cure the bacon using a combination of brown sugar, pure maple syrup, salt, cracked pepper, coarse pepper, Jim Beam bourbon and time. Time is the key. Rushing the curing or the smoking process will not produce the required and repeatable results.  About two weeks in a curing bag it’s ready to smoke. We fire up the smoker and shoot for the optimal temperature we like.  We smoke the bacon for 5-6 hours with an Applewood, lump charcoal and constant, consistent temperature.  Then it’s back in the chill box for another week. We slice it  on a commercial slicer and freeze it for our guests to enjoy.

To read more about our breakfast offerings and to view additional breakfast images, please visit our breakfast page.

Horse & Hound Wine Festival

Head to the Horse & Hound Wine Festival

featuring some of Virginia’s Finest Wineries, in Bedford VA

Spend a Saturday afternoon on the grounds of Johnson’s Orchards located in scenic Bedford, VA for the 14th Annual Horse & Hound Wine Festival on July 14, 2018.  This is a RAIN OR SHINE event.  11am-6pm. Horse & Hound Wine Festival

Peaks of Otter Winery & Johnson’s Orchard 

Home Place a fourth generation vineyard; Lake Anna Winery; and Peaks of Otter Winery & Orchard a sixth generation family farm.  Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery one of the oldest and largest wineries in the Commonwealth; Ramulose Ridge Vineyards; Rebec Vineyards who boast as many as eighteen selections at times; and Tomahawk Mill Winery a former grist mill now a vineyard, round out the winemakers.

Now for the Horse & Hound activity – there will be a beautiful parade of horses, agility dogs and lure coursing.  Want more fun?  Enjoy the muskrat and stick horse races, too.

Big Boss Man Band

Entertainment at the Horse and Hound Wine FestivalBring your dancing shoes.  Live music will be from The Big Boss Man Band.  Who are they and what do they play?  Big Boss Man is “funk, soul, and rock & roll”.  They specialize in classic rock sounds, with lots of danceable party music to get people up on their feet and having fun with a huge variety of music.

In addition to wine tastings, horse and hound events, there will be numerous arts and crafts venders.

 

Food at the Horse and Hound Wine Festival

With all this fun, you are sure to work up a big appetite!  There will be plenty of good eats to choose from – Fresh N.C. Style Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches, Crab Cakes, Crab Wrap, Grilled Shrimp, Chesapeake Fries, Hamburgers, Food at the Horse and Hound Wine Festivalchili dogs. Then there’s  the chicken strip basket, Italian Sausage, Cheese Steak Subs, Chili cheese fries, corn dogs, French fries, homemade potato chips, Sourdough pizza; tacos, burritos, and taco salads. Don’t dare forget about funnel cakes, fresh squeezed lemonade, strawberry lemonade, sodas, water, sweet tea and then there’s Homestead Creamery – some of the best ice cream on the west side of VA.

Ticket fees at the gate are $20 for Tasters, $15 for General Admission and $5.00 Dogs

Proceeds Benefit –

Part of the proceeds will go to the following non-profits:

Commonwealth Search & Rescue – a non-profit volunteer search and rescue group dedicated to providing assistance to lost or injured persons in the out-of-doors.

All-American Mutt Rescue – a home-based animal rescue organization who rescues animals in need of new homes and loving families. Each rescue is spayed or neutered and up-to-date on all routine vaccinations.

Brook Hill Farm Horse Rehab – a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization provides rehabilitative focused services and safe haven for unwanted horses, as well as a therapeutic riding program for personal growth and equine education for area youth and adults.

Complimentary Tickets

Does The Horse & Hound Wine Festival sound like a lot of fun?  Why not make it a weekend trip and stay with us?  We have a few complimentary tickets. Request yours when making your reservation. Traveling to Johnson’s Orchards from Fox Hill B&B is only a 50-mile ride, some of which is through the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Bring back a bottle of wine, enjoy it under the stars on our patio deck, and reminisce about the day’s events.

 

Making Home-made Sausage

Making Home-made Sausage at Fox Hill Bed and Breakfast Suites

So many of our guests rave about our home-made Bacon and home-made Sausage. Today, we will speak about how we make our sausages.

Every home-made sausage starts out the same way. We learned to make sausage in the fresh, basic form first.

Then it was just a matter of learning some simple steps to that technique and you can produce any sausage you want. Every time we make sausages, it is different. One reason is that we make 15 pounds at a time, and the time between each preparation is long enough to forget what was done in the past.

Last week, we finished 15 pounds and still have it a good memory of what we did; we can pointedly define some tips based on experience; however, we are by no means an expert.

We source our pork locally when possible; sometimes we need to go to the big city to get the meat. We butcher the shoulder to fit in our grinder, which are strips about one inch by one inch however long it happens to be.

We grind the pork, divide it, and then season with one of five different seasoning mixes we purchase onhome-made sausage -line. I make a standard breakfast sausage, a maple flavored sausage, a southern style seasoning, one with some heat to it, or a charred grilled seasoning.

home-made sausageWe source our natural casings online as well. We have found that Amazon has one of the best natural casings available.

The videos show the grinding process and the stuffing process. Many experts will stuff a casing making a 2-foot long sausage and then twist the casing to the size they want. The expert you watch on videos never breaks a casing. We have changed our technique because we are not experts and cannot imitate the experts. Imitating the experts’ leads to many broken casings and high levels of frustration.

Why we make different kinds of Sausage:

Making and serving all the same sausages seems too much as if we are eating the same thing all the time.
So, visit Fox Hill for more than one night and we guarantee that you will get to taste one of our home-made sausages.

Therefore, what are our tips?

  • Use fresh pork
  • Add the amount of ice water specified
  • Rinse the natural casings for one hour and then let sit in refrigerator overnight
  • Let the mix rest overnight
  • Twist each link as it comes off the stuffing horn
  • Freeze on a cookie tray
  • Cut apart and place in zip lock bags
  • Boil the frozen sausage for 10 minutes
  • Brown in a cast iron skillet
  • Enjoy your creation!

 

Hot Air Balloons in Rockbridge County VA

Up, Up, and Away!  Balloons over Rockbridge County, VA

Balloons over the ValleyColorful hot air balloons are such a treat to see floating effortlessly in the blue sky.  Sometimes they’re overhead close enough you can hear the whoosh of hot air filling the balloon as it travels by.  Have you thought to yourself, boy-I’d sure like to do that one day.  It looks both scary and fun!  Sure but there are other questions that soon follow … how fast do they go, how far do they travel, how do they come down, how safe are they, what do I do when I’m inside the basket?   Well you’ll get your chance to get some of those answers and even take a ride at the

Balloons Over Rockbridge Hot Air Balloon Event held on July 6-7, 2018 across from the Virginia Horse Center at Oak Hill Field, Maury River Road, Lexington, VA.

Here are two hints about a balloon flight:  #1 riding in a hot air balloon is smooth sailing as the basket hardly sways.  #2 ballooning is addictive-once you land, all you can think about is going up again!

Hold onto these facts for trivia night:  Hot air balloons were developed in the late 18th century and are still used today.  Who were the first hot air balloon passengers?  In 1783, an odd assortment of animals was chosen to test the effects of flight – a rooster, a duck, and a sheep.  During the Civil War, balloons were used to spy on enemy movement from as far as 15 miles away.

At Balloons Over Rockbridge there will be 12 beautiful balloons (they all have names – how cool is that?) and you’ll get to meet their respective pilots.   Balloon flights will occur on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  Tethered balloon rides will begin on Saturday afternoon.   In addition to the balloon rides, there will be plenty of live music,

5k REGISTRATION

food, drinks and vendors.  For early morning folks, there will be an 8am  5K walk/run through the rolling hills  of the Blue Ridge Mountains & Virginia Horse Center with hot air balloons flying above. This event supports the local chapter of the veterans support group TeamRWB.org. The course will be grass and some gravel.

 

If you prefer a more private flight for your first balloon ride, we suggest Monticello Country Ballooning.
They offer sunrise or sunset flights.

The view, described by all riders, is 360 degrees of spectacular.

For more information about the Hot Air Balloon Event, click this balloon
Balloons over Rockbridge    Up, up and away!

Fox Hill B&B does Farm-to-Table

Chef Mike has always enjoyed gardening and since taking the reins of the kitchen, he has expanded his love of gardening to the next level to achieve a Farm-to-Table menu.

At Fox Hill Bed and Breakfast, we grow many of the fruits and vegetables served in our breakfast dishes.  Chef Mikes Vegetable Egg bake consists of multicolored sweet peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, corn, and any other fresh
Peppers - Farm to Table vegetables Romas - Farm to Tablethat are ripe and ready to eat.  Fresh made salsa/stewed tomatoes are the star of Chef Mike’s version of the Middle-Eastern dish Shakshuka.

Innkeeper Cathy uses the abundant zucchini, strawberries, and blackberries grown on site for her scrumptious baked goods.

Hive to Table

 

Having bee hives located on the property also helps provide us with an abundance of produce. Although we do not own them, the local beekeeper manages the hives and provides us with pollinators and fresh honey.  You can see the hives as you turn into the inn’s Beekeeper - Hive to Table driveway.  The honey served in your breakfast is a by-product of the workers living in the hives at the end of our driveway.  Even the bees must pay to stay!

Throughout the growing season, we travel to the local U-Pick farms and gather as much as we can haul. Typically, we pick 50 pounds of various fruits, providing fresh flavors in new and tried-and-true recipes, plus we freeze plenty to enjoy throughout the winter months.

Last season, we picked over 50 pounds of delicious Blueberries from a well-cared for Blueberry Farm in West Virginia.  We traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Crozet and gathered up over 45 pounds of sweet Peaches. We spent a Fall afternoon at a Lovingston apple orchard picking and dreaming of apple pie!  While we did not pick them directly from the trees, we did sample and bring home a few of the many 16 varieties of Asian pears from The Virginia Gold Orchard, right here in Rockbridge County.

The Farm-to-table concept is a social movement to promote serving local food at restaurants, schools & INNS preferably through direct acquisition from the producer. At Fox Hill B&B, since we grow our own, we know exactly where, what and how our “good eats” are grown.

Tomatoes - Farm to Table Cornfield -- Farm to Table

Farm-to-table incorporates food traceability (celebrated as “knowing where your food comes from”) where the origin of the food can be identified to our guests. When visiting during the growing season, guests can actually see the ingredients growing.

Farm-to-Table also applies to our Bacon and Sausages as we procure our pork locally.  Fresh pork shoulder for the sausages and fresh Pork Belly for our well-reviewed and requested Maple-Bourbon-bacon smoking

Cracked Pepper, Applewood smoked bacon.  It’s a three-week “labor of love” process for Chef Mike to make the bacon and he only smokes 10 pounds at a time.  As for the sausages, they are handmade; no two are the same size but every bit delicious.

Even our four-legged guest’s get the Farm-to-Table experience! We provide treats from Whistle Creek Treats, a local premium  Farm-to-Table Pet Food provider.  They produce high quality treats and pet food utilizing locally sourced, 100% human grade ingredients.  Each treat is free from corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, chemicals, or colors.

Therefore, for the Farm-to-Table experience not found at every bed and breakfast, a visit to Fox Hill Bed and Breakfast Suites will surely satisfy that need.