My Life As a Former Cupcake Queen

Some of you may remember the purple cupcake food truck that appeared in Hanover and Lebanon and on a few neighboring college campuses throughout the Upper Valley in 2011. It was the result of a brief partnership with a fellow baker- one that did not end particularly well. Business was booming, but the partnership was not a good one. It happens. Life goes on and I was left with a wonderful baking experience that allowed for a lot of creativity in the kitchen- and, a lot of fun on the road!

Although the cupcake craze has been replaced with the cronut craze, the pie craze, the prezel craze, the artisan chocolate craze, etc. there will always be a place at the table for cupcakes. So, one by one throughout 2016, I plan on sharing the recipes of some of our most popular cupcakes. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’ll start with my fav, Triple Salted Caramel. This one takes a little more time since involves a decorative candy addition, but it’s well worth it! It’s sweet, it’s creamy and it’s salty. Continue reading “My Life As a Former Cupcake Queen”


Farmhouse Chocolates Are Simply Sublime

Yes, it’s almost Valentine’s Day and yes, I am always looking for an excuse to celebrate almost anything with chocolates. This weekend was no exception. When I heard that Erlé Labounty and his wife, Eliza La Rocca of Farmhouse Chocolates* would be sampling chocolates at Woodstock Farmers’ Market, I knew I would be making the drive to meet my new favorite chocolatier. Earlier in the week, I had ordered chocolates from Farmhouse after discovering their Instagram account. When they arrived, I proceeded to make them disappear quickly.

I ordered the Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels and Dark Chocolate Truffles (Espresso Bean and Cacao Nib) and when they were delivered, I was slightly delayed in ripping them open because I was intrigued with their attention to the packaging.  Continue reading “Farmhouse Chocolates Are Simply Sublime”

Bite Into Biscotti

On a recent girl’s-night-out, two friends and I attended our first King Arthur Flour baking class. I am a frequent and loyal purchaser of KAF products, but I had never ventured inside the teaching facility adjoining the Cafe and Store. In fact, I have only taken one other cooking class and that was in Chang Mai, Thailand (and, I wholeheartedly  recommend Siam Rice Thai Cookery School– their wording, not mine).

We chose the Bite into Biscotti class in part so we would have something to give away to friends, hoping there would be too much to eat ourselves. A pie class? I could eat a whole pie. Cake? Ditto-in one sitting. Bread? Pass me the butter. Cookies? Raw dough is fine with me.  Finished product inhaled by the cookie sheet full. But, a tin of biscotti wouldn’t be as tempting since you really need coffee or wine to fully enjoy. Continue reading “Bite Into Biscotti”

Silo Serves Up Winter Warmth

This past Sunday, my husband and I wandered down 91S to Artisans Park in Windsor, VT to listen to music, sip Bloody Marys and order up a warm, gooey grilled cheese at Silo Distillery.  It was the perfect end to a mild week. We needed a little excitement- the kind provided by food, drink and music.

I hadn’t been to Artisans Park in a while and I was amazed at the growth. Not only is Harpoon Brewery there, but the complex includes Path of Life Sculpture Garden, Sustainable Farmer, Vermont Farmstead Cheese, Great River Outfitters and  Simon Pearce Glass. And Blake Hill Preserves is in the process of building on site as well. It is a veritable food court full of worthwhile artisan products and endeavors!

Silo Distillery is very farm-ish. Red barn, sparse interior, great light. The ground floor is home to the distillery and sales/tasting room. Its wide open concept is appealing and everything smells so new and clean. The “product” is neatly arranged on shelving and the tasting bar is welcoming- the vibe is good. Continue reading “Silo Serves Up Winter Warmth”

So Sweet

My family is all about food. When the holidays arrive (starting with Thanksgiving), constant questioning begins. “What time are we eating?” “What are you making?” ” Can we have xyz? ” And, most importantly,  “What’s for dessert?” Our Xmas eve dinner is one of the most important feasts of the year and my family anticipates it like the second coming.

This year’s menu was especially important as we were celebrating both an upcoming marriage and carefully navigating a serious health concern. I had to get this right-especially the dessert part.

It all started with a trip to King Arthur Flour , who unknowingly made this new dessert recipe possible.  Contemplating the holiday break breakfasts before Christmas Eve, I had stopped by KAF to pick up morning treats that included cinnamon buns and sticky buns, but with all the excesses of the nights leading up to Xmas Eve, no one wanted them. They were either recovering from food overdose or fasting before the big meal, anticipating more excess. Continue reading “So Sweet”

From Factory to Art Gallery

Adaptively reusing an old building can have benefits both tangible and intangible. Just ask Bente Torjusen, executive director of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Several years ago, the organization purchased and renovated the 1850s former H.W. Carter & Sons overalls factory and turned it into an energy-efficient art center with studios, classrooms, and exhibition space. When we talked with Torjusen about local travel ideas for the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, we found the AVA Gallery story so interesting that we asked her to elaborate on it. Excerpts from our conversation with her are below.

How did this project come about?

The building is a large building with plenty of natural light, so it is perfect for the visual arts. But it needed a lot of help. Number one was that we needed to buy the building, which we were able to do in 2003.

We knew we needed to make considerable renovations. It was a post-and-beam building and there were areas where you could actually see through the wall to the outside, so it was pretty cold in the wintertime. So I contacted a former board member, Stuart White, an architect. He got very excited about the potential here. He was the one who suggested that this would be a perfect opportunity for us to think about seeking LEED certification.



Dartmouth Rocks Instagram

It’s no question social media is an important part of most college students’ lives. But of all the social networking sites out there, Instagram is the one college students use the most, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.

In fact, 53% of adults ages 18–29 years old say they use Instagram every single day.

That’s why many brands whose target audience includes young adults have taken to Instagram. After all, when it comes to choosing which social platforms to spend time and resources on, it’s a best practice to go where your target audience goes.

Fortunately, the social media folks at colleges and universities worldwide have taken note. We were excited to see many of them posting awesome Instagram content — shots of campus buildings, live-action photos of sports games, colorful graphics promoting school-sponsored campaigns — on a regular basis.

While there were many colleges and universities doing well on Instagram, here are 17 of the best ones we saw. (And if you’re feeling inspired, read this blog post for a list of the 11 best photo and video editing apps for mobile.)

17 of the Best College Instagram Accounts


1) Colorado State University

When it comes to posting a diversity of Instagram content, Colorado State University covered it all — and everything came out beautifully. We had a hard time choosing from the multitude of adorable pictures of their mascot CAM the Ram, which included playful captions such as “Our mascot is cuter than your mascot.” They also did a great job with campaign graphics, like the ones below on ending hazing and promoting their sweepstakes, the grand prize of which was a trip to Cancun.

2) Dartmouth College

Located in scenic Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth’s campus has a lot to work with — and their social media team doesn’t sell it short. Their Instagram account is chock full of breathtaking, high-definition pictures of their campus in every season and at every time of day. We love the drone shots they used to show their campus from a new perspective.




Read More at HubSpot.

VPR Touts Parmalee

There’s a new video web series being shot on the Upper Valley. It’s about two kids who make their sleepy little town instantly infamous.

The series title, Parmalee, is the fictional name of a Connecticut River town a lot like Lyme, New Hampshire. That’s where co-director, John Griesemer, lives and works in a big house with his wife Faith Catlin. With a lot of other friends in the theater business — both famous and undiscovered — they’ve been making this web series right in their neighborhood and they’re in the home stretch.

As some actors rehearse around his kitchen table and others get make-up and costumes in the living room, Griesemer settles into a comfy couch and sums up  the plot.

“It’s about a small town in Vermont where several kids come across or create a rather horrific and kind of terrifying video from a tragic event,” he explains. “And they upload it. And it’s what happens to the town when that video goes viral — when the world finds out about where this place is and what happened there.”

Read and listen to more at VPR.

Photo caption: Former ‘NYPD Blue’ actor Gordon Clapp shoots a scene for ‘Parmalee,’ a web series created by John Griesemer, center, and his wife Faith Catlin, and set in a fictional version of the Upper Valley.CHARLOTTE ALBRIGHT VPR

Take a Hike for Your Health

When it comes to your belly, the state you’re in might have something to do with the state you’re in. (Photo: Eat This, Not That!)

Living in the South or the Midwest might be increasing your risk of weight gain. That’s where the states with the highest obesity rates — including Arkansas, West Virginia, North Dakota and Indiana — are located, according to a new report by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health.

And those aren’t just trivial numbers: when the rate of obesity in your state increases, your own personal risk may increase as well. Recent research at Harvard has shown that your social circle — the folks you interact with on a daily basis — can dramatically impact your own health and fitness. In fact, just having a close friend who becomes obese raises your own risk by 57 percent. (Having a sibling or spouse who’s obese also increases your risk, but to a lesser degree.) In other words, when the folks around you get fat, your own belly starts to expand, too.

Twenty-two states now have obesity rates that top 30 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. And while much of the country is holding steady, obesity rates are growing in five states: Ohio, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah.

The editors at Eat This, Not That! magazine took a deeper look at the numbers.

Note: 1 = Highest rate of adult obesity, 51 = lowest rate of adult obesity. Read more at Yahoo Health. 

Here where NH and VT stand:

37. New Hampshire (27.4% obese)

Steadily expanding waistlines in the The Granite State have landed New Hampshire the 37th spot on this obesity list. But oddly enough, the state’s rate of hypertension — one of the most common obesity related conditions — has remained fairly stable over the past 24 years.

46. Vermont (24.8% obese)

Known for its plush snow and hike-worthy mountains, Vermont residents are clearly tapping their natural resources to shed off the pounds. Just under 25 percent of those living in the Northeastern state are obese, earning them the title of the sixth trimmest state in the nation. However, it’s not all good news: Cases of heart disease and obesity-related cancer cases in Vermont are anticipated to trend upward in the coming years, according to the report.