Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baked apples with cranberry coulis

This tastes of.......well, this time of year. It tastes of festive lights and frosty mornings and mulled wine. It's baked apples with a filling of raisins and craisins soaked in a little rum, processed briefly with nuts, and topped with streusel. And then you pour cranberry coulis around it, which is nothing more than a cup of fresh cranberries, another of orange juice, just a little sugar and some cinnamon, heated, and pressed through a sieve. Delicious!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Plenty Of Hurley

Harold Donaldson Eberlein (1875 - 1942) was a prolific writer. This passage appears in Historic Houses of the Hudson Valley, published 1942, but likely published for the first time around 1915.

"Old Hurley is just as Dutch as Dutch can be......Hurley cheeses and Kingston refugees have given Hurley most of its renown in the outside world. So plentiful and so famous at one time were the former, that Hurley was popularly credited with having "cheese-mines." The "pot-cheeses" of Hurley were much esteemed by Kingston folk and there grew up a brisk trade in this toothsome commodity.......The following old Dutch verses, done into English by a local antiquary, tell of plenty at Hurley, not only of pot cheese but of many other kinds of foodstuffs as well;-

What shall we do with the wheat bread do?
Eat it with the cheese from Hurley.
What shall we with the pancakes do?
Dip them in the syrup of Hurley.
What shall we with the cornmeal do?
That comes from round about Hurley?
Johnnycake bake, both sweet and brown,
With green cream cheese from Hurley.

Does this not reflect the reign of peace, plenty and contentment? The old Dutch, indeed, is truly realistic as the question comes "Wat zullen wij met die pannekoeken doen?", and at the answer, "Doop het met die stroop van Horley," one involuntarily licks his chops over the dripping sweetness of "die stroop". "

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sinterklaas is coming to town

Rhinebeck has a Sinterklaas extravaganza on this Saturday 4th December which revives (amongst other things) some of the ways the 17th century Dutch would have celebrated St. Nicholas' Day, December 6th. This is a great cross-cultural community event that seeks to put creativity and authenticity before the commercialization of the holiday season.

Shows and other events take place all day and into the evening. The Starlight Parade draws on any and every tradition including ancient Winter Solstice celebrations. Who's in it this year? Well, there's Sinterclaas on his white horse, the Grumpuses (his wild sidekicks ), the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance (which dates back to the 11th century), St. George and the Dragon, and a Snow Goose, to name but a few. We'll be baking some authentic Dutch Spekulaas cookies for our guests this weekend to honor this time of year.

"If you have never experienced a town fully immersed in celebreation - that would be most of us - this would be something magnificent to observe and participate in..." The Huffington Post

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall wedding.......

Our garden, perched high above the Esopus Creek, made a perfect spot for the wedding this October of Andrea and James, from Minnesota.
"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you."
(Native American)
We wish both of them every happiness. Thank you for sharing this very special day with us!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Aston Martin DBS Carbon Black Special Edition and a Hudson Valley photo shoot

Back in May, we looked out and saw the MOST beautiful car we'd ever seen parked on our drive. Nadia would admit that cars aren't her strong point, but there was no mistaking that this one was a cut above the rest. The style of it just blew her away....what was it??? Turns out it really was a 2010 Aston Martin, a DBS Carbon Black Special Edition no less, on loan to Stephen Walker, the Photo Director of Nylon mag. He stayed with us one weekend and took the DBS on a photoshoot in the Hudson Valley. This is a very, very special car.......thanks for letting us take the photos and have a closer look! You can feast your eyes on more at
We thought we'd share this on the day that James Bond's 1964 DB5 sold for a cool $4 million (all proceeds going to charity) - here's the film clip where 007 gets the car. Just don't touch the red button.....

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Groote Kamer" (Great Room)

We have been working hard to restore what we are calling the "Groote Kamer" or Great Room. Located on the ground floor, with it's own drive, patio and entrance, the 22' x 17' room features the remains of an 18th Century Dutch "jambless" fireplace, glorious wide plank floors, a reproduction panelled board wall enclosing the bathroom, enormous beams and the original wide plank ceiling.

This is a room that's still evolving. Eventually the outside door will be a reproduction Dutch door (the kind that's cut in half horizontally), and the fireplace hood is being reconstructed as we speak......The beautiful hand crafted chandelier comes from Hurley Patentee Lighting, which is actually right next door to us! The Patentee Manor was the next house that the original Kool/Cole family went on to build after this one, so it's especially appropriate for our lighting to come from there, and wonderful that their designs are so authentic.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Meet Molly and Alex

Meet Molly and Alex, who stayed with us this week, just as the foliage was starting to turn. They had a great time exploring the area, and picked two pecks of apples! Molly Sawyer is a sculptor whose work you can see here. You can also see it if you happen to be in or near Jersey City the first weekend in October, for the 11th Annual Open Studio Tour Weekend. Thanks both of you for being great company.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Levon Helm Free Concert at Gills Farm

We just heard - Levon Helm and his band will once again be playing a Free Concert right here in Hurley, NY, at Gills Farm Stand on Route 209 on SUNDAY OCTOBER 17th. Come on over!
Last year:
Great review and pictures and set list for the Mountain Jam appearance earlier this year:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

11th Annual Hudson River Valley Ramble

The Hudson River Valley Ramble celebrates the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. What began as a modest event that was held during one weekend in September, has grown in popularity and in numbers over the years. This year, the Ramble takes places over three weekends in September.
Guided walks on 9/18 include 'Birding for Late Risers' at Minnewaska Lake and looking at wildlife on the Esopus by Saugerties. There's also a 'Panther Mountain History Hike' in the Catskills, taking in Giant Ledge and the summit.
On 9/24 there's a 'Harvest Moonwalk' on the railtrail between New Paltz and Highland, and on 9/25 there's 'Exploring the railtrail in Rosendale' and 'The Rondout National Historic District Walking Tour' - the Rondout is now part of Kingston, but was once its own important port, with large paddle steamers and mountains of coal from the many barges that docked there.
All these are 15-30 minutes away from us. There are many more to choose from, and also several kayak trips. Let someone else plan your day for you and just relax into the landscape and the company!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Basil, rhubarb, beans, elderberries, tomatoes, black walnuts, rainbow chard and gladioli.......

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cyclists extraordinaire

Meet Tim and Flavia, from Boston. They decided to explore the Shawangunk Ridge, cycling first to High Falls, then on to New Paltz over the ridge via Rosendale, with a well-earned rest at the Waterstreet Market. Having been told in the cycle shop there that there was no way they could go back up using the steep route with 3 gear bikes, they did it anyway! From the top of the ridge, they found a great way down through the Mohonk Preserve, taking in the 'Million Dollar View' at Spring Farm Trailhead, and then later using the railtrail that goes from High Falls right up to our house. They had a fantastic time and recommend this route to anyone with mountain or hybrid bikes......and maybe a few more than 3 gears!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New ways, old ways

What could be more traditional than freshly baked bread for breakfast? Most mornings we include this now, and it's making everyone very happy indeed ..... but this is not traditionally made bread.
It's a new way of baking that's been around a couple of years, that doesn't require kneading. A wet dough is mixed with enough ingredients for at least four pound loaves, and is then left a couple of hours to rise before being placed in the fridge, where it can be left for up to two weeks. Every time you want to bake, you scoop out a portion, shape it briefly, and leave it for a while before baking. That's it!
The recipes we're using right now come from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg MD. Zoe trained at our very own Culinary Institute of America, 30 minutes away in Hyde Park. Check out Zoe's website! Our favorites right now are Betsy's Seeded Oat Bread (above) and the 100% Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Bread. Certianly the tastiest way of getting your Omega-3s. Yum.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunset at Ashokan

Nothing much to add really... just wanted to share the view. The Ashokan reservoir with the Catskill Mountains, about 5 miles from here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music, sweet music

Patti Lupone stayed with us this month, together with her team, for the Bellayre music festival. It was great, such a treat for us. We got to go to the concert and enjoy her fabulous company, and she got to relax a little despite her hectic schedule. 'Coulda, woulda, shoulda' was a great showcase for all her talents, and we're looking forward to her returning to the festival next year.

See Patti's 'Ramblings from the Road' if you want to get a sense of her larger-than-life warm-hearted, fun-loving, passionate persona......and take a look at this video of her at the 2008 Tony awards to see her give her all and wow the crowds......This weekend you can catch her celebrating Sondheim's 80th birthday with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We love you Patti!

Back home, Steve Reich is in town this weekend! That's to say, he's 20 minutes down the road in West Hurley by Woodstock, at the historic Maverick concert hall, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his seminal work Drumming (1970). Steve Reich and Musicians will be joined by NEXUS and So Percussion to perform this and other seminal works from the 70s, as well as Nagoya Marimbas (1994).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ebelskiver or Poffertjes?

Nadia writes:
We found a cast iron pan at a market in Red Hook two years ago. I always wondered what it was, and then saw the Danish filled-pancake pan in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue, and realised it was for making Ebelskiver, a kind of baked donut you make on the stove top. Although ours has hearts, it's the same size and has the same seven deep wells. This was exciting, I researched the recipes and had a lot of fun experimenting with fillings (fruit, chocolate, nutella)......but, at the end of the day, they were all too 'doughy'. The light, whipped egg white texture was wonderful, but the taste wasn't quite right.

So, seeing as we're a Dutch house, I tried Poffertjes, a traditional Dutch meal. The authentic pans for Poffertjes have smaller wells and more of them, but I decided my pan would do just fine. They're a yeasted buckwheat pancake mix, traditionally served with strawberries and whipped cream, and dusted with powdered sugar. No filling, just very puffy. They taste really good. And today I wondered, do I dare make Poffertjes with a filling.....?

........After a hard evening's recipe testing, Sam and I can confirm that Poffertjes do indeed work with fillings, specifically, two Ghirardelli's 60% bittersweet chocolate drops. We think we might have next Valentine's Day breakfast sorted. It will, of course, take much more recipe testing between now and then to get it just right........

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Trailways Website

So you want to know how to get from the Port Authority in New York City, to the Trailways bus terminal in Kingston, NY (a couple of miles away from our house - so we can come and pick you up) and thus get here without a car? At last there is a simple website with the answer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fresh Local Flowers

We like to have fresh local flowers around the house every day, sometimes homegrown, sometimes from local farms and florists. Nadia picked up the beauties in the top photograph this afternoon from Gill's Farm Stand on Hurley Mountain Road, about one mile from here, where they were grown. The exotics in the lower photograph may not have been grown quite so locally, but they are from our favorite local florists, Green Cottage in nearby High Falls. You can see the Green Cottage video here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wildlife In Our Garden

Here are two Pileated Woodpeckers we saw in our garden today. The young one was learning to find food, ably demonstrated by its parent, who had found a lot of bugs in one of the large sugar maple trees at the front of our house. They left quite a mess of wood on the lawn. Hopefully the tree doesn't mind......a lot of bushes and trees are stressed right now, due to lack of rain, so we're actually hoping there'll be thunderstorms soon! These birds were breathtaking to watch, with the tree just a couple of yards away from our breakfast room.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stone House Day

Yes - it's that time of year again. Next Saturday, July 10th is Stone House Day here in Hurley, New York. For more information go here. Come and visit our historic village!

Friday, June 25, 2010


There are floral fireworks in our garden at this time of year - like these delicate Hollyhocks, reminding us of cottage gardens back in England (we are both from the UK). The Hollyhocks are doing very well this year and some are reaching enormous proportions!
Also fresh from our garden - blackcurrants and whitecurrants, as seen here in Nadia's "black and white cheesecake". We've picked 10 lbs of blackcurrants from just four bushes, which equals about twenty pounds of jam...hard to believe they were just four small sticks in the ground two years ago when we planted them.
As for the real fireworks: - you can start the July 4th weekend early by enjoying a firework display at the Rondout waterfront in nearby Kingston, NY, this Sunday June 27th. The street festival starts at 4pm and includes live music - the fireworks start at 9.30pm.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This weekend visit Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival, Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, David Broberg Quartet, Pete Seeger, Joan Osborne, Buckwheat Zydeco, Subdudes, Keller Williams, Railroad Earth, Donna The Buffalo. 7 Stages with live music and performance artists!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Timo Weiland

The very talented Mr Timo Weiland came to stay last weekend. We've only just discovered his website, and it is the very coolest thing on earth, which you absolutely must see. Timo is also the perfect gentleman, in that he will turn around and drive back to return a room key, even if he is half-way home. Thank you very much Timo, and please come back soon!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


This coming weekend June 5th and 6th, the Timefest comes to Kingston, with re-enactments of Dutch colonial history, boats, food samplings, walking tours, art competitions, music and dance, and free tours of the Senate house museum in the historical uptown area on both days.

The uptown Kingston farmers market on Saturday morning will be even more lively than usual with its own special events. Transportation - the 'history jitney' - will be provided to the many other events midtown, and downtown by the Rondout riverfront. Not to be missed! (Dawn and Rob, is that you in the photo?)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top Chef

Guess who the gentleman on the left is, staying with us last weekend with his lovely partner? If you're in LA visit his new restaurant The Gorbals , which sounds amazing. Don't know what he thought of our breakfast, but he finished everything and asked us how we made our green tomato chutney, which has to be a good sign.......
For those of you who've told us you follow our blog, apologies for the recent lack of entries. We've been busy. The Art of Painting has a new bathroom, the garden has a new herbaceous border and fruit trees, The Girl with the Pearl Earring room has a TV/DVD (which you can discretely hide in a 19th century trunk if that's too modern for you), and the second kitchen (the one with the cauldron and the beehive oven) is being limewashed. As well as that, a first floor room is getting its original 17th century jambless fireplace restored. We'll share photos soon.......just as soon as we get a moment.....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Special Day

We're beginning to realise that we are part of a very small and select group of 18th Century Dutch barns and houses dotted up and down the Hudson Valley that people crave as wedding venues or as places for their families to stay. It was charming to see these two at Marisa and Jon's wedding last Fall walking through our herb garden. The house and grounds seem to be a natural venue for wedding photography.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Conserving The Fireback

This is the fireback in our front room fireplace - recently restored using a special wax. It is probably mid-eighteenth century. It could be from the Netherlands, but could also have been made in America. Firebacks were very common in Colonial fireplaces, increasing the efficiency of the fire by reflecting the heat back into the room.
Ours seems to depict the king of the gods, Zeus, in an angry mood, gathering clouds and throwing thunderbolts. In Greek mythology, Zeus didn't want humans to have fire, so Prometheus stole it and gave it to them so that they could keep warm and cook, and defend themselves from animals.
On the left you can see two eagles. Eagles are associated with Zeus but might also refer to the way that, in his fury, he tied Prometheus up and had eagles peck his liver out, because Prometheus seemed to value friendship with humans more than reverence for the king of the gods. Being immortal himself, Prometheus' liver continually grew back only to be pecked out again and again........but he was eventually rescued.......In Aeschylus's play 'Prometheus Bound', this myth is used to portray how friendship is morally superior to tyranny.
We think it's an interesting connection, fire and friendship - after all, an open hearth fire evokes feelings of companionship and warmth.....and better to muse on that than worry about being struck by thunderbolts!