I headed to Noda Farm to pick blueberries. The bushes were laden with fruit and picking was easy. Noda Farm is a lovely place to pick berries because their bushes are large and well kept. Picking is easy because you don’t have to crouch down and the large bushes provide shade. I was able to pick 8.5 lbs of berries in about 45 minutes. I would love to share pictures with you, but my phone was dead.
Back home, the blueberries went into some blueberry jam (9 half-pints), and into a recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait from Cooks Illustrated. I also froze a bunch for pancakes and smoothies this winter.
Blueberries and maple syrup are two New England food trends that I can really get behind.
Some background, Dog Mountain is the former home of Stephen Huneck, an artist that did woodblock prints and sculptures with dog themes. His black Labrador retriever, Sally, featured prominently in his work. He bought land in St Johnsbury Vermont, built studios and a home. He built a dog chapel and designated the land as an off leash dog park. Dog Mountain is pretty darn awesome.
We took the dogs for a long walk around the mountain and found hundreds of blackberry bushes with beautiful, plump, ripe berries. What is a locavore to do? Pick berries into any available container and make blackberry financiers!
Blackberry Financiers (they’re rich!)
7 tablespoon unsalted butter
1¾ cup sliced blanched almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
5 tablespoon flour
⅛ teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon almond extract
6 ounce blackberries (or raspberries or blueberries
1. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven
to 400 degrees. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin. (I use mini muffins instead.)
In a skillet, heat the butter until it begins to sizzle. Continue to cook over low heat until the edges begin to darken and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat.
In a food processor, grind the almonds with the granulated and
powdered sugars, the flour and salt. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the egg whites and add the almond extract. Stop the machine, and add the warm butter, pulsing as you pour until the batter is just mixed.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the buttered muffin cups and poke 3
or 4 berries into each cake. Bake for 18 minutes, (14 minutes for mini muffins) until puffy and deep
golden brown. Let stand a few minutes then remove them from the
pan and cool on a rack.
Hamilton falls was very memorable.The falls themselves are lovely and the pools are very deep and good for submersion swimming. There is also a deep grotto to the right of the falls full of smooth river stones. People would pile them up into small cairns and Pidi had a great time knocking the stones off into the water. We ran into a group of girls at summer camp and they fawned all over Pidi and Daisy, giving them pets and treats.
I slipped while playing on the rocks and, in that breath, I was convinced I had broke my foot. My shoe and foot got wedged tightly into the crevasse between two big boulders and I needed to un-velcro my shoe and use two hands to pull the shoe out from between the rocks. I lost most of my toenails, bruised up my toes very badly, but thankfully, was still able to walk. On this trip, that was the only real injury I sustained. I fed a lot of mosquitos and black flies and scraped up my legs and knees climbing up waterfalls to get a better vantage point, but those were relatively minor consequences of being out-of-doors for an extended period.
One of the Campers had a Fuji Instax camera and offered to take a picture of Pidi, Daisy and me. She snapped the picture and, just like the Polaroid pictures of old, out of the camera came an actual, physical, tangible picture. The picture was underexposed and the color was off, but the picture was still meaningful. It was a thing that captured this moment. Yes, I know everyone over 30 years old is aghast – this is how pictures used to be! Yes, I take hundreds of digital pictures, and I share pictures with my friends and family using this site and on Facebook, etc… But this shitty picture, that I was holding in my hand, was a physical manifestation of a moment. AND, I realized, I can’t share that moment with anybody but myself. You can’t post a Polaroid to Facebook or TXT it to a friend. Somehow that made it more special. Souvenir.
After Hamilton Falls, we drove home happy, cool and well-rested. It was a really wonderful trip. I think we will go see more waterfalls in the future. Maybe not 9 waterfalls in 3 days next time…
(Note the tiny person shown for scale.)
Effort: Maximum. We hiked for an hour and 20 minutes to get to the falls, then had an hour hike back to the car. It was an OK hike, but the trail was full of cantelope-sized smooth stones, (mountain bikers call them baby heads) making hiking a challenge on the feet and ankles.
Reward: The guidebook I referenced mentioned that we should visit these falls in Spring or early Summer when the water level is high. When we were there, there was a steady trickle of water falling down the rocks. The pools were 1 to 3 inches deep – barely enough for wading, let alone a much-needed swim after a hike in the heat. I think I would also like the hike in the winter to see the falls crusted in ice.
Fun: This hike would have been a lot more fun in the spring when there was more water in the falls. That being said, it was a nice hike.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: We love hiking. We love to run around in the woods with our jingle bells. One problem – there wasn’t a lot of water to drink along the trail, so we had to keep asking mom for a drink.
This is the other waterfalls named “Moss Glen” in Vermont. The other one was better.
Effort: Below minimal. You pull off the side of the road in the Green Mountain National Forest, walk 100 feet on a board walk, and voila! Waterfalls. If you want, you don’t even have to stop – you can just rubberneck while driving past.
Reward: Again, Meh. It’s a very sterile Waterfall experience. More like being presented a painting of a waterfall, rather than actually experiencing the waterfall itself.
Fun: Nope, sorry. There were boardwalks.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: We got dinner! At a waterfall! This place was awesome because we got dinner. Was there a waterfall too?
Bartlett Falls were a swimmer’s dream. The huge swimming hole is sand-bottomed and half the size of an olympic swimming pool. The water was very clear and the river current made swimming just a little challenging.
Effort: Almost none. The falls are about 20 paces from the road. Maybe on a busier day, you’d have trouble finding parking, making the falls 40 paces from where you have to park.
Reward: The falls are lovely. The real draw here, is that Bartlett falls are only one of two waterfalls in Vermont that allow you to go behind the falling water. In the grotto behind the falls, the sound was deep and rumbling, like a semi truck driving across a bridge overhead. My outreached hand was pushed down by the power of the falling water. I could yell at the top of my lungs and barely hear myself over the noise. The noise and the water were purifying somehow, as if the water was carrying away my stress, worries and tension.
Fun: Best swimming I’ve got to do in Vermont. Hands down. Just lovely.
Pidi and Daisy’s Review: We didn’t get to see Bartlett Falls. Mom left us in the car because there was no way for us to get down to the water. Plus the falls are right along a busy road, so we would have to be on our leashes anyway. She swam, got really happy, and we took a nap in the car.
Of all of the falls we saw, the Falls of Lana were the most beautiful, the most relaxing, and the falls that I am most looking forward to returning to visit again. Here’s the rundown:
Effort: Reasonable. There is a nice walk up to the falls and the paths are very well cared for. The path down to the viewpoint for the main body of the falls was difficult, even for the dogs at some points. It’s mostly an A shaped hike, but the path down to the viewing point is downhill.
Reward: Even though there were 15 cars in the parking lot, I wasn’t bothered by the other people at the falls, unlike the day before in Stowe. Who cares about the people? The falls are so absolutely, wonderfully beautiful that the reward is far outweighed by the remote possibility of being bothered by other people.
Fun: The upper part of the falls has many places where you can find pools of water for swimming. The water is cool and refreshing, with a bit of rusty tint. We had a very nice lunch watching fly fishermen and listening to the water cascading over the rocks.
Pidi and Daisy’s Evaluation: Super fun! There were lots of places to run around and nice dogs to play with. We liked running through the water. We didn’t mind too much when mom asked us to laze about for a bit while she had lunch.