Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We hope that you have a happy new year! We spent today doing chores, yoga, making trifle, and generally relaxing. The weather was much warmer today (40F)and Kokee enjoyed a day of chasing tennis balls in the rapidly melting snow. It was a great 2010, and we wish you all the best for 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post Christmas Cheer

We are hunkering down in very cold windy weather and enjoying the post Christmas glow.  The big storm that has "paralyzed the East Coast" brought all of three inches to Hangman Hill.  The gusty winds and cold temperatures are keeping us gathered around the wood stove.  We enjoyed Huckelberry Pancakes from Montana compliments of Michael and Janel for a hearty breakfast on Boxing Day.  Sheri has been busy making new covers for the beds in our spare bedroom (guests welcome any time to test them out!).

Chatra and Kokee by the fire

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas cracker #3

We hope that you had a great Christmas.  We finished it off with dinner at the Ocean House in Watch Hill. Very nice!  And now its starting to snow.....

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas cracker #2

Ho, ho, ho!  We hope that Santa brought you (and bought you) everything you wanted.  Now, time to have  some Christmas cake...

Fiesta Navidad

Christmas began today with walk in the morning sun.  Finding our neighbor Fran on top of his roof cleaning his chimney was a bonus.   Yes, for real - you can't make up that sort of story.   Apparently Santa couldn't make it down his Chimney, hence the sweeping. And, if you know Fran, with his shoulder length white hair emerging from his hooded coat, dimpled cheeks and jolly laugh, it was like seeing Santa himself on a rooftop when he bellowed "Merry Christmas"to us both.

While much of our family, including those in Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania and even those in  North Carolina and England are enjoying snow, it is a green Christmas here in CT.  We opened a few gifts and enjoyed coffee and cake using our new Fiesta dinnerware. The plate features pound cake from Kerry and Brandon, Cranberry bread from Gene and Kathy and Chocolate covered marshmallows from Mark and Jen.  Feliz Navidad!

Christmas cracker #1

Merry Christmas!  Time to open those presents.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010


In celebration of the season we thought we'd share a link to this short Wallace & Gromit clip.  We'll be working on our own "snowmanatron" if we get enough of the white stuff !!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solstice Party

In celebration of the solstice and the lunar eclipse we had a candlelight pizza party. The crust was eclipsed by the sauce at 6:52pm.  We have turned the corner to longer days, as the Stephanie Davis song goes "We are turning to the light...."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brussels and Carrots

Just before the ground was fully frozen  we pulled (ok -we tugged) a crop of carrots and harvested the remaining Brussels sprouts.  The low temperatures have rendered these gifts from the earth into tender treats. We have been enjoying them roasted, steams and on salads. Yummmmm!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Preparations

This morning the options for today's activity included Christmas shopping at Providence Place or cutting our own Christmas tree at one of the local farms in the driving rain.  Those of you who know us well will guess correctly the decision we made...  It only took a brief break in the raindrops just as we were Providence bound to choose to go Christmas tree hunting.  We were lucky to find Pendleton Hill Tree Farm, only a few miles down the road, was selling trees despite the rain.  We found the best tree ever and enjoyed a cup of coffee with some very friendly neighbors.  We managed to get the tree in the house before the deluge returned.   We are relaxing in front of a decorated tree and hoping we won't spend the evening with the shop-vac given a current rainfall rate at 2" per hour.  Let it snow,  let it snow,  let it snow...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful for 'Sprouts

At this time of year it is traditional to be thankful for all the good things in our lives.  For us folks at Hangman Hill Road this includes being thankful for one of the best vegetables of the season, brussels sprouts.  Try them roasted, or steamed - the nutty flavor of 'sprouts is just the best.

We have just harvested the specimens shown above from our garden, and this enables us to combine this blog posting with a seasonal 'face of produce'.  A similar face appeared in one of our January 2010 blogs, but we say you can't get too many brussels sprouts!

Happy Thanksgiving

Pici Party

During our stay in Tuscany we came to appreciate pici, a pasta that is best described as "fat spaghetti".  Pici is usually served with a rich meat sauce made with wild boar meat.   Last Saturday we tried our hand at making pici, quite literally since we don't have a pasta maker.  Making the dough was very easy; we just spread some flour on the counter,  mixed in eggs and olive oil and kneaded the mixture to a soft dough. Forming the pici into strands was more challenging.  It tasted great though, when with a Bison Red Sauce using garden tomato sauce from HHR gardens.

Now, we have an appreciation for both the old world methods for making pasta and modern pasta makers.

by Martha Stewart

5 lg Eggs

1/4 c Extra-virgin olive oil; plus

1 ts Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

1/4 c Coarsely-ground cornmeal

1/4 c Grated Pecorino-Romano
Place flour on a clean work surface, forming a well in the center. Add eggs to center of well; beat with a fork. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup water, and coarse salt. Use your hands to slowly mix the flour into the liquid. When dough forms and comes together, lift it out of the remaining flour on the work surface using a bench scraper. Sift the flour on the work surface; set aside. Knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding a little more flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Brush top of dough with remaining teaspoon olive oil to prevent skin from forming, and cover with an inverted bowl. Let rest for 30 minutes. Sprinkle two baking sheets or platters with cornmeal. Divide dough into eight pieces. Lightly flour a work surface with a little of the reserved flour, and roll out or pat one piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Transfer dough to a clean surface and, using your hands, roll each strip into a strand of spaghetti. Place on prepared baking sheets or platters. Repeat with remaining dough. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding salt. Cook pasta until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and toss with 2 tablespoons cheese. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Morning Shocker

Pictures are worth a 1,000 words, possible more on a Monday morning in early November with a forecast for rain and temperatures in the 50's.  It was supposed to snow in Bozeman, MT today, according to Michael (Sheri's brother).  We thought we had a few more days of fall before it arrived here!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

CD of the Month: Eilen Jewell - Butcher Holler

Our current favorite CD is a tribute to Loretta Lynn by Eilen Jewell.  It's called "Butcher Holler" after the town in Kentucky where Lynnn was raised.  This YouTube video captures the spirit of it, but the CD is even better.

We hope to be going to see Eilen at our local venue, the Knickerbocker Cafe in Westerly, on Friday November 19th.  Join us there if you can!

Available at Amazon and other fine outlets......

Trip to Kalamazoo, MI

This week Bruno was in Kalamazoo, Michigan for a business trip.  The Pfizer site in Kalamazoo was formerly the Upjohn company and it has a very storied history (More details...).  It was good to be back in the mid-west and to enjoy some warm late-Autumn weather, and to learn about the work that is being conducted at this manufacturing site.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trip to Amboise

This week Bruno was in Amboise, France for a business trip.  Travel to and from France went smoothly, despite the strikes and blockades due to the protests against the French government.  Amboise is south-west of Paris and situated on the River Loire.  It has a fantastic chateau (see above) and many good places to eat and drink.  A great place for a few days away if you ever have the chance.

More pictures

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebration in Keene

We made a trip to Keene, NY last weekend to celebrate the nuptials of Andrew and Brenda who were married the previous weekend on Grand Manan Island.  Were were joined by a large group of friends from the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) that we have known for many years.  It was a tremendous event!  The  weather was perfect and the leaves were in peak color creating a backdrop for some great climbing, gentle hikes and all-around good fun.  Friends traveled from as far as Edmonton, and many with kids in tow.  Thanks to Andrew and Brenda for hosting a great party, we were so glad to be part of it. 

Views of the Great Range in the High Peaks, Adirondacks

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kerry and Brandon

Last weekend Kerry (Sheri's sister) and Brandon were married near their home in Fort Collins, CO.  The weather was spectacular (not so different from the weather in Tuscany, in fact).  The weekend began on Friday evening with a gathering on Brandon and Kerry's new deck, enjoying brews from New Belgium Brewery (where Brandon works), and chicken/steak fajitas prepared by Kerry and grilled by Michael (Sheri's Architect by day and grill master by night - brother).  The wedding was held outdoors on Saturday at the Historic Flowers House in Bellvue, very close to Fort Collins.  It was a perfect day for a wedding and the Miller-Shamblin extended families and friends celebrated with a well orchestrated party that featured live music and great food. The setting offered beautiful views of the Colorado hills and the festivities continued through a lovely sunset into a warm summer-like evening.  Congratulations Brandon and Kerry!

More photos at this link

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


We spent ten wonderful days in September with Pam and Nick (Bruno's parents) in Tuscany.  We stayed in the town of Cortona, a splendid hill town in central Tuscany.  Cortona alone offered much of what is best about Tuscany- beautiful views, cafes, gelaterias, ancient walls, and a rich history.  We made this classic Tuscan hill town our "home" for a brief time.  We stayed at 5 Pancrazi, an "in-town" location that enabled us to explore the town on foot, stroll to a pizzeria for lunch, or make a trip to the local bakery for fresh bread.    We also beautiful views from the rooftop terrace.

View from rooftop terrace at 5 Pancrazi

Cortona at Sunset

In Cortona we explored many of the churches, an ancient fort and several Piazza's, and dined at as many of the cafes and restaurants as time would allow.  By the end our our stay we learned to appreciate the Vin Santo (a locally made fortified wine) and Cantucci (a type of biscotti local to the region), after our evening meal.  The smell of breads and pastries from a local bakery that would wake us every morning was also something we grew to love!

From the nearby town of Camucia, we took the train to Florence, which presented a nice contrast to the sleepy character of Cortona.  Favorite stops in Florence included the Boboli Gardens, where one can amble through gardens sprinkled with sculptures by some of Italy's most famous artists, and the Mercato Centrale (Central Market).

Mercato Centrale in Florence

We also explored the nearby towns of Assisi,  Montepulciano and Sienna. The weather was perfect and our time was nicely balanced, with ample time to enjoy the afternoon sun whilst sitting in a Piazza with an espresso, to read a book on the rooftop terrace at 5 Pancrazi, or to explore the architecture, history and locally produced foods and wine that make Tuscany famous.  You can see more photos from our trip in our Tuscany Album.

Thanks to Pam and Nick for giving us an excuse (not that we needed one?) to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Tuscany!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Esther's Grapes

Grapes grow very well in this part of Connecticut.  The first fall at Hangman Hill we noticed wild grape vines covered with dark purple grapes growing in the trees and on the rock walls that line our property.  The smell was intoxicating and we made grape jelly by the quarts.  We just enjoyed the last jar only recently (and yes it was still good!).

It is that time of year again and just this morning we caught that scent as while walking to the garage en route to work (this is one benefit of a detached garage).   During a walk this evening we met Esther, our neighbor just up the road on Hangman Hill at the Cool Breeze Farm.  She insisted that we take some of her cultivated grapes. She had been canning grape juice for two days and was looking to share the joy!  It must be a good year, the grapes taste as good as they look.    Esther and the grapes are two of the many things we love about living on HHR.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dinners at the Farm

Last night we attended Dinners on the Farm  at White Gate Farm in East Lyme, CT.   Dinners on the Farm are a series of dinners sponsored by local chefs and host farms to raise awareness about the importance of supporting local farms in Connecticut and to benefit CitySeedConnecticut Farmland Trust and Working Lands Alliance–a dedicated group working to maintain Agricultural viability.  It was a beautiful evening, and we enjoyed cocktails and appetizers, followed by a tour of the farm and a six-course dinner.   We learned a few tips on organic gardening during the farm tour and enjoyed seeing chickens, turkeys and sheep living so happily among some impressive looking lima beans, leeks, rhubarb and so much more.  Dinner was prepared from produce grown on the farm and from the local fishing fleet in Stonington, right there on the farm.  It was truly impressive that local chefs could produce six very elegant courses for 170 people when cooking in a field in the back of a truck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beach Bums

The weather was nearly perfect again this weekend.  We enjoyed a picnic and sunset at the beach with Mark and Jen at Misquamicut.  It was a great evening, the swimming was good, we enjoyed a picnic from Sandy's Market and watched some  surfers make the most of the waves as the sun was setting.

The garden continues to keep us busy and enjoying lots of fresh food.  The okra are particularly impressive this year.  The plants are nearly 4' high and producing red and green okra.  The okra flower is beautiful and we have been enjoying just frying the okra when it matures in a little butter.

On Sunday, while having lunch in the orchard at the picnic table we inherited when we bought the house, we discovered the plum tree that we inherited when we bought the house was covered with plums!  We harvested them and have already enjoyed plum cake, plum crisp and are having stewed plums for breakfast tomorrow.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Wallace

In honor of Wallace's birthday we enjoyed some fine locally made cheeses and a grape tart made with grapes harvested from our own vines here on Hangman Hill.  Happy Birthday Wallace!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Perfect Weekend

The weather this weekend was perfect with warm temperatures during the day, cool temperatures at night and low humidity.  For this first time this summer we had a completely free weekend which gave us time to enjoy the weather, being at home together, and doing things that have been hard to do with the hot humid weather we have had last month.   We did yoga on the deck, took Kokee for a walk, spent time in the garden, planted some cool weather vegetables for the fall, and had waffles with fresh blueberries from the garden for Sunday breakfast.

Some highlights from the weekend included:

Sheri's ride on Friday afternoon with Shawn and Paul

A Mojito on the deck with fresh mint from the garden

Dinner at The Bridge in Westerly.  The Bridge just opened at the former location of Up River Cafe that closed after the March floods.  The food was great, and the service friendly and accommodating.  We HIGHLY recommend it!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

North Stonington Fair 2010

We were out of town for the North Stonington Fair this year, but we did drop off a few entries for the homegrown produce competition on our way to the Adirondacks.  Our friends Eric and Jo took these pictures to show that we won prizes in the blueberry and raspberry categories.  Next year we'll be entering something larger and more impressive (maybe an enormous pumpkin?).