Thursday, June 28, 2012

Labbit Travels: Quabbin Reservoir, MA

Over a year ago, Pipkin took a trip to Ware, MA to check out the Quabbin Reservoir, one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the US. Unfortunately the stone Quabbin Tower was closed that day, and when you're a 5" labbit, you really can't see too much unless you get up high.

Disappointed, Pipkin left the reservoir, vowing to return again someday. Well, this weekend he hopped onto the back of my Ducati Monster and went for a ride. It was a gorgeous day, and luckily, the Quabbin Observation Tower was open! Pipkin hopped up there (it gets really, really hot up there) and quickly climbed up on this viewer to take a good look around. (Pipkin likes viewers.)

The Quabbin Reservoir is fed by branches of the Swift River and the Ware River. When it's full, it holds 412 billion gallons of fresh drinking water. That's enough water to quench the thirst of over 2 million people in Massachusetts!

Pipkin will have to return again someday because he failed to take a picture of the stone tower itself. But here's a fun link to an interactive picture inside the Quabbin Tower. You can pretend you're there and get a 360 degree view from the tower. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pre-Race Intel at Surry Mountain Lake

Masher McBuns bunny hopped his bike over the VT-NH border to check out the bike course for his upcoming triathlon at Surry Mountain Lake. The lake looks inviting, but he'll have to convince some of the other labbits to swim with him, since it's not safe to swim alone.

The ride looks promising, even if the road is waaaay bumpy. There's some damage from a recent flood in southern NH, so he's curious if the route will change any. So far, he's pretty excited! Three more weeks of training to go!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Labbits Like: Iced Coffee on Iced Coffee

When you're a beautiful plush and moustachioed labbitus bos taurus like Patrick O'Ryan, your fur can make you really hot, especially when the weather looks something like this before noon:

...which, by the way, is just not typical for Vermont. Feels like 102 °F? Yow.

Napping in a dark warren helps, but why not bring a chill bevvie with you? Inspired by his own beautiful coat pattern, Patrick brings you homemade iced coffee...on coffee ice cubes. Coffee ice cubes? Oh yes! No more watered down iced coffee! Keep that flavor strong! (Unless you like watered down iced coffee. Weirdo.)

For Coffee Ice Cubes you will need to brew a cup of coffee to desired strength. Get yourself a clean ice cube tray. Patrick likes to use his French Press to make coffee. It makes a kind of farty sound, and yeah, he's that immature.

After the coffee has brewed, it's time to press and get those coffee grinds out of our coffee.


Patrick: Wasn't me! I swear!

Let the coffee cool slightly before pouring it into your ice cube tray. Allow the coffee to further cool to room temperature before putting the tray into the freezer. Letting it cool helps your freezer work more efficiently.

Tuck that bad boy into the freezer. (Hey - why is there a frozen banana in here? And how long have those dinner rolls been in here?)

Now be very patient. It might be a good time for a nap.

Oh yes! Yes, yes, yesyesyes! They're ready, so go brew yourself another cup of coffee, and let it cool to room temperature.

For maximum prettiness, fill a Ball jar with both regular and coffee ice cubes. How pretty is all that frosty brown and white?

So pretty.
So, so pretty.
Let's get to pouring, shall we?

Pour yourself some coffee until it almost reaches the top.

Pour in your cream/half&half/milk/soy/creamer(shudder)/whathaveyou. Patrick is allergic to soy and likes the nutty flavor of almond milk. Plus, he's watching his labbity figure.

Add in a little sugar or sweetener at this point. Admire the swirliness before you give it one final, good stir.

Enjoy, and stay cool!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dress Up Your Carrots! Cucumber Feta Dip

The warm weather in Vermont means lots of bonfire parties, BBQs and camping. Clover tends to bring veggies and chips and dip, which are real crowd pleasers. This cucumber and feta dip is creamy, cool and tangy, thanks to the combination of Greek yogurt, cucumber, mint, and a generous sprinkle of lemon juice. It's easy and fun to make, and tastes great dressed up on your veggies, or slathered over a cracker. Print the recipe here.

Tangy Cucumber Feta Dip

4 medium cucumbers
2 tsp coarse sea salt
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground pepper

Wash, then peel the cucumbers with a veggie peeler.

Slice cucumbers in half.

Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Clover likes this part. Shred up the cukes with the grating plate on your food processor, or do it the old fashioned way with a grater.

You should have cucumbers that now look like this.

Place the shredded cucumber in a colander set in a bowl or the sink. Grind up 2 teaspoons of salt and stir into the cucumbers. Let cucumber sit and drain for 15 minutes. 

Rinse the cucumbers, shake off liquid, then place in a clean towel or in a mesh bag (these reusable mesh produce bags work well) and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.

Next, give a couple lemons a squeeze! Make sure to separate the seeds from the lemon juice. No one likes seeds in their dip.

In a large bowl, stir together the cucumber, feta, mint, yogurt, heavy cream and lemon juice.

You'll notice the cucumbers have been squeezed into a green pulpy mass. Be sure to separate it with a fork while mixing the dip so you get an even distribution of cucumber.

Season the dip with salt and pepper, then transfer to a pretty bowl and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Yields: 3 1/2 cups of dip.
Recipe: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Popolo Means People

Popolo means people.
The labbits are veeeeery happy that a new restaurant has opened up in Bellows Falls. There are places to eat in BF for lunch, there's an ice cream shop, a farmer's market, an Irish pub, a bar and the American Legion, and a couple pizza places. Rumor has it there's a couple Chinese food places but...the labbits haven't heard good reviews so they haven't been. They've been really hoping for a nice place to have dinner and Sunday brunch and FINALLY! A nice restaurant has opened up in the newly renovated downtown Windham Hotel. It's called Popolo, which is Italian for "people".  Only fitting that Pipkin would don a disguise to ensure that he could get in.

Classy looking joint. Should he have worn a tie?
Well, he made it through the front door with his disguise, and he's glad he's got a reservation. The place opened up a few days ago and has been packed every night. Pipkin got his own small table by the bar, but one of the main features of Popolo is the large communal table in the center of the restaurant. Popolo encourages people from all walks of life to break bread with new people and share their stories while eating good food.

Bread baskets should always have more than one kind of bread. MMMMmmmm!
While Pipkin pored over the Italian inspired menu, he munched on the three types of fresh baked bread in the bread basket. The menu had a lot of delicious options (for those who eat like labbits and those who eat labbits) with locally sourced produce and meat, and choices to fit every budget.

Pipkin's a master of disguise. No one has noticed he's a labbit! Muahahahha!
He started with the bruschetta, a toasted Italian bread topped with tomato, white beans, pecorino and olive oil.

Farro risotto.

For his main course Pipkin went with a spinach risotto. Instead of arborio rice, this risotto is made with farro, a wild grain cousin of wheat. It cooks up like puffed rice but has a nuttier flavor and has a texture with a bit more "crunch" than you're used to with an al dente risotto. It's a high fiber and high protein grain that is super tasty, especially when you crack open the poached egg for creaminess. Yum!

So many nommy things, how to choose?
You have to wonder how Pipkin eats so much and stays in good labbit shape (fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be, but not too fat and bunchy). He finished the bread basket, the bruschetta and the risotto and he's looking at dessert! His warren mate Masher McBuns might have to take him out on a few bike rides to burn off this meal.

Strawberry rhubarb tart with fresh cream. Seasonal desserts are deeeeelish!
Pipkin went with not one, but two desserts! He also figured since he made it this far through dinner and finally got to the desserts, he'd ditch the disguise and just see if they'd kick him out for not being  "people". Pretty daring, Pip. What if they kicked you out before you ate dessert?

But no one kicked him out, so I guess Popolo means people, and the people welcome labbits! Pipkin went crazy over his desserts, first a strawberry rhubarb tart with fresh cream, and the highlight, these little bombolini, fried Italian pastry balls filled with Bavarian cream, served with strawberries and blackberries. MMMMmmmmm, mmmmmm soooo delicious!

Pipkin encourages you to take a look at the menus online. You will see lots of food and drink options in all price ranges. Since Popolo is farm-to-table cooking, you can expect the menu to change as we go through the seasons. There is an outdoor patio that has just opened up that overlooks the canal, and a room off the dining will soon host music events, movies, and a lounge area with a second bar!

Popolo's grand opening is June 30th, 2012. Should you find yourself in the labbits' little corner of Vermont, do visit, seat yourself at the big communal table or the picnic tables outside, and enjoy a meal at Popolo!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Buns n' Bikes: Bike Washing Day

Fresh off a BRICK workout (that's where you ride, then hop off the bike and go for a run) Masher McBuns figured he'd give Tessa (the bike) a wash. It's always a good idea to wash your bike, degrease the moving parts and lube your chain to keep the bike in smooth riding condition. Plus, when you have a shiny white bike it goes with your shiny white tail.

How do you like Masher's pace booty?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Labbit Travels: 17 Mile Drive

Pipkin: Domo?
Domo: Yes, Pip.
Pipkin: That's not the "Lone Cypress" is it?
Domo: Yes. Yes, I believe it is.
Pipkin: That one out there, at the end?
Domo: Yes.
Pipkin: The one that's just past that other cypress tree?
Domo: Yes, Pip.
Pipkin: That one that's at the end of this grove of cypress trees?
Domo: ...
Pipkin: I'm done here.

The not so lonely "Lone Cypress"

Correct Pipkin if he's wrong, but is the "Lone Cypress" (which he and Domo paid $9 to get into this gated community to see) really so lonely? Pipkin's quite rankled about being manipulated into believing this was some rare beauty. If you google "The Lone Cypress" you get an assortment of images that make this tree look like some brave warrior, standing strong for centuries against the harsh salt air.  But then you arrive, amongst the many tour buses and snap happy tourists (this is one of the most photographed trees) and you realize, this tree isn't so lonely after all.

In fact, 17 Mile Drive, which is touted as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, isn't all that thrilling, unless your main interest is golf courses and wealthy people's homes. Pipkin and Domo thought the drive would wind along the coast with breathtaking views of the ocean, but instead it was a nice drive in the woods, with views blocked by people's houses. There are some coastal views, but it's nothing much more special than driving along California One where you don't have to pay for such a privilege. But enough grumbling, 17 Mile Drive is a pretty drive. Although the Lone Cypress was a bit of a lie, seeing its gnarled branches steadfast against the wind does make you think about the people who have visited decades and decades ago, admiring its beauty. So.

There are other pretty views, once the drive leaves the woods. From here you can hear the cries of seagulls and sea lions. A closer look out to the ocean, and you can see where they like to gather.

Closer to land, Pipkin tried to make friends with the locals, but they were rather suspicious he would steal the peanuts the tourists were feeding them.

Suspicious squirrel is suspicious.

Hey, that's not a rock back there!
Surprisingly this sandy beach was empty of people, so Pip and Domo decided to take a picture, not realizing they were getting a whale?!?

This little gray whale got a little too close to shore at the end of April, and lost his family. He thinks he may have been hit on the head by one of these white little balls and gotten knocked out. 

Have you seen my ma?
Since coming to, he's been wandering around Monterey Bay, but it seems the gray whales have left and humpbacks, dolphins, killer whales and blue whales aren't too keen on adopting him.

Well, of course Pipkin and Domo are going to bring this little guy back to Vermont. There are two other little whales, so he won't be alone, and he got pretty excited about the idea! Domo had the little whale take one last look at the ocean before they headed back to San Francisco to fly to Vermont.

Coming to 17 Mile Drive turned out to be a great trip, because now they've added to their little family!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bun Break - Homestead Farm Stand, Walpole NH

Masher McBuns gives his buns a break from biking at Homestead Farm Stand in Walpole, NH. There are donuts at the farmstand, along with Boggy Meadow Farms cheese and a variety of veggies, plants and hanging baskets. Masher's trying to get down to race weight though, so he'll pass on the donuts and cheese today.