Saturday, April 27, 2013

Unexpected B & B Discover in Harrisonberg, VA

Mark and I took a week off to go visit Mark's mom in Danville, VA recently. We had planned to do the 10 hour drive in one shot, because we had done it that way before. However, after being about 9 hours on the road (including a marvelous lunch break at Emeril's Italian Table at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA - an expected discovery, too) we pulled into Harrisonberg, VA to look for somewhere to eat dinner.

Using the handy feature of our GPS to find restaurants nearby, we decided to eat at the Joshua Wilton Inn & Restaurant.


Wow, what a find it was! A beautiful Victorian inn, but what was even better was the restaurant. For starters, I had the AUTUMN OLIVE FARMS PORK BELLY - with a.m fog mushrooms, grilled bread, poached egg and a truffle-chive buttermilk dressing. Mark had GRILLED QUAIL - turner ham-cornbread stuffing, fire roasted corn salsa and ancho chili vinaigrette. For the main course, we both had GRILLED DUCK BREAST - creamy polenta, pan roasted green beans and a maple balsamic glaze.

After a meal like that, enjoyed on their outdoor patio, we just weren't ready to face another 3 hours of driving. So we asked about rooms at the inn and were lucky to find that they had a couple available.

Harrisonburg is in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia and is home to James Madison University. The town's nickname is "The Friendly City" and they weren't kidding with that. When we took a walk though town after breakfast the next morning, everyone we passed greeted us with a big and friendly hello.

The Virginia Quilt Museum is right in downtown, just a short walk from the inn. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to wait until it opened that morning, but it would be worth taking a look another time.


I love mosaics and this one is in the downtown area.



The unexpected discoveries on a road trip are what make road trips so appealing to me. We always stay at B&Bs for the unique and special experience that each one has to offer, which is something we've done since way before we became innkeepers ourselves. It is definitely the "Better Way to Stay"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

This year we decided to try using natural dyes for coloring some Easter Eggs. We always have on hand various fruits, vegetables, and spices that can be used to create dyes, so it was easy to get started.

We started by hard boiling a bunch of eggs.


Next up was preparing the ingredients, in this case, we selected blueberries and beets. You need about 2 cups of each. The blueberries were mashed up a bit and the beets were roughly chopped.


Then in separate saucepans, you boil the blueberries and beets in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. When done, strain the colored water into bowls. The remains of the blueberries and beets can be thrown away or eaten!


Add 1 tsp of white vinegar to each bowl of dye, stir and then allow to cool to room temperature.

Now you are ready to dye the eggs! We poured the dye into two glasses so that we'd have a nice deep well to cover the eggs.


What was surprising with the results was that the blueberry dye was much more intense and fast acting than the beet dye. This was unexpected because the beets colored the water the instant they were put in, even before they were boiled. The blueberries didn't color the water until they were boiled. To get any serious color with the beet dye, we had to leave the egg in the dye at least 5 to 10 minutes, but with the blueberry, it took a minute or less.


This was a fun thing to do in between customers coming to our Life By Chocolate shop to buy up all of the chocolate rabbits and bunnies!

Next year we'll try some new colors.