Our garden at the inns is hugely important to all of us – it’s like another member of the family. So this time of year, when we shut it down for the winter, is crucial – we have to make sure to take the right steps to protect it during the winter chill, without forgetting that it’s already time to prep it for spring!
I sat down with Wenda, our resident gardening guru, to find out exactly what it means to put the garden “to bed.”
“Basically, we clean up all the leaves, pull weeds, trim back everything so they won’t need cleaning up in the spring….anything that I have to divide or move, this is a good time to do it.”
Wenda also digs up all of the more tender plants and pots them for storage in the greenhouse. Finally, mulching is a huge part of the job, and one that she finds particularly satisfying.
“It looks clean and neat when you’re done with it; it’s like new carpet when you put mulch down!”
Once the garden is cleaned up, though, Wenda’s work still isn’t done – she still has a few hundred bulbs, fall blooms like tulips and daffodils that won’t bloom until spring, that must be planted now. A gardener’s work is never done in a beautiful place like San Juan Island!
Chef Molly is another member of the family to whom the garden is supremely important. We love having a farm-to-table approach as much as possible, and she can often be seen whipping up amazing sauces, jams, veggie dishes, and other culinary delights from ingredients she’s taken straight from the garden.
Hello from your newest blogger here at the inns! My name is Libby and I just relocated permanently to San Juan Island after spending three summers falling head over heels in love with it. I am very fortunate to have joined the fantastic team here at Harrison House and am so excited about sharing news about what’s going on with you!
Part of life on an island, as I am learning, is being able to “go with the flow!” A fitting term with this week’s exciting happening at the inn, as our hot water heater has decided to rebel against us – specifically the one located on the second floor of Tucker House. The inner core of the heater cracked, so none of us noticed what was happening until it was too late – the moisture building up was too much for the second floor and caved in. Three-fourths of it will have to be replaced, and water made its way all the way down to the basement, where it has formed several lovely pools!
Despite the mess, we always consider it a good thing when life hands us an opportunity to upgrade our facilities! Over the years we have steadily been replacing every water heater at the inns, so this is just another chance to do so. These historical buildings do require regular upkeep, which we are happy to do — the charm and beauty that our rooms and suites offer can’t be beat!
“People can plan life and then life happens, and it is not always what you expect. I’m grateful that it’s not August with a full house; we were able to relocate people….there are really so many pluses in this. And hey, the insurance will cover it!” pointed out Beth, our perpetually smiling guest services coordinator. Like most of us, Beth wears many hats and this week, one of them is supervising cleanup!
So, please pardon our mess as we work around the clock to get everything cleaned up and back to running in tip-top shape! We are grateful for our current guests and their flexibility – I went into the living room at Tucker House to investigate, and despite the presence of humming machinery and a large tarp over most of the floor, I spotted a couple of folks enjoying their morning coffee and paper in the warmth of our beautiful sun room. This time of year in the islands, it’s starting to get gray and chilly outside – a perfect time for you and yours to do the same!
2½ cup All-purpose flour
1½ tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Finely ground sea salt
2½ cup Oats
3 cup Packed brown sugar
1½ cup European unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 cup Pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
2 cup Dry sour cherries, roughly chopped
½ lb Chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and oats in a medium mixing bowl.
- Cream brown sugar and butter with the paddle attachment of a standing mixer until smooth and pale in color. Add eggs and vanilla extract; mix until combined, scraping the bowl as needed to ensure the batter is evenly combined.
- Add the flour mixture in increments, mixing and scraping between. Stop when almost incorporated.
- Add the pecans, cherries, and chocolate chunks and mix until combined.
- Refrigerate dough until firm enough to handle, about 1 hour. Portion into desired size, and bake 9-12 minutes until edges are set. Err on the side of underdone as the cookies will continue to bake on the cookie sheet after being removed from oven.
Super Seed Variation: Substitute an equal volume of assorted seeds, fruits, and nuts for the pecans, cherries, and chocolate. We use chopped apricots, Craisins™, golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and dark chocolate. (Or whatever we have in the pantry!)
Gluten Free Variation: Substitute your favorite GF flour blend and add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.
Suggested Do-It-Yourself GF Blend: 2 parts sweet rice flour, 1 part brown rice flour, 1 part quinoa flour, 2 parts sorghum flour, and 1 part oat flour. Make a large batch to keep in your pantry. We do not recommend including the xanthan gum as part of the GF mix, as different doughs require different amounts.
For our companion Fall cookie recipe see our blog post Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.
½ lb Dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup European unsalted butter, chopped
2 cup Brown sugar
½ cup Heavy cream
2 tsp Peppermint extract
3½ cup All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Finely ground sea salt
1½ cup White chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°. Place chopped chocolate and butter in a metal bowl over a pot of just simmering water. Make sure the bowl is not in contact with the water. Stir periodically until the chocolate and butter are melted.
- Cream brown sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment of a standing mixer until smooth and pale in color. Add cream and peppermint extract; mix well, scraping the bowl as needed to ensure the batter is evenly combined.
- Add the chocolate butter mixture; mix until just combined, scrape the bowl.
- Add the flour in increments, mixing and scraping between. Stop when fully incorporated.
- Add white chocolate chips and mix until combined.
- Refrigerate dough until firm enough to handle, about 1 hour. Portion into desired size, and bake at 350 degrees 9-12 minutes until edges are set. Err on the side of underdone as the cookies will continue to bake on the cookie sheet after being removed from oven.
Triple Chocolate Variation: Substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract for the peppermint extract, and use a combination of white and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Gluten Free Variation: Substitute your favorite GF flour blend and add 1 tsp xanthan gum.
Suggested Do-It-Yourself Gluten-Free Blend: 2 parts sweet rice flour, 1 part brown rice flour, 1 part quinoa flour, 2 parts sorghum flour, and 1 part oat flour. Make a large batch to keep in your pantry. We do not recommend including the xanthan gum as part of the GF mix, as different doughs require different amounts.
For our other cookie recipe this month, see our blog post Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Cherries.
Back in our Gift Shop, just in time for the holidays: Christmas ornament shaped soaps. These cruelty-free large soaps are hand-crafted by our private soap maker, in seasonal scents of Winter Thyme and Winter Tide. These make nice gifts when you want “just a little something” for someone: co-worker, postal carrier, salon stylist, neighbor, favorite ferry ticket taker – you know who they are.
We have a limited supply on hand, ready to ship. Each soap weighs 4 ounces and sells for $4.95 plus tax.
To order, contact Beth, our Guest Services Coordinator, 360.378-2783 or Beth@TuckerHouse.com.