Monday, December 20

No-Bake Butterscotch Noodle Cookies

Fern Glen Inn •

If the clock is ticking and you need to whip up a batch of sweets to have on hand for holiday visitors or to bring to a party, you've found the right recipe.

These cookies are a family favourite. More than that, they are family Christmas tradition. My mom has made these every year for the holiday season for as long as I can remember. They may not be as pretty or as festive-looking as many shaped, decorated and colourful cookies you'll find on many dessert trays and tins, but they are soooo good. Be warned: It's impossible to eat just one!

Quick and easy to make, these cookies require no chilling, rolling, cutting or baking. Just mix the dry ingredients, cook the wet ingredients in a pot, then mix together and drop by the spoonful onto waxed paper. They take a bit of time to set, but not long. They keep well so you can make them weeks ahead if you're one of those well-organized people; and they're quite sturdy, making them easy to transport.

Another nice thing about these cookies is they are great to make with kids (or grown-up kids). When I was home to visit my family recently, I pitched in with my mom, my nephew and his friend and we all helped make a big double batch of these. Mom sent a package of them home for Jim and I, but they didn't last long around here!

I asked Mom if she would mind sharing her recipe with the world, and she was happy to oblige. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

: :   : :   : :   : :

Butterscotch Noodle Cookies 
The crispy noodles, sweet butterscotch and crunchy nuts are an addictive mix. For a chocolate noodle cookie variation, replace the butterscotch chips with chocolate chips. Recipe can be doubled.

3 to 4 cups chow mien noodles, broken so the pieces are about 1” long
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped nuts (best are pecans)
2/3 cup solid honey (not the liquid kind)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 300 gram package butterscotch chips
50 – 75 grams pure chocolate chips

Place the noodles and nuts in a large bowl.
Place the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, butterscotch and chocolate chips until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour over the noodles and nuts.  Stir with a large wooden spoon to coat the dry ingredients.  Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and leave to harden up.  Place in an airtight container.  Enjoy.

: :   : :   : :   : :

Thanks Mom!!!

Wednesday, December 15

Secret to Winter Happiness

I have discovered the secret to a happy winter, and it can be summed up in just two words: fleece longjohns. (Or should that be three words?)

Actually, any kind of thermal underwear will do, but I find fleece is particularly high on the happiness scale. There's something about the feel of the soft, fuzzy fabric against bare skin that signals pure contentment. Perhaps it echoes the secure, snuggly nature of childhood pyjamas. In any case, fleece longjohns (or FLJ's, as I like to call them) are my new favourite winter gear.

If fleece isn't your thing, there are all sorts of light- and mid-weight base layers available in a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics. Choose something with warmth in mind but also in a fabric that will breathe and will wick moisture away from your skin. This means NO COTTON! Cotton kills, as the saying goes, because it absorbs moisture, holding it against your skin and leaving you clammy and chilled.

An extra layer of warmth means you can make the most of winter. People know to dress in layers for activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, and tobogganning; but for winter happiness all season long, don't just don your FLJ's (or other thermal underwear) when you're going out to play. They'll also keep you warm and comfortable as you go about your regular day... waiting for public transit, traversing a mall parking lot, walking the dog.

The lighter-weight technical fabrics aren't bulky or too hot, so you can wear them under your regular clothes and forget they're there. FLJ's can be worn under a skirt for the trek to work and are easily slipped off once you're at the office. Just because you'll only be outside briefly, en route to wherever you're going, doesn't mean you have to suffer the cold.

As I like to say (again and again): There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. If you add appropriate apparel when the temperature drops—as it has in many parts of the country lately—you can not only endure the season, you can actually enjoy it!

+  +  +  +  +  +

You can find thermal underwear at many department and chain stores, such as Canadian Tire and Mark's Work Wearhouse; and at specialty outdoor stores such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and from our friends in Huntsville at Algonquin Outfitters.

Find out how to keep your feet warm by choosing the right winter boots. Learn about how to dress for dog sledding and other winter activities, too.

Monday, December 6

Holiday Dog Sledding Schedule

 Fern Glen Inn •

Winter weather is off to a good start! Lots of snow and below-zero temperatures mean our local dog sledding ranch will soon be gearing up for guided dog sledding excursions near Huntsville, Muskoka. It's a popular adventure for our guests, and why not? There's nothing like mushing through the woods, driving your own sled and team of eager dogs.

Dog sledding is available throughout the winter season, usually starting in the last half of December and going through until the end of March or whenever the snow melts.

The Christmas - New Year's holiday is a particularly busy time for dog sledding, so advance bookings are strongly recommended. During the holidays, choose from guided 1-hour or 3-hour dog sledding excursions. For more information about what to expect, you can read my post on dog sledding in Muskoka here.

Add dog sledding to any stay at Fern Glen Inn this winter.

2010 Holiday Dog Sledding Schedule and Rates

Start Date:
To be determined. Often the season begins a few days before Christmas. It depends on amount of snow base and trail conditions. I'll post an announcement on our facebook page once the trails are open. You can Like us on facebook here to watch for updates.

Christmas Day:
No dog sledding tours on December 25th. However, the inn is open and rooms are available if you want to book your dog sledding for the 26th. 

Dec 26 thru Jan 2, daily:
11:00 am -- 1-hour guided dog sledding, $80/person
1:00 pm --  3-hour* guided dog sledding, $150/person

Jan 3 thru March (or whenever the snow melts), daily:
3-hour* guided dog sledding excursions are typically available at 9am and 1pm; however options may be available for 1-hour, 2-hour and 6-hour* excursions. Call or email to enquire.

*3-hour (half day) guided dog sledding includes break with hot chocolate and granola bars. 6-hour (full day) guided dog sledding includes trail lunch.

Taxes are extra. Rates are for dog sledding only and do not include accommodations. Dog sledding can be added to any stay at Fern Glen Inn.