Tuesday, July 21, 2015

6 Must-See Places to Visit in New England

New England is one of the most highly visited regions of the United States attracting thousands of vacationers each year, and for good reason. Spanning six states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island), the Northeast has something to offer everyone from white sand beaches to remote mountain ranges, and crystal clear lakes to cities rich with history and culture.

With so many bucket list-worthy destinations, planning a New England getaway can easily become overwhelming. The following six attractions are our top must see places in New England that will show you the very best each state has to offer.

(photo: istock)

Acadia National Park, Maine –
Designated a national park in 1919, Acadia National Park spans 47,000 acres along Maine’s pristine coastline. Located in Bar Harbor, Maine, Acadia NP boasts breathtaking ocean views, deep, unspoiled woodlands, impressive mountain peaks and glass-like lakes. You can explore the carriage-road system that runs through the park, hike, camp, swim and boat. Bar Harbor is also the home of numerous eateries, shops and lodging options. The most popular times to visit the park are during the summer and fall months.

(photo: istock)

White Mountains, New Hampshire –
The White Mountain region spans about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine. Part of the Northern Appalachian Mountains, they are the most rugged mountains in New England and includes Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. (6,288 feet elevation). Visitors from around the country and the world visit the White Mountains each year to hike, camp and experience the breathtaking Fall foliage. Some of the most popular attractions include the Mount Washington Auto Road and the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway.

(photo: istock)

Nantucket, Massachusetts -
For postcard-worthy vistas, white sand beaches and seafood straight from the ocean, Nantucket is the place to be. Nantucket, whose name means “faraway land or island,” is a historical New England seaport town sprinkled with late 18th- and early 19th-century architecture and lighthouses. Summer is by the far the most popular time to visit, with its population ballooning to 50,000 from its about 10,000 year-round residents. Spend lazy days soaking up the sun on a white sand beach, sailing and fishing, and finish up the day with some fresh seafood and the state’s world-famous Samuel Adams beer.

(photo: istock)

Yale University, Connecticut -
Stroll through picturesque Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Architecture lovers, history buffs and art enthusiast will be enchanted while touring the esteemed campus and nearby art galleries. The Yale University Art Gallery, established in 1832, is the oldest college art museum in the United States. Visit the gallery and you’ll get to experience pieces ranging from ancient times to modern day, including paintings by Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh.

(photo: waterfire.org)

WaterFire Providence, Rhode Island –
WaterFire Providence is an annual public art event that takes place along the rivers of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Barnaby Evans first created the award-winning sculpture in 1994 and it has since evolved to become a well-known national and international community art event. WaterFire transforms the city of Providence by one hundred fires that burn along the surface of the rivers that flow through Waterplace Park and downtown Providence attracting as many as 40,000 visitors a night!

(photo: istock)

VINS Nature Center and Quechee Gorge, Vermont –
The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) Nature Center is located in Quechee, Vermont is excellent for families and bird watching enthusiasts. Offering a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits, you can come face-to-face with a variety of fascinating birds of prey including eagles, owls, falcons and raptors. When you’re ready to stretch your legs, walk the trail to the Quechee Gorge, a spectacular spot along the Ottauquechee River offering some of Vermont’s most breathtaking views.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How to Store Fresh Herbs for Maximum Flavor & Shelf Life

You’ve tended your herb garden over the past few months - watering, weeding and pruning and now you’re ready to reap the rewards and harvest your bounty. But you may be wondering “what’s the best way to store them?”

We’ve compiled a handy guide on how to store a variety of fresh herbs for maximum flavor and shelf life. There are three main methods used: freezing, drying and keeping fresh. Learn which method is best for your favorite herbs.

Best Herbs to Dry

  • bay, oregano, rosemary and thyme

Herbs that have low moisture content are going to be best. Drying fresh herbs will keep them up to a year.

How to Dry Fresh Herbs

Begin by removing any dry or dead leaves. Rinse with cool water and quickly but gently pat dry with paper towels. Trim off the lower leaves along the bottom inch of the branch. Bundle anywhere from 4-6 branches together and tie with string. Next, cut several holes in a paper bag. Place the bundle upside down in the bag. Gather the ends of the bag and tie it closed. Hang upside down in a warm, dry room. It should take about two weeks for your herbs to fully dry.

Once they are dry storing them is a cinch! Label small canning jars and place the herbs inside. Storing them in airtight containers will help retain flavor. Keep leaves whole and crush them when you’re ready to use.

Remember that dried herbs are going to more potent than their fresh counterparts, so you can use less when substituting for fresh herbs in recipes.

Best Herbs to Freeze

  • chives, mint and tarragon

Preserving herbs that have high moisture content are going to be a little trickier because they’re more susceptible to molding. Freezing these herbs will help them keep their flavor and will bypass the mold problem.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs

First, make sure to pick only the freshest, healthiest plants. Rinse leaves with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Next, spread the leaves on a cookie sheet so they are not touching or over-lapping. Cover with plastic wrap and into the freezer overnight. Once frozen, place the leaves into a labeled freezer bag. Frozen herbs will stay fresh for several months.

Best Herbs to Keep Fresh

  • basil, parsley and cilantro

For herbs that are traditionally incorporated into dishes in their fresh state, simply clean and store in the fridge or on the counter until you are ready to use.

How to Store Fresh Herbs in the Fridge or on the Counter

Start by rinsing them with cool water, shake gently to remove moisture and pat dry with paper towels. Grab a medium-sized jar and fill it with a few inches of water. Place the stem end of the herbs into the water and loosely cover the jar with plastic wrap. If you’re storing cilantro, keep it in the fridge. Parsley and basil should be left on your countertop since room temperature is ideal for them. Fresh herbs will last up to two weeks when stored properly.

Do you have any tips or tricks that work well for you? Share with us in the comments below. Happy noshing!