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The End of Another Season

October 26th, 2012 by Pat Fischbeck

Dane County Farmer's Market supplies The Speckled Hen Inn

Dane County Farmer’s Market

There are only three more Saturday Farmer’s Markets before the market moves indoors for the cooler months.  Now is a great time to stock up on all the great winter squash and pantry staples to see us through the winter months.  My fall shopping list always includes honey and baby rice popcorn even though I know I can buy those in the later months.  This just seems like the right time to stock up and fill the shelves.  It is also the time of year when I feel the need to put together a hearty soup and let it simmer in the slow cooker while I tend to clearing off gardens and composting leaves.  But the project du jour is going to be a potato and leek tortilla.  Leeks should be harvested well after a frost to allow their natural sugars to develop.  The best way to test this is to make something delicious.  So, I guess our guests now know what will appear at the breakfast table at The Speckled Hen Inn tomorrow morning.

 

A Foodie Visits Madison

February 21st, 2012 by Pat Fischbeck

A foodie visits Madison, WI and wants to know our Top Ten Foodie places.  Fine Cheese in Madison WI  It’s hard to pare the list down to just 10 places and I’ll not even attempt to include places where you could eat.  Here are my picks for the top 10 places for foodies to shop for things to eat, drink, and bless their home kitchens.

  1. Dane County Farmer’s Market.  Yes, it is a year-round love affair with all that is fresh and local.  The market is held every Saturday morning.  In the summer months a Wednesday market is added.  In fact, in the summer months there is a farmers market somewhere near Madison every single day of the week.
  2. Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier.  Madison’s finest dark chocolate truffles can be found here.  We love to feature them in the Romance Packages available at The Speckled Hen Inn.
  3. Fromagination. A cheese shop where you can taste before you buy.  Lot’s of local cheeses and a cheese merchant who really knows the stuff.  It’s right on the Capitol Square too.Spirits From Yahara Bay Distillers in Madison WI
  4. Penzeys.  Two shops in the Madison area will overload your senses with spices and herbs and inspiration.  Their Hot Chocolate mix is a favorite at the Inn.  If you leave the store with just one item, let it be the double strength vanilla.
  5. Ale Asylum.  Proof that beer is crazy good food.  The distribution of their beers is getting to be pretty good and you will find it in several local restaurants and markets.  But, it is a lot more fun to go to the source and maybe even meet the guys who make it.
  6. Orange Tree Imports.  Cookware and all manner of gadgets for the foodie’s kitchen.  There are also plenty of beautiful serving pieces.  It is great place to shop for a wedding gift for foodies too.
  7. RP’s Pasta.  Beautiful, delicious handmade pasta to pair with your cheese and veggies.  They make great gluten-free pasta too.
  8. La Brioche.  Fine Bakery items that you will never be able to create at home.  The morning buns have long been a Madison favorite and they produce wedding cakes that taste every bit as good as they look.
  9. Yahara Bay Distillers.  Go and be amazed.  They make some of the finest Lemoncello I’ve ever tasted.  It is almost worth taking Friday off from work so that you can be in Madison on Thursday night for their tastings.
  10. The Kitchen Gallery.  The love of their buyer for fine kitchenware is so obvious.  I can go in their shop and find things that I would swear they ordered just for me.

Beer Bread Recipe for Packer fans

February 3rd, 2011 by Pat Fischbeck

Up here in Frozen Tundra land most Packer Fans will be serving chili on Super Bowl Sunday.  Do you need a special, perfect something to go with the chili?  How about grilled cheddar sandwiches made with Wisconsin Beer Bread?  Here’s the Bread recipe:

Wisconsin Beer Bread

3 cups of self-rising flour

3 Tablespoons of sugar

12 ounces of your favorite Wisconsin Beer  (We will be using Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewery)

3 Tablespoons of melted butter.

Mix the flour, sugar and beer.  Scrape into a well greased loaf pan.  Pour the melted butter over the top and bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool the loaf and slice into hearty slices.  Make sandwiches with your favorite Wisconsin Cheddar cheese.  Brush the outer sides of the sandwich with more melted butter and grill until golden brown.  Cut into triangles (Think cheeseheads!) and enjoy with your chili.

The innkeepers at The Speckled Hen Inn will be serving the sandwiches with their Super Bowl Sunday Breakfast.  Go Pack!

January in Madison — events to enjoy

January 5th, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck

Yes, it is cold and there is lots of snow piled around but there is a lot to do this month.  Here’s a quick summary of weekend events in the month of January:

January 8-10 is Madison Home Expo 2010 time.  Do you need a little inspiration for an upcoming facelift for your home?  You will find it here.

January 9 or 16  Michael Feldman is in town for his WPR radio show, Whad’Ya Know.  If you have never been part of a live audience for a radio program, you have to go.  It’s a hoot! 

January 15 and 16, 22 and 23 get out the saddle shoes and head on down to Fort Atkinson to the Fireside Dinner Theatre for Those Fabulous 50’s and 60’s .  It is just a pretty drive through the rolling countyside.  You will still be smiling and humming the tunes when you return.

January 30  WOW a busy day.  You will have to make some choices.  The Broadway tour of Rent will be onstage at the Overture CenterWollersheim Winery will be celebrating the  release of their 2008 Port with live jazz, light food, and port and wine tastings.  Check out the eagles on the Wisconsin River while you are in the area.  If Port is not your thing you might enjoy the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Feast at the Alliant Energy Center.  Taste Wisconsin’s finest and choose your favorite pairing.  Then get all dressed up and head to the heart of the city for Madison’s Frostiball.  Dance the night away in the magnificent capitol rotunda.

See, there is plenty for guests at the Speckled Hen Inn to do in January.  Or for those who don’t want to “do”, there is always watching the wild turkeys and the squirrels and birds at the feeders, trying out the snowshoes, watching the fire in the woodburner, or catching a game or a movie on the bigscreen.

WBBA Cookbook is Here

December 11th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

The new Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association cookbooks, with The Speckled Hen Inn on the front cover are here and ready to wrap up for Christmas.  We have a good supply at the Inn and will hold one for you to pick up at the Inn or we can also ship them to you.

The cookbook is more than just the recipes that have been contributed by over 150 different Wisconsin B&B’s.  It could even be used as a travel guide because there is information about each B&B that submitted a recipe and there are lots of fun facts about the food scene in Wisconsin.

The contents are not just focused on Breakfast, although there is a wonderful array of breakfast dishes.  There are appetizers, soups, luncheon and dinner entrees and marvelous deserts.

 

It is a fun read and a great gift for the foodies or cookbook collectors on your Christmas list.

Start Your Saturday in Madison Right

June 10th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

When my guests at The Speckled Hen Inn ask me what there is to do on Saturday morning in Madison, my automatic response is, “Go to the Farmers Market!”  The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country.  All the items are produced locally by the vendor behind the table.  The market is back on the Capitol Square for the summer months and thousands of locals as well as and tourists and market lovers from far and near flock to the brightly colored vendor stands to fill their shopping baskets with the freshest fruits and veggies imaginable.  You will also find meats, baked goods, specialty food items like honey and pesto, and, of course, lots of Wisconsin cheese.

Honey and Plants at the Dane County Farmers' Market

Honey and Plants at the Dane County Farmers

If you have ever considered eating seasonally or locally, the farmers market is a great resource.  Vendors will often let you sample their products and are eager to share preparation instructions and sometimes even recipes with their customers.

One of the favorite breakfasts served at The Speckled Hen Inn is the Farmer’s Market Strata.  It contains sourdough bread, cream and mozarella cheeses, fresh eggs, basil pesto, tomatoes, and smoked ham or turkey.  All of the ingredients can be found at the farmer’s market.  Please help yourself to the recipe and share the bounty of Wisconsin with friends at breakfast or brunch some beautiful summer morning.

Farmers' Market Strata served at The Speckled Hen Inn

Farmers

Wisconsin Winery…Botham Open House This Weekend

May 1st, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

Botham Winery in Barneveld is celebrating Spring with an open house this weekend that will feature their wines, Wisconsin cheese, and chocolates.  It is going to be a beautiful weekend to get out and explore Wisconsin.   The Winery is only about an hour’s drive from the Speckled Hen Inn and while you are out that way you might want to spend a little time exploring Mount Horeb.

Botham Winery Open House
Botham Winery Open House

Annual Spring Open House — May 2-3, 2009; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. • Artisan Wisconsin cheeses and fine chocolates from around the world compliments of Sjolind’s Chocolate House, Mount Horeb will be paired with our internationally acclaimed wines at the annual spring open house, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 2 and 3. Other highlights include the release of the 2008 vintage and free tours that include a bottling demonstration at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30- and 3:30 p.m. each day. Weather permitting, the terrace will be open for picnicking, gathering, relaxing and enjoying the lush colors and spectacular views that only spring in southwest Wisconsin can provide.

Life and Lodging in Sustainable Style…what it means to us

April 29th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

That’s a slogan that we use at The Speckled Hen Inn and it means more to us with each passing day.  It seems that the more we learn about green living, eco-travel, sustainability, etc., the more we discover that there is to learn.  Every purchasing, planting, and menu decision is affected by out commitment to approach these decisions in a way that will minimize any negative impact and maximize the positive.

 

Each year in April we renew our certification in the Travel Green Wisconsin program.  It is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have accomplished and look forward to what will come in the year ahead.  Going “green” is a journey.  Let’s take a look at what we have done, are doing, and hope to do soon.

The easiest and obvious things came first.  Compact fluorescent bulbs replace incandescent light bulbs as they burn out.  Motion sensors that turn lights on for a short period of time are used in many areas both inside the Inn and along the outdoor walkways.  As appliances wear out they are replaced with EnergyStar rated appliances.  Refrigerators, freezers, washers and clothes dryers have been some recent examples.  Each guest room has an additional waste can just for items to be recycled.  Information about what can be recycled by our refuse pick-up company is posted for guests to read.  We also recycle batteries, print cartridges, and many other items.  Nothing just automatically goes in the trash bin.  A linen re-use program is in effect and bath liquids are offered in dispensers rather than little plastic bottles.

Water conservation is a major concern at our Inn.  We do have our own well that provides us with beautiful clear, clean water.  We eliminated bottled water from our “amenities offered” list more than a year ago and guests seem to enjoy our natural water supply.  It does, however take electricity to pump that water out of the ground so we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our water usage.  We have installed low-flow shower heads and water conserving toilets. Our laundry is equipped with high efficiency washers and we sweep rather than hosing off the decks, porches and walkways.  New garden beds have drip irrigation systems and are mulched to retain moisture.  Rain barrels to use for watering the decorative landscape planters are in the plans for this season.

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence

 

The Inn’s 50-acre property is home to may species of birds, deer, wild turkey, and other woodland and wetland creatures.  The spring-fed creeks on the property supply them with an open source of water year-round.  We hope that our guests will enjoy and respect the natural habitat while they are here.  Many guests express their joy at having a place to reconnect with the land.

It has long been an ideal, goal, dream, whatever you want to call it, of ours to live off our land.  Our favorite bookshelf has always contained books outlining the various ways that one might accomplish that.  While being completely self-sufficient is still a distant dream, we have made some major efforts toward that goal.  Our vegetable garden and orchards continue to expand.  It is a joy to prepare and offer our guests breakfast items that feature the bounty of our land.  We have also developed great relationships with other local growers and suppliers whose goods also grace our table and additionally give our guests a destination for their exploration of the area.

I want to close this post by saying a few words about the final word in our slogan – Style.  We strongly feel that embracing sustainability and being environmentally conscious is not tied to “doing without” but rather to finding better, more earth friendly, ways of doing the things that you want to do.  It is about embracing what you can create with whatever is available and sharing it with those you care about.  Our decorating “Style” reflects the roads we have traveled and what we find that offers us comfort.  Our food “Style” reflects our passion for fresh, local, and lovely.  And our hospitality “Style” reflects our willingness to share what we have created with our guests.  We hope that they enjoy as much as we do. 

Meet the Innkeepers at The Speckled Hen Inn

April 22nd, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

 

Bob and I are both natives of Missouri.  We met in college in the late 60’s and were married in 1973.  We moved to Madison in 1978 and purchased the 50-acre parcel where The Speckled Hen Inn is located in 1984 and began construction and landscaping in 1986.  We completed the building of our home in 1990 and raised our two children in the house that is now the Inn.  In 2000, I opened the Speckled Hen Inn.  Bob retired from his “day job” of 32 years in 2005 and became the full-time assistant innkeeper .

Bob and Happy take a break.

Bob and Happy take a break.

 

Over the years, we have developed our interests in entertaining, cooking, gardening and wine appreciation.  They tell me that I have the creative genes that are best reflected in the decor of the Inn and interesting gourmet breakfasts served at the Inn.  The Inn is known for its breakfasts, warm ambiance and genuine hospitality.  Many of the breakfast entrées use ingredients produced at the Inn by the Innkeepers.   Bob is the assistant chef, head gardner and is responsible for the upkeep of the 50 acre estate.   The Inn is proud to be a member of Travel Green Wisconsin.

 

Come share our 25+ year labor of love and be prepared to be pampered and, of course,  well fed.

Pat with one of the lambs.

Pat with one of the lambs.

 

 

Group Special Events: Dining al fresco

February 5th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

The Party Patio at The Speckled hen Inn

 The Speckled Hen Inn offers group outdoor party facilities and food/beverage service.  The service is available only during the summer season (May-October).  Join us for such events as family reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties, wedding rehearsal dinners or company sponsored events.  We have a complete outdoor kitchen and dining area.  We feature outdoor BBQ and Pizza venues.  Beer, wine and soft drinks are also available.  Seating is limited to 20-30 people.  Larger groups can be accommodated and served buffet style around the pool.  The swimming pool may not be used due to licensing restrictions.

Enjoy the view from the patio

Enjoy the view from the patio

 

 

BBQ dinners feature slow smoked ribs, pulled pork, and/or hot dogs/brats with baked beans, coleslaw and chips.  Pizza is available by the pie or can be served individually as a “build-your-own” buffet.  Our chef is passionate about smoking/grilling and gourmet pizza-perfection; this may well be the best party food you have ever had.

 

 

 

Partytime in the outdoor kitchen

Partytime in the outdoor kitchen

 

 

 

Please call to plan your next event and to receive a price quotation.  Prices average between $12 and $25 per person depending upon menu selection, exclusive of beverage costs.  There is a $70 setup charge per group for county permit application fees.  No tipping is required, thereby effectively offsetting the mandatory county fee.

Relax on the patio

Relax on the patio

 

It doesn’t get much better than this.  Make your next event something special at the Speckled Hen Inn.