Speckled Hen Inn

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The 12 Treats of Christmas – #3 Rosettes

We saw a few flakes of snow this morning and more is predicted tomorrow…finally!  It wouldn’t be Christmas in Wisconsin without snow and it wouldn’t be Christmas at The Speckled Hen Inn without a batch of Rosettes on hand to garnish the morning fruit plates.  We make them to resemble snowflakes but dust them with spiced sugar to pair nicely with winter fruits.  We always have to save a few for our friend, Jay. Making Rosettes does require some special equipment.  You will need a Rosette Iron.  They come in lots of fun shapes but the snowflakes are my favorites.  You can find them at specialty cookware stores especially in areas that have a Scandinavian heritage population.  You can also
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The 12 Treats of Christmas – #2 Mexican Wedding Cakes

Think about Christmas foods and the first thing that pops into your mind is a Christmas cookie.  Sweet, buttery, nutty, chocolate bites that transport us to our childhood days and fill a kitchen with the smells, sights and sounds of holiday preparation.  The great personal reward for a busy day of shopping, wrapping, or making last minute gifts is a cup of tea and a couple of cookies.  The perfect thank you gift for a holiday hostess is a tray of cookies. Cookies come from the heart and the hearth.  Some are treasured family recipes, reminders of holidays at Grandma’s house.  Others are from ratty looking clippings from a newspaper or magazine that sits in the recipe file until December every
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The 12 Treats of Christmas – #1 Caramel Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

Back in the days when middle school “Family Living” class was a little more like my high school home-ec class, my daughter came home with a recipe that has become a family favorite during the Holiday Season.  I’ve made these special popcorn balls for family Christmas stocking-stuffers, for holiday fund-raising auctions, and for the treat bowl at The Speckled Hen Inn.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do. Caramel Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls 10 cups of popped plain popcorn 12 caramel candies unwrapped 24 regular marshmallows 1/4 cup peanut butter 1/4 cup butter Pop the popcorn and keep warm on a non-stick rimmed cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven. In a large saucepan melt butter,
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The End of Another Season

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
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The Gazebo – A place to enjoy a little music, a little wine, a pretty view.

Earlier this summer I visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens, our award-winning city garden in Madison, Wisconsin.  I discovered that they had created several small sitting areas throughout the garden where visitors could stop and rest and enjoy the views of the garden or perhaps become a part of the garden.  I decided that guests might enjoy doing the same thing at The Speckled Hen Inn. I often feel that some guests, with their desire for privacy, fail to take advantage of all the extra little places around our property where they can share a quiet conversation, relax and enjoy the natural surroundings, and disconnect from whatever it is that they need to get away from.  Our rooms in the Inn are great
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A Rainy Day at The Speckled Hen Inn

It has been a long hot summer in Madison, Wisconsin.  There was hardly any rain at all during the months of June and July.  All the ferns in the beds around the Speckled Hen Inn turned brown and crispy.  It was a struggle just to keep up with the watering of the vegetable gardens, flower pots and new trees and shrubs that had been planted this spring. But now, it’s August and a few rain showers have turned the pastures green again.  The lawn is recovering from dormancy and we are no longer stressing about how we will feed our sheep and llamas this winter.  The gardens are providing lots of fresh veggies for the breakfast table and a few peaches
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Addition to the Garden at The Speckled Hen Inn Bed and Breakfast

Today it really begins.  The carpenters arrived at The Speckled Hen Inn around 9:00AM, just as the lumber delivery truck was departing.  Their mission is to build the garden shed of my dreams, Pat’s Playhouse, another Fischbeck Folly. The plan has been developing all winter long.  We spent hours pouring through folders of saved magazine clippings.  We consulted our library of garden design books.  We clicked our way from one end of the internet’s photos files to the other and finally came up with a design simply sketched on a pad of graph paper.  There is an air of finality about a design finally drawn using a straight edge. Then there were endless debates about where to put the little building.  It should
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The boys at The Speckled Hen Inn have a new toy.

The boys at The Speckled Hen Inn Bed and Breakfast in Madison, Wisconsin have a new toy to help out with the chores around the Inn.  The new UTV is great for getting the garbage cans to and from the curb.  The many trips to the stable to feed the sheep and chickens, collect the eggs, find the needed tool or pick a fresh tomato will be a little bit easier now and of course, Happy can go along for the ride. The chore list at the Inn for the warm season ahead seems to get a bit longer every day.  One project always seems to spawn another.  We will be constructing a new greenhouse on the end of the
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Things To Do In Madison

Folks who live in Madison, WI or who visited before know what a great city it is.  It seems like there is always something to do.  But visitors coming for the first time may not know what to do first so here is the list compiled by our staff at The Speckled Hen Inn.  There are the Top Ten Madison Experiences inside the city.  We will get to that long list of things to do, using Madison as a hub when you explore South Central Wisconsin, later. Take a tour of the Capitol.  Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and the building is truly a treasure.  Do take the tour because the wonderful guides know all those fun stories that bring
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A Foodie Visits Madison

A foodie visits Madison, WI and wants to know our Top Ten Foodie places.    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. 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. Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier.  Madison’s finest dark
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