Fresh from the snowy farm

Winter farmers markets offer a taste of sunnier seasons

Farmers markets aren’t just for the warmer months; some continue to operate through the winter, featuring a variety of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts.

Via email, organizers and vendors discussed how these markets adapt to the colder season and what unique offerings they bring to the community.

Concord Farmers Market

Brenda White, with input from her fellow organizers for the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market, discussed how this season is going.

How has this year’s winter farmers market differed from previous years in terms of vendor participation and customer attendance?

This year, our fledgling market has grown in visibility through our social media advertising and new signs that are more visually appealing and draw the attention of passersby. We worked with a local Concord artist, RS Creative, who designed our fresh, new logo. Attendance is up from an average of 275 customers to roughly 425 customers. We have gained some wonderful vendors to add to a diverse offering. The produce and products that you can find range from fish, meats and eggs to fresh microgreens, root veggies, fresh baked treats and bread. We have vendors who make wonderful soaps, lotions, candles and dog treats. We even have a vendor with fresh cut winter flowers … and microbrews and wine. There is such a wide variety of local goodness.

What unique challenges does operating a farmers market in the winter present, and how have you and the vendors adapted to these conditions?

Finding a location that works for all patrons and gives us enough space to set up. We are grateful for the generosity that Stephen Duprey has gifted this market in its early years by giving us a location to have a market to provide easy access for customers to obtain amazing local products. 7 Eagle Square is a bright, beautiful open space with two levels of shopping. It is a great location for folks who are either choosing to walk around downtown or park close by for quick easy in and out.

Can you share some success stories or particularly popular initiatives from this year’s winter market?

Manus Basket: Every Saturday we have a basket set up to gather donations to support families in need of food. So we have partnered with The Boys & Girls Club of Central and Northern New Hampshire. How it works is that each market Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market purchases food from vendors at the market to place in the cooler or basket for the Boys & Girls Club. We have budgeted a certain amount a week to spend. In addition to that, customers and vendors purchase or donate items to add to the basket and cooler as well while they shop. This supports the vendors as well as helping our local community.

We were excited to host a sing-along with Santa in December this year. It was well-received and fun for the customers’ children and families. … As always, the Merrimack County Conservation District has continued to offer its Granite State Market Match and Veteran Value Bucks programs. Through the Granite State Market Match, SNAP/EBT recipients can double the amount they are spending on food items offered at the market. For example, if $20 is charged to a SNAP card, the recipient will receive $40 in vouchers to spend on food items. The Veteran Value Bucks program provides $20 to veterans and active service members once a month to shop for any items at the market. These programs allow more customers to visit our market, while also keeping more dollars local. It’s a win for everyone.

How important are winter farmers markets for the vendors’ businesses, and what role do they play in the local community during the colder months?

There are very few markets in the winter months, and it is not easy for vendors to get their products out to consumers on their own during the winter months without this farmers market community. The market provides a central location with easy access for the public to get all their needs in one location. We have a variety of meats including traditional beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish and now a new vendor who provides ostrich. We have cheeses, yogurt, beer, soaps, bread, pastries, gluten-free pastries and bread, vegetables, syrup, honey, jams, eggs, beef chips, mushrooms, coffee, microgreens, dog food, popcorn, nuts, soft pretzels, rolls and flowers. These amazing vendors are local and love to support and help their communities and provide fresh locally grown/made products.

What measures have you implemented to encourage community engagement and ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for visitors during the winter season?

We are fortunate that we can use the Storr Street parking garage’s top level to park and use the ramp to bring products down to 7 Eagle Square easily for setup. Customers can use the garage’s top level as well during business hours of the market. The building has an elevator so that patrons can access both floors of the market easily if they prefer not to use the stairs. Walkways and the courtyard are maintained well to be sure that the area is free of ice and snow so customers have easy and safe access to the building. We also have local musicians who are scheduled by NH Music Collective to entertain at the market to add another family-friendly feel to the experience.

Looking forward, are there any new plans or ideas you’re excited to introduce to the winter farmers market in future seasons?

We hope to have a new permanent location in the future that will give us more space and make it even more convenient for customers to join us.

Joyberry Farms

Amy Joyce and Brad Ikenberry of Joyberry Farms, based in Mason, joyberryfarms.com. Find them at the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

large mushrooms sitting on table in front of sign text Joyberry Farm - farm fresh mushrooms
Joyberry Farms. Courtesy photo.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

We are the owners of Joyberry Farms, a small family-owned and -operated farm in Mason. We cultivate fresh mushrooms and create unique mushroom products. At the markets you can find a variety of fresh mushrooms each week, as well as a variety of dried products like mushroom coffee, teas, dried mushroom soups and risotto. We also make wellness mushroom powders.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

The sales in the winter tend to drop a little bit, due to attendance and weather. However, each year, as we grow, we also see a rise in our sales trends from repeat and new customers that love our products.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

The cold weather definitely makes farming a lot harder, but it also gives us time to slow down and be more creative.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Mushrooms, like vegetables, grow differently in each season. We offer different ‘cold weather’ mushrooms in the winter than in the summer, but some varieties grow all year-round.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Although our summer season is packed with farmers markets, we do attend a few winter markets which helps keep our business running year-round.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our fresh mushrooms remain our top seller; however, in the winter we get an influx of sales from our soups, risotto, coffee and teas.

Blakeney’s Bakery

Brenda White, Blakeney’s Bakery, based in Contoocook, blakeneysbakery.com. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

Blakeney’s Bakery has a large variety of breads, scones, cookies, soft pretzels, whoopie pies, lemon bars and cookies.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

Each year has grown in customers and sales.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Weather can be a challenge, especially if it keeps customers from coming out.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Really don’t have to do much. We make seasonal products and create new flavors of bread sometimes just from customer suggestions. We don’t make as many products during the winter market as the customer base is significantly smaller due to summer guests and residents who leave for the winter.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Being able to provide a great product for our customers and to … work with other vendors to support them by pairing their products with ours when possible.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our variety of bread flavors and scones. We strive to have savory, sweet and salty options to meet a variety of needs that our customers have.

HorseFeathers Ostrich Farm

Monte and Alison Cossette. HorseFeathers Ostrich Farm, based in Webster, horsefeathersostrichfarm.com. Find them every other Saturday (next date March 2) at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

My husband and I started our ostrich farm several years ago. We’ve been growing our farm, breeding stock, and now are excited to be able to offer USDA ostrich meat for the first time both locally and through online sales. This is our first season participating in farmers market and we have been thrilled with this market.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Since we are offering a product that not as many people are familiar with, the amount of customers going through the market is very important for us. The more people we can show and teach about ostrich meat, the more sales and repeat customers we can have.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Currently we are bringing a small amount of meat and only a few types of meat cuts; we are hoping to be part of the summer market and have more offerings.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

As a new business it is amazing to have people to talk to about our product. All organizers of the group have been amazingly helpful as we get started with our farmers markets and our business.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

In our booth we have a display of ostrich egg shells with a fake ostrich head. That seems to really pique interest for people and get them over to the booth. The egg shells can be used for decorations and arts, but the display is a great starting point to bring people to the table and start talking about the meat.

Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery

Man standing behind table covered in checkered tablecloth, on which there are baked goods, 2 signs with names of farms attached to front of tablecloth
Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery. Courtesy photo.

Paul Gareau and Angela Letelier, Arándano Farm and Gluten Free or Die Bakery, Belmont, arandano.farm, gfordie.com. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

It’s our first year as vendors in Concord; generally we attend other markets in Belknap County and we’ll be running three new markets in 2024. Our farm offers organic-fed chicken, grass-fed pork, eggs, vegetables and microgreens. The bakery offers celiac-safe gluten-free baked goods.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

Our area mostly offers summer markets, so the winter market helps us sell our products throughout the winter.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Less emphasis on grilling, more on meal prep.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Income throughout winter months and expanded customer base.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

Our main attraction is no-compromised gluten-free baked goods, and we have a following for our chicken and pork as well.

Pastry Dream

Ann and Roger Baril of Pastry Dream are based in Derry. Find them at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market and the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

We sell individually sized pastries called Dreams. Some call them small pies. Our flavor selection ranges from lemon curd and raspberry to chocolate/peanut butter to our brand new Key lime. We presently offer nine flavors — something for everyone.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

We have already seen an increase over last year.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

A challenge we experience each year is New Year’s resolutions and the fact that everyone eats too much over the holiday season and cuts back for a time especially in January. Our opportunity is that farmers markets allow us the opportunity to present our products to those who may not have tasted them before.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

For the winter season we offer a pecan pie Dream and a ginger/spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting along with all of our other items.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

Feedback from customers is a huge benefit of being at the farmers markets. We have a lemon curd and a raspberry and many customers suggested that we put the two flavors together. We did, and the lemon/raspberry is one of our best sellers. We’ve also been asked to create a Key lime dream, which we are now offering and is a great success.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

We offer samples, which give new customers the opportunity to taste our flavors before buying. This makes a big difference, because once you taste the filling flavors you have to have more.

KYS Food for Dogs

Sonia Javier Obinger of KYS Food for Dogs, based in Sandown. Find them at the Downtown Concord Farmers Market and the winter Salem NH Farmers Market.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you offer at the winter farmers market?

I started preparing whole-food recipes because of my interest in providing the best nutrition for my three pugs and a Boston terrier. I began researching, taking classes and using my experience to develop whole-food recipes for them. There would even be times when my friends would come over and ask what was cooking because it smelled so good. I said it was my dog’s dinner. So fast forward 16-plus years of testing, making mistakes, re-testing and friends’ support, I started KYS Whole Food for Dogs. Our recipes are created in small batches, bone broth braised with organic ingredients sourced from local farms sold fresh/frozen in compostable packages at farmers markets, online and retail. Recipes offer seasonally harvested organic vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef, organ meat, seaweed, hempseed or flaxseed, providing dogs with a nutritious, complete meal. KYS ingredients are sourced from local farms like Vernon Family in Newfields. They provide the chicken for Tilly’s Pastured Chicken recipe. The organic vegetables in this recipe are grown and harvested by Heron Pond in Hampton, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Maine, and Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford.

How has this year’s market been for your business in terms of customer attendance and sales trends?

This is my first season with Downtown Concord Farmers Market, so I am still working on brand awareness. With the Salem NH Farmers Market this is my third winter market and this market has grown, especially at its new location at LaBelle Winery.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the winter market present for you?

I think the opportunities are that they are indoors, thus providing customers access to a great variety of vendors. I think the biggest challenge is New England weather, which this year has been relatively calm.

How do you adapt your offerings or business strategy for the winter season?

Since my recipes are based on harvest availability, root vegetables — carrots, winter squash, cranberries, for example — are used in the winter. Once the spring/summer season starts we have more greens, summer squash, blueberries, etc. So all year my customers have a diverse nutritional diet.

What are the main benefits of participating in the winter market for your business?

The benefits are that we still have access to our summer customers as well as meeting new ones. Plus it is warmer than being outside.

What is a popular item or service that draws customers to your stall at the winter market?

I think both Jake’s Grass fed Beef and Tilly’s Pastured Chicken recipes are equally popular. I have recently been testing with some of my customers’ liver truffles, which are another whole food product for those who want to provide a healthy treat for the dog.

63 for Free

Completely, totally, mostly free and free-ish fun things to do, see and enjoy

Library, more like “free-brary”

Libraries are the kings of free fun.

  1. Your local library of course offers books, magazines, graphic novels, audiobooks and other physical media free for you to borrow with only your library card, which usually requires just proof of residency (or employment in that town, if you want to load up on library memberships) like a bill or your driver’s license (some area libraries also specifically ask that you bring a photo ID). But those aren’t the only free offerings.

2. Ebooks and e-audiobooks are available, along with magazines, newspapers and more, via apps such as Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla, which are accessible once you get your library card. Depending on the app, you can check out a specific number of titles per month or at a time. Instructions on your library’s website explain how to get the title onto your device.

3. Kanopy membership is another perk offered by area libraries. A streaming service for movies and TV shows, Kanopy is a solid service for movie fans, with a selection that includes wide- and more limited-release feature films, documentaries, world cinema and relatively recent releases, such as 2023’s Beau Is Afraid and Kelly Reichhardt’s Showing Up, as well as last year’s Oscar winner Everything Everywhere All At Once. There is also currently a whole tab of A24 movies. The movies cost two tickets each to watch (for example, Bedford Library patrons get 16 tickets per month). You can watch a Great Courses class (a “Cooking Through the Ages” class costs five tickets) or a TV show (Series 1 of Luther costs four tickets).

4. In addition to things to watch and read, many local libraries also lend stuff. The Library of Thingsat the Concord Public Library (concordpubliclibrary.net) includes a ukulele, a ghost meter, a karaoke machine, a telescope and a pickleball set. The Bedford Public Library’s (bedfordnhlibrary.org) Library of Things includes a portable projector and portable screen, binoculars and more. The Manchester City Library (manchester.lib.nh.us) has telescopes, framed prints and Playaway Launchpads. Borrow an XBox, an electric guitar, night vision binoculars or the board game Exploding Kittens via the Merrimack Public Library (merrimacklibrary.org). Check out a Game of Thrones board game, a virtual reality headset or a bird-watching set at the Kelley Library in Salem (kelleylibrary.org). Like several other local libraries, the Nashua Public Library (nashualibrary.org) has a Puzzle Exchange, where you can leave a puzzle, take a puzzle.

5. Stuff also includes seeds — many area libraries have a Seed Library to help you plan and plant your garden. “Check out” seeds for veggies, herbs and other plants and get instructions on how to collect and return the seeds from that plant after the growing season. Area libraries offering seed libraries and exchanges include Goffstown Public Library (goffstownlibrary.com), Bedford Public Library, the Smyth Public Library in Candia (smythpl.org), Nashua Public Library, Manchester City Library, and the Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford (wadleighlibrary.org).

6. And take a day trip to an area cultural site with the museum passes available to cardholders at pretty much all area libraries. What admissions are free and what admissions may be discounted vary by museum: For example, via the Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn (griffinfree.org), passes for the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire and the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center get you up to four free admissions for those locations, while the pass for the Currier Museum of Art gets you half off two adult and all youth admissions. The list of participating museums varies by libraries but often includes Boston attractions as well as New Hampshire sites.

7. As with the “libraries offer books” example, it might seem obvious to mention all the events at area libraries but it’s more than just storytimes for kids and book clubs (though pretty much all libraries do have those and the storytimes are often specific to certain ages, offering entertainment specifically geared toward, say, the youngest toddler or the wiggliest preschooler). Among the offerings: JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, discusses the Trail and African American history in Concord Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Concord Public Library (concordpubliclibrary.net); Nashua Public Library will screen Blazing Saddles on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 1:30 p.m., and the Manchester City Library (manchester.lib.nh.us) offers an evening with romance authors Ali Hazelwood, Nikki Payne and Denise Williams via Zoom on Monday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.

8. You can even hold a book club, board game night or kid graphic novel club of your own at your library by using one of their meeting rooms. The rooms are often free to reserve (which you can do at many libraries online).

Arts & culture for free

Enjoy the experience of checking out some locally created and/or visual or performing arts — and then support it with donations or by purchasing works.

9. The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester (currier.org) offers free admission on the Second Saturday of each month to New Hampshire residents — the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Active-duty military and their families and veterans can also get free admission any time (Currier also has special offers for free or discounted admission for members of certain associations and for faculty, staff and students at some area colleges; see the website).

10. You can also go in depth on Currier collections and exhibitions from home on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. as part of “Art Conversations From Home.” The 30-minute Zoom registrations are free, though registration is required.

You can also check out the exhibitions in area art galleries, many of which have public hours and often hold artist receptions near the beginning of the show. Current shows include:

11. All Heart Statuses,” an exhibition featuring works with a variety of approaches to love and emotion, on display at the Mosaic Art Collective in Manchester (mosaicartcollective.com) through Wednesday, Feb. 28. The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. See Michael Witthaus’ story about the exhibition in the Feb. 8 issue of the Hippo.

12. “Nature in Focus: Image of Flora, Fauna and Landscapes of New England” at the McLane Center (84 Silk Farm Road in Concord; nhaudubon.org) Friday, March 8. The show features nature photography by Bob Fleck, a New Hampshire author and photographer, according to a press release. Visit the exhibition Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

13. “Blossoming Beyond,an exhibition that “showcases work that embodies the resilience, strength and beauty of both the natural world and the LGBTQ+ community,” according to queerlective.com, at the New Hampshire Audubon Massabesic Center (26 Audubon Way in Auburn). The exhibit will be on display through Saturday, March 30; visit Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

14. Artists Brenda McDonald, Seth Dewey, Craig Michaud and Dan Splaine have works on display at the Sandy Cleary Community Art Gallery at the Nashua Center for the Arts (nashuacenterforthearts.com) through the end of March.

15. The works of Susan Rock, including pieces about Abraham Lincoln, are on display at Two Villages Art Society (Bates Building, 846 Main St. in Hopkinton; twovillagesart.org) through Saturday, March 2. The gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m.

16. Check out the League of NH Craftsmen galleries in Concord (open Monday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Nashua (open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for fine crafts by juried members on display (and available for purchase). See nhcrafts.org.

17. See the sculptures created as part of the Nashua International Sculpture Symposium installed at locations around the Gate City. Find a map to all the pieces at nashuasculpturesymposium.org, where you can get information about each of the sculptures.

18. Art and nature meet at the Andres Institute of Art in Brookline (andresinstitute.org), where more than 100 sculptures are positioned on the institute’s 140 acres, which are open daily from dawn to dusk and are free (donations accepted). Find maps to the trails, which include which sculptures you’ll find where, on the website, where you can also see the art and get information on the artists.

19. Take a drive, then take a stroll for some art. The Portsmouth downtown area hosts the Art ’Round Town gallery walk on the first Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. (14 Market Square). Explore the art scene in this creative historical community by visiting different art galleries downtown. Visit artroundtown.org.

20. In Exeter, it’s the 2nd Friday Art Walk 5 to 7 p.m. — see the exhibits at the Seacoast Artists Association (seacoastartist.org), Foundation Art Space (teamexeter.com/foundation-art-space.html) and more. See teamexeter.com.

21. The Walker Lecture Series offers music, performances, lectures and more for free at the Concord City Auditorium (theaudi.org/events). Upcoming events include the Freese Brothers Big Band on Wednesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m.; Man on the Hill, described as a two-act performance that mixes music and story, on Wednesday, March 13, at 7 p.m. and “Exotic and Tropical Asia, a Travelogue with Marlin Darrah” on Wednesday, March 20, at 7 p.m.

22. The Bach’s Lunch series at the Concord Community Music School (ccmusicschool.org) offers quick free concerts, usually 12:10 to 12:50 p.m. Next up is “A Mountain in Miniature: Exploring the Irish Musical Tradition through the Lens of a Single Tune” on Thursday, March 7.

23. The Concord Community Music School also hosts regular student recitals, which are free to attend. Next on the schedule is the Integrated Arts recital on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. where participants can display visual art they’ve created during their musical performances, according to the website.

24. The Manchester Community Music School regularly hosts free faculty concerts (online registration is required; there is also a virtual attendance option). Next up is a tribute to Nat King Cole on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. Visit mcmusicschool.org.

25. The Nashua Community Music School (nashuacms.org/recitals) has student recitals that are free and open to the public. Next up are recitals on Friday, March 22, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 23, with times at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.

26. The New Hampshire Historical Society offers free events, most at its 30 Park St. location in Concord (though some are held elsewhere). Upcoming events include the lecture “Late in Arriving: How Electricity Changed Rural New Hampshire” by Steve Taylor on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m.; a book talk by Alan Rumrill about his Monadnock Originals on Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m., and a free family fun day on Saturday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. that will feature games, crafts, storytelling and more, according to nhhistory.org.

27. New Hampshire Humanities holds a variety of events — book talks, history lectures, musical performances and more — some of which are in person at locations across the state, some virtual and a few hybrid. Upcoming events include “Liberty Is Our Motto!: Songs and Stories of the Hutchinson Family Singers” with Steve Blunt portraying a mid-19th century entertainer on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Canterbury Town Hall; “Songs of Old New Hampshire” presented by Jeff Warner at the Hooksett Public Library on Friday, Feb. 16, at 11 a.m., and “Banjos, Bones & Ballads” also presented by Warner on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. Some events require pre-registration; see nhhumanities.org/programs.

28. Slam Free or Die, an ongoing poetry open mic and slam series, takes place every Thursday night at Stark Brewing Co. in Manchester. Follow them on Facebook @slamfreeordie for updates on upcoming events and appearances.

29. The Poetry Society of New Hampshire holds regular readings, usually the third Wednesday of each month, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord (gibsonsbookstore.com) often with an open mic following reading by a published poet. Next up is Chard deNiord at the event on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

30. Gibson’s Bookstore also holds regular in-store author events that are free — though you can upgrade the experience by buying the author’s book and getting it signed. Next up are Margo Cooper to discuss Deep Inside the Blues: Photographs and Interviews (Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m.) and Leila Philip to discuss Beaver Land: How One Weird Rodent Made America(Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m). See gibsonsbookstore.com for the calendar and to sign up for their newsletter.

31. Balin Books in Nashua (balinbooks.com) regularly offers author events. Next on the schedule is Civics 101 podcasters Hannah McCarthy and Nick Capodice to discuss their book A User’s Guide to Democracy on Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m.

32. Bookery Manchester (bookerymht.com) has a schedule full of author events including upcoming events with Michaela Horan to discuss Rolling Hills and the Sword of Avalon (Saturday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m.); Fox Hollow to discuss Heart Strings (Sunday, Feb. 18, at 3 p.m.) and Midge Goldberg, editor of Outer Space: 100 Poems (Friday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m.). Bookery will also host NAV Arts writers open mic on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 5 p.m.

Free in the outdoors

Walking outside your door is free — but what if you’re looking for some more specific outdoor adventures?

33. The network of more than 35 miles of trails at Beaver Brook Association in Hollis (beaverbrook.org) is free and open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Find trail maps, including to accessible trails, on the website.

34. Another stop at Beaver Brook is Maple Hill Gardens (at the 117 Ridge Road in Hollis location). The 13 themed gardens are also free and open for daily viewing, with the best season for viewing April through October, according to the website, which also said there is a natural play area, a demonstration compost court, picnic areas and a wildflower trail.

35. The New Hampshire Audubon manages 39 wildlife sanctuaries throughout the state that are free to visit and open to the public. See nhaudubon.org/lands/sanctuaries for a list of the sanctuaries, many of which, such as the Massabesic Center/Battery Point Wildlife Sanctuary in Auburn and the Ponemah Bog in Amherst, have links to trail guides, maps, birding tips and more.

36. The Manchester Cedar Swamp (nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/manchester-cedar-swamp-preserve) offers free dawn-to-dusk trails of 1.8 miles that are universally accessible including to people using wheelchairs, strollers and other adaptive devices according to the website, where you can find a trail map and more.

City parks offer spots for picnics, playtime and other recreation. A few to check out:

37. Mine Falls Park features trails from roughly a third of a mile to nearly 3 miles; see nashuanh.gov/491/Mine-Falls-Park for a map.

38. Stark Park in north Manchester features a “Walk in the Woods” trail network, an outdoor nature playspace and more; see starkpark.com.

39. Livingston Park (manchesternh.gov) is a 131-acre park in north Manchester that features a playground, a summertime swimming pool, sports fields and facilities, and walking trails around Dorrs Pond, according to the website.

40. White Park in Concord features the Monkey Around Playground, a seasonal splash pad, basketball courts, an ice skating rink (weather permitting), walking trails and more, according to concordnh.gov.

41. Watson Park in Merrimack offers a gaga pit, picnic spots, a butterfly garden and ice skating (weather permitting); see merrimackparksandrec.org.

42. The Educational Farm at Joppa Hill in Bedford (theeducationalfarm.org) is free to visit daily, dusk till dawn, and features hiking, walking and cross country skiing trails (see maps on the website) as well as farm animals to visit. Upgrade the experience by purchasing $5 grain cups or by doing some shopping at the farm stand.

43. Get state park admission for free — sort of.In this case “free” is going to cost you about $93. For an annual $85, plus a one-time $8 new license plate fee, you can get a New Hampshire State Park license plate for your car. The revenues from the plate go to the State Parks Fund, which helps pay for the operation of the parks, according to nhstateparks.org. The plates (with a current registration) get you free admission to more than two dozen state parks, including Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham and Wallis Sands State Park in Rye. See nhstateparks.org for details.

44. The New Hampshire Astronomical Society goes everywhere and they bring their telescopes. Check out their calendar (nhastro.com/calendar.php) to find a spot where you can meet up, talk telescopes and sky watching and get a look at the stars. Upcoming public appearances include a “sidewalk astronomy” session in Portsmouth on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 5 to 10 p.m. in Market Square; their monthly first Friday skywatch at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord on Friday, March 1, from 7 to 10 p.m., and a skywatch at Benedictine Park in Bedford on Monday, March 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. The Society is also holding presentations on the April eclipse at several area libraries, including Whipple Hall in New London (Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m.), Kelley Library in Salem (Monday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m.), Baker Free Library in Bow (Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.), the Concord Public Library (Tuesday, March 5, at 6 p.m.), Whipple Free Library in New Boston (Thursday, March 7, at 6 p.m.) and the Goffstown library (Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m.), as well as several more libraries in March.

45. Take the NH Rail Trails Challenge! Run, bike, walk, rollerblade or otherwise explore the state’s rail trails — there are 43 of them currently — in whatever time frame or increments you’d like and then complete a form at nhrtc.org. Bragging rights are free; $10 gets you a patch to point to whilst bragging. Find out more about the challenge at an upcoming Bike Talk held by the New Hampshire Rail Trails Coalition on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. via Zoom; find the link to register via the group’s Facebook page.

Free fun & free games

Here are some sports, family attractions and more free happenings.

46. Enjoy a free(-ish) movie at Chunky’s Cinema Pubs in Manchester, Nashua and Pelham with the monthly Little Lunch Date screenings of kid-friendly films in a kid-friendly screening room (lights not as dim, noise and squirming to be expected). The movies don’t have an admission per se, though you reserve a seat by buying $5 food vouchers to be used at the movie (there is also a $1.25 service fee per ticket when purchased online). Next up is 2011’s Gnomeo & Juliet (PG) on Friday, Feb. 16, at 3:45 p.m.

47. Head to winter farmers markets for some free browsing and hobnobbing with local farmers and producers (and in some cases live music) and then upgrade the experience by buying treats for now and treats for later. The Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market (downtownconcordwinterfarmersmarket.com) runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 7 Eagle Square; on Saturday, Feb. 17, musician Joel Begin performers. The Contoocook Farmers Market (find them on Facebook) spends its winters at the Maple Street School on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon; on Saturday, Feb. 17, Ryan Williamson performs. The Milford Indoor Farmers Market (milfordnhfarmersmarket.com) is open for two more Saturdays — Feb. 24 and March 9 — from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Milford Town Hall Auditorium on the Oval. The Salem New Hampshire Farmers Market (salemnhfarmersmarket.org) spends winters at LaBelle Winery in Derry (14 Route 111) on Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

48. Regular season Southern New Hampshire University basketball games are free to attend and both Penmen women’s and men’s teams have three home games left — Saturday, Feb. 17, (1:30 p.m. women, 3:30 p.m. men) against Pace University; Saturday, Feb. 24 (1:30 p.m. women, 3:30 p.m. men) against Assumption University and Tuesday, Feb. 27, (5:30 p.m. women, 7:30 p.m. men) against the College of Saint Rose. The games take place at Stan Spiro Field House (at the Southern New Hampshire University campus, 2500 River Road in Manchester). See snhupenmen.com.

49. Meanwhile, lacrosse season is starting for the SNHU Penmen. The men’s team has a home game against Molloy University scheduled Saturday, Feb. 17, at noon at Mark A. Ouellette Stadium on the SNHU campus (the stadium is on Victory Lane in Hooksett). The women’s first home game is Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. versus Presbyterian College. Regular season games are free to attend; see snhupenmen.com for the schedule.

50. Lacrosse season is also starting at Rivier College in Nashua, with the Rivier Raiders men’s lacrosse team playing UMass Boston Saturday, Feb. 17, at noon, on Joanne Merrill Field at Linda Robinson Pavilion. The men will also face Curry College in the home game on Saturday, Feb. 24, at noon. The women will play Saint Joseph on Saturday, March 9, at noon. The games are free to attend. See rivierathletics.com.

51. And then it’s baseball and softball season. The SNHU Penmen baseball team plays a home game against the Saint Anselm Hawks at Penmen Field on Wednesday, March 27, at 3 p.m. The women’s softball team will play a doubleheader against Mercy University at home on Saturday, March 23, with games at noon and 2 p.m. at the SNHU Softball Field (on Eastman Drive). The women will then play American International College on Sunday, March 24, at noon and 2 p.m. See snhupenmen.com for the schedule.

52. The first home game for Rivier Raiders men’s baseball will be Sunday, March 30, when they play a doubleheader against Norwich at noon and 3 p.m. at Historic Holman Stadium (67 Amherst St. in Nashua). The women’s softball team plays at Raider Diamond and their first home game will be against Fitchburg State on Saturday, March 23, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Games are free to attend. See rivierathletics.com.

53. Get lessons in all things maple — from the sap gathering and syrup making process to a sample of the finished product — at area sugarhouses during Maple Weekend, this year scheduled for Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17. Check with nhmapleproducers.com for a listing of sugarhouses, many of whom offer samples of maple syrup and maple products as well as tours and more. And of course upgrade the experience by purchasing some fresh local maple syrup.

Save the date for “free”

There are actually a fair number of free events throughout the year, from the music and movies presented in parks to the town holiday celebrations and parades in December. Here are a few free happenings coming up in the next few months.

54. Merrimack’s Winter Carnival takes place Saturday, Feb. 24, from noon to 3 p.m. at Wasserman Park. This free event features games and activities including, at 1 p.m., the cardboard box sledding competition. See merrimackparksandrec.org.

55. Tickets are free for the upcoming Sing-Along Piano Bar nights at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m.; Sunday, March 24, at 6 p.m., and Sunday, April 28, at 6 p.m. Tickets are also free to the Rockstar Karaoke night on Saturday, May 11, at 7 p.m. See the website for details on these events.

56. Get an up close look at the making of kombucha at a tour of Auspicious Brew in Dover, billed as the first licensed kombucha brewery in New Hampshire, on Monday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. Register at dovernh.assabetinteractive.com.

57. Check out the installation of a “graffiti fiber art tree hugging project” at Waldron Park in Dover on Saturday, March 2, at 1 p.m., according to a post on Dover Arts Commission’s Facebook page.

58. Remember the Old Man in the Mountain at the presentation “The Old Man: His Life and Legacy” on Saturday, March 16, at 11 a.m. at the Millyard Museum in Manchester (manchesterhistoric.org).

59. This year’s Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships will take place Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, at Tri-Town Ice Arena in Hooksett. The games are free to watch. See blackicepondhockey.com and the event’s Facebook page for schedule updates.

60. Manchester’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be Sunday, March 24, at noon, marching down Elm Street from Salmon Street, according to saintpatsnh.com. Enjoy this free downtown event or upgrade your experience by participating in the Shamrock Shuffle (registration costs $25 for adults), a 2-mile run/walk that starts at 11 a.m. and includes a post-race beer for of-age participants. See millenniumrunning.com/shamrock.

61. On Monday, April 8, catch the total solar eclipse — but, like, safely. The eclipse is free but for $2 ($3 if you want it sent to you) you can get solar eclipse glasses from the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord (starhop.com). And you can head to the center for the “Great American Eclipse Viewing Party” from noon to 5 p.m. that day, with the eclipse predicted to begin at 2:15 p.m. and maximum Concord viewing at 3:29 p.m., according to the Center’s website.

62. The Manchester Community Music School will host the May Gruber Memorial Concert on Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m., with a special performance by cellist Aristides Rivas. Admission is free but registration is required; seemcmusicschool.org/events.

63. Free Comic Book Day — it’s right there in the name! On Saturday, May 4, you can score free comic books specially created for this day, which often means they introduce a character or storyline or otherwise help to bring in new readers. In our general area, both Double Midnight Comics locations (Concord and Manchester; dmcomics.com) participate, with Manchester doing the event up big with costume contests and more. Other locations include Merrymac Games and Comics in Merrimack (merrymacgc.com) and Collectibles Unlimited in Concord (collectiblesunlimited.biz), according to freecomicbookday.com, where you can often find previews of the books that will be available. For a Free Comic Book Day celebration that goes town-wide, check out Jetpack Comics in Rochester (jetpackcomics.com); score all the FCBD comics as well as other cool perks by volunteering to help out all day, according to the website.

Cook for your Valentine

How to impress with fancy eats, cozy eats and a decadent dessert

Generally speaking, as a grownup on Valentine’s Day, you have four paths open to you:

(1) Sitting alone on your couch, in the dark, eating ice cream and watching kung fu movies. This will seem very familiar, as this was probably how you spent New Year’s Eve a few weeks ago.

(2) If you are young, enthusiastic and employed, there are Champagne, jewelry and optimistically intimate undergarments. These are grand, romantic gestures. They are undeniably effective, but also set expectations for the evening uncomfortably high, and at the same time make you look bad on the next gift-giving holiday, when you aren’t so demonstrative. It’s a risk.

(3) If you are older, and somewhat trampled upon by Life, there is the panicked last-minute purchase of traditional gestures of romance — grocery store roses ($15), a heart-shaped box of chocolates from the drug store ($25 for a big one), or getting a heart tattooed on your butt, with your loved one’s name on it (around $150, plus tip).

(4) Or, if you have been with your loved one for a while, a greeting card and dinner. This has some advantages:

(a) Nobody expects anything profound on a card. You can buy a generically romantic or even blank one, then look up a poem on the internet and copy a couple of stanzas into the card. Don’t try to take credit for good poetry. Cite your source, and you’ll look classy. Alternatively, you can try to be funny. Your joke might not go over, but you will still get points for trying, even if you’ve drawn a zombie holding a bouquet of dead roses, with a caption that says, “I love you for your brain.”

(b) Dinner is a winning strategy; we all like food. Even if you’ve been arguing with your loved one and things have been a little tense, we all have to eat sometime, and your sincere cooking gesture will not go unappreciated.

So if you’ve decided to cook a Valentine’s Day dinner, again, you have a few different approaches.

Plated fancy dinner with asparagus and mashed potatoes
Grilled portabella mushroom, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus. Photo by John Fladd.

A FANCY DINNER

As Valentine’s Day cooking goes, this is a big swing. If you pull it off, you will look confident and accomplished. If you and your dining companion are still getting to know one another, this will hint that you have hidden depths.

Even if things go spectacularly wrong — even if there are billows of smoke from the kitchen, even if the dog races through the living room with your main course in his mouth, even if you injure yourself dramatically in some way — you can smile gamely, wipe a tear from the corner of your eye, and ask, “How do you feel about pizza?” You will still come out ahead.

You want to cook something that is legitimately delicious, grown up, and impressive, but not actually very hard to make.

Steak

If your Valentine is a fan of red meat, this is the time to double down on a really good piece of beef. Here’s the recipe for a truly excellent steak:

Go to a real butcher. Describe how you’d like your evening to go. He or she will show you some steaks. To you, they will look like most of the meat in the case. Trust the professional. Say, “Yes, please,” then ask them how to cook it. They know meat better than you ever will. Write down their directions, go home, and do what they told you to do.

This will be a Very Good Steak.

Chicken

If you are a strong and confident cook, roast a whole chicken. Stuff the cavity with lemon quarters and thyme, and baste it with olive oil and garlic.

If you aren’t quite that confident, your best bet is Chicken Piccata.

Chicken Piccata

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half –you can buy them this way at the grocery store

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

all-purpose flour, for coating

6 Tablespoons (¾ stick) butter

5 Tablespoons (3 big glugs) olive oil

⅓ cup (75 grams) fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ cup (113 g) chicken stock

¼ cup (55 g) brined capers, rinsed

chopped parsley for garnish

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Coat them with flour, dusting off the excess.

Fry the chicken over medium heat in 4 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil, until both sides are golden brown, about three minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the little bits of fried chicken — if you want to impress people, call this fond — and incorporate it into the sauce.

Return the chicken to the pan and give it a brief spa day in the sauce, five minutes or so.

Remove the chicken again. At this point it is probably getting confused and a little frustrated, trying to figure out what you want from it. Plate it with your apologies.

Add the last 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce and whisk it vigorously, like it owes you money. Again, if you want to use a fancy cooking term, this is called mounting the sauce. If you tried to work that term into a joke later on, who could blame you? If you whisk briskly enough that your sauce doesn’t break, you’ll probably get away with making a mounting joke.

Pour the sauce — the piccata sauce — over the chicken, and top with the chopped parsley. Congratulations, you’ve made Chicken Piccata.

This is delicious. It is a classic but went out of style 20 or 30 years ago, so there’s a good chance your dining companion hasn’t heard of this before. The acid from the lemon juice plays off the bright, salty flavor of the capers. This would be a bit too sharp, but the butter has rounded off the edges and given the sauce a richness that complements the chicken. The effort-to-deliciousness ratio of this dish is excellent.

Vegetarian

Your best bet here is an omelet or roasted portabella mushrooms. The mushrooms will have a rich flavor and a meaty texture. The eggs are dependably delicious and look good on the plate. If you mess them up it will only take a couple of minutes to redo them.

Grilled Asparagus

Some people find asparagus intimidating. Cooked properly it is probably the easiest vegetable to cook. It looks good on the plate. It tastes good and establishes your grown-up credentials.

Buy a bunch of baby asparagus, the pencil-thin ones.

Rinse the stalks, then break off the woody base of each spear. Bend it like you are going to break it in half. Surprisingly, it won’t actually break halfway across the spear, but toward the end, where it starts to get woody.

Soak the stalks in bottled balsamic vinaigrette for about an hour.

Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet, then broil it in the oven under high heat for about four minutes, until it looks cooked and the vinaigrette looks foamy.

That’s it. It is incredibly easy. The asparagus actually tastes like something, unlike when you were a child and one of your relatives boiled it for an hour or so. This is a sophisticated side dish.

Your Starch

Two straightforward side dishes are mashed potatoes and couscous.

The secret to excellent mashed potatoes is boiling the potatoes until they start to fall apart. Drain them, then return them to the pot and stir them to dry them out. They will continue to fall apart. When they look dry — well, drier — mash them with a potato masher, then add a truly injudicious amount of butter and cream. Season it, and again you look like a pro. If nothing else goes right tonight, good mashed potatoes will save you.

On the other hand, there’s couscous. It looks like rice. It’s faster and easier than rice. It’s not rice. Mix dry couscous with an equal amount of boiling water or broth and a little butter. Cover it and leave it alone for seven minutes. Stir it with a fork and boom, you’ve cooked couscous, baby!

Toasted ravioli. Photo by John Fladd.

A COMFORT FOOD DINNER

Valentine’s Day comfort tastes delicious, is bad for you and doesn’t have to be paired with anything. However, here are some notes.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Don’t believe what anybody has told you: Do not spread mayonnaise on the bread instead of butter. No, it is not “just as good.” Try to remember to leave butter out in the morning to soften up. Make sure you thoroughly butter each exterior side of the sandwich before you grill it in a pan. Fancy cheese doesn’t make for a better grilled cheese. Don’t let anyone shame you out of using American, if that’s how you roll. Cheddar or pepper jack are always good. Edam is about as fancy as you want to go. Serve your sandwich with a crunchy pickle.

Tater Tots

Don’t try to save time or energy by using your air fryer. That’s fine 364 days a year, but on Valentine’s Day, actually bake your Tater Tots in the oven. Cook them on a wire cooling rack that you’ve placed inside a baking sheet. This will let the hot air get to all sides of the Tots, and you won’t have to flip them halfway through cooking.

Toasted Ravioli or Pierogi

Don’t worry about thawing or pre-cooking them. Fry them — frozen — in butter over medium-low heat. By the time they are golden brown on both sides, the insides will be warm and creamy. If you’re making pierogi, spend 20 minutes beforehand and caramelize some onions to go with them.

Buttered Noodles

Follow the instructions on the box. Boil the pasta for that long; don’t depend on your memory. Drain it and add real, full-fat, salted butter. I recommend radiatori, but you know what kind of noodle your loved one likes. If you don’t, you need to do some hard thinking about your place in the World.

Ultra-rich brownie with melted ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce. Photo by John Fladd.

A DECADENT DESSERT

Maybe you want to make some kind of romantic gesture but you’d really rather not make a huge production out of it. There is a middle ground: a decadent dessert — something rich and chocolatey. You want it to be a celebration, just not with trumpets and confetti — maybe something you can share with the lights low and the music romantic.

Ultra-Rich Brownies with Malted Ice Cream & Homemade Chocolate Sauce

The Brownies

6 ounces (1½ of the big bars you find at the supermarket) 99 percent dark or unsweetened chocolate, broken up

18 Tablespoons (2¼ sticks) butter

4 eggs

2½ cups (495 g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1¾ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Butter a 9”x 9” baking pan, and line it with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave. Heat them in a plastic or glass bowl for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave them for another 20 or 30 seconds, stir, then another 15 or so, until they have melted and combined. Set aside.

With an electric beater or in a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt at high speed for three minutes, until the mixture is extremely light and creamy. There isn’t any leavener in this recipe, so the air you beat in now will do any raising these brownies get.

Turn down the speed on your mixer, and blend in the chocolate mixture. Wish it luck and Godspeed. Salute it, if you feel so inclined.

At very slow speed, add the flour, a couple of spoonfuls at a time. More flour or a higher speed will cover you with flour.

When the flour is completely mixed in, stop the mixer. Stir the mixture once or twice with a rubber spatula to make sure everything gets combined thoroughly, then pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Set aside to cool.

The Ice Cream

Plain, store-bought vanilla ice cream is just about perfect for this dish. If you wanted to go a step further — make a semi-grand gesture, perhaps — homemade malted milk ice cream might be 10 percent more delicious.

3 cups (680 g) half-and-half

¾ cup (106 g) malted milk powder

3 egg yolks

½ cup (99 g) sugar

¼ cup (53 g) brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Heat the half-and-half and malted milk powder, stirring, over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and sugars together.

When the cream has come to a simmer, very, very slowly pour it into the egg mixture, stirring vigorously. You’re adding the cream slowly to keep it from scrambling the eggs.

When everything is mixed together, return it to the saucepan and heat it again until it has thickened slightly. If you are keeping track of the temperature, this will be at around 175ºF.

Remove your ice cream base from the heat, and strain it into a one-quart container. Let it cool, then stir in the vanilla, and store, covered, in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. It has had a traumatic day. Say something comforting to it as you close the refrigerator door.

When the ice cream base has thoroughly chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the soft ice cream to a container, then put it in your freezer to harden up.

This is a delicious, fairly subtly flavored ice cream that will complement the rich chocolate in the brownie and the chocolate sauce.

The Chocolate Sauce

1 cup (250 g) water

½ cup (160 g) corn syrup

½ cup (100 g) sugar

¾ cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

⅓ cup (2 ounces, 55 g) chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine everything but the chocolate chips. The cocoa is hydrophobic, which makes it sound like it has rabies, but that just means that it doesn’t like to mix with water. It will take some energetic whisking and a stern look to bring everything together.

Keep whisking the sauce over medium heat, until it just starts to boil. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips. They will melt and incorporate within a few seconds.

Let the sauce sit for an hour or two to thicken and for the ingredients to get to know each other. Let’s face it; you forced the issue with your whisking. It’s only fair to give everyone time to calm down and settle in.

This is not an overly sweet chocolate sauce. It’s definitely a dessert sauce, but there’s a seriousness about it. It tastes like chocolate, not like candy. You may have noticed that there is no vanilla in the ingredients; that would have rounded out the edges of the chocolate and given it a mellowness. Without it, this sauce is a handsome man in a dark suit.

Putting It All Together

It’s pretty straightforward. Plate a brownie, top it with slightly more ice cream than you might think, and spoon your homemade chocolate sauce on top. You might want to heat the brownie for a few seconds in the microwave, but just until it is gently warm, not hot and gooey. That’s for another occasion.

This dessert is all about contrast. There are chocolate purists who insist that you should use all chocolate — the brownie, the ice cream and the sauce — chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. That would be too much here. The brownie and the sauce are two shades of very serious chocolate. They need vanilla or malted ice cream to stand out and show off their depth.

A note: These are extremely dense and rich brownies. For Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re sharing, go ahead and plate a conventional-size serving. Even the two of you might not finish it — it’s that rich — but this dessert is a Medium Dramatic Gesture (MDG), so now is not the time to start being practical. When you eat the rest of the brownies over the next few days, you’ll probably want to cut them into 1½-inch squares.

Romantic cocktail. Photo by John Fladd.

A ROMANTIC COCKTAIL

In the end, love is tricky.

Sometimes it sneaks up on you; you wake up one morning and realize that you’ve fallen like a 50-pound sack of cement. Sometimes it hits you between the eyes instantly — again, like a sack of cement. Sometimes it consumes you, filling every cell with fire and bubbles. But not cement.

So how do you express that? Love letters? Fighting a duel? A prenuptial agreement?

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday. That doesn’t leave much opportunity to express what’s in your heart.

But a good cocktail might be a good symbolic gesture.

Unnamed Valentine’s Day Cocktail

3 ounces dry gin – a botanical gin might seem like an obvious choice for this, but you don’t want to muddy the other ingredients; a crisp London-style gin like Fords is just right for this

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

1 ounce elderflower liqueur – I like St. Germain

3 drops rose water – as you add this, it won’t seem like enough, but three drops is just about exactly the right amount; you just want a subtle back-note of roses, you don’t want this to be too perfumey.

Several ounces of Asti spumante – you’ll be tempted to go up-market on this, to break out your expensive bubbly, but the spumante brings a sweetness that really adds to the finished cocktail. If this cocktail goes over well enough, you can save the Dom for another occasion.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lime juice, elderflower liqueur, and rose water over ice. Shake for 30 seconds.

Strain into two cocktail glasses, and top with spumante.

Drink together while listening to Frank Sinatra’s cover of “Fly Me to the Moon.” Warning: This might lead to dancing.

The gin is the driver of this particular limousine. The spumante and the elderflower are the couple in the back seat saying, “Keep your eyes on the road, Fords.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Fords says.

The wine is what you notice in the front end, but with a floral aftertaste. This is not an overly boozy cocktail. (With that said, three of these could lead to questionable decision-making, which in a Valentine’s Day context might be just what you’re looking for.)

After all, isn’t that what Love is? The triumph of the heart over common sense?

Roller Revival

A look at a new roller risk and advice on picking your perfect skates

A New spin

Remix Roller Rink offer all-ages fun

By: Michael Witthaus

Remix Roller Rink. Courtesy photo.

With the opening of Remix Skate and Event Center in December, New Hampshire now has a commercial roller rink, its first since 2019, when Great View Rollerskating in Enfield closed. The new business, however, isn’t a throwback, even if their logo’s stripey lettering evokes the ’70s roller disco craze. Rather, it’s a modern take on the concept, aimed at multiple demographics.

Along with a capacious hardwood rink, Remix offers several swankier touches, like upscale pub food, craft beer and a machine that makes design-etched cotton candy. Children’s birthday parties are a staple, but Remix also hosts things geared to an older crowd, like an 18+ R&B Night held Jan. 6, and similar ’90s and Latin events.

Matt and Kelly Pearson were rollerbladers in high school but haven’t skated much since. They’re also entrepreneurs, who tend to start businesses that align with their lives at a given moment. Before they met, Matt was a wedding DJ. After marriage and kids, they opened Cowabunga’s Indoor Kids Play & Party Center on Huse Road in Manchester.

Their oldest child, a son, is now 16 and has outgrown jungle gyms. Rather than buy him a minibike or snowmobile, the Pearsons began eyeing the now-vacant space next to Cowabunga’s and thinking about a solution for other teenagers like theirs. They considered opening a bowling alley, which didn’t particularly excite them, then thought about expanding the indoor playground, but soon the two began conceiving Remix.

“That kind of vibe is ingrained in me. There’s no better place for a hang than a roller-skating rink,” Matt Pearson said. “There’s not really any places for teens to hang out … so we were like, alright, if we make a roller rink, what would that look like in 2023? Would it be neon floors and birthday parties … a roller-skating rink of the ’80s and ’90s? No, it would be what those kids would want in modern times.”

Finding a way to make it work was the first and biggest challenge, beginning with the size. Matt called the Huse Road location “a little bit of a boutique venue.” Poles and an odd floor layout meant the skating area would only be around two-thirds the size of a regulation rink. The Pearsons turned this liability to their advantage.

“We learned through Covid that we can capacity control,” Matt said. “With back-end ticketing, we have limits. The rink was smaller than others we were accustomed to, but at the same time, we don’t have to pack it with that many people. That’s how you find a sweet spot of capacity, seating space and other amenities to make the whole thing jive.”

On the other hand, the idea of hosting roller derby matches had to be scrapped. “We worked with the New Hampshire Roller Derby Girls, had them in early to take a look at the space, to see if an opportunity was there,” Matt said. “They said, ‘it’s great and we love it … for dinner and drinks, but we can only use this maybe for practice.”

A few of the Derby Girls, however, work at Remix as servers and rink hosts. “It’s a relationship that’s worked out pretty well,” he said, adding, “one thing we learned is we weren’t necessarily bringing roller skating back to New Hampshire, because there is an underground scene with a lot of skaters.”

Remix has enough space for live music, when the time comes.

“Roller rinks of old just needed a DJ booth, but we’re trying to remix this idea, so we made the stage a little bit bigger,” Matt said. “Maybe an ’80s cover band that we love will come over and do a night with us, with pro skaters…. It’s an amazing opportunity for really fun nights.”

For now, skaters can reserve two-hour slots Tuesday through Sunday, with either classic quad skates or rollerblades included in the $20 cost. Skaters can switch from one to the other midway as well. Initially, more patrons are opting for old-style wheels.

“Blades are the minority,” Matt said, “but for my generation, I think we’re a rollerblade crew.”

The Pearsons are pleased to offer wholesome fun for all ages.

“It’s still a family entertainment venue,” Matt said. “All the little characteristics that we brought to Cowabunga’s, we’re bringing here. There’s no better place to do a birthday party than a roller rink, and we can execute that on the weekends. But the after-work scene, 18-plus and 21-plus nights out, is the unspoken opportunity.”

Deciding what to call this new place turned out to be the easiest piece of the endeavor.

“It’s really a remixed version of roller skating in modern times,” Matt Pearson said. “What better name to call it than Remix?”

Find your skates

Expert help for picking your new set of wheels

By: Angie Sykeny

Bruised Boutique Skate Shop. Courtesy photo.

Eric Jones, manager at Bruised Boutique Skate Shop in Nashua, discussed the essential considerations and tips for new and experienced roller skaters, emphasizing the importance of proper fit, safety gear and skating etiquette.

What should beginners consider when choosing roller skates?

Beginners should prioritize finding skates that best fit their foot shape. Budget is an important consideration, but the trickier aspect is ensuring a good fit. Since people’s feet come in various shapes, it’s recommended to visit a store, like us — we’re the only one in New England, though — to try on different skates. This approach helps in finding a pair that is best suited to the individual’s foot shape, whether they are kids or adults.

How do you determine the right size?

In a store, it’s a matter of guess and check to find the right fit. Online it’s more challenging, and exchanges might be necessary if the fit isn’t right. However, most introductory-level skates are designed to accommodate a wide variety of foot shapes, making it less likely to get the wrong fit. … For adults, most roller skate brands size their skates close to men’s shoe sizes as a standard. Generally, using your men’s shoe size should give you a relatively safe fit. For women, that’s typically about one-and-a-half sizes down from their shoe size. Children’s roller skates are made in kid sizes, which should match their shoe size. Sizes range from Junior 10 through 13 and then size 1 and 2. It’s advisable to consider room for growth, so kids often leave with a size larger than their measured size.

What safety gear is necessary for skating at a roller rink?

At roller rinks in our area, safety gear is optional, so you don’t necessarily need anything. However, for kids it’s common to use knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and sometimes helmets, especially if they’re going to be skating outdoors. Combo packs that include knees, elbows and wrists are available and affordably priced for kids. For adults, they usually opt for knee pads and wrist guards, skipping elbow pads. Wrist guards are particularly smart to have since falls can impact the wrists. While safety gear is not strictly necessary for rinks, it is recommended for activities like roller derby, skating in skate parks, and outdoor skating, where helmets are advised.

What types of helmets are available for skating?

The helmets available for skating are mostly derived from skateboarding styles. There are basic helmets designed to be cushy and cost-effective for general use. For those engaged in more practical purposes like skating outdoors or activities like roller derby, certified helmets are available. These certified helmets have the same safety certifications as bike helmets and are made of a hard foam that can crack under a significant impact to provide better protection.

What additional protective gear would you recommend for people who are prone to accidents?

Besides the standard ensemble of knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and helmets, we also recommend padded shorts, often referred to as butt pads. These padded shorts are especially useful for those engaged in roller derby, skatepark activities and outdoor skating. They provide extra protection for falls and are a good option for anyone who feels they might be prone to falling a lot at the rink, especially for adults who are just learning to skate.

What tips would you give to first-time skaters for a safe and enjoyable experience?

Go slow and wear safety gear while learning. It’s also important to be aware of the unwritten rule at roller rinks: fast skaters should stay on the outside, while slower skaters should stay closer to the middle. This helps maintain safety and order in the rink.

Wedding Section

Hiring a Professional

There’s a lot more to nuptials than saying “I do.”

In fact, there are so many moving parts that it might make sense for you to hire someone to help out — or several someones. Here’s a look at some of the available professional services to help take some of the stress out of planning and putting on a wedding. Why not simply enjoy your day?

Planning services

Wedding planners are hired to look at the big picture, making sure everything works in concert as your wedding day unfolds. In some cases, you may be able to break apart their responsibilities, but others don’t offer a la carte options. They want to make sure it all unfolds flawlessly. During your initial consultation meeting, you’ll discuss personal expectations, their available packages, and information on coordinating during your actual wedding day.

Don’t worry about a venue if you hire a wedding planner. They will listen carefully to your explanation and then select a series of possible facilities to meet your criteria. Once your big day arrives, the wedding planner will then take control of every aspect of the wedding event. They’ll hire and manage vendors, as needed, while providing directions to guests and your wedding party.

Photographer

You’re going to want lots of documentation from this special event. Don’t rely on friends and family to get the best photos. Make sure a professional photographer is on hand to capture the quality images you’ll keep with you for a lifetime. Ask for referrals before hiring someone, ask people in your circle about their experiences, and look over examples of their previous wedding assignments. Then create a detailed plan based on how the event will unfold, and what you are looking for from the pre-wedding activities and reception.

Florist

You want to get the most out of the bounty of spring, so splurge on an expert in floral arrangements. A florist will help create centerpieces, fun accents and your bouquets, adding pops of color and intrigue. When you meet, explain your expectations and color palette in as much detail as possible. This is a particularly important hire if you have booked a destination wedding, since you’re likely unfamiliar with the local varieties and when they are at their peak.

Spring Wedding Necessities

Spring offers its own natural beauty.

Blossoming flowers complete the gorgeous setting, adding pops of color and fresh scents to your special day. But no spring wedding would be complete without a few other necessities. Here’s a look:

Fresh style looks

The warmer weather opens up all sorts of style options for fashionable brides. Make sure your look matches the moments with soft colors and lightweight material so friends and family can enjoy the nuptials in comfort. Choosing the bridesmaids’ dresses can be particularly fun this time of year, with lots of options in shades of the same color.

Outdoor dancing

Look for venues with space for outdoor dancing, so you can celebrate your new union in the warmth of a starry night. Setting all of this up can add another layer of logistical issues, considering you’ll need both power and lights. Discuss where the band or DJ will need to set up, and ensure the facility has everything needed. Of course, the best venues are old pros at this and will have a detailed plan ready to share. Be sure to update them on the number of guests who are expected to ensure there’s room for everyone.

Hydration station

Everyone is bound to be thirsty after the ceremony, and particularly after cutting a rug for a while at the reception. Be sure there are plenty of drinks on hand to quench their thirst, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic.

Spring is the perfect time for eye-catching libations, from lemonade and margaritas to iced tea and fruity drinks. Ask about clear glass pitchers to show everything off. If the venue can accommodate it, consider making separate stations for different kinds of drinks.

Light desserts

Don’t forget that desserts are about more than the wedding cake. Take advantage of the opportunity to wow your guests by bringing the same level of creativity to the final course of the evening. Besides a wedding cake that’s bound to be beautiful and delicious, create something that makes use of in-season fruits and berries to garnish colorful cookies and pies. Your decorator can complete the look with centerpieces based on similar colors. Spring-themed cakes are always a hit, and you can also have lots of fun with cupcakes. Top it all off with a champagne toast. What better way to celebrate such a huge occasion?

Take it Outside

There’s something special about an outdoor wedding, especially if you’re planning a gorgeous, romantic destination event.

But even if you are planning on having your nuptials in the backyard, there are certain benchmark elements that you’ll need to have in place to pull it all off. Here’s a checklist to make your spring outdoor wedding a stress-free success:

Communication plan

There needs to be a central communication hub so that check-ins and changes can be communicated, whether that’s a group text, a Facebook event page, wedding website or online meeting space. Vendors, guests, friends and members of the wedding party should be able to quickly and easily get in contact if they have questions or concerns. This will become particularly important if there is a major change in plans, but can be helpful in even small situations — such as when someone is running late.

If you don’t hire a wedding planner, designate a family member or friend to monitor the agreed-upon communication hub.

Know the rules

Be aware of local noise and crowd regulations. There may be local statutes or venue guidelines when it comes to how loudly and how long a band or DJ can play music.

You also need to make sure you don’t block traffic, or create other issues for people who live in or are traveling through the area. Make sure you know where and when people are allowed to park. You don’t want to end up with unforeseen issues with neighbors or business owners because of overflow traffic.

If you’re worried about having enough space for all of your guests to park, contact nearby churches or schools — and then direct people there.

Alternate location

The biggest risk with outdoor events of any kind, of course, is bad weather. Your wedding will be planned out months in advance, meaning there’s no way to check the forecast for rain. Create a backup plan just in case. Tour suitable alternate venues or look for outdoor sites that have nearby buildings so everything can be quickly transferred.

Wedding Favors

Wedding favors are your way of saying thank you to everyone who was a part of your special event.

The average cost of these gifts, according to The Knot wedding website, is several hundred dollars. Still, that’s worth it. They let guests know that you care, while providing them with a small special memory of their own from the big day. Here are a few gift ideas:

Go green

Giving plants as a wedding favor is hip and eco-friendly, and they’re especially attractive if your wedding is being held in an outdoor setting. Match with local flora or fauna, and you’re literally allowing your friends and family to take a piece of your wedding home with them. Once it’s home, their plant will become a living memory. Succulents are on trend, and also easy to care for. Stop by a local nursery to ask for specifics, keeping in mind that some native plants may not transfer well when brought back home.

Get going

Destination weddings offer a great opportunity to match the event with a travel theme. Pick fun items like luggage tags, maps and travel snacks, then arrange them in attractive totes. Or go hyper-local, giving your guests things that are only found in the area where you’re getting married. That might be a special food, handmade good, or art object. Having a beach wedding? Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Time to indulge

Trendy items this year include coffee mugs and miniature candles. For the more offbeat, consider heart-shaped tea bags or mini-pizza cutters. Edible wedding favors like small chocolates, jars of honey or cupcakes can both surprise and delight. If you’re already indulging in plenty of flowers, add floral-inspired lollipops in flavors like champagne and roses, lemon and thyme, and rosemary and mint. One memorable offering even has seeds infused into the sticks, so they can be planted afterward.

Fun and games

Add flair with personalized items like napkins, plastic cups, shot glasses, wine glass charms and miniature bottles of liquor, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages with your names and the wedding date. Other personalized options include koozies, matchboxes, playing cards and mugs which can be made with messages, names, dates or even pictures. Everyone can enjoy them right away at the reception, or bring things home as a special memento from your nuptials.

A New Take on Dairy

Wine and cheese may have long been staples at weddings, but cheese is now having its own moment.

Wedding celebrations are now including everything from upscale charcuterie and exciting cheesecake options to comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Here’s how to join this growing trend:

Boards and wines

Charcuterie is a French word that originally referred to preparing meats, particularly pork, and then presenting them in a variety of ways. Today, the selection and variety of ingredients have wildly expanded. Ham, sausages, bacon or confit can be paired with complementary cheeses, jams, fruits or nuts of your choosing. Create your own unique charcuterie boards or enticing spreads on a main table, or smaller versions at individual seating areas, so everyone can join in the cheesy fun. They’re attractive and often cost-efficient.

Consider hiring a sommelier, or wine expert, if the budget allows. They’ll know just which libation matches with the unique flavor combinations you’ve created on these charcuterie boards. Ideally, there will be a variety of choices in both whites and reds, so everyone can enjoy the evening. Some couples also choose to pair all of this with craft beer, to add a modern twist.

Comfort foods

Grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese aren’t just easy home-cooked meals anymore. Caterers are increasingly including these warm, cheesy delights are part of their wedding reception offerings, but with more polished culinary twists, of course. Nutty Gruyere, gooey fontina and sharp cheddar jazz up mini-bite sandwiches, which are made using inventive breads and spreads. Macaroni and cheese is also being elevated, with inviting new cheese choices and fun pasta shapes. Try cavatappi, penne or rotini. Then dive into Swiss, blue cheese, creamy Alfredo or Gruyere-based sauces. Top it all off with pancetta or crispy bacon, diced tomatoes (particularly welcome if it gets a little too warm at your spring wedding), spicy jalapenos, fresh broccoli or chopped herbs.

After dinner

The multi-tiered wedding cake still rules in all of its confectionery glory. But cheese is elbowing its way to the table too in the form of exciting cheesecake options or cheeses matched with sweets like fresh fruit.

Cheese and fruit are a great alternative if the spouses-to-be or guests are going low-carb or gluten-free.

Warm up with Cool Tunes

A look at the Winter Music Series heating up the local scene

With sunny gazebo concerts hovering between distant memory and faint promise, live music has moved indoors for the coming months. Fortunately a lot of venues are stepping up, most with original artists in unique settings like wineries, brewpubs, museums and apres-ski shows.

Here’s a look at a few places using music to help shake winter’s chill.

Justin Cohn, Katie Dobbins, Holly Furlone. Courtesy photo.

Flying Goose Brewpub & Grille

The Flying Goose Brewpub & Grille is home to New Hampshire’s longest-running listening room series.

“It started in 1993 or 1994,” Tom Pirozzoli, who founded it and played its first show, said recently. “I approached my old friend Tom Mills with the idea … after having released a new CD.”

In the late ’80s Pirozzoli ran a similar effort in Keene at a place called Chalkboard West, doing booking, sound and occasionally performing. The contacts he made there helped to get the Flying Goose effort off the ground.

Every year from autumn to early spring it hosts the cream of New England’s folk and roots scene.

“We try to mix some new acts in each year and also stay true to our longtime friends like Tom Rush, David Mallett and Aztec Two Step,” Pirozzoli said.

Among the performers in the current series is Lucy Kaplansky, who’s taking a quick break from the successful On a Winter’s Night tour with fellow folk singers John Gorka, Cliff Eberhart and Patty Larkin (who’s also appearing this year). Kaplansky, whose most recent album is 2022’s Last Days of Summer, is a returning favorite of the series.

“I’m always so happy to play there,” Kaplansky said by phone from her home in New York City. “The audience is great and people come no matter what the weather is like — one time, it was literally 20 below. Tom does a great job with the sound, the staff is super nice, the food is great. It’s a wonderful gig.”

Flying Goose Brewpub & Grille (40 Andover Road, New London, flyinggoose.com)

Thursday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. – New England Bluegrass Band

Thursday, Feb. 8, 7:30 p.m. – Mark Erelli

Thursday, Feb. 29, 7:30 p.m. – Ari Hest

Thursday, March 7, 7:30 p.m. – Lucy Kaplansky

Thursday, March 21, 7:30 p.m. – Patty Larkin

Thursday, April 4, 7:30 p.m. – David Francey

Thursday, April 11, 7:30 p.m. – Ordinary Elephant

Thursday, April 25, 7:30 p.m. – Garnet Rogers

Currier Museum of Art

The Currier Museum of Art is a longtime friend of live music, with its Thursday After Work concerts a prime example. While those are on seasonal hiatus and will be back in the spring, there are currently regular Sunday performances in the museum’s Winter Garden restaurant.

Majed Sabri, the Currier’s Digital Operations Manager, said in a recent phone interview that the museum tends to re-book musicians who connect with the brunch crowd, adding that the performers share a common thread.

“They’re local, and we’re always about uplifting local talent,” he said. “They all have a really great vibe; we don’t want to have an overpowering sound, and they’re really good at being beautiful background music. People ask to have them back.”

Currier Museum (150 Ash St., Manchester, currier.org)

Sunday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m. – Mac Holmes

Sunday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – Joey Clark (plays harmonica too), alt country

Sunday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m. – Seth Connolly, original rock and blues, very talented guitarist

Sunday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m. – Mac Holmes

Sunday, Feb. 25, 11 a.m. – Joey Clark (tentative)

Sunday, March 3, 11 a.m. – Joey Clark

Sunday, March 10, 11 a.m. – Seth Connolly

Sunday, March 17, 11 a.m. – Mac Holmes

Sunday, March 24, 11 a.m. – Harry Borch

Hermit Woods Winery

Musician Katie Dobbins launched the Songwriter RoundUp Series at Hermit Woods Winery a year ago. Happening the final Wednesday of the month, each show features Dobbins and two other artists doing original material in a classic “song pull” format. The evening ends with all three joining together for a cover, anything from Sara Bareilles to The Band’s “The Weight.”

Sometimes the guests are people she’s worked with in the past, like Brooks Young, who’ll be at the Feb. 28 event. Other times a performer is one that Dobbins knows by reputation and wants to work with.

“I spend a lot of time… trying to cultivate a bill of folks that will complement each other and make a really special evening,” Dobbins said from her home in the Lakes Region. “A lot of times it’s our first time meeting each other, so you never know quite what’s going to happen. But it’s always been really fun.”

With great sound and sightlines, along with a small capacity, the winery provides an intimate, artist-centric space. Working for an audience that’s completely focused on music “matters a lot,” Dobbins said. “Bar gigs are fun too; there’s a place for them in their own way, but there is something really special about getting away from that.”

Hermit Woods Winery (72 Main St., Meredith, hermitwoods.com)

(tickets $10 to $15 at eventbrite.com)

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m. – Katie Dobbins, Dan Fallon & Dylan Patrick Ward

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. – Katie Dobbins, Brooks Young & Tim Winchester

Wednesday, March 27, 7 p.m. – Katie Dobbins, Sam Luke Chase & Jay Psaros

Wednesday, April 24, 7 p.m. – Katie Dobbins, Jeanette & Marlena Phillips

Pats Peak Ski Area

Apres-ski action at Henniker’s Pats Peak resort includes Irish-flavored acoustic group The McMurphys stopping in frequently. This year the big news is Monkeys With Hammers: guitarist Chris Lester (Sully Erna, Mama Kicks), drummer Eric Wagley and bass player Rich Knox who’ll play a one-off reunion show on Saturday, March 2.

Pats Peak Ski Area (686 Flanders Road, Henniker, patspeak.com)

Saturday, Jan. 27, 6 p.m. – Kimayo

Saturday, Feb. 3, 6 p.m. – The McMurphys

Saturday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m. – The 603s

Saturday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m. – The McMurphys

Saturday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. – April Cushman Trio

Saturday, March 2, 6 p.m. – Monkeys With Hammers

Saturday, March 9, 6 p.m. – River Sang Wild

Sunday, March 10, 6 p.m. – Supernothing

Saturday, March 16, 6 p.m. – Tyler Levs

Saturday, March 23, 6 p.m. – Andrea Paquin

Saturday, March 30, 6 p.m. – The McMurphys

Bank of NH Stage

The Capitol Center for the Arts hosts a recurring afternoon series at its Cantin Room, located upstairs in their Bank of NH Stage’s lounge. The event is curated by NH Music Collective.

“We focus on local performers who often don’t get a chance to see their name up in lights on Main Street,” NHMC’s John McArthur said recently. “The audiences and performers love that everyone is there to listen. It’s a beautiful way for performers to closely connect with their fans without distractions.”

Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St., Concord, ccanh.com)

Sunday, Feb. 4 – Heather Pierson Duo

Sunday, March 3 – Alex Preston

Sunday, April 7 – Senie Hunt

Sunday, May 5 – Run Like Thieves (EP release)

Nippo Lake Golf Club & Restaurant

Acoustic music fans delight in the Nippo Lake Bluegrass Series, which lasts from October through April. The long-running event features some of the region’s finest players and over the years has grown into a Sunday evening tradition.

Nippo Lake Golf Club & Restaurant (88 Stagecoach Road, Barrington – nippobluegrass.com)

Sunday, Jan. 28, 6 p.m. – She Gone

Sunday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m. – New England Bluegrass Band

Sunday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m. – Chicken Shack

Sunday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m. – Lunch at the Dump

Sunday, March 3, 6 p.m. – Cedar Mountain

Sunday, March 10, 6 p.m. – High Range

Sunday, March 24, 6 p.m. – Unsung Heroes

Sunday, April 7, 6 p.m. – Cordwood

Sunday, April 14, 6 p.m. – Wide Open Spaces

Sunday, April 21, 6 p.m. – Old Hat

Joey Clark. Courtesy photo.

The Livery

NH Music Collective’s monthly events at Sunapee’s Livery land on a number of goals, including dinner and fundraising along with music. Upcoming beneficiaries include Full Circle Farm Therapeutic Riding Program and The Newport Recreation Program.

“Through business sponsorships we can bring both local and national touring acts to this intimate 100-seat venue in an historic building,” NHMC’s McArthur said, noting that American Idol favorite Alex Preston is among the performers appearing in coming months.

The Livery in Sunapee Harbor (58 Main St., Sunapee, thelivery.org)

Saturday, Feb. 17 – Slim Volume

Sunday, March 17 – JD and the Stonemasons

Saturday, April 20 – Alex Preston

Sap House Meadery

The NHMC ticketed series at Sap House Meadery offers dinner and music in a bucolic setting. “We curate a very eclectic program that has included international and regional music from Ukraine, Brazil, Cuba, Quebec, India, Ireland, Scotland, Appalachia and West Africa,” NHMC’s McArthur said, calling the varying cuisines “perfect complements to the performances.”

Sap House Meadery (6 Folsom Road, Ossipee, saphousemeadery.com)

Thursday, Feb. 15 – David Hamburger

Thursday, March 14 – Jud Caswell

Thursday, April 18 – Senie Hunt

More winter music series

Front Four Cellars (13 Railroad Ave., Wolfeboro, frontfourcellars.com)

Jan. 26, 5 p.m. – Garrett Smith

Jan. 27, 5 p.m. – Jordan Quinn

Feb. 17, 5 p.m. – Eric Lindberg

Feb. 23, 5 p.m. – Garrett Smith

Feb. 24, 5 p.m. – Chris Lester

March 9, 5 p.m. – Cat Faulkner Duo

March 16, 5 p.m. – Ian Galipeau

March 22, 5 p.m. – Garrett Smith

March 23, 5 p.m. – Mikey G

March 30, 5 p.m. – Tyler Levs

Twin Barns Brewing Co. (194 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, twinbarnsbrewing.com)

Friday, Jan. 26, 5 p.m. – The Lone Wolf Project (Chris Perkins)

Friday, Jan. 27, 5 p.m. – Karen Grenier

Friday, Feb. 2, 5 p.m. – Andrea Paquin

Saturday, Feb. 3, 5 p.m. – Dave Clark

Friday, Feb. 9, 5 p.m. – The Sweetbloods

Saturday, Feb. 10, 5 p.m. – the hArt of Sound

Friday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m. – Dave Zangri

Saturday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m. – Rebecca Turmel

Friday, Feb. 23, 5 p.m. – Tom Boisse

Saturday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. – Kimayo

Friday, March 1, 5 p.m. – Garrett Smith

Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m. – Slim Volume Duo

Friday, March 8, 5 p.m. – Chris Lester

Saturday, March 9, 5 p.m. – Brooks Young

Friday, March 15, 5 p.m. – Jud Caswell

Saturday, March 16, 5 p.m. – Mikey G

Friday, March 22, 5 p.m. – Henry LaLiberte

Saturday, March 23, 5 p.m. – Eric Lindberg

Friday, March 29, 5 p.m. – Andrea Paquin

Saturday, March 30, 5 p.m. – Ian Galipeau

Gunstock Ski Resort (719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, gunstock.com)

Saturday Series – 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10 – Rhys Chalmers

Saturday, Feb. 17 – Arlene Wow!

Saturday, Feb. 24 – Garrett Smith

Saturday, March 2 – B Man

Saturday, March 9 – Paul Warnick

Saturday, March 16 – Arlene Wow!

Saturday, March 23 – Garrett Smith

Saturday, March 30 – Rhys Chalmers

Saturday, April 6 – B Man (Après Annual Pond Skim event)

Crotched Mountain Resort (615 Francestown Road, Bennington, crotchedmtn.com)

Friday, Jan. 26, 6 p.m. – The 603s

Saturday, Jan. 27, 6 p.m. – Chris Lester

Saturday, Feb. 7, 6 p.m. – Eyes of Age

Friday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m. – River Sang Wild

Saturday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. – Tyler Levs

Saturday, March 9, 6 p.m. – Eric Lindberg Band

Saturday, March 16, 6 p.m. – Kimayo

Lucy Kaplansky. Courtesy photo.

Salt Hill Pub Shanty (1407 Route 103, Newbury, salthillpub.com)

Acoustic Lift Ticket Series

Saturday, Jan. 27, 6 p.m. – Ted Mortimer

Saturday, Feb. 3, 6 p.m. – Rob Erwin

Saturday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m. – Dustin Marshall

Saturday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m. – Kim Wilcox

Saturday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. – The Frogz

Saturday, March 2, 6 p.m. – Don Dawson

Saturday, March 9, 6 p.m. – Rhys Chalmers

Saturday, March 6, 6 p.m. – Ted Mortimer

Saturday, March 23, 6 p.m. – Adam McMahon

Saturday, March 30, 6 p.m. – Kim Wilcox

Goosefeathers Pub at Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort (1398 Route 103, Newbury, mountsunapee.com)

Saturday, Jan. 27, 3 p.m. – Ariel Strasser & Ken Budka

Sunday, Jan. 28, 3 p.m. – Alex Cohen

Saturday, Feb. 3, 3 p.m. – Kimayo

Sunday, Feb. 4, 3 p.m. – Mikey G

Saturday, Feb. 10, 3 p.m. – Dave Clark

Sunday, Feb. 11, 3 p.m. – April Cushman Duo

Saturday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m. – Josh Foster

Sunday, Feb. 18, 3 p.m. – Garrett Smith

Saturday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m. – Colin Herlihy

Sunday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m. – Danny McCarthy

Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m. – Tom Boisse

Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m. – The 603s

Saturday, March 9, 3 p.m. – Tyler Levs

Sunday, March 10, 3 p.m. – Chris Lester

Saturday, March 16, 3 p.m. – Ryan Williamson

Sunday, March 17, 3 p.m. – April Cushman Band

Saturday, March 23, 3 p.m. – Kimayo

Sunday, March 24, 3 p.m. – 93 North

Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market (Eagle Square, Concord, downtownconcordwinterfarmersmarket.com)

Saturday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m. to noon – Rebecca Turmel

Saturday, Feb. 3, 9 a.m. to noon – Andrew North

Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. to noon – Doug Farrell

Saturday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to noon – Eyes of Age

Saturday, Feb. 24, 9 a.m. to noon – Hank Osborne

Saturday, March 3, 9 a.m. to noon – Ryan Williamson

Lithermans Limited Brewery (126 Hall St., Suite B, Concord, lithermans.beer)

Thursday, Jan. 25, 5:30 p.m. – Mikey G

Thursday, Feb. 1, 5:30 p.m. – Tom Boisse

Thursday, Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m. – Ryan Williamson

Thursday, Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m. – Charlie Chronopoulos

Thursday, Feb. 22, 5:30 p.m. – Alex Cohen

Thursday, Feb. 29, 5:30 p.m. – Dave Clark

Thursday, March 7, 5:30 p.m. – Chris Lester

Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m. – Ken Budka

Thursday, March 21, 5:30 p.m. – Josh Foster

Thursday, March 28, 5:30 p.m. – The hArt of Sound

Contoocook Farmers Market (Maple Street Elementary School, 194 Maple St., Hopkinton)

Saturday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m. to noon – Taylor Marie

Saturday, Feb. 3, 9 a.m. to noon – Hank Osborne

Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. to noon – Mary Fagan

Saturday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to noon – Ryan Williamson

Saturday, Feb. 24, 9 a.m. to noon – Ian Galipeau

Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m. to noon – Cat Faulkner Duo

Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. to noon – Brad Myrick

Saturday, March 16, 9 a.m. to noon – Rebecca Turmel

Saturday, March 23, 9 a.m. to noon – Paul Gormley

Saturday, March 30, 9 a.m. to noon – Scott King

Saturday, April 6, 9 a.m. to noon – Paul Driscoll

Saturday, April 13, 9 a.m. to noon – Joey Clark

Browse for Adventure

In Praise of the brick and mortar Bookstore plus recommendations for new reads and book clubs to join

There’s nothing quite like the experience of shopping at your local independent bookstore, and luckily New Hampshire has several. Here’s what those in the business had to say about the local book shopping experience and current reading trends.

Balin Books

Previously the Nashua location of Toadstool Bookshop, Balin Books introduced its new name in early 2023 (Balin rhymes with “gallon,” according to the store’s Facebook page). The store is still under the ownership of one of the original founders.

“We have a new name but … nothing else has changed about our business other than the fact that there’s a different sign above the door,” said manager Michael Joachim. A general book store, Balin Books is able to tailor its stock to what the community wants.

What do people get from shopping at bookstores that they don’t get online? What is that experience like and why do you think people seek it?

Balin Books. Courtesy photo.

It’s interesting because … there was a pretty big crisis following the rise of Borders and Barnes & Noble, which dramatically changed the landscape. Bookstores adjusted and they kind of survived that and then Amazon and other online purchasing came and that was another big crisis that reduced a number of stores, and the people that were left, I think, were the real survivors, the people who figured out how to be an asset to the community and to offer something that people actually wanted rather than just a bunch of companies that opened stores willy-nilly all over the landscape and didn’t really have a way to survive. I think there’s always … a foundation

… of people who, while they might buy books online, they want the experience of wandering through the store and actually seeing what’s available in front of them as opposed to poking on a screen, flip through a book, get a look at what’s actually in it, compare to what else is available in that same category and that same subject and make a decision right away and buy it. They just want to absorb what’s out there and you’re never going to get that online, and that’s very important to a significant number of people, so if you can create that environment where browsing is a pleasurable, informative experience, and have the right selection and the right services, you will survive and do well.

How have local bookstores, and yours specifically, fared with the times and trends of online shopping with sites like Amazon and big bookstores like Barnes & Noble? How have you adapted and changed?

I think you’ve got to be involved in the community. We do a lot of work with the local schools, there are educators that come to us and we help either provide books for the class or get discounts for kids who need it in their classes. We’re connected to the Nashua Public Library pretty well … You have to have a great selection. You [have] to have an inventory that matches what your community is looking to buy, looking to browse. You also have knowledgeable people who know how to help and have some experience and can answer some of those questions. A lot of people are intimidated when they walk into a bookstore because they don’t want to look dumb. They don’t want to ask questions that may make them uncomfortable. If you walk into … a bigger chain store like that where the turnover is more substantial, if that person doesn’t know what you’re trying to find and then you make the customer feel uncomfortable, the whole thing just gets a little weird. People love that when they come in here … [if they] don’t understand what it is they’re looking for we can help them get to the answer without making them feel uncomfortable.

Have you noticed any other patterns or trends of shopping at local bookstores?

I find a lot of people come in and say that they’re really pleased that we’re here. … When I started in the business … almost every town or every couple of towns had a local bookstore where people could come and get what they needed. That’s changed dramatically. You can go 20 miles without a bookstore now. I think for the bookstores that are still here, and the bookstores that are doing well and offer a real service to the community, a lot of people really appreciate that … they want to support a local, independently owned store and that’s gratifying.

When genres seem to be attracting the most interest from readers?

Historically it’s always been children’s books, which is a big age group anywhere from baby books to young adult. That’s a big chunk of our store because a lot of people want to buy books for their children, they want them to read [and] people buy them as gifts. For adults it’s fiction, biography, history. But then we have people who want … self-help books, cookbooks, but within the fiction genre, which is a big chunk of our store, we’ve got mystery, suspense, horror, science fiction, romance — all those things are a big part of what we offer.

Is there any type of book, whether genre or author, that has become popular in the last few years that has surprised you?

There’s been a very big boom in romance, specifically a couple of authors that figured out how to use TikTok to promote themselves and particularly a woman named Colleen Hoover … [who] I believe … came out of nowhere to be the bestselling author in the country two years ago … so it’s been interesting to watch how people can work the market place to promote themselves and how it actually works. … I think an independent store can react a lot more quickly to something like that … we can just jump on it right away, get some books in pretty quickly and respond to the community.

What was the most popular book of 2023 and what books are you excited for in 2024?

There’s a book called Fourth Wing, which was a fantasy book that, again, the author [Rebecca Yarros] did something online to promote herself and it was just a huge book. The sequel Iron Flame came out right around Christmas time and that was big. And Sarah J. Maas, who writes fantasy books, has a new book coming out next month, which should also be gigantic.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I like the last Stephen King book, Holly. … That was a good book, that’s the one that’s sticking with me at the moment.

Balin Books
Where: Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St. in Nashua; 417-7981, balinbooks.com
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Upcoming author events:
Jeanne Dietsch, to discuss her report New Hampshire: Battleground in the Fight to Dismantle Democracy, on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 11 a.m.

Five recent releases recommended by Balin Books
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
A Stroke of the Pen by Terry Pratchett
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee
Gator Country by Rebecca Renner
Alfie & Me by Carl Safina

Bookery Manchester

Liz Hitchcock, along with her husband, Jeremy Hitchcock, opened Bookery, a bookstore, gift shop and cafe on Elm Street in Manchester, in 2018 with the goal of creating a venue for civic discourse, community and culture. A general bookstore, Bookery adjusts inventory to align with what the community is reading, and carries other merchandise like candles, socks, puzzles, cards and more. The store hosts events with authors, a monthly book club, weekly storytimes, live music, political talks, workshops and private events.

“We’re really just proactive at seeing what our community’s reading at this time, listening to their feedback on what they want and what they need and following that as our guiding star,” Hitchcock said.

What do people get from shopping at bookstores that they don’t get online? What is that experience like and why do you think people seek it?

I think the main reason why people go to a local bookstore is curation. Obviously I, just like anybody else, can go to Amazon and see … books and some of them have five stars and some of them have three stars, but in the end I want someone to tell me if I read this book then I might enjoy this book … There’s nothing better than someone who’s actually read the book telling you that it’s something that you may enjoy, so it’s really about the process of curation — hand selling is gigantic — and then obviously the ability for us to have authors come into our store to meet our customers is really important as well.

corner in bookstore with shelves against wall and fake fireplace
The Bookery. Courtesy photo.

How have local bookstores, and yours specifically, fared with the times and trends of online shopping with sites like Amazon and big bookstores like Barnes & Noble?

I think that in the end we are probably faring a little bit better than places like Barnes & Noble because we do have an entrenched community that we support and we love. I do think that Barnes & Noble is doing a better job at creating that community around them now that they’ve given more free will to the managers of the stores, but I think that we’re doing well even based on the circumstances of the economy and Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Have you noticed any other patterns or trends of shopping at local bookstores?

Not specifically that I can name. We have seen growth year over year, which has been helpful especially with the rising cost of employees and buying books and shipping, so we appreciate that greatly. I think just really the part that still surprises me is adjacent towns that are still surprised when they see that we have a bookstore of our caliber downtown on Elm Street, so even still getting the word and making sure people know that we’re there, what we offer and that we love our community.

When genres seem to be attracting the most interest from readers?

2023 was a huge year for romantasy, a new hybrid sub-genre between romance and fantasy. Sarah J. Maas is a huge staple of this genre, but this year we have a new heavy hitter in Rebecca Yarros! Her two books Fourth Wing and Iron Flame both caused such a stir in the book world this year it was hard for bookstores to keep up! Fourth Wing centers on a dragon rider academy, with an enemies-to-lovers romance to boot with plenty of spice for those interested!

What was the most popular book of 2023 and what books are you excited for in 2024?

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang was a huge book for us this year. R.F. Kuang ended 2022 with a huge book in Babel, and her new literary fiction rode that high and then some. Yellowface is about two authors, one white, one Asian, working on their manuscripts. When the writer of color suddenly dies, the white author takes it upon herself to steal the late writer’s manuscript, finish it, and pass it off as her own under a pseudonym. A great commentary and satire on whitewashing in lucrative industries. [In] 2024 — We’re really looking toward Knife by Salman Rushdie, releasing in April! It’s a memoir from the author about his recently survived assassination attempt in 2022, 30 years after a “fatwa” was ordered against him by the Supreme Leader of Iran calling for his assassination. It promises to be an eye-opening read about his first-hand account of that day and what followed. Can’t wait!

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I recently read and loved Prophet Song by Paul Lynch! The hype for this one was crazy, considering it won the Booker Prize in the U.K. before its U.S. publication (I was so excited to read it that I ordered a copy from the U.K. before it came out over here). It tells the story of a civil resistance in Ireland after a nameless government regime cracking down on unions and anti-state sentiments. It’s a harrowing universal tale about government and government overreach, and transcends borders given the exact causes and politics associated with the book’s uprising aren’t given. You really can picture yourself in this novel. [It’s] truly transportative!

Bookery Manchester
Where: 844 Elm St., Manchester; 836-6600, bookerymht.com
When: Sunday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Upcoming author events:

  • Joe McQuaid, author of War Fronts Home Fires, on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m.
  • Joseph Carrabis will hold a workshop called “Write Your History, Change Your Life” on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 5 p.m.
  • Matthew Jones, author of Wish I Could Love You: A Collection of Failed Love Stories on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 5 p.m.
  • Fox Hollow, author of Heartstrings, on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 3 p.m.

Gibson’s Bookstore

Founded in 1898, Gibson’s Bookstore is the oldest continuously operating retailer in the Concord area and the largest independent bookstore in northern New England, according to its website. Current owner Michael Herrmann bought the business in 1994, expanded the business twice including the move to its current location in 2013 and bought Imagination Village toy store to integrate into the store, which also has a cafe. At this general bookstore with a wide variety of interests, Herrmann said, “our inventory is designed with Concord in mind.”

What do people get from shopping at bookstores that they don’t get online? What is that experience like and why do you think people seek it?

Bookstores of all kinds are great gathering places. They’re community centers, they’re places that build community, and you can’t really can’t replicate that online. There’s also one thing you can get at a physical bookstore that you can’t get online, [which] is discovery. If you go online looking for something you’ll find it but if you don’t know what you want or you might be open for new experiences then the only way really to get that is browsing in the real world.

How have local bookstores, and yours specifically, fared with the times and trends of online shopping with sites like Amazon and big bookstores like Barnes & Noble?

We’ve always had the larger bookstores to contend with probably since the ’80s, and Amazon came along at the end of the ’90s, so … we’ve been getting used to it for a lot longer than other types of operations have, so the independent bookstores that are still with us are well-equipped to compete with online stores like Amazon.

Have you noticed any other patterns or trends of shopping at local bookstores?

Well, certainly our sales are increasing every year and new independent bookstores are starting every year. The channel has been growing since Borders went out of business in 2011. That was sort of like the asteroid getting the dinosaurs and we were the mammals so our channel has been expanding ever since 2011, and Gibson’s Bookstore’s business has been going up pretty much since 2013.

When genres seem to be attracting the most interest from readers?

Fiction. We’ve seen a lot of new interest in genres like genre fiction [such as] romance and horror, mystery, science fiction. We’ve seen a lot of growth in those areas.

Is there any type of book, whether genre or author, that has become popular in the last few years that has surprised you?

Gibson’s Bookstore. Photo by Ryan Clark.

There’s always room for surprise. You don’t want it to be … formulaic at all, that’s why we take a chance on a lot of different … new authors. Where some of the big box stores have scaled back on, for instance, books for young readers like ages 9 to 12, we continue to bring in a lot of new authors in that area just because some of them are going to be important in the future and we want to build relationships and sales with them as early as possible. And there’s always surprises like this holiday season, the big surprise was how well the book by Liz Cheney did [Oath and Honor]. We didn’t have that on our 2023 bingo card but her book really struck a chord with people and … you can’t predict that in advance. You really don’t know, you sort of have to ride the tiger when the tiger gets to you.

What was the most popular book of 2023 and what books are you excited for in 2024?

Ann Patchett’s book Tom Lake was very popular. We did very well with that. In nonfiction David Grann’s book The Wager was extremely popular.

[In 2024] there’s a new novel by Chris Bohjalian coming out that he’s very excited about launching called Princess of Las Vegas, so I’m looking forward to reading that. … [Also] the new novel by Tana French that’s coming out called The Hunter and then there’s a new book by Tommy Orange, who wrote the novel There There, called Wandering Stars and … that’s coming in March [and I’m] also really looking forward to that.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

The new Tana French [The Hunter]. I just finished it.

Gibson’s Bookstore
Where: 45 S. Main St. in Concord
When: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Upcoming author events:

  • Lloyd Sederer, doctor and author of Caught in the Crosshairs of American Healthcare, on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m.
  • Joe McQuaid, author of War Fronts Home Fires, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Chard deNiord, poet and author of seven books of poetry, presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Leila Philip, author of Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m.

Upcoming releases recommended by Gibson’s

The Demon of Unrest by Erik Larson (April 30); The Women by Kristin Hannah (Feb. 6); Rainbow Black by Maggie Thrush (March 19); Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange (Feb. 27); The Fury by Alex Michaelides (Jan. 16) —recommended by adult book buyer John LeDonne

The Angel of Indian Lake (The Indian Lake Trilogy #3) by Stephen Graham Jones (March 26); Funny Story by Emily Henry (April 23); Love You, Mean It by Jilly Gagnon (April 30); Happy Medium by Sarah Adler (April 30); Kosa by John Durgin (New Hampshire author!) (May 17); Incidents Around the House by Josh Malerman (June 25); American Rapture by CJ Leede (Oct. 15); Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay (June 11); The Pairing by Casey McQuiston (Aug. 6) —recommended by bookseller and marketing manager Ryan Clark

MainStreet BookEnds of Warner

Despite being rejected by the bank three times, Katharine Nevins, along with her husband, opened the doors to MainStreet BookEnds of Warner in October 1998 during the Warner Fall Foliage Festival. A community bookstore with toys and games set in a Pillsbury colonial homestead, MainStreet BookEnds is a general bookstore with particular strengths in the children’s, gardening and farming genres. In the attached barn is a gallery featuring the works of local artists.

“Warner is … an area where there are a lot of writers, a lot of musicians, [and] a lot of artists, so we’ve always tried to reflect that,” Nevins said.

What do people get from shopping at bookstores that they don’t get online? What is that experience like and why do you think people seek it?

Independent bookstores are extraordinarily important … for … the culture of the area …. Every single independent bookstore is unique. If you’re traveling and you kind of want to get a sense of where you are and who the people are, you track down an independent bookstore because once you get in there you’re in with all the locals, you’re in there with the things that are happening right there in that community. … If you can break the habit of the quick click, which is a hard habit to break, … you can go into the storefront and experience a community of readers who can recommend things to you or recommend things to your children. People who are experienced in books and can really make recommendations … can make a difference. … I’m fortunate because I have a front row seat of watching that every day and I see people talking with each other and saying, ‘My child had trouble reading and this is what worked for them,’ ‘My mother just died and I really found this book to be extraordinarily helpful.’ … Things like that happen all the time, so it’s really exciting. So you walk into an independent bookstore and you’re walking into, I believe, a piece of magic because you’re seeing exactly what that area has to offer.

How have local bookstores, and yours specifically, fared with the times and trends of online shopping with sites like Amazon and big bookstores like Barnes & Noble?

cafe area of bookstore with wooden floor and wooden walls, counter with bar stool on one side, racks with artwork for sale, framed painting lining upper part of wall
MainStreet BookEnds. Courtesy photo.

In 1998 the bank turned us down three times. They said there’s no way an independent bookstore is going to survive in these times, and Amazon had just started. Amazon has a ridiculous impact on independent bookstores [and] on every single neighborhood store, so the more you extract yourself from that kind of shopping, the more you’re supporting your community and the more you’re helping your community to thrive and survive … I think more and more people are getting tired of [the online] experience. I can tell you during Covid where we had to close the store for 15 months we kept going and we did curbside … and so forth, but that was when people really kind of woke up to how if we don’t support these little businesses right now, they’re not going to make it, and people came out of the woodwork, it was absolutely fabulous the support that we got. So I think the people … want to experience … being able to go into an independent bookstore and … and just that sense of turning everything off for a half hour, which is really important, and you can’t do that in many places but in a bookstore you can get lost in here for a while and that’s a very healing thing. Strange to say but there’s a lot of healing that goes on in an environment like that [where] people are just allowed to come in and relax and wander and who knows what’s going to happen.

Have you noticed any other patterns or trends of shopping at local bookstores?

We’re really having a return of younger people coming in and just really loving the experience of wandering and talking about books and holding books. … The feelings … that you get when you pick up a book that you read … all those feelings come rushing back to you as to where you were at the time, and you can only get that with a physical book, that’s the only way you can get that.

When genres seem to be attracting the most interest from readers?

We follow the New England Independent Booksellers Association bestsellers list. … We all contribute to what sells the best in our stores and that’s the list that we go by in terms of our bestsellers. … There’s a whole lot of interest in young adult and in graphic novels for young adults. … We have a … section on regional titles in terms of New Hampshire and hiking [that’s] just about sold out … . That’s [a] huge area. People [want] to pick up books about the area and about hiking and enjoying the outdoors … and children’s books are always very, very big.

Is there any type of book, whether genre or author, that has become popular in the last few years that has surprised you?

I think that the popularity is reflected by the times, right? … Right now people are wanting more and more escape and comfort … so when a particular author becomes really popular that surprises us it’s probably because that particular author is providing a really good escape for right now. … You [also] read to learn about other worlds so I think if we’ve had some surprising authors emerge in the last couple of years it’s just been reflective of what we need as a society to cope.

What was the most popular book of 2023 and what books are you excited for in 2024?

Well, books like Demon Copperhead, Barabra Kingssolver’s book, that was huge; Iron Flame [by Rebecca Yarros and] A Court of Thorns and Roses [by Sarah J. Maas]. … [For] what’s coming up, well, I guess we just wait and see what’s going to emerge next — it’s always kind of a surprise … and I know people are excited about some new ones coming out there so I think we just wait and see.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

In terms of my favorite reads from 2023, the fiction would be the latest from Sigrid Nunez, The Vulnerables. The nonfiction is The Long Field by Pamela Petro. Children’s picture books would be Thank a Farmer by Maria Gianferrari, and middle-grade novels would be the latest from Ann Braden, Opinions and Opossums.

MainStreet BookEnds of Warner
Where: 16 E. Main St. in Warner; 456-2700, mainstreetbookends.com
When: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MainStreet Recommends

Tana French has a new book coming out, The Hunter (March 5)
Sarah Maas’s newest will be huge, House of Flame and Shadow (Jan. 30)
A wonderful biography just out on Willa Cather, Chasing Bright Medusas (out now)
Sy Montgomery’s latest, Of Time and Turtles (out now)
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go celebrates 50 years with a new edition (out now)

More book shops

Here are some additional independent bookstores in the area.

The Lost Page Found Bookshop
Where: 35 Main St. in Goffstown; 384-1390, thelostpagefoundbookshop.com
Hours: See Facebook for winter hours. Posted hours on are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Morgan Hill Bookstore
Where: 253 Main St., New London; 526-5850, morganhillbookstore.com
When: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

RiverRun Bookstore
Where: 32 Daniel St. in Portsmouth; 431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Toadstool Bookshop
Where: 12 Depot St. in Peterborough, 924-3543; toadbooks.com
When: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Water Street Bookstore
Where: 125 Water St., Exeter; 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com
When: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Book Clubs

Gibson’s Bookstore
45 S. Main St., Concord
gibsonsbookstore.com/gibsons-book-club
When: first Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m.
Next up: Feb. 5: The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

Bookery
bookerymht.com/our-events
844 Elm St., Manchester
Book club
When: third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.
Next up: Jan 18: Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris
Romance book club
When: last Sunday of each month at 6 p.m.
Next up: Jan. 28: By the Book, by Jasmine Guillory

MainStreet BookEnds
16 E. Main St., Warner
Mainstreetbookends.com
When: Sundays at 4 p.m.
Next up: Feb. 4: How the Post Office Created America, by Winifred Gallagher

To Share Brewing
720 Union St., Manchester
When: second Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.
RSVP to info@tosharebrewing.com to attend
Next up: Feb. 8: Love in the Time of Serial Killers, by Alicia Thompson

Northwoods Brewing
1334 First NH Tpke., Northwood
When: Books and Brews meets on various Mondays
Next up: Jan. 29: Shark Heart: A Love Story, by Emily Habeck
Peterborough NH Area Silent Book Club
Find them on Facebook
When: The newly formed chapter was scheduled to have its first-ever meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at DiVine on Main (32 Main St., Peterborough); a second meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.
Next up: whatever you want
“Silent Book Club is a global community of readers and introverts reading together in quiet camaraderie. … At Silent Book Club, there’s no assigned reading. Instead, we’re inviting readers to grab a glass of wine, a tasty snack, a cozy seat, and a book of their choosing to read uninterrupted for one hour, with added time for socializing and discussing your book while making new friends,” according to the Peterborough chapter’s post on silentbook.club.

Featured Photo: Gibson’s Bookstore. Photo by Ryan Clark.

Make it a game night

Find fun and competition at area trivia events

Looking for an activity with your friends or a way to make new ones?

Weekly trivia nights abound at area restaurants, breweries and even a movie theater. We talked to two experts about how to put together a team and how the games are crafted and we give you a listing of some of the spots to find trivia. (Know of a trivia night not mentioned here? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com to get added to our weekly trivia listings that run in the Nite section.)

Ready for some white hot competition? Sharpen those pencils…

Game maker

Heather Abernathy, a Manchester-based trivia host, runs general knowledge pub trivia at The Farm every Wednesday and themed trivia at Chunky’s every Thursday. In this Q&A, she discusses her transition from player to host, her process for crafting trivia questions, strategies for keeping the atmosphere lively, and how she deals with answer disputes. Additionally, Heather provides advice for aspiring trivia hosts. Her experience spans various themes and formats, catering to a wide range of trivia enthusiasts.

How did you get started with hosting trivia nights?

headshot of woman making funny face
Heather Abernathy. Courtesy photo.

I have such a wealth of random trivia knowledge, probably from watching Jeopardy! with my grandfather every night as a kid. … I was always that person you wouldn’t want to play against in Trivial Pursuit. … I got started at The Farm in Manchester, because I was a player there. I played pretty consistently for about four years. And when the guy who was hosting before me decided he was done, the owners told him, ‘If you can find somebody you think would make a good host, we’ll hire them.’ He reached out to me and said, ‘You’re smarter than I am … and you’re here every week anyway, so why not get a guaranteed paycheck for it?’ So after a bit of hesitation, I decided, ‘What the heck,’ hung up my playing time, and switched over to hosting. That was in January of 2019.

What do you enjoy most about hosting trivia?

For my real job, I work in health insurance, and I work from home. So, it’s boring, and I don’t see a lot of people. Trivia is my way to get out, to be sociable. I’ve also made some good friends along the way. I really enjoy the interaction with the people that come out and play every week.

Can you describe the type of trivia you host?

At The Farm I mostly stick to general pub trivia, because that’s what my players like. I have thrown in themes once in a while, and my regulars tend to skip those because they prefer coming in and knowing they could be asked anything. Whereas at Chunky’s I do a different theme every single week. For example, tomorrow night, in honor of the new Mean Girls movie, I’ll be doing trivia on the original Mean Girls movie. But once a month I do something more music-themed. This month my music theme is The Beatles, but in the past I’ve done ’80s and ’90s music, which always sell out. Taylor Swift was another big one. And then once a month at Chunky’s on Sundays — because my Thursdays at Chunky’s are a 21-plus event — I do a family-friendly trivia where all ages are welcome. You can bring your kids, and I tend to do more family-oriented themes. So this month, for example, I’m doing Disney music as my family-friendly theme.

How do you create questions for your trivia nights?

For themed trivia, it’s easy. If it’s a movie, I will watch the movie and throw on my subtitles so I can make sure I’m getting quotes or spelling correctly. As I’m watching I’ll think, ‘Oh, that would be a good thing to ask.’ So I jot down what I’m thinking. For the general knowledge trivia, I do a lot of scouring the internet for what strikes me as a good question. One unique thing about my trivia, which I can’t take credit for because I took the format from the guy hosting before me — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — is when I ask a question, I follow it up with a song. The song serves two purposes: it gives time for players to hand in their answers and it also acts as a hint for the question. Some weeks I really want an excuse to play a certain song, so I’ll work backward and figure out a question that matches with the song. So for example, last week I asked a question … ‘Who was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for the very first time in 1927?’ The hint song that I played for that was REO Speedwagon’s ‘Time for me to Fly.’ … Charles Lindbergh was the answer to the question.

How do you maintain a good balance of topics and difficulty levels in your trivia questions?

I have a kind of mental checklist. For example, if I’ve already asked a geography question I’ll move on to science, then maybe something pop culture-related. Generally, as the game progresses, at least for the bar trivia, Round 1 questions are easier than Round 3 questions. Also, my music hints might become less obvious as the game goes on. … My rule of thumb is if I wouldn’t have known the answer, odds are I won’t ask it.

What strategies do you use to keep participants engaged and ensure a fun atmosphere?

The music is a big part of keeping participants engaged. Sometimes I’ll play a hit song and, without realizing it, strike a nerve, and next thing you know half the bar is singing along. I do my best to engage with people. Anyone who knows me knows that I speak fluent sarcasm. I try to let my own personality come through, like engaging in banter with the players. … I just try to keep it light and breezy.

How do you handle disputes or disagreements over answers during trivia nights?

It does come up, because I’m human. There’s a real chance that I might come up with a question and not be right, or there could be an alternate answer. If someone comes up to me with a dispute, I respect that, because when I played I was that person who challenged the host. I’ll do a spot check with my phone or laptop right there while hosting. I’m always open to being corrected. If it’s determined that an alternate answer was acceptable, I’ll admit it, award the points, and eat crow if I have to. On the flip side, if someone’s answer is close but not accurate, I might say, ‘Close enough isn’t good enough,’ and not give points, or I might give half points for being close. I try to be flexible, because the goal at the end of the day is to get people to come back.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a trivia host?

My biggest piece of advice is to have fun with it. … You’ve got to have the confidence to go with it. Just get out there, have fun, and get to know your players. That has been key for me, because after hosting for so long these people are not just random attendees; many of them are now my friends. Establishing that rapport with players is crucial for retention. If people are having fun, they’re going to come back. So try to relax, have fun, and when you see people returning that’s always a good sign.

Game player

group of people sitting around table at crowded event, leaning in to take selfie, some wearing patterned Christmas sweaters
Amy Leal (third left) and her trivia team. Courtesy photo.

Amy Leal, 51, from Salem, participates regularly in themed trivia nights at Chunky’s in Manchester. She talked about her involvement in trivia since August 2020, her methods for forming and preparing her trivia team, the competitiveness of the games, challenges faced by the team, and some memorable experiences from the trivia nights.

Can you share a bit about yourself and how you got involved in trivia?

I just like collecting random information about various things. I’ve always enjoyed trivia-type games. For this particular weekly event, I got involved during Covid in August of 2020. Chunky’s couldn’t show movies, so they were hosting a Disney Pixar trivia event. My sister, knowing my interest in trivia and my love for Disney Pixar, saw it and thought I would be interested, so I went with my cousin Trish, who’s the same age as me. We thought, ‘Let’s check this out.’ We loved the format. It was a way to have a night out, kind of low-key during Covid, and do something fun. … Three and a half years later we’re still going just about every week.

How do you go about forming your trivia team?

For this trivia, you can have from one to eight people. Initially it was just my cousin Trish and I regularly. Then, when she couldn’t attend, I invited another friend, who has been going with me ever since. She brought a friend from high school. I also asked a few more cousins, and we all joined based on the themes Heather announced. We base our participation on our interests and strengths. Even if some of us don’t know the specific show or movie, we go just to have a night out. Our team can range from two to eight players weekly, depending on the theme and what’s happening in our lives. We have a diverse team, with people into music, movies, TV series and different genres. Everyone knows a little about everything, and some are experts in certain areas. So, for building a trivia team, the key is finding people interested in a wide knowledge base and looking for a night out, who can commit to more than once or twice a month. It’s about sharing interests, being competitive, and a commitment to winning and being together.

What’s your strategy, and how do you prepare?

Our approach for themed nights, especially if it’s something we’re not familiar with, is to watch the movie or TV show. We’re lucky to know the theme a couple of weeks in advance, so we can plan to watch a movie or brush up on it. If it’s a movie we haven’t seen in 20 years, we rewatch it. For a TV series with multiple seasons, like The Office with eight seasons, different team members will watch different seasons. It’s all just for fun; you can’t remember everything. Our strategy is to watch the content and then have a group chat where we throw out questions to each other for practice, just to keep it top of mind.

How competitive do things get?

Our group is pretty laid back, and we enjoy being together and having something to look forward to every week. But there are times when we get competitive, especially if we disagree with how a question was phrased. We’ll challenge the answer. Ultimately, Heather, who hosts the trivia, has the final say. Sometimes we feel that an answer wasn’t accurate or was a bit twisted, but it’s all in the context of the content. There’s some competitiveness, especially since there are repeat teams. Since August 2020 about six teams have been regulars, and we’ve all gotten to know each other, often on a first-name basis. We congratulate other teams when they win, but we also feel like it should have been us, especially if it was our game to lose. Sometimes we go in overconfident, and depending on the questions we might blow it or win. But at the end of the day it’s a game. We all want to win, but not everybody can.

What kind of hurdles do you run into with trivia and how do you handle them?

A challenge for us is that we don’t always have the same people available every week because life happens. When we’re missing someone we really feel it, especially if it’s a question they would have known. We had a phase where we won almost every week for six to eight months, placing first, second or third each time. It felt great, especially since we won gift cards for Chunky’s, which we used for meals. But not winning can be a downer, and we’re in a bit of a slump right now due to inconsistent team availability during the holidays. We need to get back up and overcome this slump.

Do you have any memorable moments or stories from trivia nights?

Around February 2021, it was my cousin Jamie’s birthday, and we had become friendly with Heather, the host. I sent her a childhood picture of Jamie, the classic school photo with the laser background, and asked her to put it up on the big screen in the theater to wish him a happy birthday. It was hilarious, and she even showed it a few times after just for fun. There was also this funny moment during a music round. We couldn’t remember the artist of a song, so all I pictured was a white guy wearing a vest with chest hair sticking out. That’s what we wrote as our answer. When Heather was reading the answers, she read ours out loud and it got a big laugh in the theater. Now, when we can’t remember something, that’s become our signature answer. And it turns out the artist for that song wasn’t even close to what I was picturing.

Trivia nights

Liven up your weeknights with some fun and games. Know of a trivia night not listed here? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.

Monday

  • Pub Quiz at Shaskeen (909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, shaskeenirishpub.com) at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday

  • Able Ebenezer Brewing (31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 844-223-2253) at 6 p.m.
  • Sea Dog Brewing (5 Water St., Exeter, 793-5116) from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Second Brook Bar & Grill (1100 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, secondbrook.com) at 7 p.m.
  • Lynn’s 102 Tavern (76 Derry Road, Hudson, 943-7832, lynns102.com) at 7 p.m.
  • Gibb’s Garage Bar (3612 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, gibbsgaragebar.com) at 7 p.m.
  • Geeks Who Drink trivia at Peddler’s Daughter (48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, thepeddlersdaughter.com), from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Wednesday

  • Community Oven (845 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 601-6311, thecommunityoven.com) at 6 p.m.
  • Brews & Qs, 21+, at Feathered Friend (231 S. Main St., Concord, 715-2347, featheredfriendbrewing.com) at 6 p.m.
  • Spyglass Brewing Co. (306 Innovative Way, Nashua, 546-2965, spyglassbrewing.com) at 6 p.m.
  • Earth Eagle North (Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, 841-5421, eartheaglebrewings.com) at 6 p.m.
  • Popovers (11 Brickyard Sq., Epping, 734-4724, popoversonthesquare.com) from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • The Greatest Trivia in the World at Revolution Taproom and Grill (61 N. Main St., Rochester, 244-3042, revolutiontaproomandgrill.com/upcoming-events) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Don Ramon (6 Whitney St., Merrimack, 420-8468) from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • KC’s Rib Shack (837 Second St., Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net), sponsored by Mi Campo in Manchester, 7 to 9 p.m..
  • The New England Trivia Co. at City Hall Pub (8 Hanover St.,Manchester, 232-3751, snhhg.com) 7 to 9 p.m.
  • World Tavern Trivia at Fody’s Tavern (9 Clinton St. in Nashua, fodystavern.com, 577-9015) at 8 p.m.

Thursday

  • Reed’s North (2 E. Main St. in Warner, 456-2143, reedsnorth.com) from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Mitchell BBQ (50 N. Main St., Rochester, 332-2537, mitchellhillbbq.com) at 6 p.m.
  • Station 101 (193 Union Sq., Milford, 249-5416) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Music trivia at Day of the Dead Taqueria (454 Charles Bancroft Hwy. in Litchfield, 377-7664) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Geeks Who Drink trivia at The Barley House (132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363), from 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Themed trivia at Cheers Bar & Grille (17 Depot St., Concord, 228-0563) at 7 p.m.
  • Hart’s Turkey Farm (223 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-6212, hartsturkeyfarm.com) from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Opinionation by Sporcle trivia at Uno Pizzeria & Grill (15 Fort Eddy Road in Concord; 226-8667) at 7 p.m.
  • Hop Knot (1000 Elm St., Manchester, 232-3731, hopknotnh.com) at 7 p.m.
  • Shooters Sports Pub (6 Columbus Ave., Exeter, 772-3856) at 7:15 p.m.
  • Liquid Therapy (14 Court St., Nashua, 402-9391) at 7:30 p.m.
  • Game Changer Sports Bar (4 Orchard View Dr., Londonderry; 216-1396, gamechangersportsbar.com) from 8 to 10 p.m.
  • Strange Brew (88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292) at 8 p.m.

Friday

  • The Biergarten Anheuser-Busch (221 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 595-1202) from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sunday

  • Mountain Base Brewery (553 Mast Road, No. 111, Goffstown, 315-8382) at 4 p.m.

Other trivia nights

  • Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Manchester (707 Huse Road in Manchester; chunkys.com) holds regular 21+ trivia nights on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. with varying themes:
    The Beatles on Thursday, Jan. 11.
    General Knowledge on Thursday, Jan. 18.
    Barbie on Thursday, Jan. 25.
    Chunky’s also hosts family-friendly trivia nights. Next up is Disney Songs on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m.
  • Take part in Schitt’s Creek trivia night on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Vine Thirty Two (25 S. River Road in Bedford; vinethirtytwo.com).
  • Trivia at Fody’s (9 Clinton St., Nashua; fodystavern.com) the first Thursday of each month at 8 p.m.
  • Trivia on the first and third Thursday of every month trivia at To Share Brewing (720 Union St., Manchester, tosharebrewing.com) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Trivia at Park Theatre (19 Main St., Jaffrey; 532-9300, theparktheatre.org) on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

Featured Photo: Courtesy photo.

63 Reasons to get excited about January

Find a new wine and more fun for the first month of 2024

Holidays and vacations over, weather uncertain and frequently gray, bills due — January can feel like a bit of a letdown after the hoopla of December. But there are oodles of fun things to look forward to during the first month of 2024. Need a reason to get excited about the forthcoming month? Here are 57 of them.

1. We’ll get snow! Or maybe we won’t! This winter, the excitement is in the not-knowing. Experts at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there is “considerable uncertainty” in the region’s winter outlook, with equal chances for above-, below- or near-normal precipitation. Adding an interesting twist, El Niño years are traditionally associated with increased snowfall; however, with a warmer winter on the horizon, the expected flurry of snowflakes might turn into raindrops. So embrace the element of surprise as we step into a season that could be filled with snowy adventures or cozy rainy days.

2. Disney on Ice presents Into the Magic comes to the SNHU Arena (555 Elm St. in Manchester; snhuarena.com, 644-5000) for seven shows Thursday, Jan. 4, through Sunday, Jan. 7. Tickets cost $23 through $103. See disneyonice.com for images from the show.

3. The Greatest Love of All, a tribute to Whitney Houston with Belinda Davis, comes to the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $53.75 to $79.75. The show is just one of the tribute shows coming to the Cap Center this month: Get the Led Out plays Saturday, Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. and Dirty Deeds (the AC/DC Experience) plays Friday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.; at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord) catch Being Petty (a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Experience) on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. and The Rock and Roll Playhouse: The Music of Tom Petty for Kids on Sunday, Jan. 14, at noon.

4. Averill House Vineyard (21 Averill Road in Brookline; averillhousevineyard.com) hosts a Fire Tower Winter Wonderland Wine Tasting Experience on Fridays through Sundays with different time slots available to reserve. You’ll enjoy a private, outdoor tasting of four different wines around pellet stoves with a view of the vineyard. Each ticket ($59) accounts for two adults and each additional person will cost $15 for a maximum of eight people. Children under 13 are free and pets are also welcome if on a leash. There is also the option of reserving an igloo or gazebo. Also at Averill House Vineyard is the Vine to Wine Igloo & Gazebo Experience & Wine Pairing on Mondays and Wednesdays through Sundays throughout January. Private Norwegian-themed igloos for two adults and one guest include a manager and tasting associate to serve you, theme lighting, music, a charcuterie board with meat, nuts, cheese and crackers, wine tasting of four wines per person and complimentary parking. Gazebos include all of this as well as a fireplace and fluffy living room. Tickets are $100, which accounts for two people, and can be purchased via eventbrite.

5. Recycled Percussion wraps up its run at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588, palacetheatre.org) with shows Friday, Jan. 5, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 6, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 7, at 3 and 7 p.m. Find Michael Witthaus’s interview with Justin Spencer in the Nov. 8 issue of the Hippo (e-edition is at hippopress.com).

6. Rivier University Raiders ice hockey will see its next home game at Conway Arena (5 Stadium Drive in Nashua) on Friday, Jan. 5, when the women’s team takes on Potsdam at 8 p.m. (they also face Potsdam on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 7:10 p.m.). The women’s team has two additional home games this month. The men’s team next plays at Conway on Tuesday, Jan. 9, when they take on Potsdam at 7:10 p.m. The men’s team has two additional home games in January. See rivierathletics.com.

7. Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St., Derry, 437- 5100, tupelomusichall.com) will feature several tribute shows this January: Captain Fantastic (playing music including songs of Elton John) on Friday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m.; Eaglemania on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m.; Boogie Wonder Band (playing disco hits) on Friday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m.; Beatle Juice (Beatles songs) on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. and The The Band Band (playing a celebration of The Last Waltz from The Band) on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.

8. Catch comedy most weekends at Chunky’s Cinema Pubs in Manchester (707 Huse Road) and Nashua (151 Coliseum Ave.). This weekend see Steve Bjork in Manchester on Friday, Jan. 5, and Saturday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. and Will Noonan in Nashua on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20.

9. The Contoocook Farmers Market offers live music from the NH Music Collective (on Saturday, Jan. 6, it’s Mikey G) as well as locally made treats, produce, soaps and more. (A post from December showed Batulo’s Kitchen serving its meat and veggie hand pies.) Find them at the Maple Street School (194 Maple St. in Contoocook) on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon through April.

10. Cheer Saint Anselm Hawks basketball on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium (73 College Road on Saint Anselm College campus in Manchester). The women’s team plays Adelphi at 1:30 p.m. and the men’s team plays Adelphi at 3:30 p.m. Tickets to either game cost $10 (kids 5 and under get in free to regular season games) and are available for purchase starting one hour ahead of game time at the Gymnasium ticket booth. Each team has four additional home games in January; see saintanselmhawks.com for the schedule.

11. You can also catch Saint Anselm Hawks ice hockey at home — Sullivan Arena on the college campus — this month. The men’s team will next play at home on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 4 p.m. versus Anna Maria College. The women’s team’s next home game is Friday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. versus Long Island University. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the ticket booth one hour ahead of game time. See saintanselmhawks.com.

12. See electric violinist Mia Asano and bagpiper/multi-instrumentalist Ally the Piper when Mia X Ally play Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St., Derry, 437- 5100, tupelomusichall.com) on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40; for an additional $75 attend a VIP meet and greet after the show.

13. Pats Peak Ski Area (686 Flanders Road, Henniker) is lighting up Saturday nights with its POP (Pay One Price) tickets, available through the end of the season in 2024. The POP offer includes skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing, rentals and lesson tips, with prices varying by time of entry: $99 for 4 to 10 p.m.; $89 for 5 to 10 p.m;, and $79 for 6 to10 p.m. Lesson tips are offered from 4 to 6 p.m., and snow tubing runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Groups of 15 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit patspeak.com.

14. Lace up those sneakers and go for a run with the 2024 Freeze Your Buns 5K Series run by the Gate City Striders on a relatively flat low-traffic path that kicks off on the road between Conway Arena and Nashua YMCA on five Sundays over the next three months at 9 a.m., starting Sunday, Jan. 7. The cost to join is $20 ($12 for 17 and under); see gatecity.org/freeze-buns-5k-series for details and to register.

15. Find your fixings for Sunday dinner at the Salem NH Farmers Market, which runs Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and through April is at the LaBelle Winery in Derry (14 Route 111), according to salemnhfarmersmarket.org where you can find a list of vendors.

16. The Pizzastock Battle of the Bands 2024 comes to the Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St. in Derry; tupelomusichall.com) on Sunday, Jan. 7. Doors open at noon. The show will feature Glue, Tree Streets and Porcelain Jumpsuit, special guest Sotah and hosts Cozy Throne, according to the Tupelo website, where you can purchase the $20 tickets. Pizzastock is a production of the Jason R. Flood Memorial, which seeks to raise awareness about mental health; see pizzastock.org.

17. The Golden Globes will air Sunday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+ with comedian Jo Koy hosting. Looking for a list of 2023 films worth catching, you could do worse than checking out the nominees at goldenglobes.com/nominations/2024.

18. The next home game for Rivier University Raiders basketball is Monday, Jan. 8, at 4 p.m. when the men’s team takes on Lesley University at Muldoon Fitness Center (440 Main St. in Nashua). The women’s next home game is Saturday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. versus Saint Joseph. The men’s team has seven additional home games in January; the women’s team has five. See rivierathletics.com.

19. If holiday carols reminded you how much you like singing, audition for the New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church (508 Union St. in Manchester). New singers are asked to stay for rehearsal from 7 to 9:30 p.m, according to nhgmc.com, where you can find details about auditioning. The chorus seeks singers who are men over the age of 18 (who are gay, straight and male-identifying), the website said. The chorus will have a spring concert series “Putting it All Together” in May.

Female college athlete shooting basketball into hoop
SNHU Penmen Basketball, Courtesy photo.

20. Southern New Hampshire University Penmen basketball has its next home games Wednesday, Jan. 10, when the women’s team plays at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s team at 7:30 p.m., both against American International College. The games take place at Stan Spiro Field House (at the Southern New Hampshire University campus, 2500 River Road in Manchester); regular season games are free to attend. Both teams have two additional home games in January. See snhupenmen.com.

21. Consider roller derby at Granite State Roller Derby’s recruitment night on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Concord YMCA (15 N. State St. in Concord). The program is the first night of a skating boot camp open to all levels of experience. See granitestaterollerderby.org.

22. Discovering Magic with Andrew Pinard will be the final performance at the current location of the Hatbox Theatre at Steeplegate Mall, 270 Loudon Road in Concord. See the show Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. and stay tuned to hatboxnh.com for updates on the theater’s search for a new venue. Tickets to the Jan. 10 show cost $25 for adults, $22 for students and seniors.

23. Southern New Hampshire University Penmen men’s ice hockey has its next home game at The Ice Den Arena (600 Quality Drive in Hooksett) on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 7:40 p.m. versus SUNY Potsdam. The team has two additional home games this January; see snhupenmen.com.

24. Crotched Mountain (615 Francestown Road, Bennington) is set to host the Over the Moon Rail Jam on Friday, Jan. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. This no-cost event invites skiers and riders to showcase their talents with competitive divisions for Under-13, 14 to 17, Adult Male Skiers, Adult Male Riders, Adult Female Skiers and Adult Female Riders. Registration begins at 6 p.m. at the ATC deck, followed by a practice session, final course prep and the main event. Prizes will be awarded at 8:15 p.m. on the ATC deck. While entry is free, a valid pass or lift ticket is required, with mandatory helmets and signed waivers. Call 588-3668 or visit crotchedmtn.com.

25. Get some Satisfaction, The International Rolling Stones Show on Friday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Dana Center (Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive in Manchester; tickets.anselm.edu, 641-7700). Tickets cost $45.

26. Friday Night Comedy at the Rex will feature Corey Rodrigues and Maya Manion on Friday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org). Tickets cost $25.

27. Get some locally made cheese or bread, locally grown meat or produce — and of course look for some tasty baked treats at the Downtown Concord Winter Farmers Market which runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 7 Eagle Square. Find live music from the NH Music Collective (see the schedule at nhmusiccollective.com for a look at who will be playing on Saturday, Jan. 13). Find a list of vendors and more at downtownconcordwinterfarmersmarket.com.

28. Catch The British Invasion, an evening of music from the bands of the mid-1960s, at the Majestic Theatre (880 Page St. in Manchester; majestictheatre.net, 669-7469) on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20.

29. Symphony NH and the Spartan Drum & Bugle Corps will present Brass to the Max on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Keefe Center for the Arts (117 Elm St. in Nashua) — a concert that promises to be loud (ear plugs will be offered) and is described as a “high-octane performance of brass and percussion favorites.” Tickets cost $10 to $63. See symphonynh.org.

Two male trumpet players playing their trumpets
NH Symphony presents Brass to the Max. Courtesy photo.

30. Headliners Comedy Club’s weekly shows at the DoubleTree by Hilton Downtown Manchester continue on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8:30 p.m. with comedian Steve Bjork and others. Tickets cost $20. Find a complete lineup of upcoming shows at headlinersnh.com.

31. Run in the HPM Insurance Snowflake Shuffle, a 3-mile race in Bedford, on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 9:30 a.m. Registration costs $35 ($30 for under 21). See millenniumrunning.com.

32. Marek Bennett, author of graphic novels such as the The Civil War Diary of Freeman Colby series and The Most Costly Journey, presents “Drawing Community: Creating Comics from Shared Stories,” on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m. at Tucker Free Library (31 Western Ave., Henniker, 428-3471) and again Saturday, Jan. 20, at 9:45 a.m. at Peterborough Town Library (2 Concord St., Peterborough, 924-8040). See nhhumanities.org.

33. Culinary Playground (16 Manning St. in Derry; culinary-playground.com), a recreational culinary school in Derry, has plenty of classes planned for January, including new additions and popular favorites, like the single-day Intro to the Mediterranean Diet on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m. led by a registered dietitian. On Jan. 28 their three-class artisan bread series begins, in which students will learn the fundamentals and techniques of bread making and baking through the crafting of a wheat sandwich loaf, a boule, an olive rosemary loaf, a cranberry walnut loaf and a sourdough.

34. Learn about the wines of the Rhone and Loire valleys in France at Wine on Main (9 N. Main St. in Concord; wineonmainnh.com, 897-5828) on Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. or Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Taste wine from six bottles, accompanied by light snacks. The cost is $35 per person.

35. The Educational Theatre Collaborative at Plymouth State University will present GypsyWednesday, Jan. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 21, with shows Wednesday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Flying Monkey (39 S. Main St. in Plymouth; flyingmonkeynh.com, 536-2551). Tickets cost $25 to $38.

36. LaBelle Winery (labellewinery.com) can teach you how to make a cozy soup (Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Derry location, 14 Route 111) or warm you up with a five-course whiskey dinner (Friday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Amherst location, 345 Route 101). Go online to sign up for these and other LaBelle events.

37. Dancing Queens, billed as the Ultimate ABBA and Disco Tribute, opens Friday, Jan. 19, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588) with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, plus Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $28 to $49.

38. Spend an Evening with TR3 featuring Tim Reynolds, Dave Matthews’ collaborator, on Friday, Jan. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588). Tickets cost $39 to $49.

39. Saturday, Jan. 20, (the third Saturday in January) is one of two annual Free Fishing Days in New Hampshire. Residents and non-residents can fish in any inland water or saltwater in New Hampshire without a fishing license (though season dates and bag limits are still in effect), according to wildlife.nh.gov, where you can find details about the day and getting a fishing license if you get (sorry, not sorry) hooked on the sport.

40. McIntyre Ski Area (50 Chalet Way, Manchester) presents the Mac Parks Rail Jam on Saturday, Jan. 20, starting at 4 p.m. Test your skills in the terrain park with a chance to win prizes. Registration is $25, including a lift ticket and two runs, with a discounted rate of $15 for season pass holders. Competitive age categories include under-12, 13 to 17, 18 to 29, and 30+. On-site registration opens at 11 a.m., closing 15 minutes before the event. Helmets are required. For details and to secure your spot visit mcintyreskiarea.com.

41. Author Joseph Carrabis will hold a workshop called “Write Your History, Change Your Life” on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 5 p.m. at Bookery Manchester (844 Elm St. in Manchester; bookerymht.com). The event is free; register online to save a spot.

Person snowboarding on a rail
Terrain Park at McIntyre Ski Area. Courtesy

42. Celebrate the best of local theater when the 19th New Hampshire Theatre Awards are handed out on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com). Tickets cost $45. See nhtheatrealliance.org.

43. Hear the music of Springsteen played live when Bruce in the USA comes to the Nashua Center for the Arts (201 Main St. in Nashua; nashuacenterforthearts.com) on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $29 through $59.

44. The 21+ show Life’s a Drag, described as a fiercely hilarious drag show, comes to Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Manchester (707 Huse Road; chunkys.com) on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets to this approximately two-hour show cost $25 (plus fees).

45. The Last Command (1928), a silent film starring Emil Jannings, who won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, will screen with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis on Sunday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. at Wilton Town Hall Theatre (40 Main St., Wilton, wiltontownhalltheatre.com, 654-3456). See silentfilmlivemusic.blogspot.com for more on the film.

46. See Bobby Rush with the Eric Lindner Band opening on Sunday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com). Tickets cost $43.75 to $63.75.

47. Enjoy some wine and learn to curate the cheeses, salame and other treats to create a charcuterie board at Vine 32 Wine and Graze Bar (25 South River Road, Unit 107, in Bedford; vinethirtytwo.com) on Monday, Jan 22, at 6:15 p.m. The class costs $125 (plus fees) and includes local NH charcuterie products for the boards, a New Hampshire-made 20-inch wooden serving board to keep, a $10 wine card and samples during the class, according to the website where you can register.

48. Nominations for the 96th Annual Oscars (which will air on Sunday, March 10) will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 23; the announcement is usually around 8 or 8:30 a.m. Until then, check out the short list of nominee contenders in categories such as documentary feature, international feature, music and sound categories, shorts and more. See oscars.org.

49. Lloyd Sederer, a Concord author and a doctor, will discuss his book Caught in the Crosshairs of American Healthcare, described as “an inspiring true story of how a small group of dedicated leaders achieved radical and relentless change to save McLean, Harvard’s historic psychiatric hospital,” at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St. in Concord; gibsonsbookstore.com) on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 6:30 p.m.

50. After you see the feature film musical (slated for release Wednesday, Jan. 17), see the Palace Youth Theatre’s take on Mean Girls Jr. with performers in grades 2 through 12, at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588) on Wednesday, Jan. 24, and Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 to $15.

51. The Black Ice Pond Hockey Festival and Tournament begins with youth hockey night on Thursday, Jan. 25, from 5 to 8 p.m. in White Park in Concord, with games starting at 6 p.m. and a heated spectator tent and concessions. The event continues with games and special events through Sunday, Jan. 28, all in White Park — activities include fireworks on Friday evening, bonfires on Friday and Saturday and public skate on Friday, according to blackicepondhockey.com where you can find the complete schedule and get updates.

Led Zeppelin cover band singing on stage.
Led Zeppelin. Courtesy photo.

52. Find a new wine — specifically, a malbec at WineNot Boutique (25 Main St. in Nashua; 204-5569, winenotboutique.com) which will hold a blind tasting of seven malbec wines on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. The cost to attend is $40 (plus fees) and the wines will be served with cheeses, salami and chocolate, the website said.

53. Drum Tao, a show with costumes and staging centered on Japanese Taiko drums, will be at the Capitol Center for the Arts Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $44 through $76. See drum-tao.com/en for a look at the performance.

54. Concord NH Winterfest takes place Friday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, Jan. 28, with events including the Art & Bloom show and Concord Garden Club show at Kimball Jenkins Estates (opening reception is Thursday, Jan. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.); ice carvings on the Statehouse lawn; food trucks and vendors from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and a Winterfest Family Dance Party with Mr. Aaron at the Bank of NH Stage on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. See all the details at intownconcord.org.

55. See Lez Zeppelin, the all-girl tribute to Led Zeppelin, on Friday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. at Angel City Music Hall (179 Elm St. in Manchester; angelcitymusichall.com). Tickets to this 21+ show cost $25.

56. The Majestic Academy (majestictheatre.net) will present Footloose — Youth Edition at the Derry Opera House (29 W. Broadway in Derry) on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to $15.

57. Get some laughs at the Tupelo Music Hall (10 A St., Derry, 437- 5100, tupelomusichall.com) monthly comedy night, this month on Friday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. and featuring comedians Kenny Rogerson, Jody Sloane and David Lamb. Tickets cost $22.

58. Get some local produce at the Milford NH Indoor Farmers Market which runs Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Milford Town Hall Auditorium (One Union Square). The market runs five Saturdays through early March; the other markets are Jan. 13, Feb, 10, Feb. 24, and March 9. See milfordnhfarmersmarket.com.

59. Jeanne Dietsch, former New Hampshire senator from Peterborough, will discuss her report New Hampshire: Battleground in the Fight to Dismantle Democracyat Balin Books (Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., in Nashua; balinbooks.com, 417-7981) on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 11 a.m.

60. Sing your heart out at Rockstar Karaoke on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com). Admission to this 18+ show is free; sign up to sing on a first come, first served basis.

61. It’s a night of metal at Jewel Music Venue (61 Canal St., Manchester, 819- 9336, jewelmusicvenue.com) with Pyrexia, Immortal Suffering, Goreality, Necronomichist, and Maidenhead on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25.

62. Celebrate 85 years of the yellow brick road, ruby slippers and flying monkeys at a screening of The Wizard of Oz(1939) presented by Fathom Events. Catch the movie Sunday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. at AMC Londonderry, Cinemark Rockingham Park in Salem, O’neil Cinemas in Epping and Regal Fox Run in Newington and also at 7 p.m. at AMC Londonderry and Regal Fox Run; on Monday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at all of those theaters and on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at AMC Londonderry, Cinemark and Regal Fox Run.

63. See the professional dance company Step Afrika! on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m. at the Capitol Center for the Arts (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com, where you can see videos of the company’s performances). The show is part of the William H. Gile Concert Series, so tickets are free, but go online to reserve seats.

Featured Photo: Courtesy photo.

The Great NH Cookie Swap

Dozens of cookies to share and enjoy­

Cookies are the best.

They are a great dessert, a great snack, a satisfying breakfast or mid-morning munchies solution. They are great at parties and great shared after a party while you relax. You can never have too many cookies in your life or too many cookie recipes — particularly fun new recipes with personal, historical and family stories attached.

In that vein, I reached out to ask for recipes — from food types, yes, but also from museums, hospitals, politicians, churches, cultural organizations, basically anybody I thought might have a good cookie recipe and a tasty story to go with it. Here are about four dozen recipes from our — yours and mine — neighbors, swapping cookies (and a few bars, drops and other cookie-ish items) and frequently the tales of how these sweet treats became a part of their baking routine.

Let’s kick things off by going way back in American cookie history, to when the item appeared as a “cookey” in a 1796 cookbook.

Another Christmas Cookey

From Sarah Sycz Jaworski, program manager at American Independence Museum in Exeter, who writes: “We do not have any recipes directly related to our museum but the below recipe would probably have been made or at least known in the family that lived here. The first Christmas cookie recipe printed in America was in Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery. The cookbook was first printed in Hartford in 1796. Cookies of the time were usually called jumbles or biscuits. The word ‘cookie’ is said to be a Dutch word and came from the Dutch in New York, and the second printing of the book was in Albany.”

Amelia’s Christmas Cookey Recipe

To three pounds of flour, sprinkle a teacup of fine powdered coriander seed, rub in one pound of butter, and one and a half pound of sugar, dissolve one teaspoonful of pearlash in a tea cup of milk, knead all well together, roll three-quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape or size you please. Bake slowly 15 or 20 minutes; tho’ hard and dry at first, if put into an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when 6 months old.

Modern adaptation from Amanda Moniz, the Assistant Director of the National History Center of the American Historical Association, as it appeared in the Historical Cooking Project Blog, July 2014 (provided by the American Independence Museum)

  • 1 pound (about 3¾ cups) all-purpose flour
    pinch of salt
  • 1½ Tablespoons ground coriander (or more)
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • ½ pound (1 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup whole milk (more as needed)

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt and ground coriander in a food processor. Pulse a couple times.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Combine baking powder and milk.Add to the dough mixture and stir, adding more milk if it seems too dry. Press the dough together into two balls.
Put each ball on plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill for a couple hours.

Roll the dough to the thinness you want (about ⅛ inch is good) and cut out in any shape you want.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through baking, until lightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Acıbadem Kurabiyesi, Turkish Almond Cookies

From the Turkish Cultural Center New Hampshire. The cookies are a beloved treat often served during special occasions like weddings, religious holidays, or family gatherings in Turkey. These delicately sweet, almond-flavored cookies symbolize warmth and hospitality in Turkish culture, making them a delightful addition to festive celebrations,” according to a description in the email from the center.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • whole almonds for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and almond extract, mixing until well-combined.

Gradually add the flour and ground almonds to the mixture, stirring until a dough forms.

Take small portions of the dough and roll them into balls, then flatten them slightly with your palm. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them apart.

Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden.

Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Agnès Boucher’s Date Squares

From Nathalie Boucher Hirte, office manager at the Franco-American Centre, host of Franco Foods on YouTube and a native of Quebec, who wrote: “Funny enough, growing up in Quebec, cookies were not the big thing on the table, it was more sweets (like sucre à la crème and fudge) and cakes. A family and Quebec favorite treat growing up was date squares, but that’s not a cookie.”

  • 2 cups chopped dates
  • ½ cup corn syrup (I used light)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • lemon juice (to taste)
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare square pan: Cover bottom and sides with butter.

Date filling: Combine chopped dates, corn syrup, hot water, lemon juice and vanilla in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Base and topping: In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Add the oatmeal, mix well. Cut or rub in the butter until well combined.

Putting it together: Put half of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan. Press well to make the base. Spread the date filling. Cover with the remaining oatmeal mixture and press gently. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

Candy Cane Cookies

From Jan Warren, who describes herself as the baker in the office at Deerfield Family Dentistry. She says she’s been making these cookies for about 40 years. She wrote that she had just made a batch of the cookies: “It makes more than the 4 1/2 dozen that it says it does. I used the peppermint flavoring instead of almond. When you put the 2 colors together, roll them as you would when rolling them into 4 inch logs, they stick together better when twisting them.”

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red food coloring
  • ½ cup crushed peppermint candy
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Mix powdered sugar, butter, shortening, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough into halves. Tint one half with food color. For each candy cane, shape 1 teaspoon dough from each part into 4-inch rope. For smooth, even strips, roll back and forth on lightly floured board. Place one red and one white strip side by side, press together lightly and twist. Complete cookies one at a time. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Curve top down to form handle of cane. Bake until set and very light brown, about 9 minutes. Mix crushed candy and granulated sugar, immediately sprinkle over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet. Makes 4 dozen.

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Between votes in Washington and traveling across New Hampshire, I don’t get to bake as often as I’d like. When I do, I usually rely on the recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips as a guide. However, one of my staffers brought in the following recipe that is quickly becoming an office favorite. These cookies have a great pumpkin flavor, perfect for the fall and winter months (and it’s also New Hampshire’s state fruit!).” — U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, in an email from staff. The recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction (sallysbakingaddiction.com).

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (with moisture squeezed out)
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra for the tops

Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft. Fold in ½ semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop about 1½ Tablespoons of dough for each cookie and roll into balls. Arrange on cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Using the back of a spoon, slightly flatten the tops.

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes until the edges appear set. Press a few chocolate chips into the top of the cookies (which will look very soft in the center). Let cool for at least 10 minutes on the pan.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brian Csaky, Director of Culinary Operations at Saint Anselm College, wrote this is “our chocolate chip cookie recipe that we use in Davison Hall. During lunch last year, we had a table set up for the students to try [two] kinds of cookie and they got to vote on their favorite. This recipe ended up being the winner between the two.”

  • ⅜ pound brown sugar
  • ⅓ pound sugar
  • ½ pound unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces eggs
  • ¼ ounce vanilla extract
  • ⅔ pound all-purpose flour
  • ¼ ounce iodized salt
  • ⅛ ounce baking soda
  • 10 ounces chocolate chips

Cream sugars and butter. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop in scoops onto baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Chruściki (Angel Wings or Bow Ties)

Karen Sobiechowski at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Manchester said in an email she spoke to her bakers before sending along recipes, the first of which she describes this way: “Chrusciki are often referred to as angel wings (because of the powdered sugar) or bow ties (because of the shape). When the dough is rolled very thin, the cookies are light and crisp. Some recipes call for a small amount of alcohol (such as vodka, whiskey, or rum) in the dough to keep it from absorbing too much oil during the frying.”

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • oil for deep frying
  • powdered sugar to dust

Beat egg yolks with a fork. Add orange zest, salt and sour cream. Add 2½ cups of the flour and powdered sugar to egg mixture. Combine. Add the last ½ cup of flour, working by hand to form a soft dough.

On a floured board, roll out the dough a quarter at a time. Roll thin. Cut dough in small rectangles and cut a slit in the center. Put one end through to make a bow. Fry in hot oil, only until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.

Crisp Oatmeal Cookies

The following recipe is a Belisle family favorite. My mother makes it for our annual family Christmas get-together. It is a tradition that is asked for every year. My mom modified it slightly. She has been making these cookies since I was a little kid (almost 60 years). The original recipe was submitted by Jean Engborg and was in a handwritten cookbook from Cape Porpoise, Maine.” — Ann Hamilton, a food safety specialist for UNH Cooperative Extension

  • 1 cup shortening
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda mixed in ¼ cup boiling water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 3 cups rolled oats (either quick or regular)
  • raisins

Oven temperature 375°F. Makes about 5½ dozen 2½-inch cookies.

Cream the shortening with the sugars. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water and add to the sugar mixture. Add vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoon on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork and bake about 10 minutes or until a golden color. Put on wire rack to cool. Add a raisin, if desired, in the center of the cookies before cooking. These cookies are crisp and crunchy. NOTE: Needs watching — can burn quickly.

Crystalized Ginger Shortbread

From Charlene Nichols, director of sales at Hippo, who writes that she adapted this recipe from themom100.com by Katie Workman, doubling it and adding about a teaspoon of ground ginger to up the overall gingerness.

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
  • 1½ cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the salt, then the flour, then the vanilla and ground ginger. Lastly, beat in the crystallized ginger. The dough will appear crumbly but hold together when you pinch it.

Press the dough into a large cookie sheet, scoring into 64 2-inch squares. Place pan in freezer for 20 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least an hour, until it firms up slightly.

Bake for about 40 minutes until very slightly colored, with edges just a bit browned. Put the pan on a wire rack and cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Then flip the shortbread to remove from the pan, turn right side up and cool completely on the rack.

Place the shortbread on a cutting board and using a large sharp knife cut into squares following the lines you’ve scored in the dough.

cover of Girl Scout Cookbook with illustrations of eggs and bacon

Danish Dapples

Danish dapples … comes from the Girl Scout Cookbook [pictured] which was published by the Girl Scouts of the USA in 1971. We have a copy of this book in the Max I. Silber Scouting Library. We chose this Danish recipe to reflect the interest that the Girl Scouts have had in World Scouting over the years.”— Doug Aykroyd, Curator of the Lee Scouting Museum in Manchester

  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped almonds or hazelnuts
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream shortening and sugar together; add oats, and beat well. Beat in eggs. Sift flour together with salt, soda and spices; add to sugar-shortening-egg mixture and mix well. Stir in apples and nuts.

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned. Use last four ingredients for frosting, as follows: Melt butter and heat 1 teaspoon of milk with it. Pour into small mixing bowl with powdered sugar and vanilla; mix until smooth. Spread over tops of cookies. Let cool until frosting sets before serving or storing.

Eldress Bertha Lindsay’s Lemon Verbena Cookies

From Eldress Bertha Lindsay’s Seasoned With Grace: My Generation of Shaker Cooking (1988) and provided by the Canterbury Shaker Village.

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed lemon verbena leaves, or substitute ½ teaspoon lemon extract

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. In a separate small bow, mix milk, lemon juice, oil and egg. Add lemon verbena or lemon extract to the liquid. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well-mixed.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.

Finikia (Assumption’s Recipe)

From the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Manchester Ladies Philoptochos Society, which writes: “Finikia are considered the most popular Greek Christmas cookie. In some regions of Greece, they are also known as melomakarona. These delicious, moist, honey-drenched cookies can be made with a date or walnut center filling, or left plain in the center. All varieties are topped with crushed walnuts, cinnamon and sugar. … The Ladies Philoptochos Society of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church make and bake hundreds of finikia annually for their food fests, spring and fall bake sales, and Greekfest.”

Dough:

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted (sweet) butter – at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice – at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks – at room temperature
  • 1 ounce Metaxa or brandy
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7 to 8 cups of flour

Center-filling (optional):

  • 10 ounces date paste or 20 pureed pitted dates
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Syrup:

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup honey

Cookie coating:

  • 1½ cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Dough

In mixer, beat butter, oil and sugar together very well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, into the mixture while the mixer is working. Gradually add orange juice and Metaxa (or brandy) and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir. Start by adding half the flour mixture and keep incorporating the remainder of the flour, a little at a time, until you have a smooth dough that is neither too soft nor too hard. Take dough out of bowl and knead until dough forms a ball.

Center-filling (optional)

In small saucepan, mix together dates, granulated sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and vanilla extract. On lowest setting, cook until warm. Set aside.

Syrup

In a large pot, combine granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil; boil for 10 minutes. Add honey and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Cookie Coating

In a separate bowl, mix together walnuts, cinnamon and granulated sugar.

Shaping and baking:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll and shape dough into small oval balls about 1½ to 2 inches long and 1 inch wide.

Using your fingers, press one side of the ball flat like a small pancake. If making center-filled finikia, add 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of cookies.

Fold dough over and pinch ends of oval cookies together. Place fold-side down on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes until golden in color. Do not overbake; otherwise syrup won’t be absorbed into each cookie. Set cookies aside to cool. Once cooled, transfer cookies to a large casserole dish.

Prepare syrup. Once the syrup is boiled and hot, pour over the cooled cookies making sure all cookies are completely covered in syrup. With a wooden spoon, turn the cookies over a few times ensuring the tops and bottoms are fully covered in syrup. Turn cookies in syrup a full 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove honey-drenched cookies and place in individual paper baking cups. Sprinkle the walnut mixture over the finikia.

Should yield roughly 60 pieces.

Finikia (St. Philip’s recipe)

Vivian Karafotias of St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua also sent along a recipe for finikia, one of three recipes she sent that come from the cookbook the church sells at its annual festival in May. She writes: “The cookie is oval-shaped with walnuts on top and dipped in syrup. This cookie originated from Smyrni, Asia Minor.”

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground clove
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 to 8 cups of flour

Beat margarine, add oil and beat well. Add sugar, juice, rind, whiskey, ground clove and baking powder. Add flour slowly, using only as much as needed to form soft cookie dough. Form into slightly flattened egg-shaped cookies. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool. Dip cookies in hot syrup for a few minutes. Remove and sprinkle with nut mixture.

Syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Place all syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.

Nut mixture

  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts mixed with 3 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon

Flourless Ooey-Gooey Double Chocolate Cookies

Makes 16 cookies. I seldom use Dutch process cocoa; natural cacao works great.” — from Roxanne Macaig, Hippo account executive.

  • 5 ounces excellent-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ stick + 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup superfine or granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (or preference milk or white chocolate)
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat to 350°F.

In a heat-proof bowl (either in the microwave or on the stove over a pot of simmering water), melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool down to lukewarm.

Using either a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters, whisk sugar and eggs together until pale, very fluffy and about tripled in volume. About 5 minutes on a high speed until the “ribbon stage.”

Pour the lukewarm chocolate mixture into the whisked egg mixture, and whisk until just combined. Stir in vanilla and salt. SIFT in the cocoa powder and salt, and whisk until you get a smooth, glossy batter — it will be pretty runny. Add the chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and small diced walnuts if desired, mixing throughout the batter.

Chill the batter in the fridge for 8 minutes, until slightly thickened. It will still be fairly loose, but it will mostly hold its shape when you scoop onto the cookie sheet.

Scoop onto a cookie sheet using a 2-Tablespoon ice cream or cookie scoop; leave about 1½ inches between for them to spread.

Bake, one baking sheet at a time, at 350ºF (180ºC) for 8 to 9 minutes or until slightly puffed up. The center should be a little underbaked so they’ll be gooey and delicious when cooled. They will have a glossy, cracked crust and be puffed up mounds, but they will settle when cooled.

Directly out of the oven, while they’re still hot, you can use a glass (larger than the cookie diameter) to bump the overflow edges to a perfectly round shape.

Ginger Cookies

From Mrs. Thomas Chalmers in The Bazaar Cook Book compiled by The Ladies in the First Congregational Church in Manchester, published in 1901, according to Kristy Ellsworth, Director of Education at the Manchester Historic Association’s Millyard Museum.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 dessertspoonful each of ginger, vinegar and soda

Mix with 6 cups of flour and enough more to roll out. Bake ¼ inch thick.

Gingerbread Cookies

This holiday cookie recipe is pure comfort. The aroma of ginger meeting cinnamon on the baking sheet is irresistible. Sometimes the icing and decoration toppings don’t make it to each cookie as I have sampled a bare cookie or two beforehand.” — Marilyn Mills, dietitian at Elliot Health System.

  • 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached or try white wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger (for more ginger flavor squeeze another teaspoon of refrigerated ginger paste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread cookie shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown.

Cool on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container for up to five days.

chocolate chip cookies on wooden table
Hearty Energy Cookies. Photo courtesy of Katie Welch.

Hearty Energy Cookies

Katie Welch, Senior Director of Member Experience for the YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown, shares her Hearty Energy Cookie recipe — one that her mom started cooking for her when she was in high school and both were active runners craving a more nutritious cookie yet still gooey and chocolatey! Katie now makes these hearty energy cookies to share at the Y with coworkers, members, and friends.” — Jamie Demetry, VP of marketing and communications at the Granite YMCA.

  • ½ cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1⅓ cups dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix butter, sugar and peanut butter until creamed. Add eggs, one at a time, and then stir in the vanilla. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. Finally, add the buttermilk. The batter will be sticky, but handle-able. Roll out golf-ball sized balls, and slightly flatten onto your cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges just turn golden. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Hermits

From Mary Whitcher’s Shaker House-Keeper (1882) and provided by the Canterbury Shaker Village.

Mix one cup of raisins, stoned and chopped; a cup of butter, two cups of sugar, a teaspoon each of cinnamon and clove, half a teaspoon of soda dissolved in a little milk; one teaspoon nutmeg, three eggs, and enough flour to roll out. Roll the dough to the thickness of a quarter of an inch, and cut it with a round tin. Bake the cakes about 12 minutes, in a rather quick oven (375°F).

Homemade Nutter Butters

From a dietitian at the Elliot, sent by Dawn Fernald, System Vice President of Marketing and Communications at SolutionHealth.

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla, then fold in the almond flour and baking powder. Roll dough into ½-teaspoon-size balls and place them side by side on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Once dough is all divided out, use fork and press down gently on each ball, then rotate 90 degrees and repeat.

Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes. Once fully cooled (10 to 15 minutes), stir together ¼ cup peanut butter with 1 Tablespoon maple syrup, then stuff two cookies and press together.

cover of ring bound book with illustration of boy scouts in woods

Inside-Out Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe for the Boy Scout cookie comes from a recipe book produced by Troop 177 in Hampton, New Hampshire. This book was produced in 2006 as a fundraising project. Members of the troop sought out recipes from family and friends… The recipe for Inside-Out Chocolate Chip Cookies came from the dessert section. It was submitted by a Star Scout in the troop, Joey Silveria.” — Doug Aykroyd, Curator of the Lee Scouting Museum in Manchester

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter (softened)
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ vanilla milk chips
  • 1 cup nuts (chopped)

Heat oven to 350°F.

Mix sugars, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir in vanilla milk chips and chopped nuts. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool one minute before moving to wire rack.

Kate Smith’s Grape-Nut Chocolate Drops

My grandmother Pauline, on my Mum’s side, was first-generation French Canadian. Her mother, Imelda Lemoine, passed away when Pauline was 19. Pauline married my grandfather when she was 23 and was mother to seven children and a prodigious cook. These chocolates were made every year at Christmas and were originally found by Imelda from Kate Smith’s radio show. She sent away and received a promotional recipe card. My mother made them at Christmas and some of my earliest memories are stirring the bowl and licking the chocolate off the spoon when we were done scooping them out. Don’t fear the strange ingredients. They are delicious and best eaten within a week if they even last that long. (Also known in our family as Grape-Nut Clusters)” — Jessica Traynor, Auburn, New Hampshire

  • 1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Grape-Nuts

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in the condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Stir in Grape-Nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax or parchment paper. Cool on counter. Makes about 5 dozen.

Kolaczki

Karen Sobiechowski at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Manchester describes kolaczki this way: “Kolaczki consist of a rich pastry filled with fruit preserves or jam. I like to use Solo filling. Using a variety of fillings (apricot, prune, cherry, etc.) makes for a nice presentation. The same cookie is enjoyed with a slightly different name in the various Eastern European countries.”

  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
  • 2¾ cups sifted flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ pound butter, softened
  • Solo fruit filling (apricot, cherry, prune, etc.)
  • powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast in sour cream; add a pinch of sugar. Add flour, egg yolk and butter; mix well. Divide dough into three parts. Roll out ⅛ inch thick. Cut into circles or squares. Fill center with ½ teaspoon fruit filling. On squares, bring corners to center of filling. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Koulourakia Epirus (Assumption’s recipe)

From the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Manchester Ladies Philoptochos Society, which writes: “This buttery-based, shiny egg glazed versatile cookie (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) is a staple in most Greek households. Koulourakia are made and enjoyed in times of happiness (holidays and celebrations), simply over a cup of coffee or tea, or offered in times of sorrow. The ingredients are delicious and native to the region of Northern Epirus.”

  • 16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted (sweet) butter – at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon Crisco
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks – at room temperature
  • 1 egg beaten for glaze
  • 6 extra-large eggs – at room temperature
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice – at room temperature
  • 1 orange rind grated
  • ¼ cup vanilla
  • ¼ cup baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 to 10 cups of flour

In mixer, cream butter and 1 Tablespoon Crisco very well. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy. One at a time, and slowly, add the egg yolks and eggs into the mixture while the mixer is working. Beat well.

Add ½ teaspoon baking soda to orange juice and then blend together with the mixture. Add ¼ cup vanilla and orange rind to mixture and continue beating with the mixer.

Mix 2 cups of flour with ¼ cup baking powder. Add to mixture and slowly blend together. Keep incorporating the remainder of the flour, a little at a time, to the mixture to make a soft dough. If the mixture is sticky, slowly keep incorporating more flour until the dough is pliable but not sticky.

Take dough out of mixer, place in bowl, cover with parchment paper or a clean towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll and shape koulourakia into desired shape and size and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Brush with egg glaze. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes until golden in color. Should yield roughly 120 pieces (depending on shape and size).

Koulourakia — Butter Cookies (St. Philip’s recipe)

From Vivian Karafotias of St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua: “Here is a traditional Greek butter cookie that is made during Christmas and Easter. They are traced back to Crete during the Minoan period. They are delicious. We sell them at our festival.”

  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • juice of ½ orange (approx. ⅓ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons orange rind
  • 8 large eggs
  • 7 teaspoons baking powder
  • approximately 4 pounds sifted flour

Glaze:

  • beaten eggs
  • sesame seeds

Cream butter. Add oil, sugar, whiskey, vanilla, orange juice and rind and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until creamy. Sift the baking powder with 2 cups of flour and stir into dough. Transfer to large bowl and add flour, a little at a time, to form a soft dough. Using the hands to mix in the flour is the best method of forming the dough. Approximately 15 cups of sifted flour is needed, being careful to add just enough to form a soft workable dough that can be shaped. Using a small amount of dough, roll with hands into a rope about ½ inch in diameter. Form into circles or twists. The amount of dough to be used for each cookie can be measured by filling an ice cream scoop with dough and then dividing into quarters. Each quarter is the amount of dough needed to make the koulourakia the proper size.

Place cookies on greased cookie sheet or parchment-lined cookie pan. Mix sesame seeds with several beaten eggs and brush mixture on top of cookies to form a glaze. Bake in a 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

Kourabiedes (St. Philip’s recipe)

From Vivian Karafotias of St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua, who says “This is a traditional butter … with powdered sugar on top. It originated in 7th century Persia. This cookie has European origins as well.”

  • 1 pound sweet butter
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup toasted chopped almonds
  • 5 cups sifted flour
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Beat butter and the ½ cup sugar until creamy. Add egg yolk, whiskey and flavorings. Continuing to mix with electric beaters, slowly add half of the flour. Stir in the almonds and continue to beat another minute. Using hands, mix in remaining four. Knead dough a few minutes until soft and smooth. Pinch off small pieces and shape into crescents. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly. Sift confectioner’s sugar over cookies. Place individual cookies in paper baking cups that have also been sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Dough can be refrigerated overnight before shaping and baking cookies.

Kourambiethes (St. Nicholas’ recipe)

From St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manchester. Barbara George, parish president writes:” We bake these throughout the year however they are especially popular at Christmas time. This recipe is one that has been passed on by one of our members, Tina. It was her mother’s recipe so it’s been used for generations!”

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 shot glass of whiskey or brandy
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 4¼ cups flour
  • 1 small can chopped walnuts finely ground into small bits

Combine butter and confectioner’s sugar. Beat until creamy. Add whiskey or brandy, add egg yolk, vanilla, flour and walnuts. Mix all ingredients well, then take a small amount, press to form a circle. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through.

When done, remove cookies and place on wax paper that has been dusted with confectioner’s sugar if using a sifter. More confectioner’s sugar may be added if desired when ready to serve.

LaBelle Winery Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe is one Amy [winery owner Amy LaBelle] would make with her kids when they were young and still makes yearly as it’s a family tradition. Her kids loved to add the dollop of The Winemaker’s Kitchen Three Kings raspberry jam to each cookie!” — according to Michelle Thornton, marketing and business development director at LaBelle’s Winery. The Winemaker’s Kitchen are Amy’s culinary brand of products.

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Winemaker’s Kitchen vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups unbleached flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 jar Winemaker’s Kitchen Three Kings Red Raspberry jam
  • 1 jar Winemaker’s Kitchen Apricot Riesling jam

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla and blend in two eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then, with the mixer on slowest speed, begin to add dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough comes together in a loose ball. Dump onto a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill disk for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1½-inch balls (if possible, weigh them to 1 ounce). Dip each ball in beaten egg and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper lining if possible. Press a light indentation into the top of each cookie with your finger or thumb and drip ¼ teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Lumberjack Cookies

A family recipe from Det. Adrienne Davenport of the Manchester Police Department.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (separately)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease cookie sheet.

Cream together sugar and shortening. Add molasses and eggs. Mix well.

Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into mixture a little at a time.

Pinch off a piece of dough and roll into a 1- to 1½-inch ball. Place dough balls on greased cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Using the ¼ cup of sugar, sprinkle a pinch of sugar onto the top of dough balls. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Macaroons

From Alyse Savage, account executive at The Hippo.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional but delish)
  • 4¾ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer with paddle, combine the egg whites, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until foamy and most of the sugar is dissolved — at least 2 minutes.

Fold in the shredded coconut, making sure the coconut is evenly moistened.

Using a large cookie scoop, scoop 2 to 3 Tablespoons of the batter and drop onto the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Will look like little mounds. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. You can rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even baking.

They will stay in the refrigerator up to five days, or three days at room temperature. They freeze well too.

Have fun with this recipe! You can be creative, adding dark chocolate chips or melting them on top once cooled; you can press whole almonds into the top prior to cooking, and white chocolate and cranberry is delish too.

Mandelbrot (Jewish Biscotti)

Laurie Medrek, past president and former treasurer of Etz Hayim Synagogue in Derry, said: “Here’s one that I put in our interfaith cookbook that Etz Hayim Synagogue created with the Church of the Transfiguration next door a number of years ago. I actually stole this recipe from an old cookbook from another synagogue sisterhood. There’s another version I love by Tori Avey and used her recipe for doing a baking video for the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made either of these. Mandelbrot (or Mandel Bread) translated from Yiddish means almond bread, which was popular with Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jews). Sometimes I sub almond extract and mix in slivered almonds; then it’s more authentically ‘almond’ bread. It’s very similar to Italian biscotti and can be made with various mix-ins.”

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups (heaping) flour
  • 1½ cup total: chocolate chips, raisins, maraschino cherries, coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder and flour and mix by hand. Add fruit, nuts, etc. Line cookie sheet with tin foil or parchment paper. Divide dough into three portions and pat into oval shape. Bake 50 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice into 1-inch strips. Return to oven and toast on each side until lightly browned.

Oat Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

These are from my sister Loony, who has been a great inspiration to me for many years … She is also, hands down, my favorite baker of muffins, Peanut Butter Pie (we sell), Chocolate Fudge Sauce (sold here), Chocolate Caramel Walnut Tortes and so many other delicious things.” — Steven Freeman, owner of Angela’s Pasta & Cheese

Use the Quaker oat cookie recipe (“Quaker’s Best Oatmeal Cookies” from quakeroats.com):

  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) margarine or butter, softened
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)

Add:

  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 small bag Ocean Spray dried cranberries.

Heat oven to 375°F.

In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.

Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; mix well.

Add oats; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie or 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. When cookies have completely cooled, drizzle with glaze. Store tightly covered.

Glaze: Place 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar into a bowl, add 1 Tablespoon half-and-half and whisk until smooth. Keep adding half-and-half until you reach your desired consistency. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla and stir well. Using a fork or a spoon, drizzle glaze over cookies. Let cookies sit until glaze is set.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bites

From Beth Violette, a nutritionist at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, who wrote: “This sweet and simple recipe combines fiber-rich whole rolled oats, creamy nut butter and heart-healthy flaxseed rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A delicious hybrid between a cookie and a bar, these bites will satisfy your sweet tooth and any mid-afternoon hunger. (Recipe is taken from AICR American Institute for Cancer Research).”

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup mini unsweetened chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup natural almond butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine dry ingredients including chocolate chips in large bowl. In another bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Drop dough into 24 even mounds on greased baking sheet. Lightly press down to flatten (cookies will not flatten much during cooking). Or pour batter into greased 9×13-inch baking pan.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are set in the center.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

From Nathalie Boucher Hirte, office manager at the Franco-American Centre, host of Franco Foods on YouTube and a native of Quebec, who said: “This might not be a Franco recipe, but one that my family enjoys. We make them every year. Cut them out in a bunch of fun shapes and decorate them on Christmas Eve. When my kids were younger, they would each decorate a special one for Santa that would be left on a special plate with a glass of milk in front of the fireplace.”

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt; beat until combined. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat until well-combined.

Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer (if you have a large stand mixer, you’re set!). Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half; cover and chill for several hours or overnight if necessary for easier handling (dough soft).

Roll dough on lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut with desired cutters. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (or with a silicone mat or parchment paper). Bake in a 375°F oven for 6 to 7 minutes or until the edges or firm and the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool completely before decorating. Makes about 96 cookies (depending on size of cutter).

Original Girl Scout Cookie Recipe from 1922

As it appears on the blog Old School Pastry at oldschoolpastry.pastrysampler.com, as pointed out by Ginger Kozlowski, communications and public relations manager at the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. As Kozlowski explains, “back in the day, Girl Scouts had to bake their own cookies to sell, and the recipe is a basic sugar cookie, which looks easy and tasty!” (She also added a reminder that 2024 cookie season starts soon — Jan. 1 for sales Girls collecting orders.)

  • 1 cup butter or butter substitute
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • additional sugar for sprinkling

Cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, then milk and flavoring, scraping the bottom well. Mix in the flour and baking powder. Roll out, cut, then bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Sprinkle with sugar as soon as they come out of the oven.

Original Toll House Cookies

typed recipe on worn-out and tattered rectangular card

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig sent the “well-used cookie recipe [pictured above] passed down from Mayor Craig’s grandmother, Beatrice Hopkins,” according to an email from staff.

Sift together 2¼ cups sifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, set aside.

Blend 1 cup soft butter or shortening; ¾ cup granulated sugar; ¾ cup brown sugar, packed; 1 teaspoon vanilla; ½ teaspoon water. Beat in 2 eggs.

Add flour mixture, mix well. Stir in 1 package of chocolate chips, 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts. Drop by the spoonful onto greased cookie sheet.

350-degree oven. Time: 10 minutes.

Pecan Crescent Cookies

These cookies are easy and so tasty, I add them to Yankee swap gifts every year, It doesn’t matter what the actual gift is. One year I offered up a 10-inch frying pan filled with these cookies it went around and around until the person that got it took the cookies out of the pan and said that is all I want, and gave the pan to the person that really needed a pan.” — Tammie Boucher, Hippo ads coordinator

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour. stir in the pecans.

Shape rounded spoonfuls of dough into 2 1/2 inch logs and shape into crescents. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 325 for 20-22 minutes or until set and the bottoms are lightly browned. Let stand for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners before serving.

Potato Chip Cookies

From Eldress Bertha Lindsay’s Seasoned With Grace: My Generation of Shaker Cooking (1988) and provided by the Canterbury Shaker Village.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup dates or raisins
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


Cream sugar and butter, add beaten eggs. Mix together all other ingredients and drop by teaspoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles

My son found the recipe some time ago and asked me to make them for Christmas one year. Christmas equals cookies at our house. My husband will mutter and swear under his breath when he knows I’m making them. His willpower doesn’t extend to these cookies and he’ll eat every one he can get his hands on that my son hasn’t eaten first. It is a little intimidating for the rest of us. We like them, too.” — Cindy Berling, Auburn, New Hampshire

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon-sugar coating:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash allspice

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Blend in pumpkin puree, beat in egg, and then add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Cover and chill the dough for an hour.

Blend cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together to make the cream cheese filling. Chill for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices for the coating and set aside.

To make the cookies, take a tablespoon of the cookie dough, flatten it like a pancake and place a teaspoon of the cream cheese in the center. Form another tablespoon of the cookie batter into a flat pancake shape and place it on top of the cream cheese. Pinch the edges together, sealing in the cream cheese, and roll into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon sugar coating and place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Repeat until the dough is gone and flatten the cookie dough balls with a heavy-bottomed glass or measuring cup. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops start to crack. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Raspberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

woman standing behind table filled with cookies and baked goods.
Neva Cole, Communications Director of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Courtesy photo.

A staff favorite from the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, courtesy Communications Director Neva Cole.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until smooth. Mix in ½ teaspoon almond extract. Mix in flour until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1½-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make a small hole in the center of each ball, using your thumb and finger, and fill the hole with preserves.

Bake for 14 to 18 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioner’s sugar, ¾ teaspoon almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle lightly over cooled cookies.

Rogaliki (Sour Cream Horns)

Karen Sobiechowski at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Manchester on rogaliki: “Rogaliki, cinnamon sugar and nut-filled crescents, are my go-to cookie for holidays and special occasions. They are tasty and simple to make.”

  • ½ pound margarine
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk

Cream margarine with a fork or pastry blender. Add sifted flour, one cup at a time. Add sour cream and egg yolk; mix well. Divide dough into three balls, place on floured wax paper and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Remove one piece at a time and roll as for pie crust.

Mix walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle ⅓ of mixture over dough. Cut dough into triangles. Roll to form crescents. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375°F for 20 minutes or till golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Repeat with remaining two sections of dough. Yield: approximately five dozen small cookies.

Shaker Giant Rosemary-Ginger Cookies

From the Canterbury Shaker Village.

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons crumbled dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon clove
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and clove together in a bowl.

Combine butter and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar, the egg, molasses and vanilla. Process until blended. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the butter mixture and pulse until the flour is blended and a stiff dough forms on the top of the blade.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Place remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Using lightly floured hands, form dough into 1½-inch-diameter balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes at 350°F.

Ski Bars

Though not technically cookies, these chocolate peanut butter Rice Krispie bars have been a favorite in my family for decades. They are named after my mom’s family tradition of always whipping up a big batch of these to bring along on weekend ski trips. If you can resist the temptation to dig into them before reaching the ski lodge, Ski Bars pair excellently with a mug of hot cocoa and warming up between ski runs (or avoiding the slopes altogether). I’ve pulled the recipe from a family cookbook that my mom made for my sister on her first Christmas (so it’s written from her point of view).” — Berit Brown, events and marketing director at Intown Concord.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Heat corn syrup and peanut butter together until smooth. Stir in Rice Krispies. Press into a buttered pan. Melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together. Spread on top of bars. Cool.

Swedish Brownies

Here is a holiday recipe from the New Hampshire Historical Society. This is from one of our staff: ‘It was my grandmother’s recipe — it’s probably not the real name, but this is what we always called it in the family, because my grandmother was, well, Swedish.’” — William Dunlop, President of the New Hampshire Historical Society

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works just fine)
  • 4 teaspoons of almond extract
  • 1½ cups flour
  • dash of salt
  • sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 9×13” pan.

With a mixer, combine eggs, oil and sugar; then add extract and beat well. Add flour and salt. Pour into the pan and sprinkle the top with sugar and sliced almonds. Bake for 35 minutes. That’s it — easy-peasy!

Umbrian Tozzetti

From Barbara George at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church — but this recipe is from her personal stash. She recently visited Italy and took a cooking class at a winery. “We made these cookies and when I saw how much chocolate was going in it was an amazing amount but they are delicious!”

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • grated lemon zest as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80 grams chopped dark chocolate
  • 80 grams chopped almonds (optional)
  • flour as needed for the work surface

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl.

Whisk together the vanilla extract, eggs and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry along with the chopped chocolate and the almonds (if you’re using them), and use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape into logs 2 inches wide. Place the logs of dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 350°F or until the logs are golden brown and barely firm to the touch. Remove the logs from the oven. Cool for 10 minutes, then use a sharp knife to cut them into ¾-inch slices. Lay the slices flat and bake an additional 7 minutes.

Thumbprint Cookies

The recipe is from Chef Paul. “His grandmother used to make these cookies for his family gatherings. While serving overseas in the Army, they were always a care package favorite.” — Tiffany Sweatt, Culinary & Nutrition Programs Director at the New Hampshire Food Bank in Manchester.

  • 1 large egg, separated
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ⅔ cup any flavor fruit jam

Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease two cookie sheets and set aside.

Whisk egg white in a small bowl. Place chopped walnuts in another small bowl.

Cream butter, brown sugar, and egg yolk in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour, vanilla, and salt; mix until well combined.

Scoop dough into 1½-inch balls. Dip in egg white, then roll in walnuts until coated. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven until slightly puffed, about 5 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven. Use your thumb to gently press an indent in the center of each cookie. Spoon jam into each thumbprint, filling it to the brim.

Return cookies to oven and bake until set, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Vanilla Pudding Snickerdoodles

From Emily Vassar at the Office of the Mayor in Nashua, who had this to say about this recipe: “I took a poll here in the office, and Snickerdoodles were the winner! This particular recipe is my favorite: it results in the softest cookies every time!”

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup sugar divided
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding & pie filling (3.5 ounces)
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter, shortening, ½ cup sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and dry pudding mix.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda; gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Roll the dough into ½-Tablespoon-sized balls. Toss the balls into the cinnamon sugar mixture until well-coated and then place the dough on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

White Chocolate Dipped Molasses Cookies

round cookies on tray with one side dipped in white chocolate
White Chocolate Dipped Molasses Cookies. Photo courtesy of Michael Witthaus.

Witthaus family recipe from Michael Witthaus, Hippo’s music writer.

  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
  • extra granulated sugar for rolling

Melt shortening in pan; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg, and beat well.

In separate bowl, sift remaining dry ingredients.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Refrigerate for one hour.

Roll dough into walnut-size balls, then roll in granulated sugar. Bake at 375°F for 7 to 10 minutes.

In double boiler, melt white chocolate chips, and let cool slightly. Dip half of each cookie in white chocolate, then set on parchment paper

Wine Cookies

Recipe is by infobabe on allrecipes.com, as recommended by Charlene Nichols, director of sales at Hippo, who writes:“I’ve been making [Italian wine cookies] for years, trying different recipes from Pinterest, trying desperately to match cookies that I’ve only ever had from a shop in Providence, Rhode Island, to no avail. However, these are good, not sweet, dry and subtle, kind of like a good dunking biscuit. Easy to make.”

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the wine and oil. Mix with a large fork and then with your hands.

Roll small pieces of dough between hands to make “logs,” then shape into circles. The circles should be no bigger than 2 inches in diameter. Roll cookies in extra sugar and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25 minutes or until slightly brown. After cookies cool they should be hard and crisp.

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