Recipes from our Backyard

With the onset of spring, flowers are blooming, fruits and vegetables are coming into season and our famous Farmers Markets are sprouting up all over the state. It seems as though at this time of year you can’t throw a stone without it landing in one of these seasonal Vermont fixtures. We thought we’d make use of the abundance of fresh local ingredients and offer up complementary recipes for a Vermont-inspired salad and soup. These recipes were donated to us by VBT Associate, Janet C. (pictured above). Now in charge of Document Services, Janet has been with the company for 27 years and she knows cooking just about as well as she knows traveling. You’re in for a treat!

For a full, locally sourced meal, enjoy our Roasted Beet Salad alongside our Green Garden Soup. Or lighten it up a bit, and enjoy each one separately.

Salad Recipe, Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad


  • 3 Large Beets, peeled, scrubbed with ends cut off
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp Vermont Maple Syrup
  • 5 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh, minced parsley
  • 8 scallions, sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups mesclun (radicchio, watercress, spinach, arugula)
  • 6-8 tbsp sliced, fresh goat cheese

Cooking Directions

  1. Slice beets and arrange in a large glass baking dish. Coat with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. In a preheated 350˚ oven, roast the beets for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven to cool. Then further slice the beets and set aside.
  2. While beets are cooking, whisk together the maple syrup, lemon juice, oil, parsley, scallions and salt in a medium bowl for the dressing and set aside.
  3. Once the beets have cooled, toss them with mesclun and dressing, top with the fresh goat cheese and serve. Note: For an added garnish add 1/4 cup of chopped pecans.

Soup Recipes, Soup Recipe, Garden Soup, Soup Greens

Green Garden Soup


  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1 leek, scrubbed and sliced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, diced & soaked in cold water
  • 2 medium green zucchinis, trimmed and diced
  • 10 cups organic low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1 hot pepper, whole (habanero or red chili)
  • 6 cups greens (mix of kale, collards and Swiss chard) finely sliced
  • 2 cups (tightly packed) fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp green onion, sliced
  • Juice of half of a lemon and half of a lime (or more to taste)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large soup pot (6-8 qts), heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, leek, garlic, carrot and celery and stir well. Reduce heat to medium and sweat vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Add paprika and cumin, stirring constantly until vegetables are coated with spices. Continue to cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  2. Add potatoes and zucchini and stir, sautéing for 1-2 minutes. Add stock, herb sprig and hot pepper, allowing pepper to float in broth. Bring mixture to a boil. Then, reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add greens to pot and stir carefully to submerge greens completely in broth. If additional liquid is required, add a bit more stock or water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil again. After reaching a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Remove soup from heat. Remove hot pepper from broth and remove herb sprig stems. Add spinach and stir until immersed in the broth. Using a hand blender, puree the soup in the pot. Be careful of splashing hot soup or wait until soup cools down a bit and puree in blender or food processor. Add lemon/lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish each bowl with yogurt and green onion. Serve immediately.


VBT Travelers Pitch In

Responsible, ethical travel practices are very important to us at VBT. We respect the destinations that we explore and we’re very pleased to attract travelers who do the same. The following account was shared with us by Bill B. A frequent VBT traveler, Bill was so affected by his recent biking vacation through Vietnam and Cambodia, he and his companions took a bit of action. We thank Bill and his group, and hope that you find some inspiration in their experiences.

In March and early April of 2012, 15 bikers went to Vietnam and had a remarkable time. I don’t know how we could have seen more of Vietnam unless we had done a biking tour of the whole country. I have taken many VBT trips and have come to the conclusion that for a trip in its totality, Journey through Vietnam now ranks number one for me.

ecotourism, eco travel, world travel

For the post trip, 13 of us went to Siem Reap in Cambodia to spend some time at Angkor Wat and other areas of interest nearby including Tonle Sap, the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia. There is no question that Angkor Wat met all of our expectations; it is truly one of the wonders of the world, but the Ta Prohm Temple is also special, with all the huge trees growing out of the temple walls.

On the second day in Cambodia, we traveled outside of Siem Reap to visit Ban Teay Srei. On the way through the countryside, we witnessed some of the worst poverty I have seen in travels around the world over many years. The very poor sanitation in many of the villages including a lack of fresh drinking water, water for basic hygiene and cooking contributes directly to the low life expectancy in Cambodia. Our group also began to notice distinctive signs in some of the villages beside fresh water wells that had been constructed.

On one of our stops to visit a school, we inspected some of these wells more closely and found that many of them had been funded by individuals including quite a few Americans. The U.S. government is also involved because several of the pumps had the USAID logo displayed. There is an organization in Cambodia called the Angkor Well Project that coordinates the construction of these wells. The web site is We decided that as a group, we would collect the necessary money to have one of these wells constructed. We did that and provided the funds to a well project representative. The name we selected for our group is “USA Friends.”

ecotourism, eco travel, world travel

After we returned home, one of the organizers kept us informed on the progress of the construction until the well was completed. He then sent us some photos of the villagers who benefit from the well including the actual pump in operation. I know that our group feels good about this effort to improve the sanitation facilities for at least a small number of Cambodians. We certainly don’t want to take any credit as a group because we have already received our rewards, just being involved.

-Bill B.