Another Volunteer Comments

2011-07-26 21:26:38.000 – Dennis Vienneau,  Summit Volunteer

As our volunteer week draws to a close, I can report that the newest oven and range works well. I had experienced the sudden shutting off issue that the “old” new stove presented during a previous volunteer week when trying to roast a turkey. This week we baked over 700 cookies for Seek the Peak and there were no problems using the stove.

In case you’re wondering, we baked chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal fudge drops, peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, chocolate expresso cookies, coconutmacaroons and potato chip cookies. And almost every cookie was consumed. Thank-you to all the hikers with your generous support of MWO.

You might be aware that Mt. Washington’s elevation plays a role in our baking. Approximately 20% of the atmosphere is below the summit; therefore a lack of air pressure has an affect on many aspects of baking chemistry. We had to reduce the amount of baking soda and baking powder since the cookie dough would rise easier with less air pushing down on it. We also used less sugar since sugar melts at a lower temperature with less pressure. If we didn’t, the sugar melts early in the baking process causing the cookie shape to spread out, and possibly joining other spreading cookies to become one giant cookie before the other ingredients have a chance to set. One other the other actions we had to take to insure that our cookies looked similar to what you might see at home at lower elevations was to slightly increase the amount of flour that each recipe called for which helps the cookies to hold their intended size and shape.

Speaking of Seek the Peak, I bet you can guess the name of the biggest celebrity on the summit. Of course, Marty the cat. Hikers were constantly asking and searching for Marty in hopes of posing in a picture with the big cat. Marty must have taken a few lessons from other celebrities andremained out of site and away from all the noise and commotion and paparazzis, I mean Seek the Peak guests, that were waiting for him in the Observatory’s living space. If you really want to spend some quality time with Marty, you need to become a volunteer on the summit. Before your volunteer week ends, you’ll have ample opportunity for Marty to seek you out for a behind the ears head scratch and possibly a photo op.

I’m hoping that heat wave that gripped New England during my volunteer week on the summit will be the last of the major heat that we’ll experience this summer. I’ve really enjoyed temperatures from the mid 60’s to wind-chills in the mid 30’s this week. One of the many reasons that I enjoy being a volunteer on the summit during the summer is that it’s a great way to escape the heat and humidity found down below.

Thanks to Robin, Mike’s mom and co-volunteer for making this week a breeze. Thank-you to the Observatory crew for gobbling up everythingthat we prepared. It’s amazing what this crew will eat if you put whipped cream on it.

Observer Footnote: A trip up the Mt. Washington Auto Road is an adventure that you will remember for a lifetime. An engineering feat and a cultural icon; this road now celebrates its 150th year in operation. As a result, please join us at 7:00 PM tonight (Wednesday evening) at our Weather Discovery Center in North Conway for our FREE lecture series, “Science in the Mountains,” to hear Mt. Washington Auto Road General Manager, Howie Wemyss, discuss the past, present and future of this New Hampshire institution.


Dennis Vienneau,  Summit Volunteer

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