Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Friends are the Best Teachers"

Greetings to all!

Last month Inn at Long Lake's "Sing-a-long" Evening on the weekend after Thanksgiving was very special.

I re-connected with Patrick Brideau, who was the Head Baker at Phillips Exeter Academy back when I was the Lead Dinner Chef. Patrick has left the Academy and now teaches culinary arts students in New Hampshire. He is a great mentor in my cooking career and I wanted to invite him and his lovely wife, Maureen, to the inn for this evening of music and fun. Patrick accepted.

In addition to Patrick and Maureen, I invited two dear friends of mine, Dick and Dianne, from Mount Vernon, Maine (up near the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine). The next week, of course, a visit to their house was in order for them to play hosts. They enjoyed listening to the music played by Charles Grindle (who is just so gifted on the piano & can play almost anything by ear!). Matthew, our resident theatre artist (and Front Desk Assistant) even graced us with a number or two ;-).

Patrick is a mentor that was patient, kind, and very real life in his teaching. It was my pleasure to thank him with a stay at the inn. During his stay here I realized what a cool guy he is and how much (as in the case of most friends) that growing together is a true test of a good friend. With your good friends you can ask when in doubt, expecting pure, honest feedback in a caring way.

The weekend was a memorable part of 2009, not for just me but for my guests. How interesting it was to see my "old friends" meet "new friends" that were guests at the inn!

Today, let's consider the individuals in our lives that helped us evolve in our careers, spirituality, and in depth of perception. Tell them. Honor their teaching always. You never know---they might very well be a continued source of enjoyment and enlightenment in your Life.

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Inn at Long Lake

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Family Christmas Day!! Yippee!!

I woke up early this morning to get ready for my family's Christmas celebration. My older brother is driving up with his wife, Nancy, and my nieces from Cape Cod (they celebrate with her side of the family on December 25th). A large storm is blowing up the East Coast & it will be starting in their home area by the time they get back home.

Yesterday I spent most of the day preparing food. My Mom is doing well from her Mom's passing earlier in the month and I wanted to help alleviate some of the holiday pressures. I made our family favorite, German Rouladen (braised beef rolls with bacon, onions, chopped dill pickles, and mustard--simmered in beef gravy). I also made a tasty Chicken Pot Pie. Mom is making her famous German Potato Salad, which everyone loves--YUM! A Very German Christmas!!!

My nieces, Brandy and Marina, love my Godiva Liqueur Chocolate Cookies so I made a couple dozen of those, too. Listening to holiday music is a great backdrop for preparing holiday food. It really put me in the mood!

I was supposed to head down to the Boston area to share some holiday cheer with my lady friend, Fay, but the coming storm is going to postpone our festivities. It will be back to the inn after my family's celebration. Maine is not supposed to get much snow. My friends, Jim & Cliff, are heading down to Virginia. They are heading right into the storm!! Cliff is a nurse and just got back from the Sudan (a little warmer than Maine in December) where he was working with Doctors Without Borders. I hope and pray they get where they are going safely!

Have a great weekend and if you are traveling please be careful. Will follow up after the weekend.



Naples, Maine

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holidays Spirits--Part II "The Basics"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

A chilly 4 degree morning paired with a steaming cup of coffee starts my day here in Western Maine. Brrrrr!

In preparing for your holiday gatherings I began in the last post writing about a basic bar set-up for entertaining....

Starting with the specific needs of your guests that you have inquired about, the basic liquors one should stock are the ones that have the most popularity. White liquors (clear in appearance) that are versatile with most mixers (juices, carbonated mixers) are vodka, gin, and rum. Here a Dark Rum (eg. Myer's Dark Rum) might be more seasonal (and a good match for eggnog). Tequila, another white liquor, is super for tasty Margaritas in the Summer but not in the colder seasons.

Dark liquors (blended whiskey, bourbon, scotch, brandy, etc.) are "warmer" this time of year. Have a couple of these on hand. Simple highballs (liquor + mixer) are made in a moment with these.

Cordials/liqueurs are taste specific (coffee, orange, almond, etc.) are popular and offer a virtual department store of flavors. These are wonderful for a Coffee/Cocoa Bar. Keep a few of the most popular on hand, too. Some of these can be useful and versatile in cocktails, or for sipping "on the rocks."

So...here is a basic bar list for your swinging party; the liquor brands are up to you, of course:

*Vodka (Stolichnaya, Grey Goose, Belvedere, Smirnoff--your choice)
*Gin (Tangueray)
*Rum (Bacardi light, Myer's Dark Rum)
*Whiskey (Canadian Club, Seagram's 7)
*Cordials/Liqueurs (Kahlua, Amaretto di Saronno, Vandermint, etc.)
*Wine & Beer

Don't forget little touches like enough glassware, swizzle sticks, cocktail napkins, and fruit (lime & lemon wedges, maraschino cherries, olives, orange slices) & ice and ice buckets (for white/sparkling wines).

Your bar area (if outside your kitchen/food area) should be in a location where people can congregate and where you can tidy it up easily and oversee. Check in on all your guests for any strange behavior from over-consumption of alcohol. Remember: Responsible serving & drinking always. We need you and your friends around for 2010!

From Chilly, Beautiful Maine,

Inn at Long Lake
Naples, Maine

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas "Spirits"--What to Stock

Greetings, Blog Friends!

Winter has arrived in Maine. Two storms piled a fair amount of snow outside our doors in just the last week. Thankfully, warmer weather followed each outburst.

The holidays are on their way and I've already attended some wonderful parties. Seeing friends and family is one of the best parts about the holidays, of course! Getting ready for them can be a challenging endeavor, however...

Stocking your bar is an integral part of planning gatherings. Until the Baby New Year makes its happy appearance to give us "2010," I will endeavor to give you some basic advice & tips on simple beverage service during your festivities to make them even better!

So....what to stock? This is as simple, or as complex, as you would like it to be.

A couple of rules:

1). To stock a complete bar may not be cost-effective, or even prudent. While I am an advocate of stocking a variety of food & beverage items to inspire my hosting creativity, I advise that, in general house party cases, only stock what you will serve.

Based on this here are some tips for entertaining:

1). Ask your guests at the time of RSVP what it is they like to drink. With some luck they will usually give you a few choices (and usually joke "the expensive booze, of course!").

2). Have the basic liquor set-up (to be discussed in a future post)---and offer a "Specialty Cocktail" (or punch) that you can make up in advance. Name it after something fun--like "Snowball Cocktail" (hmmm...do they make glasses that look like snowballs??!!), or "Yuletide Grog." Or....simply make your favorite eggnog. This way you will be all set up/stocked with enough of the ingredients.

3). While it is nice to have a variety of spirits around, remember that non-drinkers must be accommodated. Coffee, non-alcoholic punch, or another "featured" no-alcohol can be created--and try something tasty and unique. How about a "Mrs. Claus Sipper" (someone has to drive the sleigh home when Santa's nose gets too red!! Hahaha.)? Being aware and prepared for responsible service is not only a gesture of hospitality, but a form of caring for your guests and friends!

4). Consider pairing your beverage choices around your menu. (Wine is, of course, an excellent choice--ask your local liquor man what is good and affordable.

I will post some more things to consider in the near future.

On another note: To all the lovely e-mails, phone calls, and cards I received over my Granny's passing, thank you so much. My Mom got wind of all of them. She extends her sincere "Thank You" to all.

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert
Naples, Maine
"The Heart of the Lakes Region"

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Loving Tribute: Clara Butler (1916-2009)

Hi, Blog Readers and Foodie Friends:
This weekend my family wished my "Granny," Clara Butler (my Mom's Mom), a beautiful journey to Heaven. The last few weeks have been challenging, especially for her and my Mom. I was able to bolt down to Massachusetts after Thanksgiving to let her know how much I loved her--and that she was, indeed, considered one of the best. It was one of the most touching experiences of my Life. The look of love in her eyes when she held my hand for (what we knew would be the last time) broke my heart, and opened it at the same time.
How blessed my Mom, my brothers, and I are to have had her in our lives for 93 years! My older brother, Bill, shared many lovely memories at the service. Among these were Christmas Eves, fun on the golf course, my Granny's awesome American Chop Suey (use a cast iron pan only, she revealed to me!), nights we all sat and watched the Lawrence Welk Show together. No matter how bad things would get chasing after 3 grandsons, my Granny never used curse words! Funny what we recall...
After my brother, I spoke about my feelings on "letting go" to the group. This is not the "I'm saying goodbye" type of letting go, more the confidence & conviction in your Faith that God will always provide you with answers to your troubling questions in time, even carry you when you feel that you cannot move forward. The strength to hold on to this knowledge is what my Granny showed me in her Life. There are things you can do in Life--but sometimes one must just offer it to God and know that perspective and Grace will come in time with patience and Faith.
My Granny was so happy for me when I assumed ownership of Inn at Long Lake. She knew it was a lifetime of dreams come true (and she always said: "The hard work will keep you out of trouble!") She enjoyed hearing about what was going on at the inn with all my projects, too. Heck---every time I make Hermit Bars at the inn she is thought of (she used to keep these moist, spicy raisin-dotted bars in a metal tin in her electric oven--just waiting for my visit with her! hehe).
My thanks to all my friends who supported me during this time! Thanks to the Merrimac Valley Hospice in Massachuesetts who were angels in the last days of Granny's life here on Earth, and to the staff of Lawrence General Hospital.
Granny, I will miss you, remember you, love you, and hold you near my heart forever. You are the best!!
Grandson #2 ;-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Memorium for a Mentor: Walter Griffin (1945-2009)

"The Griffin family mourns the loss of Walter Griffin. He died peacefully and unexpectedly in his home November 2. He has been actively retired as Phillips Exeter Academy Food Service Director since 2004 and enjoying spending time with his family, traveling, contributing to his community, and working as a maitre d' at the Stageneck Inn in York Harbor, Maine. He is survived by his wife Sandra, son Charles "Chip," daughter Alison Seuter, and grandchildren Avery and Griffin Seuter. This loss comes as a complete shock to family, friends, loved ones, community members etc. He was an incredibly generous and loving man that will be missed."
And so...there I was online e-mailing back and forth with some friends and I get this e-mail from Walter Griffin's e-mail account. I thought "Wow! This is a blast from the past!" I open it, only to find this sad news.
Walter was the Director of Dining Services at P.E.A. back when I was the dinner chef (1995-1997). He was a big guy who always believed that anything that could be envisioned could be set into motion. He also had high standards so that the guests (the students, faculty, alumni) would be happy. Dining Services there was self-contained (not a contract company) and it was an amazing experience for me in my career.
Walter, his wife, and others had dinner with me in New Orleans, when the city hosted a Summer Food Service Convention. I remember fondly an after-dinner walk with the crazy bunch on Bourbon Street, laughing at almost everything. Walter, aside from a strict boss, was a "good guy." I missed New England dearly in those days and was touched that he took time to have dinner that evening--and to foot the bill! Oh, how much the 8 of us laughed that evening!
The industry has lost a great man with Walter's passing. His memory and standards will always live on in my work at the inn. And, I guess that is just one legacy--one blessing--that mentors of this caliber leave behind...
"Rest and Dance with the Angels, Walter Griffin" (1945-2009)

Monday, November 2, 2009


Greetings, Blog Readers!

The lovely picture above was sent to me by Ron and Kathy S. from Clifton, VA. Ron and Kathy stayed here in mid-October for 4 nights. As you can see, some of the leaf colors were still vibrant at that time (maybe due to so much rain in June).

This coming weekend Inn at Long Lake hosts its 19th Annual Holiday Craft Show. I enjoy this event. It is refreshing to see some of the local artisans who have such passion for their crafting (jewelry, lamp shades, sewn items, wood products--the list is endless). Plus, my Mom (Elaine---perhaps most famous for Elaine's Pistachio Coffee Cake) will be coming up with her knitted mittens and scarves. Many locals pass through the inn to get some early holiday shopping done. Always nice to say "Hello" to them.

Now is the time, by the way, to maybe to begin looking at some holiday appetizers on your favorite food sites. Of course, bring your specialty---but take the next step forward and try something new

That's all for today. Thanks again to Ron & Kathy for the memory of Autumn in New England!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I've Heard of Coal for Christmas..."

...but Cole for Halloween??!!

Many things going on at the inn lately. The Foliage Seekers from all over the globe graced Western Maine--and Mother Nature did not disappoint them one iota this year. Hues of oranges, reds, and yellows blazed along the roadways of the area, splashing off the lakes in Monet fashion. Even with the rain we had, the colors still linger on even now!

I have been thinking a bit about Cole Porter over October (his passing was on October 15, 1965). Robin & Katie, two gals from Metro Boston, actually picked Inn at Long Lake and The Cole Porter Room to celebrate their 1-year anniversary. I was touched to know they shared my interest in this brilliant composer/lyricist.

In today's mail, my dear friend, Lin, in Dunedin, Florida had sent me a Halloween package. In it was a CD of "Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter" (which I am groovin' to now!). Dionne is one great lady with a gorgeous, unique voice. "You're The Top,""Begin the Beguine,""Night and Day," and "I Love Paris in the Springtime." All great classics in American songwriting, for sure. What a treasured gift and cool coincidence!

If your Ouiji board is "in the shop" and you'd enjoy spending some time with Cole Porter (hehe), come to our Thanksgiving Weekend Sing-a-long Event, featuring the piano stylings of Charles Grindle. It will be a toe tapper, I am certain!

Best to all! And remember...."Anything Goes!"

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Inn at Long Lake

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Lovely Guest Comment...

The last few weeks have been very busy at the inn. The ever-popular Fryeburg Fair and gorgeous scenic views abounding in Western Maine have brought guests from all over the world--Michigan, Wisconsin, the United Kingdom, and many more!

Here is a nice e-mail we received from 2 couples who stayed at the inn this past week:

"According to Webster, an inn is "a public house for the lodging and entertaining of travelers". We would give the Inn at Long Lake an "A+" on both counts. As a lodging, the experience was more than memorable - a modernized 103 year old building that serves as home not only to Keith and his staff but to all who pass within. Impeccable service, the best of conveniences, and wonderful breakfasts.

As for the entertaining of travelers, the experience couldn't have been better. We have traveled via B&B's (only way to go) for over 20 years, so we have experience in this area. As an innkeeper, Keith is unmatched, not only in his expertise and sincerity, but in the overall manner he and his staff truly make the visitor feel appreciated and important. They really want you to enjoy your experience. This sounds ordinary, but many such businesses have become just that - "give them the barest of essentials and congenialities and let them make their own vacation". Inn at Long Lake is different, and we hope that never changes. We will return to the Inn, and we will see if it has. Matter of fact, we can't wait!!

Thanks all for providing what you obviously had in mind - not just a four day blur of little events but the happiest of experiences remembered by the guest and, hopefully, remembered by the staff as well. You succeeded!!"

Thanks to Bill, Sherri, Sheila, and Al for the kind words. They mean so much!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert
Naples, Maine

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yessuh...Feels like Fall!

Greetings to all!

I adore this time of year in New England. Crisp mornings, sunny days that are not too warm, and evenings that are silent and cool, reminding us to slow down and smell the Maine air.

I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire called Atkinson. Located near the Massachusetts border in Southeastern part of the state, life was almost like "Our Town" (the beautifully simple play that Thorton Wilder wrote--and Aaron Copland later scored the amazing movie version).

I played Little League (I was awful!). I marched in the elementary school band with my clarinet, squeeking out some Sousa march while a tea kettle of inexperienced flutes tooted behind me. I volunteered at the town library on Saturdays after watching my Cartoons (and mowed their lawn every two weeks for $15.00!). Not being much of a playground kid, during the school days I'd pace up and down the back of the 4th grade classrooms clutching my Hardy Boy book du jour, or later, a Stephen King novel.

My morning paper route before the bus was a daily chore. Getting up early, packing my newspapers in the ink-soiled bag, and delivering to doors that wafted freshly-brewed coffee or sounds of the family waking up to the day. Sometimes I even heard the warning growl of the customer's dog right behind the door--ever so fierce but never too loud to wake the family inside!

Now back then, life seemed simple like "Our Town." Before cell phones, and PC's, and cable, in our town we'd dial only 4 numbers to call someone down the street. School buses swallowed up their waiting students and groaned down the street; trees became canvases of glorious colors, shining off their dewy surfaces. Autumn life in a New England town--by morning, by day, by night. It never ceases to amaze and dazzle me...

Today in Naples is that type of day. Tonight with guests coming to the inn, Debbie having crisped the sheets and fluffed the pillows, Gail stocking teas and ironing the dining room napkins, or me baking bread, I can't help but to feel excitement over having our guests discover this small town of Naples, a New England town by a beautiful lake. As an innkeeper, an ambassador of sorts to "cityfolk" and travelers from all over the world, I take great pride and joy in honoring this slower lifestyle. I need it in some way--and I think a small part of everyone does, too.

And, whether it is me, my staff, Mother Nature, or that newspaper boy riding his bike down that Autumn-cooled early morning street all grown up now, I can only hope that our guests can get a taste of those moments during their stay...the moments of a small New England town.

That's all from Naples, Maine. Deep breathes to all today---at least one, okay?!

Your Maine Innkeeper in Western Maine,

Keith A. Neubert

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, George Gershwin

Great American composer George Gershwin was born on September 28, 1898. Along with brother, Ira, timeless songs such as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I've Got Rhythm," "Summertime," and "Our Love is Here to Stay" have been classics.

George (sadly) only lived a mere 38 years. His musical legacy will live forever. We've named Room #9 the GERSHWIN ROOM!

If you are a fan of inn lodging and George Gershwin, reserve for our Thanksgiving Weekend Sing-a-long Event! Check out Inn at Long Lake's EVENTS/PACKAGES page. Guest pianist Charlie Grindle will be "tickling the ivories" and playing all the greats from America's Great Songbook.

We've already started taking reservations and this will be an evening to remember.

And, remember: sometimes when you don't know how to tell someone how great they are, look for a George and Ira Gershwin song---it will say everything from the heart! Thanks for checking in...
Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert
Inn at Long Lake

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An "Inn at Long Laker" Takes Center Stage

Every innkeeper has their staff and you might have heard me extol the virtues of mine. I am very blessed to have some down-home, real individuals that make the Inn at Long Lake experience an extension of my passion.

Gail is a great organizer and sewer (and magically fixes everything with a needle and thread). Debbie is not afraid to tackle projects with her sons, A.J. and Steven. Susie is branching out into creating a cool embroidery business. Christina is proving to be an enthusiastic baker (the by-scratch German Chocolate Cake she made for my birthday was awesome!)

Matthew, who helped out during the Summer, has landed the LEAD in The Full Monty in a production set for early October. The staff and I, along with Matthew's beautiful daughter, Brenna, will be there to cheer him on! Matthew---you put so much care into the inn and our guests! Know how proud we are of you! (Matthew's been working out at the gym very diligently as the show revolves around the lives dancing strippers!). To even resist my Mom's Pistachio Coffee Cake shows his attention to the role! ;-) "BREAK A LEG!"

That's all from gorgeous Naples, Maine on this crisp evening by the Lake.

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Change of Seasons

Greetings to all!

Labor Day Weekend has passed and now begins my favorite time of the year in New England--Fall!

The hectic pace of Summer is now a memory, replaced by guests reading on the front porch, or inn Great Room. The smell of Cinnamon Bread ooze through the kitchen and inn as I write this post. Something in the air changes with the humidity gone. It is inspiring.

For breakfast today, we served a "Yankee & Rebel" breakfast. My thoughts of my sassy Creole friend, Denise, in New Orleans inspired me to make something Southern. Starting with a Maine Blueberry Coffee Cake, and followed by a Omelet filled with a Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya, everyone was happy, and well fed.

A great cookbook that I have been reading lately is called "Old-Time New England Cookbook" (by Duncan MacDonald and Robb Sagendorph, 1993). It is one of the best books that describes the seasonality of New England cooking. Breaking down the year into micro-seasons, the recipes are borne out of harvest from both our gardens and our ocean and lakes.

The authors have excellent recipes and the narrative throughout the book is like poetry, painting a picture of New England life (as I have loved since my boyhood).

"Gone is summer's sweltering heat. Labor Day is like a signal for the start of autumn schooling, for lawn mowers to vanish, and for rakes and wheelbarrows to appear. The scent of wood-burning fires drifts on the air, and the step of life seems somehow more brisk and snappy."
Beautiful writing!

September 10-October 20 is what the authors call "Early Fall." Recipes such as Pumpkin Preserves, Codfish Balls, Nantucket Scallop Chowder, and Cranberry Glazed Ham are given. Yummmmmm!

May this time of year be a time of reflection and re-direction for your cooking--and maybe even your own Life! Try some new soups, try a lower fat version of your chicken pot pie, or take a moment to taste the glory of simple comfort food that Fall inspires.

Back to my baking bread. Be well!!!

Your Maine Innkeeper
Naples, Maine

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A New High in Lows...

Today's breakfast at the inn started with a Peach & Nectarine Coffee Cake. Next, the featured dish a (crustless) Broccoli and Gouda Cheese Quiche. Now, those of you who know the inn know that I make bread daily--but today I wanted to make some Garlic-Rosemary Skillet Potatoes.

I par-boiled the potatoes, heated some olive oil and a small bit of margarine in the skillet. Next, toss in the potatoes, sprinkle with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and rosemary. Wow! The aroma on this crisp September morning was sublime!

The low? No ketchup in house to serve with the potatoes!

My friend, Denise, in New Orleans (who still lives in the Bywater neighborhood where I lived for 4 years), had a discussion that once went like this:

DENISE: You New Englanders! You think that the country owes you the world.

KEITH: Well, dear...the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock...not Little Rock.

DENISE: And your cooking, you have only 3 spices...Salt, Pepper, and Ketchup.

KEITH: (laughter)

I had to laugh at her barb (she meant it all in jest). No reply or retort could break through my laughter. So, today I thought of Denise and chided myself about "what a poor New England Chef I was" because of having no ketchup in house.

This may remind you to stock that pantry as we New Englanders do this time of year...catch the sales, think ahead, buy in bulk only the things you are going to use regularly.

Hoping today finds you happy, cooking, and honoring Summer 2009 with homespun recipes!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert
Naples, Maine (at Long Lake)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Monday!

Hi, Foodie Friends.

This morning I have just pulled some Nectarine-Spice Muffins from the oven. Guests will be coming down shortly. My featured entree today will be Belgian Waffles with Sliced Strawberries.

After a busy, busy weekend at Inn at Long Lake, we have a short breather. The Staff and I always have our lists of things to do (mine extends into Year 2012!!).

The Painting Crew is coming this week to start painting the inn. This will be done in stages over the next few years. With all the rain I can imagine they are behind.

In my travels today (Gail is watching the inn) I must remember to bring some muffins (I made extra) to the Town of Naples Fire Department. Not only do they help those in need, but a few weeks ago (with notice) they arrived to test out a new fire engine's capabilities. Inn at Long Lake is the tallest building in Naples so they really put the truck through its moves! Seven firemen were here to lend their expertise.

And so...as life in a small Maine goes, inn-baked muffins may just extend the gratitude of "neighbor thanking neighbor." Incidentally, my insurance man did tell me that 90% of home fires are during the Winter months. Always be careful, though.

That's all for today. Hope you like the image above. My photographer and friend, JB Sabin, is one great (and fun) guy!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Every Day is a Lesson...

Greetings to all from hot, humid Western Maine! Yes, Summer is here and in full force.

This weekend found Inn at Long Lake very busy. Saturday's check-ins were all in early and I thought the evening innkeeper duties would be light. Not so! At 6:30PM the power went down in Naples and 3 nearby towns . It remained out for 3 hours. Part of innkeeping entails crowd control mixed with a good dose of positivity at times like these. It was a longer evening than most getting the inn back together when power restarted and this had its effects.

Sunday breakfast was probably one of the worst performances I have had in 6 years cooking at the inn. Perhaps it was the way the orders came in--I was unsure. All I could think of (besides getting out quality breakfasts) was Gordon Ramsey (who you have heard me speak about so many times) yelling: "Stop flapping around like a silly ." Kirsten was setting up plates and expediting in the kitchen. Debbie and Gail were out in the dining room taking orders and keeping people happy.

I tell you this because one thing Gordon Ramsey advises in all his Kitchen Nightmares episodes is to: 1). remain calm and 2). look at the reason for the problematic "flow" of what has happened. And so, I called Gail and Debbie outside after service and got their perceptive feedback on what had just happened. The results from this meeting were that is was indeed a timing mess-up...everyone had sat at once and my response (perhaps enhanced by my being tired from the late Saturday night before) did not help my physical stamina during this particular breakfast. I thanked these two valued members of my staff for their feedback.

We all get tired in our busy lives. Every day cannot be a Gold Medal winning day. In truth, we all exist as "people" and when our physical resources are spent, it is almost inevitable that our performance slides. We can balance this with our standards of caring and Faith that everything has its lesson. Humbling as that breakfast service was for me (I look back on this now with persective), it reminds me that sometimes we are all just "human." Learn and be gentle with yourself.

PS: After a needed nap, I went back in the kitchen for afternoon cookies, rejuvenated, and made some of my Strawberry Snickerdoodles (which got excellent reviews from my Sunday evening guests!). Monday's service went excellent and the weekend was over before I knew it.

This weekend was a great lesson for me. Thanks for reading!

Inn at Long Lake

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Inn by any Other Name...

Greetings, Blog Readers and Foodies:

First off, a few months ago I mentioned when making MUFFINS it is fun to top some types of muffins with "raw sugar." To clarify, the ingredient of which I wrote is: Demerara Cane Sugar.

A few sprinkles on your muffin batter will create a wonderful sugar topping to your muffins! It looks fairly liquid when you pull the muffin out of the oven but will turn into a somewhat glistening crunch of sugary delight, finishing off in a tender, crumby cake of goodness underneath. Yum!!

Back to now:

Last weekend saw a fully reserved inn and some visitors from out of the blue. Diane & Frank, who owned the building back in 1979, came in to chat, amazed at the progression of the property. They also shared some interesting tales from when the building was converted from a home to a Bed and Breakfast.

I did not know that Inn at Long Lake was not always called by this name. Its first name was "The Old Annex Inn." Only floors 2 & 3 were used for guest rooms (now all 4 floors are used). Frank and Diane relayed some great tales and I was so happy to meet them. I take great pride in knowing I am blessed with the stewardship of this grand building. Every owner has put their share of love, tears, and toil into creating a "haven away from home" for our guests.

That's all from Naples! Remember to try that Cane Sugar idea on your muffins!

Western Maine Lakes & Mountains
78 degrees

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Helping Hands are always around...

Happy Saturday from Inn at Long Lake!

One of my projects this week was to order 2 more oven racks for the gorgeous inn range/oven I inherited when I purchased Inn at Long Lake. The internet was a convenient place to begin. After locating the manufacturer's customer service (they were very nice), I was informed that the model was discontinued and no other oven racks would fit (ummmm...How many oven sizes do they make??! hehe).

Losing an hour of my daily schedule made me frustrated. One thing, though, I have learned is that in moments of frustration, deep breathes and keeping the Faith that everything has its course will get you through. All I wanted was the ability to bake MORE cookies at one time (my 1-rack oven only fits 2 dozen at a time). FOUR dozen would be preferred--and save on propane gas (hence, more eco-friendly).

I relayed this scenario to Debbie, the inn's Head Housekeeper. She let me know that her hubbie (of 25 years!), "Butch", is not only a diesel engine mechanic but is a fantastic welder as well. This is a blessing from out of the blue. Butch can fashion what I need in short order using his talents...and some stainless steel! Seems like a small hurdle to have overcome but I do know that when your passion is real, all things fall into place to teach, assist, help, and celebrate your small gifts to the world. This is the recipe for success sometimes.

During your week ahead, if something upsets or frustrates you, take a moment to breath, and rather than beat yourself up with ideas of "failure," continue to remain open to the answer/help that is on its way. Try it & wait. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

That's all from the inn today. I'm going out to watch the boats drift on Long Lake on this sunny Saturday evening ;-).

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Naples, Maine

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Family Recipes and Homespun Goodness

Greetings, Blog Readers!

Summer at Inn at Long Lake is proceeding just fine. The consistent rain we've had in Western Maine has been replaced with humid weather. We certainly needed a break from the rain but baking over an oven during this time of year is challenging (still love it, though!).

Matthew has been helping more around the Front Desk and in serving breakfast. This past weekend he lent me a beautiful FAMILY COOKBOOK dedicated to his "Grammie Ryder." The recipes were compiled by Matthew's Uncle Clayburn (haven't heard that name in a while!) and it is a wonderful testimony to an awesome homecook.

Elsie (Matthew's "Grammie") moved to Portland in 1926. She worked at many places in the Metro Portland area, including Spurwink Country Kitchen in the late 50's and Salmon Falls Country Club in the late 1960's. Her recipes include a Deluxe Gumdrop Cake (sounds chewy!), a Pumpkin Cake Roll (perfect for Autumn in New England, I'm sure), and fruity Raspberry Bars (YUM!).

Again...and I say it all the time. NOW---during your Summer cookouts and parties, get the recipes from your immediate families. Honoring the legacy of your family's food history can be done in many creative ways:

1. a cookbook like the one above,
2. a piece of artwork with a family recipe for kitchen decor,
3. (insert your own creative idea!).

There is nothing like family recipes. They remind of us the love we share, or had, with someone connected to us.

Speaking of recipes, back to the Inn Kitchen. Today's cookies are: Double Chocolate Chewies. Time to crank up my oven. May your day be happy wherever you are!

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert
Inn at Long Lake
Naples, Maine
80 degrees

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Guest Comments on Us.....

Greetings, Blog Readers! I trust everyone's Summer is in full swing & that plans for being with friends, family, and alone on a lawnchair are being made.

I received a lovely e-mail from Jim and Cheryl (in Tennessee) who stayed at Inn at Long Lake in June. As the tag end of their trip was open-ended, I sent them to a variety of excellent inns in Camden, Bath, & Portland. While I knew they would be in capable hands, their comment to me was:

"Dear Keith:

We had a wonderful time at all the B&B's, but by unanimous vote, your place is the best. The others were wonderful but you did the "little extra" that meant so much to all of us...We are all planning a trip to Maine in a couple of years and will definitely give you a call."

This made my day, of course.

Busy part of the Summer season now so will catch up on this blog soon.

Quick Party Tip:

*Cut fat in your Summer salads (coleslaw, potato, macaroni, etc.) by adding a combination of Light Mayonnaise & Low-Fat Sour Cream. Remember to jazz up the salads with seasonings (I love low Sodium Mrs. Dash & Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt).
Bon Appetit!!

Your Maine Innkeeper
Western Maine Lakes and Mountains
Naples, ME

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Morning Scones on a Rainy Day

Greetings, Blog Readers.

Despite the rainy, cooler days here in Naples, Maine, guests at the inn have been keeping busy. For me, baking is always nicer on cooler days rather than in humid weather.

This morning finds me trying a new recipe that I found in a book called "Simply Scones" by Leslie Weiner & Barbara Albright. I adapted it, though. These Whole Wheat-Berry Scones are cooling as I write. The simple scone dough has been modified by adding dried blueberries and wolfberries (better known as goji berries). These orange-red berries have a slightly tart flavor like cranberries with a hint of apricot. I added these into the dough, wrapped it tightly in cling wrap last evening, and baked them off today. Hints of nutmeg and cinnamon are permeating the inn. I hope the guests can smell them while they finish up their night of slumber.

A simple Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche (crustless) is baking in the oven now for them, too.

Other than that, the Summer continues and I have been receiving many reservations for the Fall. Looks like people are thinking ahead.

My inn-made granola is now being sold in our new Inn at Long Lake gift area, down at the fabulous wild plum owned by my gal-pal Tracy, and at my friend Ben's store Lake Region Produce & More. It is exciting to be able to market these outside the inn. I sent a bag to my friends Dianne & MaryBeth (my gal-pal in New Orleans, who I used to team with in the French Quarter waiting tables).

Stay happy even with the weather, everyone. Summer 2009 is waiting for memories to be made with you.

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Inn at Long Lake

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Little Touches"

Greetings, Foodies and Friends!

A rainy week in the State of Maine (one could say "the rain in Maine falls mainly on the plain..."). It almost feels like Autumn here, and to those who know me best: I LOVE FALL!! It is the most inspiring season of the year for me cooking-wise. Today's breakfast was a Country Apple Coffee Cake to start. Next was a request from a guest who made a week's worth of reservation back in March: Sweet Potato-Pecan Pancakes with Syrup. Always happy have my guests re-experience something they enjoyed the last time!

We have guests from Ottawa, Canada, Escondido, California, Bethesda, Maryland, New Mexico, and the Pokonos area of Pennsylvania. Tonight's check-ins are from London & New York City. What an honor to have "the world" come to my front doors!

Have to run and get ready for my cookie making time before 3pm--nothing like a warm cookie--or 2--enjoyed with a cup of comforting tea on a rainy day.

Until next time...

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Inn at Long Lake

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June Bride and Bridesmaids

Received a lovely note from Bridesmaid Stacy L. over her friends' (Mylan & Dan) wedding last week in the area. It read:

Dear Keith and Staff.
Just wanted to send a note to say thank you for everything during our stay last weekend at your beautiful inn. We had a fabulous time and everything was absolutely perfect. It was a great place for us to stay for the wedding weekend. The entire bridal party, bride and groom, and all of our friends that stayed, loved it! Best wishes for a bright summer!

Maid of Honor

Awwww...<*blush*>...Thanks, Stacy, Mylan, Dan, and lovely bridal party! On behalf of myself, Matthew, Gail, Susie, and Debbie--it was our pleasure! ;-)


Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer is Here!

This week has been an exciting week for me.

I had no reservations this past Tuesday and Wednesday so I headed up to Montreal (a glorious 6 hour drive) for some R&R. I stayed at a 6-room inn at which I normally stay. Yvon, the host, an older gentleman, is always a great host. I always bring him a bag of my inn-made granola and a bag of my cookies (which he remembered from my last visit). Why not bring a taste of Maine to this great city?!

I so enjoy shopping up in Montreal! There is a wonderful store on Ste. Catherine street called "Simons" that has a super selection. Of course, Inn at Long Lake is always in my mind (and heart) and, with regards to designing the rooms, it is thrilling to head out and find treasures for the inn! "Maison Simons" has some great napkins for my dining room, 2 silver pillows that were awesome for the BENNY GOOD MAN SUITE (I thought they would be more appropriate for the Jupiter II (Lost in Space) but they worked (!), and a "fur" pillow that I just "had to" grab for the CLARA BOW ROOM! That is part of the Joy of innkeeping...knowing you have captured the essence of accommodations for your guests!

Yvon and I spoke candidly about running an inn. Having been an innkeeper for some years, he spoke quietly about having PASSION for what one does. I so believe in his words as a mentor and host.

A June wedding has brought guests to the inn (congratulations to the Fox wedding party!). Also, a seaplane school in town has brought some repeat guests (Naples is a great Seaplane Accredidation destination).

Tomorrow's menu is Cherry-Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Harvest Vegetable Breakfast Pie (an old recipe from my Phillips Academy days in the form of a quiche).

Have to run but thanks for reading. Today's thought: Live with passion---it will get you everywhere you want to be!
Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Easy Meal Ideas with Chicken

Hi, Blog Readers.

How easy it is sometimes to get into the routine of the "same ole' thing" during our weekly meal planning. Shows, such as the one hosted by Robin Miller on Food Network, show you how to buy once, cook once, reheat, and eat happily and healthy.

One idea I like that I have done is with Chicken. Simply marinate 4-6 chicken breasts in lite Caesar dressing (or other garlic-herb marinade), bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees on a prepared baking sheet, let cool--and watch the creativity come alive!

Idea #1: CAESAR SALAD OR GREENS SALAD...Slice a chicken breasts and put over mixed greens for a quick lunch. Feel free to add lots of tomatoes and other veggies.

Idea #2: CHICKEN SALAD...Cube up 1 or 2 breasts, toss with mayo (I use Smart Balance), a pinch of Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper, and chopped celery for a delicious Chicken Salad (with, or without the bread!) I like this with a plain toasted onion bagel. Yum!

Idea #3: FAJITA FUN...Saute some sliced bell peppers, onions, sliced marinated chicken, and fajita seasonings for a wrap better than take-out. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and salsa, if desired.

Idea #4: CHICKEN PARMESAN...Slice the cooked marinated chicken. Saute peppers, and onions. Add chicken. Add pasta sauce (homemade, if possible!), a splash of chicken/veggie stock, and simmer. Add "blop" of tomato paste, if thin. Serve over whole grain pasta. Top with Parmesan Cheese. For CHICKEN CACCIATORE, add quartered fresh mushrooms to the veggie step.

Basic recipes, for sure but...Think of your favorite restaurant meals and know you can prepare these at home, taking control of the ingredients for your optimal diet. Consolidate your cooking during the Summer heat by using the oven as few times as possible. You'll also save money in the process!

Hope your day is going super. Keep cooking!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Inn at Long Lake

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teamwork, Cookies, Cookies, and the Weekend

The "Inn Cookie Wedding Favors" for Andrea and Adam were delivered to nearby Migis Lodge in Casco, Maine this afternoon. The favors looked great and I couldn't help but think that this labor of Love I call "innkeeping" is an exercise in teamwork.

I called a former guest, Claire, who stayed here back in February recently. Claire owned a home-based cookie business for many years. She offered great advice in me taking this big step, particularly in the realities of "timing" baked goods.

Making 650 cookies was challenging (I never say the word "difficult" anymore--saying "difficult" defeats your ability to create and gain victory). The favors comprised of 2 Strawberry Snickerdoodle cookies & 2 Godiva Liqueur Chocolate Cookies (I had to omit the semi-sweet chips as they do not hold up in Summer heat in a foodservice-safe cellophane bag). A simple, homespun treat for the ceremony of two nice, young former guests of the inn.

Waking up at 2am Saturday morning was like being in college again! I delighted in thinking that the quiet baking of cookies could be sensed by my sleeping guests, though. After packaging them, Gail finished them perfectly with the wedding color hand-tied raffia. Debbie, the inn's Head Housekeeper, helped me deliver and place the favors on the dining tables at the venue, sooned to be filled with family and friends of Adam and Andrea. When I checked on Debbie's positioning of the items on the tables, she said (in the true detailed fashion she puts into the details of the guest rooms): "See? I line them up with the 3rd line on the (embossed) tablecloth." Now that is detail! I followed her lead happily.

This cookie project became a chain of individuals expressing their talents. I am/was proud of the people that surround me. I think they "get" my concept of homemade/inn-made food. I think they get the young boy who used to play "waiter" to/with his brothers, asking if "Cheez-Its or Oreos" from the kitchen cabinets would do as the Special of the Day! (Another story, for sure!) They may not have the culinary technical background I have been blessed with, yet they add the most important ingredient in any kitchen: CARE.

Guests enjoyed my Mom's Pistachio Sour Cream Coffee Cake to start their breakfast after my long night of baking. Next, Applesauce-Spice Buttermilk Pancakes were appreciated (it was a rainy morning).

Great day here at Inn at Long Lake. I plan to catch up on my sleep and start again in the morning!

Thanks for reading!

Your Maine Innkeeper
Naples, Maine

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two Tips on Summer Baking

Greetings from the Inn, All!

As Summer approaches, and the temperature rises, two things came across my mind this weekend that I wanted to pass on to the inn's blog readers. These have to do with baking and, particularly baking in the warmer months.

#1: Use baking cooling racks to set your finished baked items on. Rather than setting the pans on a pot holder or on the counter itself (youch!), air is allowed to circulate under the pan and cool the item faster. Hence, ye olde "pie in the window" cooling method. Ceiling fans in kitchens are excellent for speeding up the cooling process.

#2. Allow baked goods to "set up" only, then remove from the pan you baked them in/on. If you use pan coating spray, the heat, combined with the coating, makes the bottoms of your cookies and muffins soggy after this "set up" time. After set-up time (usually about 5 minutes), place items on the cooling racks directly. DO NOT try to set-up finished baked goods on the stove top. The radiant heat from the stove (even if turned off) will take affect the cooling time.

Gorgeous day here in Western Maine. The Memorial Weekend went great. Gail sold many of her Balsam Fir Pillows and Matthew started at the inn and after breakfast service, he was indispensable in helping me burn brush in the back field. Off to a great start. Along with Debbie & Susie, I can say: I have a great staff. Each adds something to Inn at Long Lake.

Hope wherever you are baking and living, this day finds you well.

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back from Vacation and Refreshed

Hi, All!

I am back from a weekend away. I chose a peaceful stay on this last vacation before the busy season--just wanted to read, listen to some music, and "get some rays."

The host of the inn was so nice to us. He made sure we were taken care of and recognized when we were.

While enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail (my choice: Bacardi Cuba Libre--fancy name for a rum & diet coke with lime), I had an interesting chat with man in his 60's from Phoenix, Arizona. He said that his career (he is now retired) was in foodservice. We laughed when we discovered that he graduated from the SAME university (University of New Hampshire) with the same degree (Hotel Administration)! Wow--what a strange coincidence, I thought.

We chatted about "the hospitality field." It was clear that Dave and I share a passion for it. His sage advice was: "You ride the waves in hospitality. You give it your all, even when you think you can't...and love every minute of it." It made me miss Inn at Long Lake even while away.

Dave said one of the funniest things about parties (passed on by his Dad). He said, "About parties...first one out, best dressed." It took me a moment, but we laughed so hard. That is the great thing about inns. You can meet some very cool folks--and not have to wash the breakfast dishes, too!

Back at the inn I re-discovered the blessing of it all. My days are full with painting, gardening, designing the Summer Cocktail Menu, and baking bread for my guests lately. I have said it so many times in this blog: "Believe that you are able to do what you LOVE to do." So whether is a small affair with friends at your home, or business as usual at your inn, live each day with your passion, challenging yourself, shining forth the essence of the gift that is uniquely you.

More on food to follow :-). I have to tell you about some NEW FOODS I have discovered!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A New Level of Luxury at Inn at Long Lake

Greetings from windy Maine!

In addition to our new room name changes, the inn now has beautiful 425 Thread Count Sheets and Pillowcases to make your stay even more luxurious. I am so pleased to offer this amenity to our guests.

Andrea and Adam, who stayed here this past week, stated over breakfast that they normally get up early but just "had to stay in bed for 2 more hours" as they were so comfortable! And, given their impending wedding on May 30th, they deserve a few extra winks of sleep.

Adam called me this morning again to thank me for the stay and to say my Godiva Chocolate Chip Cookies were wonderful--and to ask if I would be able to provide his entire wedding party with 140 "Inn Cookie Wedding Favors." I am so honored, and now that my Granola winners from this blog's contest have been mailed, I have time to work on their cookie packaging favors for the end of the month. Incidentally, their wedding colors are Lime Green & Navy Blue (sounds interesting!).

A busy week here at Inn at Long Lake. My assistant, Gail, has used her sewing talents to sew some new pillows for the inn. She also made some fragrant Balsam Fir Pillows with the Inn at Long Lake image on the front! These are great for dresser drawers, car interiors, and for memories of Maine. Gail displays annually at our Holiday Craft Show each year.

Lastly, Inn at Long Lake passes our heartfelt sympathy to friends of Morgan, who passed away on May 3. Morgan was a wonderful knitter, whose snuggly scarves were seen at the craft show for the past couple of years. He was often found at wild plum with Tracy & Bella. His vitality, sense of humor, and creativity will be missed. Rest with Angels, M.

That's all from Maine this fine Sunday (and, yes, the waves on Long Lake are gorgeous today!).


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gearing Up for the Tourist Season

Greetings, Blog Readers and Foodie Friends!

Well, after a super visit from my pal, JB from San Francisco, now begins the part of the year preparing the inn for my guests. JB and I continued transforming the guest rooms at the inn to their new identities (a never-ending process!). Celebrating my 1 year of ownership was amazing seeing the new changes we activated. What a year of learning, growing, and challenges that I wouldn't trade for anything! Check out the inn's site for the room name changes I selected (many thanks to Fay, JB, and Tracy for their input!). I couldn't be happier with the results!

In my daily walk of the inn, I now greet the luminaries with a quiet nod, or "hello."
I consider their personal influence in my own life as I pass their images. Gloria Swanson reminds me to live life in grand style (and to eat as healthy as she did!). Clark Gable reminds to be stay cool and to be a "man who is a gentleman" always. Mae West reminds me to be bigger than life, true to myself, and to approach life with a little wit in every moment.

This weekend is the Fifth Annual "JUNQUE & FINDS SALE" (where does the time go?!). My Mom, Elaine, is coming up to assist. We have many great things that did not fit into the new concept of the inn so it should be a bountiful spread of things. Fay, my gal pal gardener from Somerville, is coming to visit to start assessing the inn grounds and flower beds. I love gardening and learning from her.

So, despite the work involved in preparing an inn, it is a blessing to be surrounded and assisted by friends and their individual creativity. This is one of the best parts about running an inn----expressing yourself in food, decor, service, and ambience. I think my friends understand that in their own ways. And, all for the guests that find their way to your welcoming doors.

I hope that today brings all things abundant to you. Catch you soon with some new food postings!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert
Inn at Long Lake
"Relax with the Stars!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hanging Out in Western Maine

Pretty much says it all! Wish you were all here!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ahhhh...Discovering Maine!!

Inn at Long Lake is closed until April 29 for (even more) improvements to the property. My dear friend, JB, from San Francisco is visiting and we are having a wonderful time.

Through our own travels around Western Maine, I am seeing the area through JB's eyes. He is a photographer and artist so we are stopping frequently to snap shots of things he finds interesting. He has said many times over: "It is beautiful here. The visual points of interest are everywhere." We stop to take images of pussy willows, or flowers, or Long Lake at daybreak. The images will ultimately find their way on the inn's website in the days ahead. Will show you these as they get processed.

JB is a great cook as well so we have been cooking in. He loves the inn kitchen for its size and equipment. I am learning some new things. Moreover, it underscores what I have said frequently: Cooking with others allows us to learn and step outside our routine in the kitchen.

It is challenging as an innkeeper to balance your personal life and your professional life. Taking time "away" (the business is never far from my heart) from the daily duties of being an innkeeper has been relaxing as he and I chat about my path with the inn.

Heading out again today and just wanted to post and wish everyone a great day.

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Inn Granola To Your Door" Contest, Results, and Notes

Greetings, Blog Readers. It is a beautiful Spring day in Western Maine. Hope wherever you are you have seen some nice Spring days.

To all of my supportive guests (new and returning) and blog readers who took the time to read and participate in the "Inn Granola" contest: THANK YOU one and all!!
I will be sending out the mailings between May 1-15, 2009, so get your spoons ready!

The correct answers to the room name changes are:

Clue #1 Answer: The Glenn Miller Suite (formerly "The Sebago Suite"--named after the brilliant band leader whose sound is so familiar with us all. He will always be remembered for the music that defined a decade and beyond.
Clue #2 Answer: The Mae West Room (formerly "The Ethel Ada Room")--named after the bawdy, intelligent actress who rallied against the male-dominated censorship of her time and leaving us with enough zingers to last another century. Her beauty, grace, and wisdom will be remembered also.
Clue #3 Answer: The Gershwin Room (formerly "The Gazelle")--inspired by the great jazz/classical composer, George Gershwin (and his brother Ira Gershwin). The duo left us with some of the greatest songs in the American songbook!
Clue #4 Answer: The Copland Room (formerly "The Freeport")-in honor of the great American composer, Aaron Copland, who graced us with gorgeous "Appalachian Spring,""Lincoln Portrait,""Rodeo," and "Fanfare for the Common Man."

I had a great time running the promotion. Thanks again.

Well, back upstairs--the engraved door markers have come in from Downeast Engravers here in town. Anxious to get them up before the official April 28th kick-off.

Keep checking back for more on inn life, home/inn cooking ideas, and fun!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Inn Granola to Your Door Contest" Final Clue #4!!

It is time for our final clue for the room name changes at beautiful Inn at Long Lake. Hope you have kept your list by your PC as I will be deleting all other clues soon (Clues #1-#3). Good luck!!

When deciding upon the room name changes for the inn, the Freeport Room almost became The Fairbanks Room (after actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr.). At the twelth hour, though, I selected a man whose music has affected the hearts of Americans for decades. In short, his works sing with hope, American spirit, and tender melodies--many based on traditional American songs. His room at the inn will be true Americana decor, decked in shades of American blue, country red, and pristine white. Here are some clues to his identity:

1. Guests staying in his room will get great views of Long Lake--as well as views of our town.
2. You don't have to live in the simple parts of West Virginia to enjoy this man's composition like the ballet dancers above! And, for the record, you will enjoy it in Summer, Fall, and Winter also. You might have watched the President Obama Inaugeration when the American song on which this composition was based was played by Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, et al.
3. Beef eaters celebrate...the new beef campaign commercials feature this man's music. When I hear it I want to lasso a bull, join the rodeo, and eat a hamburger--dang! Where's my cowboy hat??!!
4. Whether you are a common man, a buckaroo on holiday, or need a quiet city--this composer's work will always touch you.

Four correct answers will receive a yummy bag of Inn at Long Lake granola to your door.
Again, the rules: 1 bag of granola per household please. You must live in the continental United States. Answers with your name, address, and contact telephone may be submitted between April 8-15, 2009 only. Including why you come to read the blog will help in future postings.;-)

Send your entry to YankeeInnChef@aol.com please and look other choices I have selected for the inn guest rooms on April 28, 2009. Thanks for playing!!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert
Inn at Long Lake
Naples, Maine

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Dark Side of Food...

Happy Monday, Blog Readers & Foodie People!

Last week, my wonderful assistant Gail's partner, Steve, was in quite a pickle. Gail was worried. Apparently, Steve spent most of his sleeptime in the bathroom, sick from "some stomach condition."

If this has ever happened to you (it did to me back in 2006), one knows there are not enough gods in the world at that very moment to whom to pray. Without re-living or explaining the agony of FOOD POISONING, I do want to pass on a non-medical/temporary fix that worked for me.

TWO TABLESPOONS OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR relieves your stomach from producing more acid to combat the offending food. Yup, gulp it down quickly. Then, ALWAYS brush your teeth and rinse well as apple cider vinegar straight can compromise the enamel on your teeth. Seek immediate medical attention ASAP if you ever suspect you have encountered food poisoning. Rest and recuperation time are imperative. A proper doctor may assist you in diagnosis of your recent dietary intake or stomach condition. I am not a doctor so take this tidbit as such.

Apple cider vinegar, by the way, is wonderful in a bath. Just add one cup or so to your warm tubby, bathe as usual, and dry off. Your skin will be smoother (you will stop smelling like a salad within minutes).

Handling food is not "rocket science." Some basic rules for everyone:
1. "When in doubt, throw it out!"
2. Do not cross-contaminate food (i.e. cut raw chicken, then cut bread on the same board with the same knife).
3. Check all expiration dates. Do not thaw frozen meats over produce bins.
4. Hold cooked and raw foods at their appropriate temperatures.
5. Continue to learn about all proper food handling regimens.

Take care of you today. May the start of your week be filled with "good food and a heaping helping of fun with joy on the side ;-)."

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine
35 degrees and climbing!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Great Muffin Know-How Tips and Random Kindness

Today I had a chance to get out while my assistant, Gail, watched the Front Desk.

I came back and was looking at some new recipes to work with for Summer 2009 and thought some basic tips on Muffins would help everyone out the next time you bake.

Muffins are so easy, if done right. They are versatile in flavor combinations (love the seasonal fruit we can all use at different times of the year), great with a slather of creamy butter, or a "blop" of good quality fruit spread. Among my favorites at the inn are: Pineapple Muffins, Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecan Streusel, and, of course, Maine Blueberry-Lemon Muffins (yum!!!).

Some tips:
1. Do not overmix the wet and dry ingredients (i.e. using a whisk/whipping motion). Use a wooden spoon or a gloved hand. Mix until just moistened, making sure to pass the very bottom twice in the mixing.
2. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature. If your muffin recipe is coming out too light (and you like that appealing golden brown top), crank the oven to 450 degrees for the last 4-5 minutes.
3. Scoop muffins with an ice cream scoop, filling each one the same. That way they will all bake evenly. Wipe overspill around the muffin tin, if any. Sweet, heavenly muffins compounded with a lingering BURNT muffin smell is not welcoming.
4. Make sure ALL of your ingredients are at room temperature (milk, eggs, water, etc.) Take these out while you are mixing the dry ingredients.
5. Let muffins set at least 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing. I use a small cake spreader to lever up the sides gently.
6. Get creative! Top your muffin batter (prior to baking) with coarse sugar crystals, cinnamon-sugar, streusel topping, or flavored sugars.

Hope these tips help. Make a batch for your co-workers, your neighbors, your town/city mail clerk, or fire and rescue heroes. (I like to stretch my hand through the PO Box with a bag of muffins--I enjoy hearing the squeal of delight from the postal mail sorter on the other side!!) "Homebaked" means "from the heart" here at Inn at Long Lake. Use your Foodie powers to change the world in your own small way. Besides, everyone likes to be appreciated. Inspired random acts of kindness to you all!!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Western Maine Lakes and Mountains

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Granola To Your Door Contest" Clue #3

Greetings, Blog Readers and Foodies.

Here is our third of four clues in our inn-made granola to your door contest. (PS: I just had a bowl of yogurt and our granola for mid-afternoon "dessert." It always chases away the sweet tooth cravings!)

Inn at Long Lake's Gazelle Room will be re-named on April 28, 2009, honoring one of American's treasured composers. This gentleman's life was cut short at age 38 due to a brain tumor inflicted by a golf ball hitting his head earlier in life (youch!). Composing many songs with his brother, his gifts to the great American songbook define us and bring us such joy. I am so honored to have this man become a part of this beautiful inn!

Here are some clues:
1. As a young musician, classical composer Maurice Ravel was approached by our subject "personality" for instruction. Ravel declined knowing this composer had a unique composition point of view that he did not want to change by being his mentor.
While in Europe, this composer wrote about his experience in France--and became one of his most known compositions.
2. The Gazelle Room has a great view of Long Lake. It might be summed up in two "words": S'wonderful, s'marvelous.
3. Jazz and classical music were composed by this personality. One of his favorite works has a memorable upwards glissando on the clarinet.

Hope these clues help. Keep your 4-week list to be submitted between April 14-21, 2009!

Keep checking the inn blog for news, views, and tips from the inn kitchen!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Friday, March 27, 2009

Skip Organic Produce?!

Hi, Blog Readers, Foodies, and Friends.

Just saw a cool article in "Cooking Light" magazine (one of my fav magazines). According to the Environmental Working Group, some fruits and veggies are least likely to contain trace levels of pesticides--so pricier organic options may not be necessary.

The Top 5 Fruits listed are:
1. Kiwifruit (yummy--and tons of Vitamin C)
2. Bananas (Potassium and versatile in baking)
3. Pineapples (my favorite fruit on this planet!)
4. Mangoes (becoming increasingly popular)
5. Avacados (ummm....guacamole anyone?)

The Top 5 Vegetables listed are:
1. Cabbage (almost 'slaw time folks!)
2. Onions (the most popular)
3. Broccoli (so versatile)
4. Eggplant
5. Asparagus (expensive enough! why add the "organic" price tag?..okay, YUMMY!)

I also read recently that a sign the economy is turning around is the increasing return of consumers to stores like Whole Foods and specialty Food Stores. Hope this information above helps you stretch your food dollars farther.

Happy Homecooking to you from the inn kitchens...

Your Maine Innkeeper
Long Lake...Naples, Maine

Friday, March 20, 2009

Scallops--The New Chicken?

Greetings to All!

For some reason this week (after a dismal illness of weeks past) I had an immense craving for scallops. Often in the past I have enjoyed these in a baked casserole format covered with buttery cracker crumbs--and, my...they are good this way.

Alas, it is Spring, however, so I bought a pound of scallops locally (about $8.00) and prepared a quick saute dish with them.

Here is all I did: Rinse and drain the scallops used. Gordon Ramsey (my hero!) said that blotting the scallops with some paper towels removes the moisture (so that when you saute them, they get a nice golden brown color on them.) Melt some butter in a large saute pan on medium-high heat, add scallops. Cook for a minute or two on each side. Remove to warm plate. Saute some onion (or shallots) until translucent, add some chopped garlic and chopped tomatoes (and green onion, if you like)and a hit of vermouth or dry white wine. Saute a minute. Season, add scallops back. Toss with whole grain pasta. There is it! You can get nutritious 3 plates of food off these 1 lb. of scallops.

Basic prep: some larger scallops require you removing the whiter cartilage--easy to do.

Bay scallops are smaller than sea scallops. Four ounces of scallops have 23 grams of protein, are basically fat-free, and are great sources of vitamin B12, omega3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium. These are great for your cardiovascular system! Studies have shown these nutrients help fight against colon cancer as well. Adaptable as chicken breast in the kitchen, I am sold for sure on scallops!

Fresh bay and sea scallops can be found October through March. Buy local whenever you can and from a reputable source. Make your own rice or pasta dishes to your own taste. Happy Cooking!!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Monday, March 16, 2009

A New Era for Inn at Long Lake

Greetings, Blog Readers, Friends, and Foodies!

On April 28th (one year anniversary of my acquisition of this beautiful inn)Inn at Long Lake's 16 elegantly appointed guest rooms will be re-named. Eight of our rooms will be designed around 8 great Big Band & American musicians. Eight of our rooms will celebrate 8 wonderful icons of American film history.

Selecting the new room names was challenging but so much fun. With the help of Tracy Fulop, local designer and retail maven, the decor in each room will evolve over the years to come.

In today's world with all its uncertainty, it is time to reflect on another challenging time in American history (1920's-1930's) that gave us such creativity, entertainment, and American pride despite it all. From these decades, we know things always turn around as long as we stand united--that is American spirit!!

In honor of this anniversary, each Wednesday for the next month I will reveal an image and set of clues to these personalities on this blog. Guess the entire 4, submit your correct answers by e-mail at the contest's end, and I will send you a FREE bag of our delicious Inn Granola right to your door*. (*Limit 1 per household; contest for readers within the continental United States). See how many you can guess (trust me, I'll make the clues easy and fun!!). PS: My granola is really yummy so give the contest a whirl!

And, as always, keep checking the blog for kitchen tips, food facts, and the INNside scoop on inn life every week.

Hope the coming Spring is finding its warmth and magic to YOUR door.

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring is Here??

Hi, Blog Readers and Foodies!

This weekend was busy at the inn. We were almost full last night! (Not bad for March). The weather was quite warmer (45-50 degrees). Yippee!

I have been recuperating from the flu going around just in time. It really zonked me out during the week. I got so inspired this weekend, however, cooking and made some Banana-Almond Crescent Cookies. These are shaped like little moons and the ends dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. So cute! Lots of work on Friday but I couldn't resist. I had some of the dough left over, put the whole semi-sweet chips in it-and, in addition to my Bailey's Irish Cream-Chocolate Cookies on Saturday--served them as Monkey Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies the next day (2 different cookies).

Oh, incidentally--to jazz up any cookie, melt the chips in the microwave, dip the ends in the melted chocolate, then cool completely on wax paper. Common sense: humid, hot weather is not kind to these dipped cookies!

For Sunday breakfast I made a Cinnamon Bread Baked French Toast topped with a Fresh Apple-Cranberry Syrup. The syrup was made by melting some butter (at a medium heat), sauteing some chopped apples, then whole cranberries, adding a "hand grab" of brown sugar, some cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and some maple syrup. This tasted great on the French Toast. Just remember to not overcook the apples so they have a little bite. Fresh sliced peaches syrup (canned are too soft) would be nice on any French Toast (with or without the cranberries--just omit the allspice.) Served with whipped cream and powdered sugar dusted on top, this breakfast entree looked great for this beautiful morning. Great way to get fresh fruit in at breakfast!

Anyway, I will be posting a CONTEST this week that I am very excited about. Please check back (hint: all winners get a part of the inn breakfast delivered to your door!!).

Thanks for reading the blog today.

Your Maine Innkeeper
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Here Piggy, Piggy...

Hi, Blog Readers!

Here is some practical advice I wanted to share about your kitchen's garbage disposal. And, perhaps, this advice will save you some immense grief (hey, knowledge IS power!).

As a Dinner Chef at Phillips Exeter Academy, our pot area had a large disposal we called "The Pig." It saw a lot of food waste in its time, for sure. Mixing with water and sucking it down into the world below, it was a great piece of equipment when used correctly. When used improperly, one would think a Plumber's convention was in town (the mess would be huge!). We're talking Hip Boots, my Foodie Friends!

Some things to NEVER throw down your disposal:
1). fats, grease, chemicals, candle wax
2). cooked pasta or rice
3). eggshells

Besides these, always flush plenty of hot water when using your disposal. Sharpen the blades by processing ice cubes from time to time. A natural deodorizer for your disposal is baking soda (left over night), baking soda + a cup of white vinegar (the reaction foams), or a fresh lemon.

Always stand back or cover the disposal hole for safety's sake!

Until next time...Thanks for reading...

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Keith A. Neubert
Naples, Maine

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Various Notes from the Inn

Hi, Blog Readers. Hope your day sees you well & happy.

First off, business: Inn at Long Lake will be closed March 3rd and re-opening on March 8. Refurbishment projects are scheduled.

Last night's Top Chef Season 5 Finale was very good. Hosea, Stefan, and Carla competed. Congratulations to the winner, Hosea! And, great job BravoTV.

Carla (of Alchemy Caterers in Washington, DC) was one of my favorites in the show, mostly because of 2 reasons: 1). she backs her food with lots of Love and intention, and 2). she cooks rustic, "homey" food like me. Located in New Orleans (where I lived before Maine for 4 years), these qualities translated well to the great comfort food of The Big Easy. Home cooking takes a certain amount of "spirituality" and Love, I dearly believe.

In last night's show, however, she fell apart---taking suggestions from her assistant, which "changed" her personal statement about her own food. It led to her loss. Carla's lovely personality became detached from what she was preparing. Her food looked different, totally out of her character.

I am all about expanding one's culinary experience but NEVER do this in a competition or right before a party/dinner at your home/inn! All the recipes we read and prepare form our personal thumbprint (point of view). What is yours? How do you define it? Are you a great Italian cook? Are you a gluten-free cooking officianado? Is regional American food something that excites you? Explore the nuances of every dish you enjoy preparing and these may good indicators of the path you need to walk. All in all, be true to yourself. Keep perfecting it.

I am in the process of surveying my closest friends for their feedback on something. The question is simple: When you think of Home Cooking, which 3 dishes/soups/desserts come to your Mind & HEART??(yes, all food should affect the HEART, then the tongue!). This is the essence of the food at Inn at Long Lake. I look forward to getting their answers. POST yours right here on the blog. Hint: These foods would be the last 3 things you would request at a "last meal."

That's all for today. Eat smart, nourish your soul and body. Thanks so much for checking in to the Inn at Long Lake Blog.

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

After the Storm...

Hi, Blog Readers and "Foodies"-

Maine had a substantial Winter storm on Sunday evening. Fourteen inches of snow fell.
After the clean-up I received a phone call from my friend Tracy (who owns the wonderful "wild plum" store down the street.) She and her family had lost power and she asked if they could stay at the inn. We had a really fun time!

How does this relate to innkeeper, you might ask...Ummmmm---ALWAYS have a stocked pantry and a few things tucked away in the freezer. I was able to throw together a beautiful beef stew with hoisin and red wine. The stew was served over garlic mashed potatoes. It was yummy! Why not keep a list on your fridge of food items that you can buy, say, once a month? Don't let trying a recipe be cut short (and these are all great travels) by not having something to add into it. How about buying some new flavored vinegar, or take a stroll down the International Aisle of the food store? But...use the recipes you have been reading online or in a book as a starting point!

I started my Tai Chi class today. It was so fun and I laughed myself silly over how uncoordinated I am! Well, again, learning is challenging and "quitters never win" so take it from my day: try a new recipe, write a letter to someone you care about, take a new class---or better yet, invite someone over to COOK with you----now THAT is the best way to spend an evening at home!

Thanks for reading today.

Your Maine Innkeeper,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Post Valentine's Weekend notes

Hi, Blog Readers.

The inn was full this weekend and everything went well. Unlike the Summer when the Staff and I are in full swing physically, being busy in the middle of Maine Winter had some of us feeling it. "Out of practice" applied but we were happy to meet and serve the nice people visiting.

Next week I start my Tai Chi class (8 classes) to ride out the end of the Winter months. It is a beginner's class and I hope that to achieve some focus and balance from it.

Still more openings for this weekend's "I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE" Package. Call the inn for availability.

Will catch you all soon!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gearing up for the Romantic Weekend

This past week has been warmer and today sees rain--perfect for getting the inn ready for the upcoming busy weekend.

My Mom's father passed away earlier in the week and we've all been processing it in different ways. He was 88 years old (gotta love those tenacious German genes). Instead of being too sad, I recall the memories of what he did offer to us and keep busy with "inn stuff," knowing that perspective will come in time.

I've had quite a few calls for the upcoming weekend, which is historically busy here at the inn. The people coming seem really nice so I am enjoying getting back into my work (ye olde "Production Mode").

A student from Andover College will be visiting the inn tomorrow to shadow me. She is doing a capstone work experience relating to the Front Desk. Hope she has her track shoes on! Gail, who has been with Inn at Long Lake for a few years now, will also begin in her new position as my Innkeeper Assistant. Gail is a "peach" and I know the inn, and guests, will benefit greatly from her friendliness, hard work, and maturity.

Will let you know how the weekend goes. May romance, friendship, and love be with you during this Valentine's Weekend...and remember: it is the simple, true gestures from our hearts that bring us all together.

Innkeeper Keith

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Afternoon in February...

Hi, Blog Readers!

Only have a moment to check in as I have some Treasure Bars in the oven. These are for my check-ins this afternoon. How many of us remember these crushed Graham Cracker-Chocoloate Chip-chopped Walnuts-Coconut Bars held sinfully together with Sweetened Condensed Milk (the latter, incidentally, not a good source of daily Calcium--hehe)? They are decadent as "all get out" but I know my guests will enjoy them.

Funny....20 minutes ago I was under the Front Desk with my Shop Vac! Ummm...maybe I should enjoy a little decadent treat myself for all my hard work--hehe. Come on, Treasure Bars!

I have been working on finding some new conserve (unpreserved refrigerator fruit spreads) recipes for the new year. Found one for Summer that had a "spicier" influence to it (basically Fresh Juicy Strawberries enhanced with sweet red wine, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and chili pepper). Sounds interesting! The only problem being I haven't had a sweet red wine in my cabinets since my college days when Riunite was the bev du jour!

I enjoy making the conserves and hope to expand my recipe box with them more in the year ahead.

Well, sorry, folks...the timer to those Treasure Bars has rung. Wish you were here, but I am certain that we'll be thinking of you while we eat them.

Hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather sweeping across the country!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Weekend in New England

Hi, Blog Readers and Inn Lovers!

I closed the inn this weekend and went down to the Boston area to visit my friend Fay. Fay is the garden designer for the inn and in our conversations we were able to pre-plan some of the exciting changes and direction for the landscaping of the inn grounds.

We also were able to swap Christmas gifts to each other. I was given a very cool book called Make Mine Vodka", a book on classic cocktails and vodka-based infusions. For years I was a bartender and this book was inspiring in that one can actually create flavored (infused) vodkas using fruit and herbs in your own home. The book offers new spins on the classic cocktails using these homemade spirits as well as new drinks.

Another book I have enjoyed lately is called "Infused" by Susan Elia MacNeal. This author uses vodka and other liquors as bases for even more creative spirited infusions, including tailor-designed liqueurs! I hope to create some of these at some point. They appear easy and I look forward to trying them in my food and beverage offerings in the coming year.

Hoping everyone enjoyed the weekend! Make this day your best day YET!

PS: My grandmother, Clara Butler, turned 93 recently!! Love you, Granny!!!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Evening in Portland

Last night my friend Christopher and I dined at The Grill Room in Portland. The restaurant is on the site where Natasha's used to be (on Exchange Street). It was his choice to go there & I knew it would be an evening of "stepping outside the box" for me.

I started my meal with Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushrooms (yes, these taste like chicken!) battered and served on top of a (slightly bland) Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce streaked with a yummy balsamic reduction. I am not a big proponent of streaking sauces on plates at all; my cooking is classic homespun. Nice dish, though!

After more wine, my selected entree was a Grilled Scallops pierced with a rosemary sprig served on Roasted Root Vegetables and a "Zippy Sauce." It was lovely and clean-tasting. More wine....

Christopher and I split a decadent piece of Earl Grey Flourless Chocolate Cake accompanied with a Raspberry Coulis on the side. Christopher is a Doctor in nearby Falmouth, Maine and he is experimenting with a Gluten Free lifestyle. I didn't pick up the Earl Grey (tea) flavor in the rich cake but it did not fail to please. Moscato and Framboise (two dessert wines) were sweet endings for this enchanting evening of conversation and dining. Stephanie, our waitress, was a beautiful young lady and excellent at serving us.

While I have happily positioned myself as a classic "home cook", it was nice to step outside my comfort zone (I often do) to compare and contrast.

Expecting lots of snow coming from the mid-West into Maine today, so time to put on the gloves and maintain the inn grounds and watch Mother Nature's latest offering of Winter. Best to all--and STAY WARM wherever you are!

Your Maine Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine