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