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 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