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!).