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)