Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Gordon Ramsey Gives Home Cooks Kudos!"


(Pictured above: John and Debbie from Middleton, Massachusetts celebrate their 33rd anniversary weekend at Inn at Long Lake this past weekend. Congratulations to a lovely couple!)


Greetings, Blog Friends.


Throughout the busy Summer and Fall I have been unable to catch a new reality TV series, MasterChef USA, produced by legendary chef/educator Gordon Ramsey. While many people do not care for his over-the-top tongue lashings seen on his Hell's Kitchen series, this innkeeper believes that his Kitchen Nightmares (US and British seasons) are nothing short of master classes in the proper execution of restaurants.


MasterChef USA pits non-professional, but creative, home cooks against each other in a reality show format. Chef Ramsey is less acidic in the clips I have seen and is (in his own way) encouraging. In a telephone interview I read, Ramsey gave all of us avid home cooks a nod, stating that the talent of the competitors (all of different backgrounds) was much greater than he thought it would be at the show's inception! Check out the various clips on YouTube. They are delicious and inspiring!!


All of us home cooks, Moms & Dads, innkeepers, and party animals know the importance of bettering our abilities to cook. Look at the abundance of TV shows (demonstration and reality-based programming), cookbooks, cooking classes, and information being traded friend-to-friend that has transpired in the just the past few years! We are learning how to read product labels for nutritional values. We are learning to economize (so important in this economic time) & save money by eating and celebrating in our own homes. We are learning more techniques and actually naming our own culinary niche of interest. The list goes on....(!)


While culinary schools were formerly considered the centers of learning about food, the information available at our fingertips (minus the tuition and time commitment) is allowing us to "close the gap", so to speak. Celebrity chefs and other foodies are teaching us the tools to move our food know-how forward. And...during this holiday time of year, our families and friends are excellent sources of passing down some treasured recipes and entertaining ideas, too!!


Thought I'd pass this on to us all. PS: I tried the one-pot Garlic Mashed Potato idea from Cook's Country (see previous blog post). It was excellent and tasty. Please try it if you can!
Best,
Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Chef
Inn at Long Lake--Naples, Maine






Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Putting on Our Top Hat!"


(Pictured above: Roofers from Young's Roofing begin ripping layers of shingles off Inn at Long Lake's front facade. Two sides down, 2 to go!!)
Yes, it is getting pretty messy around the outside of the inn and as much as I am a "Neat-nik" the replacement of the inn's roof needed to be done. The inn is closed, of course, and the workers are really nice guys. The weather has been "iffy" with strong winds and I pray for their safety. We had to remove the awning, too, as shingles from that high up can puncture anything (I'm staying FAR away!! Yipe!)
Every couple of days I make them some cookies and they really appreciate it.
Still on vacation, reading cookbooks, sleeping liberally, and visiting friends that were "ignored" (but not forgotten) the last few months (ahhh, yes...such is the lot of the Maine innkeeper).
That's all from crisp, windy Naples!
Keith

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Do The Mashed Potato!"



Hi, Blog Friends.




I am still on my vacation but wanted to share with you a cool, easy way to make Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I saw it on the wonderful Cook's Country on the CREATE TV channel (sometimes on PBS as well). And who doesn't LOVE Garlic Mashed Potatoes? They go perfect with Roasted Chicken, Succulent Steaks, and even moist, naturally-lean Fish.


Garlic and potatoes complement each other well and the folks on Cook's Country analyzed the method by which they are harmoniously incorporated. The old tedious way: roast the garlic in the oven for a while, boil the potatoes/strain the potatoes, add together and mash. After trial research, the host (Chris) taught us how to make it all in one pot.



By lightly sauteing the garlic in olive on low heat (adding a few pinches of sugar at the end), the garlic becomes "pan roasted." Next, add seasonings, water, dairy, and bring to a slow boil. Add peeled, cubed starchy potatoes and cook them RIGHT IN the liquid!! The potatoes suck up the flavors as they cook and then when done, adjust seasonings and add more butter.




For the exact recipe, log on to the Cook's Country website! I thought it was really clever and wanted to pass this on to you.




Okay, back to my vacation!!! LOL.




Keith A. Neubert


Innkeeper-Chef

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Annual Craft Show (Part II)




(Pictured above: Betsey-Ann Golon of Common Folk Herb Farm in Naples, me, and my assistant and co-organizer Gail Leahy pose for a photo opportunity prior to Saturday's Craft Show grand opening.)

Our Annual Holiday Craft Show




(Pictured above: Elaine of Elaine's Creations (aka. Mom) and I stand in front of my area, where I sold my inn-made cookies and granola.)


Greetings, All!


This past weekend Inn at Long Lake hosted the area's 20th Annual Holiday Craft Show. About 18 local artisans specializing in an array of mediums displayed their loving work throughout the inn. The show was a great success! Visitors from all over Maine visited the inn thanks to a recent article in the newspaper by writer Don Perkins. Thanks, Don!!
My inn-made cookies and mulled cider raised $140.00 for the Good Shephard Food Bank here in Naples, too.
Keith


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Not Backward, Not Forward--Just Still"




(Pictures above: My oldest friend of 34 years, Bob, who works for Disney Corp. in Florida, visits Naples, Maine! We met in math class in 6th grade Junior High. Some days just change your life forever, huh?)


Howdoooo from an inn in Western Maine!


Yesterday Inn at Long Lake's roof began its facelift and the inn is closed for business. The entire process should take about 2 weeks. It is a large capital expenditure that I did not necessarily want to make at this time. Still, I know "once it is done, it is done."


After this weekend's 20th Annual Holiday Craft Show here at the inn (which keeps me very happily baking cookies all weekend!), I begin a 2-week vacation! This is challenging for most innkeepers because while they may not have guests, I find myself personally getting to projects that I wanted to do throughout the busier seasons, and learning to be quiet enough to assess the future direction of this amazing inn.


"Getting quiet enough" can be very challenging! Throughout all our busy lives we feel compelled, perhaps, to worry. Worry keeps us "stuck." It does not allow us the chance to give ourselves power---power to dream, power to play, power to create. To me, there is always a certain Faith needed to dream. It is that happy place where your creativity is realized by you and others. In my job, I am glad to have a lot of that--when guests comment that they think "the theme of the inn is really cool," or that "that bread we had for breakfast was too die for," etc. Nonetheless, it is from the "being still" that enables us to (hopefully) spark an idea of joy.


Not all of these realizations of happiness are about triumphs in innkeeping. Some involve taking better care of my body and soul. Some about taking better care of close relationships. At this time of year, despite my joy of running a business, I allocate some time to these as well. And, through these times, cooking and baking and cookbooks (yahoo!!!) provide some form of rudimentary structure to my existence---and almost put me in the place where I can dream, and play, and create.


Remember today to take a few deep breathes and remember your playfulness found in "why am I taking Life at this moment wayyyyyyyy too seriously?" Perhaps, from that moment of being calmly still, you will access that inspiration to move forward. There, with just a little Faith, Joy may be born!
Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper and Fellow Vacationer


Friday, October 22, 2010

My Mom comes for a Visit...

Greetings, Blog Friends in CyberLand.

My Mom (Elaine) came to visit yesterday (she's upstairs in the GLENN MILLER SUITE sleeping now). We enjoyed an afternoon of baking Hermit Bars and Grapenut Custard for our guests from the United Kingdom (they've been here 7 days; sweet as can be--their last request for breakfast is Maine Blueberry Pancakes, of course!). Of course, my Mom came up with her Rav4 packed with goodies for me (mostly kitchen items from my Grandmother's condo). We spent some time sorting through what I could actually use.

A lot has gone down in my personal life lately and I guess that I am thankful that a full inn and these things are not running against each other. As the Foliage/Fall season winds down slowly, I look forward to just being "quiet" and still. Time to re-center, re-group, rest, and intend my path ahead. I don't know of any innkeeper that is not feeling tired from their hard work during Summer and Fall. Innkeeping is a noble calling but, if done right, it will kick you on your butt!!

My own computer is in the shop at the moment (the screen went bye-bye) so to share any images from JB's visit to Maine, or my reunion with my oldest friend on the planet (Bob), or gorgeous Fall in Maine, will have to wait for later blog entries.

This is a perfect time of year to bake and cook. Aromas seem highlighted against the coolness of the Autumn air. Look for more home cooking tips in the near future.

Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Chef

Friday, October 1, 2010

"The Magic of Louis"


Greetings, Blog Friends.


Fall is starting to show reveal its colors out here in Western Maine. Despite the wet, rainy weather, it has been on the warmer side.


I had the time to watch a wonderful DVD from NetFlix about Louis Armstrong (Room #12 at Inn at Long Lake is named after him). It was called "The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong." It was excellent!!!


From his humble beginnings in the poor neighborhoods of New Orleans to his legendary rise as a major influence in the jazz music of our country, Louis Armstrong was a real person. He was married quite a few times, faced challenges throughout his life, and, still, was humble to the very end. Months before this viewing, an author once deemed Louis Armstrong was THE most important icon of American music in the last 100 years. Why? His answer was explained by the opinion that no other artist is as recognizable with his instrument (trumpet, in this case) as well as his singing voice. Get this movie---you will consider him correct.


On other news, JB, my dear friend in San Francisco, flies out tomorrow night to assist in the big Fall Foliage Week. JB is multi-dimensional---a Master Gardener, a creative artist, quite an excellent cook, and enjoys all the projects I can't seem to get around to at this point of the year. Plus, we enjoy each other's company very much so "working and chatting" is allowed....and appreciated. JB has not seen Fall in Maine ever, so I am happy Mother Nature has prepared a gift of her magic for his arrival!


That's all from Naples, ME! May your day be colorful and abundant wherever you are.


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Can I Have this Dance?"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

The warm days here in Naples have begun transitioning into crisp, cool evenings. In this innkeeper's world thoughts of the busy, glorious Fall Foliage are considered and cast a certain happiness on my heart. After all, people travel from all over the world to see New England in Autumn. It is like the anticipation before a fireworks display yet...afterwards a calmness and quiet that is felt, rather than sensed through the human ears.

I've heard some static about the new season of "Dancing with the Stars." (Tom Bergeron, by the way, used to come into the restaurant I had my first job, earlier in his career!) Well, admittedly, as much I adore music (from classical to dance), I was never blessed with a "Get Done and Boogie" gene. My dear Creole friend Denise in New Orleans said I dance like a "white boy." (My favorite dance song is still "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan). Well, you know what they say: Bad dancers should be choreographers.

In the inn kitchen, my own little stage of food production, I reflect on how well I move. How about you in yours? Is everything laid out in a way to promote efficiency? Are all your spices in the same location? (Hey, not being able to find the right spice can really slow you down, and be frustrating, too!) Do you surround yourself with music that puts you in the "right groove?"

Most times I wear my chef coat and some non-slip shoes (dress shoes, I swear, attract brownie batter like nothing else! hahaha). For this reason, hosting parties requires that much more care than when I am in my "inn chef" mode. Remember the old housewive photographs? Dresses paired with tied aprons and dress shoes?! Ummm....I think jeans and sweatshirts have replaced that! What is your favorite cooking "outfit?" Whatever it is, that's okay---as long as can "shake it" in your most comfortable clothes, the performance of your food will get lots of applause at its tasting. Cooking is coordination blended with love and creativity. Isn't it the best?!!

Consider what works for you in your preparation of food. Enjoy the process from backstage to bow. That is my thought from this kitchen countertop in a little town called Naples, Maine.

Catch you soon...

Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Chef

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Innkeeper's Journal--Star Date 9.07.10




Greetings, Blog Friends.


Well, this morning I find myself sipping coffee and writing on my blog. This is the pretty much the first breakfast this Innkeeper does not have to cook for almost 4 months! (Donna cooked 2 breakfasts so that I could get away twice.)


Summer is over and this is the first morning there are no guests at the inn. My head is still racing. I am proud and happy of the work I have done. The Staff feels the same way (and they should!). Andi and Cree have returned to college. Gail and Astra have been amazingly supportive, hard-working, and optimistic. In this Innkeeper's heart, too, is a feeling of "turning the page" of yet another Summer chapter. It is a bittersweet completion...much like finishing a satisfying novel. It is time to rest the book back on the shelf. It is time to reflect, rest temporarily, and start nourishing the creativity and energy for glorious Autumn in New England (my favorite time of year!)


Bold

JB, my dear friend in San Francisco, is coming out next month for a few days. My oldest friend in the world, Bob, who works at Disney in Orlando, Florida, might be able to get away and visit, too. Bob has never seen Inn at Long Lake and I hope he can!


That is all from this rather quiet inn in a small town in Maine. Like the waters of Long Lake this morning, a certain calmness is here. I hope your day today has a moment of this grandeur.


PS: Thinking of your favorite Autumn treat (apple pie, pumpkin bread, etc.) might bring this on!!
Relaxed and Ready,
Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Inn Chef




Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inn at Long Lake's First Guests!

Greetings from a warm, sunny day by Long Lake in Maine!



A short while ago Cheryl and James P. from Lilburn, Georgia stayed at the inn. Shortly after check-in, they revealed to Gail (my administrative assistant) and I that they were Inn at Long Lake's FIRST guests!



Back in the 1980's when the building was converted into an inn, Cheryl and James recalled the story of needing accommodations as they traveled Route 302 through town. They pulled into the inn, met the owners (who were a little nervous about having their first guests, but charming nonetheless).



In the morning, Cheryl made a comment to the innkeeping couple that shades would be a nice touch in the guest room (they stayed in the Freeport Room, now called The Copland Room). The innkeepers accepted the suggestion kindly and fed them breakfast. Cheryl and James went on with their lives and returned this August to reflect on their years away.



While every guest that comes to Inn at Long Lake is special, Cheryl and James will always have the honor of being its first guests! (Sorry, the video is 5 seconds long--Gail trpped over a squirrel).

Have a great day...or whichever type of day you want. ;-)
Keith





video

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another Piece of Cake!



(Above: Me frosting the cake and applying chopped walnuts to a very special birthday cake for Amy).


Greetings, Blog Friends.


Inn at Long Lake has been wonderfully busy the last few weeks and much has transpired during this time. Everyone has been in good spirits. This makes my job as Innkeeper and Chef much easier.


I was contacted last week by a former guest who has a daughter counseling at Camp Agawam in Raymond, Maine. Her birthday was coming up and I was asked to bake an inn-made Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for her. I had made Carrot Cake in the past so this went well (the best recipe I found was with my old Oster blender, believe it or not).


Delivering the cake to the camp was hysterical! I placed the frosted cake in the trunk of my car (all cleaned out by my handyman, Cree, that day. I placed the cake in a cardboard box and garnished it with 4 fresh daisies. I was hyper-sensitive to every bump along the 12 mile trip. I drove it over like it was the President of the Karen Carpenter Fan Club! Its final destination at the Camp was in the Main Office where all the other counselors verbalized statements of jealousy. It was a special day--my first "by scratch cake sale!"


Learn as you go, I say. Take your passion step by step along its road. Interject love at every joyful lesson. Be patient with yourself along the way.


Things are happy here in Western Maine. Hope they are wherever you are as well.


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef


Monday, July 26, 2010

"Yes, you can bike on water!!"



(Above: Didi, from Baltimore, MD, always wanted to try a Long Lake WaterBike. Her Dad helped make this memory come true this past weekend! Water in Long Lake has been described as "warm as bath water"--perfect for recreation and fun!)


Greetings to all!


Business has been great at the inn and the staff and I are having a great time. Camp Walden in nearby Denmark, Maine is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week and women from all over the country are here to cut the cake! They are having a lovely time sitting on the porch and remember their days at Walden as campers. Many of them have daughters of their own now and they are here, too (where was the key to the lock on the piano??!! Hahaha).
More later from the inn--keep posted and try to do something this week that will be a good "new memory" out of your norm!
Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Chef


Friday, July 23, 2010

Busy Weekend, Happy Faces

Hello, Blog Friends.

The arrow points to the griddle, on which I made Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes this morning. YUM!

Wish you were here!

Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper-Chef

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Chop Hooey Here....Cutting Boards


Hello, Blog Friends in Cyberland.


I've spent most of the afternoon cooking in the kitchen--cinnamon-sugared Snickerdoodles for my afternoon treats, prepping a Vegetable Jambalaya filling for some omelets in the morning, and, of course, my own dinner.


I think back at the posting on safety I did a few weeks ago. So many "battle wounds" in my long and cool hospitality career! This is the essence of "experience" I guess---doing, learning, re-doing, then perfecting.


Chopping garden vegetables requires a fair amount of technique (I know courses in culinary schools that specifically focus on "knife skills!"). This post is not about this. Rather, it is about the humble, but useful cutting board. Seems easy, right---perhaps not as much as one might think.


Cutting boards come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and compositions. Wooden ones are best for breads (meat juices can get inside the porous wood and become unsanitary). The "plastic" ones are non-porous and best for meats and vegetables. It is best to have separate boards for separate types of items (vegetables, chicken/poultry, meats, fish, etc.) NEVER cut anything on a board on which you have just cut meat (unless it is fully washed/sanitized)! You will cross-contaminate from the meat juices if you do so.


Home Goods, a cool retailer in South Portland, Maine had the "plastic" cutting boards with handles made of a rubber material on each end. These are excellent (I bought two of them). The handles hold the board in place while you are cutting and chopping. Boards that slip should have a damp kitchen towel under them to prevent them from moving---this tip will save you at least one "boo-boo" and 3 bandages! LOL.


Always look for boards that are dishwasher safe. Cleaning with hot, soapy water liberally will prevent any contamination or food handling issues. An approved sanitizer, good detergent with bleach, or a light solution of water and bleach will keep your kitchen and cutting boards happy and clean.


That's all from the inn kitchen today! A storm is a'brewin' and time to close the windows around the inn. Be well and happy chopping!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef


Saturday, July 17, 2010

In My 45th Year...




Greetings, Blog Friends!


A warm Saturday night here in Naples, Maine. This weekend the staff has really been put to the test as it is one of most sought after weekends of the Summer. They (and I) are holding up well, despite the warm weather. I am proud of all their efforts.


This past Wednesday was my 45th birthday. While I don't consider it a "milestone" by any means, it was a day, and week, that reinforced that having good friends makes Life all worth while! Astra, the inn's gardener/breakfast server/housekeeper made me a delicious Carrot-Raisin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. She admittedly doctored up a boxed cake mix but added shredded carrots and raisin and topped it with a luscious icing (you know how I am all about taking a simple recipe and playing with variations!). Andi, another one of my wonderful servers and housekeepers, made me a cute card featuring one of her Mom's many cats. The message inside almost made me teary-eyed. Her Mom, Wanda, made a personal appearance to the inn with some locally-picked Maine blueberries in a jar--always a treat!


Of course there were the numerous e-mails, e-cards, and phone calls from friends from the past. They all meant the world to me.


At this busy point of the Summer, and I guess this applies to most innkeepers, it is challenging to make plans with friends and family. Serving guests and keeping the inn tidy is all that we have on our plates at this time. It is what I remind myself daily: "Game ItalicOn!"Italic


One of the interesting things that comes to mind, perhaps not just on birthdays, is how we surround ourselves with people in our lives that don't merely accept our flaws, they inspire us to change by their example and their loving advice. It is my belief that friends that approve of us in all our "dysfunctional traits" don't really care for us that much at all. They play it safe, not wanting to rock the boat. They shy away from intimacy at any costs to keep our friendships. Perhaps they also cannot express themselves and afraid of conflict in the relationship.


True friends, however, make the loving choice (and it is a choice) to be totally honest with us. Only then can intimacy be found, I have found. This remains on my mind this week at this step in a 45-year old path. Can you discern between the people in your Life who just "deal with your flaws" and those who want you to grow out of them? This takes risk, and depth of intimacy, and lots of uncompromising Love!


Thankfully, I now surround myself with the latter (and this is something that took many years to experience!) It took me a lot of heartache to make the choice to remove the former from my Life and to wish them well on their own journey.


Wrapping up the day here at the inn. I hope everyone's Summer is going really well. Thanks for reading the Inn at Long Lake blog!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef








Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer is Here!!

Hi, Blog Friends.


Despite the warm weather here in Western Maine, the guests at the inn have been having a cool time. This evening I have guests are from New Jersey, South America, Queens (NY), and Burlington (VT). Andi, one of my breakfast servers, is majoring in Spanish. She is delighted to hear a "native speaker" and to practice the language. While my administrative assistant, Gail, has been invaluable at the Front Desk (even with her sticking to paperwork because of the humidity!), Donna, Astra, and I met recently to discuss the Oktoberfest menu for October 23rd. (Add to list: 'order lederhosen.') The menu is amazing and we are all excited. Matthew is coming back to work some breakfasts this month. Matthew is a good worker and super guy. The guests really enjoy him. He rounds out my wonderful staff.


This morning started out with Pina Colada Muffins (served with the Orange-Rhubarb Preserves that Jane and I made), followed by Apple-Spice Pancakes with Syrup. I was surprised how popular the pancakes were! Of course, some started their day with eggs to order(lighter fare, indeed) with my inn-made Honey-Wheat Bread and sausage.


Jane came over earlier in the week to watch the big Naples Fireworks Spectacular on July 4th. I passed all the comments on our preserves to her. She was touched. We lost power for two hours that evening. It was re-stored just before the show began (to a deafening "YAY!!!!" from the Causeway audience). This year they programmed the fireworks with American music (Sousa marches, etc.) It was really very nice. Jane said: "We have the best seats in the town, don't we?" We did!


The popular cocktail on these warm evenings has been my Blueberry Cosmopolitans. An evening on the front porch, looking down at the action on Long Lake, is relaxing. I often see guests slumping down, and down, and down as their shoulders relax. This is one of the blessings of innkeeping---knowing guests are away from stress and you are helping them relax.


Weekends have been slower than normal (for any innkeepers reading this blog). Weekdays have been looking strangely active. I guess the ultimate luxury now is vacationing during the week, rather than on the weekends. People seem to be booking later and "last minute" commented a fellow innkeeper I know.


Even with the heat, and the stress of work, and increasing business as Summer works into its flow, I feel happy and blessed. Guests are pulling in to the inn's lot, so I must end. I hope that everyone is staying cool and happy, too!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef

Inn at Long Lake


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Not Skyscraper Building...




Greetings, Blog Readers and Foodie Friends!


Often times when we are preparing food at home we may be unaware that kitchen accidents are potentially a moment away. Think about it---mechanical devices, flames, heat, water running, knives. These can all lead to accidents in the kitchen. I write this in my endeavor to keep you safe and healthy. This list is not comprehensive, by no means, but here are some:


*Chef Coats

Chef Coats are worn by kitchen workers. They keep our underclothes clean and look nice and snazzy. Coats with knotted buttons are longer-lasting and actually safer. Why? If you were to be involved in hot grease or fire to yourself, these knotted buttons can actually "rip" open more easily. They are designed that way for that purpose!


*Steam

My worst accident in my cooking career was at Phillips Exeter Academy. We had soaked corn cobs for roasting on an outdoor grill. Rather than pour the water on the ground at the end of the event, I figured I'd throw it directly into the hot coals. Bad juju bean! The water turned into steam, up the heavy container of pouring water, and took several layers off my (unprotected) knuckles.

I am not a big fan of crying in public, especially around a kitchen crew. The Food Service Director assessed the severity of my hand, surprised I did not want to be rushed to the Emergency Room, and said: "Neubert, you are one tough cookie. I don't think I could be that composed." Well, folks...I went home and treated the injury myself. And, yes...I cried later at my own foolishness and lack of experience.


*"Hey. Did you hear about so-and-so doing such-and-such..."

If your phone rings and you are cooking, turn off the burner and do not walk away. Fires start. Food overcooks. It always happens when you are not near it. You and your friend can talk later. Concentrate on the task at hand.


*Wrap it Up Right..and Carefully

Oddly, and I mean very oddly, the most common injury in commercial kitchens is cutting yourself on the box that dispenses aluminum foil or cling film. Look at the sawtoothed blades used to cut aluminum foil. They are sharp! You are one "space out" away from ripping your hand with them. Most companies have dispensers that have a slider cutter; look for these. These injuries really hurt and are totally avoidable.


Betsey Golon, a Master Gardener here in Naples, once said (and she related it to gardening): "Take the time to exist in the present." If you are cooking, cook. If you are pulling weeds, stop multi-tasking with a phone in one ear. I know it is challenging in the fast-paced world in which we live. There is, however, a certain peace that is there when you follow you passion without interruption.


I will keep you posted on more safety tips as I think of them. Have to end as guests will be checking in soon. Today's afternoon treats are New England Cranberry Hermit Bars. These are spicy and delicious and moist. Wish you were here to try one! Until then...thanks so much for reading--and, by all means, be careful in your cooking!!!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper, Inn at Long Lake






Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Me? A Dad?! Wow!!!"




Happy Sunday to all!


It seems befitting that this weekend holds Father's Day as this week the life of my 2nd company came into reality. I feel like a "Dad," of sorts! Yes, it was a good excuse for pickles and ice cream these last few months, but in the end, my corporation, which bestows the beautiful Inn at Long Lake in my stewardship, finally has a brother--well, a brother company!. Much more on this later (and I do mean much more!). I am astonished, confident, and feeling very blessed about having this new project.


I never thought I'd even go to business school, or become an innkeeper or chef, or be this happy doing work I enjoy doing on a daily basis...but it's just the way my Life played itself out--and I am thankful. Sometimes we don't know what is over the mountain. All we need to do is enjoy the trail up the hill!


This weekend the 4th Annual Maine Blues Festival was held in the town of Naples, Maine. It was well attended and the guests staying at the inn were wonderful. Many of my repeat guests were back and it is nice to catch up with them and show them all the new touches the inn has now (since last year). The music was very good (I could hear it from the inn's front porch) and the crowd looked diverse and friendly (I overheard a few "Woos" and "Hoo Lordies!!" over the band's music--I suspect the latter is one of the necessary sounds when listening to the blues!! Hahaha.)


My breakfast this morning started out with my Cocoa-Banana Quick Bread with Irish Cream Glaze. Then, something I have wanted to try for a long time---a Blueberry Lasagna-style Casserole. Now...before you roll your eyes on this idea. It was good, people loved it, and I had to take a chance and try some new things. Here is how it was basically made:


Cut cinnamon bread. Soak in tradition egg custard (for French Toast), pan fry, fit done french toast into a pre-sprayed casserole. Mix ricotta cheese (yes, ricotta!) with vanilla extract and brown sugar; spread over French Toast layer. Top with some blueberries. REPEAT. I topped the mixture with a little brown sugar and flour (mixed) and slivered almonds (chopped hazelnuts would be great, too!). Let set 4 hours (I had to add more egg custard down the sides of the layers.) Cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, check for doneness of the custard. Hence the Blueberry-Ricotta French Toast with Almond Streusel came to be.


Have to end this posting. Thanks for reading. Have a great day (or whatever day you want it to be!).


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Preserving for the First Time



"Putting Up Preserves, like Glamor, is easy if you try!" Pictured above: Beautiful Jane ascending the staircase after a day of preserving. Original photo by JB Sabin modified by this blogger.

Greetings, Blog Friends!


This past Sunday was an overcast day in Western Maine and it was a perfect day for my lady friend, Jane, to come over and teach me how to "put up preserves."


My Mom (Elaine) preserved in our home when I was younger and it has always interested me.

Preserving makes sense, after all. Economically, one can buy fruit in season (usually less expensive) and this saves money. Production-wise, it saves from running to the grocery store every week for your choice of jam/jellies--you can just grab it out of your jelly cabinet and enjoy to your heart's content. Thirdly, you made it with your own hands and it is free of preservatives; you taste fruit, fruit,...and nothing but the fruit (lol)--unless you are preserving pickles (then you'd have a problem!)


Jane is a Certified Public Accountant. She works surprisingly well in the kitchen, too! She possesses a strong clinical sense of that which is financial, and applies this to her timing in the kitchen (thinking ahead, not overlooking the guide of the recipe itself, etc.) Besides being smart, she's easy-going and very "easy on the eyes!" She was a patient teacher during our afternoon together. Here are some basic things I learned:


1. Not all recipes can be canned or preserved. One that can have a balance of acidity that influence the integrity of the finished product.

2. Follow the sanitization of both jars, lids, and screw-top collars explicitly. Time everything.

3. The "head space" (the space from the top of the jar and what you fill it with) varies. Follow to the letter of the recipe. It will affect the formation of the vacuum seal.

4. If after processing the jar lids do not "pop," the food is not preserved and use it only as you would a refrigerated (open) jar of food.

5. Follow this disclaimer: Familiarize yourself with all proper canning procedures. There may be more "rules."

6. Share your preserved goodies with those who help make your life special. I get to share mine with my inn guests! After all, they deserve the best!


Our Orange-Rhubarb Preserves and Victoria Sauce (rhubarb with raisins, brown sugar, spices--"perfect on pork", Jane said) were delicious. Two of the jars did not pop so I will use them soon. We got these recipes from the Ball Jar Preserving guide.


Preserving is an annual tradition in the home cooking of yesteryear. An afternoon of cooking, the company of a lovely lady, and getting to share it with my 2010 guests--well, life doesn't get any better! Arrange this tradition with a friend of your own. Make it an annual event! You'll be happy you did.


From Sunny, Glorious Long Lake in Western Maine,

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper

Inn at Long Lake

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Birthstone is a Ruby, too...

Greetings to you from this June-warmed day along Long Lake in Maine.



It was a recent Friday in May and this innkeeper was getting out of town with his affable friend, JB (visiting from San Francisco).



We rented a cabin in equally-beautiful Central Maine (one with electricity--I like "rustic," but no electricity is "barbaric!" hehe). We woke after a wonderful night, beautifully cool and laden with the sound of only night crickets). May is a great month to just drive around and look at Yard Sales--and we did exactly that after a few lazy cups of microwaved coffee.



One sale held a surprise that enriched my Life. At the long line of haphazard tables were two tables full of bric-a-brac. Nothing piqued my interest.



"I sell fudge, too, you know," said a voice behind the tables (I was absorbed in the items and was startled to hear a voice).



"Pardon me?" I replied smiling. "What did you say, Ma'am?"



"I sell fudge," said this cute little lady sitting in a lawn chair. She pointed down. "Right here." In the shaded area around her car was a basket with small boxes of fudge. They were lovingly kept way from the increasing heat of the day. "I borrowed this recipe from my friend Bob when he was in culinary school. Do you kBoldnow Bob in Bangor?"



"Ummm....no," I smiled and laughed. "Name doesn't ring a bell. I don't get up to Bangor that much."



The lady revealed her name as "Ruby." She makes fudge and sells it every week at the local VFW (until, as she says, "I can't make it no more.") Ruby was a peach and a real "gem" of a Maine woman. I told her I was an Innkeeper in Sebago Lake. She nodded and behind her eyes I could see a fond memory of her past playing like an old movie, ending in a peaceful smile upon her beautiful face.



JB had come over to witness my conversation with Ruby. He offered his photography know-how and snapped a picture of us. Instead of "say cheese," JB laughed and improved a "Say FUDGE!" Ruby put her thumbs up in the air proudly, we laughed, aBoldnd that special moment is captured above.



It was a very happy moment for me to meet Ruby. She follows her passion and is such a great example of anyone who shares the abundance of a good recipe--or their craft. I saw a lot of her in me---cooking just for the sake of sharing, building for the sake of building. How important that is with our family recipes and our individual talents with the world! One thing, for sure, Ruby does it...in only a way Ruby can. And......(come closer)....so can you!



PS: Oh, the Peanut Butter Fudge was sublime. Three "YUMS" up!!!



From Maine and Sebago Lakes area,

Keith A. Neubert, Innkeeper

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 4


Pictured above: Cliff (a Nurse helping save the world in Doctors Without Borders--just back from Haiti!), the innkeeper (me), and friends and guests at the 2nd Anniversary Party and Gallery Show--April 28, 2010.

Greetings, Blog Friends.


JB, my visiting friend from San Francisco, wanted to hang the art work he had painted on his visit to Western Maine. Well....the thought of hanging art on walls developing into a lavish event for 60 guests became apparent quickly, but came with mixed feelings. The 2nd Anniversary Party and Gallery Show had become another folder on my desk!


First, when it an innkeeper closes down an inn (insert multitude of reasons here), it is usually for some "R&R." My friend was coming to visit, I had some projects that required his creative assistance, and physically I was starting to fizzle out (not a good sign before the busy Summer and Fall). The added duties of developing a guest list of friends and business associates, planning a menu, buying all that food, prepping it, serving it, cleaning up after it...well, you get the point! It was like driving a car across country with "E" glowing on your car's dashboard!


Planning the menu with JB was a joy. I enjoyed this portion the most. He is experienced in the kitchen and can toss back and forth foodie ideas easily with me. I've written about party planning many times in the past and I always say: "Keep it simple but with WOW!" Wow can mean "tasty," "forward thinking," "presented it a really cool way," or "this food reminds me of __________." I live for all of these, of course!!


Anyhow, blending JB's West Coast influence with my American Home Cooking passion--and intending on a Springtime menu, our menu included: Shredded Chicken Tostadas (those George Foreman grills are great!), Spring Soup Shots (cold & deliciously fruity with a Post-Prohibition splash of Kirsch liqueur), Bacon Wrapped Fresh Pineapple with Maple Drizzle (ye olde stand-by), and Maine Potato Cakes with Tomato Compote. Our food production methods were a little different--I led, he led, I prepped his vegetables, etc. We "danced" as a well-oiled machine during the production. Two days of prep for a two hour party! (Attention Inn Shoppers: "We're selling flavorful dishes full of Love here!" LOL).


The party happened, long story short. My Mom and my oh-so-cool friends, the Pinkhams (former owners of Inn at Long Lake), the plumbers, and the friends of my friends all gave my heart a feeling of being so blessed. They showed up to celebrate my 2nd Anniversary. Heck! They helped me get here in the first place! My part was actually easy---it was to thank them all for being there and for being a part of my dream. JB, the staff, and I cleaned it up, reflected over a late night cocktail all the laughs and conversations the night had held for us. I slept well that night.


JB's amazing artwork now hangs in Inn at Long Lake. I will try to post these on this Blog. Until then, our front door welcomes you always and you can see them in person!!


Until the next Blog posting----Thanks so much for reading and think of a nice party for those who give your Life so much more!


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Nice Note our Weekend Guests




I received a lovely e-mail from a couple who visited Inn at Long Lake this past weekend. This couple has a 3 and 5-year old at home---and while I know they were not far from their thoughts--I was hoping they would "relax" into the inn's ambience.


Here is the note:


Hi Keith,Let me start off by saying a HUGE Thank You! We had such a wonderful time. It could not have been any better. Rooms were gorgeous, service was impeccable and the food just goes without saying. If you ever branch out and open a restaurant we will be your first customers. Everything was beyond perfection!

Again, thank you so very much for a fabulous time. It could not have been better.


Bob and Laura B.


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 3




Greetings to Everyone!


In the last blog posting I was starting my vacation. JB, my friend from San Francisco, had arrived and I was starting to relax from "all things required to get the inn ready for 2010."


Jane, a lovely lady friend of ours (a C.P.A. in the area), suggested we take JB out to a posh dinner in Portland. I thought this a good idea! Jane made a reservation at Fore Street, one restaurant I have heard many good things about, but had never tried. JB is a dear friend and well worth the splurge (I knew this place was on the higher end of dining).


I was the Designated Driver that evening (never drink and drive, my friends!). We arrived a little before our reservation time. Having worked in restaurants most of my life, it is fun (and in a way odd) to analyze the dynamic and process of a restaurant in action. The open kitchen concept of Fore Street was interesting---and I was impressed at the professionalism of the staff.


My friends enjoyed their food. I, however, ordered a thick cut (locally raised) pork chop that was inedible. Now....I am not a complainer but given the $32.00 price tag, I pointed out the rather large "fat cap" on the portion (over an inch thick!). My server was cordial, apologized, and within no time I received my second choice--a beautifully cooked, thick, juicy Swordfish Steak.


All in all, this particular Sunday evening was wonderful. Despite the first attempt on the entree course (things get overlooked), the company, service, ambience, and food was delightful. JB was happy--and giving that to a friend (or an inn guest) is my idea of "happiness."


The vacation was only just beginning as we drove back to the Lakes Region. A night with friends--truly the "stuff" that makes Life even better--was another fond foodie & being-with-friends memory.


Catch you soon!


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part 2



(Pictured above: Me trying to be a "touch Brando type." hahaha).


Hello, Foodie Friends!


Part 2 of my vacation from Inn at Long Lake found this innkeeper attending a Chamber of Commerce "After Hours" at a local business called "Custom Motorsports." My business has membership in two chambers (Naples being in the middle) so 2 times a month there is an opportunity to learn about fellow business people in the community, and to represent the inn, also.


Custom Motorsports is a wonderful business that retails items for the motorcycle and jet ski enthusiast. Having driven by the business many times in the past, I thought it a cool place for my visiting friend, JB, to socialize with the local business community.


That day was busy but I made time to bake a couple dozen of my favorite inn cookies to wish the business owners "best of luck." They appeared almost shocked when I (humbly) gave the cookies to them. (I've always been of mind to bring a gift for the host.) The cookies were scoffed up as JB, I, and our friends mingled with other area business owners.


I spent some of the evening speaking with the two men who operate The Divemasters (http://www.thedivemasters.com/), a local business that teaches people how to dive. They operate in both Sebago Lake and the Atlantic Ocean! What a unique idea! I commented (with their permission) on the marketing materials they handed me, gladly giving them encouragement to keep their enthusiasm, consider some insights into their marketing (no one likes to be told what to do), and wished them all the best. I hope to establish a unique relationship with them for the benefit of scuba-curious visitors to the area.


All in all, it was a wonderful evening. It was nice to see a totally different business marketing the things that are essential to business success: passion and enthusiasm.


The weather has turned cooler here in Western Maine this evening and I look forward to making some Maine Blueberry Pancakes for my guests in the morning. I hope everyone's weekend was fun!


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef

Inn at Long Lake

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Innkeeper's Vacation--Part I


(Pictured above: Me standing on the shores of Raymond Beach (Raymond, Maine).

Greetings, Blog Readers!


A couple of weeks ago I put the "No Vacancy" sign up in front of Inn at Long Lake and with a sigh of decompression plopped my feet up on the couch. April is a perfect month to get outside Spring yard work done, demand can warrant closing the doors for a while, and in proximity to the upcoming busy Summer and Fall, I have time to think creatively.


Innkeepers really never go on "vacation." We think of our inns in the same way parents (hardest job on the Earth, I believe!) show constant concern over their children. Having said that, my vacation was a variety of work, laughter, soul-searching, and fun.


My dear friend, JB, from San Francisco arrived 3 days after the shutdown. He is a brilliant photographer, artist, and creative spirit. We had a long list of cooking, gardening, and decor projects that kept us busy--and, at times, stressed (the good type of stress). JB loves the inn and the inn kitchen (it is larger and better equipped than his in San Fran) so daily I was treated to prepared meals while I worked and watched television. The man is a master of vegetables and how to bring out flavors and freshness.


My "days off" (what's that??!! haha) were very cool and I hope to share with you some of the moments in the next few postings. After 14 days, a fair share of Bacardi and white wine, and the company of a fellow creative spirit, I am revved up/"totally stoked"/excited over the busy year ahead.


Life is a "hoot" when you are doing what you love. That was my intention for my time off from the inn. I look forward to sharing with you my personal Foodie adventures--they were happy treasures in the path of those 2 weeks. They bring a smile to my face...and quite possibly, yours, too. Oh, I thought of all you blog followers/readers during my time away, too (Yippee! 2300 hits in 2 years!).


Catch you soon with all the groovy, wild details!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper

Naples, Maine

Monday, April 19, 2010

Innkeeper's Vacation in Vacationland!




The Innkeeper and Staff of Inn at Long Lake are currently on holiday until May 5, 2010. See you then!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mid-April in Maine

Hello to All!

I awoke this morning to snow (yes, SNOW!) lightly falling outside my bedrooom window! This is quite a shock as I thought we'd might be over it at this point. Well, Mother Nature is having her laugh--gotta love her!

Business is winding down at Inn at Long Lake and the inn will be closed. I am looking forward to 2 weeks off. Many things are going on during this time: a new roof, my 2nd Anniversary Party and Gallery Show (more on this later), and, of course, a relaxing vacation. During this time my friend, JB, from San Francisco, will be here. It will be a well-rounded, action-packed "holiday."

I came to learn that 2 of my guests were "Foodies" and fans of homecooking and baking. After some brief questioning I sent them upstairs with a couple of my favorite cookbooks to peruse before slumber. Yes, I am one of those cooks that actually reads cookbooks (and not fiction) before I head to Dreamland. I find reading them comforting and inspiring. Whatever path my creativity takes during the night time hours, I accept. (They say that you dream about the last thing on your mind before you fell asleep). I plan on dedicating a portion of the inn's library to cookbooks, for like-minded guests!

That is all from Western Maine this fine morning. I hope that wherever you are, your weekend is excellent!

Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Parsnips--the new Potato?"




Hey, again. I seldom write two blog entries in one day (up late watching American Idol) but wanted to pass on some "kudos" to parsnips.


I have read many recipes on Roasted Parsnips (usually in the Fall, tossed with chopped carrots and potatoes, drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper). Yum!


Betsey, my friend from Common Folk Farm up the street (she blends and makes the best Catnip pouches, according to my gal pal, Fay) stopped by the other morning with some glorious looking parnsips from her garden. I had spoken to her about a Spiced Parsnip Quick Bread recipe I saw.) I rarely cook them but for dinner tonight I boiled them (like carrots), whipped them, seasoned them with butter, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. A touch of brown sugar in them would be delicious, too.
They were great! Lower carb than potatoes but starchy enough to give a potatoe feel. An interesting, slightly nutty flavor of carrots and potatoes. (Peel. The boil time with a 1/2-inch dice was 8 minutes).


Try them!


Keith

"Frame-ing Yourself In"





Greetings Blog Readers.


This morning I took a drive over to Norway (the town in Maine, not the country) to get some stretcher bars for some paintings by my dear friend, JB, in San Francisco (more on that later...).

The scenic drive through the winding woods through Harrison to Norway was calming and peaceful (I waved to Joan Lunden as she pulled out of her garage----could have been her nanny, maybe...does the nanny drive a BMW?!) Anyway...the little framing store on the Main Street in Norway, Maine was quaint.


Two artists, one the owner of the store, and a man in his early 30's were speaking about the "price tag on art." I don't really think they had an answer how one painting could sell for $1 million, another at $80.00. Like art, however, value and price are subjective. Much of this, I believe, though, is created by internal forces first---not what the market may necessarily bear.


The curious case of innkeeping is much like what visual artists might do. Details, details, details.(Have you ever seen those "one splotch" paintings that sell for $500,000?! Gotta praise the artist, for sure!) The expression of creating an inn environment is complex. In its many years of evolution in lodging, it has gone from an "I have a room to rent" extra money maker to a viable segment for housing tourists. So, without the confining chains of corporate direction, innkeepers craft their inns, largely as an expression of the best guidance they have: themselves!


Intention is such an important tool in framing the way our lives, and businesses, evolve and serve. We impart our mental skills into the equation. Many, but not all, impart their spiritual strength into it as well. If your idea of running a business is "I just want to break even," your decision of lack surrounding that thought probably is limiting you from a great deal of abundance (not to mention the strain on your emotional well-being). Intending an "I want to be the best inn in _________(fill in the blank)" makes a statement that places you on an abundant road. You open yourself up to creativity, delight in its revealing itself to you, resources emerge where you thought none existed, etc. Yes, innkeeping, like life, is work, fun, and challenging. Why not label your passions and endeavors a "success?" Why not frame it in gold in your mind first?


"Act as if"..., I say. Act like a great innkeeper to your visitors. Act like a good friend to your personal relationships. Act like a "good citizen." Act like the things you have in your life are blessings. They all are! Set your bar higher and higher. Name it, then claim it!


Norman Vincent Peale's book "The Power of Positive Thinking" is applicable even today. Its application to life and business and art are perceptive. I read it at 21 years old. And, all this raises the pertinent question in the back of my mind: Will the macaroni art I did in camp be a valuable discovery in my Mother's attic one day? Hmmmmmmm...maybe......just maybe! ;-)


Have a great day (or whatever kind of day you choose for yourself....)! *wink*


Innkeeper Keith A. Neubert

Naples, Maine

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Runner-Ups and Inn Rooms"


One of the joys of owning a bed and breakfast inn is selecting the theme of the business. I adore inns revolve around themes, be it gardening, islands off the coast of Maine, or that which is "nautical."


Selecting room names for Inn at Long Lake was such fun! My lovely friend, Fay, helped by suggesting Classic Hollywood names in addition to the American music icons on my list. And, so...while many rooms at the inn were (and are) named after notables like Glenn Miller, Mae West, and Cole Porter, several luminaries were overlooked ("Hey. It's a 16-room inn. Gimme a break for more rooms!" lol).


One such actress from Hollywood's bygone era of creativity was Matilda "Tilda" Manique. From her meagar beginnings in Iowa as a drugstore salad bar attendant (she was later lovingly known as "Cukie from Du-bukie" by her closest friends) to her discovery by the motion picture industry eating a Knickerbocker Sundae in a West Hollywood diner, Tilda's career was fraught with ups and downs.


Her legendary role in 1940's "Bally Ho in Bali Hai" was a high point for Tilda. As the Pina Colada-soaked streetwalker spreading happy cheer throughout the paths and byways of the Somoan mountainsides, she was endeared by legions of fans, primarily workers in the pineapple and coconut professions. Her musical song from the film "Smile Free...Coconuts Cost a' Plenty" was nominated for several Tony and film awards.


Later in life--long after the cameras stopped rolling--Ms. Manique was reputed to have spent solitude living in (and by) a box near Franzia Vineyards. She happily signed autographs to faithful fans, a tribute to her short, but glorious, acting career.


Her comeback as "one of the colored girls" backing Lou Reed in his 1971 "I Got One Song..but It's Great" Tour brought new success to her. Tilda was beat out (and up) by Clara Peller for Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" marketing campaign. The company refused her to read her lines off cue cards...


She was last seen riding a 2-person bicycle alone by the Grand Canyon. Her fans fear that, like her career of yesteryear, her fall was a quick ride into the gulch. Her presence remains unknown.


Happy April to All!!


Keith


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Cream Cheese and Green Jeans" Mid-Week Notes

Greetings to all!

I started my day doing some quick food shopping for the inn. I was up early, primed with coffee, and went out to get a fresh hair cut and head to the food store.


Browsing by dairy I found cream cheese on sale for only 50 cents (for an 8 oz. bar!). (PS: didn't the old typewriters used to have a "cent" symbol?!). In cases like this, experienced shoppers always check the expiration date. They were fine.


Fearing a busload of tourists outside the grocery store clutching toasted bagels, I stocked up (threw about 16 bars of cream cheese!) my cart. After my attempt at cherry pie, I will next attempt a cheesecake of some sort. I called my Mom (Elaine) from the parking lot, like any good son would (hehe) to let her know about the sale.


Mom said: Italic "Oooooooooooh.....I have this great cheesecake recipe a friend gave me years ago. It is delicious!"
"Is it a by scratch recipe," I queried.

"Yes!" she said. "And it tastes wonderful!"


My Mom promised to send me the recipe. I will also look around in my cookbook collection for a good cheesecake recipe.


Upon my return to the inn, a voice message from Betsey Golon up the street at Common Folk Herb Farm (a tea supplier for LL Bean, right here inBold Naples) prompted an impetuous trip to Portland for the FOOD AND LODGING EXPO. Betsey is an Herbalist and, like me, enjoys simple home cooking. We wandered the aisles on the Civic Center. While most of the food items were convenience (boxed/bagged/frozen) products, it is always interesting as a Home Cook to see what current trends and flavors are in. Mango and passion fruit seem to have some re-newed interest, by the way!


Betsey is known in the gardening circles as "Mrs. Green Jeans." She is a warm, wonderful, hardworking lady. She is a garden advisor for the original White House---Mount Vernon.

I felt a great amount of comraderie with this fellow business person today. We, after all, were doing "market research." We talked about service, trends, and living your Life following your passion in your work.


That is all for today from rainy Maine! Keep cooking and sharing with friends.


Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cherry Pie---The Results




A quick Monday note to say that my attempt at making the crust for the Cherry Pie was "okay." The canned filling I used (not my first choice) was blah. The crust, while evenly baked, was a little gummy (probably overworked with my rolling pin).


I spoke to my lady friend, Dianne, who lives up in Maine's Belgrade Lakes region. She swears by the following recipe:
NEVER FAIL PIE CRUST
2 c. flour

1 c. vegetable shortening

1 egg

1/3 c. water

1 tsp. vinegar

Cut shortening into flour. Add egg. Combine water and vinegar together. Add to dry mixture. Divide into equal portions.

Roll out on floured cloth or pastry sheet sprinkled with flour. Place in pie plate. To par-bake crust, prick with fork around sides and bottom. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Yield: 2 crusts.


Thanks, Dianne!


(Odd how this recipe does not ask you to wrap and let rest in the fridge). I will try it on my next attempt.


Cinnamon Bread French Toast this morning at the inn. Hope everyone's day is one step closer to your idea of perfection and self-expression!


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A New Type of Pie!


Greetings, Blog Friends!


A couple of postings ago I wrote about creating a positive mindset when approaching new things, especially cooking. For me, the best cooking shows on television are the ones that empower you--not show you how misinformed you are at the moment.


And, so...in following my own advice (and this is not the first time in cooking!), I decided to make a pie crust and cherry pie this afternoon. It is baking in the oven as I write (a large cookie sheet in the rack beneath it, in case of a less-than-perfect dessert--hahaha.)


I figure this is a try---not "just a try"--because all attempts to bake and cook are STEPS closer to perfection. The crust recipe was pulled out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I combined the ingredients, used ice water for the crust, handled it sparingly, wrapped in Cling Wrap in disk form, and let it "rest" in the fridge for 45 minutes. When I rolled it out, it started breaking, had holes (I used flour on the rolling pin). I patched it as best I could and tried to make certain the crust was of uniform thickness, of course.


Well, time will reveal all. I must admit (and I hope you think about this the next time something new brings up "inadequacies" in your mind) that I almost gave it the old Dunk Shot into the bucket. My thoughts: "Why am I doing this on a beautiful afternoon outside?" "Who's going to eat all this pie?" "Gale Gand (expert baker) would kick my backside, if she saw this!" All self-defeating dialog to myself. "Deep breathe...slow down...spin it positively, Keith".....hehe.


Be realistic, and forward moving, in your own culinary challenges. If you strike perfection on the nose on try #1---Bravo! If not, be gentle with yourself, like a teacher would be. Remember that you are trying to improve yourself...and, my friends, that takes time always. After all, after that step, you are ONE step CLOSER!! Oh, and don't forget the resources around you that may have walked the pie making path----their knowledge will be quite helpful.


It is times like this I wish I had a digital camera to show you first hand this "brave attempt" on something I have said in the past that I could not do. I am doing it, though---now. Adeptly? No. Fearlessly? YES! And, needless to say, I am looking forward to whatever emerges from the oven (as long as my cherry pie is not a chocolate layer cake!).


That's all from the Inn Kitchen today. Thanks so much for dropping by!


Keith A. Neubert

Inn at Long Lake

Naples, Maine

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March-ing Forward...


Greetings to all in foodie cyberspace!

Today starts with a chilly morning here in Maine. The usual piles of snow are melting quickly (odd for this time of year). I enjoy getting to the inn gardens as soon as possible so this is advantageous.

There are no reservations this weekend and I am locking it up, packing it up, and driving "it" up (lol) to visit friends in Central Maine. I have been buried with work and could use some R&R, for sure. Innkeeping is never done and while I will miss the inn, I know that balance in my Life is important. Mind you, I will be reading cookbooks and working probably still!


I am looking forward to consistent warmer weather soon. The image above is from Summer. Maybe by visualizing, it will come to be!
At any rate, warm hello's from Western Maine wherever you are today.

Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Happy Birthday, Jean!!"




Hi, Blog Readers. I hope this day finds you well. After the last posting I did some thinking about how there is always a need to re-group and re-assess. I guess this is part of Winter.


As the Old-Time New England Cookbook (MacDonald, Sagendorph) says about the period of February 21-April 1: "it is an exciting time...one we would not exchange for any other. For in these forty days the year is born again." It is a time for maple sapping, pancakes of any sort (my guests love my Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes! YUM!), and ham with cider sauce (putting those little cloves all over it is more an art project than a cooking technique! lol).


This week Inn at Long Lake pays homage to the Classic Hollywood icon in Room #13, the beautiful Jean Harlow (her birthday is March 3rd). Ms. Harlow only lived for a mere 26 years but she is a legend, no doubt. So many try to imitate her...all only that...imitations (be yourself, nobody else, I say! copying the make-up or hairstyle takes way too long! hehe).

I watched a classic movie last weekend called "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." It starred Rex Harrison & Jean Tierney. It was beautiful. A amazingly lovely widow gets haunted by and later befriends a dashing, dead sea captain who owned the house previously (I plan on this much later in my career at Inn at Long Lake...lol). He, with his militant maritime ways, and she, assertiving that she will not be considered anything less than an equal...only to find they can really never be together no matter their love for one another. Why can't they write plot lines like that today? It's always some disaster, special effect-laden hoo hah (not that The Rock in tights as the Tooth Fairy doesn't have its charm and appeal!)


Anyway, a project going on at the inn today so have to bolt. How about considering some spring pancakes for your Sunday breakfasts in the meantime? YUM! Thanks for reading!!!


From Western Maine,

Your Innkeeper-Blogger-Foodie-good ole' New England boy and "Flour Bin Philosopher"


Keith A. Neubert
;-)




Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Risoluto"---The Other Pasta??

After a fairly busy couple of weeks at the inn (relative to the season, of course), this innkeeper pokes around the inn with the staff to prepare for a promising year ahead. This is not unlike the work most innkeepers have on their own plates. Balancing the need to re-connect with friends, taking time for ourselves, and getting the loose ends tied up are "what's going on" for many of us.

This time is all about planning and preparation. It is a time to consider "intention" in our work.


While in Hotel School, my college experience was greatly enhanced by my participation in the UNH Wind Ensemble. I studied clarinet for many years and knew that, even though a non-Music major, I'd make the prestigious group/band. Once while rehearsing a work, the director, Stanley Hettinger, asked us all "It says here in the music "risoluto." What does that mean?"


Blank looks from majors and non-majors alike.


"Is it a type of pasta???!!!" Professor Hettinger smiled, disheartened at the lack of response.


His answer, the musical mystery, and approaching Life can be partially answered by knowing that "resolve," "steadfast determination, " and "risoluto" (not on Italian menus after all!) are synonyms. This can come from within each of us. It is a flagpole in cement---it does not move with the changing weather in our Life. How often do our ideas and "dreams" flail around like the flag at the top of that pole. We wave it for attention and proclamation and support. We need to pour the cement at the ground level first, however. Anything can be made "possible" with that work decided!! And...you will revel at the way everything falls into place so easily.


If you want to learn do anything well, you need to show resolve. This starts with "failure is not an option." Also said, this means adjusting our own impact of our power from an "I can" perspective to an "I will/when it happens" perspective.


You need to find an answer to some problem? Begin by STOP spinning it spiraling down with negative thoughts! You want to make the best apple pie you can? Do it! Do it and each time the road will reveal another lesson to your POSITIVE gain. You make the decision. Forget about what the rest of the world thinks, or thought, about your abilities! Every day we start forward, or backward, or stuck--your decision will be the compass.


If you don't want to learn how to tile a bathroom, farm it out. Someone else is looking with passion to learn. Focus on your own path.


"This will be the best year for Inn at Long Lake. We will continue our friendly, adept service. We will delight our guests with even more yummy afternoon treats, our breakfasts will be as by-scratch as possible. The inn will continue to charm its guests with its period character and cleanliness." This is my resolute belief. From there I direct, as innkeeper, the work to prepare for this!


Today we can all discern between the "goals" and the "distractions" in our Lives and make the right decision to follow suit. Besides...who wouldn't enjoy the "best apple pie in town?" *grin*


From beautiful Spring-like Western Maine,
Your Maine Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

(vanity pic above--courtesy JB Sabin)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Julie and Julia"




Greetings, Blog Friends.


While the inn has been a bit on the quiet side lately, I've been able to visit with some good friends, work on recipes, get some projects done around the inn, and watch some movies.


Foodies will delight over "Julie and Julia, " a delicious movie about the lives of a writer struggling to find meaning in her personal life (Julie), and the life of an icon (Julia Child). While I won't go into a plot synopsis or review (other than "watch it!"), I will say it brought up many thoughts in my mind.


Every excuse in the world can be made to follow our passions, withhold the truth, and keep us safe in the "same old" routine. Julie felt this need for change in her life in the movie. She moved her life forward through Julia's cookbook. Shouldn't we?


I know sometimes it is scary to move yourself forward on your path. This might mean breaking ourselves out of past patterns or putting ourselves into a situation where no light ahead can be seen. It might even mean losing other things that we love--all for the sake of falling "into ourselves" more and more. I did this with Inn at Long Lake. It was familiar turf, for sure (I was the Chef before I became its Owner). I reveled, though, in taking the inn to its "next step"--only to find that I found myself more as I opened myself up to activating changes at the inn!


Life is too short to stay static and unhappy. When I left New Orleans in 2001, I wrote a list of 20 things that I wanted to do in my lifetime. I had to move back to my native New England, a U-Haul packed with old comforts, to come home to myself. Amazingly, some of the things came into being in time! Try a shorter list of your own. You might very well be surprised how they come into your reality (life experience). Make the list fun, full of your heart, without boundaries!


So, tonight, like Julie in the movie, I write to you from this Blog. Yes, we all have moments of questioning and fears. Movies aside, though...give your life--and all the aspirations that you have dreamed in happy silence, "two thumbs up!" You might just be amazed at the recipe called "Your Life."


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper
Naples, Maine

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Check, please"---"Gourmet" Magazine closes it pages...




Greetings, all.


I was saddened to hear the news about Gourmet magazine's departure from our bookshelves. After almost 70 years, the magazine's producer, Conde Nast, cited a decline in ad sales as its primary reason for its continuance.


While I am not a big fan of magazines, or inns, that label themselves as "gourmet" (just a personal preference), it is a sure sign of the times. Expensive ingredients, advanced techniques, and choice of articles may also have swayed readers away towards more "accessible food."


Monthly publications are quite economical and keep us informed to current food trends. Among my favorites are: "Cooks' Country" and "Bon Appetit." I also purchased a subscription to Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food" for myself and my lady friend, Fay (at $10 for 2 subscriptions, I could not resist!). If you glean one or two recipes from each month, it is worth it!

I so enjoy when the magazines (or cookbooks) break down a "classic dish" and give you tips on how to make them (eg. making the best crust for a Chicken Pot Pie). I remain open to learning by reading the writer's point of view---rather than just doing it "the way I always have."


Let us celebrate the work of the writers of this magazine! They truly changed the way we looked at food, moving us forward into new lands of taste, and because they shared their passion of food with us, and for us.


Your Maine Innkeeper,


Keith A. Neubert

Naples, Maine