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


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:
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


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, 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,


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 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 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!! 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)