Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Wishes to All!

(Pictured above: The hammy innkeeper of The Inn at Long Lake, reminds you to NOT be "in the bag" at your holiday party. Drink responsibly. Designated drivers are truly lifesavers! PS: The party needing this bag was going back to Florida. I jumped in hoping they wouldn't notice the extra weight...)

Happy New Year to All!

First off (before I forget in my hurried day), the good people at Thomas' bakery (known for their English muffins) have created some interesting variations of BAGELS recently. While I enjoy Cinnamon-Raisin at breakfast, or a quick snack during the day, other flavors like Pumpkin Spice or Cranberry are excellent for hors d'oeuvres at your next party.

Bagel bites can be brushed lightly with olive oil (simmered gently with any herbs and cooled before applying) for a savory touch. Arrange them in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake them at 400 until browned. Remove, cool, cut each side into 6 or 8 pieces, and cover. Serve with your favorite dip on the side. Onion bagels are excellent and very versatile. Check out all the options!

More blog writing for me to do in the New Year coming. I thank you for checking on this blog from time to time. It has been, and is, my joy and honor to explore food and to share my experiences with you.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your "Ho Ho Hacienda!"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

It has been some time since I've written anything on this blog. At the beginning of November I put myself on my annual vacation. This is the time of year, after the Summer and Fall lodging seasons, that this innkeeper attempts to "check himself out" of the inn. It is a time when getting in touch myself becomes a sort of grounding. It is, also, a time when assessing the present supercedes thoughts of the past and of the future.

Preparing the inn for the Thanksgiving holiday guests seemed challenging after my break. You have to switch modes--this meaning from "up in your head" to "back to the heart" (which is where all hospitality is expressed).

For many innkeepers, this is the challenge in these quiet months. The jump from contemplation to actual action seems like jumping up a mountain. My point herein is that we need both--and when we are off balance with "thinking" and "doing"--life doesn't seem to dance as smoothly with us. So...I try my best to find activities that are for me (during which I focus on myself) and then (status quo) back to my inn business to express all the details that makes my business "homey and warm."

This morning as I shopped around Bridgton, Maine (the next town over), I realized that preparing for the upcoming holiday season has its success in its preparation. For example, one of the things that anyone can rest assured of during the holidays is the influx of visitors to our homes. Faces drop in, some unexpectedly, to wish us the joy of the holidays. Knowing someone has set aside time to want to see you during the holidays is such a wonderful gift. It is the blessing of sharing that friends and family feel a need to do. And during this magical time of year, how prepared are we for our visitors?

Your holiday decorations almost certainly have a schedule for when they appear. (It is different for all of us). Now how about your pantry, refrigerator, and bar? Are these ready to supply one of your memorable snacks or loving libations? They should be!

If you have a passion for baking (like I do), why not make up a bunch of individual quick breads for your visitors to take home after their visit? Mini bags of homebaked cookies are such a treat during the holidays, too---what cookie feels like the holidays to YOU? (If you have made too many of these take-home treats, don't forget the mail carrier, the paper delivery person, or your electric meter reader---these people are people who work hard, and an unexpected treat will really make their day!)

Beyond baked goodies, why not invent or research a cocktail that you can share (at certain hours of the evening) with any visitors? Point here is to stock the ingredients for the creation in ample supply. A cute invitation in your holiday card saying something like "I would like to see you over the holidays. Drop by for a Jingle Bell Cosmopolitan at your convenience. RSVP your Yuletide Cheer at (phone number)." By stocking up your "nearest and dearest" will be tickled by your hospitality and remind themselves why you are just an amazing person! (Lol). Remember: the cocktail can contain alcohol or not (we should all lean towards prudent consumption of liquor, especially this time of year). Make it festive, however, with the colors of the season, or serve it in a cool Wintertime glass of some sort.

Seriously, we know guests are part of holiday tradition. Let's get prepared in advance and step into the creativity of expressing hospitality to those we love. We, as individuals who love to entertain and learn about food, are the front lines for keeping the magic of the holidays alive. You don't need to own an inn to do this. You merely have to open up your heart...and your home. Be sure to grant some "up in your head" time for yourself (walking, a nice warm bath, or a quiet cup of seasonal tea) and know that after all the thoughts, "from the heart" is where your passion is expressed.

A pre-December idea for all to consider! Check back soon!

Keith A. Neubert


The Inn at Long Lake, Naples, Maine

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Career Milestone...

Greetings, Blog Friends.

This month marks 30 years of work in hospitality for me and I can't help but reflect on this time as a blessing. Starting with a 2 month stint at a fast-food joint to where I am today--owning a glorious New England inn---has never been without its sacrifice, hard work, and learning.

The scores of co-workers, teachers, and guests that have marked my career are only thoughts away. I re-visit these times on occasion and am amazed at how much time has passed.

I always say to my current staff (the best group of positive, genuine individuals with whom I have had the honor to work) that hospitality is 'not so bad a gig' (yeah, swanky hipster lingo added, I guess!). Remembering the routine, creating details, and delving into one's heart for sincerity is something that has always been a part of my own personality. In today's world, fraught with unmotivated robots, to be genuine and creative means so much. Moreover, it is a code of work ethic that to honor guests who are paying with their hard-earned money that begins and ends every day of mine.

In this time the sacrifice for earning my living has meant missing holidays with friends and family. It has meant making mistakes in the eye of the public. It has meant sacrificing my very health to work more than I should have (gets tougher as I age). It has meant so many things that this blog can never report.

Among my high points (besides the oodles of satisfaction of "work done well") were waiting on former Vice President Al Gore, buying The Inn at Long Lake after returning after a heart-breaking absence, and filming my television cooking series "Cooking Inn Style" on local Lake Region TV (2005-06). Smaller, but no less meaningful, were the smiles of happy guests enjoying and the phone call and cards (many I still keep in a box in my bedroom closet) that validated my intention.

In this blog I have tried--and will continue to try---to be a positive influence to wherever your food and entertaining schemes are evolving. After these 30 years and experiencing that food, beverage, and hospitality means to me, I encourage you to grow in your knowledge as I have spent my career doing. In doing so, those around us are privy to a place in our hearts of conviviality and warmth. And, my friends---that is a "pretty good gig" any day of the year.


Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper, The Inn at Long Lake

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again!

Just a reminder to all our friends that The Inn at Long Lake Annual Craft Show is on November 5th & 6th this year. Check out the website for details and hours.

The show (now in its 21st year!) displays an array of local artisans, all passionate about their work and happy to chat and answer questions. Come tour the inn, enjoy some complimentary seasonal refreshments, and get some of that pre-holiday shopping done at the same time!

Facebook users may check out The Inn at Long Lake Annual Craft Show page to view this year's participating artisans.

Above: Elaine (of Elaine's Creations) and I (her adoring son) pose for a quick moment before last year's show. Mom always enjoys the show and has been working hard over the year to create lovely knitted and crocheted items. (So cute at last year she was overheard to say: "I found some pretty black yarn for hats for the kids who are into that Goth scene. Everyone needs to wear warm hats during the Winter!" Gotta love her.....(and, yes, I do!).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gluten as Contractor?

(Pictured above: Yummy Banana Bread speckled with chopped dates and walnuts is a perfect way to start the morning. At The Inn at Long Lake our guests did!)

I recently read a interesting sidebar in Cook's Illustrated magazine that I found eye-opening.

If you enjoy muffins, but sometimes find that they are not evenly domed and picturesque on top, a couple of overlooked considerations may be at fault. Of course, in baking ingredients must be measured precisely for each recipe. Secondly, the correct oven temperature is also necessary. Thirdly, humidity in warmer seasons may also play a contributing factor to cakes and muffins sagging in the middle. Without fail, items not fully baked will never cook and rise in perfect fashion, too.

The sidebar article brought to light another interesting solution: letting the batter set for 10 minutes BEFORE baking! According to their food scientist, sometimes batters for muffins and cakes are helped by a setting time prior to baking. This enables the liquid component of the batter to bond with the gluten. This creates stronger structures for rising during baking.

Muffins, this innkeeper finds, are the worst culprit for sunken middles. Quick breads, which usually require as long as 1 hour of baking, quite possible, have more than enough time in their initial oven time to bond these gluten molecules. Muffins (baking times between 15-30 minutes) may not have this necessary time.

Solution: Mix your batter according to the recipe. THEN, pre-heat your oven for 10 minutes to the desired temperature (most recipes ask you to do this first!). Portion batter into pans, bake, and see if your cakes and muffins dome correctly. Always test with a toothpick for doneness. You'll have beautiful baked goods that are shaped as lovely as they taste!

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake

Saturday, August 27, 2011

After the Prom....

My good friend, Andrea, visiting her parents in our native New Hampshire, came to Naples and The Inn at Long Lake yesterday. Andrea lives in Hemet, California. She was also my high school Senior Prom Date! Andrea reminded me that I asked her way back in junior high school! (Now, I've heard of reservations, but....). It was a glorious reunion and a day to remember.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Movie for Foodies

Hi, Blog Friends.

While this Innkeeper doesn't have much time to relax in lodging Peak Season, I was able recently to catch a movie called "Pressure Cooker." Many of us who enjoy food as a hobby/profession/lifestyle might enjoy this 1-1/2 hour documentary.

The story involves a class of 12 Philadelphia culinary arts students facing the challenges of the high school experience, their home lives, and their dreams of a better life. The teacher, Wilma Stephenson (pictured above), teaches the students (many for the first time) the requirement of discipline. Street savvy and keen on the slacking ways of students, she keeps at them all. Her goal: to get them to a level to where a citywide cooking competition can accept them. From there, scholarships are potentially earned.Bold

Three students are focused on in the film. Each come from a set of challenges. No, this is not as gritty as Precious, or as sweet as Julie and Julia. It is a movie that does make us applaud that in whatever we strive to learn, perserverance (despite mistakes) is necessary. As foodies we must keep our discipline and strive for the next level of learning. Teacher Stephenson has strict teaching methods but, also, a tender heart underneath (think Debbie Allen in Fame with a whisk).

I think this is a good movie and hope you will check "Pressure Cooker" out!

Keith A. Neubert


The Inn at Long Lake

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Lovely Day in Maine

Pictured above: A beautiful shot (thanks to Mother Nature) of Brandy Pond. Brandy Pond is right off the Naples Causway (the other side of the Causeway is Long Lake. Brandy Pond feeds in Sebago Lake, the second largest body of lake water in Maine. The weather was superb today and I wanted to share this with my Blog Friends.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Short, Saucy Tale

Greetings, Blog Friends.

I was recently doing some cooking research online and found an interesting story about Newburg Sauce.

Now, as delicious as Newburg Sauce is, it always stings to hear its name as an old girlfriend of mine used to call me "Keith Newburg Sauce." (insert groan). Despite the memories of this light teasing, this sauce is derived from Bechamel Sauce (cream sauce), one of the master sauces in cooking.

Newburg Sauce is a Bechamel Sauce to which dry sherry, cayenne, paprika (for color), and sometimes egg yolks (for thickening) are added. It pairs well with most firmer seafood (shrimp, scallops, cod, or lobster). Excellent ideas to serve Newburg Sauce are with simple toast points (to dip in the sauce), in a puff pastry, or in light crepes. Recipes may be found online, of course. Select one, but I assure you all are easy and tasty.

Newburg Sauce was created at the famous Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City. The legend is that one of its great chefs invented it for a devote customer--a Mr. Wenburg. Well, Mr. Wenburg and the owner of the restaurant had a falling out and t he restauranteur was so angry he renamed the popular sauce by merely changing the positioning of its letters to "Newburg."

Give this interesting sauce a try some time. It is elegant, rich, and a step away from the same ole'-same ole'.

From sunny Maine,

Innkeeper Keith A. Newburg (I mean, Neubert). ;-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"A Moment with Just Us"

After a few busy weekends, I asked the staff to wrap things up so that we could get some ice cream (yeahhhhhh! ice cream!!). I was glad to treat and thank the inn's wonderful staff to a relaxing time together.

Pictured above Left to Right: Me, Astra, Gail, and Francine. Donna, Matthew, and Caitlin had the afternoon off that day.

I am blessed to have a staff that cares about all the details it takes to make guests feel special, safe, and comfortable. I also hope that we could have a moment like that afternoon more often.

That's all from (a lot cooler) Maine--by beautiful Long Lake.

Keith A. Neubert


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"A Story of Midori"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

As a student of bartending and mixology during my college years, I aspired to learn as much as I could about the fine art of making cocktails. Back at that time I was waiting tables in a family-run restaurant and service bartenders (who make drinks for the tables in the restaurant) were not on schedule. A chart by the full-service bar in the kitchen was composed by a lead waitress, telling us which glass each commonly-ordered cocktail went in, how to prepare (shake, build, blend, etc) and the proportions of each ingredient that went into making the cocktail. By age 20 (I started waiting tables at 18 years old) I had become, through my research and application, a fairly decent mixologist!

One summer I worked at a student cafeteria on the UNH campus and I asked a foreign exchange student from Japan if she had ever heard of Midori, the honeydew flavored liqueur made in her home country. Her knowledge of alcohol was small and she shook her head. The next day, however, she happily ran up to me and said: "Yesterday you asked about Midori. Yes, yes! It is made in Japan." I smiled. "Do you know what Midori means in Japanese?" she asked with a grin. I shook my head. "It means "green." (I did not know that! I then knew my first Japanese word!)

Midori is a light, melon-flavored liqueur used in many fruity libations, such as the Melon Ball (vodka, Midori, and OJ) and the Pearl Harbor (vodka or rum, Midori, and pineapple juice). Midori is also excellent with (or without rum) in a Midori Colada (a melon version of the Pina Colada). Many imitations of Midori exist, and while they are a little more syrupy and sweeter than their inspiration, they work just fine in the above cocktails.

The bottle of Midori, too, looks much like a tall Japanese temple. Like many liqueurs, it is rather low in alcohol--only 40 proof (whiskey is 80 proof). Still apply with moderation, of course!

Hoping you will try some recipes using Midori over the Summer months and trust that you are able to spend time with friends and family (or at the Inn at Long Lake, too!).

Keith A. Neubert
The Inn at Long Lake

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Today a Small Dream Came True....."

Greetings to all!

Today at The Inn at Long Lake a new dream came true.

Many who know me well know that I adore music (hence, half of the rooms in my inn are inspired by musical icons of the 1920s & 1930s). The last room I re-named at the inn (they were originally named after Maine boats) was Room #3--The Copland Room (after American composer Aaron Copland). Pairing him up against other notable names in our common history, like Cole Porter, Ellington, Glenn Miller, and others, I thought a classical composer would be an odd choice. My heart (in food and in Life) always tells me "when you are happy, you are on the right path."

Recently, through my Facebook page and my cousin Peter (who is techno savvy) I obtained a rare version of Copland's "Our Town Suite." It was scored in the movie version of Thorton Wilder's play "Our Town" (which it seems every high school drama club does at least once!) To me, no better American classical composition portrays small town American life as this beautiful work does---simple, pastoral, and steadfast.

As Naples came to life this morning and my guests emerged in the inn's Great Room, I had this 11 minute work playing lightly as they made coffee and pots of tea before breakfast. I explained to them what the piece playing was, and how playwright Wilder had chosen the town of Grovers Corners (geographically, according to the play, Peterborough, New Hampshire--in my home state) to illustrate the story of our American day to day lives.

As busy and overwhelmed as innkeeping can be behind the scenes, I had a moment to realize that in hearing this lovely work, in my inn, with my guests enjoying the start of their day, that a dream had come true. While it may sound "cornball," yes...a small tear came to my eye. Another detail of the inn experience I believed in creating for the enjoyment of my guests had come into being.

Tonight as I stood on the front porch and watched the calm waters of Long Lake splash playfully in the night breeze, I quietly ended my day remembering the music and the challenging day that had passed in this beautiful New England town of Naples, Maine. And with no guests at the inn this evening, I went inside with a feeling of being blessed, and ended my day in my town.

May we not forget those in the great Southern small towns and cities of this country affected by the extreme weather conditions of months past (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, etc). Our prayers will be a small way to support them in this challenging path to rebuilding their small town lives, their schools and businesses, their Main Streets, and their homes. Please take a moment as your day rumbles along to send good thoughts their way, if just for a moment. You'd be surprised what prayers and dreams can manifest.

I do.

Keith A. Neubert


The Inn at Long Lake

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Nightfall in Western Maine"

Pictured above: Sunset falls on the Western Maine area. A perfect way for this innkeeper to enjoy one last moment before his busy Summer and Fall.

May the view in your night sky bring you the company of friends with which to share it, or a pause of Gratitude for this amazing planet, or maybe an instance to experience yourself "just breathing." Last Saturday evening, I think I had and did all three!

Keith A. Neubert

The Inn at Long Lake

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"In The Hunt for Rhubarb"

Greetings, Blog Friends and Foodies!

While preparing the inn for the upcoming Summer and Fall seasons, I was able to get away and spend time with some old, and new, friends. My lady friend Jane (see blog entry from 2010 on Preserving) had called a few weeks to happily inform me that her rhubarb patch was coming up and that I could extract from it what I needed.

And, so....early yesterday morning I put my "grubbies" on and headed over to her house in nearby Raymond, Maine. Jane is a busy C.P.A. and at 8am on a Saturday morning I felt it too early to ring her bell (in the event she was still asleep). I marched down to the gorgeous patch of vegetables and cut a lovely amount of fresh rhubarb (shown above).

Rhubarb has been around for quite some time, pre-dating back to 2700 BC in China. It was grown for many years for medicinal properties! This vegetable did not, however, make it to the U.S. until 1790-1800 when seeds were introduced to the soils of the great State of Massachusetts. Circa 1822, rhubarb was available in produce markets around the country finally.

Rhubarb's tart taste is often sweetened with sugar for eating. Found in pies, tarts, and jam (which is what I use it for at the inn), the vegetable is a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. There are some excellent websites containing information and recipes. My favorite recipe for slathering liberally on toast is a Cherry-Rhubarb Conserve I make at the beginning part of the inn's Summer season. Conserve, unlike preserves, lasts as long as any "open jar of fruit" in the refrigerator (about 1-1/2 weeks). Preserves, of course, once properly processed can last in storage for quite some time.

At the very core of it, I am proud (and happy) to be able to make basic conserves in my inn kitchen. Too many scrape jams out of jars (or worse...offer those little containers of processed jam on the tables---ick!). By utilizing seasonal fruits and vegetables, like rhubarb, I can present to my guests the grandeur of each season's garden abundance! (I just adore my work!!!!)

That is all from the inn today. I am off to work on the grounds and enjoy the Maine sunshine. Thank you so much for reading. (PS: Try rhubarb in some recipe this early Summer!).

Check us out on Facebook under The Inn at Long Lake and "like us." ;-)

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Let's Have "Just Pasta" Tonight!"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

I recently was so busy around the inn one day that I had neglected lunch. Innkeepers need their carbs so I brainstormed "just some pasta" for my mid-day meal. During this I realized that "even pasta" has its finer points of cooking---easy steps to really make pasta "rock it out" (insert rocker hand signal here). LOL.

Some helpful tips from an inn chef:

1). Always cook pasta (or rice) in a flavored stock (chicken, vegetarian, etc.) Pasta cooks by "sucking up" boiling water. Why not let it suck up some flavor?!

2). After the pasta has cooked and well drained (hard for sauce to adhere to water), heat the sauce you will be using (slightly spicy marinara, decadent Alfredo, spitfire Diablo, etc.) and then add the pasta TO THE SAUCE, simmering for 1-2 minutes. Using a set of tongs, fold the pasta INTO the sauce as it cooks. Let set a moment before plating (I'm a guy--I like pasta in a big ole' bowl). Make sure the sauce to pasta ratio isn't a dry one.

3). Prepare your sauce in advance and heat up on a simmer while the pasta is finishing cooking (leave enough room for the pasta being added to it--see Step 2). Sauce flavors develop while sitting---a stored freezer tomato sauce from last Summer's tomatoes is sublime!!)

Hope these tips help. Thanks for reading.

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Trekking the Good Trek"

(Pictured above: Jim and Myra from Ithaca, New York preparing for their next leg of their cycling trip---from South Bend, Indiana to Rockland, Maine--then to their daughter's graduation. A good inn-cooked breakfast at the inn on that rainy morning and some leftover By Scratch Brownies--from their greeting the day before--helped them face the rainy road ahead!)

Their next stop was my friends Jim and Larry's B&B in Bath, Maine. Hope they survived their cocktail hour!!

It is also amazing to see such adventurous, lovely people showing up on your doorstep!! "Pedals to the metal" and "Godspeed", Jim and Myra!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Isn't It Romantic?"

(Pictured above: Tyler and Sarah from New Hampshire re-visited Inn at Long Lake for their 5th Anniversary. They are holding the picture taken of themselves in front of the Inn at Long Lake fieldstone fireplace on their wedding day!).

Tyler and Sarah recently celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss here at the inn. I remember their wedding event at Inn at Long Lake well (in April 2006--my! how time flies!). The inn was quiet the weekend they visited last month and as much as I must have everything "in its place," I smiled when I went out to the Great Room one evening and all but one light was on. There they sat--in the darkened solitude of the room--cuddling and just chatting. romantic!

One afternoon I saw Sarah sitting on a couch with a couple of notebooks. I asked, "You don't have to work on the weekend, do you?!" She replied, "No, I am reading all the e-mails I printed out from when Tyler and I were getting to know each other." Ahhhh...even more romantic!!!

Having Tyler and Sarah return to the inn was lovely. Seeing two great people that actually "fit" stay together, weathering the little storms as a couple, "did my heart good." It was a weekend, I hope, we will always keep dear to our hearts.

Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper, Inn at Long Lake

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Inn at Long Lake-Voted #1!!

Greetings from Western Maine, Blog Friends!

A recent reader survey for the Lake Region Weekly has granted us the title of Number One as Best Hotel/Motel in the Sebago Lake region of Maine!! Gail relayed the news to me via e-mail while on a recent vacation to beautiful Montreal. I am humbled and thrilled at any type of accolade like this one!

Today marks my 3rd year of ownership of Inn at Long Lake, by the way! Weathering this economy has been challenging, for sure, but I am still inspired and happy doing the work of Innkeeping and running an inn.

I hope for today to be a relaxing day (quietly raining here in Maine as I write).

That's all for today! Hoping all my readers are happy and well.

Keith A. Neubert


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Essence of American Living...

Greetings, Blog Friends.

As an Innkeeper, guests often ask me which room at Inn at Long Lake is my favorite. I have a preference for more masculine rooms at the inn, such as The GLENN MILLER SUITE and The GABLE ROOM for my own personal tastes decor-wise, other rooms, inspired by icons of Classic Hollywood and American music, all hold a special place in my heart.

In 2007, one year after ownership, I re-named all the guest rooms at the inn and started the never-ending decor design based on the icons I selected. My last room named was a room that I named in was The COPLAND ROOM on Floor 2. With other rooms named after larger than life icons like Mae West, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong, who might actually be familiar with the brilliant American composer, Aaron Copland?

Tonight, as I tooled around online I encountered an amazing quote about Aaron Copland and his music: It read:

"Copland is a reminder of what is pure, wonderful, eternal, and majestic--about this American life. If only my life could be a fraction of this goodness embedded in this beautiful piece of music..."

I feel exactly the way this reviewer feels. I create my inn business, my life, and my home cooking around this credo---that simplicity has its own purity, and that the expression of this reminds us of simpler days--much like the movie that Aaron Copland scored for his friend, Thornton Wilder--"Our Town." Music is a part of the experience of Inn at Long Lake, and this said, I endeavor to open each day at the inn with the playing of this 11 minute 'eternal' music depicting life in a honorable New England town (in the play Wilder suggested Peterborough, New Hampshire as its setting).

Grovers Corners doesn't really exist. It exists in only one place---our hearts. It is about each day starting, making coffee for our spouses, sending kids off to school, discovering love, dealing with the inescapable experience of death. Many of these are the threads of simplicity that comprise our daily lives. Small touches of afternoon cookies (that I adore making each day in the inn kitchen) still brings a smile to guests' faces. Has simplicity become its own marketing niche?!

Whatever the answer, I adore what I do every day--as Innkeeping is all about simple touches.

I remember this each time I step into The Copland Room, with its Americana feel. I look down onto Long Lake and see this New England town--and its lake-- at any given moment of the day live through its day. Copland has set the music to this so eloquently. I hope you will have a chance to explore his music.

That's all on this cool Spring night overlooking the dark waters of Long Lake.

Keith A. Neubert

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Different Type of Brownie...

Hi, Blog Friends.

Everyone likes a little sweet treat after school (or a treat after a long day of work--now that we are all "grown up."). Try a different type of Brownie called a "Bamboozler."

I made a batch of Bamboozlers recently (an 8"x8"-inch pan). I found the recipe in a cookbook called "Best-Loved Chocolate Recipes" by Barnes and Noble Books (although some of the recipes contained therein I have seen on packages and labels from chocolate purveyors.)

Much like a brownie, which are best only slightly warm (but set up), Bamboozlers have cocoa powder, an egg and two egg whites (which make them lighter and less dense), a 1/4 cup of honey (only a small amount of brown sugar as additional sweetener), and can be topped with your whim-expressed toppings (peanuts, chocolate bits, mini marshmallows, etc). Frosting them thinly with a unique icing (ganache or buttercream style) would be interesting as well!

My guests at the inn that afternoon enjoyed these bars. Hope you can soon.

Back to the Spring yard clean-up and painting! Thanks for stopping by the Inn at Long Lake blog.

Keith A. Neubert


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Feel "Royal" with "Chicken Imperial"

(Pictured above: Home Cooks will not let the regal Chicken Imperial pass them by! Here it is accompanied with our Inn at Long Lake Cranberry Chutney and some simple sauteed Buttered Green Beans. A perfect meal any night of the week--and SO easy!"

Greetings from a chilly, raw rainy day in Western Maine, Blog Friends.

My last post was a short article about a winner of a certificate I donated to the local Chamber of Commerce. Even before I knew the guest was a press writer, I thought of you blog readers and took a picture of the main course I served that early evening.

We all know there exist many ways to prepare chicken. Without listing them to prove the point (haha), I have been curious about one way for some time---Chicken Imperial!

Chicken Imperial can be made so many ways with simple ingredients from your pantry. It made be made as a casserole (with or without rice or pasta) or served as an elegant whole breast (bone-out). I did a combination of all of them for my guests.

Simply (and you may find recipes on the internet): Dice (or slice) chicken breast meat. Season with S&P and saute in hot olive oil, turning with tongs. When 3/4 cooked, transfer to a paper-lined plate. Turn down heat in the same skillet, melt butter and add flour to make a roux (the butter melting will bring up the tasty browned chicken bits!). Next introduce part chicken stock and part warmed milk in stages (to prevent clumps). Bring to simmer, adding a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, pinch of nutmeg, a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a little Worcestershire sauce, a small "blop" (real scientific, huh) of Dijon mustard, and S&P.

When sauce has simmered for 3 minutes, return to warm skillet, add chicken, and heat through (make only enough sauce to coat liberally--it is not chicken chowder!).

At this point, add to a pre-sprayed casserole dish and top with buttered fresh bread crumbs (it is nice to toss strained garlic butter, without the garlic bits, to the crumbs with some paprika, and S&P. Garlic may burn in the crumbs as it is on top of the casserole!) Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.

Eat in the casserole or spatula-shingle the chicken and crumbs gently over rice or orzo pasta.

Chicken Imperial is one chicken dish that I won't let fade away from obscurity. Try this recipe and you'll be agreeing after the first bite!

Thanks for stopping by the Inn at Long Lake blog today. Spring is closer than we might think!

Keith A. Neubert


Monday, March 21, 2011

"Some Good Press is Always Nice"

Hello, Blog Friends.

This past week I received some nice press in The Bridgton News. I was unaware that the guest was a writer for the newspaper. That makes the kind words even more sweet. It reads:


"Last year, Jolene and I won a wonderful gift certificate at the Chinese auction...We won a four-course meal at the Inn at Long Lake in Naples for four people.

So last Sunday, Jolene and I dined at the inn...The place is spectacular. We had never been in before. Chef and Innkeeper Keith A. Neubert met us at the door and showed us to our table )we had the place to ourselves). I must say if you have never been to a swanky place, then here is where you can go. It puts you into a whole other world.

He place our napkins in our laps and was Johnny-on-the-spot with everything from soup to dessert. The food was expertly done, and Chef Keith made us feel ritzy. I must say the desset was to die for--bread pudding with whiskey sauce. It was the piece de resistance."

I am always grateful to receive lovely words like this, of course. I guess this is (in some way) proof that when you put your heart into your passion, it always comes back in good ways. Sometimes we do not readily see how "good" comes back to us, but, in this case, I certainly feel glad it did---and that their Sunday dinner together was everything I wanted it to be.

That's all from (getting warmer) Naples, Maine. Be well. Be happy.

Keith A. Neubert

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Am I Charlie Sheen with a Whisk?"

Hi, Blog Friends.

Tonight is confession night. Yes, now is the time that I come clean with you.

I'm a cookbook addict---a selective cookbook addict but a cookbook addict nonetheless. I have so many cookbooks and magazines. They make me happy. They comfort me. They inspire me to entertain my guests even more.

A recent chat with a lovely guest was eye-opening. She turned to me and revealed (in an oddly quiet tone) that she loves cookbooks and "had to stop" acquiring them. No yard sale, no retail bookstore, no Goodwill store, no attic of a deceased relative was off limits. She'd find it, bring it happily home, touch it, read it, and smile. Ahhh......finally.....I was not alone!

I did inquire and ask if there was a 12-step program for 'people like us'---also suggesting we maybe meet for cocktails before the group (hahaha). We laughed but I know others like us are out there. I don't spend a good amount of time wondering why the attachments to cookbooks feeds me. Rather, I rationalize it by knowing it is just a source of Joy and an integral part of my approach to innkeeping and providing hospitality. Here I say: Take that knowledge, get to the store, and make a new recipe in your kitchen! Travel the journey--for it is a journey--of any recipe without any extra baggage charges! (Your family and friends will gladly share in you being so brave--and maybe taste something new!)

Oh, and if you are looking for a stellar Devil's Food Cake recipe, check out the Ladies' Home Journal Cookbook (1960). It is delicious and interesting and easy to make! Yes, this book called out for $2.99 of my money at an antique store in local Oxford, Maine. Money well spent!

There.....I have come clean. Thank you for your support ;-).

Keith A. Neubert


Inn at Long Lake---Naples, Maine

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Start Your Engines!"

Greetings to All from Maine!

The weather is to be warm today (yes, a whole 38 degrees!). This means the snow piles will sink a bit and I can pull down the winter wreathes that adorn the inn's windows. I would have preferred to have gotten to them earlier, but it has been bitterly cold. Standing on a ladder in that type of weather, Winter wind whipping your frozen skin, is refreshing...but not made for outside work!

My assistant, Gail, is off this week and is at the Providence Flower Show. Having no reservations this upcoming weekend, I had planned on closing the inn and heading out of town (wasn't sure where!). And...I kid you not that as I was putting up the "We are closed until March 3rd" sign on the inn's front door, a lady was walking across the porch needing rooms for this weekend. A local had passed away and her family had to come for the services. It was one of those situations you just couldn't say "no." Anyway, plans dashed for the moment, I am glad there is business and keep forging ahead on the Innkeeper's List of Things to Do.

Tim & Jay came over last Sunday and we watched episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race on LOGO Tv.

Now, none of us are crossdressers (for the record) but how we do enjoy a few things about shows like this---the backstage, reality TV drama, the determination (and common insecurities) of the contestants, and, most importantly for me, the ability of each contestant to create variations on themselves (with different looks of drag artistry). Plus, there is plenty of RuPaul music throughout the show and that alone is fun!

This format can be seen on many television shows. Whether it is us watching Top Chef to stretch our own foodie knowledge and application, or The Amazing Race teaching us that within each of us is the potential for courage and adaptation, I think that we enjoy seeing others apply themselves---perhaps with the underlying need for us to improve ourselves.

How often we might chat about wanting to make a meal other than the "same ole'?" DO IT! A change may mean watching a different cooking show that you'd might never watch (I like "Spice Goddess"--the hostess is beautiful, encouraging, and uses interesting spices I might have never used regularly). What have you always wanted to LEARN how to make in the kitchen? How closer are you to actually doing it? Is it easier to watch others do it ALL the time?

Today is Recipe Day for me (and the aforementioned outdoor work). I use a program called MasterCook that is pretty good. I hope everyone has a great day (it can happen every day). Thanks for stopping by the Inn at Long Lake blog!

Your Innkeeper,

Keith A. Neubert

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Magical Moment in Maine!

Hi, Foodie Friends near and far!

This past Saturday was a buzz at the inn! While the inn was not full in any regard, the guests that were here were so nice.

The Winter Carnival brought some up to the Western Maine area. From the inn's vantage point looking down onto the lake, snowmobilers cascaded effortlessly across the frozen surface. Crowds watched and cheered on their friends and family members. It was nice to see that always.

I took a break from the inn kitchen, went out to the front Great Room windows, and was shocked to see what I thought was a horse out in the road. As I went out the inn's front door for a better look, I realized it was a MOOSE! I smiled and quickly went in to get my camera. I returned to the front porch and said from the landing: "Moose, get off the road. Go back into the woods now." It looked at me for a moment, turned, and walked into the woods across from the inn.

No one was here that afternoon to share it with me in contrast to the evening to come, which was just a fun, homey night in from the cold. I was glad I saw the moose. It reminds me of the special moments made only in Maine.

Speaking of magic moments, a batch of gooey Whole Wheat-Chocolate Chip cookies are coming out of the oven as I finish this post. Thanks for reading---and for stopping by the inn!

Keith A. Neubert


Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Test of Time-Products from the 1920s

(Pictured above: JB Sabin, my friend and photographer, captures me pondering the making of Snickerdoodles for my guests. Check out his--and his sister Teresa's--amazing work on )

Greetings, Foodie Friends!

Maine experienced what the New England newscasters called a "Super Storm" (like many other states) these last few days. For some reason, the inn telephone was never so busy! Guests have been booking for Summer and Fall already. When this happens, I get even more excited about the upcoming year.Bold

I finally found an amazing article in a 1999 Bon Appetit magazine. The entire issue looked back at the last century in food. The individual articles expressed the social and global forces that defined what we ate during each decade. Sidebars in the articles reported which food products came on new to the grocery market.

Here is a list of products that were new to our palettes in the 1920s:

Baby Ruth (1920), Oh Henry! (1920), Milky Way (1923), Popsicles (1924), Hostess Cakes (1927), Kool-Aid (1927), Peter Pan peanut butter (1928), Rice Krispies (1928), Valveeta processed cheese (1928), Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink (1923) and Wheaties cereal (1924).

Through generations these products have remained on our grocery store shelves. I thought you'd find this interesting. I did.

Until next time,

Keith A. Neubert, Innkeeper-Chef

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cocktail Know-How: Grenadine

Hello, Blog Friends.

Grenadine syrup is a popular flavoring used when making many of the classic cocktails in American cocktail culture. Many of us may know this red, sweet syrup from our days of sipping the Shirley Temple (gingerale drizzled with grenadine and stuffed with cherries and oranges). Didn't we feel so "grown up" when one came to our restaurant table.

Grenadine syrup is made from the juice of red currants and pomegranates, not cherry juice (although in some pinches maraschino cherry juice might work!). In most beverages a scant 1/2 ounce is enough to pack a punch without overpowering.

Some cocktails this syrup is used in are: the Bacardi Cocktail, Tequila Sunrise, the Singapore Sling, and the Ward 8 (a grenadine laced whiskey sour). Being a syrup, grenadine adds a pink/red color to the beverage and sweetness.

My favorite brand of grenadine is Giroux. It is so much a favorite that if I am in the mood for, say, a Bacardi Cocktail I ask the bartender which brand of grenadine syrup they pour. Anything else...I change my drink order immediately. I've been mixing cocktails with Giroux since 1986, when I first started bartending at a family restaurant in New Hampshire. It may be found at most grocery stores next to the mixers, margarita salt, and bottled lime juice. A small bottle should last you a season of libation enjoyment (if not longer!).

I know of no cooking uses for grenadine syrup (at this time). I do hope, however, you might stock this (if you have young children around for family gatherings, it would be thoughtful).

I am roasting a chicken in the kitchen as I write and the smell is intoxicating. Until next time...

Keith A. Neubert


Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Variety 58 a la You"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

The recent snowstorms in Maine and the Northeast have kept this innkeeper busy. Rain fell on top of the 8 inches of snow we had recently and shoveling it was my cardio---for the week!

It's funny...I think about how much being an innkeeper brings out in me sometimes. Every innkeeper has to be a convivial host/ess. Every innkeeper has to have an eye for detail, be perceptive, be a good business person. Many innkeepers must be good cooks, as well (I write about this neverending journey herein). The facility projects in this inn (a large 7,700 sqaure foot home--the largest I have ever owned!) and maintenance, including shoveling, bring out what I

lovingly call my "hearty, stalwart New Englander" personality component.

Things like snow happen. You manage them. (You might even enjoy it in the process). You move forward. I guess maybe innkeepers are "mindful"---being in the moment, be it stirring muffins, chatting and learning from guests, or be thinking "I want everything to be in its place for them" before their guests even arrive. Hospitality even with all its "less glamorous" moments is an amazing challenge. But..."it's great work if you can get it." (didn't Gershwin write that?)

Anyhow...over the holidays I had some guests that had read this blog prior to arriving at the inn. At our first breakfast Evelyn and Ken handed me a wrapped gift. It was a lovely book called "Recipes from Home" by David Page and Barbara Shinn (pictured above). I thanked them for their kind gesture and while they were out exploring Western Maine (or napping--they really needed to escape their career for a few days) I baked cookies for them and flipped through the pages of this engaging cookbook.

"Home" apparently is a restaurant in New York City. It evolved from a need in the neighborhood for good home cooking. The authors/owners of the restaurant provide us with their delicious take on the classics. I blinked when I flipped through to find a recipe for ketchup. Yes, the "lowly" condiment (my Creole friend, Denise, in New Orleans refers to ketchup as being New England's 3rd spice---hahaha! She's such a "stitch!"). The authors explain they do not buy ketchup in their restaurant--they make their own!

It struck me a little happy to see how they made it with tomatoes, paprika, garlic, allspice, etc. Wow, I thought! How reliant are we on such basic condiments! Think of all the variations one could make and serve by knowing the basic components--and then adapting them to make them their own. You can have your own Variety No. 58! Yes, folks, from this book came not only a great array of recipes--but the happy creative inspiration that makes us want to investigate food further, to explore where no other foodie has gone (this is starting to sound more like Star Trek! Hahaha.)

The truth is: we rely too much on convenience items. Yes, they are convenient and, in most cases, part of our habit/past, but we've evolved a bit. We've learned as cooks that homemade tastes better, and that it is better for you. We also learned that sometimes it is the simple mindfulness in cooking that keeps us tied to our heritage as Americans. Why then, have we become a society of "lid pullers?" "Nuke this, rehydrate that, order this..."--it is us, my foodie friends, that will change the way we feed ourselves and our families, perhaps our culture.
We love to cook and play and entertain and learn. We can impact and teach others with our knowledge. (Our families reap the benefits of our work and passion of food, too!) This book prompted these feelings. I hope you can check it out.

Back to the inn on this chilly Maine evening. The lights on Long Lake are glimmering white reflections on the dark water. It is a still evening and a good night to sit down with a blankie and open a cookbook or two. Be well.

Keith A. Neubert


Inn at Long Lake

Naples---18 degrees

Monday, January 10, 2011

Holiday Fun and Deals....

(Pictured above: The Neubert Women (and Lord knows behind all good men are good women!) L to R: Marina, Nancy (my sister-in-law), Brandy, and, of course, Elaine (my Mom).
Holiday get-together in Atkinson, New Hampshire).
Hello to all!
After the holidays, many stores have sales on holiday-related decor and food items. Now is the time for big savings on things like candied fruit (red and green cherries, candied orange peel, etc.), sprinkles, pumpkin puree, and fresh cranberries (these freeze well), and many more baking items.
At a recent trip to the grocery store, I found items 50 percent off or more!
If you are an avid baker--or plan on being one for next year's gatherings, hit the stores as soon as you can. Stock those pantries for any of this Winter's parties for which you may need to cook or bake!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Happy New Year to All!

Greetings, Blog Friends.

A dear friend reminded me that I hadn't written for quite some time. The holidays were quite busy for many of us. Between all the entertaining and being entertained, this is the time of year the inn needs to gear up for the year ahead.

This quieter time of year still brings guests to the doors of Inn at Long Lake. The inn always has had an intimate feel about it---I hope this is an indication my hosting abilities, of course! So... whether it is 1 couple staying for the night (being in a large inn alone must have its strange, wondrous vibe!) or a full inn (a vibrant buzz, for sure!), I endeavor to create a peaceful, personalized scene for all.

After all the parties that I experienced, it struck my heart tender to know how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends. Many of them are "mentors" to me. I appreciate the love they put into their gatherings---a prized recipe, a warm hug upon welcome, decor that chimes the conviviality of the season, or the tasteful music they played that was woven through the laughter and conversation.

I hope that you all were able to experience the playfulness of giving and receiving, the magic of solemn peace that exists in the light of a single Christmas candle, and that you learned that all dreams are made new in this glorious time of year.

And, so, my friends, it is here that 2011 begins....a year of possibilities that begins with a passionate feeling in your heart. Let it out. See where it can fly!

Naples, Maine---15 degrees. Brrrrrrrrr! ;-)

Keith A. Neubert