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!).

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Keith A. Neubert

Innkeeper-Chef, The Inn at Long Lake