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