Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Here are my top 10 favorite posts for Innside Story 2008 ...
1) Featured Inn: The Grandview Bed & Breakfast
“It is not just opening a door,
or standing when someone is being seated.
Being a true gentleman, truly chivalrous,
is more than any one act or deed.
It is a way of life based on consideration.”
In continuing my quest to be a backyard tourist, I packed my overnight bag and makeup case and rode down to a meandering driveway only four blocks away from my home ... but a world away. With a large wrap around porch enveloping the main house, swaying palm trees and a windmill cottage the Grandview Bed & Breakfast is a classic small Southern estate. Read More ...
2) Inn The Kitchen: Making Pumpkin Bread
I luuuuv to bake. And I'm not a chef at all (like other Innkeepers) but I can bake up a storm. Must be my sweet tooth calling. I think subconsciously I burn dinner just so that I can skip straight to dessert. I'll have to learn how to develop my savory side. Anyway, this week, I took Christopher's Inn Pumpkin Bread recipe and had a go at it in my kitchen. Take a look below for some hints, tips and photographic evidence of my first Inn The Kitchen experiment. Read More ...
3) Inn The Kitchen: Making Tourtiere
I recently posted a recipe for Tourtiere, a French-Canadian meat pie recipe that my Grandmother makes around the holidays. I invited her over to my home so we could have a little family time in my kitchen while she helped me create a visual to the recipe. I learned a couple more tips and also some things to do differently next time. Read More ...
4) Last Minute Holiday Kiss
So ... your dog ate the dessert ... or perhaps while carrying a bunch of packages, food, etc. your holiday party dish ended up face down in the driveway. Don't despair! Here's a QUICK and easy recipe idea for you that only involves 3 ingredients that you can buy at any 24 hour large-chain pharmacy or convenience store. Read More ...
5) Going Green Saving Blue
So, what does it take to "go green?" While a lot of things that are labeled "green" or "organic" have inflated prices, there are many things you can do that still save you some green in your wallet as well. It is possible to conserve and save on your electric and water without spending a fortune. Read More ...
6) Featured Inn: Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast
Sometimes, when you are traveling, you just want to have the comforts of home. A soft bed, a hot shower, a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile. A place where you can let your hair down, kick off your shoes, relax and just be yourself. That’s what you’ll find at the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast. Read More ...
7) Confessions of a Wino
How did your wine journey begin? Mine started in college with a fruity, fizzy, wine "cooler" that actually had no wine in it at all. But I thought I was cool. I then graduated to a Blue Nun Riesling. (That makes me wince and grit my teeth just thinking about it.) I tried to impress a boy in my class by telling him my favorite wine was a "Riesling." Yeah. He was a wine rep. Not cool. But what did my young inexperienced pallet know? Read More ...
8) The Grandview Hotel
Ever wonder what it was like 100 years ago? People were certainly not worried about the price of gas since the main form of transportation was by horse or train. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Sugar was 4 cents a pound. Coffee was 14 cents a pound. And the cost to spend a night at an Inn in Mount Dora was $2.50 if you wanted a bath. Read More ...
9) Featured Inn: The Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast
How am I ever going to keep my trim girlish figure while getting to know all the local Innkeepers and tasting their breakfast specialties! I LOVE it! I guess I'll just have to jog more. This past weekend we were invited to Sunday Brunch at the Heron Cay Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian gem with Island-style that sits on a hillside overlooking Lake Dora. Read More ...
10) Back Pain & Bourbon
Innkeepers are always looking for a reason to celebrate. That's just the entertainer in us. Every week we all get together to clank wine glasses, break bread, make sure everyone has heads in beds, and exchange funny stories of our hospitality experiences and our Guest-zillas. Yes, I said guest-zillas. Anyone that works in some sort of Customer Service roll knows exactly what I'm talking about. But I won't be sharing those stories today. Read More ...
See you next year!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The menu includes:
Appetizer: Tomato Basil Risotto
Entree: Filet Mignon topped with a wild mushroom ragout
Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Volcano's with raspberry coulee
Anyway, here's a link to a video I made for the Mount Dora Historic Inn: Click Here To See Video
Also, there is a fabulous recipe I found on PW for what to do with left over sweets and cookies. (In case you have any of those.) I know that sweets don't last long enough in our household to make leftovers out of them.
Does anyone have any good January-first-stick-to-your-resolutions diet plan they can recommend? Just checking.
Hope you enjoy the video ...
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
1) a bag of square pretzels
2) a bag of Hershey Kisses,
3) a bag of red & green peanut M&Ms (or other hard candy)
The hardest part of this whole recipe will be unwrapping the Hershey kisses ... and not eating them along the way ...
Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the inside of a cookie sheet. Then, place your square pretzels in a row with the Hershey Kiss on top. I used the dark chocolate kisses.
Next, bake at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. This is just long enough to soften the chocolate without melting it into a blob. Let them cool for one minute, and then press your M&M's in the middle of each kiss. The only holiday M&M's that were left at my local grocer were the almond kind. A little big. So, I also used some other red & green candy I found.
After pressing in all the M&Ms ... cool in your refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened. I put some trivets down on a shelf and just placed the entire cookie sheet of treats in the refrigerator. Don't try to pick them up until they're completely cooled. Trust me. You'll get a thumb full of scalding hot chocolate. After about 30 minutes, they'll be ready to go! Enjoy!
Tremain Street Cottages
Monday, December 22, 2008
Someone had made some chocolate raspberry dessert bars awhile back that were just yummy. I liked the idea of the red raspberry adding a holidayish color to a simple dessert. So I googled "chocolate raspberry crumb bars" and printed a few recipes to take back to my kitchen to experiment with.
Everything that is good in the world.
Guess I'll just have to sample a few while I'm baking.
You'll notice all my photos have a certain "dark" quality to them. Yeah. That's what I get for baking at night and depending on the lights from the Christmas tree in my living room.
I now know the true meaning of splatter.
Like my cartoon-dog shaped chocolate blob? The next step in the recipe called for spreading the gooey chocolate mixture "over a hot crust." This is why I disagree ...
Ever worked with hot melted chocolate before? It's sticky! And it was messing up the crust! Here's a recipe modification ... let crust cool and THEN add the chocolate. At least it's a "crumb" bar, so a few crust nibbles on the top will blend in.
After making what looks like a chocolate pizza ... I added the toppings by mixing a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans with the remaining crumb mixture and sprinkling that on top. Then I dolloped on spoonfuls of raspberry jam and popped it into the oven at 350 for 35 minutes. The raspberry jam popped and danced all over the place. Thought it was kind of cool (or at least it was last night) so I experimented with a little point-and-shoot video below.
After letting it cool overnight in the refrigerator, this is what I woke up to in the morning ...
For the complete recipe, click here: Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars
2 Sticks of Butter (softened to room temperature)
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt (1/4 tsp)
2 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 ounce)
1 Cup Seedless Raspberry Jam
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13x9 baking pan. (I used parchment paper and doubled the recipe for a cookie sheet)
2) Beat butter until creamy. Then add in flour, sugar and salt until you have a crumb mixture. Set aside 3/4 cup of crumb mixture for topping.
3) Powder up your hands and fingers with flour (to prevent sticking) then press crumb mixture into bottom of your prepared baking pan.
4) Bake crumb crust for 10 to 12 minutes.
5) While crust is baking, mix 1 Cup of chocolate morsels and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth and then spread over a COOLED room-temperature crust.
6) Combine chopped nuts with remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over chocolate topping. Sprinkle on remaining chocolate morsels and then dollop spoonfuls of raspberry jam.
7) Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.
8) Cool on a wire rack, cut and then serve!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Holiday favorites from Betty at Magnolia Inn ...
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree
3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? After Thanksgiving, then "Down when Brown!"
4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog
5. Favorite gift received as a child? Sled
7. Favorite Christmas Movie? Tis A Wonderful Life
8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey
9. Favorite Christmas song? Anything by Elvis (I wonder if Betty & Gary know their shared love for Elvis at Christmas?)
10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas Morning
12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? White Lights
Thursday, December 18, 2008
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
More holiday favorites from Ana at the Mount Dora Historic Inn...
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? WRAPPING PAPER
2. Real tree or Artificial? REAL TREE…LOVE THE FRAGRANCE…MAKES YOU FEEL CHRISTMAS IN YOUR SOUL.
3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? HMMM…WHENEVER WE ARE READY.
4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? DEFINITELY HOT CHOCOLATE WITH HOMEMADE WHIP CREAM ON TOP AND GODIVA CHOCOLATE SHAVINGS.
5. Favorite gift received as a child? HULA DANCE LESSONS
6. Mail or email Christmas cards? EMAIL…MOST EFFICIENT AND PRACTICAL WAY TO REACH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
7. Favorite Christmas Movie? MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT.
8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? JIM’S TUSCAN TURKEY, OR, HIS FILIPINO CRISPY PATA (LECHON)
9. Favorite Christmas song? ONE DAY AT CHRISTMAS…JACKSON FIVE VERSION (REMEMBER THEM?)
10. Angel on the tree top or a star? STAR
11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? CHRISTMAS EVE…JUST JIM, OUR BABIES (NIKKO & BRIE, OUR YELLOW LABRADORS & ECHO, OUR TUXEDO CAT) AND ME.
12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? WELL, ONE YEAR I’LL GO TRADITIONAL WITH RED, GREEN, AND GOLD, AND ANOTHER YEAR I’LL GO VITORIAN WITH PASTEL PINKS, BLUES AND WHITES.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Hopefully next year we'll be able to enjoy the progressive holiday wine tasting featuring local restaurateurs, tour Mount Dora's festively-adorned inns, and enjoy the spirit of the holidays.
Until then, The Mount Dora Lodging Association would like to thank everyone who contributed their time and talent in planning for this unrealized event. A big thank you to the following ...
The Wine Den
The Cellars at Maggie's Attic
Wine Cellars of Mount Dora
5th Avenue Café
One Flight Up
Saucy Spoon Catering
Carolers from the First Presbyterian Church
Mount Dora Trolley
Euro Donnelly Footwear
Instead of Flowers
Capillo Salon & Spa
The Painter's Daughter
Dr. Mike Baker
Carol & Jane
Award Winning Magnolia Inn
The Captain's Inn
Coconut Cottage Inn
Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast
Grandview Bed & Breakfast
Heron Cay Lakeview Bed & Breakfast
Mount Dora Historic Inn
Mount Dora Cottages
Tremain Street Cottages
I've re-posted the Feature Story for the Farnsworth House below ..
Sometimes, when you are traveling, you just want to have the comforts of home. A soft bed, a hot shower, a warm cup of tea and a friendly smile. A place where you can let your hair down, kick off your shoes, relax and just be yourself. That’s what you’ll find at the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast. A late 1800’s farm-style home tucked away on one and a half acres in the quiet side of Mount Dora. A meandering driveway lures you into a step back in time with mature oaks, green gardens and a camphor tree over 200 years old. If trees could talk, this one would probably have many stories to tell. The Farnsworth House is surrounded by history, but with the modern comforts of a hot tub, screened-in gazebo, and plenty of outdoor seating to get lost in book … or a nap.
After a corporate career and an artist’s life in Miami, this was just the escape that Innkeepers Vivian & Bob were looking for. While spending nights and weekends fixing up the home with their tender loving care, Vivian and Bob named her like a captain would name his ship. Abigail. And she’s quite a beauty for her ripe old age of 122. Originally the Farnsworth family home, the estate became a boarding house in the 1920’s. On the front porch you can still find the multiple door bells and mail slots from the era. The home is decorated with period antiques and some of the Innkeeper’s original artwork. When I asked Vivian and Bob what their favorite part was about Innkeeping, she answered,
“We really enjoy spending time with our guests, just sitting around the dining room table talking and laughing over breakfast and coffee. It’s our favorite part. It’s amazing the connections you find and the people you meet.”
Breakfast at the Farnsworth House is a belly-filling feast. I joined Vivian, Bob and their guests during the Bike Festival to partake in the morning festivities. We started with fresh fruit and homemade crumb cakes. I have quite a sweet tooth, so I love dessert first! I begged Vivian to let me post the recipe, but she says you have to come stay with her to taste it. Next, Bob served their Leander Pancake Wraps with Vermont maple syrup and breakfast steaks. This has all the goodness of breakfast wrapped up into one. Eggs, potatoes, cheese, and pancakes. A little sweet and a little salty.
The most unique thing that Vivian is known for is her juice mixes. We all played a little guessing game before she would reveal her secret ingredients. Our juice cocktail blend contained cranberry, orange, lime, pineapple and blueberry. Vivian’s watermelon cooler was such a popular treat that over the years she inadvertently started a collection of watermelon themed gifts.
If you're looking for a home away from home, a peaceful escape, and a scrumptious breakfast ... then the Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast is the place to be.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Here are some more holiday favorites from John at the Adora Inn ...
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags unless wrapping is a must.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree
3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? two weeks before and one week after
4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog
5. Favorite gift received as a child? a yellow bike with a big black banana seat
7. Favorite Christmas Movie? The very first version of Scrooge
8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Two things...if we have an Italian Christmas Eve dinner its the seafood soup, if its an American one it would be the honey baked ham and ham sandwiches the following day.
9. Favorite Christmas song? "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" by Nat King Cole
10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star
11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Both
John & Arthur
His sense of humor really shines through his answers!
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Trash bags.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real.
3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? July 26th through August 16th.
4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate.
5. Favorite gift received as a child? The gift of speech.
6. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Mail.
7. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Godfather
8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pine cones, library paste, and stuffing.
9. Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night
10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star
11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning.
12. Favorite ornament theme or color(s)? Elvis.
panther quick and leather tough.
Friday, December 12, 2008
With only 12 days until Christmas ... we've got 12 fun holiday questions for you to get to know your Innkeepers. The first is from Rachelle at Tremain Street Cottages.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I've been trying to do some creative eco-gift wrap including using scarves, maps, and the comic section of the newspaper. Gift bags are great for re-using.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real Tree. No storage. Great mulch after the holidays.
3. When do you put up the tree and when do you take it down? The Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's become a fun trip down memory lane as our ornaments are a collection we've grown through all our our travels and big life events. Everything from my 5-year-old thumb print reindeer to a handmade ornament from Sorrento, Italy. We take it down the weekend after New Years.
4. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Mmm ... both. Depends on my mood.
5. Favorite gift received as a child? The most memorable was a white jean jacket with gold embroidery. I coveted that jacket in the store window for 2 months. I actually still have it in my closet as a "memento." You never know ... a lot of things come back in style eventually (wink).
7. Favorite Christmas Movie? White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I still cry at the end. Something about people being nice and doing something thoughtful for another. Seems rare these days.
8. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Sugar cookies ... with hot coffee or cocoa to dip them in. And my Grandmother's Tourtiere
9. Favorite Christmas song? Winter Wonderland, Rockin Around The Christmas Tree
10. Angel on the tree top or a star? Blinking Star
11. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning: We used to stay up all night Christmas Eve watching holiday movies and then open gifts at midnight. Christmast morning we'd have a great big breakfast and then go visit family.
12. Favorite ornament theme or color? Traditional Red & Green.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I wish I had some little elves to help me along with all of these festive preparations. I even had to do a little unexpected home re-decorating. Or maybe I should call it re-organizing. We went out and picked a live tree this year (more later on the eco-friendliness of this choice), but when we brought it home and cut the twine ... it seem to have exploded. Yes, exploded. Pine needles everywhere. We thought it was going to be a "small" tree because of it's height, but it is actually so fat and fluffy it takes up half of our small little cottage living room. Ha! At least it puts me in the holiday spirit because it makes me giggle every time I have to side step around it to get through the house.
Now, about the eco-friendly tree thing. Real tree or fake tree? At first glance, you would think the mantra for eco-enthusiasts would be to save the trees. However, most artificial trees are made with PVC, are not biodegradable or recyclable and usually end up in the garbage. Real Christmas trees are grown with the very purpose of being enjoyed for the holidays and then the crops replanted. After the holidays, it can be recycled, mulched or just thrown away as it is 100% biodegradable. There are even some trees you can purchase (roots and all) and plant in January. I even heard on the radio that there is a rent-a-tree where they re-plant them later. Check out the National Christmas Tree Association website for more interesting and fun facts.