Sunday, February 22, 2015

Erie Playhouse Debut for Innkeeper

I've gotten some observations from guests recently, that they haven't seen me around...probably because I'm mostly in the kitchen over the weekend, doing the cooking.  What you may not know is that my other passion (besides cooking and the bed and breakfast) is the theater.

Not only going and seeing live theater...but being part of it.

So, over the past three months I have been involved in three different productions, in North East and in Erie.  Most recently in Erie, at the Erie Playhouse in their production of Addams Family.



Yup, that's me on the left, playing 102 year old Grandma Addams.  Don't worry, I still come home and make breakfast...and will be back to being just a full time innkeeper in a couple of weekends!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Friday, February 20, 2015

Growing Mushrooms!

You all probably already know that we make our own bacon, and that our veggies in season come from a CSA.

We also got our Thanksgiving turkey from a local farm, and grow a lot of our own herbs.

Our newest venture is...growing our own mushrooms!  Intrepid Assistant Innkeeper Paul Roehl helped me (once I ordered the spawn, then promptly felt completely overwhelmed).  After reading an article from one of my favorite blogs (A Way to Garden) about growing mushrooms, I decided to give it a try.

I did a bit of research and purchased some spawn (I know, it sounds like it comes from a horror movie) of three different types of mushrooms --Oyster, red brick, and mitaki--from Smugtown Mushrooms.  Why there?  Well, they aren't very far away--Rochester NY, so I thought the climate would be about the same.

Each type of mushrooms grows best in a certain type of wood.  Here's where Paul came in.

You had to pick the type of wood the mushroom grows in best, then drill holes for the spawn.




Insert the spawn in the holes,
then plug them up with wax.



And wait 6 - 9 months (just like a baby)!   We will see how they do over the winter!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Monday, January 26, 2015

Healthy Doughnuts?

 Like everyone else, I ended up post-holiday with a few extra pounds.  You know--Christmas cookies (yikes how I love those Kolackies!), parties, yummy cocktails (oh my, New Year's Eve with those Cranberry Cosmos and Dark and Stormies)...but I digress.  So the resolution always ends up being...cook more healthy stuff.

Here at the Bed and Breakfast, it's hard for me--because I'm creating yummy special breakfasts for the guests, and don't want them to feel like they are on my health quest.  So my challenge is to sneak in something a bit more healthy while still meeting the "yum" factor.

So...doughnuts!  Doughnuts, you say?  Fried blobs of sugary sweetness?  No! BAKED doughnuts.  Yes, there is a little bit of special equipment.   I pulled my doughnut pans out of the basement...I got them a few years ago at my favorite baking site, King Arthur Flour.  Nonstick, 6 doughnuts per pan.

Don't want to get special equipment?  No worry, all the recipes I have seen work just fine as muffins, but...then they aren't doughnuts, are they?

So the batter is quick and easy to put together, it cooks in less than 20 minutes, and taste light and yummy!  I've tried two kinds so far, Pumpkin Doughnuts, and Maple Glazed Spice Doughnuts.  I think that the spices in both are paramount to creating the flavor profile.

Here is the recipe for the Pumpkin Doughnuts, again from King Arthur...but tweaked a bit to amp up the spices.  Oh, and another hint...if you don't want to make them all one day..the batter will actually keep in the fridge for a couple of days..so you have several days of warm doughnuts!  I would save it for an after skiing or sledding snack with warm cider...or a snow day, in front of the fire...

Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

1/2 C vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 C pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4C +2T all purpose flour

Coating
6T spiced sugar (6T sugar with 1tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp allspice)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 2 standard doughnut pans with nonstick spray. (or set up a dozen muffin tins)
2. Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt and baking powder until smooth.
3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
4. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full.  The easiest way is to put batter in a ziplock bag, and snip off the corner, and swirl the dough around.
5. Bake the doughnuts for 15 - 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes, then pop them out of the pans.
6. While still warm, put the spiced sugar in a bag and shake them gently until covered. (For muffins, just sprinkle the tops).

Enjoy!

(These are with a maple glaze...maple syrup with confectioners sugar!)



Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Snowy Days at Grape Arbor

 Winter has finally arrived!  After a December without much snow, and even a sort of rainy Christmas, we have snow on the ground!   What does that mean around here?  For me, it means cross country skiing!   And I have been out three times in the last week.

My favorite spot is Wilderness Lodge about a 20 minute drive away from the Inn.  They have many acres of groomed trails, ski rentals if you don't have them already.  I love going out and spending a couple of hours in the woods...without seeing a single other person.  Last week, you could hear the trees creaking in the cold.
And then I come back to the Inn, have a few cookies and a cup of tea or some warm cider...perfect!  Of course, Peek 'n Peak Resort is also about 20 minutes away, with downhill skiing, tubing and other fun things...

The other thing that cold weather and snow means to the region is Ice Wine!  Many of our local wineries make several kinds of ice wine.  It has been a tricky year, because of early cold weather then warm snaps. This Johnson Estates video shows a recent harvesting of frozen grapes for wine.

Who hates winter?   Not me!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making Homemade Bagels

What else do you do when the decorating is done?  For the past several years I have always wanted to try making my own bagels.  But I was afraid...I love bagels, lived in New York for a while, and so I have definite ideas about what a bagel should and should not taste like.  Texture, chewiness..all very important.  And I knew you had to boil them, because I remember seeing the pots in my favorite bagel place in Squirrel Hill (outside of Pittsburgh).

So, I finally took the plunge (sorry about that).  Paul, my trusty assistant made some bagels a month ago, and let me taste one.  And I had a real hankering ever since then.  I have always trusted the recipes at King Arthur Flour..so I pulled up the recipe for Water Bagels and stepped into unchartered territory.

The dough was surprisingly easy!  I actually made it in my bread machine, then divided and formed it into those iconic shapes.  That was fun...you make it into a ball, stick your finger through it and twirl it around...I probably should have made a video!

Here is the dough rising:


 Then, you put the raised bagels into simmering water that has non diastatic malt powder and sugar in it:


 THEN:

You bake them, and this is how they look!
They were SOOOO yummy still warm, and really good even after!

Fear conquered!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast