Archive for February, 2012

Can you have too much coffee in your life?

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

There is more to do with this divine substance besides sipping it, curled up with the newspaper and a dog.  (Although, isn’t that the perfect morning!? )  This week, I am offering a coffee syrup, unsweetened,  followed by some things to do with it.  This syrup will keep in the fridge and is a luscious alternative to any recipe that lists “dissolve instant espresso powder into hot water”.  I find it indispensable on long trips, where your coffee options may be slim to none at 2a.m.  Just add it to hot water, which even the worst of fast food joints will have. 

Coffee Syrup

1 lb. finely ground coffee beans of your choice

1 qt. water

Pour water over ground beans and let sit 24 hours at room temperature.  Strain off grounds and refrigerate syrup.

Kahlua

Pour into small decorative bottles and give as “hostess” gifts.

1 and ¾ cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 and 1/3 tablespoons coffee syrup

2 cups good (preferably 100 proof) vodka

Heat sugar and water till sugar dissolves.  Combine rest of ingredients and let sit at cool room temp about 2 weeks before serving.

Tiramisu Trifle

10 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 beautiful, golden eggs, separated

¼ cup superfine sugar

8-12 ladyfingers, halved (or pound cake cubed)

approximately 2/3 cup freshly made, strong black coffee

Beat the mascarpone with the egg yolks until smooth.  Beat the whites until stiff, then beat in sugar a spoonful at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy.  Fold this into the cheese mix. 

Dip the ladyfingers or pound cake in the coffee until well soaked, then arrange in the bottom of a round serving dish, or individual ramekins.  Cover with the cheese mix and chill for at least 6 hours, or preferable overnight.  Sift some cocoa powder over top before serving.

Brave New World

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

What a business changer the Internet has been for us (and other B&Bs)! When we started our first B&B in Milwaukee in 1996, we had neither cell phone nor web site. We were deathly afraid of leaving the house for fear of missing a call and thus losing a reservation. The only advertising we did was in printed guidebooks whose information tended to be totally outdated by the time the book was printed.

Things have certainly changed in 16 years. We now routinely take reservations on the cell phone while food shopping at Harris Teeter. The online reservation system on our web site routinely takes reservations while we sleep. All in all, the Internet and new technology have made our lives easier and allowed for a bit more relaxation and recreation, resulting in more contented innkeepers.

Now, we are noticing a new trend which may or may not be as positive. People are now sharing and RATING their experiences online – the restaurant they ate at, the boat tour they took, the lawn mower they bought, and yes, the B&B they stayed at. This can be a very useful source of info to the next diner, explorer, mower buyer or inn guest. But there are pitfalls for both the service user (you, our esteemed guests) and the service provider (us) to keep in mind.

For one thing, how do you know that the information you read on the web is reliable? How do you know that the horrible  review wasn’t placed there by a disgruntled employee or the glowing review wasn’t posted by the owner’s mother? On the other hand, the pitfall for us is to avoid focusing all our attention on squeezing out that glowing review and getting it posted far and wide in the ether, at the expense of focusing on providing truly gracious service to our guests.

That said, we hope you scope out your next vacation experience using some of the many Internet review sites but, as the mapmakers say, also do a little “ground truthing.” For our part, we ignore the review sites at our own risk but we’re going to focus first and foremost on you.