At The Inn

Making Bread and Memories of Dad

Posted by on Mar 16, 2019 in At The Inn | 2 comments

My dad passed when he was forty-eight.  Granted he wasn’t as old as my grandparents, but it seemed like a reasonable age.  Now that I am sixty-five, I have a slightly different perspective.  We shared a number of similar traits.  Both went into the sciences and ended up in art later in life.  Both made lists.  I still have the list my dad wrote out for me when I was buying my first car, essential items that needed to be in the trunk at all times.  Our work ethics were similar.  He gave me two screwdrivers, a hammer and a pair of pliers when I left for college.  I was the only person out of sixty-five on my dorm floor who had tools of any kind.  This fact led to a number of life-long friendships.  We both loved gardening, although I didn’t realize it pulling weeds as a kid.

I don’t ever remember Dad cooking, but he made several kinds of wine, and he made bread on Sunday mornings.  My bedroom was right above the kitchen.  I swear, when he started to knead the dough, the pounding would rattle my old wooden bed frame.  Although my first job was at a bakery and I love baking here at the B&B, I have never made a lot of yeast bread.  Several years ago, one loaf won a ribbon for us at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair- a Feta Rosemary French Bread, but any bread since has been either quick breads or rolls, or scones.

Timing the First Rise of 3 breads

On Fridays during Lent we do a meatless meal at church after services, and bread always factors into it.  I decided to give it a go and signed up for a Friday in March and one in April.  Made four different kinds today.  Went into it with my lists.  One list  was the time frame of where each recipe had to be in terms of mixing, rising, kneading again, rising again and baking for each one to have its own oven and be done by 1:30PM.  I was fifteen minutes late starting at 7:15AM, had a few phone calls in between and surprisingly, still managed to have the last one out of the oven by 1:23PM. 

From the left, rustic country bread, raisen oatmeal, molasses cornmeal and cranberry walnut
From the left, Rustic Country Bread, Raisin Oatmeal, Anadama Bread and Cranberry Walnut

The first loaf was a simple country rustic bread that required almost no kneading.  Only used ¼ teaspoon of yeast and some beer but can take anywhere from 8 to 18 hours to rise the first time.  That extended resting period is called autolyse.   The second was an oatmeal-raisin bread.  The third was a molasses and some cornmeal Anadama bread, a New England Classic, and the fourth was a cranberry-walnut loaf.

They look decent enough, and if they are lacking, I certainly can’t blame America’s Test Kitchen.  All the recipes came out of their phenomenal Bread Illustrated book.  Just wish Paul Hollwood or Mary Berry were here to poke at them and let me know if the crumb was correct, over or under proofed and baked etc., etc., etc.   Oh well, it was fun. I don’t think they will kill anyone tonight, and I had some quality time with Dad. cheers, mizkathleen @Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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A Breakfast for Champions, Vegan that Is!

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in At The Inn, Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Breakfast for Champions, Vegan that Is!

Vegan Stir Fry with Quinoa & Brown Rice and Black Chia Seeds

Vegan Stir Fry with Quinoa and Brown Rice and Black Chia Seeds

One Version of a Vegan Salad

One Version of a Vegan Salad

There is nothing “senior” about geriatric doctor and vegan, Kai, who visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this spring for four days of serious hiking. Perhaps he noted a hint of anxiety in my voice after I asked my standard question upon a guest reserving a room, “Do you have any food allergies or dislikes?” He responded he was a vegan. The first morning after breakfast he said, “Now that wasn’t so hard was it?” I laughed.

I have had a number of vegans over the years and certainly a lot of vegetarians, gluten free, lactose intolerant guests and just about every diet under the sun. One guest was on an elimination diet and by the time she stayed with me she was up to 23 food items she could combine! We managed and it was fun. For me anyway, not so sure how thrilled she was being in it for the long haul. I think every three days she could add one more food item.

So let’s talk food. It’s 50% of the title bed and breakfast. Why do folks come here? I think actually for the scenery more than the bed, and the breakfast of course, so maybe we should be called Gracehill’s Sunrise and Breakfast… Hmm. When I opened 17 years ago I started keeping track of what I served guests and tried to never repeat a menu any time they visited. The first time that became problematic was one Thanksgiving when four repeat guests were here for their 16-20 days and another couple was pushing 40 some combined days. After working on menus for two hours I finally called them and asked for one favorite dish I had made in the past

Vegan Homemade Granola with Dried Fruit served and Almond Milk with a Fresh Fruit Plate with Fruit

Vegan Homemade Granola with Dried Fruit and Almond Milk served with a Fresh Fruit Plate

for each of them. Was still able to come up with four new entrees over a four day period that none of the six of them had eaten before. One, Pumpkin Pancakes, went on to win second place in an international breakfast recipe contest.

Kai urged me to take photos of the dishes I prepared for him. Being in need of a geriatric doctor myself, I’m glad I did. Helps to remember what I made plus I can email photos to a future vegan guest and ask them what appeals to them. Two of my favorite magazines are Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country. I ordered their (America’s Test Kitchen) “Vegan for Everybody,” “Gluten-Free Cookbook,” and “Bread Illustrated” this morning. I’m looking forward to adding a few vegan and gluten free recipes to my morning repertoire. Bon Appetit!

Vegan Oatmeal with Almond Milk

Vegan Oatmeal with Almond Milk

PS Here is the recipe for the Granola pictured on the left.  I like mine plain with pecans.  My mother takes hers with Craisins and dried apricots.  I keep the dried fruit in a separate container and she throws a handful on top when the granola is in her cereal bowl.  I think it keeps the granola crunchier and we can eat it endless ways.  Everyone in your household could have a different bowl or bag of dried fruit they can add at their pleasure.

mizkathleen @ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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The Twelve Days of Christmas

Posted by on Dec 6, 2015 in At The Inn | Comments Off on The Twelve Days of Christmas

Holidays and baking are two words that have been inseparable since our Townsend, TN Bed and Breakfast near Gatlinburg, opened 15 years ago this Thanksgiving.  Each year, with one or two exceptions, all my Christmas gifts are goodies I have baked. Normally I complete this by Thanksgiving and deliver my tins or baskets from Thanksgiving through December. This year I was sick the latter part of November, and I didn’t finish the “selection process” until late last night. Picture me looking like Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream.  As of yesterday, I considered backing off a little with the variety to give myself a break, but then I began thinking about some of the cookies from my childhood that we hadn’t baked in 30 years, and we always try a couple of new recipes. At that point I’m thinking the 12 days of (Xmas) baking, one thing a day, until I added everything up this morning and realized I had picked out 22 different recipes.

My Favorite, Toffee

My Favorite, Toffee

On the list: one carrot cake (Louise’s finest recipe from Sweetberries B&B), blue ribbon muffins for Pete, Ginny’s mint brownies, apricot bars (which no Xmas would be complete), choc chip bars from my childhood, several loaves of apricot walnut and cranberry pecan breads, both blue ribbon winners at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center’s Blue Ribbon County Fair, Jan Whitt’s toffee, my all-time favorite sweet, Cheerio mix, John Wessell’s popcorn mix called Country Cottage and 12 double batches of cookies.

Cookie Tray from 2013, six great recipes, and other new recipes that didn't make the cut to 2014!

Cookie Tray from 2013, six great recipes, and other new recipes that didn’t make the cut to 2014!

Of the cookies, six have made the list here for the last decade, two are from my childhood, (why has it been 30 years since I made almond crescents??) and four are new recipes. Of the four new ones, one is a potato chip cookie recipe from a cookbook I have. Reminded me of cookies when I was a kid. I thought maybe Great Aunt Margaret on the Janke side, but my mom just said she thought it was my Aunt Stephanie’s recipe on her side of the family. Good reason to give her a call and compare recipes!

The recipe I have in hand calls for 3/4 C ground up potato chips that you always find in the bottom of the bag. This morning for breakfast I made myself a lovely grilled cheese on sunflower bread, dill pickle and I opened that bag of chips that has been sitting on the shelf. So the laugh of the day? It contains the most perfectly formed chips, large and nary a one broken.  What’s a girl to do? Maybe I’ll accidentally drop the bag in the next couple of days and then I won’t feel bad about breaking some up for the recipe…

My mom was never the cookies and milk after school type of mom, but I have to give her credit, she baked up a storm before Christmas. She’d run out of tins and start filling the turkey roaster and the soup pots. Most were double and triple batches. She said she wanted at least a few of each kind to put out on Christmas when the relatives came, and that was about all that was left as we Janke kids had sticky fingers for weeks before the main event.  Or maybe is was only mizkathleen who had the sticky fingers.  I spent some real quality time in the dark pantries of my various childhood homes.

I could run a contest to see who comes closest to guessing the total amount of butter used for the aforementioned recipes.  Or, I might just pop a cookie and go and take a nap.  I hope this month finds you all smiling with friends, family and the “reason for the season…” mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Award Winning View- taken with a cell phone no less!

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in At The Inn | Comments Off on Award Winning View- taken with a cell phone no less!

After 14 years of taking just about every conceivable photo at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast, guests still surprise me. It puts a smile on my face to see how different people see my home in a way I never thought of.  The photos are by Daniel Ray of his wife Paulette, staying for some needed R&R. Later that evening, he recorded a frog doing his thing croaking, and then played it back to the poor little guy who just went bananas. Said frog will probably need long term therapy….. 

Whole new meaning to "catching the rays." Taken by Daniel Ray of his wife Paulette.

Gives a whole new meaning to “catching the rays.” Taken by Daniel Ray of his wife Paulette.

Paulette, admittedly cold natured, warming her hands.  Photo by Daniel Ray.

Paulette, self admittedly cold natured, warming her hands. Photo by Daniel Ray.

Paulette, taken by Daniel Ray at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

Paulette, taken by Daniel Ray at Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Egg Recall Doesn’t Affect the Crazy Eyed Girl or Gracehill B&B!

Posted by on Aug 30, 2010 in At The Inn | Comments Off on Egg Recall Doesn’t Affect the Crazy Eyed Girl or Gracehill B&B!

Americaunas or the Crazy Eyed Girl!

Americaunas or the Crazy Eyed Girl!

When Are Eggs a Work of Art?

When Are Eggs a Work of Art?

Or Just Food, or Just Work?  Jake Molina starting young...

Or Just Food, or Just Work? Jake Molina starting young...

When is food less about what we put in our mouths and more about a work of art?  In a third world country there is no doubt about the answer, but here in the States, for some people, the answer is harder to discern.  It’s not only how we present our food, but increasingly, where we buy it and where they bought it!  (Think egg recall…) My mom, one of the world’s best cooks, can take a pot off the stove and plunk it on the table.  God bless her, she did it for three meals a day for 25 years, and I am proof that we never went hungry.  I, on the other hand, think first about what flowers I can pick from the garden, what china they go with, then what food would look good on that china!  I’m glad I have the luxury of being able to think that way.

As the world becomes more and more aware of the origins of our food, I’m happy to say at age 11, Jake Molina, the nephew of my friend and Gracehill Wizard Extraordinaire, Julie, has started raising chickens.  We are the grateful recipients of the product thereof!  Jake’s mom Dawn says, “I don’t know if ours could be called free range chickens because they are not always free to range. We have lots of coyotes and neighborhood dogs that want to eat them. They have their big  yard to roam and scratch in, but we only let them range when we are outside. They definitely could be called cage free though!”  Beside the Americaunas, Jake also has Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Reds, Silver Laced Wyandottes and Golden Comets.  They hope to get some Black Copper Marans that are prized by French chefs. Ooh la la!  (Americanized version.  My sister the French major says they would say, Oh la la la!)

In little ways, with our herb garden, veggies, and fruit we pick locally, we are trying to bring fresher food to the table.  You all know my love affair with blueberries. I’m lucky the three couples who checked in a few days ago for four nights liked them also. I made a new recipe, Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast in a 9X13 pan which I posted on my recipe page with a photo.  This year we’ve put about a 100# in the freezer, but will continue using fresh for another couple of weeks. In the past two weeks, my five attempts to make a decent blueberry cobbler have been dismal.  It’s nice that I have wonderful friends, who tell me otherwise, but alas, they are lying through their teeth, and I am moving on to try other things…  blessings, mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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Long Snowy Winter, Long Hot Summer, and Lightning Strikes Again

Posted by on Aug 22, 2010 in At The Inn | Comments Off on Long Snowy Winter, Long Hot Summer, and Lightning Strikes Again

Rear Patio Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

Rear Patio Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

It’s been a heck of a year; the worst winter we have experienced since building Gracehill and the hottest, driest summer on record since… who knows, it keeps going further back with each week that passes.  Our elevation gives us a little relief with temps 5 to 10 degrees cooler than what is happening in Townsend, Gatlinburg, or Knoxville plus the usual breezes.  The dry weather has also made the zinnias look especially beautiful because we aren’t fighting powdery mildew this year, but the Peegee hydrangea bushes are not as lush as in years past, and we lost the marigolds.  It’s a trade off.  I’d rather fight the mildew than haul buckets of water.  We should have hauled more often for the marigolds…

I bought a Flip Video Camera, and it took three months to get it out of the box.  You know me with anything electronic. 🙁  Click on the link for a video taken in the backyard of the dozens of butterflies that are hanging around.  Don’t be concerned that I have developed palsy; I just need to get the hang of this moving camera business!

Since the main topic here is the weather, I’ve come up with a lovely excuse for not blogging more frequently this year.  We were struck by lightning on Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  It was a direct hit, and as bad as it was with all our electronic low voltage systems, we are extremely grateful the house didn’t catch on fire.  Guests were coming up the hill 20 minutes after the fire trucks rolled down.  Our guests were amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch of people.  That weekend TV’s were out and they had to use my laptop with the Verizon air card to check emails, but other than that, guest services were not really affected.  It has taken me three months to get everything else replaced like the intercom, doorbells, phones, TV’s, alarm system, satellites, my computer, electronics for our water system, motors on a couple of the whirlpool tubs, etc…

I have been a little more regular with my posts on Twitter (theinnkeeper) or Facebook (Gracehill Bed and Breakfast) and our bi-monthly newsletter.  You can sign up for any of these on the home page of our website.  Blessings, mizkathleen@ Gracehill Bed and Breakfast

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