Friday, November 27, 2009


In the world of bed and breakfasts, pancakes are a way of life.
The "living is easy" in the words of the old song with our version of Sweet Potato Pancakes. They are just fantastic and not hard to make! Try
'em Christmas morning and watch the day begin beautifully.

Sweet Potato Pancakes:
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.

2 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
5 T white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. grated cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. all spice

In another bowl: Wet ingredients.

3 cups buttermilk
2 T. butter melted
3 large eggs separate yolks from white. Reserve whites for later.
4 T. Honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large Sweet potato roasted and cooled. Peel it and mash it and mix with these ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones mixing only until combined. Beat the egg whites stiff and fold in to the entire mixture. Batter should stand for one hour.

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.

Heat an appropriate sized skillet to the number of pancakes you need to make each time over medium heat. Drop batter by the ladleful onto the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side.

Approx. 5 servings. Serve warm with butter, syrup or warm honey.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, November 26, 2009


According to Webster Thanksgiving is "a public celebration in acknowlegement of divine favor." Basically though, it is the act of giving thanks.

The very act of giving thanks is both extremely personal and varied. I spend much of my time these days in a nursing home. My Mom has been ill for more than seven years now. Before I was visiting the skilled nursing home in which she currently resides, I was visiting an Assisted Living Facility. I am rapidly approaching 58 years old and no longer consider myself a kid but spending time with the "considerably older" among us gives one a different perspective on Thanksgiving.
These visits provide me with daily opportunity to discern the important things in life.
I will list but a few things that while they may not be on your "hit parade" for circumstances for which you customarily give thanks...Perhaps they should be.

1. Today, I know my name, the names of my friends, acquaintances and family and my place in our world is clear.

2. Today, though I may not really want to go to work I am capable of doing that work well.

3. Today, if I have to go to the bathroom, I just stand up, walk myself into the bathroom and do what comes naturally. I can also feed myself and decide if I want a sandwich, cereal, or nothing.

4. Today I will lie down in my own bed, in my own place of residence and gently fall off to sleep in the surety that my world and my place in that world are safe and protected.

5. Today, though the day at work may have been brutal, my head hurts and my feet do too, my contribution to the world, small or large was made. I feel my presence made a difference. Today, I have not been entirely forgotten by the world, deemed completely irrelevant,ignored and left lonely.

Today can change for anyone. It holds no promise of tomorrow or what circumstances might be part of the landscape of that tomorrow. It can change in a second.

Be thankful to those who have given you life and shared their very best with you. If their lives are no longer what they were, they are still lives. Value that and spend a moment thanking them for the gift. Without it, you wouldn't even be here.

Patti and Gary Wiles

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recipes /Thanksgiving

I will begin by telling you that I am "a life long opener of Ocean Spray cans." Since my Mother "passed the torch" of creating the Thanksgiving Feast to me, which was nearly 27 years ago, most of those years rather than make the cranberry sauce I let Ocean Spray do that job for me.
The following recipe made me a believer. Ok, it is slightly more difficult than opening the can but not much and the results are magnificent! Be brave, take heart and make the plunge.

Cranberry Sauce At Cumberland Falls:

1 bag of fresh cranberries washed
1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp. orange zest

Wash cranberries thoroughly. Place in a saucepan large enough to accommodate stirring and the addition of all ingredients. Boil this for approximately 10-12 minutes or until berries pop.
If you like nuts, add pecans but it is wonderful either way. Cool. Refrigerate and will taste wonderful for use on sandwiches or with the Thanksgiving Dinner. Bon Appetit!

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway-Part Two

Now that you have the backstory of the Blue Ridge Parkway- It's time for "the facts, M'am, just the facts."

1. It is 470.2 miles form the southern end of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Oconaluftee area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina.
2. 253.7 miles of the parkway are in North Carolina.
3. The turnpike goes though 27 counties. NC: 17 Virginia: 12
4. 81,689 miles of federal land. NC: 46,961 Virginia: 34,719
5. Highest point of the parkway: NC: Richland Balsam N. of Sylva, NC
6. Hiking Trails: 350 miles.
7. Tunnels: 26
8. Bridges: 151
9. Paved Overlooks for scenic viewing: 275
10. Vistors Centers: 14
11. Annual Visitation in 1941: 895,874
12. Annual Visitation in 2008: 16.3 Million
13. Dollars invested in local economy by visitors in 2007: 350 Million
14. Estimated cost of parkway construction in 1935: 16.6 Million
15. Actual Cost of parkway construction 1935-1987: 130 Million
16. Annual economic impact of parkway: 2.3 Billion
17. Completion time in Years: 52

These are facts but real live stories live behind them. Many people were instrumental in the routing, land procurement, lobbying for and construction of our Blue Ridge Parkway. The economic impact of the parkway is as evident as the beauty rising from it's meandering roads. It a gift of monumental proportions.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway

Historically speaking, Asheville owes a great debt and much of it's identity to 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway that provide our fortunate residents and guests a "view of God's country." Much of the reason Western North Carolina was chosen came as a direct result of R. Getty Browning, chief locating engineer with the N.C. Highway Commission.

Getty, an avid outdoorsman from Western Maryland saw in the Western North Carolina countryside a glimpse of his home and it claimed his heart It is said that he actually tracked much of the territory of the parkway and brought these personal experiences of his journey to bear in his attempts to fire up the federal officials to choose this location for the parkway project. In his absolute belief that the path through Asheville was the more scenic, beautiful route he concentrated on that pitch in his discussions with Ickes, then Secretary of the Interior, rather than the tourism theme. He didn't stop there and in the following years he was actively involved in acquiring the land for the new national park. Browning Knob, which can be seen from the parkway as it meanders through Waynesville, was named in his honor. Regretfully, he did not live long enough to see the parkway's completion in 1987 but he was confident that his long held dream would come to pass.

As we near the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway it is important to remember that its current location was not always inevitable. The federal government had made the decision to build a scenic road to bring connection to two national parks that had recently been created but the route itself was of secondary importance. The federal government was using funds for infrastructure projects in an effort to combat the fautering economy during the Great Depression.
Hard lobbying of the chamber of commerce, Citizen Times newspaper, state highway officials & well connected politicians all joined forces to bring this parkway to Asheville. Hard work, effort, passion and vision paid off in November of 1934 when Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, adopted North Carolina's route, completely bypassing Tennessee.

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Monday, November 9, 2009

Asheville Jobs At B&B's

Asheville is a bedrock Bed and Breakfast community. One can find the Queen Anne, the Arts and Crafts and the Victorian style is well represented as well. One thing they all have in common is the need for competent workers.

Jobs in a bed and breakfast run the gamut from housekeeping to cook to concierge/Asst. Innkeeper and all call for a different skill set. While there are variables regarding duties, there are basic tenets that remain the same.
Competition is in full play in Asheville. There are many properties vying for each guest. Excellence is required.
Also, most B&B's are small businesses, not Fortune 500 companies and require that each person employed is capable of performing a variety of functions and wearing many hats. Inability to do that or lack of flexibility in this regard will result in loss of hours.

In the ten years we have owned this business we have noted some behaviors that would serve a person well in this industry:

1. Ability to listen. Sounds easy but really requires not only hearing what is said in the training but the ability to hear it, remember it and put it into play in daily duties.
2. Observation skills. Again, sounds trite. Observation is a verb and it really is. One not only needs to see how things are done, transactions of both monetary and personal encounters but one needs to be able to understand the need to repeat them effectively. For example, guests come in all types. Some guests really wish to be housed only, directing their own schedule and enjoying time with each other and some would enjoy further interaction with owners or personnel at the inn. It requires observation to see which of these each guest is and deliver that need in spades. In training there is much to be gleaned by the intelligent employee in observing what your employer does, how they handle certain situations. The ability to evaluate each situation independently keeping at the forefront the observations of what has gone before makes learning a compounded event.  In so doing you are able to begin building a knowledge base for the handling of future events.
3. If any subject is a recurrent theme in training it would be a safe assumption that this is important. This is sacrosanct. For example if the words discussing such things as fire and water are repeated often in your training- it is because both of these occurrences can have extremely serious, very expensive, even potentially fatal consequences if they are not handled carefully. There is absolutely nothing, not even guest interaction, which can supersede that import. Our guests are the most important element of this business so it follows that anything that could put them in personal jeopardy (fire), or completely wreck their stay (water) is impactful .
Handle those things accordingly. Failure to turn off an oven because you were in a hurry to leave or leaving the burner on under the coffee pot or a door open is not only poor employee performance it is jeopardizing visitors to the inn.
Further, a lack of attention by employees to these matters creates in an employer a lack of trust in their judgment skills. Fatal for further advancement.
4. Attention to detail. One cannot make positive impact on anything they are incapable of noticing. Think about what the environment is saying to the guest. Make it a positive message. Think model home circumstances and environment as a good example. Clearly the intention of anyone, innkeeper or otherwise, in hiring a position is to be able to have some off time. If the knowledge that when they leave the job in employee hands their operation will be seriously compromised becomes ingrained, it does not create leisure time but worry time. It totally eradicates the purpose of the hire. Become indispensable; it creates job security and a desire to retain you as a valuable team member.

5. Discretion. Guests demand it and hence innkeepers must as well. Asheville is a small city. No guests would enjoy being at a lovely lunch only to hear from two tables away that they left their room in a mess with clothing all over the floor as the housekeeper at the inn tells her friends of her day. One would do well in knowing that anything that happens at the inn, training, finances, guest information is proprietary and is not to be discussed outside the inn.  Make believe it's Vegas!
6. Loyalty. "There are no secrets to success. Don't waste your time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work, and persistence."

Colin Powell

It's a job that requires a service mentality.  It requires skill, caring, excellence and a desire to do a good job.  It requires thoughtful contemplation, an ability to survey the environment both physical and psychological and adapt to what is there today. It requires you bring your head, your well thought out plan, your carefulness and best efforts to work every day or it is better to stay home.


Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hot Chocolate Mix in Asheville North Carolina

Falls is an awesome time of year and evokes memories of walking in the leaves and hearing them crunch under your feet, the smell of fireplaces as the curl of smoke winds up the chimney, apples, pumpkin pie and of course, hot chocolate.  At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn we consistently note that as the thermometer goes down the consumption of hot chocolate goes up.  There is that delicious feeling of the cup between your palms offering its warmth to your cold fingers ,the steam of the cup caressing your nose as you hold it....Not to outdone by the warmth of the enticing concoction as it travels to your tummy.  The entire experience is noteworthy. Why they even write songs about it. 

We have polled our guests to ascertain what they feel is the most important aspect of the experience.  What separates the average cup of Hot chocolate from the heavenly one is a subject of debate as complex as the families that grew these debaters.  In all food choices one equates their own familial experience with "excellence" and to be swayed to another camp a betrayal of our gene pool.  
Our responses have been varied.   Some say that a cup of hot chocolate made with skim milk while easier on the fat quotient is not worth the ride. Purists of this divine drink would rather poke out their eye than use a mix no matter how who's upscale brand it is. 
There is a large clan that speaks to the utilization of actual chocolate however even they vary on whether semi-sweet or unsweetened with sugar added is the correct ticket. To further separate the pack, there are very strong feelings regarding the addition of vanilla as opposed to cinnamon.  One woman mentioned adding egg.  Does the addition of coffee granules abort the mission of hot chocolate construction or enhance it? Would the consummate cup of hot chocolate be topped with whipped cream or marshmallows?

Potato's /Pototoes

Game on!  Here's At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Star Recipe! 
At Cumberland Falls Hot Chocolate Surprise:  Makes 4 servings

1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 or less cup sugar (to taste)
5 ozs. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chopped
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 small good quality chocolate pieces

In a small saucepan pour in the milk, cream and 1/8 cup of white fine sugar.   Simmer the milk gently.  Do not boil.  Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.  Taste for sugar and add as much more of the 1/4 cup as you feel right for individual taste.  Right before serving add a dollop of whipped cream and place the small bit of chocolate right in the center.  It is nothing short of divine.

P.S. Should you wish to have 2 cups or engage in this feast routinely as opposed to a special treat, one could go to lower fat milk and light cream. 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Farms in Asheville, N.C.

Asheville is a progressive stronghold and as such a big player in the "slow food movement", sustainable agriculture & foodtopian events of all kinds.
Just this year 38 WNC Farms and Gardens were part of the 2009 Family Farm Tour  The farms are located in Buncombe and five other counties in Western North Carolina.  This area is perfect for agriculture of all kinds.  We have century old family farms, urban farms, organic farms, bison, llama  too.  Herb and flower gardens as well were part of this tour.  Many folks understand our food comes from farms but have never been offered the opportunity to see them up close observing the basics of the operation or seeing the product a particular farm is providing.  That was not the only opportunity though....the participants of the tour were able to purchase fruits, vegetables, cheese, meats, eggs, herbs, honey and more.  It was awesome, educational and provided an opportunity for full exposure to offer a much more thorough understanding of the lives farmers have, their schedules, food from it's origin to source of sale & the family table.
Baby llamas, lambs and bunnies of all genus were on display too not to mention a real live display of how their yarns and fibers can be used to create items of unparalleled and unique textile beauty.

We purchased some of these items for re-sale at our inn  not only as wonderful & experiental offerings for our guests but as a means of bringing guest consciousness to the process. Their purchases of the angora socks and the eating of locally made goat cheese became fodder for some discussions that I know we would never have had otherwise.  Discussion about family, farming traditions, food we eat, growing cycles. The influences of climate and rainfall on that process, chemicals, trade irregularities which disable our own farmers from using pesticides with known problems while at the same time allowing imported produce exposed to those same chemicals.  Worthwhile discussions I am sure in a world paralyzed with Kate plus 8.  How refreshing!
I leave you with an opportunity to learn more just in case Jon and Kate become too much for you!

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls

Monday, November 2, 2009

Asheville Wedding

I am noticing a new trend in weddings lately.  We have owned Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast  for more than 10 years. We began doing weddings at the inn our first year in business. Now, you would have to know how funny it was that we even engaged in the business of weddings.  Though my husband and I will be married 39 years this December 24, we did not exactly have a wedding.  We began our union while standing before a minister in a small church in South Carolina with no attendants, no maid-of-honor and no best man.  We were not "of age" to marry in Florida, so we eloped to a state with more relaxed age requirements.  So, to say my wedding experience was minimal would be  accurate. 
In the early days of weddings at our inn pomp and circumstance abounded.  50 plus guests, attendants, flowers galore, food plated & varied & hot and cold running service folk to keep it all together.  Coupling the aforementioned with what is hopefully a once in a lifetime experience in tandem with expensive photographers, live music or d.j's in action and music made for dancing created a form of restrained chaos.  Blissful chaos, but chaos nonetheless!

The economy began a significant downturn  not actually discussed out loud about until 2007. All of us actually knew this much sooner; especially those of us in business.  Cumberland Falls was still providing weddings but the subtext began to alter. There was a decided shift as the couples began to move more toward meaning and less toward expense, more substance and less glitterati, more involvement in the writing of their vows and less with the menu. The focus shifted entirely until it was much more couple centric.  There is something very real and hopeful about a lone couple standing before a minister or officiate with only each other.  It called to mind that verse in the bible "forsaking all others" because at the end of the day, long after the flowers have been admired and forgotten and the music has stopped playing and the tired dancers retreat for rest, it is the couple that moves forward into their lives. 

Patti and Gary Wiles
Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls