Monday, November 29, 2010

The Real Cost of Somene Not "Touching your Junk"

Recently there appears to be what could be considered a "customer revolt" response within the flying public regarding the scanners and also body pat downs recently enacted by the TSA. I find this completely amazing.

We live in a time when women will be seen out in next to nothing and grown men will walk around in pants that are so low that one need no longer pose the age old query,"boxers or briefs?" They don't need to ask because pants are worn so low that a false move of any kind could result in a complete reveal.

The other day, I was driving behind a Mom in traffic who was responsible for transporting her teenage child to, I assume, a friends house. She pulls up to the curb in front of the friend's house and the teen leaps out of the car and Voila!...His pants fall completely down to his ankles. Fortunately youth is agile and speedy and in in this young man's case, also likely very embarrassed and with all this going for him the pants were restored to the rightful place (ok, maybe not) nearly seamlessly.
He bee bopped into the friends house missing nary a beat. I was lost in the revelry of that moment for a brief time remembering the "taxi" days of being a Mom before we moved here and purchased our inn.

I brought this occasion back front and center to my mind when on the nightly news they were rehashing a statement made by a perspective passenger to airline employee during a security body pat down stating if said employee "touched his junk" he was going to be arrested. Come on now. We watch things on the television that are completely over the top from any standpoint of evaluation, we, as a society, are not what could be termed particularly modest in dress nor prudish in behavior and now in a matter of public safety we are going to start threatening airline workers just trying to do their job with being arrested if during a procedure designed to avoid a disaster their is a brief and thoroughly non intimate, no sexual breach of a body part.

I wonder if the mothers, fathers, children, wives, husbands and loved ones of the 243 passengers, 16 crew members and the 11 people on the ground that were annihilated as that plane exploded wish someone had discovered, by whatever means possible, the instrument of their death taken on that plane before it killed them. I rather think they do. So to to the gentleman in such concern about "his junk" and those worried about the body scanner, I have a suggestion. Rather than worry about the trivia we all know is associated with air travel in 2010 and moving forward be very grateful that do to the efforts of many your flight will likely be without incident...Save a bit of potential insult to your JUNK. Grow up. These irritating airport employees with their scans and their security pat downs will hopefully help provide you enough time to do that.

Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Dessert-Spicy Pumpkin Cake

Ok, Ok, I know everyone thinks that there is supposed to be Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Dessert-Spicy Pumpkin Cake will blow your socks off. Aside from this, I now have data to support since buying our Asheville Bed and Breakfast that more than a few people do not like Pumpkin Pie.
This can be prepped two days before Thanksgiving to assist in preserving your Thanksgiving sanity. We all need that.

Spicy Pumpkin Cake Heat oven to 350 degrees Bake in Bundt Pan
Grease with butter and flour. Shake off excess. 1

1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
5 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin. Not pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup molasses

In a bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar for about 3 mins. until nice and fluffy.
Next, with eggs at room temperature beat in one at a time. Add pumpkin puree, milk and molasses. (mix may look curdled, it's fine)
Add the dry mix slowly to the butter mixture mixing only enough to combine. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into buttered pan baking at 350 degrees. May reduce temp just a bit if top is getting too brown and cake not done.
Bake between 55-65 minutes taking care to watch the top for getting too brown too fast.
Do not try to take out of pan immediately. Cool on rack for at least 30 mins. before inverting to cool completely.

Serve with Creme Fraiche:

1 cup whipping cream
2 T. Buttermilk

Combine both ingredients in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temp (not above 70 degrees) for 8-24 hours until thickened. Stir well and refrigerate. Can be used for up to 10 days.

Bon Appetit! Other recipes can be found at our Asheville North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inn Recipe Page.

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Monday, November 22, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Every once in a while an innkeeper has time to take in an afternoon movie and I have been anxiously waiting for my afternoon to see Waiting for Superman. After organizing the day for our guests here At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn, getting their directions printed and sending them on their way to explore Asheville..... off we went.

Waiting for Superman was an intriquing title for me. My family used to say similar things like, "waiting for the calvary." This was a phrase turned when the person involved felt they had rendered their best efforts on a mission or task and despite their best efforts they felt the need for reinforcements or back up. My Nana, always the stalwart, would chime in nearly every time that sentence was uttered with her own stock answer, "Get with it, you are your own calvary." In Waiting for Superman, director, Davis Guggenheim, examines the complete and utter failure that is being served up as education for our country's youth. This documentary is stark and examines in a thought provoking, no nonsense manner that defies you to look away from the screen.

It explains, in real costs, the failure of our educational system and how that feeds in to additional costs in exportation of jobs directly affecting our unemployment figures, America's standing as a world power and finally- the costs incurred by the incarceration of our failures.
It explores the cause and effect of this systemic educational failure to our children and the reasons behind these failures; some of which I am sure will shock you.

Come to find out, success in education is much more attainable, predictable and measureable than one would imagine as well as being much less expensive than its failure. Go to to find out more about a subject affecting us all.

The next time you have a few hours off, drop in at your local theater and watch Waiting for Superman. I hope somewhere out there in the vast wilderness there really is a calvary my Nana didn't know. It would seem at this point, if there really isn't one we are destined to continue to see our educational system beat out by many of the nations of the world and America's finest days may well be behind her.

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Has Multi Cultural Society completely Failed?

It would seem that German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has decided that her country is an example of an attempt to create a multicultural society that has complete failed. In fact, she stated that "this approach has failed, totally" stating her view that immigrants should learn German and adopt Christian values. She further stated, "We feel tied to Christian values. those who don't accept them don't have a place here."

She evidently is echoing the views of some of her countryman; one third of them in fact who feel their country is being "overrun by foreigners" and also of the mind that when jobs are short for Germans needing employment foreigners should be sent home.

There are 2.5 million strong in the Turkish community of Germany. Even the Turkish President Abdullah Gul in tandem with Chancellor Merkel lent his voice to the idea that the Turks living in Germany should master the language of their adopted country. His statement was a clear admonition,"When one doesn't speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn't serve anyone, neither person concerned, the country, nor the society."

Some feel the assimilation of language is a small thing. I disagree. Language is the means by which communication occurs. It is also perceived as an investment in the country you are residing in. A buy in if you will.

Perhaps much could be discussed, differences ironed out, points of view offered up for discussion and debate. Points won and points offered. Kindnesses extended, friendships forged, understandings reached with the words in place to build the bridge if only the words mirroring the hearts could be said, understood and conveyed to all equally. Could it be that if the discussion of a topic as sensitive as God, who that is and the relationship each of us enjoys with the diety could be discussed we would find that there is much more that joins us than separates us. In that understanding we could all benefit. All of us would be winners. If this discussion is hampered by language barriers, or worse yet, never happens at all it will cost all of us dearly. I fear the price will be to high to pay.

We bought our Bed and Breakfast in June of 1999. Slightly over 2 years later- the twin towers came down as a result of an act of terror claiming the lives of so many. I don't know if any discussion, understanding or knowledge gained in sharing could have prevented that but I do know that unless there is an effort on the part of all of us for tolerance of all kinds of things that are not our core beliefs we are destined to chaos. As preciously as some of us hold on to our Christian beliefs and have them as the very cornerstone of all we are we cannot fail to appreciate that others feel the same way.

Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potato, Po-Tot-o... Let's NOT call the whole Thanksgiving thing off

If you ask person responsible for household cleanliness, man or woman alike if there is a specific job they would rather be beat than do-- I assure you there would be a fast answer. That sentiment is mine in regards to Potato-Po-Tot-O...Let's not call the whole Thanksgiving thing off.... but always I would have taken any volunteer raising their hand to avoid having to do this task myself. I really enjoy mashed potatoes. I don't mind peeling the potato or cutting them or boiling their little pieces to perfection. So, you ask, what's my problem with the deal?
Frankly it was the time in which I was trying to get this accomplished. Before my Mom gave me the glorious tip I am going to share with you this day, I felt very rushed & pressured by the potato prep.
In the cooking of Thanksgiving, there are a lot of elements that can effectively be done ahead of time minimizing the complete frenzy at the end. There are also things that really cannot be done ahead. Gravy is one of those items if you use the turkey drippings from the bird. Some families pre-cook the turkey and serve cold but we never did that. So, while concurrently trying to make heavenly gravy, get the veggies and bread finished off, tend to the last minute table tweaks making it lovely, etc. it always made me feel pressured to have to be also trying to muck about in pursuit of the perfectly fluffy potato.

So now I am going to not only provide a wonderful potato prep but also give you my Mom's tip for being able to get this done up to an hour or a bit more before the appointed dinner hour while still being able to provide results tasting like you just finished the task.

At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Perfect Mashed Potato

4 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (I don't always do this and sometimes make unpeeled-dirty potatoes- but for Thanksgiving, I peel them.) Cut them up into similar sized pieces otherwise the cooking is uneven. 2-3" pieces are good.

2 garlic cloves peeled & minced. This amount of garlic will only provide excellent flavor and likely your guests will not even know there is garlic in the recipe

1 1/3 cups of milk (warm this but do not allow to boil) As consistency of potato is an individual preference and would also be altered if you used say, Idaho potato rather than Yukon Gold, add milk a little at a time. You can add more, you can't take it out once poured in.

6T of unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Use a pot large enough for the potatoes or use two pots. Don't overcrowd. Put minced garlic into water and then potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes or till fork tender. Drain the water and return to pot. The heat of the hot pot should remove any water left on potatoes. Move the potatoes around a bit in the pot to encourage this. Heat both the milk and the butter. When butter is melted in milk, set aside.
Find a heat resistant bowl that will allow for adequate mixing space. Pour potatoes in bowel and using your mixer beat the potatoes just a bit. As they begin to break down add your milk/butter mix and whip.
Whip until potatoes look just like you want. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mom's tip:
Find a pot in your kitchen that will work with the bowl you have chosen as a double boiler. In other words it can be set on top of the pot(as though it is the second pot of the double boiler) but is large enough not to fall into the pot. Do this before you boil the water or all you will steam is your hands while trying to fit the bowl over the pot. You only need enough temperature under the pot to create steam; not a rapid boil. You will fill the pot with water sufficient to be able to provide you all the time you need, fit your bowl snugly at the top of this pan and cover the top of the potato bowl with tin foil. Your potatoes will be perfect an hour or even 1 1/2 hours later leaving you free to finish up the other really last minute tasks of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turn off the stove a bit before you actually try and take the bowl from the top of the pot so you don't burn your hands on the steam. Use potholders as this bowl is hot. All you have to do now is spoon your perfect mashed potatoes in the serving bowl of your choice.

Now, some folks will tell you that you can accomplish the same thing by doing the potatoes ahead of time and using the microwave. I totally can tell a microwaved mashed potato and think it entirely changes the texture of what would otherwise be Perfect Mashed Potatoes. You try it and let me know what you think.

Happy Thanksgiving tips from your Asheville Bed and Breakfast and Bon Appetit!

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cranberry Sauce for the Culinary Challenged

I must confess that for years and years my idea of Cranberry sauce was opening a can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry sauce. My nurse friend, Kim Peyman, with whom I worked for years before buying our Asheville Bed and Breakfast Inn made her own which frankly was shocking as I knew with Kim's interest in cooking this would have to be Cranberry Sauce for the Culinary Challenged.
I must have looked shocked when she said she did not use canned cranberry sauce because while Kimmie is an excellent nurse, she is not interested enough in cooking to make learning about it or doing it much a high priority. I was intriqued. She told me how easy it was, how much better it was than anything able to be found in a can and so I tried it. After this, you too will be a convert because anything this easy and so much superior to the canned version is a keeper.
Further, it is wonderful for experimentation for those among us who really love to cook. Spices can be added, different wines used, nuts/no nuts...Well, the possibilities are endless. Bon Appetit!

At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Cranberry Sauce:

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

In a bowl combine orange juice, wine, brown and white sugar and all zests.
Stir very well until the sugars are all dissolved.
Stir cranberries in and boil( I don't use a roaring boil ) The cranberries will begin to pop. If you are of the mind to add nuts, once sauce begins thickening, now is the time.
Cool, remove from pot and place in container you can cover. Could be done days before Thanksgiving. Gotta love that!

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanks will be given for this Scrumptious Squash Casserole

It would be hard to tell how many Thanksgiving dinners I have cooked during the time I have been a married woman as that will be 40 years in December. In our family, the tradition is kind of that your Mom does the honors until you marry or begin to keep a home of your own and then the "rite of passage begins."

This of course is precipitated by the fact that your Mother, who has now been doing this for years, is quite over it and would like to be a spectator of the sport rather than continue to enjoy the "full contact" experience. By definition this means that you have looked at the food and mucked about with its preparation so long that you would like to beat the turkey to death and throw all the food into the side yard.

Now, as some of you will appreciate who have to work at least some of the Thanksgiving holiday.... getting this load of food together with only hours before the herd of eaters lands when you have had to work half a day requires coordination, planning and mission readiness that even NASA would envy.

I feel your pain so I am going to be putting forth some tried and true recipes that I have done ahead of time and will produce good results so that at least some of this chaos can be avoiding hopefully leaving you wanting only wanting to slap the turkey around a bit but not dismember him...At least until the appropriate moment.

Scrumptious Squash Casserole: Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees

4 cups yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 sleeve of Ritz or Townhouse crackers (Crush, but not too fine)
1 cup of excellent quality sharp cheddar (excellence in, excellence out)
2 large eggs beaten
3/4 cup of milk
2 T. butter melted
1 T. Fresh Tarragon
1 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of butter

In large skillet melt 2 T butter (no margarine.) Place sliced squash and chopped onion in skillet. Cover and cook on low until the squash is tender (5-10 minutes)
If you need to add a bit of water (2T) that's fine. If the squash is very fresh the water content in the squash will likely make this unnecessary. Buy local if possible to enhance this possibility.

Drain when squash is tender if there is fluid in skillet. Place contents in large bowl. Mix eggs and milk in small bowl. Mix the cheese with about 1/2 the cracker mix. Add to the squash mixture and stir. Lastly, add milk mixture and stir.
Add salt,pepper and tarragon.
Spray a 13"X 9" pan and spread squash mixture into it. Top with the remaining cracker crumbs. Dot with a bit of butter.
Bake about 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Friday, November 5, 2010

Christmas Candlelight at Biltmore Estate only 3 miles

One of the most wonderful holiday excursions we plan every year at Christmastime is our sojourn to Christmas Candlelight at Biltmore Estate.
Though Biltmore House is a year round attraction for all the guests at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast there is an undeniable magic found on the Estate during the Christmas holidays. To add to our guests enjoyment, it's only a three mile drive to arrive at the Estate.

Imagine this "so gorgeous it hurts your eyes" to look at French Chateau dressed in candlelight and adorned with all the Christmas decorations you can possibly imagine all done by someone else. Hey, I don't care how much you like Christmas and the holidays..... any woman who does more than hang a strand of lights and tells me she isn't both blissfully excited with the result and overwhelmingly tired is being less than truthful. Decorating beautifully is a labor, a labor of love I'll grant you, but nonetheless, a labor.

Christmas at Biltmore however has more to offer than just a pretty face.
When we first came to Asheville I am embarrassed to say that with all we had going on as new business owners we did not see Biltmore Estate for 2 years. An innkeeper friend across the street abducted us one night saying we simply had to see it. She was right.

I had left my home of 25 years to live in Asheville and still felt a bit sad to be absent from my friends of a lifetime at the holidays. I wasn't really feeling very festive. The evening at Biltmore changed that. In the conservatory, when the house is first entered, was a kindergarten class singing Christmas classics. In the front row was a little fella doing his own particular rendition of "Silent Night." There he was, looking angelic, well scrubbed, perfectly neat and spiffy singing to the top of his little voice..."Siiilent Nines, Holy Nines. Now, while I am sure that his teacher and his parents were less than euphoric regarding his alteration of lyrics, his complete sincerity was very engaging and just plain funny. I was feeling a bit lonely and then coupled with his song and the lovely surroundings of Biltmore it all vanished. I got into the meaning of the season.

Now, lest you think that is all there was in musicality, the music runs like a river all though the Biltmore house. That year, there was also a dulcimer player, several very professional musicians on strings with notes sounding like the very gates of heaven were soon to open and a young woman playing a harp.

The moral of this story is: If you are having a bit of a time capturing your Christmas Mojo... I highly recommend Christmas Candlelight at Biltmore Estate.

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

Do you know the term: "The Great Divergence?" If you don't, you need to become more familiar with it before you go to the polls so you can vote like your life depends on it because the economic quality of it does.
There have long been great divides in income rewards and dispersement in the United States of America. Clearly, for anyone black or female this is not a new revelation.

In 1915, a statistician at the U of Wisconsin, Wilford King, published The Wealth and Income of the People of the United States. It is, to this date, the most comprehensive study of its kind. The United States was displacing the United Kingdom as the worlds wealthiest nation but the details of its economy would not start to be collected and recorded by our nation until the 1930's. King's purpose was to provide reassurance to the public that all Americans were sharing in this wealth. He unearthed rather troubling findings. It would seem that 1% of the population at that writing had amassed 15% of the wealth in America. He was right to be concerned.

Fastforward to 2007, the year in which Nobel laureate, Princeton economist, Paul Krugman labeled the post 1979 period the "Great Divergence" in his book The Conscience of a Liberal.
In the 1930's-1940's the trend of a small amount of the population holding a large proportionate amount of the country's wealth began to reverse itself. It remained reasonably stable in distribution both in the 1950's post-war economic boom and also in the 1960's. In the late 1980's-1990's the United States was noted to have experienced two periods of unprecedentedly long in duration, sustained economic growth. The result: From 1980's-2005, more than 80% of all total increases in Americans' income was distributed to the top 1%. Though economic growth was more sluggish in decade of 2000's absolutely none of the gains were absorbed in wage growth of the middle or lower class.

It is to be noted also that though the United States would never suffer the term assigned to other countries known for this kind of income inequality, like "failed societies" a term we might assign to Guyana, Nicaraqua, or Venezuela- the Latin nations are becoming far better in their pursuit of income equality. In America it it is less so.

Perhaps the perception that hard work, excellence, diligence, opportunity and assistance is available for all our U.S. citizens remains the reason that we are not looking as hard at this as the situation seems to merit. I mean those who are excellent will prove this excellence by rising to the top anyway. Right? However, to ignore that economic equality and stability does offer more opportunities at less personal investment does not make it less real. Economics do matter. They provide or remove opportunities for advancement, education and success. How can one devote themselves to the pursuit of their dreams when they are busily engaged every hour of every day in their economic survival? Only someone never experiencing the complete abyss that this kind of daily struggle can wreak on the psyche, energy and overall outook of a person would not understand the implications it poses on someones life.

"This is not the type of thing which a democratic society—a capitalist democratic society—can really accept without addressing," Greenspan said in 2005. Greenspan's Republican-appointed successor, Ben Bernanke, has also fretted about income inequality.
Both of these guys "got it."

As you head to the polls remember that sometimes just because a problem in the making for a long time is still present that is not the same thing as being responsible for it. It also doesn't mean that work to fix it was less valuable or hard won. Some things that have been wrong for a very long time cannot be altered in moments.
It really is kind of a blighted manner of thinking to believe they can.
After serving our guests breakfast on voting day morning, my husband and I will head to the polls. We strongly hope that each of you will do the same. If you are Republicans-Go. If you are Democrats or Independents-Go. Try and learn all about the issues and avoid reactionary and fear based thinking. Look at the long nature of the joblessness our country is experiencing and do your best to be informed about how we got here, how long it took and the reasons for where we are. The tendency is to blame only the current Gatekeeper but that would be too easy and not worthy of our history as thinkers, seekers freedom fighters and Americans.

Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers