Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fracking in North Carolina-Environmental Review Commission

As of right now, fracking in North Carolina is Legal-Environmental Review Commission will be the governing body overseeing this process if it ever actually begins in our state. It is our hope that it never does.  For those of you not completely familiar with the term Fracking- the process involves shooting water, chemicals (some of these are both toxic and dangerous) and sand through drilling technology penetrating through rock in order to free up and release natural gas reserves under the rock.

Emotions are high in regards to this issue here in Western North Carolina.  This region of the state is known for its ecological bent and good stewardship of the land.  In Eastern North Carolina in the 1980's and 1990's when that part of our state gained notoriety for hog farms it is felt by most that little research was done regarding the land and water impact the pursuit of this industry would create.  Whatever your feelings about Fracking, I think all of us could agree that before the first drill touches the surface of our land we might all benefit from some suggestions made by Duke  researchers as follows:

1.  Get baseline data right now on both the air quality and also water quality to enable accurate comparisons should this practice actually begin in earnest.

2.  Use zoning setbacks to offer some protection to those whose property borders fracking zones.

3.  Plan ahead for large water withdrawals (5 million gallons could be needed for just one well) and depositories for spent waste water water.

4.  Require complete and full disclosure on all chemicals used in these these drilling procedures. Armed with this criteria it is believed that more care will be dedicated to choosing these chemicals.  Further, it will be easier to fully investigate any problems that crop up believed to be connected to their use.

5.  Determine ahead of time civil penalties for infractions or safety violations of any kind.

6.  Create and avail the public of a website contact with information, reporting functions etc.

7.  Insist on a fee for each well drilled. This sets aside funds that could be available for any problems that occur.

As citizens,  I encourage all of you to become informed on this process, particularly if it is being discussed in your home state.   Study its effects in other parts of the country where it is already in practice.  There is much data we can access to become informed.  Do it now while you can still make your voice heard.  Delay could be a  bit like warning the lamb that you let the wolf out of the barn after you hear it screaming.

Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bele Chere Asheville-Beautiful Life

Bele Chere Asheville-Beautiful Life lifts off in 2012 on Friday July 27. It will be in high gear till Sunday night at 7p.m.  Locals and visitors, rain or shine, cool or heat- just the the US- mail to take place in the largest, free street festival in the southeast.

We are fortunate At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn in that we are within 6 walking blocks of one of Asheville's most awaited celebrations. So, find your dancing shoes, collect your favorite young person for the kid's activities, bring your hungriest appetite, your shopping frenzy in operating gear and find your way downtown.  The festival is a bit spread out this year with stages on Lexington, the food court on Pritchard Park and Taste of Asheville near Pack Square.  In this way, our guests not only have an opportunity to have  a blast at Bele Chere but in traveling from one prong of the festival to another they will also have an awesome opportunity to really become acquainted with all things Asheville as they mosey through our fine city. 

I have already looked at this year's line up and from the kids, to the food vendors to the musicians booked for this years event everything looks stellar.  Our guests will be there having a grand time, as will their innkeepers.  Hope to see you there!

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

No matter where you are living in the United States Summer 2012 the chances are more than good that if you spend time outdoors you can benefit from a review of the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
Whether hiking, biking, or even gardening outside in these temperatures you could be at risk. Gary and I are the gardeners here at the Inn and we exercise great care in these temperatures.  We hope after reading this, you will too.  Hyperthermia (excessive body temperature) can be life threatening. Have a great time outdoors but pay attention to your body in these temperatures.  It may save your life. 

Heat Exhaustion:  Can be experienced in a wide range of symptomology and experienced differently by different people.  It can range from mild cramping to rapid onset of severe symptoms which can prove deadly. Generally experienced in response to dehydration, inadequate salt intake. Sometimes, high humidity in the air can create a situation where perspiration is not evaporated off causing your body to be unable to cool itself effectively creating excessive body heat.
Symptoms can include:

Heavy perspiration
Rapid, but weak heartbeat
Feeling weak, dizzy or faint
Dark urine
Cool, pale and moist skin
Extreme fatigue

What to do next:

Get the person out of the sun finding a shady environment.  Air conditioning would be a good choice.
Have the person lie down.  They may be resistant- but try to overcome that.
Loosen or remove some clothing. 
If able to consume fluids safely have the person drink cool fluids with no caffeine or alcohol in them.
Try to reduce the persons temperature with cool water and fanning.
Monitor this person very carefully as this condition can proceed to Heat Stroke.

Heat Stroke:  This is a true medical emergency and if not effectively treated can result in death.
 The most severe form of heat related problems. Often seen in conjunction with heavy work/exercise in hot environments where the person has failed to ingest sufficient fluids.  Symptoms can include:

Markedly elevated body temperature
Skin can be moist if condition in response to exertion but also can be dry and hot
Changes in mental status ranging from confusion to personality changes ie. irritability.  Can result in coma/seizures
Rapid heart rate
Elevated or decreased BP
No sweating
Dizzy or feeling faint
Fainting may be the primary sign in older adults

What to do next:

If there is a loss of consciousness immediately call 911.
Remove person from the heated environment preferably into air conditioning.
If this is not possible spray them with cool water. Do not crowd them with a lot of people.
Do all possible to cool the body, wet newspapers spread on the person, sheets, towels whatever is available.
Have the person drink fluids immediately when they are able. Again, as in heat exhaustion-No caffeine or alcohol. 

Have fun out there but be careful. 

Patti and Gary Wiles,  Innkeepers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tomatoes Rule at our Bed and Breakfast Inn in North Carolina

Each and every summer since purchasing our bed and breakfast, we have made use of the vast array of opportunities in Asheville for accessing fresh produce. Tomatoes rule at our Bed and Breakfast Inn in North Carolina each summertime being the primary ingredients of both our wowza Gazpacho and Pico de Gallo.

The gazpacho, recipe, which I have shared in previous blogs, came from Laine Epstein, a midwife I worked with before moving to the mountains.  It is completely fresh, totally delicious and often served during the summer as our fruit dish at breakfast much to the delight of our guests. Don't even want to know how many times I have been asked for Laine's delightfully nutritious recipe. 

This blog is dedicated to your Pico de Gallo experience.  Pico, in American culinary experience, is most often associated with Mexican fare but truly, it performs as a colorful and healthful side dish all through the summer.  Here's ours.  We hope you like it, make it and enjoy the bounty of tomatoes all through the summer season.

Pico de Gallo

1/4 red onion
1/4 sweet white onion
2 cups of fresh, diced small tomatoes
1/4 c. fresh chopped cilantro   (A note here:  As all of you who have ever entered the grocery store can attest to...fresh herbs are costly.  They are so easy to grow.  Gather a small pot of your favorites.... Find a sunny spot, plant them and you won't have to buy one single package for the whole summer.
1 T. minced jalapeno pepper
2 T. good quality olive oil
2 T. olive oil
A sprinkle of sugar

Find the very best tomatoes in your area, hopefully locally grown and you will be delighted with your results. 

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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Basil-St. Joseph's Wort

Part of the really fun and creative aspect of breakfast at our Bed and Breakfast Inn in North Carolina is picking the herbs we grow right on the patio at the back kitchen door.   This year we have basil, parsley, lemon thyme,thyme, chives, chocolate mint, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary, tarragon and more.  All of them are thriving gustily due to the unusually hot and sunny weather we have experienced in Asheville.  When I use the term thriving gustily...I am being conservative.  The basil is leaping out of the pot and seems to be spawning others of its kind. 
I have invited both my sister and my neighbors and unknown passer by's I encounter while weeding our property to "please, have some basil."

All that said, I really do want to thank a guest of ours who, spying the basil, said "Have I got the basting sauce for you."
Summertime for Gary and I (largely, I think due to the last three years we spent in Florida means FISH- we lived in Key Largo.  Fish is everywhere in the Keys.  It is fresh and it is wonderful.  I was blessed to have a patient whose husband was employed as a fisherman.  To say I had the very best of the best fish that could be had in the Keys is an understatement. 
The moment my culinarily inspired guests shared this basil baste I began to see the fish on my grill.  Right after that....I also thought pork chops, grilled veggies, baking bread, a bit placed in guest eggs...I think you're going to think so too.

Anita's Basil Bonanza:

3 cups of fresh basil leaves (Get this picked, washed up and place in the air on paper towel to dry)

Place some good quality olive oil in your skillet, add and sweat down the following:

Finely chop shallots
Add a bit of cayenne/or black pepper (your palate and purpose for your basil sauce will dictate how much)
Fresh garlic (to your taste)
Tiny bit of salt
Juice of a lemon

Add your chopped fresh basil to this.

As I listened to Anita recount this recipe...I was thinking-Whoa,  a bit of honey too would be great...especially for the fish/meat on the grill application. Baste anything your little heart desires.  Great also as an addition to nearly anything from fresh pasta to egg dishes. 

Depending upon your intended use of this mixture you will add more or less olive oil.  More for basting and less for other uses making more of a paste.

Thanks Anita.  Some of the very best recipes At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn have been supplied by my guests.  Many of them have emotional connections to these recipes as they were made for them by grandmother's, aunts etc and are part of their family history.  Now this one can be part of yours. 


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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Perfect Take Home Gift from your Asheville Getaway

Very often our guests will express interest in taking home a gift for those that "kept the home fires burning" enabling them to make their trip to Asheville.  Asheville is a 'homemade mecca" and all of us who live here, are blessed by easy access to the locally food grown, home made artisan bread, freshly made goat cheese and so much more we'd have more than a few suggestions for perfect take home gift from your Asheville Getaway.

Why go home with a tee-shirt...though we have some very cool ones available here when you can easily come up with truly needed, inspired gifts for those watching the kids, your dogs, cats, plants or home?

Here are just a few suggestions that I often take as hostess gifts when Gary and I are invited to a party and would serve as perfect take home gift.

1.  Three Graces Goat Cheese:  available at the UNCA Tail Gate Market on Saturday Morning or on Wednesday at the Tail Gate Market at our Chamber of Commerce.  It is completely awesome. So fresh, so delicate and delicious.  Please try Juniper.  Unusual and wonderful.

2.  Artisan Bread: Snagged some Wake Robin Farm Bread on my last sojourn to the market and it was crusty outside, soft inside and delectable.

3.  Lusty Monk Mustard:  Kelly Davis is the mustard maker extraordinaire and I assure you her mixology takes mustard to an entirely new level than you have previously experienced.
Back story to the cool name of this mustard stems from Davis's interest in historical data uncovering an order of celibate monks in the Middle Ages and their penchant for indulging in this condiment (completely on the Q.T). as it was forbidden due to the belief that it was some form of sexual stimulant.

4. Lovely and locally grown produce:  Whether swiss chard, unusual lettuce, fine summer time squash and so much more-If it's in season...You can find it here.  Most of the visitors to our Asheville Bed and Breakfast are regional and with the aid of a refrigeration bag they take all of these items home for both gifts and personal use.

If none of the above will work...Well, there's honey, fresh eggs, homemade pasta, flowers, meat and more.  Believe me, if you go home with any of this stuff....folks will be standing in line volunteering to watch Fido.  You'll see.     

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

Friday, July 6, 2012

Smiling in Asheville

Have you ever just been "in the moment" of a really nice happening and thought to yourself that it was a fine evening (ok, a bit toasty for sure) but a fine summertime memory that you knew you would be storing away like a valuable parcel for recollecting some time in the future?  Recently, after hauling our lawn chairs to just the right spot to enjoy Shindig on the Green, surrounded by neighbors, toddlers dancing that endearing little hop skip they do I found myself just smiling in Asheville - all to the tunes of some folks strumming cords as they do before a set to trying to be on key.

Guests at our inn had made plans to attend this musical evening out under the Asheville stars so they could jam in (he plays harmonica) and dance to some good old mountain music and I thought....."Hey, you could do that too"...sans the harmonica, of course. So, if you need a bit of entertainment on a Saturday night, long about sundown, you have your dancing shoes on and like to watch the lightning bugs light up the night-Take yourself down to Roger McGuire Green at Pack Park July 7, 14, 21, August 11, 18, 25, September 1.  It's free and it will leave you smiling in Asheville.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Basil Bonanza At Cumberland

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

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bears in Asheville

Many of the guests at our bed and breakfast have chosen Asheville as a destination to enjoy the notable scenic beauty our area offers.  In the knowledge that as innkeepers we enjoy being in the outdoors we feel able to assist them in finding much of the serene beauty this area has to offer. From Mt. Mitchell hikes, to Max Patch Bald to Dupont Forest- we have made our own treks and the sights we have enjoyed are breathtaking and will live in our hearts forever.

Recently, there has  been more than a little press dedicated to the presence of bears in our area spotted in  places one would not expect to see bears.  We have viewed them taking brief residence in the trees of  our downtown area, seeking dog food from neighborhood dog bowls and the like proving dangerous to the outside dogs living in these locations..  Much of this problem is man made in that the whole of Western North Carolina has becoming so popular, Asheville in particular, that much building has come to our area encroaching on the natural habitat of the bear.  They lived here first and this could spark another discussion entirely.  That discussion will not be part of this blog.

There have been more than a few incidences of Bear encounters that rendered injury:
May of 2010 a tourist was bitten by a bear.  December 2009 saw a bear handler mauled by a bear in captivity and it's early in the season yet- likely meaning 2012 will also have some incident. 

Many of our guests come from places that are completely urban and so it is in this spirit that I pen this blog.
The bear experts recommend the following behavior should one encounter a bear anywhere:

1.  Do not run.  Bears are wild animals and pursuit of something running would simply be behavioral.
2.  Remain as calm as it is possible for you to be under the circumstances.
3.  Make your presence known, clap your hands, raise your arms above your head in a waving manner making yourself as large as possible.
4.  Make loud noise.
5.  Do not turn your back on the bear but facing the bear, being careful not to trip over anything, back up slowly.
6.  Never corner a bear.
7.  Even if the bear appears hungry and their behavior appears very tame-never feed bears. I repeat, they are wild creature.   Many of the problems with bears not avoiding humans are the direct result of humans and their failure to know and act upon the fact that these are wild animals.  They are not meant to be domesticated or friended in any way. 
8.  Do not leave food out in the wilderness of any kind pet or that which is to be your food. Bears will find their way to this food and YOU.

There is bountiful beauty in our area and we want to help you enjoy it safely.  Safety in the wilderness largely depends on knowledge and preparation.  It is our hope we have helped provide some tips to assist in that because folks, the woods do have bears in them.  With a bit of planning, we can enjoy their home without actually encountering the owners. 

Hike on!

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