Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Granola with Dried Fruit - The best ever

We serve Granola every day along with our breakfast main entree and fresh fruit courses.  Guests love the dried fruit we put in the Granola and are constantly asking for the recipe.

Artists' Inn Granola      

Yield:  Approx. 14 cups     Oven Temp: 350 degrees

8 cups of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats
1 cup shredded  Coconut
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Raisins
1 1/2 cups Cranraisins
3/4 cup Canola oil
1 cup Honey
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 cups chopped Dried Fruit  (Sams Club has the perfect mix)
8 ounces Dried Banana Chips

1.  In an extra large mixing bowl combine Oats, Coconut, Brown Sugar, Raisins, and Cranraisins mixing together thoroughly

2.  In a small sauce pan combine Canola Oil, Honey, and Vanilla.  Heat a few minutes until honey has become a thin liquid. DO NOT BOIL.

3.  Pour liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix together until dry mixture is coated well.

4.  Spread mixture out on two large jelly roll pans and place in 350 degree oven for no more than 15 minutes.

5.  Remove from oven and place mixture in a large plastic container.   Add dried fruits at this time.  Mix occasionally until cool.  Break up any large lumps.

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:   If this mixture is for your family's personal use, you may want to add 1 cup of nuts (chopped walnuts or sliced almonds) at the same time as you add the dried fruits. 

ENJOY ! ! ! 

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New at the Huntington Library -

It has been at least 40 years since we have visited The Huntington in San Marino, CA   It is just a hop, skip, and a jump from South Pasadena and the inn we are currently interim innkeepers at the Artists' Inn.   We had a quiet day and so set out to explore the impressive Library, Art Collections, and Gardens.   As the resident innkeepers, we pride ourselves on being able to give our guests extra tips to help make their visit to area attractions special.  

One thing I will now remember to tell guests is to wear comfortable shoes.  The buildings are grouped fairly close together, but the gardens definitely take you farther afield.   The other tip is that it is less expensive to visit The Huntington during the week than on weekends.  Or, if you can plan your visit to the first Thursday of each month, your visit is free (tickets are required and can be reserved online). 

We had previously been in the European building where the famous paintings of Pinkie & Blue Boy are housed.   This time, we viewed the new Scott Galleries of American Art.   Not only do they have some wonderful pictures, but also silver, glass, and wood pieces by famous American artisans.  Howard would have loved to take home the modern Frank Lloyd Wright dining room table.  The one thing most guests don't realize is that when you view the galleries there are free audio tapes available at the buildings main entrance to enhance the viewers gallery experience.   It is much nicer to listen about the various paintings etc. and be provided with more information than you can possibly read under the various captions. 

If you love the outdoors and gardens, then the grounds of the Huntington are special. The Botanical Gardens are an ever-changing exhibition of color and are a constant delight.  More than a dozen gardens cover 120 acres.   There is a fairly new Chinese Garden which was completed about 2 years ago.   This garden is inspired by the centuries-old Chinese tradition of private gardens designed for scholarly pursuits.  It is serene, and peaceful with water ponds and streams, rocks, plants, bridges, and small structures.  Docents are available to give you history and background of why and how the gardens were created.   

Two of my favorite flowers in the gardens are the Camellia bushes and the Rose bushes.  The Camellias are just starting to bloom and will be in their full glory in February - May.  The roses will be cut back in January but should be starting to bloom once again by March.  On the second Thursday of each month, garden enthusiasts can enjoy a free garden talk and plant sale.

I'll save further discussion about The Huntington for another time.  Hope you get to visit this wonderful area attraction if you are in the Los Angeles area.    

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wine Tasting & Jazz in Southern California - South Pasadena

As an owner innkeeper or interim innkeeper - our current occupation,  there are moments when all the guests are checked in for the night and you say to yourself,  "let's go out for an hour or so".  Of course, before you go, you forward the phones to your cell phone - which you put on vibrate, leave notes (both inside and outside) letting guests know how to get hold of you, and take a copy of your reservation calender and keys with you.  Even though you are away from the inn, you never really leave the inn behind.

We wanted to stay in the neighborhood so we walked just a  few blocks from the Artists Inn  to a lovely Wine Shop - Wine Styles that has Jazz and Wine Tasting on Friday Evenings.  What a delightful time we had.  The wine tasting was very reasonable ( 3 wines for $5).  To top it off, you can get small appetizers or a yummy triple chocolate brownie topped with a caramel and raspberry sauce.  It all depends on the type of wine you are drinking.  The jazz was mellow as were the wines.  The Brownie was to die for.

We enjoyed our small time away, but after an hour or so, headed back to the bed and breakfast.   There were still reports to run and credit card charges to batch out, lights to be turned down, and dirty dishes from the guests who had eaten some of our Raspberry Chocolate Bars to be gathered.

Sleep will come quickly.  It seems that we no sooner put our heads down that the alarm clock is ringing and it starts all over again. 

Why do we do this ------   Because we love taking care of B&B's, love the guests - both returning and new, love cooking (Howard is the chef) and love being the ultimate concierge.

Come see us, we have lots of stories to tell.  If you think this is the lifestyle for you, look at our Bed & Breakfast training classes on our website.

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring - (Currently on Assignment at the Artists Inn in South Pasadena, CA)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Bit of Sweet to Enjoy

Nothing is better than a nice cup of tea in the afternoon and a bit of sweet to go with it.   After a day of sightseeing it feels wonderful to sit down in comfortable surroundings and just relax.  

The guests at the Artists Inn in South Pasadena, where we are currently on assignment, love our Raspberry Chocolate Streusel Bars.   It seems we put them out and they disappear very quickly, even if there are only a few people in the house.  I guess it is time to make more again. 

This is a wonderful recipe to make over the holidays.  It can even be made ahead of time and frozen until you need to use them.   One note, do not make this late in the day.  It does take time to set up and cool before you try to cut into bars. 

Enjoy and let me know how you like them.  I know our guests have been scooping them up.   


1 package yellow cake mix
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup melted butter
12 ounces raspberry jam
1 teaspoon water
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Combine cake mix and oats in a bowl.
2. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is crumbly.
3. Put three cups of the mixture into a prepared 9 x 13 inch glass pan, which
    has been lightly sprayed with Pam, and press firmly.
4. Combine jam and water and spoon over crumb mixture - spread evenly. 
5. Spread chocolate chips evenly over jam.
6. Spread the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the jam/chocolate chips.
    Pat the top gently.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
8. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fire Safety

Fire safety is something that each and every one of us needs to be aware of.  I recently saw an article about an 225 year old inn that had just burned down.  Fortunately, no one was in the building at the time.  However, what if there had been guests? 

Do you have emergency lighting in all of your rooms, hallways and stairways?   This can be easily accomplished by using reverse polarity plug in emergency lights.  They will only turn on if they are removed or if the power goes off, as it may in the case of a fire.   Someone leaving their room in the middle of the night could grab the light and use it as an additional light source as they were making their way out of the building. 

The one problem that owners need to be aware of is that some housekeepers will turn off the emergency lights when they are cleaning a room.  They need the outlet where the lights are plugged in.   That part is fine, they just need to remember to turn the switch back on when they plug the light back in and leave the room.  This problem can be avoided if you get one of the emergency lights that also has a plug outlet space available on the front (Intermatic PR3C Three-in-One Emergency Power Failure Light)

Some inns may have flashlights by the bedside table.  These are handly if you have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  There is nothing worse than trying to find your way in a strange room when you are half asleep.   The flashlights again can aid the guests as they leave their room during an emergency evacuation.  Just be sure to check the batteries regularily as they will degrade over time. 

What about fire extinguishers?  There should be at a minimun, one on each floor of your B&B plus one in the kitchen.  If you have numerous wood burning fireplaces, you may want a fire extinguisher located in each room with a fireplace.   Most fire departments recommend a 5 pound bottle.  These should be recharged yearly by a professional service.    Check with your local fire department for your specific regulations and requirements.

How about smoke detectors for each guest room and for other main areas of your bed and breakfast.  Most of these are operated by battery.  It is a good practice to get into the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke detectors at the same time that you change your clocks for daylight savings time.

Do your guest rooms have an emergency exit plan posted?  This can be posted on the back of the guest room door.   What about how to call emergency personnel in case of a medical problem?   On the information sheet, be sure to list the cross streets, address, and telephone number for the B&B.  In an emergency, you don't want the guest to have to fumble around for this information. 

Last, but not least, is the burning of candles or other open flame devices.  This can be potentially deadly.  It is easy to accidently catch a piece of fabric or paper in the open flame and have the fire spread to either furnishings or guests.  The candles can accidently tip over and catch furnishings on fire or burn guests.    Then there is the mess of dripping wax to deal with either on tablecloths, furnishings, or floor coverings. 

For those who wish to keep the ambiance of candles there are many flameless candles that are operated by battery.  Check out The Flameless Candle Shop   You get the flavor without the danger. 

Stay safe this holiday season. 

Lynda & Howard Lerner
Inn Caring