Friday, December 16, 2011

How Innkeepers Can Be Creative When Guests Have Dietary Needs

Over the seventeen years that we have been innkeepers, we have been challenged with many guest dietary needs.  In the beginning we were frazzled.  As we became more experienced, we embraced the challenge.

Several years ago we had a guest who, upon her arrival, she presented us a business card listing all of the food she was allergic to.  We told her “no problem.”  We were either able to change the dish we were serving to all guests, change the recipe, or make something different just for her (we could always make her an omelet).

Lately, many guests are on a vegan diet, have celiac disease (a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats), or may be both gluten and lactose intolerant. 

While on an assignment in Southern California, we had a couple stay with us who were on a strict vegan diet.  They were concerned as to whether I could accommodate their dietary needs.  My response was…of course I can!

Did you know that most extra firm tofu, does not contain wheat (but check the back for ingredients, just to be sure), and can be used in a variety of vegan and gluten free recipes.   If you crumble the tofu and season it with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and turmeric (the turmeric will stain the tofu yellow, and then add it to sautéed vegetables of your choice, the presentation looks and tastes like scrambled eggs.  The guests were thrilled with the presentation – they even asked for the recipe. 

This last summer, while on assignment at the Carr Manor ( in Cripple Creek Colorado (, we prepared an overnight, Blueberry Strata French Toast for a Sunday morning breakfast.  That afternoon, when one of the guests arrived, we were informed that his wife just found out that she had celiac disease.  Being that this was a new illness, she was just learning about food she could eat.  She said to just giver some fruit and maybe some eggs.  I told her that I could do better that that. 

I made her an individual Blueberry Strata French Toast using gluten free bread instead of French bread.  She was thrilled that she could eat the same dish as her husband.  She now learned that she could continue making some of her favorite recipes which require bread, but could substitute the type of bread used. 

So now I come to the issue of milk substitutes.  If you are looking for a product that is lactose free you can use Silk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk.  However, if you need a product that is gluten free you are limited to Silk.  I have done some research with the product Lactaid.  Some people with celiac disease and/or lactose intolerance are experiencing some adverse reactions with Lactaid.  I would talk to your health care provider before using Lactaid in your cooking.

Peanut and nut allergies are another situation that I will take up in another blog post.  Below are some resources for you to explore if you would like more information on the things that I have discussed.


Veg Web      

Vegan Cooking   

Gluten Freeda 

Celiac Recipes  

Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handy Hints for Everyone Including Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers

For years, I have been a collector of handy hints.  I thought that I would pass on a few of my favorites that can be used everyone, including innkeepers who are running our countries bed and breakfasts.

Instead of trying to use your fingers, or the egg shell, to separate the egg yolk from the egg white, use a slotted spoon.  Gently crack an egg over a slotted spoon which has been set on top of a bowl.  The white will flow through the openings, leaving the yolk intact.

Fresh flowers are wonderful to look at, but getting rid of the leftover gunk in the flower containers afterward is a pain.  Once I have disposed of the old arrangement, I fill the vase with water and then drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets.  You can watch the bubbles get rid of the green grime.  This is really great for narrow vases especially when you don't want to get your bottle brush full of grime.

At this time of year, it seems that the leaves on my plants get dusty.  To clean the leaves of dust and dirt, I use an envelope moistener which has been filled with water.  The small sponge gets into places where a big cloth or large sponge can't go. 

If you have a lot of chives or scallions to chop, use a rubber band to hold them together about two inches from the bottom You can then just keep moving the rubber band up as your chopping gets closer.  It will keep the chives or scallions closely held together and makes for faster and crisper cuts.

I love to recycle things and have found that old pillow cases can have a second life as garment bags for my finer clothes. These cases are breathable unlike the plastic dry cleaning bags.   All you need to do is cut a small slit in the folded top edge of the pillow case so that the hanger can go through.  

If you are in an area that has to dig up your bulbs and tubers to store for the winter, here is a way to ensure that you know what you will be replanting next year.  Using a permanent marker, write the variety or color of the plant directly onto each bulb.  Then you can store your bulbs in peat moss or newspaper in a cool dark place.  When you go to plant them in the spring, you will have an easier time replanting them in just the right location.  

Howard loves using Dijon or other fancy mustard's.  When there is just a tiny bit of mustard in the bottom and sides of the jar, add some crushed garlic, or minced shallots along with some tarragon or rosemary.  Add some balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Put the lid back on and shake real well.  Then add some olive oil (3 parts of oil to 1 part of vinegar).  Shake again so that the dressing is emulsified.  Use over salads or as a marinade.  If kept tightly stored in the refrigerator it should keep for about a week. 

My least favorite pest inside of the house are ants.  Winter cold will drive them inside.  You can make a nontoxic repellent by using equal amounts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Shake then spray in areas when ants are commonly found such as kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards.  You can also use the spray on patios and porches.  The vinegar smell dissipates quickly.

Finally, I love eating fresh corn, but hate getting all of the silk off.  Once you think you have as much off as you can, take an unused tooth brush and use the bristles to get off any stray silk threads suck between the kernels.  

Hope you all have had a happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Lynda and Howard Lerner 
Inn Caring

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Interim Innkeeper Training at Eastholme in the Rockies Bed and Breakfast

There is more to being an innkeeper than just interacting with guests. Come find out what this exciting career field is all about.

We will be giving a hands on seminar for those who are interested in a career as an interim innkeeper or inn sitter. The class will cover the operational side of running a bed & breakfast which is owned by someone else. In addition, the class will go over setting up & marketing your own interim innkeeping business.  You will have actual hands on experience at an established B&B including interacting with guests. 

For more details on what is included in the class as well as class cost, please go to the Class Information tab at the top of this page.

The Class Dates will be from October 12 - 16, 2011.  The class will be given at Eastholme in the Rockies Bed and Breakfast, which is located in Cascade, CO (just up the pass from Colorado Springs). 

Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fire building for Innkeepers

It's that time of year when our guests start to think of sitting in front of a nice warm fire this fall or winter as the temperatures start to drop.  If we have wood burning fireplaces or stoves, we think about gathering or chopping wood and dividing it into sizes.  You may have the fires all ready for the guests to light or you may provide them the materials and let them build their own.

So what type of wood do we need.  An old Girl Scout saying is that wood comes in three sizes, tiny tots, kindergarten and full grown kids.  This translates into Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel. 

Tinder -  gets the fire started and should be no larger than the thickness of  pencil lead.  It should be easily broken off or gathered from the ground.  The wood should not be bendable but bone dry.  The size should be about the width of your hand or just a bit larger.  You should gather enough to fill your hands when your fingers are touched together.

 Kindling - some larger pieces to build the fire up should be about the size of your thumb. The wood should be about the length of from your elbow to your index finger.  You should gather enough to fill a double arm load of wood.

Fuel - wood in varying sizes from the size of your wrist to 10 inches in diameter and in varying lengths as your fireplace or stove will allow. 

The one thing that you may also want to consider is fire starters.  These go under the tinder and usually catch very quickly.  They can be made of various homemade materials.  
  • Cardboard egg carton sections filled with sawdust or pieces of cardboard covered with candle wax  Tear apart and use as needed. You can also use dryer lint or Pistachio shells
  • Use pine cones covered with wax.
  • Newspaper twists.  roll a sheet of newspaper, bend it in half, twist the ends together and fasten with twine. You may also dip the ends in candle or parrifin wax. 
  • Cut waxed milk cartons into strips to be used as tinder in your campfire.
  • Stuff paper towel or toilet paper rolls with paper.
  • Use dried pine needles
  • A “twister” type of pencil sharpener is great for shaving kindling (especially if the wood is damp)
  • Use wooden ice cream orpopsicle sticks which you can keep in a watertight container
Once your fire is going, be sure to put a screen in front of the fire to catch any sparks that may fly.  Also have a fire extinguisher in each room that has a fireplace.  Put this at least 10 feet away from the fire source where you can easily reach it.

Other fire tools that should be available at each fireplace are a shovel, tongs, and/or a poker.    Remember before you or your guests leave a fire alone, be sure that it is out and that any left over pieces that have not burned are are moved apart from each other. 

Hope your guests enjoy sitting in front of the fire with a nice cup of hot liquid and some of your homemade goodies.


Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring