Monday, April 19th, 2010
Over the past weekend Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast hosted different groups of families. One family was here for one night from Rhode Island adopting a dog from a home right here in Bath. Apparently, she takes dogs from shelters, kind of rehabs them then puts them for adoption. The family were very excited, it was wife, husband with their son. They arrived late in the evening on Friday went to bed because they were tired. Next morning they had breakfast at 8:30 which was Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast’s signature wild mushroom omelet. I also served them freshly squeezed carrot juice which they loved. It was their first time ever having carrot juice like this.
They had to be meet Sarah, the dog at 10:00 so they left around 9:45 and promised to come back to stay longer so they could enjoy the inn.
Linda and John have been coming to the Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast on regular basis for the past three years. Their daughter attends the boarding school called ‘Hyde’ who will be graduating in May. They come every year for a long weekend in April and October, they arrive on Thursday early evening and leave early morning Sunday. Every Thursday after their arrival they come down to the living room/tearoom area we sit for a good chat, catching up on our lives, families, friends, children and… Linda and I both have deep interest in being mindful to our surroundings so we also share books. She always takes couple of books from the inn’s library to read while here. Last time she took a book of ‘Hafize’s Poems’ which she loved because she knew only of Rumi not of Hafiz. Incidentally both are Mary Oliver’s most like writers/poets… I love that.
Tonight I have Linda a book written by a friend of mine called ‘Elegant Simplicity’ which is about how destructive our egos can be. It is an easy read and a lot that one can learn from. The book should be in most bookstores in the U.S., soon. I am actually thinking of setting up a retreat for yoga and discussion of the book as well… what do you think? Would you come if I did?
Anyway, Linda is reading the book now. I made them marigold tea and offered them the raisin, coconut and rice cookies which I had made last week. They enjoyed everything and so did I. It is always a pleasure to have guest like Linda and John with whom we have become like family sharing many, many stories in our lives with each other. They will be back in May for their daughter’s graduation, they will spend two night at the inn this time along with their 3 children and Linda’s brother. The will also have dinner at the inn which we discussed the menu tonight. I will miss them so.
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
This week the weather has been very good in Bath, Maine, actually throughout midcoast Maine which is from Portland to Camden. I made sure to clear up the gardens of Kismet Inn bed and breakfast Spa to get them ready for planting and transplanting. I went to the fire department two days in a row to get permit to burn the brush, sticks. Tomorrow there is an open house and I have guests over the weekend so I have to wait to work on the garden on Monday.
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
At Kismet Inn bed and breakfast there is no kind of regimentation. I tell my guests, breakfast is served at whatever time they wish to have breakfast .. I just need to know the night before to make sure the breakfast is fresh and warm. I don’t want to make breakfast and have it get cold or have the coffee sitting in a thermostat which incidentally I don’t have one. I make the coffee all fresh for each guest.
The same applies to dinner, guests have a choice of sitting in the dinning room, the tearoom at the table by the window or recently 2 couples chose to have dinner by the fire in a very informal setting. Both spent four hours eating dinner. On Saturday I had Katharine and Kellie from Yarmouth, Maine as my guests. It was Kellie’s birthday so Katharine had treated her to a nights stay, dinner, massage and Kismet Inn bed and breakfast’s signature exfoliation.
They arrived on Saturday around 2:30 .. stayed in Saffron Room where the bed, the armoire and table are custom made. Designed by me, Shadi Towfighi, the owner and made by Mark Donovan a brilliant craftsman from Bowdoinham, Maine. The bathroom is also custom made, designed my me again. It is deep soaking Japanese Style tub or Turkish Hamam style with transom window and radiant heat floor, a separate faucet for the tub and one for the shower. The one for the tub is really interesting, it is Kholer made, the water comes straight from the wall without a long faucet sticking out. It is quite elegant and simple.
They chose this room because of its deep soaking Japanese tub so they could soak in it then get the exfoliation. I showed them their room and explained thoroughly how the exfoliation would work. They came down shortly after for tea and raisin, coconut and rice cookies (I had made them the night before) the tea was Kismet Inn bed and breakfast signature tea brewed with cardamom. They loved both the tea and the cookies. They went up around 5 soaked in the tub for 45 minutes .. I made sure to take up pitcher of ice water to keep them well hydrated. I went up after 45 minutes scrubbed Kellie first, dead skin came rolling off in long inches, then I scrubbed Katharine. They both took showers, washed their hair, oiled their bodies, dressed and came down for dinner.
Actually, they wanted to open up their wine bottle in their room so I took the cheese which they were going to have with dinner up to their room. They decided to have dinner by the fire so I took the vegetables with the plates first. The vegetables were beets, parsnips, salsify steamed over slow heat for couple of hours. The third round was the salad – mixed greens, mustard greens, arugula from Fish Bowl Farm in Bowdoinham, the sauce I make myself, salt, pepper, olive oil, 1/2 fresh lemon squeezed, balsamic vinegar, toasted seeds such as flax, sesame and sunflower. The fourth round was the entree which was Jewel Rice with slivered pistachio, slivered almond, raisins, orange peel, julienne carrots, barberries, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, lots of saffron made with white basmati rice from India served with lamb shanks that had been cooking since 10 a.m. The fifth round, the last round was poached pears with blueberry sauce.
They sat chatting by the fireside while eating their dinner at a very leisurely, slow pace. They loved the fact that there was no push or any sense of rush. Kismet Inn bed and breakfast believes slow food, slow town, slow life style. I hope to serve each one of you.
Friday, April 9th, 2010
This morning as I stepped out into the Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast garden I noticed some flowers were in full bloom, the daffodils were nearly in full bloom, the tulips will be in full bloom next week, Japanese maple will be full soon so will the variegated willow, the peonies are bursting to bloom. It is just refreshing to see all this beauty around and feel spring in the air.
Eggs, Eggs, Eggs. First a A few Very Important Notations About Eggs!
Here, at Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast, I make sure to get eggs from Farmers Market, the smaller the vendor the better because I don’t want them producing so much that they are able to deliver to the supermarkets or even small health food stores. Once that becomes the case then it all chan…ges. My belief is to stick to small local food places unless it is something that can’t be grown in the area.
The eggs I get — the yolks are deep dark yellow/orange not pale yellow like the ones from supermarkets. These hens are graced by the suns rays, shining on them giving them all the necessary nutrients they need to be healthy thus, to produce incredible eggs. The yolk also stands up, I really mean that, it stands up, it is well rounded, bumpy and smiles. It is not like the ones from supermarkets — the poor hens are cooped up in dark, small cages, never see the sun, live miserably, never get to roam the free grass and be happy. Have you noticed these yolks are so pale yellow sometimes it is like beige, cream color…. even the free range, organic ones in the supermarket cannot compare to the free range, organic small, local farms.
The grains the small local, organic farms feed them are just so much better too. So whenever you are buying eggs just make sure you get them from a small, local, organic farm or even your neighbor will be better than a supermarket. If you have no choice but to get it from a supermarket just make sure they are free range, organic certified eggs.
Having noted the kind of eggs I use, now I absolutely love eggs. I love them fried, boiled, poached, scrambled is my least liked because I can’t get to taste the yolk that much. In my native land, we make so many different egg dishes, mix them with all sorts of vegetables, crack them over all sorts of vegetables or mix them with meat, have it raw mixed with rice and ghee, make a yogurt soup that is yogurt, fried onions and eggs with spices, it is heavenly. I don’t know if I could live without them!
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
At Kismet Inn Bed and breakfast, I try to use only grass fed meat as much as I can. I don’t like using any kind of meat if it is not as natural as possible, by natural I don’t mean just the fact that the animal is raised free range, or not injected all sorts of antibiotics. By natural I mean to make sure animals such as cows are not fed any kind of grains even organic grains, to make sure they are free range, graze on grass, roam around on land without being crowded, see the sun, the sun shines on them gracing them with its vitamins and have a stress free life.
The beef I use is from ‘Kelley Bros. Farm Stand’ which is located along the east side of the Kennebec River Pittston, Maine. The farm is currently owned and operated by Pete and Tammy Kelley along with their boys Billy and Cody, their farm was founded in 1873 by William E. and his son A. Leonard Kelley and passed down through four generations. Originally the farm was a working Dairy Farm until the main barn burnt in a fire in 1967. The farm was home to many pulling horses who also worked in the woods. They currently have added a new facility and a farm stand to sell their products. They also offer for sale their own organic hay that they process each year and hot to add natural compost for the summer. They do not sell in any stores or super markets, only at Farmers Markets and their own stand.
Today, I made a hamburger with their ground beef. I served it with just celeriac, no bread. My guest thought it was the best hamburger she had had in her life. I added salt, pepper and some sumac, fried quarter of an onion then put the hamburger in the pan let it fry for 5 minutes turned it over let it fry for another 10 minutes served it with celeriac root, green tea and honey. It was simple, delicious and nutritious.
Here is the information for Kelley Bro. Farm… they have no website, are not on FB, don’t have a blog… they just do farming. They have email address and phone number.
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
This is how Easter Sunday came about at the Kismet Inn Bed and breakfast Spa. When I was at the Bath Farmers Market on Saturday, I saw so many of my friends, one of them was Susan, my yoga teacher. I invited her over for spinach omelet which she accepted. As she was leaving she asked if I would join her for a walk on the beach to which I said, YES right away. On Sunday, yesterday, Easter Sunday of 2010 she called me and asked which beach I would like to go to… Popham or Reid, I chose Popham.
Popham Beach bordering the south side of the mouth of the Kennebec River, Popham Beach State Park is truly one of Maine’s rare geologic landforms that features a long stretch of sand beach…5-6 miles. Sunbathers relaxing on Popham’s sands can see Fox and Wood islands offshore, and the Kennebec and Morse rivers border each end of the beach. Visitors can walk to Fox Island at low tide, but are warned to pay attention to the rising tides not to get marooned.
I suggested Popham Beach because of its long sand beach. We decided to go there then to ‘North Creek Farm’ in Phippsburg to have lunch. They make all organic sandwiches, have chickens running around where you can sit and have your sandwich. She is actually an expert in roses, she is Maine’s leading rose lady. We got to the beach around 11:30 walked for a while, sat and soaked the sun for a while, chatted for a while, walked again. The beach being close to 6 miles is long enough to always find a corner that is not crowded, it is actually one of the quietest beaches in Maine even during the height of the tourist season in the summer it is quiet. It doesn’t have a sense of commercialized beach, it is lovely.
People were all dressed in spring colors, pink, lavender, pistachio green, light blues, white, children were playing in the sand, some driving their trucks, some building castles, some flying kites, young and old lovers were holding hands walking, sitting on rocks, on tree trunks that were on the beach. Some were playing kick ball, badminton, one person was doing Thai Chi, 2 were even surfing, some were in their swim suits sun bathing, it was a colorful, happy site, it brought joy to our hearts and smile to our faces.
We went to ‘North Creek Farm’ Susan had a Turkey Sandwich, I had Asparagus cream Soup, we both shared a piece of blue berry pie. I highly recommend ‘North Creek Farm’ for a good sandwich. After the farm we went to Emily Rice’s house. Emily is a massage therapist with experience and very good touch. She has a lovely garden, her and Paul, her husband were busy gardening. We got back around 5. We had a wonderful Easter Sunday on Popham Beach. It is a beautiful, quiet place. A place for everyone to come and enjoy.
Sunday, April 4th, 2010
At Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast I am constantly updating the decor at the inn. I am now working on the bedrooms.
Sulhiana which means ‘At peace with each other’ is a Swahili word which actually originates from Farsi and has traveled through time to Africa. ‘Sulh’ means peace ‘hian’ means at the ones in peace, Sulhiana has come to mean at peace with each other in Swahili. The word was suggested by Natasha DellaPeruta one of my very first guests who has become a very good friend of mine. When Natasha emailed me the word I fell in love with it, I loved the meaning, the sound and pronunciation of it so without a moment of hesitation I chose the name for the room that is now called ‘Safari’ Last year, I decided ‘Safari’ is a better name for the room that I have the African Savannah land (a piece of true art work done by Mark Donovan) headboard for the bed…. I will give more description of Safari room in a different note.
The room that is now called Suluhiana I called it ‘Iron Bed’ simply because the bed is iron bed, I hadn’t found a name for it. I thought Suluhiana was a much better fit as a name for this room than the other room so I changed the name. Incidentally, Safari is also a Farsi name it means travel which again is another lovely name… it actually means journey and I love that word… journey.
I love the setting in this room, it is simple and elegant. It has the essentials in it, two chairs that were bought at an auction, reupholstered by Mary Stride, a local seamstress, the bed is made locally by Gerry Galuza, a local blacksmith. I designed the bed, he drew a sketch then made the bed. It is really simple and elegant. It has wheels so it is easy to move it … it is very sturdy. The mattress sits on slabs and wide board, no box spring, I don’t believe in them. Today, I bought a white ruffled bed skirt, ironed and put it on the bed. I also got a white duvet for the down comforter with white sheets, moved a heavy long pillow that Mary had made from the bed, instead just put the pillows with the sham on them along with two small pillows that Mary has made. I moved the bedside lamps to another room, put one of the lamps that I have purchased from ‘Carew Arts and Antiques’ and another one from another bedroom. The bedside tables are simple, one is covered with a linen embroidery which I got at an auction, very simple and really beautiful. The armoire is also moved from one corner to the other.
The room has lovely tall bay windows with a window seat. The view is of the town green, ‘Spirit of the Sea’ fountain and ‘Winter Street Church’ both of which are town landmarks. The bathroom floor is off white pebble rock floor with radiant heat, it is great both during summer and winter. During summer it feels lovely and cool during winter lovely and warm, massaging the feet and sending relaxation up the legs, the spine, the shoulders and just ah! this feels good sense. The shower has spray jets and steam with a bench to sit and enjoy the steam.
The room has a great meditative sense specially since there are no t.v…. the inn is generally very quiet. I think of it as sanctuary of silence.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Sour Dough Bread:
Over the weekend I had two sets of guests both of which had requested dinner, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Since I make everything from scratch, I decided to make my own sour dough bread making Kismet Inn Bed and Breakfast stay a rare experience. I got the recipe from a ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ book. I offered different kind of bread on their second day of breakfast but both wanted to have Kismet Inn’s home made sour dough bread. It did taste quite good, the aroma was the part that I really loved, it was sweet and a slight smell of beer which was part of the starter. Here is the recipe for it.
Prolonged yeast fermentation gives the characteristic taste to this sourdough loaf. The starter needs to begin fermenting about two days before the loaf is made.
Preparation time 30 minutes plus rising (two days in advance for starter and three hours thirty minutes for rising) Total cooking time 55 minutes.
Makes two 1-1b loaves
1 cup bread flour (I used the flour I had – white flour)
1 teaspoon fresh yeast or 1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
1 cup buttermilk or beer (I used beer)
1 teaspoon fresh yeast or 1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
1 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons fresh yeast or 1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
5 cups white bread flour
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
I used the same flour throughout, fresh yeast all three times and beer for starter.
One To make the starter, begin two days before you want to make the bread. Sift the flour into a large bowl and crumble the yeast over the surface. Heat the beer until lukewarm and mix into the flour using a wooden spoon and leave for 8-12 hours (I left it for 12 hours) at room temperature, or until the starter begins bubbling a little.
Two Prepare the sponge. Add the yeast and 1 cup lukewarm water to the starter and beat with a wooden spoon until the yeast has dissolved. Stir in the flour until smooth, scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
Three On the day you want to bake the bread, place the fermenting starter into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. I didn’t do any of that, I did it all manually. Add the last amount of yeast, the salt, sugar, butter and a quarter of the flour, and beat until a smooth paste is formed. Add the remaining flour in three stages, beating well between them. You should have a soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 15 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Four Return the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat the surface in oil. Cover with a clean damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size (the rising time will depend on the tempearature of your kitchen.)
Five Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and then divide in half and knead gently for 5 minutes until smooth. Shape the two pieces of dough into round loaves. Dust a baking sheet with flour, lift the loaves onto the sheet and brush them with the beaten egg. Use a very sharp knife to cut a pattern like loaves. cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise again until nearly doubled in size. I let it rise over night. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 375F degrees.
Six Bake the risen loaves for 45-50 mintures, or until deep golden with a good crust. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Cut a piece while it is warm, put a dab of butter on it and some carrot jam. It is heavenly.