Dietary Needs While Traveling

A Vegan and Gluten-Free  Muffin Recipe from Margit’s Muffin Kitchen

GF and Vegan Snacks

We truly live in marvelous times that allow people with special dietary needs a worry-free travel. At The Ash Street Inn Bed & Breakfast, we have many guests with dietary restrictions or preferences, so we have Vegan, Gluten-free, Lactose intolerant, and Vegetarian breakfast options always available.

Not only do we  have non-dairy yogurt and dairy free milk in our fridge (in addition to our regular dairy products),  we also offer various dietary restricted, cooked to order breakfast items as well. (Rob’s Vegan Banana Walnut Pancakes are always a hit)

But what about afternoon (or after dinner, or midnight) snacks?

After our guests arrive and are settled in, they often enjoy a cup of coffee or tea (together with some freshly baked cookies, scones or muffins) in our parlor in front of the fireplace, or if weather permits, outside on our porch.

However, we want all of our guests to be able to enjoy those relaxing moments as well so we  will have some sweet delights waiting for them  according to specific dietary needs .  (DISCLAIMER for severe sensitivities – we do NOT have a certified gluten free or nut-free  kitchen).

That being said, I’d like to share a recipe for one of our guests favorite which happens to be both Vegan AND Gluten Free.

Banana – Raisin – Oatmeal Muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups Gluten-free flour
  • ½ tsp Xanthan Gum
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (GF certified)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (GF certified)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla soy yogurt
  • 2/3  cup vanilla flavored non-dairy milk
  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • : 2/3 cup raisins (To fold in)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl the wet ingredients until well blended.
  2. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just blended. Gently fold in raisins
  3. Divide in a 12-cup muffin tin, lined with paper liners and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 min, (toothpick test should come out clean) let cool and enjoy!

For Vegan Recipe only, you can use regular flour and omit the Xanthan Gum from the recipe.

We hope you enjoy the muffins!

Margit

 

A Happy Marriage and a Perfect Match

Innkeepers Blog
March 2016

10872975_10153898514983368_8767667514716842158_oAs we are receiving our first bookings of the year for weddings to be held in summer and fall, Rob and I are thinking of all the brides-to-be who stayed with us last year. They allowed us to be part of the preparations and excitement of getting ready for the “big event”.

We had wedding parties who booked the entire Inn and creatively took advantage of each unique room to become the perfect stage for fun pre-wedding photos with bride and bridesmaids. (I particularly enjoyed a photo of all the bridesmaids in their morning robes toasting to the bride…). The stained glass windows, the original brass door handles and the fireplaces all added a touch of beauty and elegance to the photo shoot.We have been told that the location of the Ash Street Inn to downtown and the closeness to the Currier Art Museum as well as several churches in the area makes it an ideal “home base” for all things pre-wedding related!

Last spring we had a wonderful couple staying here who not only fully enjoyed the Victorian architecture of the Inn, but the bride and bridesmaids also went in style to church in 1930’s era classic cars, which came to pick them up. What a beautiful sight that was!

11412093_10153963851403368_3903477196333254761_oIn summer another bride transformed our porch into an impromptu beauty salon, where all the women got their make-up professionally done. Lots of laughter, colors, spa water and snacks (provided by the Inn) and of course – beautiful women everywhere.

It is always an honor and a wonderful experience for us to see happy women arrive at the Inn and turn into the most amazing looking brides. The smiles we see all around are infectious and stay with us long after the bride and groom have left for their honeymoon!

If you are planning a wedding and would like to use our Inn as part of the festivities, we provide several different packages. From a getaway wedding night before the honeymoon, to booking all five rooms, we can offer an option to suit your needs.

I’m not always in the kitchen

kitchenA couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting three recent graduates from Southern New Hampshire University class of 2015 (including one who had received her Master’s.) They were in town to attend the commencement celebration, as they were part of the online learning program and wanted to walk with the class.

This was a special weekend because although the guests did not know each other previously, they shared completing their degrees as adults and therefore shared a common bond.
This bond was evident by the time they spent sharing cabs, going out to dinner and of course breakfast talk. Margit and I could not help but be caught up with this special weekend and found ourselves joining in conversations more than usual, joking and sharing what the Bavarians (and Germans in general) call “Gemütlichkeit” which literally translates to coziness.

Although this weekend was special in many ways, the day to day operations was relatively the same as any other weekend.

Baked goods had to be ready for afternoon snacks, evening prep work had to be done for weekend breakfast specials and then the normal shopping and cleaning that also takes place behind the scenes.
This weekend seemed a little different since every time our guests returned from one event or the other, they found me in the kitchen.

This turned into a running joke until finally when several guests were returning from a celebration dinner (I think they were coming into the dining room for a late night snack) they saw me once again, and I finally had to tell them “I’m not always in the kitchen!”

This was indeed true as we then retreated to the porch for some late night conversation and a nightcap. Fun was be had by all and once more the saying came true: “Come as stranger, leave as friends”

Bed and Breakfast, what does that really mean?

The answer may be obvious but it may be worth reiterating, since today’s breakfast was a little different than the typical day.

A B&B should mean just that, a luxurious Bed and a wonderful Breakfast. It should be a place that feels a bit like home and provides a nice comfortable rest for the guest. While it may not feel like your home, it should have a “homey” feel. After all, it is your home away from home.

Breakfast should be another reason why you choose to stay at a B&B. Today we had a couple staying that follow a Vegan diet. They had informed us of this during the booking, and also took the time to call. We  reassured them that it would not be an issue and we would plan accordingly.

Their breakfast could have consisted of a few different options, the easiest would be to just supply fruit and perhaps some vegan yogurt and cereal. We feel however, that breakfast should be something that you remember as part of your stay at the Ash Street Inn. In this particular instance, I had emailed the guest and suggested vegan Banana Pecan Pancakes.  I heard back a couple days later that “The breakfast you have planned sounds fantastic!” so it was put on the menu.

bb1aMargit took this one step further and added a vegan Blueberry Muffin to the check-in baked goods, They were placed alongside Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apricot White Chocolate Chip Scones, both non-vegan.  Success, we were told the muffins served as an excellent after dinner dessert when our guest returned “home” and were looking for a snack.

The pancakes were well received in the morning and were served with warm NH Maple Syrup and earthbalance “butter”. There was of course fruit and soy yogurt as well. Upon checkout I was pleased to see a note in our guestbook that said “thanks for the beautiful room and  fantastic breakfast.” Mission accomplished!

Although we can not accommodate all dietary needs, we will do our best to have some options available. We do ask during the booking process, that if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, please let us know,

What a fun Weekend!

Margit and I had the pleasure of hosting a bridal party this past weekend. What I mean by hosting is that the bride (Nicole) and her bridesmaids used our Inn as the venue to prepare for her wedding.  The entire Inn had been reserved for Saturday night as well.

pac3

The bridesmaids arrived around 1:00 o’clock to kick things into gear.  There were the usual last minute snafus involved in many weddings, the bride’s dress was a no-show and someone had to drive to fetch it, the groom had a flat tire and the weather was iffy. Par for the winter we are having, it snowed in the morning but the Sun did  shine through as final preparations were made. Three Photographers arrived and the Inn became the backdrop of some wonderful photos that will be looked upon for many years to come.

 The Bridal party was whisked away in a pair of 1931 Packard Roadtsers and although still cold, the Sun continued shining.

We then had a chance to relax a bit and then I headed to the kitchen to do some prep work for Sunday’s breakfast.toast2

I wanted to add something special to our regular menu so I decided to add a couple of extras. I was told that the groom (Tony) was a big fan of pancakes, so I decided to “Chef it up” a bit and besides our made to order buttermilk pancakes, we also had Maple Pecan French Toast. There was also a Southwestern Frittata for those who preferred something savory. along with our regular breakfast menu.

I headed up to our living quarters to get some sleep knowing that I had an early morning, only to have the doorbell ring a couple of times as keys were left inside rooms. (not a surprise at all considering it was a wedding party and I suspect they had quite a few other things on their minds). I suppose I should mention that one of the reasons they chose our Inn was because it was only a two block walk from the Currier Museum, which was where the reception was held. It was also a bit shocking to see that most of the Bridesmaids were not wearing coats and were still wearing their gowns, it had to be around 30 degrees when they returned! Some did however have their husband’s jackets draped over their shoulders.

The next morning the guests came drifting in in pairs, (some a little slower then others) and it was fun hearing the play by play review of the prior evening. There was plenty of coffee being drank and good food being eaten.

At around 10 o’clock guests starting leaving to either head home or to the hotel where other family members were staying. A subdued silence took over the Inn and Margit and I sat down, enjoyed a quiet coffee by ourselves and then kicked back into gear to reset the Inn for the next guests.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was also rewarding to receive this feedback  from one of the Matron’s of Honor, thank you Audrey.

The best bed and breakfast I have stayed in! I’m not sure what is better, the accommodations or the food (ask for the pecan french toast for breakfast!!) Impeccable service accompanied by a spotless room makes the Ash Street Inn a top notch pick!

 

Interested in booking the Inn for your own wedding party?

Email or call for details

 

The Ash Street Inn has new owners!

Just a short note to let everyone know that we are the new owners of the Ash Street Inn. Margit and I are very excited to start this new adventure. We know that Eric and Darlene have done a wonderful job restoring this gem of a building and their customer service has been wonderful. We will continue this as we develop our own style and put our own special spin on it.

A little background on us, One of the hats that I wear is a Chef’s hat. I am a Certified Personal Chef and a Member of the United States Personal Chefs Network. I plan on making some gradual changes to the wonderful breakfast that is currently being served and adding weekend specials to the mix. Watch this space!

As for Margit, she grew up in Germany where her mother was an Owner/Operator of a “Gasthaus” (Guest House) and knows the in and out of the business.

Together we know that our background and experience will make a smooth transition for our guests and look forward to having you come stay at our Inn.

Rob

Late summer at the Inn

Here we are in the middle of September wondering how the 4th of July got to be so long ago.  It was a long, hot, dry summer – now there’s a nip in the air every morning and the colors are starting to show on the trees.  Fall tends to be a long season here in northern New England and that’s just fine with us because there’s always a lot to do, things to see and great food to sample.

The downtown area on and along Elm Street will be busy tonight because it’s the night of the 7th Annual Taste of Downtown event from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.  Participants will be able to wander form shop to shop and sample culinary delights from 21 downtown restaurants.  It’s a great opportunity to see what the shops, new and old, have to offer and try some of the newest dishes from local restaurants.

This weekend will feature the 1st Chase event for the NASCAR crowd at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS)in Loudon, NH.  Always a great event that draws huge crowds to the area, this will be the last year that NHMS hosts the first of the Chase.  Next year the first event will be in Chicago but NHMS will still have the second event of the Series!  After a couple of years of cold and sometimes rainy weather, it looks like we should have great weather for the main race on Sunday.

By the first of October, it gets even busier!  The World Championship Chili Cook-off (see my earlier blog for the details) will be in downtown Manchester from October 1-3.  The Deerfied Fair, which is one of the oldest, largest and most exciting fairs you could ever attend, takes place in nearby Deerfield from September 30 through October 3.  And the Fall colors will be coming out in full splendor around us while all these other events are taking place.

How are the colors going to be this year?  You can ask 100 people how the colors are going to be this year, or any year for that matter, and get 101 answers.  The bottom line is that they are always breath-taking.  The real beauty is that it isn’t just one day – it’s a whole season unto itself.  By the end of August the “swamp Maples”, maples near the bogs and swamps with their endless supplies of water, have already started to change to bright red and orange.  As time moves along the colors spread up the hillsides and across the forests starting with the softer birch and maple and moving slowly towards the harder ash and oak.  By the end of October, we are left with the soft, warm shades of brown that mark the end of Fall and the prelude to Winter.  Many oak trees will keep their leaves into, or even through, the winter so the foliage season just seems to keep on going.

Time to make your plans to come to northern New England to see all that we have to offer.  We’ll be here at the Ash Street Inn to help you enjoy it all.

 

Antiques Week is here!

Every year early August brings a truly great series of events to Manchester, NH.  The whole collection is referred to as “Antiques Week” and, for almost two full weeks, Manchester, NH is the site of some of the greatest auctions, shows, fairs and exhibits of Americana in the country.  Beginning with a three-day auction of impressive items from world acclaimed collections and ending with a multi-day “flea market” at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, there is something for everyone who enjoys Americana.

Ron Bourgeault of Northeast Auctions kicks off the festivities with his superb auction at the Center of New Hampshire.  He is renowned for his ability to put together amazing collections of items and his auctions are always well attended.  For three days, collectors and dealers from around the country bid on one-of-a-kind items from America’s past.  While there are lots of items that you and I might be interested in, there are always “high-end” items that only a few can afford to bid on.  Some items end up selling for tens of thousands of dollars and reflect the highest points of American craftsmanship and artistry.

Between August 7 and August 15, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen will hold their 77th annual fair at the Mount Sunapee Resort.  Here 350 juried members of the League display the efforts of their labor and provide demonstrations of their respective crafts for the public.  With all the different mediums in which they work and the different perspectives that they bring to their crafts, it is a truly amazing event.  More than enough treasures for everyone!

All week long there are dozens of other smaller events that offer the opportunity to discover your own special “finds”.  At the Furniture World Building, at 1300 South Porter Street, there are three days of events planned for mid-week visitors.  On August 9, there is the Manchester Pickers Market Antiques Show with 80 real pickers and dealers offering their finds to the public.  On August 11 and 12, the Mid-week in Manchester Antiques Show featuring over 100 dealers and their collections of Americana.

Mixed in with all of these events are the quaint little craft fairs in every small town in the area where local artists and dealers display their own wares for sale.  Here is where it is all about the hunt as you travel from town to town looking for just the right item to add to your own collection and have the thrill of the find when you are successful.

Whatever your interest in antiques might be there is something in Manchester for you to enjoy during this time.  Whether you’re a collector or a “picker”, a dealer or a buyer or someone who simply enjoys watching a true craftsperson at work, you will be able to find something that suits your style somewhere near the Ash Street Inn.

 

Top 10 Cities to Live In

I know I talk a lot about Manchester, NH being a great place live in and visit.  Some folks might just shrug that off and attribute it to the fact that lots of people think they live in a great place.  If they didn’t think it was that great they would probably move to another place that was better!  But Manchester has received a bunch of accolades from several sources so I thought I’d pass them along to prove that I’m, at least somewhat, impartial.  And I’m not a native of New Hampshire either.  My wife and I are both from Massachusetts, what they call Flatlanders up here, so that’s not just being idyllic about home-sweet-home.

Portfolio.com, which is the online presence of the now-defunct magazine, recently named Manchester, NH the 10th best mid-size place to live and start a business.  They found that Manchester has a healthy economy, moderate cost of living, light traffic, robust housing stock and top-notch educational system!  As innkeepers here at the Ash Street Inn, we are more interested in what might drive visitors to Manchester than what might make them want to live here but it turns out that they overlap quite well.  A good economy, light traffic and great schools in the area mean that we get lots of guests who are looking for a chance to relax and enjoy themselves and want to spend that time in a vibrant community with other folks who are doing the same things.  Works for us all.

One award however does not a trend make.  It would be much more meaningful if there was some independent corroboration.  So here we go.

In May of 2010, Forbes Magazine named Manchester, NH to their Top 10 list of livable places based on the last five years of economic growth, cost of living, current unemployment rates and crime rates.

In 2009, CNNMoney.com named Manchester, NH 13th on their list of the best places to live and start a business in the United States.

Also in 2009, Kiplinger’s named Manchester, NH the second most tax friendly city in the US, second only to Anchorage, AK.

Last, but not least, also in 2009, Forbes magazine put Manchester, NH #1 on it’s list “America’s 100 Cheapest Places to Live”.

It’s great to see that, for the criteria that were the basis for these surveys, Manchester, NH is doing well and has been for some time.  Of course, if you were to change the criteria, Manchester’s ranking might well be different but to find a thriving, active, fun community that can change with the times and isn’t just about the hype of the current fads, these criteria work just fine.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should spend a few days in Manchester, NH and see for yourself what a great place it is.

 

Great new restaurants in Manchester, NH

While there’s certainly no shortage of great places to dine in Manchester, we have some great new spots that deserve some attention.  While Darlene and I have not yet been able to visit these spots, the guests at the Ash Street Inn have given us some great reviews.  So we thought we could pass along some great new ideas to our readers.

XO on Elm, at 827 Elm Street, calls their style “metropolitan nouveau cuisine with a unique New England flair.  Our guests call it fresh, unusual and exciting!  Lots of different mixtures of flavors in some new twists on old favorites makes for an interesting experience whether you go for tapas and cocktails or for dinner.  There is always lots of excitement with a new place and the service has always been quick and professional.  I’m looking forward to the jumbo sea scallops frilled with a maple bourbon glaze and accompanied with pumpkin risotto!

Ignite Bar and Grille, at 100 Hanover Street, has been around a bit longer than XO on Elm but it is still quite new.  In a very short time it has become a favorite spot for local professionals after a hard day’s work whether it’s just for a quick drink and some appetizers or a leisurely dinner with friends.  Lots of great menu items and some really interesting takes on some things.  Ever had fried pickles?  One of our guests said that a deep fried sliced dill with ranch dip is awesome!  And the Asian BBQ Ribeye Steak is made with real Asian BBQ sauce.  I’m going to have to try that one just to see what it is.

Firefly American Bistro and Bar, at 22 Concord Street, has been around well over a year but they still have that “new spot” feel.  They have won several awards through our local “underground” newspaper’s reader’s poll (I promise to write about the Hippo soon!) including 2010 awards as the “Best Date Place” and the “Best Cocktail” for the Firefly Dirty-tini!  One cold, raw day last winter, Darlene and I stopped in for an early dinner and a wonderful time.  It was just noisy enough to put some life into a dreary day and the chowder was perfect for warming up the insides too!  I’m already planning to go back for their Sea Scallops Casino because I’m dying to try scallops with smoked bacon, spinach and feta cheese.  Might have to get back there soon!

We’re really blessed to have great little spots like this so close to us at the Ash Street Inn.  These three are all within a three-block area (little city blocks – not NY blocks) and just over a half mile from the Inn.  We’ll keep talking about all the fine dining that’s available here in Manchester.  Sooner or later we know you will find a reason to some stay with us at the Inn and indulge in some fine dining of your choice.

 

Casual Elegance in an 1885 Victorian Home