Nancy Hinchliff

I am a writer, editor, educator, musician, and small business owner. For the past 17 years I have been Innkeeping at my bed and breakfast in Louisville KY. I am passionate about women's issues, the arts, and life in general. I love to blog.

I’ve always loved to cook. I find it can be such a great crea­tive outlet…very therapeutic. And I love making breakfast. I’ve collected hundreds of recipes and enjoy changing them somewhat, to make them my own. When I first opened my bed and breakfast, I made everything from scratch including granola, muffins and cinnamon rolls. I even whipped my own fresh cream and made my own jams and jellies.

I’m sort of a purest when it comes to food and wont eat anything out of a can except tuna fish. I prefer to make my own soups and sauces and I’m very big on fresh fruits and vegetables and meat and fish from a meat market. I even prefer to use fresh herbs from the pots on my back porch. And, of course, I grind my own coffee beans.

I guess I was influenced by my mother and grandmother. They grew their own fruits and vegetables, and what they didn’t grow themselves, they bought at roadside fruit and vegetable stands. I remember taking drives out to the country and returning home with huge baskets of tomatoes, apples, and grapes.

My mother did a lot of canning in the basement. As you walked down the stairs into the cool, dark concrete, you could see what looked like giant cocoons of cheese cloth hanging from the ceiling. Underneath each one was a pail into which thick, purple, syrupy stuff dripped for hours. The mingled smells of plum, grape, and blueberry hung in the air like a sugary veil. She would make the most delicious jams and jellies from that sweet/sour stuff. I can still taste the wonderful flavor under my tongue making my mouth water like I’d just eaten a fresh lemon.

Sometimes the smells changed to the more pungent aroma of vinegar and tomatoes or the sweet comforting fragrance of fall apples as they boiled together in huge metal pots on the stove my daddy had moved down stairs and planted against the far wall. Shelves lined the opposite wall, a repository for the rows of canning jars filled with jams, jellies, sauces, and vegetables, beans, corn, and beets lined up at attention. She would also make delicious chili sauce, and apple sauce and can whatever she grew in her garden that year.

During the war, we had an extensive Victory garden with everything imaginable growing in it, including canta­loupe and watermelon. In the summer, my sister and I would gather lapfuls of the plump, ripe tomatoes and sit in the cool green grass in the back yard with a salt shaker eating and laughing. We also had a peach and a plum-tree. It was then that I first developed a my love of fresh fruits and vegetables ripened in the summer sun.

Although I had been a “food snob” most of my life, staying a purest was next to impossible when we became really busy at the Inn. I just didn’t have time to make everything from scratch, or to can and make fresh bread and granola.

Some of the other Innkeepers had started using mixes, pre­cooked bacon and even precooked omelets. I couldn’t bring myself to do the omelet thing, but I did try a few mixes and started using precooked bacon. I held out to the end on whipped cream from scratch and home-made granola, but eventually gave in. One of our signature dishes is a Quiche that started out as a simple spinach Quiche, but we kept adding more to it and tweaking it so it would taste better. Now it has herbs, spices, and sauted onions and mushroom and is abso­lutely wonderful. My guests tell me it’s one of the best Quiches they’ve ever tasted.