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Friday, March 31, 2017

A Great #Foodie Day in Cozumel #Mexico at Josefina's Cooking Class!

When Chef Dan and I travel we try to do as many "foodie" things as possible (he's a chef, duh!), because that's basically the only chance he gets all year to eat fine and inventive food, shmooze with chefs, and learn new techniques and recipes for the Elkhorn Inn. On our recent cruise, Chef Dan and I spent our one day in Cozumel, Mexico taking an excellent cooking class at Josefina's Cooking School, and it was WELL worth it! (See below for info on the cookbook- trust me: you will want this!!) On a previous cruise we took a 'cooking class' at a "tourist" resort in Cozumel and it was rather a disappointment- more about drinking and being silly than real Mexican cuisine- so this time I searched the internet, including TripAdvisor, for a REAL Mexican cooking class, and from everything I found online, Josefina's seemed like the "real deal"- and it was! Located in a nice residential area just a few short blocks from the tourist area on the water, the intimate class is held in the kitchen of a lovely private home with a delightful garden in the back; the market we went to is just a few, short blocks away. Luis and Tania were Excellent instructors, and we started our class with Luis taking us on a shopping trip to the nearby market to get the ingredients for the many dishes we were to prepare; after the class Dan and I went back to the market to buy a fabulous, huge (and heavy!) mortar and pestle like the one we used in the class! In addition to getting spices, fruits, veggies, and fresh fish for our dishes, one of the places we stopped at was a small tortilla shop, where we got to sample hot-off-the-press tortillas- thin and warm, and oh-so-good!
Luis & The Spices!

Veggies and fruits!

Luis and Dan: Fresh fish!

FRESH fish!

Spices and ground pumpkin seeds- staple of the Maya!

Luis & our hot, fresh tortillas!

Tortillas- hot and fresh!!

Then we went back to the kitchen and began making our lunch! We made a truly unique (to me!) pumpkin seed pate (Xilkil-Pak), using the ground pumpkin seeds we'd bought at the market; I had no idea that pumpkin seeds were a staple of the Mayan diet- I've never seen this dish- or anything like it- on a Mexican restaurant menu in the USA- and it's SO good!!
We started our class (and lunch) with Hibiscus Flower Water, and then made the Xilkil-Pak Mayan Pumpkin Seed Pate, Tikin'xic (Red Snapper in Achiote Sauce), tried different Mexican cheeses with great salsas that we made, created a delish guacamole with lots of texture and taste, made tortillas from scratch, and a dish of fried Nopales (Cactus)... and at the end we were treated to flan for desert, and a REAL Margarita! What a great lunch- and what a great day in Cozumel!
If  you enjoy Mexican food, you REALLY need to get Josefina's cookbook! You will discover SO many authentic Mexican dishes that you NEVER see on menus at Mexican restaurants in the USA, and that you can make with ingredients you can get here so easily! Order the downloadable cookbook for $10 from Christina Cannon at - and please tell her Elisse sent you! :-)

We went back to the market to get a mortar and pestle like this!

Tania, making the Achiote Marinade for the fish...

Tania, marinating the fish in Achiote Sauce...

Learning to cut up cactus (Nopales)

Chef Dan, cutting up Nopales!

First lunch- and then, last but not least- Luis making us a REAL Margarita!

Red Snapper in Achiote Sauce

Chef Dan, learning to make a tortilla!
Our tortillas!
Dan's perfect tortilla!

Luis making us the Mayan Pumpkin Seed Pate

Chef Dan crushin' & cookin'!
As you can see we had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and ate like kings! If you are having a holiday in Cozumel, or just have one day in Cozumel on a cruise, and are into food and learning about the place you're visiting, trust me: THIS is how you want to spend a morning!
To contact Josefina's Cooking Class (Cozumel Chef) and book a class,  go to:\
To order their great Mexican Cookbook, email Christina Cannon at - and please tell her Elisse sent you! :-)


Friday, March 24, 2017

We won! The Elkhorn Inn is a SCORE #BizChampion for West Virginia!

We are proud and honored to announce that the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre has been chosen as an American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club! Thank you to everyone who voted for us! 
Photo (c) John Sagert
The American Small Business Championship ( awarded this title to 102 small businesses, two in every state and the District of Columbia, for their dedication to the success of their businesses. Each state winner (including us!) will be awarded a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas, TX, and SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year. Each Champion is also eligible for one of three $25,000 grand prizes!
We are truly honored to have been chosen for this award! When we opened the Elkhorn Inn in 2003, after saving and restoring the last historic building in Landgraff, West Virginia, our dream and goal was to help kick-start the post-flood tourism industry in McDowell County, serving the community by providing needed tourism services as an historic inn, and promoting the many wonderful and fun things there are to do in McDowell County, West Virginia! For the last 14 years, the Elkhorn Inn has provided bed-and-breakfast accommodation and fine dining, and we have welcomed thousands of guests from across the USA and overseas, and we look forward to continuing to do so! Please check out our Facebook page: for lots of photos and info on the Inn, as well as the fun things you can do in McDowell County, including great railfanning, trout fishing, and ATVing!
The prizes, training, publicity, and SCORE mentoring we have been awarded will help us take our business to the next level, and better serve you, our customers. We look forward to attending the training event, and will be sure to check back in and let you know how it goes! For more information on our win, check out: 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Vote for us to win the SCORE #Business Award!

We have entered the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre to win the #SCORE $25,000 Unique Business Award- PLEASE VOTE FOR US- and please share it, too! (Apparently you can vote repeatedly- so PLEASE do, as we have to catch up with the folks who have 5000 votes!)

The Elkhorn Inn is the ONLY entry from McDowell County #WestVirginia- and the ONLY "Coal Heritage Trail" historic building in the state providing lodging and fine dining! AND we are the ONLY restaurant in our area on the Bon Appetit Appalachia "foodie" map! So we really ARE unique! We truly hope to be their next  #BizChampion!  THANK YOU!

The Elkhorn Inn is an historic "Coal Heritage Trail" inn providing bed-and-breakfast accommodations in 14 guest rooms, and fine dining by reservation.  Thanks to Chef Dan's dinners, we are on the 6-state Bon Appetit Appalachia "foodie" map:

Our area offers the best railfanning (train photography ops), and wild stream trout fishing in the USA, and the best ATV and UTV trails in the eastern USA! We have gorgeous leaf-peeping here in the mountains in the fall, tons of historic sites to visit for those interested in West Virginia, railroading, and industrial and coal mining history, and lots of other fun in the mountains!
Please share the #ValentinesDay #love!

Great ATVing!
Great winding roads for bikers!
Great trout fishing on Elkhorn Creek!
 When we saved and restored the last, surviving historic “Coal Heritage Trail” building in Landgraff, WV in 2002, and opened our home as the Elkhorn Inn in 2003, our aim was to help kick-start the post-flood tourism economy of McDowell Co., by providing needed lodging & tourism services, as McDowell Co. offers excellent railfanning, ATVing, wild trout fishing, and other fun! We believed that we could not only save this historic building, but truly make it “live” again, welcoming guests from around the USA and overseas- and we did! We also have a “museum room” at the Inn documenting local history, a gift shop featuring local products, & we offer fine dining at the Inn by reservation, literally  putting McDowell Co. on the Bon Appetit Appalachia 6-state “foodie” map!

Chef Dan dinner: Caribbean Rum-Marinated Steak, with housemade Onion Jam

Chef Dan dinners: Chicken Piccata, served over Pasta

Dinner Party at the Elkhorn Inn!

Chef Dan Dinner: Shrimp Scampi

Golf AND ATVing!

Railfanning: the NS "Pocahontas" railroad across from the Elkhorn Inn (c) Sean Hoyden

Leaf-Peeping via ATV!

Chef Dan dinner: Herb-Rubbed Smoked Ribs!

The Elkhorn Inn & the NS "Pocahontas" railroad (C) John Sagert

Chef Dan Dinner: Herb-Poached Salmon with Alfredo-Dill Sauce!

Apples Guest Room

Blue Private Bath Guest Room

Dinner at the Elkhorn Inn...

Greenbrier Guest Room

Yellow Flowers Private Bath Guest Room

#bonappalachia #trainsarecool #Appalachia #Appalachian #smallbusiness #smallbiz #travel #TravelTuesday #CHT #coalheritagetrail #TTOT #bedandbreakfast #finedining
#railfan #trains #trainarecool 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Sweeps & Contests THANK YOU- and sweeping tips!

This post is a GREAT BIG THANK YOU!
As my five faithful readers know, I am a terrible sweeper and contest-enterer. The first time I entered a contest- Oil of Olay's "Most Romantic Summer" contest back in 2002- I actually won it- a totally fabulous trip with hubs to The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders in Arizona that included plane tickets and spa treatments- and that fueled what has become my late-night hobby- and one that sure beats Candy Crush or Farmville for lucrative time-killing! LOL Yes, sweeping has it's downside- I get 1900+ emails a day I have to actually go through (because you are ONLY notified of a win via email...), but in the process of sweeping, I also learn a lot about new products, and there are lots of things I now want that I never even knew Existed until I saw them in a sweeps! LOL And yes, my friends made fun of me... until I started winning trips with plane tickets! So far I've won 6 trips with plane tickets, which Dan and I have enjoyed the heck out of:  thanks to sweeps and contests, we've had amazing trips back to Israel and Vietnam, Chile, Arizona, California, and Virginia!
And so, as 2016 draws to a close, I want to thank the great people and companies who made my fabulous "wins" possible, and, in many cases, treated me (and my husband) to things we Never would have been able to enjoy otherwise! PLEASE shop with these great companies- they all make terrific things that you'll love, and that will make Great gifts for the people you love!
Happy Dan and his fabulous Big Green Egg!
My first BIG Thank You goes to Tabasco, as, thanks to them, I won my chef husband THE Ultimate Grill-Smoker- a fabulous, medium-size Big Green Egg! And it came with a Nest, Eggmates, BBQ tools, starters and even organic charcoal, so (after reading the directions and watching videos and putting it together), he could get right into smoking us some fabulous, Memphis-Style Dry Rub Brisket! This was THE best "Big 7-0" birthday present for Chef Dan ever!
Chef Dan making a Dry Rub Brisket in his Big Green Egg!

Amazingly, I also won $160 in fabulous steaks and seafood from Certified Steaks and Seafood! I got us an amazing assortment of Prime and Wagyu filet mignons, Bermuda & Canadian lobster tails, crab claws, and andouille sausage for Chef Dan to make- and he's making some of them right now for our New Years Eve supper! 

My next BIG thank you goes to Vitruvi Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, as I won a glorious gift certificate for their excellent, natural essential oils, which I LOVE! I keep a diffuser on my desk in my office, and enjoy blending the oils to create a really pleasing and healthy environment around me while I work! My aromatherapy oils are like a "chemistry set" for Big Girls! :-)
My diffuser and some of my Virtuvi essential oils...

Some of my Vitruvi essential oils and sprays...

I won a Delicious November Bokksu box of Japanese snacks and teas, which was so much fun and yummy! (I blogged about it here: Bokksu - Enjoy Yummy Japan at Home every month!)  The November box was themed "Japanese Folklore" and included an artisan assortment of Japanese snacks and teas and a guide to explain everything! This is THE best gift for anyone who loves Japan- as we do! Our Bokksu box not only brought back wonderful memories of our honeymoon, 4 glorious days of which were spent in Japan, but gave us the chance to try new things and learn more about Japan, too!
My November Bokksu Box

I won a gorgeous ceramic artists palette from Stephen Quiller from The Artists Magazine, which I badly needed for my watercolors...

I won a Selfie Stick from Galbani- Italy's Favorite Cheese! 

I won PreHeels, a great anti-blister foot spray to stop my fave high-heels from irritating my tender toosties...

And from Vogue, I won a Gorgeous Vera Bradley backpack!

 I won a lovely selection of great travel beauty products from

And a truly fun and stylish Evan Williams Kentucky Bourbon "travel set" for my photo of my AbFab Kentucky Derby Evan Williams Mint Julep Jello Shots!

And two cool, fun vacuum wine stoppers from VINOPlease Wine Accessories and Tools:

I also won two glasses from Coors... (Obviously Not the Grand Prize LOL)

From Latina I won a set of Ouidad curly hair care products which are great for my curly hair!

I won a great assortment of natural beauty products from ThredUp, including lovely Earth Mama Angel Baby organic body lotion and other delightful products! 

And from SheSpeaks I won a Neutrogena Cleansing Set!

And then there was the Banana costume I won from Del Monte... No, this prize did NOT come with a trip to their Dole Plantation in Hawaii, but I entered it anyway... because I am, yes, bananas. LOL

And last, but not least, I FINALLY won Dan a car... There's just one little problem... :-)

Elisse's Tips for Successful Sweeping and Contest Entering:
1. Read the rules! If you are going to "waste time" on this, read the rules so you don't disqualify yourself!
2. Have an email just for sweeps and contests if possible, and check it EVERY DAY! This is a must. You will ONLY be notified of a win via email, and you will sometimes only have 24 hours to respond or you will lose the prize!
3. You WILL get 1000s of emails every day. You WILL be on every mailing list in the known universe.  Enjoy it. Think of it as "Market Research". LOL If that concept makes you crazy, sweeping is NOT for you!
4. Enter 100 a night. No kidding. This isn't luck, as many friends insist- it's entering 100 a night on average,  month after month after month... If you think of this as your "nighttime job" it will be less painful. LOL
5. Legitimate sweeps and contests will NEVER charge you ANYTHING to claim a prize you have won. You may have to send or fax in a signed affidavit, and you may get a tax form at the end of the year if the prize is larger than $500. But if anyone demands money from you to claim a prize you won they are breaking the law.
6. You WILL have to submit your name, address, phone, birthday, email, etc. in order to enter anything. If that is a problem for you, sweeping is NOT for you!
7. Sweeps are random drawings (like Lotto); Contests are based on skill. If you can write well, take good photographs, create art, make unique Pinterest boards, etc., contests can be very good- I have won a number of contests, including the trips to Chile, Arizona, and Virginia! Note: sometimes sweeps are designed to look like contests; again, read the rules to see if it's a random drawing or a skill-based contest.
8. The smaller the company (or blog or Facebook page) the better your odds. Blogs have great odds, because usually only a few hundred or a few thousand people enter, as opposed to the millions who enter the HGTV sweeps to win a million dollar home or the Ford sweeps to win a $40K truck.
9. Some are "enter only once" and some are "enter every day"; again: read the rules.
10. There are email lists of legitimate sweeps and contests you can sign up for which will deliver 100s of them to your inbox every day... 
11. Only enter for things you really want to win. I learned that the hard way! But remember: you may not win the Grand Prize $10K Trip to Vegas, you may win 1st Prize, which is a giant box of condoms- because the contest was sponsored by a condom company- and yes, that happened to me! You may also win a key chain, a toy car, or 2 beer glasses. Hey- it still beats Candy Crush. LOL
12. If and when you win a prize, be NICE to the great folks who sponsor these sweeps and contests! Don't forget that they do it to get business- so send them YOUR business and that of your friends and coworkers! Buy from them, blog about them, Facebook about them, Tweet about them, Pinterest pin them, and G+ them!
Good luck, and happy sweeping!