Secret recipes from the Inn: Father’s Day edition

As we get ready to celebrate Father’s Day, the Inncrowd and I were touched by a story we recently heard from our Westchester neighbor, Karen Dial. Karen shared with us, “From about the age of 4, I recall my dad, Howard Drollinger, taking me to help inspect buildings he owned.

This task would include checking the restrooms for TP, paper towels and in the day, pink powder soap. He taught me to check the floors and corners for cleanliness and check for lights that were out; sometimes we flushed toilets to make sure they were working properly. Exterior inspection was the same, and he said to pick up trash whenever possible, just to make our community more beautiful– pride of ownership! Little did I realize back then that this training would be part of my life today! Dad also had a good rapport with most tenants, and he would proudly introduce me, which made me feel very special.

I loved being part of my dad’s business life and learning about his buildings and meeting tenants. I appreciate my business training, and my dad’s patience and listening abilities. Dad took me under his wing and taught me well, always sharing a wonderful story; his stories are with me to this day. I’m extremely grateful to be Howard’s daughter. I love and miss my dad every day and I’m a better person having been raised by him, without a doubt!”

The last line of Karen’s story resonates deeply with me because my dad has passed on too. My dad was a teacher, specifically a mathematician. We called him “Dr. Don.” When I was born, my mom and dad were students so money was tight. Dad saw a secondhand, but really nice, crib advertised in the local newspaper. The ad said the crib would be sold to the first person who arrived, cash in hand, but that they would not be home until 3 p.m. on Saturday. So Dr. Don took his math books and sat under a tree in the person’s front yard from the early morning on. He wanted to be sure he was first in line so I could have the nice crib. I did get the beautiful crib, and this began a series of him sacrificing his time and personal convenience, always, for me.

The Inn’s guest James Inman whom we call “The Colonel” misses his father too. He shared with us that his dad was “the nicest man in the whole world. Though he was an engineer by trade, he really loved to fix things around the house. He taught me that if you approach a problem from a logical angle, and ask questions of those who know more, you will be able to solve any problem.” I like that simple yet profound approach to life.

The Inn’s General Manager, Liz Hall, was also taught to problem solve by her dad. Liz is fortunate that she still has her dad to turn to. Whenever Liz asks her dad for advice, he always answers by asking her a series of questions, which has taught her the invaluable art of critical thinking.

This explains why Liz responds as she does when I ask her what we should do about any issue I encounter at the Inn. Our conversations often go like this:

Me: We’re having an issue with (fill in the blank).What should we do?

Liz: What would Rebecca Hill do?

Me: Rebecca Hill would ask Liz Hall what to do!

Me: So…what should we do?

This Father’s Day, the Inncrowd and I hope you’ll take time to reflect on how your dad helped make you the person you are today. We are grateful for our dads. And in case you plan on making brunch for him, we’d also like to share this recipe, because real men don’t eat quiche–but they do eat Chili-Cheese Puff–and usually request a hotter salsa than the one we serve! Happy Father’s Day!

Chili-Cheese Puff

Prepare a 9×13” baking dish with cooking spray

Ingredients:

• 12 eggs

• 1/2 cup flour

• 1 Tsp. baking powder

• 2 cups cottage cheese

• 1 cup each Jack and Cheddar cheese, shredded

• 1 Tbsp. melted butter

• 1  7-ounce can diced green chiles

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. 

2. Add all remaining ingredients, except the chiles, and mix well.

3. Once all the ingredients are well incorporated, add the chiles.  Pour into your prepared 9×13” baking dish.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until top is nicely browned. Serve straight from the oven along with fresh Pico de Gallo or a chunky salsa.

“Inn-sider” Tip: This recipe can be made in advance and refrigerated over night before baking in the morning.

The Inn’s recipes have been lovingly collected over the past 20 years. Some are original recipes, others are well- known recipes that have been adapted, and some are recipes that have been handed down by our innkeeper’s mothers and grandmothers over the years.

Rebecca Hill is an innkeeper at the Inn at Playa del Rey and a published writer. Her stories have appeared in Redbook magazine and in over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. 

Story by Rebecca Hill