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October 29, 2018

Soft Ginger Cookies are Perfect taste of Fall

By popular demand, we are posting the recipe for our soft, sweet, and spicy ginger cookies.  We find the rich, warm tastes to be perfect for fall. 

The ancient Chinese first cultivated ginger root, where it was often used as a remedy for stomach ailments.  Traders on the Silk Road brought the spice to Europe.  The term “gingerbread” came to refer to any baked good that included ginger and a sweetener such as honey or molasses.  Europeans made hard gingerbread cookies, sometimes gilded with gold leaf.  These were a popular treat at festivals and fairs.  Ladies often gave their favorite knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck in a

These soft, sugar-crusted cookies are perfect with a mug of hot apple cider.

Ginger and spice make these cookies nice!

tournament.  Queen Elizabeth I is given credit for popularizing fancily decorated ginger cookies and they came to symbolize all that was elegant in England.  http://time.com/4602913/gingerbread-men-history  The colonists brought ginger baked goods to the New World.  Early Americans appear to have preferred softer gingerbread and the first American cookbook contains three different recipes.  The Marquis de Lafayette was partial to the soft gingerbread served to him by George Washington’s mother.  Buckhorn Inn’s soft ginger cookies offer a delicious taste of history.

Recipe for Soft Ginger Cookies

1/4 pound butter at room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup molasses

3 tablespoons dark corn syrup

2 tablespoons milk

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

extra sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy.  Then mix in molasses, corn syrup and milk.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, creating a stiff dough.  Pinch off small pieces of dough and shape into 1 1/2″ balls.  Roll in sugar.  Place 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 11 to 12 minutes until tops are puffed.  Cool cookies 2 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to racks to cool.  These freeze well.  The recipe makes about 40 cookies.

 

 

October 15, 2018

Harvest Festival Comes to Gatlinburg

 

The City of Gatlinburg is celebrating autumn and the harvest September 7 through November 25, 2018 with the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. This is a fabulous time of year to visit Eastern Tennessee. You can enjoy the beautiful fall colors, visit talented artists and craftsmen, enjoy the whimsical decorations, or take in one of the area’s special events. Many of our guests have marked their calendars for the November 8 Chili Cookoff. More information on this and other events is available at https://www.gatlinburg.com/event.

Gatlinburg is embracing the season with brand-new autumn-themed displays, life-size scarecrow people, and scarecrows created by individual business establishments.

Scarecrows Have Long History as Harvest Helpers

Scarecrows are used by farmers to protect their crops from birds.  Historians tell use that people the world over have used scarecrows for more than 3,000 years.   The first record of scarecrows is by the Egyptians who used them to protect their wheat fields along the Nile.  Each culture designed their scarecrows differently.  Greek scarecrows looked like one of their gods, while German scarecrows are distinctly witch-like.  

Scarecrows are the perfect symbol of the harvest season.

Gatlinburg is celebrating the season with whimsical scarecrows.

Most scarecrows in the U.S. are human in form and dressed in old clothes.  Some farmers use aluminum strips tied to the scarecrow to catch the light and scare away birds.  Inflateable tube men have also been used in this fashion.

The scarecrow has been a powerful symbol in literature.  Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story “Feathertop” features a scarecrow brought to life by a witch in Salem, Massachusetts.  Whether you prefer Ray Bolger’s scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz” or Michael Jackson’s in “The Wiz”, we all root for the scarecrow who bemoans “If I only had a brain . . .”.  And Indiana-born John Mellencamp featured the agricultural anthem “Rain on the Scarecrow” in his 1985 album “Scarecrow”.  

Some of the most colorful names for scarecrows come from the United Kingdom.  There the figure may be called hay-man, murmet, hodmedod, tattie bogle, mommet or mawkin.

By whatever name, we find scarecrows to be the iconic decoration of the harvest season!

 

 

October 8, 2018

More Favorite Food Scenes from Movies

In the last issue of our newsletter we celebrated some of our favorite movies scenes involving food.  We invited our readers to contribute to the list, and many of you replied.

Our Readers at the Movies

Roger Meyer from Georgia reminded us of one of our favorite movies, “Tom Jones.”  Roger captures the movie well:  “One cannot forget the 1963 movie “Tom Jones” in which Tom, played hilariously by Albert Finney at age 26 is a rascal of the highest (or lowest) order.   He attempts to seduce an older woman in a tavern over a plate of food such as oysters and lobster.  The acting, photography, and dialogue are spot on.”

We are glad are guests have shared their favorite food scenes from movies with us.

Many of our favorite movies have food scenes.

Roger also reminds us of the 2015 movie “Chef” which we have only seen recently.  In the film Jon Favreau leaves his top shelf job as a chef de cuisine to start a food truck.  “The food scenes, especially when he begins to cook for the food truck, will make you salivate and leave the movie theater dying for some good ethnic food.”  We agree!

And who can forget “Tortilla Soup” from 2001.  Hector Elizondo invites his daughters home to dine with him every Sunday.  They discuss everything about life and love over these meals.  Raquel Welch plays a widow trying to become a love interest of Elizondo.  The food scenes look delicious.  As Roger says, “You won’t need popcorn with this movie, the food scenes will sate you!”

Several readers mentioned “Goodfellas” from 1990.  They called to mind the dinner scene in prison.  Remember the garlic sliced so thin with a razor blade that it would “liquefy in the pan with just a little oil”?

A member of our own team chided us gently for not including “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” from “The Godfather”.   This team member also referenced 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke” where Paul Newman earned the respect of his fellow inmates by eating 50 hardboiled eggs.  In the words of one prisoner, his stomach was so swollen “like a ripe watermelon that’s about to bust itself open”.

We have plenty more scenes that you have submitted–keep watching this space for more!

 

 

October 1, 2018

Autumn Activities in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountain Association (GSMA) has announced autumn hiking and learning opportunities in our area this October.

Autumn Birding

Both novice and expert birders will find a rich variety of late-season habitats at the Seven Islands State Birding Park in Kodak, Tennessee.  The park is on a peninsula nestled in a bend of the French Broad River and features a diverse landscape of aquatic and grassland habitats, hiking trails, and spectacular mountain views.  In a single day, birders may see or hear as many as 80 different species!  The hike will be conducted on Sunday, October 7 at 8:00 am.  Birders can expect to hike no more than 5 miles on trails rated as moderately difficult.  To learn more about all the activities in this blog post, please visit http://www.gsmassoc.org.  

On an autumn hike you may very well spot a red crossbill.

Autumn is the perfect season for birding.

Another birding opportunity, this one on Monday, October 8 at 8:00 am starts at the Newfound Gap Rockefeller Memorial to seek out high-elevation bird species such as vireos, nesting wood warblers, and flycatchers.  After several hours at Newfound Gap, the birders will drive to Clingman’s Dome to follow a nature trail in search of red crossbills, common ravens, and more.  This hike is rated moderate and will be about 5 miles in length.

Hiking

If you are in the mood for an easy to moderate hike of about 6 miles, then be sure to go to Mingus Mill in North Carolina on Monday, October 8.  The hikers will follow a portion of Mingus Creek.  Local hiking enthusiasts will lead the way to Floyd Cemetery and perhaps also to Queen W.H. Cemetery.  The hike includes passing the still-operating Mingus Mill which was built in 1886.

As the group goes to the Enloe Slaves Cemetery they will enjoy spotting wildlife activity, late-season wildflowers, and early fall foliage colors.

 

On Tuesday October 30 you can meet at 8:30 at the Little Brier School in Tennessee.  Park volunteer Robin Goddard, dressed in character, will take you back in time to 1881 in the one-room Little Greenbrier schoolhouse.  As the hike continues, a professional naturalist will share the cultural history of the Walker family.  She will explain the natural resources they needed so the family of 13 could be self-sustaining.  They worked in their livestock pastures, fruit orchards, and vegetable fields until the 1960’s.  Be prepared to walk about 5 miles on easy to moderate trails.

Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains.  The weather will be perfect for hiking and exploring, and then for enjoying a delightful dinner and cozy accommodation at the Buckhorn Inn.