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May 29, 2020

Smoky Mountains Are Home to Amazing Creatures!

The Great Smoky Mountains are home to 150 types of land snail.

The land snail’s shell is beautiful in both design and color.

The Great Smoky Mountains contain a myriad of flora and fauna.  Some of you may have seen this little critter we photographed and posted on our Facebook page.  We were eager to learn more about it.  And just in time, the May issue of Smokies Live hit our inbox.  This is a publication of the Great Smoky Mountains Association and contains well-researched articles on a myriad of topics.  One such article is “Permanent Camp:  Land Snails”  http://www.smokiesinformation.org.  Thanks to George Ellison for this interesting article.  And we appreciate the beautiful illustration by Elizabeth Ellison.

The article identifies land snails as terrestrial gastropods in the phylum Mollusca.  Worldwide, there are more than 100,000 members of the land snail species.  About 150 of these can be found in our very own National Park!  Land snails are fascinating to watch.  They move by muscular contraction.  The taller of their two sets of tentacles have eyes on their tips.  The shorter set enables the snail to smell.

Where Can You Find Snails in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Just about everywhere, according to the article.  They prefer moist, shady conditions.  The article quotes Dan and Judy Dourson (authors of Land Snails of the Great Smoky Mountains).  “The base of large diameter tree species such as black and butternut walnut can sometimes yield high numbers of land snails.”  

The Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) is a nonprofit that supports the preservation of the Park.  They offer many resources to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the Park through education, interpretation and research.  Membership in the GSMA includes subscriptions to their print magazine and electronic newsletters.  Members also are entitled to shopping discounts at visitor center stores.  We encourage you to consider membership in the GSMA and join us in becoming stewards of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

May 18, 2020

Why Are They Called “Salads”?

Today we picked a mix of beautiful greens for salads for our dinner guests.  The bowl of colorful greens had us wondering about the origins of this dish.

Fresh, beautiful greens are the start of many delicious salads.

These greens only need a drizzle of a flavorful dressing.

The word “salad” comes from the ancient Latin word “sal” for “salt”.  In ancient times, salt was an important ingredient in dressing.  You might be surprised to learn that ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed raw vegetables with dressing.  Typically the vegetables would be dressed with vinegar, oil, herbs, and salt.  “Salata” literally means “salted herb”.  The dish became more complex over time.  In the 1700’s chef’s began to create composed salads with layers of ingredients.  

Today any entrée or side dish that is composed of a mixture of ingredients and intended to be eaten cold is a salad.  Some recipes are world famous.  Master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris voted Caesar Salad as the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.  The Cobb was invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in 1937.  Crab Louie began appearing on menus at the turn of the 20th century.  Nicoise features garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers, and lemon juice.  It is named for the city of Nice, France.  A private party for the pre-opening of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 13, 1893 led to the first serving of Waldorf Salad. http://www.whatscookingamerica.net

The recipe below could be the start of your own famous salad!  Fresh mixed greens and vine-ripened tomatoes.  Just add a drizzle of lemon basil dressing and you will enjoy a taste of summer.

Lemon Basil Dressing for Salads

 ¼         Cup     Diced onions

1          Tbl       Minced garlic

1          Tsp      Dijon mustard

½         Cup     Fresh basil leaves

1          Tsp      Salt

½         Tsp      Pepper

1          Tbl       Sugar

¼         Cup     Mayonnaise

½         Cup     Lemon juice

Combine the ingredients above in mixing bowl of food processor.

Add slowly while processing:

1 ½      Cups    Combined Olive and canola oil

Chill and serve over salad greens.

Yield: About 2 cups

May 11, 2020

National Park Begins Phased Reopening

Saturday, May 9, 2020 marked the first phase of the reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This phase, expected to last about two weeks, includes some popular destinations.  The Park will open Newfound Gap, Little River, Cherokee Orchard, Laurel Creek, Cades Cove Loop, Lakeview Drive, and Deep Creek Roads.  The restrooms and picnic areas along the roads will be open as well.  However, visitor centers and campgrounds will remain closed for this period.  The phased-in reopening follows guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local public health authorities.

We understand that the LeConte Lodge and Cades Cove Riding Stables will open on May 18.  The Cades Cove Campstore and Smokemont Riding Stables are set to open on May 23.

National Park Encourages Safety

The National Park is a treasure in our own backyard.

Visitors can once again marvel at the beauty of the National Park.

The foremost priority in the reopening is the health and safety of employees, partners, volunteers, visitors, and local residents.  Park managers will monitor all activities to ensure that they comply with public health guidance.  Park authorities stress that visitors must practice social distancing.  Saturday’s reopening drew visitors from far and wide.  Park spokesperson Dana Soehn reports that she saw license plates from 24 states in one parking lot.  Soehn asks that visitors make choices to keep themselves, and Park staff, safe.

After the two-week period, Park management will decide whether to reopen secondary roads and campgrounds, and later, to lift all restrictions.

We view the Park as our treasure, and we are so glad that visitors may once again seek comfort and solace by viewing the wonders of nature.  We encourage our guests to hike early in the morning, before other hikers arrive.  The Park Service website http://www.nps.gov/grsm is a wonderful source for information.  The site has the most current information about facility openings, service hours, and access.  They also have released a new video highlighting tips for a safe Smokies visit.

If you haven’t been hiking for a few weeks, a walk around the Buckhorn Inn nature trail is a good way to get back in shape.  We look forward to seeing you outdoors!

 

April 23, 2020

Covid-19 Safety Precautions at Buckhorn Inn

You may have missed our glorious Spring at Buckhorn but you don’t have to miss Summer. Innkeeper Lee Mellor

So many of our guests tell us that Buckhorn is their “happy place,” a place where they feel safe. We intend to do all that we can to insure that never changes.

We have always taken cleanliness seriously at Buckhorn Inn, but we established additional measures to protect our guests and our employees as soon as the threat of Covid-19 became apparent. During the time we have been closed, we have institutionalized these changes following guidelines established by the CDC.   All accommodation and public areas have been meticulously cleaned and sanitized.

  • Re-opening  We re-opened on Friday, May 1.  Although lodging establishments like Buckhorn are considered essential services and were not required to cease operations, we did so because we thought it was the socially responsible thing to do.  We have been so touched by the many phone calls asking us when we will re-open and expressing concern about the inn and about John and me and our staff.  We are lucky to have such kind and loyal guests.  None of us or our families have been affected directly by the virus in terms of our health.  Our county has not been so nearly affected as have others for which we are so grateful.
  • Social Distancing  Social distancing will probably be with us for some time.   We are learning to refrain from our usual hugs and handshakes and we have even had to give up elbow bumping.  There are differing opinions about the effectiveness of masks, but if you want to wear one please feel comfortable doing so.  We think we can recognize most of our guests even if they are in disguise!   
  • Buckhorn is a big place with 30 acres of beautiful property for you to explore.  We have gardens, a nature trail, labyrinth, and a pond for you to enjoy.  We have set up a badminton net for two.  At this time, we are only making available accommodation that offers private entrances, decks, views of the grounds and the mountains, and  a self-contained heating/air conditioning system.
  • Food Service  All personnel engaged in the preparation and service of food at Buckhorn are accustomed to employing professional levels of hygiene, including handwashing and health and safety standards as mandated by the State of Tennessee.  Our food service operation and our accommodation are inspected regularly by the Sevier County Health Department. Our record is exemplary.  However, management will monitor these procedures even more closely in the days to come.
  • Dining We have a large dining room which can be combined with our library, so that social distancing can be maintained at mealtimes.  Staff serving in the dining room wear masks and gloves. Breakfast is included in all accommodation rates and can be taken in the dining room between 8:00 and 9:30 am or delivered to your accommodation at no extra charge.  Hearty picnic lunches are available every day at $10 per person.  On June 18, we returned to our nightly dinner service, although seating is now limited to 24 guests to accommodate social distancing.  Guests can also pick-up their dinner “to-go.” 
  • Housekeeping Services  Through the foreseeable future we will modify our daily housekeeping service.  Instead of our customary full service, we will provide clean towels daily, remove trash and replenish amenities like coffee, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, etc.   On departure, we will clean and sanitize each accommodation.  Soft furnishings, for instance bedspreads, comforters, blankets, mattress pads, linens, will be washed and sanitized as each guest departs.  In this way, each arriving guest will be assured of perfectly clean accommodation.
  • General Cleaning  We use products with the components necessary to clean and sanitize to the standards recommended by the CDC.  Public areas will be cleaned and re-cleaned throughout the day, paying particular attention to areas such as doors, door handles, counter tops, stair railings.  
  • Health of Our Staff   We will monitor the health of our staff closely.  Should any staff member show any signs of illness, he or she will be asked to remain at home and receive paid time off for that period.

We will adjust our protocols as the situation in regard to Covid-19 develops, following guidance from our local, state and federal authorities and relevant health organizations.

  • Reservations and Cancellations  Debbie is in the office from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm and eagerly awaits your phone calls–even if it is only to chat–but she is also happy to take reservations (865 436 4668).  You can also reserve online and you can send an email to [email protected]   
  • Questions?  We are here for you.  When you are ready to return to these mountains and to experience their healing power, Buckhorn will be ready for you.  Until then, stay safe.

Lee and John and the Buckhorn Team

March 30, 2020

The Lure of the Spring Vegetable Garden

Like many of you, we have been itching to get into our vegetable garden.  Our raised beds have been calling to us!  We already have transplanted a few plants and put in some early spring seeds.  We hope that by the time these vegetables are ready to harvest, you will be dining with us at Buckhorn Inn!

Vegetable Transplants

We transplanted some Redarling brussels sprouts plants.  The Burpee catalog http://www.burpee.com describes them as “marvels of flavor, serenely balancing bite and mild sweetness”.  The purple-red buttons will appear in our menus steamed, broiled, or roasted.

We started our 2020 vegetable garden.

One of our beds is planted with brussels sprouts and pole beans.

Seeds in the Vegetable Garden

We sowed a lettuce blend this year.  We will be growing six varieties of loose-leaf and crisphead lettuce:  Lolla Rosa, Royal Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Little Caesar, Matchless Butterhead, and Salad Bowl.  These varieties are slower to bolt when the weather turns hot.  The various colors and textures are sure to make beautiful salads for our dinner guests.

The Prizm Hybrid kale will offer a rich and sweet flavor for salads when young, then add a nutty flavor to soups when more mature.

Do you like okra?  We do too!  This year we planted organic Red Velvet okra,  The 4-5′ tall plants will have red stems and will produce scarlet-red pods.  We can’t wait to use these tender pods in soups and stews.

This year we are trying Pusa Rudhira Red carrots.  This variety is very high in beta-carotene and lycopene.  So it is nutritious as well as beautiful and delicious!  This carrot was created to provide healthy and hardy vegetables for India’s subsistence farmers. http://www.rareseeds.com

Pole beans have been strong producers in our beds.  This year we are growing green Kentucky Blues, yellow Monte Gustos, and purple heirloom Trionfo Violetto.

Our Oregon Sugar P0d II snow peas will become favorities.  This variety stays compact, an important quality for raised bed gardening.

We planted a few hills of Country Gentleman sweet corn.  This is a shoepeg type corn.  Therefore the kernels will be in a zigzag pattern rather than in rows.  This variety is touted to be one of the best heirloom sweet corns.  We love sweet, milky, tender white corn!

Please let us know about your garden plans!  We love to talk veggies.

 

March 25, 2020

Time to Think of Spring

Spring brings daffodils to Buckhorn Inn.

We are welcoming spring to the Buckhorn Inn.

Spring is coming to eastern Tennessee.  The trees are flowering and, on warmer days, the honey bees are venturing out.  We thought you might enjoy a few of our favorite poems about spring.  If they inspire you to write your own, please share them with us!  One of our favorite poetry sites is http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com

Spring Pools by Robert Frost

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect

The total sky almost without defect,

And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,

Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,

And yet not out of any brook or river,

But up by the roots to bring dark foliage on.

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds

To darken nature and be summer woods–

Let them think twice before they use their powers

To blot out and drink up and sweep away

These flowery waters and these watery flowers

From snow that melted only yesterday.

The Wind Sings Welcome in Early Spring by Carl Sandburg

The grip of the ice is gone now.

The silvers chase purple.

The purples tag silver.

They let out their runners

Here where summer says to the lilies:

“Wish and be wistful,

Circle this wind-hunted, wind-sung water.”

Come along always, come along now.

You for me, kiss me, pull me by the ear.

Push me along with the wind push.

Sing like the whinnying wind.

Sing like the jostling obstreperous wind.

Have you ever seen deeper purple . . .

This in my wild wind fingers?

Could you have more fun with a pony or a goat?

Have you seen such flicking heels before, 

Silver jig heels on the purple sky rim?

Come along always, come along now.

A Light exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring

Not present on the Year

At any other period–

When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad

on Solitary Fields

That Science cannot overtake

But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,

It shows the furthest Tree

Upon the furthest Slope you know

It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step

Or Noons report away

Without the Formula of sound

It passes and we stay–

A quality of loss

Affecting our Content

As Trade had suddenly encroached

Upon a Sacrament.

 

 

March 2, 2020

Mulligatawny Soup is a Guest Favorite

Are you familiar with mulligatawny soup?  It is new to many of our guests, but once they sample it, it becomes one of their favorites!  Mulligatawny is a soup with South Indian roots.  The name originates from a Tamil word and loosely means “pepper water” or “pepper broth”.  

The original version made popular in Madras was vegetarian.  It was originally prepared with peppers, hence the name.  Indian cooks made the recipe to fulfill the British desire to have a soup course.  It became popular with employees of the East Indiana Company during colonial times.  In the 1800s British cookbooks began to feature many different variations on the recipe, some with meat.  Several brands of tinned soup became available.  The noted explorer Dr. David Livingstone took mulligatawny paste with him into the deep interior of Africa.  http://www.livehistoryindia.com

Mulligatawny soup has many variations . . .all delicious!

A warm bowl of soup is perfect on a raw spring day.

Mulligatawny is a rich curried soup.  The recipes have changed to suit differing tastes in Western culture.  It is usually made with chicken stock, although vegetable stock may be used.  Apples add a sweet/tart note to the vegetables.  Almonds, raisins, and coconut milk are often added.  Freshly grated ginger is best in this recipe although powdered ginger may be used.  This soup blends British tastes with Indian spices.  We hope you savor this delicious soup.  

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Chicken, cut up or quartered

3

Qts

Water or chicken broth, unsalted

4

Ribs

Diced celery

1

Med

Diced onion

3

 

Diced carrots

3

 

Diced tart apples

2

Med

Peeled and diced turnips

1

Med

Diced tomato

1

Cup

Rice

1

Tbl

Curry powder

1

Tsp

Ground ginger

1

Tsp

Black pepper

2

Tbl

Salt

1

Tsp

Thyme

1

Tsp

Oregano

 

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and bring to
boil. Slow boil for 45 minutes. Remove chicken
from pot and let cool. Pick meat from chicken,
discarding skin and bones. Return meat to pot.
Cook until vegetables are tender. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve steaming hot and topped with a spoon of plain yogurt.

 

Yield: 10-12 servings

February 24, 2020

Park Hosts Record Visitors in 2019

More than 12.5 million visitors came to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2019, an increase of more than 1 million over 2018.  The three main entrances, which accounted for more than two thirds of all park visitation, are near Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee.

Monthly visitation records were set during January, March, April, June, and May.  Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said in a recent issue of the Great Smoky Mountains Association newsletter, “I am very proud of our employees who work hard each day, along with our volunteers and partners, to help provide outstanding visitor experiences and to protect the resources that people come here to enjoy.”

Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy is intent on ensuring that visitors enjoy the park safely.  Her focus is on Preventive Search and Rescue.  You can find out more about her plans in the Spring 2020 issue of Smokies Life Magazine http://www.smokiesinformation.org.  

Tips for Avoiding Crowds

The Park reports that most people tour the park between 10 am and 6 pm.  By visiting earlier, or later, you will find the trails less crowded.  The most heavily used areas of the Park are the Cades Cove Loop Road and the Newfound Gap Road.  Lesser-used places include Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Cosby, Fontana Lake, and Heintooga Ridge Road.

Visitors enjoy hiking Mount LeConte during off seasons.

Visitors can avoid crowds by avoiding peak hike times.

The peak seasons in the Smokies are the months of June and July and October.  Visiting at other times mean fewer other guests.

Luckily for our guests, Buckhorn Inn is located out of the crowds in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  We are only a mile and a half from the Greenbrier entrance to the Park, which is one of the lesser used.  And finally, our Great Winter Escape and Great Summer Escape packages coincide with the quieter times in the Park!  We look forward to seeing you soon.

February 8, 2020

Some Salmon Evening

Close up of young couple toasting with glasses of red wine at restaurant

What to serve for a special dinner? How about baked salmon stuffed with goat cheese and spinach? The beautiful green of the filling peeking out from the salmon makes a gorgeous presentation. Add a green salad and some pan-fried potatoes and you have a great meal! The fish can be stuffed in advance and refrigerated, making this a great company meal. We recommend serving a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with this dish. The vibrant acidity of the wine will cut through the richness of the cheese. If you prefer a red wine with your salmon, try a Pinot Noir like the La Crema that we serve at Buckhorn Inn. The bright, juicy fruit flavors of the wine will complement the salmon.

 

 

 

Salmon with Goat Cheese and Spinach

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup goat cheese, room temperature
8 salmon fillets with skin, each about 1” thick
Olive oil
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450. Mix cream and goat cheeses. Stir in spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut a ¾” deep slit down the center of each salmon fillet. Fill each slit with the spinach mixture. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place the fillets on the sheet, skin side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix crumbs and melted butter. Top salmon with the butter and panko crumbs, pressing to adhere. Bake until the salmon is opaque in the center, about 12 minutes.

January 21, 2020

How Do Honey Bees Spend the Winter?

Our guests have been asking how our honey bees are spending the winter.  We thought that you might be curious as well.

They don’t fly south and they don’t hibernate–they have developed their own means for coping with the cold weather.  In order to stay warm the bees gather in a central area of the hive and form what is known as a winter cluster.  The worker bees gather around the queen.  The queen is at the center of the cluster.  Worker bees flutter their wings and shiver.  This constant motion generates heat and keeps the inside of the hive warm.  The worker bees shift from the outside of the cluster to the inside so they all have a chance to warm up.  The temperature may range from 46 degrees at the outside of the cluster to 80 degrees at the inside.  The cluster becomes more compact as the weather turns colder.

It takes a lot of honey to provide the energy for all of this fluttering and shivering.  A hive of bees may consume 40 pounds of stored honey over the winter.  On warm days, the bees may briefly fly out of the hive in order to eliminate body waste.

Honey bees worked all summer to build honey stores.

Hives can consume 40 pounds of honey over the winter.

Beekeepers Help Honey Bees Overwinter

The beekeepers’ role is to provide the best environment to help the bees succeed in overwintering.  Jack and Sharon prepped the hives for winter this fall.  The hives were robust with lots of stored honey for the winter.  They cleared away weeds from the hives so that predators would not have a place to hide.  They reduced the hive entrances so that mice and other small creatures cannot get into the hive during cold weather.  To supplement the honey the bees stored, they made “candy boards” out of sugar and pollen substitute.  The candy boards are placed in the top of the hive where it can easily be accessed by the bees.

They made sure the hives are adequately ventilated.  Ventilation is important to keep the inside of the hive dry.  The respiration of a hive full of bees contains quite a bit of moisture!   Bees can weather dry cold, but wet cold can be deadly to them.  Strong winds are common here, so they weighted down the outer covers of the hives.

We are hopeful that Queens Catherine and Sophia and their minions will overwinter in fine style.  We hope to be able to offer you a taste of Tudor Mountain Honey in 2020!