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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!

 

 

September 10, 2018

Buckhorn Inn Tropical Fruit Chutney

At  Buckhorn  we sometimes offer a chutney as an accompaniment to meat dishes.  To those unfamiliar with chutney, it is a lovely taste treat.  Chutney originated in India as long ago as 500 BC and usually refers to a relish made from fresh fruits and spices.  It comes from the Indian word “chatni” which means “crushed”.  British colonials took chutney home with them and made it their own.  They also brought the condiment to outposts in South Africa and the Caribbean where chutneys were made from local fruits.  In England commercially-made cooked chutneys are readily available these days.  They are typically made of fruit, often apples or pears, onions and raisins.  These ingredients are simmered with vinegar, brown sugar and spices for several hours.  The most famous commercial chutney in England is Major Grey’s Chutney.  The name is based on a mythical colonial British officer who made his own chutney to accompany curry.  Chutneys can be sweet or sour, spicy or mild, thin or chunky and can include such seasonings as garlic, ginger, mint, turmeric, cinnamon, cilantro or hot chilies.

Chutney typically is used as a flavorful topping for meat dishes or curry.  But you might want to experiment by using chutney:

  • With cream cheese on crackers for an appetizer
  • Mixing it with mayonnaise as a spread for ham or turkey sandwiches
  • Over steamed carrots or other vegetables

Buckhorn Inn Tropical Fruit ChutneyIngredients

¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups finely diced mango
1 ½ cup finely diced papaya
1 finely minced garlic clove
½ Scotch bonnet or habanero chili finely chopped
Pinch of ground cloves
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

In a large saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, brown sugar, coriander, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Add the pineapple, mango, papaya, garlic, ginger and pepper and season lightly with salt and white pepper. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Let cool. Discard the cinnamon and bay leaf. Serve at room temperature or chilled. The chutney can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. This recipe yields about 3 cups.

July 30, 2018

“Throwback Thursday” for Buckhorn Inn 80th Anniversary

In 2018 Buckhorn Inn is celebrating our 80th anniversary with Throwback Thursday!  Each Thursday in August our talented chef, Matthew Poole, will incorporate into the menu his modern take on some historical recipes.  Innkeeper Lee Mellor is in possession of the original hand-written recipes used by our cooks in the 1930’s!  

On Throwback Thursday we will celebrate traditional dishes, updated for modern tastes.

These handwritten recipes served the Buckhorn Inn kitchen well in 1938!

Desserts figured prominently in these early recipes.  We found recipes for Fluffy Banana Cake, Texas Pecan Pralines, and Heavenly “Goo” topping for shortcake.  

Savory recipes from 1938 include stuffed pork chops, roasted turkey and porcupine meatballs.  Don’t worry– there is no porcupine meat in these meatballs!  The name comes from the way rice grains poke out of the meatballs when they are done.  The rice resembles the quills of these little animals, common in Israel.  In Hebrew these meatballs are called Ktzizot Kipod.

Throwback Thursday Honors Long Culinary Tradition

The Buckhorn Inn opened its doors for business in August 1938.  Many Knoxville residents visited this new Inn for lunch.  Yes–in those days the Inn served three meals a day.  Leisurely, plentiful lunches were a hallmark of the times.  Douglas Bebb was passionate about the meals served at the Inn.  He raised his own chickens to provide the very freshest eggs and his garden produced an abundance of fresh vegetables.  He was an excellent cook and prepared all the meat dishes served at the Inn.  

We are sure Grace Price Branam would be thrilled to know her recipes are being honored on Throwback Thursday in 2018.

The ladies pictured here are Buckhorn Inn staff members Ella Huskey and Grace Price Branam (on the right). Mrs. Branam was the original cook for Buckhorn Inn.

The guests especially looked forward to the Sunday luncheon buffet.  It was Mrs. Branam’s  (the cook) day off, so Mr. Bebb cooked the meal in its entirety.  He was rightfully famous for his corn pudding.  In fact, his recipe was featured in the book Ford Times published by the Ford Motor Company to encourage driving vacations.

In those early days, a staff of four served the three meals a day.  Tennessee was dry in those days, yet the pre-dinner cocktail hour was an honored tradition.  The guests would simply bring their wine and spirits with them.  Ellen Bebb, daughter of Douglas, reports that some of the guests would take turns hosting cocktail hours in the cottages.  But the greatest honor was bestowed when guests were invited to Bebb House to share cocktails with their hosts.

Join us for a taste of history during dinners this August.  Visit our website http://www.buckhorninn.com/dining/weekly-dining-menu to review our upcoming menus.

 

July 9, 2018

Black Bears in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a large, protected area where black bears can roam freely.  The park service estimates that about 1,500 bears live in the park–that translates to a density of about two of the animals per square mile.  Sighting one of these magnificent creatures is a highlight of a vacation, but caution is necessary for the protection of the bear and of the tourist.  Bears can live 12-15 years or more in the wild, but those which have had access to human food and garbage have a life expectancy of only half that time.  

This mother black bear will defend her cub.

Black bear (Ursus americanus) mother standing in the road with young cub peeking out from the bushes.

Behavior of Bears

Like us, bears are omnivores.  Berries and nuts make up about 85% of their diet.  Insects and carrion are valuable sources of protein.  These creatures have a very keen sense of smell.  Feeding bears, or allowing them access to human food and garbage causes a number of problems.  It causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans.  Over time this means they may begin approaching people and may become more unpredictable and dangerous.  They may begin to pose a risk to public safety and must be euthanized.  In other cases they come close to human areas and are hit by cars or become easy targets for poachers.  The park service warns us that Garbage Kills Bears!

What Do I Do If I See Bears?

They are beautiful creatures.  But remember that they have color vision, a keen sense of smell, are good swimmers and tree climbers, and can run 30 miles per hour.  The park service provides a short video to help tourists understand what to do if they see a bear http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm  If you do see a bear you should remain watchful and not approach it.  Do not allow the bear to approach you.  Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear.  For these reasons, willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet) or any distance that disturbs or displaces a bear, is illegal in the park.  Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to view them.

If the bear approaches you, don’t run but rather back slowly away.  The bear will probably do the same.  If he continues to approach you, change your direction.  If he continues, stand your ground and talk loudly or shout at it.  Make yourself look as large as possible.  Use a stout stick to intimidate the bear.  It is very rare that you would be physically attacked, but if so you should not play dead.  Fight back aggressively with any available object.

Remember, the goal of bear management is to keep these magnificent animals shy, secretive, and afraid of people.  

 

May 15, 2018

Great Sights in the Great Smoky Mountains

Guests often ask us our favorite sights in the area.  There are so many!  Luckily for us the Smokies Guide Spring 2018 issue includes information on five top visits.  http://www.nps.gov/grsm

  1.  NEWFOUND GAP.  A “gap” is a low point in a mountain ridge.  Newfound Gap is about 16 miles from Gatlinburg.  Visitors will see spectacular views and be able to walk along the Appalachian Trail.  
    Newfound Gap has spectacular sights.

    Newfound Gap is a beautiful area in the Great Smoky Mountains.

    The Gap is nearly a mile higher in elevation than the surrounding lower areas so can be significantly cooler.  You will see spruce-fir forests and beautiful wildflowers.

  2. 2.  OCONALUFTEE MUSEUMS.  A 32-mile drive from Gatlinburg will take you to the Oconaluftee Museums.  The free indoor and outdoor museums depict the life of families from the Cherokee to the creation of the national park.  The outdoor farm is an agricultural paradise which features older breeds of animals and an heirloom garden.  The 2-mile hiking trail begins at the museum and often enables sightings of elk and beaver.
  3. CADES COVE.  In this area you likely will see deer and may also spot bear, coyote, and wild turkey.  Historic buildings in this area include a gristmill, several barns, three churches, and many log homes.  An 11-mile one-way loop road takes you around the cove.  The distance from Gatlinburg is about 27 miles.
  4. OLD ELKMONT TOWN.  This was once a booming logging town.  Today you will find a variety of hiking trails that vary from easy to moderate-difficulty.  Good trout fishing can be found in the nearby Little River.  The restored Appalachian Clubhouse, Spence Cabin, and four other historic buildings offer a peek into bygone days.  Elkmont is about 7 miles from Gatlinburg.
  5. DEEP CREEK.  This area has beautiful streams and waterfalls.  This is one of the few park areas where bicycles are permitted.  The distance from Gatlinburg is about 48 miles.

Share your Favorite Sights with Us!

What are some of your favorite places to visit in eastern Tennessee?  Please share your pictures and stories with us at info@buckhorninn.com.  We would love to share your experiences with other members of the Buckhorn Inn family through Facebook and Instagram.

 

April 30, 2018

April Gardening at Buckhorn Inn

We love gardening at Buckhorn Inn!  Our guests from other parts of the country often are curious about our growing season.  So we thought we would give you a peek into what we are doing this April.  

We find gardening to be satisfying because of the feedback!

Keeping our gardens in good shape is a labor of love.

Our display of spring bulbs was beautiful this year.  We are marking their locations so we will know where to fertilize this fall.  We are diligent about removing the faded flowers to make everything look better and to keep seeds from forming.  Our Siberian irises are blooming now.  After they finish we will divide them and replant.  

We have pruned the perennials that have not yet started to grow, and renewed our mulch so that is about 3″ deep.  We pruned our trees, removing dead and diseased limbs, before they began to leaf out.  

The annual flowers we have set out bring color now, and throughout the entire summer.  Even though some early balmy temperatures and sunny days were seductive, we waited until we were sure spring had arrived for good before we put them out!  

Gardening for Edibles

This month we filled our new raised-bed vegetable gardens with seeds for early and late lettuce mixes, kaleidoscope carrots and okra.  Last week we planted tomatoes and a mix of sweet and hot peppers.  We are especially pleased with our new kitchen herb garden.  It is planted right outside the kitchen door for easy access by our chefs.  

Herb gardening is a wonderful boon to the Buckhorn Inn chefs.

This month we planted our kitchen herb garden.

Our selections include dill, cilantro, basil, curry, rosemary, majoram, oregano, thyme, and sage.  We look forward to seeing how the supply of fresh herbs and vegetables will inspire our chefs!

The school of agriculture at the University of Tennessee is a wonderful source of information and inspiration.  Check out their website http://www.agt.tennessee.edu/utg for information and inspiration!  They also have information on upcoming events, such as their May 6 Plantapalooza and hosta sale!

We wish you a wonderful spring and hope that your gardens grow and flourish!

 

April 3, 2018

Elk Thrive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park look forward to spotting our large wildlife–namely bear and elk.  We are fortunate indeed to be located near such splendor.  

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a herd of elk.

A bull elk is a magnificent sight.

Did you know that once large numbers of elk freely roamed the Appalachian Mountains and eastern United States?  Unfortunately, overhunting and destruction of habitat severely lowered their numbers.  Conservation groups became concerned that the animals would eventually become extinct.  The last of the magnificent beasts disappeared from Tennessee in the mid 1800’s.  

In 2001 the National Park Service reintroduced elk to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Twenty-five of the animals were moved to the park then, and 27 more were placed here in 2002.  The elk (or wapiti) wear radio collars and ear tags to aid conservationists in tracking their range and movements.  The herd now numbers as many as 200 animals.

These are the largest animals in the Smokies.  The bulls weigh 600 to 700 pounds, measure 7 to 10 feet long, and sport antlers that can measure 5 feet from tip to tip.

Safe Viewing of Elk in the Park

The best times to view these animals are early in the morning and late in the evening.  They also are more active after storms or on cloudy days.  Most of them are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park, easily accessible from the Buckhorn Inn.  This is a lovely area to hike and picnic as well.  Always view these wild animals from a safe distance, using binoculars or a camera for close-ups.  Be especially careful of  calves as there likely is an anxious mother nearby.  The males may perceive you as a challenger and charge.  The National Park Service offers a short video about safely viewing elk.  You may find a link to it at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/elk.htm 

During March and April the animals begin to shed their antlers.  Please note that it is not legal to remove antlers from the park.  The discarded antlers are a rich source of calcium for other wildlife in the park.  

 

 

March 5, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day — Soup Hits the Spot

Although it’s roots are Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated the world over.  The day is marked with parades, green beer, and huge corned beef and cabbage dinners.  Contrary to popular belief, however, corned beef is not a traditional dish from Ireland.  According to http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/corned-beef-as -irish-as-spaghetti- and-meatballs,, corned beef and cabbage was a dish developed by Irish immigrants to the United States.  Many working-class Irish struggled economically in the New World.  “Corning” beef was a way to preserve  meat.  The taste reminded the Irish newcomers of their beloved boiled bacon from back home.  Cabbage was one of the cheapest vegetables in the markets and paired well with the salty spiced beef.  When cooked in the same pot, the dish was easy-to-prepare, inexpensive, and delicious!  Its roots are so American that the dish was served at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner in 1862.

Our guests love our corned beef soup, and so will you, whether or not you serve it on St. Patrick’s Day!

Corned Beef Soup for St. Patrick’s Day or Not

2-3 lbs Corned beef

1 cube Beef bouillon

2 cloves Garlic, diced

2 Cloves

3 Carrots, sliced thickly

6 Potatoes, peeled and diced

7 cups Water

1/2 cup Onion, chopped

6 Peppercorns

2 Bay leafs

6 cups Cabbage, coarsely chopped

A hearty soup is perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

For a quick version of this soup, purchase pre-cooked corned beef.

Cover corned beef with water in large soup pot.  Bring to boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes and skim.  Add bouillon cube, onion, garlic, peppercorns, cloves and bay leafs.  Simmer for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender.  Remove meat from broth and cool.  Skim fat from broth.

Cut meat into bite-size pieces and return to broth.  Add carrots and potatoes; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  Remove the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaf before serving.  This recipe pairs nicely with soda bread or other rustic bread.

 

 

February 26, 2018

Hikes to Cemeteries of the Smokies

Did you know that their are roughly 150 cemeteries scattered throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?  The land for the park was purchased from families, many of whom lived in this area since the 1800’s.  Along with homes, churches, farm buildings, and stone walls, many of their cemeteries are part of the park land.  Some are near main trails, others can be found with a map, and a few are slowly becoming overgrown and disappearing.  

The book "Cemeteries of the Smokies" includes directions to all 152 cemeteries within the park.

More than 150 cemeteries can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Cemeteries of the Smokies” Guidebook

One of the most popular books published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association is “Cemeteries of the Smokies”.  The book provides directions to all 152 graveyards in the park.  For each site, the book provides a complete listing of burials and dates, kinship links, and epitaphs.  There is also an index of local family names.  These historic spots provide a tangible link with our area’s past.  They can provide us with insight into customs, religious beliefs, cultural and ethnic influences, and the community development of our ancestors.

The Hiking 101 program sponsored by the Great Smoky Mountains Association takes its inspiration from this book.  They have designed 12 guided hikes and a bus tour to take participants to the sacred spaces within the boundaries.  These hikes are not all easy, but the hiker is rewarded by coming to know those who lived and died here, and remain buried in lost graves, family plots, and in church burial grounds.  Registration for these hikes is now open.  For program details and to register, please visit http://www.smokiesinformation.org.

The hikes are limited to 15 individuals each and run from March 17 through October 16 2018.  It is important to note that the Park Service frowns on creating “rubbings” of inscriptions on the headstones.  The pressure needed to make a clear rubbing can damage the surface.  The Great Smoky Mountain Association asks for your help in ensuring the preservation of these plots for future generations.

 

February 19, 2018

Swans Make Frequent Appearances in Literature

One of the most famous stories in children’s literature is “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen.  The story is about a cygnet who thinks he is an unattractive duckling, but grows into a beautiful and graceful swan.  Andersen also wrote “The Wild Swans”.  This tale features an evil stepmother who turned her stepsons into swans.  They carry away their sister to save her.  The sister is mute, but spends her days knitting shirts from nettles.  She is about to be burned at the stake as a witch when her brothers descend from the sky and save her.  They don the magic nettle shirts and turn into human form.  Their sister regains her speech and all live happily ever after.  

Perhaps the Buckhorn Inn swans will be the subject of children's literature.

The graceful swans at the Buckhorn Inn could star in their own story.

Greek mythology shares the story of Leda and the swan.  This story recounts the conception of Helen of Troy by the Queen of Sparta and Zeus, disguised as a swan.  This myth was expressed powerfully by W.B. Yeats in his poem “Leda and the Swan”.  Yeats also wrote “The Wild Swans at Coole” which expressed his search for lasting beauty in a changing world where beauty was temporary.

In Norse mythology, two swans drink from the Well of Urd.  The water is so pure that the swans turn white, as do all their descendants.  

The Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario used the swan as inspiration.  His most famous poem perhaps is “Coat of Arms”.  His use of the swan made it the symbol of the Modernismo poetic movement.

Works of classical literature reference the myth that otherwise mute swans sing beautifully at the moment of their death.  This idea gave birth to the phrase “swan song”.

Because of their lifelong, monogamous pairing, swans are often a symbol of never ending love.  Swans were a favorite bird Shakespeare.  Many of his works feature them, including this passage from “As You Like It”:

And wheresoever we went, like Juno’s swans, still we went coupled and unseparable.  

Buckhorn Inn Swans to be Named in Mid-March, Literature Provides Inspiration

Our two brother swans arrived at the Inn on February 14.  Innkeeper John is contemplating the many clever names submitted by our guests.  Please refer to our earlier blog listing potential names.  Please let us know your ideas if you have not yet done so!