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June 21, 2022

Update on Buckhorn’s Flock of Hens

Many of you have kindly asked after our laying hens, so I am providing an update.  Our pullets moved from their brooder into their coop, the Greenlayer House, earlier this spring.  (The coop is behind the Greenbrier House, so what else could we call it?). We moved them two by two.  They all seemed excited by the adventure, with the exception of Hazel.  She complained loudly the entire way:  “Where are you taking me?  I like the brooder!  What do you think you are doing?  Don’t I have a choice in this?”

Ultimately they all settled into their new coop.  We kept them inside for the first two weeks to reinforce the idea that the coop is their safe place.  Then we let them out into the run during the day.  Jack spent a lot of time and effort “critter-proofing” the run.  We feel we have done our best to guard against raccoons, foxes, opossums, snakes, hawks, and other varmints.  As the locals have told us, unfortunately there is no way to “bear-proof” a chicken coop.  They are attracted by the scent of the chicken feed, so we take it away each evening when we close our ladies safely into their house for the night.  So far so good.

Hens Try Free-Ranging

Last evening we let our little flock free range for 20 minutes or so before bedtime.  Ever intrepid and plucky, Hazel led Quiche, Omelet, Benedict, Scrambled, and Poached on a grand tour outside the perimeter of their run.  Scrambled, however, tried an interesting tactic.  She let the others spring out of the run, then she ran back to gobble more food.  She then plopped herself down in the coop doorway as though she were claiming the space for herself.  I think she was daring the others to come back!  However the sounds of fun from the rest of the flock were too much, and she soon joined them on their jaunt.

The hens proved fearless in their explorations.

Our hens loved exploring outside their run!

Hazel faithfully led her merry little band back into the run.  Usually they climb into the coop and select their roost space by 9:00 pm.  They appeared so excited by their adventure, however, that they stayed outside and talked about it until nearly 9:30.  It was quite dark by the time the last one entered the coop and I could close the door.

Our hens are growing quickly and we expect our first egg sometime in mid-July.  We will keep you posted!

April 16, 2022

French Toast for a Special Occasion Breakfast

In the springtime we celebrate moms, dads, grads, newlyweds and many others. At Buckhorn Inn we love to celebrate with a scrumptious breakfast.

Perhaps no dish is so closely associated with Buckhorn Inn as is our Bananas Foster French Toast. Do you know who the
“Foster” is in Bananas Foster? In the 1950’s New Orleans was the major port of entry for bananas shipped from Central and South America. Brennan’s Restaurant owner Owen Brennan challenged his chef Paul Blange to create a new dish featuring bananas. Chef Paul created the flamed dessert and it was served at Brennan’s for the first time. The dessert is named for Richard Foster who served as chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission and led the civic effort to clean up the French Quarter. Foster was a frequent diner at Brennan’s. Here is our recipe for Bananas Foster French Toast.

And in case you are really celebrating, I have included a recipe for Champagne Royale!

 

 

Toast
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. Milk
1/4 c. Sugar
1 t. Vanilla
6 slices French Bread
Mix the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Dip French bread slices in mixture and cook in butter
until brown on both sides, about five minutes.

Sauce
2 T. Butter
2 T. Brown Sugar
1 banana, sliced
Powdered sugar
Bring butter and brown sugar to a fast boil. Add banana slices, stirring constantly. Cook
mixture until bananas begin to caramelize. Spoon onto French toast. Sprinkle with powdered
sugar and serve immediately.

Champagne Royale
1 bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
6 teaspoons Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
Fresh raspberries
Pour 1 teaspoon of Chambord into each of six Champagne glasses. Fill with Champagne.
Place several raspberries in each glass.

April 11, 2022

Diary of a Mad Chick Mom

I grew up on a farm, so intellectuallyI knew that young chickens can be high maintenance and grow up into messy adults.  But when Jack suggested we get chickens, all I could seem to think of was cute little balls of fluff.

So we journeyed to the Smoky Mountain Farmers Co-op to select our little flock.  There are seemingly endless varieties of chicks.  http://Www.starmilling.com We chose three French Marans (black) and three Wellsummers (brown).  We named them Quiche, Omelet, Benedict, Scrambled, Poached and Hazel.  Why didn’t Hazel get an egg-dish for a name?  Because she quickly set herself apart as you will soon understand.

The Chicks Come Home

On the drive home I held the box of chicks on my lap.  They were all cheeping contentedly, except for Hazel, who complained loudly the entire trip.  We had a cozy brooder set up for them in our garden shed with soft bedding, a heater, water and chick feed.  The minute I set them in their new home, five of the chicks began exploring.  The sixth chick, Hazel, began flying at the other chicks, trying to peck their eyes out.  To my horror, I watched the other chicks try to hide behind Omelet, who had a large, bleeding gash beneath one eye, as Hazel flung herself at them again and again.

At about that time our poultry mentors, Jonathan and Morgan, arrived to see our new birds.  None of their chicks had ever been set on destruction like Hazel seemingly was.  They promptly dubbed her the Murder Chicken.

Hazel is the chick missing from this photograph.

Chicks are very cute when they are little.

I couldn’t let Hazel blind my entire flock so I did the only thing I could think of—I put her into solitary confinement.  Her cell was a cardboard box with bedding, food and water.  I put it near the heater so she could stay warm.  Hazel was very unhappy and kept flinging herself at the walls of her jail.  I assumed she would soon calm down.  So we left the brooder.  And  Jack left for a business trip to Chicago leaving me in charge of our little chicks.  I did some research and found that chicks sometimes mistake the eyes of other chicks for bugs and try to peck them.  Thankfully, they seem to grow out of this phase quickly.

The next morning Hazel was still disconsolate.  She had not calmed down.  By the amount of bedding in her water, it seemed as though she had been throwing herself at the walls all night long.  I cautiously returned her to the general population.  I watched for a long time, and she did not attack any of her brooder mates.  Perhaps everything was fine and dandy in Chick World?  It was not.

Chick Spa Setup for Hazel

When I checked on them in the afternoon, I noticed something odd about Hazel’s profile.  Again I turned to the internet and found that stress can cause a condition that the English call “Pasty Bum”.  Basically stress upsets their little digestive tracts and makes the chick’s droppings pasty.  The dropping  then clog the chick’s elimination vent.  Without care, they will die within a few days.  Oh dear.

I read about caring for this condition.  I didn’t like what I read, so I read some more.  Finally I realized there was nothing to do but follow the recommended protocol.  I held Hazel’s little bottom under a gentle stream of warm water and used a soft cloth to clean her backside.  I dried her with a fluffy towel.  And then I used my hair dryer set on low to dry her fluff.  It takes a surprising long time to dry a chick, so I had plenty of time to think.  My thoughts ran along the lines of “I used to be a CEO of a $40 million organization.  I used to attend galas and cocktail parties.  And now I am spending my evening blow drying a chick’s bottom.”

Apparently this is not a one and done treatment.  So Hazel and I developed a routine.  When I walked into the shed I could almost hear her groan.  She would try to evade me, but once caught would quietly submit to my ministrations.  Day two involved a sitz bath in one of my grandmother’s berry bowls.  By day three I was able to clean her with a wet cloth and apply the tiniest bit of Crisco to her vent with a cotton swab.

After a week of daily cleanings, Hazel was finally back to normal.  And Jack was back from Chicago.  I was eager to show him how much the chicks had grown.  He looked at them and said “Now that we are good at raising chickens, maybe we should get some goats.”  ???????!!!!!!!!!!

April 1, 2022

The Chicken or the Egg? The Chicken!

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Well here at Buckhorn Inn, the answer is the chicken!  We are starting our own little flock of laying hens.  While we can’t produce enough eggs to satisfy the needs of our kitchen, we will be using our own eggs in your breakfast dishes and baked goods.

A happy, healthy chick grows into a healthy chicken.

Thanks to Brian David for the picture of these healthy and happy chicks.

We will be picking up our chicks from the Farmers Co-op this Saturday.  We are looking for a sturdy breed and will take our pick from the newly hatched chicks.  Baby chicks are so darn cute that I will have to exercise self-restraint…otherwise I will come home with all of them!

We have a brooder set up with a heat source to keep the chicks warm and safe for their first six weeks or so.  Then they will be transferred to our new coop.  Our coop will be outfitted with roosts, nesting boxes, food and water dispensers, and an outdoor yard.  Hmm, a bed and breakfast for chickens?  

I also plan to try out a technique I have read about:  Placing a few herb sprigs in each nesting box.  Aromatherapy for my flock?  Maybe!  But I have read that herbs may help discourage flies and mites.  And some herbs may act as laying stimulants.    So I will try some rosemary, basil and mint sprigs and let you know how the girls like them! 

Perfect Poached Eggs

In anticipation of all of those fresh eggs, here is a technique for perfect poached eggs.  You can find a video of Alton Brown poaching eggs on http://Www.food network.com

Heat enough water to be 1 inch deep in your pan.  Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons white vinegar.  Bring water to a simmer over medium heat.  Crack a large, fresh, cold egg into a ramekin.  Use a spoon to stir the simmering water in one direction until it is spinning smoothly.  Carefully drop the egg into the middle of the “whirlpool” you have created.  Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and wait for 5 minutes.  Lift out the egg with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.

 

February 5, 2022

Scents and Sensibility

Scents have a stronger link to memory and emotion than information garnered by our other senses.  The scientific explanation is that when you hear, touch, taste, or see something, the information heads to your thalamus, your brain’s relay station. Then that information is sent to
other areas of the brain. But when you smell something, the information bypasses the
thalamus and goes directly to the olfactory bulb. This may explain why a particular scent can
trigger a detailed memory or an intense emotion.

We learned this in working with an artisan to create a unique aroma for Buckhorn Inn—the
Scent of Serenity. We began by identifying all the aromas that you have told us you associate with a vacation here: robust coffee, fresh herbs on the veranda, clean sheets, morning rain,
roses, fresh-baked bread, antique wood, pine, warm maple syrup, books, wood smoke, and
others. We described a stay here in the words you have given us: relaxing, serene, cozy, quiet.
Our scent expert used this information to develop six unique scents.

Lee and Sharon each spent a week trying out the scents and both fell in love with the same one. We have dubbed it Scent of Serenity.   

The Scent of Serenity is subtle, warm and cozy, and has hints of smoke, spice, antique wood,
and greenery. We are using diffusers with the Scent of Serenity in the entry way, library, sitting
room, office, and the premier suites.

If you would like to take an air of serenity home with you, diffusers of this custom scent and
reeds are available in our gift shop for $27. It is our hope that when you catch a subtle hint of
the Scent of Serenity, it will trigger happy memories of your stays with us.

 

A Pear-Perfect Winter Recipe

I rarely order dessert as I usually am not in the mood for something sweet after a meal. I am,
however, very fond of ending a meal with a cheese plate. In France the cheese course comes
after the main course and before dessert, but I find I usually enjoy it in lieu of dessert.
I used a cheese course as inspiration for a Wednesday dessert I made this October. I made a
pear tart with a cheddar cheese crust and a cheese streusel topping. I carried the idea further
by serving it with a candied pear slice and toasted pecans. Several kind guests told me how
much they enjoyed it. The pears are the star of this dish and bring the sweetness. You may
use your favorite variety, but be sure they are ripe but firm. The Cheddar brings a bit of salt
and tang—use a good quality cheese. This dish also could be served as a brunch dish. I hope
you enjoy this taste of winter!

 

 

Pear and Cheddar Tart
Crust
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 to 6 teaspoons of ice water
Chill shortening in freezer for 15 minutes. Place flour, shortening, salt, sugar and cheese into a
food processor. Pulse 6 or 8 times until the mixture resembles peas. Add 4 teaspoons of ice
water. Pulse until the dough holds together—adding additional water if it seems dry. Form
dough into a disk and refrigerate until cold. Roll out dough between waxed paper. Peel off the
paper and fit the dough into a 10” tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the edges. Line the
crust with foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 F on
the bottom rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights—the edges of the
dough will stick a bit to the foil so you will need to use a knife to carefully loosen it. Return the
crust to the oven for 13 to 15 minutes. It will be golden. Cool on a rack.
Filling and Topping
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1//2 lbs. pears
Mix together butter, flour, sugar, salt and cheese until crumbly. Peel pears, cut in half and core,
and cut into 3/4” thick slices. Arrange slices very close together in crust. Sprinkle cheese
mixture over top. Place tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake in 400 F oven on bottom rack for 35
to 40 minutes. The streusel will be brown and the pears tender. Remove sides of pan before
serving. Best served warm. Makes 8 servings.

January 18, 2022

Planning the Buckhorn Inn Vegetable Garden 2022

As I write this, I am engaged in one of

Even a small vegetable garden can grow a wide variety of crops.

Careful planning helps to ensure a successful vegetable harvest.

my favorite activities—planning next season’s vegetable garden!  The brightly colored seed catalogs have begun arriving, tempting me to order old favorites and experiment with new varieties.

My first step in deciding what to grow is to consult with the Buckhorn Inn chefs.  Chef Frank provides key input on herbs that compliment his dishes and on vegetables he can showcase in soups and side dishes.  Chef Bob is a gardener himself, and so we coordinate our efforts.  Bob is well-known for the luscious heirloom tomato varieties he grows—in fact my mouth is watering just thinking about his lovely summer omelets!  We try to grow herbs and veggies that have the biggest impact in the Buckhorn kitchen.  We don’t want to repeat the mistake I made when Jack and I married and planted our first vegetable garden together.  I was perusing the seed catalog and asked Jack if he thought we should grow parsnips.  Thinking I must like them, Jack replied in the affirmative.  Thinking he must like them, I ordered the seeds.  We have never to this day grown anything that produced as well as those parsnips.  We harvested a bushel basket from our small garden.  As it turned out, neither of us cared for parsnips!  Our friends and neighbors were the recipients of our garden’s parsnips bounty.

Potential New Finds for the Vegetable Garden

As I leaf through the new Burpee catalog, here are some finds that are most intriguing.  http://Www.burpee.com. `
Mocha Swirl Hybrid Sweet Pepper—they ripen from green and white to a rich chocolate-red.  The compact plants would be perfect for our raised bed garden.  The Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash promises succulent flavor from the golden-yellow zucchini.  `Everleaf Thai Towers basil is container-friendly and grows up to 3 feet tall.  Kentucky Blue Pole Beans always do well for us.  Last year we also grew asparagus beans.  The 18” long pods have a delicious nutty flavor.  Kale is popular at the Inn for garden greens omelets, soups, and vegetable sautées.  We likely will grow a variety again this year.  Perhaps Dazzling Blue, Red Russian, and Tuscan kale.  We are saving space for some lettuce, so you can pick a few leaves as you go by to feed Bubble and Squeak!  Of course we will grow okra.  It is an ornamental plant, and we love Chef Frank’s fried okra as an accompaniment to a southern fish with remoulade sauce dish!  We had best success with Go Big, which produces flavorful dark-green 7” long pods.

In our veranda her pots we typically grow basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley, rosemary, and sage.  This year we may also grow borage for their edible flowers and lemon verbena to flavor fish dishes.

Decisions, decisions!  When you visit, please let us know what you are planning to grow in your garden!

January 10, 2022

Snow at Buckhorn Inn? Yes!!!

Have you seen Buckhorn Inn in the snow?  It is a magical sight.  Just imagine walking the nature trail as snow crunches under your boots. The quiet beauty is overwhelming.  Then you return to your cottage, warm yourself in front of the fire, and venture out again for dinner at the Inn.  

The Best Time to See Snow

Our elevation (about 1,280) can get as much as nine inches of snow a year.  While it is very rare, we occasionally have gotten snow in late October and in early April.  According to the National Park Service, snow is most likely in January and in February.  While the weather may warm and it may melt rapidly in town, you will still be able to see the fluffy white stuff in the higher elevations.  In fact, Newfound Gap (at 5,049 in elevation) can get as much as 69 inches of snowfall each year.  Nearly every trail will feature beautiful winter views, but some of the best are in the higher elevations, like Chimney Tops and Alum Cave trail.  The Gatlinburg CVB provides information on all things fun and snowy!  http://Www.gatlinburg.com

Be Prepared

Please be aware that our curving mountain roads can become slick and hazardous during and after snowstorms.  If it is a heavy snowfall, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park may close its entrances.  However, the entrances are usually closed to car traffic only.  We are close enough for you to walk to the Greenbrier entrance and enjoy a snowy hike.  All local businesses are concerned for the safety of their employees.  If employees are unable to safely drive to work, service may be slower than usual or some businesses may be closed.  Our area thanks you for your patience!

Winter is a lovely time to enjoy the Buckhorn Inn and our surrounding area.  And if you are lucky, you will enjoy a bit of snow!

When East Tennessee gets snow, the scene is magical.

Guest Kristin Shultz captured the beauty of a winter day at Buckhorn Inn.

November 9, 2021

Buckhorn Inn Offers New White Wine Selection

We are delighted to let you know that we have added a new white wine to our wine list.  We have added one of our favorite wines from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand.   Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, elegant, and refreshing wine.  This zesty wine features aromas of tropical fruits and bright citrus notes with a hint of herbs.  This wine receives consistently high ratings from Wine Enthusiast and was awarded 4 out of 4 stars from acclaimed wine writer Michael Cooper.

The refreshing zest of Oyster Bay makes it a delightful aperitif.  It also enables the wine to pair with many foods, including:  raw and grilled seafood, goat cheese, green vegetables, salads, crab cakes, pasta with tomato sauce, spicy dishes such as Asian and Cajun, and pesto.

Sauvignon Blanc is a zesty white wine that matches well with many foods.

Sauvignon Blanc is a very food-friendly wine. Photo by Stefan Schauberger.

White Wine from the Marlborough Region

The Marlborough wine region is New Zealand’s largest.  This area accounts for about 75% of New Zealand’s wine production.  The most well-known wine in this region is Sauvignon Blanc which prominent wine writers have described as the best in the world.  Other varieties grown here include pinot noir, pinot gris, and chardonnay.  There are also lovely sparkling wines from this region.  http://Www.nzwine.com

Vines were being cultivated in this region as far back as the 1870s.  However, commercial wine-making did not begin until the 1970s.  By the mid 1980s the wines from this region were garnering international attention.

What makes this such a wonderful region for growing grapes?  The climate is sunny and warm summer through autumn which results in a long growing season.  Also, the cool night-time breeze from the ocean provide the variations in temperature which add to the wines’ character.  The soil is free-draining and the area typically has low rainfall.  In short, the region is perfect for white wines with a mouth-watering acidity.

Please let us know how you are enjoying this new addition!

October 11, 2021

Recipe for “Buckhorn Brew” Mulled Wine

I always associate mulled wine with happy occasions.  The first time I was introduced to this splendid drink was when Jack and I lived in Chicago.  It was a cold December evening and we were visiting the Christkindlmarket

This mulled wine is flavored with apple cider, honey and spices.

My mulled wine recipe is perfect for crisp fall evenings. Photo by Edward Howell.

http://Www.christkindlmarket.com in Daley Plaza. It was gently snowing and we were surrounded by sparkling holiday lights, the sound of festive music, and the aromas of roasted nuts and spiced wine.  The mug of wine warmed my hands, the scent delighted my nose, and the flavors tickled my taste buds.  Since then, I have made hot spiced wine for my family’s Christmas Eve Celebrations.

This October we are offering my autumn mulled wine in our sitting room on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.  If it meets with a positive response we will continue through November.  My recipe is full of fall flavors:  dry and fruity red wine, apple cider, honey, orange, and a variety of warm spices.  I recommend making it and serving it in a crock pot.  If you are entertaining a crowd this recipe may be doubled.   If you have any leftover, it may be kept in the refrigerator for a few days then gently reheated.

Use your favorite red wine in this recipe.  I prefer a somewhat dry Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of dark fruit and firm tannins as I like the way it blends with the other ingredients.

Buckhorn Brew Mulled Wine Recipe

1 bottle red wine (Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon all work well)

3 cups of apple cider

1/4 cup honey

1 orange, sliced

5 whole cloves

4 cardamom pods

2 cinnamon sticks

1 star anise

Add the wine, cider, and honey to a slow cooker.  Stir to be sure honey dissolves.  Put the spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to the cooker.  Float slices of orange on the top.  Cook on low for 45 minutes to an hour.  When ready to serve, turn the slow cooker to the “keep warm” setting.  Ladle into mugs and garnish with an orange slice and/or a cinnamon stick.  Makes 6-7 servings.

I hope this aromatic drink helps you to welcome autumn to your house!