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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!

 

 

January 14, 2020

Steak and Mushroom Pie is a Comfort Food

A rich and meaty steak and mushroom pie is nourishing and comforting on cold winter days!  It is possible that the ancient Greeks were the first to use meat to fill a pastry crust.  According to  http://www.houseofnasheats.com the dish was called a “coffin” in northern Europe.  During Medieval times magpies were a popular filling and thus the  dish became known as a “pie”.  Early settlers brought savory meat pie recipes with them to North America.  The Americans, however, used a much deeper dish.  They called it a “pot pie”.  

Steak pies are popular today in Scotland during Hogmanay, the celebration of the New Year.  The recipe below is adapted from Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.  He says this recipe is an Old English favorite that remained popular with colonists.

Fried potatoes and peas also are standard sides.

Steak and Mushroom Pie

3 slices bacon cut into large dice

1 1/2 lb. chuck steak cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 1/2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup Madeira wine

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 lb, fresh mushrooms, lightly sautéed in butter

2 tablespoons chopped yellow onions

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon sage

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons each butter and flour cooked to form a roux

1 double pie crust

Preheat oven to 375.  Brown the bacon and remove from the pan.  Brown the beef in the bacon fat.  Add enough beef stock to cover and simmer the meat, covered, for about 30 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the roux, and cook for 15 minutes.  Thicken the sauce with the roux.  Roll out the crust to make 4 individual pot pies or one large pie.  Fill the bottom crusts and top with the upper crust.  Bake for 45 minutes until the crust is brown and flaky.  Serves four.  As Jeff Smith notes, “A good dry wine and a big salad is about all you need to complete this fine English meal.”

“The Frug” goes on to suggest using this basic technique with other fillings.  Perhaps lamb and artichoke pie?  Or chicken curry pie?  Maybe even a vegetable pie!  The possibilities are nearly endless.  

The team at the Buckhorn Inn is sending you wishes for a happy, healthy, and delicious New Year!

 

January 6, 2020

Did Make Any Resolutions for the New Year?

The first New Year’s resolutions may have been made more than 4,000 years ago!  The ancient Babylonians celebrated their new year in March when the crops were planted.  During a 12-day religious festival they promised their gods that they would repay any debts and return any borrowed items.  These promises could be considered the forerunners today’s resolutions.

Writing down the things you resolve may help you to accomplish them.

In Rome, Julius Caesar changed the calendar around 46 B.C. to make the year begin with January.  January was named for the Roman god Janus, who looked backwards into the previous year as well as into the future.  The Romans made many promises of good behavior to Janus.

For early Christians, the first of January became a day of reflecting on past bad behaviors and resolving not to commit them again.  In 1740 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service.  These became known as “watch night” services.  They became hymn-filled spiritual services that were an alternative to the loud parties to be found elsewhere.

The phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” first appeared in a Boston newspaper article on January 1, 1813.  The author wrote about how people use the new year to make right whatever wrongs they had committed the previous year.

Modern Resolutions

Today most people seem to focus their New Year’s promises on areas of self-improvement.  Recent surveys say about 45% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution.  Sadly, only about 8% of them report attaining their goals.

At Buckhorn Inn we believe the new year brings a chance for a fresh start.  We were delighted to celebrate with our guests as they had their fortunes told, vied for door prizes popular over the last 10 decades, ate a sumptuous meal and danced the night away.

In terms of goals for 2020, we remain charmed by a list we found in Gulf News https://gulfnews.com/lifestyle/community from a few years ago.  We offer them for your inspiration.  And don’t forget to tell us what you have decided to resolve for 2020!

Get a new skill.  Adopt a pet.  Learn a new language.  Adopt a no-social-media day.  Begin a daily journal.  Budget and save.  Create and recreate.  Visit another country.  Read more books.  Show others you care.

November 18, 2019

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts Adult Classes

We are very fortunate to be located near the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.  Our guests are able to take advantage of the school’s top-quality art instruction in well-equipped studios.  It is a great place to meet new friends in a creative learning environment.  

Wine Nights  In 2020 the art school is offering wine nights.  The classes are held from 6:00 to 9:00 pm and a glass of wine and materials are included in the course fee of $50.  Here are some upcoming offerings:

Weaving is only one of the arts areas students can explore.

January 17:  Woven for your Wall, Ceramic Decal Collage, Rings for All Occasions

February 21:  Weave and Wear It, Sculptural Painting, Print/Wine/Repeat

March 13:  Earrings:  Cut to Patina, Wine and Wax, Painted Silks

Arrowmont Adult Short Courses  Short courses will be held February 24-26.  The Monday to Wednesday classes also are held from 6:00 to 9:00 pm for a course fee of $90.  Here are the offerings:

Surfacing with A Smoothing Plane.  Students will learn the fundamentals of using wooden and metal smoothing planes to obtain wood surfaces ready for finish.

Nailed It:  Tool Making for Clay.  Ceramic  learners will make their own forming, trimming, and decorating tools.

Figure Sculpting.  Sculptures will learn how to sculpt the human figure in a naturalistic way using a live model.  The pieces will be fired and available for pickup a few weeks after the class.

Appalachian Broom Making.  Those who complete the class will leave with two different styles of brooms:  a cobweb broom and a hearth sweeper.

Complex Enameled Surfaces.  From graphite, sugar firing, and retexturing techniques, students will add to their enameling skill sets.

Framed Weaves:  Constructing and Using Your Own Frame Loom.  During this class, attendees will construct their own looms to fit their needs.  Then they will make a wall hanging, bath mat, or other small piece on their new looms.

Pairing an art class with the Buckhorn Inn’s Great Winter Escape is a great way to add creativity and relaxation to your winter!   Additional information on the 2020 classes may be found at http://www.arrowmont.org/classes 

November 11, 2019

World Record for Gatlinburg Scarecrows

As readers of this blog may remember, the city of Gatlinburg attempted this fall to break the Guinness World Record for most scarecrows within a location.  The previous record holder was Burton-on-Trent, England, which also is the hometown of Innkeeper John Mellor.

Buckhorn Inn’s own scarecrow welcomed visitors this fall.

According to WVLT-TV http://www.wvlt.tv/content/news/Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg needed to have more than 3,812 scarecrows.  According to the final count, Gatlinburg laid claim to 4,325 scarecrows!  Guinness representatives must confirm the count before the new record becomes official.  

Gatlinburg businesses and community members created scarecrow scenes throughout the community.  Scarecrows also appeared in the Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community where hundreds of handcrafted scarecrows could be found as part of the “Scarecrow Trail”.

Gatlinburg Fall Festival Continues Through November 21, 2019

According to Gatlinburg PR Manager, Marci Claude, “With so much scenic beauty and festivities to take part in every year, Gatlinburg’s harvest season is always an exciting time to visit, and this year’s Guinness World Record will only add to that tradition.”  Claud pointed out that fall festivities are a true community event, involving everyone.  

Other upcoming community events include the Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show.  This show will be held at the Convention Center Tuesday November 26 through Sunday December 1.  The annual Festival of Trees will be held Wednesday November 27 through Sunday December 1. The Festival of Trees will be held at the W.L. Mills Conference Center on the Historic Nature Trail.  And don’t forget the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade!  The Parade will begin at 7:30 pm from Baskins Creek Bypass.  The route runs right through downtown Gatlinburg.  Viewers will enjoy lighted floats, 11 marching bands, giant balloons, and equestrian units.  And we understand that Santa Claus will be making a special appearance!

The Parade celebrates the holiday season and marks the beginning of Gatlinburg Winter Magic.  We hope to see you during this festive season!