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September 6, 2022

Park It Forward

Parking Fees in GSMNP in 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) has announced its new Park It Forward
Program. The program includes the implementation of parking fees to support Park
operations. Nearly 4,000 Park visitors responded when asked for feedback on the proposed
plan. More than 85% of the comments received were in support of the plan and provided
ideas directed at making it as effective and practical as possible.

 

Park Superintendent Cassius Cash shares the weight he carries: “The duty to ensure this park
is protected, to ensure our employees have the tools to do their jobs, and to ensure the visitors
of tomorrow have this sacred place to explore. With Park It Forward, we will accomplish these
important goals.”

 

Here are the basics of the program, which will be effective on March 1, 2023:
1. Vehicle parking tags will be required for any vehicles parking in the park.
2. Display of physical parking tags in each vehicle will be required.
3. Three tags will be available: Daily—$5, Up to 7 days—$15, Annual—$40.
4. Parking tags will not be refundable, transferable, or upgradable.
5. Each tag will be valid for a single vehicle.
6. Parking tags will be available for purchase both online and onsite.
7. Tags will NOT be required for motorists who pass through the area or who park for less
than 15 minutes.
8. Parking tags will not be location-specific. A parking tag will be required to park in any
designated parking spot within park boundaries.
Watch this newsletter for any updates to the implementation of this new program.

September 5, 2022

Gremolata: An Easy Way to Add Flavor

Have you tried gremolata?  Last week the Mellor family celebrated Lee’s birthday at The Appalachian http://Www.theappalachianrestaurant.com in Sevierville.  If you have not been there, it is one of the restaurants we highly recommend, if you are not eating at Buckhorn Inn, of course!  Anyway, Lee and I both had a lovely trout dish.  The fish was split open and deboned and cooked perfectly.  It was topped with pickled onions, fresh greens and gremolata.

Gremolata is an Italian green sauce with chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic.  It is a close cousin to pesto sauce.  It added a zesty note to our trout, and we thought it would be delicious in a variety of dishes.  You can easily create variations on this sauce.  For example, you could substitute lime, orange or grapefruit zest for the lemon.  You might want to add cilantro, mint, sage, or another herb to the parsley.  And adding some Parmesan cheese, walnuts or toasted pine nuts would give a new, and delicious, flavor profile to this versatile topping.  If you like a bit of spice, crushed red pepper or horseradish would be a great add-in.  

Classic Gremolata

1 small bunch of parsley, rinsed and dried. (About 1 cup of loosely-packed leaves.)

1 clove of garlic

2 lemons, washed and dried

Very finely chop the parsley.  Finely grate the garlic over the parsley.  Grate the zest from the two lemons over the garlic and parsley.  Continue to chop the ingredients, mixing it all together, until the texture is very fine.  The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.  This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.

Classic gremolata enhances a variety of dishes.

Lemon, herbs and garlic make for a flavorful sauce.

This sauce is wonderful on top of grilled meat or fish.  But you could also try it on top of a creamy bisque, roasted root vegetables, cooked greens, creamy polenta, or any other dish that needs a bright pop of flavor and color.  

Let us know how YOU use  this recipe!

August 29, 2022

The Fairest of the Fair in Sevier County, TN?

If you enjoy county fairs, the Sevier County Fair will be one of your most favorite!  In 2022 the Fair will run from August 30 through September 5.  The fairgrounds are located at 754 Old Knoxville Highway in Sevierville.  Admission is $6 and children younger than 10 are admitted free.

Attendees can watch the cattle, goat, and sheep shows or wander the exhibit hall.  Folks from our community are submitting photography, floral arrangements, vegetables and fruits, and arts and crafts for judging.  In the exhibit hall you will find a booth with Master Gardeners just waiting to answer your most pressing garden questions.  

A popular exhibit from 2021 is back this year—the Butterfly Haven.  This live butterfly habitat offers you the opportunity to walk through and see amazing butterflies and plants.  Volunteers will be on hand to provide information on the importance of these pollinators.  They will offer tips on how to attract butterflies to your own yard.  

Fair Has Something for Everyone

Entertainment options include laser tag, a bird show, a bulls and broncs rodeo, and a variety show.

Competitive eaters can participate in eating contests of sausage, donuts, corn dogs, ice cream, watermelon, pizza, French fries, pickles, pies, funnel cakes, spaghetti, barbecue, hot dogs, and corn on the cob.  Whew!  Or, you could just sample all the delicious food available and decide who your pick would be for the best of the fair food competition.

Fair food photo by John Matychuk

Corn dogs, funnel cakes, sno-cones…yum!

Children will enjoy this year’s Farm Fest.  Activities include sheep shearing, coopering, wool spinning, veggie tasting, digging potatoes, knife forging, apple pressing and corn shuck dolls.  Kids who complete the activities will get free ice cream!

We are a competitive bunch here in Sevier County.  Competitions this year include a dog fashion show, a lawn mower derby, a mullet contest, a look-alike lip synch contest, and a skillet toss.  A crowd favorite is sure to be the Sevier County Fair’s Got Talent talent show!

A wide variety of live music will be available.  Performances range from Rock ‘n Roll hits from the 50’s and 60’s, country, classic rock, gospel, and Motown hits.

We hope to see you there!  For more information, please visit http://Www.seviercountyfair.org

 

August 15, 2022

Tudor Mountain Honey Harvest Under Way

This weekend we harvested honey from one of our hives.  Several guests have asked us about the process.  Earlier in the summer, we placed a “super” on top of our hive.  The super is a small box.  It sits on top of a “queen excluder” so that no eggs will be laid in the super.  When all the frames are covered with honey comb capped in white wax, it is time to harvest.

We don our protective gear and give the bees some gentle puffs from our smoker.  The smoke keeps them calm by interfering with their sense of smell.  They can’t detect the alarm pheromones being released and thus will not aggressively defend their hive against us.  We take out each honey-laden frame, gently brush off the bees, and place it in a covered box.  Once we have collected all the frames, it is time for extraction.

Honey Extraction

Tudor Mountain Honey tastes of local flowers.

The scratcher is used to remove the white wax cap from the honeycomb.

We extract the honey on our screened porch so that we keep the stickiness confined to one area, and so that the bees cannot reach us!  The first stop is to use a scratcher to remove the wax capping from the cells.  We then scrape the honey and wax into a fine-mesh sieve atop a collection bucket.  Once the honey has been filtered once, we do a second filtration through cheese cloth and then it is on to bottling!

This year’s honey is a beautiful gold amber color and we can’t wait to see how the Buckhorn Inn chefs use it!  We will clean the beeswax and then use it to make candles.  More on that process later.

We are careful to only take the extra honey.  Our bees need adequate stores to get them through the winter.

In celebration of our harvest, we are offering this simple summer cocktail recipe.  Cheers!

The Bee’s Knees

2 ounces gin

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into a glass.  Makes one cocktail.

 

July 19, 2022

Recipes for Grill-Out Favorites for Summer Suppers

We tried two new recipes out on Lee and our friends Sam and Lucy over the Fourth of July weekend.  They were both hits, so I am passing them along to you.  Both can be prepped early and held, so that you can spend more time with your guests.  The Greenbrier House Grillmaster, Jack, rounded out the main course with roasted potatoes.  For a red, white and blue dessert, I served vanilla bean ice cream with wild blueberry sauce and strawberries that had marinated in limoncello.  A bottle of Spanish Cava added some sparkle to our evening!

Summer Supper Recipes

Zucchini and Tomato Packets

3 medium zucchini and/or summer squash, sliced

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 t olive oil

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t dried basil

1/2 t sea salt

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

This recipe features tomatoes and squash from our garden.

Garden-fresh vegetables are delicious in this recipe. Photo by Kamala Bright.

Combine zucchini, tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Pour onto a sheet of heavy duty foil.  Fold top and ends to form a packet.  Grill for 12 minutes on a medium-high grill.  Sprinkle with cheese before serving.  Makes six servings.  Note:  This recipe also works well in the oven.  Place the foil packet on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes in a 450 degree oven.

Grilled Tilapia with Zesty Mustard Sauce

2 T olive oil

2 T butter at room temperature

1 t Dijon mustard

1/2 t grated lemon peel

1/2 t Worcestershire sauce

1/4 t black pepper

4 fish fillets (about 4 oz each)

1 1/2 t paprika

1/4 t salt

1/2 lemon

2 T minced fresh parsley

Lightly oil a grill basket. Combine butter, mustard, lemon peel, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.  Stir until blended and set aside.  Sprinkle both sides of fish with paprika and salt.  Grill fish, in oiled basket, over high heat.  Cook about 6 minutes, turning halfway through.  The fish will flake easily when done.  Remove to a serving platter.  Squeeze lemon over hot fish and top each fillet with butter mixture.  Garnish with Parsley.  Makes four servings.

July 4, 2022

Some Less Traveled Hikes in the Smokies

Grapeyard Ridge

The trailhead for Grapeyard Ridge is about 1.5 miles from Buckhorn.   Delightfully quiet,  the Grapeyard Ridge Trail links Greenbrier Cove with the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Many opt to hike the trail from Greenbrier to the ruins of an old steam engine partway along, which makes for a 5.8-mile round-trip undertaking. However, you can extend your adventure by going the full way to Roaring Fork, crossing Grapeyard Ridge—named for prolific grapevines strung through its forests—in the process.

The steam engine—used to haul logs and wrecked in the 1920s—is only one of the historical leavings along the trail. There’s much evidence of bygone settlements, including the Whaley Cemetery not far from the Greenbrier trailhead.

Mount Sterling
The 60-foot fire tower atop 5,842-foot Mount Sterling is one of the hidden gems of the Great Smokies, tucked in the far northeastern corner of the national park. It’s said this structure, no longer staffed, is the highest-situated fire lookout tower in the eastern U.S., and it certainly delivers some amazing views. The shortest way to get there is from Mount Sterling Gap to the east, a roughly 5.5-mile round-trip climb with close to 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The vistas from the Mount Sterling summit include such important landmarks as Mount Guyot (the second-highest peak in the Great Smokies), Mount Cammerer (with its own fire tower), and Max Patch (a famous bald along the Appalachian Trail offering its own eye-popping views).

Smokemont Loop 

Starting in Smokemont Campground and close to the Oconaluftee entrance and visitor center, the Smokemont Loop still manages to be a pretty sure bet for some peace and quiet. This 6.5-mile route, which incorporates both the Smokemont Loop Trail proper and the Bradley Fork Trail, delivers great looks at spring wildflowers as well as plentiful signs of early settlers, including the mostly unmarked gravestones of the Bradley Cemetery.

Lumber Rich Trail

Full of history but rarely full of fellow hikers, the Lumber Ridge Trail is a great ramble in the Little River watershed. It begins and ends in Walker Fields in the Tremont area, host to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute, with a turnaround point at Buckhorn Gap. The “Walker” in Walker Fields comes from homesteaders Will and Nancy Walker, while the name of Lumber Ridge itself reflects the area’s logging heritage. The Little River Lumber Company worked these woods, hauling out timber via rail lines installed up the drainage. The Walkers held out against selling to the lumber company a long time, so their old spread was one of the last parts of the Great Smokies to be logged.

It’s an 8.1-mile hike between Walker Fields and Buckhorn Gap, but the latter is a significant crossroads, and you can make an extended shuttle hike of it instead by continuing on the Meigs Creek or Meigs Mountain trails. Alternatively, you can drop down a manway from Buckhorn Gap to the picturesque Spruce Flat Falls, then follow a user path back to Walker Fields.

 

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.