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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!

 

October 29, 2019

Rennovated Tower Opens October 2019

Have you stayed in The Tower?  In the early days of Buckhorn Inn, the water tower actually was a water tower!  The tower held an enormous wooden bucket which stored water!   The height was sufficient to pressurize a water distribution system.  When electricity came to the Inn, this system was no longer needed.   Rachael Young, the second mistress of the Inn, had converted the space to a bedroom in the late 1970s for use by her and her husband Robert.

Guests have loved this unique accommodation.  Their reviews have often cited the “cool factor” of the space.  They especially have noted the third level with windows looking in all directions.  This floor has many times been described as a “tree house”!

New Tower Has Kept Charm 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innkeepers John and Lee Mellor wanted to keep all of the historic charm of this room, but to make it more spacious and convenient.  The renovation has done just that!

Guests enter the new room from their own entrance from their private parking space in front of the Inn.  On the ground floor they find a light and airy bedroom with a king-size bed.  High windows on two walls flood the room with sunshine and look out upon a leafy skyscape.  A kitchenette, smart TV, sitting space and roomy closet provide for coffee and morning news while getting ready for the day.  The room is decorated with original art throughout.  One of our favorite pieces is a painting by local artist Susan Edwards.  The stairway has been transformed into a work of modern art with a cut-out and new railings.

 

The bathroom on the second floor features a new tiled corner shower and lots of natural light.  We call the top floor The Lookout.  Here guests can relax in comfy chairs and admire the 360 degree views.  We have provided binoculars for bird and wildlife watching.  This is a breathtaking spot to read and relax.  There also is a TV in this room–but we suspect the views will be more captivating than anything on television!

We welcomed the first guests to this room in October 2019.  The response has been overwhelming!  Here are some of the comments from the guest book:  “We are very honored to be the first to stay in The Tower at Buckhorn Inn.  I like the amazing design and the upper room with a good view of the sunset.  Service at Buckhorn Inn is excellent–friendly staff and helpful!  Yummy breakfast and dinner!  I enjoyed the natural splendor and peaceful atmosphere!!  If you are looking for a place/vacation to reflect and relax, this is it!  Thank you Buckhorn Staff!  The Chong Family, Phoenix, AZ”

 

October 24, 2019

Thanksgiving at Buckhorn Inn

 

Happy Thanksgiving

When someone mentions “Thanksgiving” we may think offeasting, football games, and four-day weekends.  The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 by the surviving Mayflower Pilgrims and Native Americans.  George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789, Abraham Lincoln set it on the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.

What began as a simple expression of gratitude for survival has become deeply rooted in American tradition.  Generations of families have added their customs to this annual celebration.  At Buckhorn Inn it is a time to reflect on the family, friends, and good fortune that permeate our lives.  Our traditions include a devilishly hard Thanksgiving quiz and a bountiful buffet!  Here are some of the delicious dishes guests will find on the menu this year:

COLD PLATTERS

  • Smoked Salmon
  • Chilled Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
  • Housemade Cranberry Sauce with Orange Essence
  • Devilled Eggs
  • Cheese and Fruit
  • Assorted Pickled Vegetables
  • Black Eye Pea Salad

HOT DISHES

  • Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy
  • Baked Southern Ham with Pineapple Raisin Sauce
  • Cornbread Dressing
  • Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Green Beans Almandine
  • Butternut Squash Casserole
  • Maple Glazed Yams
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts

DESSERTS

  • Traditional Pumpkin Pie
  • Fudge Truffle Pecan Tart
  • Sweet Potato Cheesecake
  • Maple Pecan Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream
  • Raspberry, Pear, Almond Tart

October 22, 2019

Late Fall and Winter Hikes Offer the Best Views

Unless you have been in the Smokies before in the late fall or winter, you might not realize that it is the perfect time to experience our amazing views.  Winter temperatures are more than 50 degrees on about half of the winter days.  Moderate temperatures coupled with low humidity make for comfortable hiking conditions!  Higher elevations are cooler, so dress accordingly.  Be sure to dress in layers and remember to wear a hat.  A thermos of hot cocoa is a treat during your rest breaks on the trail!  Grab a couple of sack lunches from the Inn and have a winter picnic while admiring the scenery.   

Here are some of our favorite winter hikes:

The Laurel Falls trail is 2.6 miles round-trip and paved.  If you are lucky enough to be here during a stretch of below-freezing weather, the frozen water fall creates a crystal castle.  The freezing and thawing from warm days and cooler nights makes an incredible display of dripping ice. 

The hike to Andrews Bald is about 1.8 miles with 1,200 feet in elevation changes.  The hike starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot.  When you get to the Andrews Bald area, you will have the chance to take in the winter views of the snowcapped peaks of the Smoky Mountains.

Sparkling icicle formations can be seen at the Alum Cave Bluffs, about 2.3 miles from the start of the Alum Cave Trail.  The hike through the old-growth forest is especially quiet and peaceful without the summertime crowds.  The path goes from Newfound Gap Road to the top of Mount LeConte.  You will see log bridges and stone stairways. 

Porters Creek Trail is a gravel road for the first mile or so.  The trail then changes to a dirt trail and heads to Fern  Falls.  The hike to the Falls is about 4 miles, round-trip.  You will cross log bridges and see some of the stone walls erected by this area’s original settlers.

If you prefer to drive, Cades Cove is a favorite winter destination.  The valley is a great place to observe wildlife, such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and deer.  The Visitor’s Center is open year-round and can help you plan your visit to the historic buildings in the area.

Chef Frank Presents Exciting 2019 New Year’s Eve Menu

STARTER
California Shrimp Sushi Roll with Pickled Ginger, Wasabi, and Soy Sauce

SOUP
Duo of Roasted Yellow Pepper and Tomato Soup

DINNER COURSES
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mexican Rice and Black Beans, Salsa Verde, and Jicama Slaw
And
Seared Alaskan Halibut with Creamed Spinach, Artichoke, and Lobster with a Sherry-Infused Lobster Cream and Micro Greens
And
Deconstructed Beef Wellington with Truffle-Infused Mushroom Duxelle, Herbed Mashed Potato, Roasted Asparagus, Honey-Glazed Baby Carrot with a Cognac Jus Reduction

DESSERT
Lemon Genoise Cake with Blackberry Malbec Sauce, and Lemon Curd Ice Cream in a Chocolate Tulip Cup

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage and Apples

Pork paired with apples is a classic combination.  The apples contribute a touch of sweetness and flavor to the chops and match well with the cabbage.  Mashed sweet potatoes would make a lovely autumnal starch to pair with this dish.  Pour yourself a glass of Riesling and say welcome to fall!

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage and Apples 

¼         Cup     Plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

4                      Thyme sprigs

1                      Garlic clove, coarsely chopped

4                      12-ounce bone-in pork loin chops     

3                      Thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch dice

2          Tbl       Unsalted butter

½                     savoy cabbage, thinly sliced crosswise

1                      Granny Smith apple-peeled, cored and cut into 1/2–inch dice

1          Tsp      White wine vinegar

1          Tbl       Dijon mustard

¾         Cup     Heavy cream

¾         Cup     Milk

            Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

In a large, shallow dish, combine ¼ cup of the olive oil with the thyme sprigs and garlic.  Add the pork chops and turn to coat with the marinade.  Refrigerate overnight. 

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over the moderate heat, stirring a few times, until browned, about 4 minutes; pour off the fat.  Add the butter and cabbage to the skillet, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 7 minutes.  Add the apple and vinegar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apple is tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the mustard and cream and simmer uncovered over moderate heat until the cream has thickened, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm. 

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering.  Remove the pork chops from the marinade; discard the thyme sprigs and scrape off the garlic.  Season the chops with salt and pepper and add to the skillet.  Cook over moderately high heat until richly browned, about 3 minutes per side. 

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chops for about 12 minutes, turning once halfway through, until just pink in the center.  Transfer the pork chops to plates and serve with the cabbage. 

Yield:  4 servings

Grandma Gatewood and her Inspiring Story

Have you ever heard of Grandma Gatewood?  She was the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail by herself.  She also was the first person to walk it three times.  Even more surprising is that she did all of this after age 65!

Ben Montgomery’s book “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk:  The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail” http://www.amazon.com was published by Chicago Review Press in 2016.  This is the story of a great-grandmother who left her small Ohio town with a change of clothes, a pair of thin-soled sneakers, and less than $200.  She did not have a tent nor any professional hiking gear.  By September 1955 she was standing atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin proclaiming “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”  Emma Gatewood had lived through poverty, an abusive husband, and raised 11 children before she began her walk.  

Grandma Gatewood utilized the healing powers of physical activity and natural beauty.

The Appalachian Trail is a 2,180 mile long public footpath.

On the trail she faced fierce storms and saw the beauty of nature.  She walked up steep ridges and down treacherous ravines.  She often relied

on the kindness of other hikers or community members to keep going.  It is not only a tale of grit and determination, but also of the healing power of nature.

The author interviewed family members and others that Gatewood met along her journey.  He also had access to her trail journals and diaries as well as media coverage of her amazing journey.  

Grandma Gatewood Benefitted the Trail

Gatewood became a celebrated hiker.  She appeared on television programs with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter.  Her celebrity brought public attention to the Appalachian Trail.  She was not shy about voicing criticism of parts of the trail which were not well-maintained and hence difficult.  This public spotlight led to enhanced trail maintenance.  Many believe that this attention very likely saved the trail from extinction.

At age seventy-one she hiked the 2,000 mile Oregon Trail.  By the time she passed away at age 85, she likely had hiked more than 10,000 miles!