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January 25, 2021

To-may-to or To-mah-to: Thinking Tomatoes for the Garden

Tomatoes come in so many varieties.

Tomatoes are delicious and have wonderful health benefits.

It may be January, but the garden catalogs are full of photos of ripe, lush, delicious tomatoes!  We are deciding which varieties to grow in the Buckhorn Inn gardens this summer.  Looking at all the types of tomatoes got us wondering about this garden staple.

Tomatoes are actually the berries of the plant Solanum lycopersicum.  Food historians believe that the species originated in South and Central America.  Tomatoes were first cultivated for food by the Aztecs of Mexico.  The Spanish encountered the tomato  when they conquered the Aztec Empire.  They brought the tomato back to Europe.  The popularity of the fruit spread to European colonies worldwide in the 16th century.

The tomato is very versatile and can be used raw in salads or cooked for sauces and soups.  Tomato juice is a popular beverage.  Even green tomatoes are delicious breaded and fried.  They are also used in salsa and gazpacho.  I recently learned that tomatoes are best kept unwashed at room temperature.  In the refrigerator they quickly lose their flavor.

Tomatoes Are Health Powerhouses

A tomato is only 22 calories, but is full of nutrients with a variety of health benefits.  One tomato provides about 40% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.  It also supplies vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.  Their red color comes from the antioxidant lycopene which is tied to heart benefits and may support vision.  And finally the liquid and fiber in the tomato may boost digestive health.  http://www.health.com

New Jersey selected the tomato as their state vegetable.  Arkansas was more determined to be botanically correct and named the South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato both its state fruit and its state vegetable!  Tomato juice became the official drink of Ohio in 1965.  

Be sure to watch this space for the final decisions on what we will be planting for the Buckhorn Inn kitchen!

January 16, 2021

An Excellent Winter Recipe: Pork Mole Chili

Jack and I met the summer of 1981 in Chicago. We both had just graduated from college and moved to the big city—he from Kentucky and me from Indiana. We were working hard at our first post-college jobs and trying to manage rent and all the other expenses that come with being on your own. Needless to say, we were pinching pennies. When it came to celebrating holidays and special occasions, we started going to Mexican restaurants. The atmosphere was festive, the food delicious and reasonably priced, and dinners came with complimentary chips and salsa—perfect for us. So perfect that all these years later we still celebrate with Mexican food.

 

This recipe is one of my favorites. The chocolate adds color, the cinnamon and sugar add sweetness, and the chili powder adds spice. This recipe is from “Easy Entertaining” by Marlene Sorosky and I made it for one of the first meals that John and Lee had at our house. That was a special occasion indeed! I often pair this dish with a lush, red Zinfandel. The warm spice, dark berry, vanilla and chocolate notes in the wine go nicely with the dark, bold flavors of the chili. On the other hand, Jack recommends you enjoy it with a bottle of cold Dos Equis or your favorite Mexican beer.

 

 

1 ½ cups dried black beans
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 pounds pork butt, cut into ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 14 ½ ounce can whole tomatoes
4 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 corn tortillas torn into small pieces

Rinse beans and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute then drain. Add fresh water to cover by three inches, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered about 45 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. (Or, use two 16-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the pork. Cook over moderate heat for about 20 minutes or until pink is gone. Pour off drippings. Stir in onions, spices, sugar and salt. Cook 5 minutes. Break up tomatoes and add them with their juice. Add chicken broth and chocolate. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half. Add beans and continue to simmer for 30 minutes until pork is tender and chili has thickened. Stir in tortillas and simmer until they have dissolved.

Offer chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, finely chopped onion, and/or sour cream as condiments. Serves 8.

Romance Is in the Air!

As February 14 nears, we are bombarded with advertisements for chocolates, flowers, wine, and romantic movies. Everything is decorated with hearts, lace, and a baby boy who flies around shooting arrows. What is up with that?

According to myth, Cupid is the ancient god of love. The son of Venus and Mercury, he is often pictured as a winged infant carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. The wounds from his arrows inspire love in everyone they hit. Interestingly, he is sometimes depicted in art wearing armor—perhaps to symbolize the invincibility of love. Or perhaps to show parallels between warfare and romance!

Cupid generally brings happiness to couples, whether they be gods or mortals. He is sometimes mischievous in his matchmaking, though. Venus is often the instigator of his mischief. In one instance, she tried to use Cupid in seeking revenge on the mortal Psyche. Her plan backfired, however, when Cupid fell in love with Psyche and made her his immortal wife.

In modern culture, we see Cupid as a god who uses his power for good and not for ill. Some of us need a little push to make the first move in expressing our love—and Cupid is there to help us.

If you are looking for a way to express your true love, how about a Buckhorn Inn gift certificate? Your sweetie would love a romantic dinner, or perhaps a get-away complete with flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, and sparkling wine!

November 9, 2020

Covid 19 Updates at Buckhorn Inn

For those who plan to travel to Buckhorn Inn in the next few months, I wanted to remind you of the precautions we are taking ensure your health as well as that of our staff.

All hard and soft furnishings in your room are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before your arrival. We have removed bedspreads, decorative quilts, and decorative throw pillows to speed our sanitation procedures. You may use contactless check-in. Upon your arrival, we will not enter your room again until after you check out. We have eliminated our hard copy guest directories in favor of an electronic version which you may download to your phone. We will send the link to it in your confirmation letter. In it you will find much information—including the location of the supply of extra towels and toiletries stored for you in your room!

All staff members undergo a temperature and health check daily and must stay home if they, or a family member, are ill. Our housekeeping members are masked and gloved when they are preparing your room for you. All kitchen and serving staff are masked and gloved as well. We reservation times for breakfast, so that we can manage social distancing in our dining room in the morning. We utilize the library for additional dining space. We clean and sanitize dining tables, chairs, and condiment holders between guests. We keep as much air flowing in the dining room as possible. We have limited the number of dinner reservations we will accept so that we can maintain social distancing in the evenings as well. Our afternoon treats are individually wrapped in plastic. Our team sanitizes all high-touch surfaces in the Inn’s public areas several times each day. We have large, well-marked dispensers for hand sanitizers in several places in the public areas.

If we have an active credit card for you on file, we will email you the final bill the day before you check out. Then you will not need to come into the office as you can simply leave your key in your room. If you do enter the office or gift shop, you will see that we have installed a large plexiglass window as a barrier between our guests and the office staff.

Thank you for placing your trust in us.  We look forward to seeing you soon.  And we look forward to a future where we can greet you with a hug and you can see our welcoming smiles!

September 21, 2020

Appreciating Petrichor In Any Season

Are you familiar with petrichor?  This is the earthy smell produced when rain falls.  The word comes from the Greek petros, stone, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in mythology.  Scientists speculate that humans enjoy the scent of rain because our ancestors may have relied on rainy weather for survival.

Most people find petrichor to be very pleasurable.

Rain releases a fresh, earthy scent.

Surprisingly, this common smell was not given a name until a scientific paper written in 1964.  The authors described how the smell comes from an oil exuded by plants in dry weather.  The oil is absorbed by clay-based soils.  When it rains, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin.  Geosmin is a byproduct of certain bacteria and is released from wet soil.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used high-speed cameras in 2015 to record how smells move in the air.  When a raindrop lands on a porous surface, air from the pores forms small bubbles.  These bubbles release aerosols which carry the scent.  Petrichor is more common after light rains because raindrops that move more slowly produce more aerosols.  

If the rain is a heavy one, the scent can travel downwind and alert people that rain is on the way.  Farmers often talk about smelling rain in the air.

Petrichor Described Poetically

Scientist T.L. Phipson described the phenomena in somewhat more poetic terms in 1865.  His notes refer to “the fragrance emitted by thousands of flowers . . .” that were “absorbed into the pores of the soil” and only released by rain.   

This poem by Jayde E is entitled Petrichor.

The scent of rain on dry Earth.

Churning like seawater on a stormy day.

Rising from the ground like bluebonnets on a summer evening.

Petrichor is a delight.

Wafting about beneath soft grey skies.

Traveling on the cool breeze like fairy dust in the wind.

The scent of nature.  

As fresh and invigorating as a thing could be.

A promise of new life.

A promise of new days.

A promise of more nights.  http://www.powerpoetry.org

The next time you visit Buckhorn Inn on a rainy day, we invite you to sit on one of the porches and savor the petrichor!

May 18, 2020

Why Are They Called “Salads”?

Today we picked a mix of beautiful greens for salads for our dinner guests.  The bowl of colorful greens had us wondering about the origins of this dish.

Fresh, beautiful greens are the start of many delicious salads.

These greens only need a drizzle of a flavorful dressing.

The word “salad” comes from the ancient Latin word “sal” for “salt”.  In ancient times, salt was an important ingredient in dressing.  You might be surprised to learn that ancient Romans and Greeks enjoyed raw vegetables with dressing.  Typically the vegetables would be dressed with vinegar, oil, herbs, and salt.  “Salata” literally means “salted herb”.  The dish became more complex over time.  In the 1700’s chef’s began to create composed salads with layers of ingredients.  

Today any entrée or side dish that is composed of a mixture of ingredients and intended to be eaten cold is a salad.  Some recipes are world famous.  Master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris voted Caesar Salad as the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.  The Cobb was invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in 1937.  Crab Louie began appearing on menus at the turn of the 20th century.  Nicoise features garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers, and lemon juice.  It is named for the city of Nice, France.  A private party for the pre-opening of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 13, 1893 led to the first serving of Waldorf Salad. http://www.whatscookingamerica.net

The recipe below could be the start of your own famous salad!  Fresh mixed greens and vine-ripened tomatoes.  Just add a drizzle of lemon basil dressing and you will enjoy a taste of summer.

Lemon Basil Dressing for Salads

 ¼         Cup     Diced onions

1          Tbl       Minced garlic

1          Tsp      Dijon mustard

½         Cup     Fresh basil leaves

1          Tsp      Salt

½         Tsp      Pepper

1          Tbl       Sugar

¼         Cup     Mayonnaise

½         Cup     Lemon juice

Combine the ingredients above in mixing bowl of food processor.

Add slowly while processing:

1 ½      Cups    Combined Olive and canola oil

Chill and serve over salad greens.

Yield: About 2 cups

April 23, 2020

Covid-19 Safety Precautions at Buckhorn Inn

You may have missed our glorious Spring at Buckhorn but you don’t have to miss Summer. Innkeeper Lee Mellor

So many of our guests tell us that Buckhorn is their “happy place,” a place where they feel safe. We intend to do all that we can to insure that never changes.

We have always taken cleanliness seriously at Buckhorn Inn, but we established additional measures to protect our guests and our employees as soon as the threat of Covid-19 became apparent. During the time we have been closed, we have institutionalized these changes following guidelines established by the CDC.   All accommodation and public areas have been meticulously cleaned and sanitized.

  • Re-opening  We re-opened on Friday, May 1.  Although lodging establishments like Buckhorn are considered essential services and were not required to cease operations, we did so because we thought it was the socially responsible thing to do.  We have been so touched by the many phone calls asking us when we will re-open and expressing concern about the inn and about John and me and our staff.  We are lucky to have such kind and loyal guests.  None of us or our families have been affected directly by the virus in terms of our health.  Our county has not been so nearly affected as have others for which we are so grateful.
  • Social Distancing  Social distancing will probably be with us for some time.   We are learning to refrain from our usual hugs and handshakes and we have even had to give up elbow bumping.  There are differing opinions about the effectiveness of masks, but if you want to wear one please feel comfortable doing so.  We think we can recognize most of our guests even if they are in disguise!   
  • Buckhorn is a big place with 30 acres of beautiful property for you to explore.  We have gardens, a nature trail, labyrinth, and a pond for you to enjoy.  We have set up a badminton net for two.  At this time, we are only making available accommodation that offers private entrances, decks, views of the grounds and the mountains, and  a self-contained heating/air conditioning system.
  • Food Service  All personnel engaged in the preparation and service of food at Buckhorn are accustomed to employing professional levels of hygiene, including handwashing and health and safety standards as mandated by the State of Tennessee.  Our food service operation and our accommodation are inspected regularly by the Sevier County Health Department. Our record is exemplary.  However, management will monitor these procedures even more closely in the days to come.
  • Dining We have a large dining room which can be combined with our library, so that social distancing can be maintained at mealtimes.  Staff serving in the dining room wear masks and gloves. Breakfast is included in all accommodation rates and can be taken in the dining room between 8:00 and 9:30 am or delivered to your accommodation at no extra charge.  Hearty picnic lunches are available every day at $10 per person.  On June 18, we returned to our nightly dinner service, although seating is now limited to 24 guests to accommodate social distancing.  Guests can also pick-up their dinner “to-go.” 
  • Housekeeping Services  Through the foreseeable future we will modify our daily housekeeping service.  Instead of our customary full service, we will provide clean towels daily, remove trash and replenish amenities like coffee, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, etc.   On departure, we will clean and sanitize each accommodation.  Soft furnishings, for instance bedspreads, comforters, blankets, mattress pads, linens, will be washed and sanitized as each guest departs.  In this way, each arriving guest will be assured of perfectly clean accommodation.
  • General Cleaning  We use products with the components necessary to clean and sanitize to the standards recommended by the CDC.  Public areas will be cleaned and re-cleaned throughout the day, paying particular attention to areas such as doors, door handles, counter tops, stair railings.  
  • Health of Our Staff   We will monitor the health of our staff closely.  Should any staff member show any signs of illness, he or she will be asked to remain at home and receive paid time off for that period.

We will adjust our protocols as the situation in regard to Covid-19 develops, following guidance from our local, state and federal authorities and relevant health organizations.

  • Reservations and Cancellations  Debbie is in the office from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm and eagerly awaits your phone calls–even if it is only to chat–but she is also happy to take reservations (865 436 4668).  You can also reserve online and you can send an email to [email protected]   
  • Questions?  We are here for you.  When you are ready to return to these mountains and to experience their healing power, Buckhorn will be ready for you.  Until then, stay safe.

Lee and John and the Buckhorn Team

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.

 

 

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.

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