How about a hearty logging camp breakfast
Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Recent travel took me over the mountains and into Tennessee to a big breakfast camp eatery in Gatlinburg.
The establishment’s a spin-off from the old logging days in the Smokies – living and eating in timber camps. I was captivated by the vintage collectibles that had once belonged to people who lived in what is now the Great Smokey Mountains National Park – woven baskets, pieces of moonshine stills, cowbells, and old pottery.
But that was before I previewed the breakfast menu that featured Hungry Hunter’s Huntcamp Skillets, Hen Fruit, and Cathead Biscuit Stackers.
And that was just for starters.
Crockett’s 1875 Breakfast Camp gave breakfast a whole new meaning. And if you’ve ever been – I’ll bet you a buck that you want to go back.
I’m ready to travel over the mountain again for another Cathead. Just the name’s enough to prompt a trip. The giant biscuit really has nothing to do with a cat – except for being as big as a cat’s head. Back in those days, biscuits were born from necessity. Women had to cook simply and quickly to prepare large amounts of food for hungry loggers. Big clumps of biscuit dough weren’t rolled out but were pulled and shaped by hand and then dropped into cast iron skillets. My favorite way to eat biscuits is the way Mamma served them – split, buttered, and then broiled until toasted and crispy around the edges. Then I add a spread of chunky, homemade, whole fruit preserves.
A sweet corn pone with dried cranberries is served as a side to most items on the menu. Way back when, this traditional, spoon-like bread was served typically only on special occasions. If you love the morning meal as I do but can’t drop everything for a mountain drive to Crockett’s for breakfast – included are a few mouth-watering recipes that give you a taste of the place.
For a fun trip, here are a few more must-dos and honorable mentions. Surprisingly, the Pirates Show in Pigeon Forge was fabulous and with a stage that’s a real water lagoon – be prepared to see an amazing show. Being a country music fan, I enjoyed the Country Tonite Theater which featured lots of songs and costume changes. While in Gatlinburg, take the Sky Lift up the mountain to a long suspension bridge that touts beautiful views and rockers for relaxing.
While driving from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, spring was unfolding in the park with that eye-catching, vivid green that’s just gorgeous. And a must-do is Gatlinburg’s Craft Trail – an 8-mile loop of regional handicrafts that includes artisan shops and food joints. Or course, my favorite was the “everything cherry” store. And wind around on the tracks of those woodsy, outdoor alpine coasters – and everybody will have smiles on their faces.
While driving over mountains, I considered life’s big bumps and how God carries us over them. There will always be trials, temptations, pain, suffering, and situations that we won’t be able to handle on our own. But when they come – and they will – as followers of Christ, God promises always to be with us because He is always faithful. Isaiah 41:10 reads, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
And if we are faithful in return, we can do anything, and without faith, nothing is possible. In Matthew 17:20-21. when the disciples came to Jesus asking why they weren’t able to drive out demons, He answered, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
God has assured us of victory in life as well as over sin and death. In Isaiah 46:4, in contrast to the gods of Babylon, who were unable to rescue themselves, the Lord said, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Enjoy the stanza from Kurt Carr’s beautiful song – “For Every Mountain, You Brought Me Over.”
“For every mountain, You brought me over,
For every trial You’ve seen me through,
For every blessing,
Hallelujah, for this I give You praise.”
CHEROKEE SWEET CORN PONE
5 beaten eggs
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 cups whole milk
1 ½ cup water
2 Tbsp. softened, salted butter
1 ½ cups white cornmeal
½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 ½ tsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. salt
In a mixer bowl, beat eggs with the baking powder until very light and fluffy. In a saucepan, combine water and milk and heat to a simmer. Add butter, cornmeal, cranberries, sugar, and salt. Heat over medium heat while stirring for 5-18 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Add a little of hot mixture to eggs and then add eggs back into the cornmeal mixture. Mix well. Bake in a well-greased, shallow baking pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or tests done. Serve hot.
CORNED BEEF HASH BREAKFAST
3 cups cooked, chopped corn beef
1 chopped medium onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
3 Tbsp. cut up, salted butter
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 medium white potatoes
1 ½ cups whole milk
Butter grease an oven-proof casserole dish and place chopped meat in the bottom. Evenly layer minced onion, peppers, and herbs on top followed by paper-thin slices of potatoes on top. Season with salt and pepper and evenly layer with butter pieces. Pour milk over all. Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or longer until all milk is absorbed and potatoes are tender. Serve with farm-fresh eggs.
MOUNTAIN OMELET SKILLET
6 oz. green chilies
3 cups whole milk
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup cooked, crumbled sausage, bacon,
ham, or combo
¼ cup drained diced tomatoes
¼ cup each, chopped onion, green pepper
Line bottom of greased cast iron skillet with green chilies. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and mix well. Add cheese, meat, tomatoes, onion, and green pepper. Mix well. Pour over chilies. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until done and set.
OLD-FASHIONED CINNAMON CANDIED APPLES
1 cup water
½ cup cinnamon Red Hot candies
6 medium Stayman or Winesap apples
In a saucepan, place water and cinnamon candies. Cook together on medium heat until candies are completely dissolved. Peel and cut 6 apples into 8 wedges. Put apples into syrup and gently simmer until tender. Remove from heat and allow apples to cool in syrup. Refrigerate, leaving apples in syrup until time to serve.
3 cups self-rising flour
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ cup cut, softened, salted butter
1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk
In a mixer bowl, using a bread hook, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender cut softened butter pieces into dry ingredients until resembles a coarse meal. Add egg and buttermilk while mixing with hook until smooth. Add more buttermilk as needed until a dough ball forms. Pull and hand form dough into 3-inch wide by 1 ½ -inch high biscuits and drop 4 in a greased cast iron skillet. Bake in a greased cast iron skillet in a 450-degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until done. Yield: 6
SKILLET SAUSAGE WITH GRIDDLE CAKES
10 cooked sausage links
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup Crisco shortening
Cook and drain sausages. Arrange in the shape of a spoke in 2 8-inch greased cake pans or iron skillets. In a bowl, soak cornmeal in buttermilk for 10 minutes. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening until resembles a coarse meal. Beat egg into cornmeal mixture. Add cornmeal mixture to flour mixture and stir just enough to moisten. Evenly spread over sausages. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until done and brown. Cut into wedges between sausages. Serve with whipped salted butter and real maple syrup and whipped cream.
POT ROAST BENEDICT
3 lb. eye of round or London broil roast
1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
1 ½ tsp. pepper, divided
14.5 oz. can drained, petite cut diced tomatoes
10 oz. Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 wedged onion
1 Tbsp. chili powder
In a bowl, combine 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, petite cut and Rotel tomatoes, onion, and chili powder. Rub ½ tsp. salt and pepper over roast. In a skillet, brown roast on all sides. In a 6-quart crock pot, place the roast, and pour tomato mixture over meat. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours. When done, allow to cool, pull meat, and shred. Over a split Cathead Biscuit, layer two over-easy eggs, sausage gravy, pot roast meat, and hollandaise sauce.
CUSTARD-DIPPED BIG TENNESSEE TOAST
2 cups half and half
4 Tbsp. sugar
3 egg yolks
½ Tbsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾-inch sliced artisan bread
In a saucepan, heat half and half and sugar just until the boiling point. Remove from heat. In a mixer bowl, beat egg and egg yolks with whisk. When cooled, pour milk slowly over eggs and whisk again. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Dip thick slices of bread into custard making sure they absorb enough of the custard mixture. In a skillet with melted butter, cook each piece of French toast until toasty and browned on each side. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with whipped butter, warm maple syrup, and powdered sugar.
Wesson vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
4 skinned, broken in pieces, chorizo sausages
24 oz. green chili salsa
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 bunch chopped green onions
4 oz. sliced, ripe olives
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
In a skillet, heat ½ -inch oil. Place each tortilla in hot oil for a few seconds to soften and then drain on paper towels. Brown sausage pieces, and drain off grease. Then add chili salsa, tomato sauce, green onions, olives, cumin, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer while covered for 1 hour. In a large skillet, pour the sauce. Poach as many eggs as will fit in the skillet at one time. Remove carefully and place on each softened tortilla. Spoon some sauce over egg. and sprinkle with garnishes of onion, olives, avocado, and cheese. Squeeze lime juice over all. Garnish with green onion tops, chopped ripe olives, chopped avocado, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, wedges of lime
SECRET RECIPE CORNMEAL PAN CAKE
4 beaten eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup melted, salted butter
In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt while alternating with milk and melted butter. Mix well. Bake in 2 well-greased 5-inch cake baking pans or one 8-inch cake pan in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until tests done like a cake. Don’t overbake. Serve with lots of whipped butter and warm maple syrup.
HUNGRY HUNTERS HUNTCAMP SKILLET
1 cubed round steak
All-purpose flour, seasoned with salt, pepper
Wesson vegetable oil
1 condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 beef bouillon cubes
Water or beef broth, optional
Cooked, crumbled sausage, optional
Dredge each piece of cubed steak in a seasoned mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. In a skillet, brown floured meat in oil on both sides. Place steak pieces in a greased, ovenproof dish. Make gravy using pan drippings with seasoned flour. Add mushroom soup and bouillon cubes. Add water or beef broth to make gravy consistency, if necessary. Mix well. Pour over steak, cover with lid, and cook in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-60 minutes. If desired, before serving, stir in cooked and crumbled sausage. Serve with eggs, potatoes, and a cathead biscuit.