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Sound Bytes From Some of Our Performing Artists

The Smoke House is proud to present musical artists from the Nashville, TN area – better known as Music City, USA. Travelers from around the country, as well as Marion County locals, enjoy the musical styles of the many performers that are featured every weekend.

Read what some of these artists have to say about performing at The Smoke House.

Artist: Runaway Home

Runaway Home has been playing Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse for the past six years. We’ve watched our fan base grow steadily over the years playing the “Music on the Mountain” series. It takes time and a lot of promotional elbow grease to orient an audience to an original music listening room. JD Oliver (the owner) and Marla Sitten have done a masterful job in doing just that.

Runaway Home is famous for throwing epic post-concert parties, and the rustic Smokehouse Cabins have hosted their fair-share. But with those cabins tucked peacefully back in the woods, they have also been a perfect place for our band to write songs, rehearse new arrangements and just be still for a moment, which is an unusual luxury on the road. Having an out-of-town listening room and concert gig so close to home, plus the great down-home ribs and fried pies, makes The Smokehouse a ‘home away from home’ for the band and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the series with five shows in 2017.

Artist: Robert Burgeis

When I come to perform at The Smoke House it feels like I’m coming home. I am honored to be part of their music scene and family. I really enjoy the home cooking, the relaxing atmosphere and the kind and friendly people at The Smoke House. The music scene is something special; it’s a place you can come hear the best singers and writers in a family atmosphere. The music room is decorated with items from music history you may never see anywhere else.

The Smoke House music scene is a benefit to Marion County because it brings artists and writers to the area who would otherwise never come. Lastly I would just like to say thank you to JD and Marla at The Smoke House for giving artists like myself a place to share our music.

Artist: Jesse Black

I grew up in Jasper and went to Marion County High School. I’ve been coming to The Smoke House since I was 12 years old and I am currently in my first year of college. My first musical experience at The Smoke House was when I participated in their ‘Smokin’ Hit Songwriter’ series.

I love performing at The Smoke House and seeing Marla and JD and all the other regulars. I enjoy having an audience that’s there for music and playing to people who are really listening. The music scene at The Smoke House is great and full of talent. The musicians there have always been great to me even as a kid when I was starting out.

Seasoning Your Smoker After Purchase

Meat SmokerIn order to get the most out of your smoker, you need to season it before you use it; which is done the same way as cast iron cookware.

Basic Steps for Seasoning Your Smoker:

Step 1 – Wipe down all surfaces with soap and water then rinse thoroughly and leave it to dry.
Step 2 – Coat the inside surface of the smoker with one of these oils: peanut oil, vegetable oil, or bacon grease.
Step 3 – Fire up the smoker; heating it up to 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow the oil to seep to any imperfection on the metal surface of the smoker. You can do this by tossing in some scraps of wood to burn for about 35-45 minutes with all the vents open so that everything from the factory and transportation process is burnt off; be sure to do this outside in a well ventilated area; if your smoker is gas or electric, then just use that heat source, don’t build a fire in these. The main reason for this heating is to create a barrier that will repel water and help prevent your smoker from rusting. Caution! Make sure you keep the temperature at 250-275 degrees because any temperature above this could damage the paint on your smoker.
Step 4 – Steam Clean it; when the temperature gauge reaches 275 degrees, open the smoker cooker door and spray water inside on all surfaces, then let the fire reheat to 275 degrees and repeat the spray process; stay back from the steam, it will burn you if you are over it when it rises from the cooker.

Importance of Seasoning Your Smoker

Seasoning your Smoker helps removes all traits of contaminants such as dust, grease, oil, metal shavings and wood dust from the manufacturing and shipping process.

It makes the smoker durable because it will be free from rusting since it requires the use of smoke, which creates a protective coat on the surface of the smoker that repels water. It cures the paint coated on the surface of the smoker, which prevents rusting and increases its lifespan.The process removes any odor from inside the smoker that is caused during the manufacturing process. It makes the process of cleaning out the smoker easy.

Caution! Do not open the door of your smoker during seasoning; if you must, do it carefully to avoid ignition of the volatiles, which could result in a blast of hot air, smoke or even flame, shooting out toward you; also keep everyone away from harm when you are performing this function, have spectators or helpers stand back whenever you open the lid.

Note:
All smokers require seasoning before using them for the first time. This applies to propane smokers, charcoal or wood smokers, water smokers and electric smokers, without any exceptions.

Always clean your grill after every cooking, because the key to a smoker that cooks delicious food comes from a clean smoker. The heat does the cooking while the smoke does the flavoring.

Getting Prepared to Visit Monteagle and The Smoke House Lodge & Cabins

lodge11Jim Oliver’s Smoke House atop Monteagle Mountain, is an excellent place to go for a quiet retreat, business meeting, reunion, songwriting time, couple getaway, or a family vacation. Before booking accommodations at our Smoke House Lodge & Cabins, there are a few things you should to do in preparation before your visit.

First of all, you need to take a good look at what the Smoke House has to offer by going to the super & fantastic web page which offers you the opportunity to view our different types of cabins and rooms via “Text”, “Virtual Tours”, and “Videos”; just go to www.TheSmokeHouse.com, then go to the “Lodging” page, click here for details. The Cabin Videos are located here under the “Cabins” tab, but the Virtual Tours are located on the “Media” page, under the media section “Virtual Tours”. Also featured in the virtual tours & videos (under “Area Attractions” page) are many of the area attractions that you can view from the comfort of your own computer; waterfalls, bluff views, hiking, shopping, sightseeing, and tours around the mountain. You can see many other videos about the area, the music shows & schedule, the restaurant & menus, the old general store, our on line store, the meeting & banquet space, the legendary Louvin Brothers Country Music museum, and the vintage Hamper McBee moonshine exhibit; it is well worth the time to take a look here, almost everything you need to know about the Smoke House, its services, and its facilities.

Once you have decided the type of lodging accommodation you want, and when you want to come up, then call 1-800/489-2091 in advance of your trip to Monteagle to get a reservation for your room or cabin. While we do gladly take walk in guest, there is no guarantee that the lodging you want is available; but if you are a spur of the moment kind of person, then come on up, we’ll take care of you. Sometimes we offer discounts for accommodations due to last minute cancelled reservations that we put back out for sale on day of, so you can take a chance and ask about that. Also, like us on Face Book, and we’ll keep you updated about upcoming events, music schedule, and any deals that we are offering our friends on Face Book.

When making “Group” reservations, please ask to speak with our Sales Manager, (email contact sales@TheSmokeHouse.com) who handles any reservations over 3 rooms, and who arranges all food & banquet functions. You should confirm the dates and the number of people at your functions & events and number of rooms & cabins in your group; make the Sales Manager aware of your groups special needs, blocks, and banquet services that your group requires. Make sure everyone in your group is well aware of the check-in (2pm) and check-out (11am) times and dates; Monteagle is in the Central Time Zone. After confirming the reservation, communicate the information to your group so that they prepare as well. A wealth of information about meetings, group menus, group functions, entertainment, meeting & banquet facilities & sizes are all on the “Meetings” page; go there for specific details and suggested menus & function ideas for your group before you talk to the Sales Manager.

The Smoke House is Pet Friendly; however, it is wise to make this known when you are making the reservation. You will get all the information regarding admittance of pets to the lodges. There are additional charges for pets, you will be informed in advance during reservation. This ensures that you avoid surprises upon arrival. With over 20 acres in our campus, there are plenty of grassy & wooded areas to walk and relax with your pet.

There is high speed wireless internet around the lodge rooms and cabins; some rooms are hard wired. If you do not bring a computer or notebook, there are computers and a printer at the business area in the lobby you can use for free.

Items provided in all rooms and cabins at the Smoke House include irons and ironing boards, coffee makers with coffee & condiments, and hairdryers. The Cabins have kitchens with dishes, pots, pans, stoves, refrigerators, flatware, openers; grills are around the property for your use; note, some kitchens are efficiency size, so if you need a full kitchen, ask for a cabin with the full kitchen. Fire log starters & matches are available for purchase at the front desk; CAUTION: don’t try to start a fire in the fireplace or fire pit with gasoline or other similar type accelerants. Firewood is available around the property. Most cabins have Jacuzzi tubs & fireplaces, but some do not, so if you want either of these, be sure you tell the reservation operator that you need a cabin with these features. One bedroom, two bedroom, and a special group cabin with 2 suites and 3 more queen size beds in the upstairs loft (group cabin has 6 queen & king beds total) are all available at the Smoke House.

There are many activities such as sightseeing, hiking, auto touring, antiquing, shopping, napping, fishing, swimming, picnics: so you can pack personal items for use during these activities such as swimsuits or picnic foods and accessories. However, for most of the on property recreation activities, you can get the equipment at the lobby front desk; these include items such as horseshoes, various size athletic balls, rackets and board games. If you have any question or concern, you can always call the customer service at the lodge and get clarification and or directions to where you can find what you are looking for; there are grocery and variety stores in Monteagle where you can find most anything you need or forget to bring.

Planning your trip makes for a better stress free time while you are here; take a look at all our services and facilities throughout our web page and find what you are looking for there, then call us for more details, prices, and to reserve your dates.

The Smoke House: All You Need To Know

TheSmokeHouse

Since 1960 the Oliver family has been cooking and serving up great traditional Tennessee country food to locals & travelers passing over Monteagle Mountain, between Nashville and Chattanooga on old US 41 & 64 and Interstate 24.

The Smoke House is located just off Interstate 24 – Exit 134 at the top of Monteagle Mountain and now features not only the famous Jim Oliver’s Smoke House Restaurant, but also the Best Western Smoke House Lodge, 21 Smoke House Vacation Cabins, the Old General Store gift shop, Live Music every Friday & Saturday night, the Louvin Brothers Country Music Museum, and Hamper McBee’s Moonshine Artifact Exhibit.

The Smoke House is a true “Mountain Retreat Getaway” for couples, families, and groups; and the area is rich with many historic & scenic attractions, outdoor adventures, hiking, waterfalls, & bluff views, antique shops, cafes, and a host of motor touring backroad sight seeing trips around the mountains and hollows of the South Cumberland Mountains.

The family owned & operated nostalgic restaurant has grown into a “must see when in Tennessee” stop over for travelers, featuring homemade family recipes of Smoked Meats such as BBQ Ribs, Smoked Beef Brisket, Smoked Chicken, Southern Fried Chicken & Catfish, Country Ham, Smoked Bacon, Fresh Homemade biscuits & fried pies, locally grown vegetables fresh right out of the local gardens, skillet cornbread & bread puddin’, made daily vegetable beef soup, and breakfast all day; plus you get to sample all the delicious sauces, rubs, pickles, relishes and such that the Smoke House brands and sells in their store.  Open everyday from 6:30 am to 9 pm weekdays, 10 pm on Friday & Saturday.  There is plenty of room in the Smoke House dining rooms for all size groups, so if you’re traveling as a couple, or as a group, the Smoke House has room for you.

The Smoke House lodging facilities offer a variety of accommodations in vacation Cabins and Lodge rooms for travelers; it is an excellent & affordable quiet place for one night stop overs, weekend getaways, family or business retreats, couples night out, or family vacations.  The Log & Timber Frame cabins feature wood burning fireplaces, private jacuzzi tubs, kitchens, front porches, and lots of privacy. The Lodge is Timber Frame style construction with wood plank boardwalks, wooden spindles, post & beam support timbers, which all enhance the rugged Mountain Lodge experience. The lodge room furnishings are mission style dark mahogany, wood floors, slate limestone vanity areas, new comfortable beds, flat screen TV, wireless internet, and complete room upgrades done in 2014.   All features and accommodations are shown and described on the web page at TheSmokeHouse.com; see text, video, and virtual tours at the web site. Also described here you can find out about all the area attractions, shopping, historic, and scenic features around Monteagle Mountain.  For Lodging Reservations, call 1-800/489-2091 to speak with a reservations operator. The Smoke House is pet friendly.

Every weekend Live Music is featured at the Smoke House Restaurant in the music room, cabaret style seating w/tables, no cover charge, doors open at 6pm, food & beverages are served during the show, a cozy candle lit room for couples, but if you have your family with you bring the kids, it’s family friendly.  Legendary as well as up & coming Singer Songwriter Music Artist perform music and lyrics they have written; and the’ll tell you their story about how they came about to write the lyrics and if any noted major music artist have recorded it. The music varies from pop, to blues, to soul, some bluegrass, folk, and a little country makes the all the shows unique everytime. Each show features the primary artist or group first, starting at 7pm for 2 hours. Then, another featured artist or group may perform for 30 minutes. To end up the evening, a Nashville style songwriter round is next which features 3 or 4 songwriters singing and performing their songs in rotation for about an hour or more. What’s unique about songwriters is that you are actually watching and hearing songs sung by the original songwriter artist who wrote them; its really interesting to hear their version of the song. You may be watching a person sing their song which was ultimately recorded by great artist such as Toby Keith, or Keith Urban, Hank Williams, Jr., Elton John, Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers, and many, many others.  The songwriters say that the Smoke House venue is as good as or better than the famous Nashville music venues such as The Bluebird Cafe, Tootsies, the Wagon Wheel, and others in the Nashville Music scene.

The Old General Store is a place you can spend the whole day looking around. Here you’ll find all of the “Soon to be Famous” Smoke House BBQ & Hot sauces; probably the largest selection of BBQ sauces in one spot anywhere!  In addition to the sauces, there’s the Smoke House meat rubs for those delicious Smoked Ribs you want to do at home, vinegars, salad dressings, dessert toppings, jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, homemade pork skins, nuts, and the now famous Smoke House Fudge; made fresh every day. Wait, there’s more; local crafts & honey, toys, music, novelties, taffy, 40 flavors of soft drinks all in glass bottles, the museum of the Country Music’s  legendary “Louvin Brothers”, and the entertaining Hamper McBee Moonshine artifact exhibit area; learn how to make moonshine lik’er and get away with it.

All year long, the Smoke House host an assortment of meetings, retreats, reunions, and family groups; over 12 meeting buildings & meeting rooms accommodate a varity of set ups from indoor to outdoor venues. Scheduling, entertainment, food/beverage/ and banquet arrangements featuring the famous Smoke House recipes & menus are all arranged thru the Smoke House sales manager; contact sales@TheSmokeHouse.com, or 1-800-489-2091. Full meeting information, room sizes, menus, entertainment, is outlined on the web page under the “Meetings” section.

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on http://TheSmokeHouse.com and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Tips on Smoking Meat

smoked meats

While we’d love it for all of our guests to visit us every day, we know that it just isn’t possible.  We thought that it might be helpful for you to learn how to smoke your own meats, and provide the Smoke House experience in your backyard for friends and family.

Tip 1:  Follow the instructions of your cooker when loading your hardwood chunks, pellets, chips, and charcoal.  By using too much wood, you’ll produce too much smoke, and the flavor won’t be quite right.  Poultry could turn white or gray.  By not using enough charcoal or wood, you may not be able to produce enough smoke.

Tip 2:  Try new things!  Hardwoods such as mesquite and apple wood are great staples, though many people have had great success with maple, hickory, or any other hardwoods.

Tip 3:  Any food that you’ll be smoking should be patted dry with a clean towel.  This applies to foods that have been marinated, rubbed, brined, or food which hasn’t been prepared at all.

Tip 4:  Follow your recipes carefully.  Some foods that have been brined should be rinsed and patted dry before smoking it.  Others do not require patting dry.

Tip 5:  Leave the skin on your poultry when smoking, as it will not shrink as much.  If you don’t like the skin, it’s best to remove it after you’ve smoked it.

Tip 6:  If you’re a fan of soups and stews, smoke chicken wings and backbones while smoking the rest of your meats.  You can use these to infuse a nice smoky flavor into your soup.

Tip 7:  Do not smoke pre-cooked sausage.  Find locally made raw sausage from your butcher.  You’ll find that it has a much better taste.

Tip 8:  Briskets, thicker chops, and pork roasts are best for smoking, as they tend to hold up to long-term cooking.

Tip 9:  Invest in an instant-read thermometer to determine that your food is completely done.  It’s important to remember that smoked meats take significantly longer to cook than grilled meats.

Tip 10:  Barbeque sauce is best saved for after the meat has been fully smoked.  While some recipes call for “mopping” at the end of the cook, we’ve found it best to hold it until the end.

Many people who start smoking meats find it a life long passion.  If you try it and like it, feel free to share your recipes with the team at the Smoke House!  We love to talk shop with fellow smokers!

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on http://TheSmokeHouse.com and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Tips and Tricks for Smoking Fish

how to smoke fishLike many skills, smoking fish is easy to learn, though extremely difficult to master.  Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can expand your offerings to include interesting and delicious appetizers, spreads, and dips.  The end result of smoking fish is a smoky, flavorful piece of seafood that is sure to delight your friends, family, and neighbors.

Choosing The Right Fish to Smoke

As a general rule, the heavier and oilier the fish, the better results a first-time smoker will have.  This is due to the fat content of heavier fish more effectively absorbing the smoky flavor.  The higher fat also serves to keep the fish moist.  The best types of fish to use for a new smoker include:

Trout – Bluefish – Marlin – Bonito – Sturgeon – Salmon – Tuna

More flaky or delicate fish, including sea bass, redfish, orange roughy, and others should be saved until you’ve earned a little more experience, as they typically dry out quickly.  You should also avoid more expensive fish until you’ve gotten a little more experience under your belt.

Regardless of the fish that you choose, it’s extremely important that it be fresh or quickly frozen after capture.  To determine the freshness, look at the gills.  If they’re red or pink, it’s a good choice.  Brown or gray gills should be passed over.

Preparing the Fish

Preparing your fish for smoking is relatively easy.  First, you’ll want to thoroughly wash your fish.  You’ll then want to prepare very basic brine.  You can do this by combining 2 ½ tablespoons of sea salt with one cup of water.  You’ll want to have about one quart of brine for each pound of fish that you plan to smoke.  If you don’t like a fishy smell, you can add a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice to your brine.

You’ll next want to place the fish in the brine and allow it to set for 15 minutes for each half-inch of fish.  When the brining is completed, you’ll want to remove the fish, and rinse thoroughly with cold tap water.

Smoking the Fish

After preparation, it’s time to get cooking.  You’ll want to put your fish on an oiled smoker rack, skin facing down.  Your smoker should be kept at a low temperature, approximately 150 degrees for the first two hours.  You’ll then want to increase the heat slightly to 200 degrees.  Cook the fish until it’s cooked all the way through, with a flaky consistency.

Smoked fish should be served immediately for best results.  If you’re not planning on eating the fish right away, you should wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and place it in your freezer.

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on http://TheSmokeHouse.com and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Smoking Ribs is as Easy as 3-2-1

The SmokeHouse Smoked Ribs How ToHearty and “summery,” ribs have become as integral a part of the American lexicon as apple pie, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs.

I will never forget the smell of a restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Mr. Ribbs, where I got my first real taste of great smoked ribs. Slathered in a homemade barbecue sauce, these fell right off of the bone, and I fell in love.

For years before moving south, I would have the owner of Mr. Ribbs cater my backyard barbecues. Before he retired, he was nice enough to share his smoking method with me. Now I’m going to share it with you!

Before we dig in, though, it’s important to have your favorite barbecue sauce and barbecue seasoning nearby. I recommend a sweeter sauce and a spicier rub, though this is entirely up to your interpretation.
Three Hours of Smoking

The first step is to smoke your ribs for three hours. The smoker should maintain a constant temperature of about 225 degrees, creating a low and slow smoke. You’ll want to be sure that your ribs are slathered in a very generous barbecue rub. If you’re smoking baby back ribs, you may want to cut back to the smoking time to two hours to avoid drying the meat out. I’ve had my best success using apple, cherry, and maple woods, though many friends have delivered incredible results using alder and hickory.

Two Hours of Tenderizing

If you want ribs that melt in your mouth, you cannot skip this step. You’ll want to wrap your ribs tightly in aluminum foil. Before completely sealing the foil, pour a small amount of hard apple cider into the foil pouch. This will create both flavor and steam, which will make your ribs extremely tender. Return your ribs back to your smoker for two hours at 225 degrees, though be sure to turn off the smoking element… you want to slow-bake the ribs during this step.

One Hour of Sauce

The last step is most people’s favorite. Remove your ribs from the smoker and liberally coat your ribs in your favorite barbecue sauce on both sides. Be sure to not miss a single micrometer. Then return your ribs to your smoker for one hour, this time turning the smoking element on. This will add that beloved smoky flavor to your sauce.

The end result of this process is ribs that will fall off of the bone and into your belly. The seasoning and sauce will provide complex flavoring, which is enhanced by your smoker. The 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs will leave you wanting more, and your friends, family, and neighbors jealous.

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on and if you’re in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Smoking Corn

smoked cornFull disclosure. I’m in love with a vegan. I know that this sounds like blasphemy from a smoking pro, but what can I say? In the few years that we’ve been together, she’s turned me from a full-on carnivore to a bit of an omnivore, and I’ve begun smoking various vegetables. There are a wide variety of vegetables, which are wonderful smoked, including corn, cabbage, and potatoes. You’re limited only by your imagination. In this piece, I’ll share my method for smoking corn, which is perfect for the upcoming summer BBQ season.

Making Corn in a Smoker

Nothing defines a backyard side dish better than corn on the cob. A perfect compliment to barbeque ribs, chicken, and brisket, corn is a perfect vegetable choice for the smoker. The most difficult part of smoking corn is finding ideal ears. You’ll want to look for fresh corn (I find mine at a roadside vendor) with nice green husks and dark brown silks. The best corn can usually be found towards the end of summer, though imported corn works well in the spring.

To prepare the corn, you’ll want to peal each ear similar to a banana, without removing it completely. You want to be able to re-wrap the corn in the husks later. Next, you’ll remove as much of the silk as possible. Fill a large cauldron with cold water and soak the ears of corn for two hours, with the husk side up. Afterwards, you’ll want to spread a liberal layer of seasoned butter and salt on your corn before re-wrapping it in the husk.

To smoke corn, you’ll want to maintain a temperature between 235-250. With most vegetables, the type of wood you choose in your smoker is irrelevant, though I’ve had a good deal of luck with mesquite (which I’m usually using for my barbeque meats anyway). Once the smoker reaches the desired temperature, place the vegetables conservatively on your rack and allow the corn to smoke for about two hours.

Unlike meat, it’s okay to open your smoker to season your corn every so often. Every 30-45 minutes, I like to re-season my corn with a special mesquite barbeque butter that I’ve perfected over the years. To make the butter, simply microwave your butter until liquefied and add your favorite mesquite barbeque seasoning. Leave it out so that it can reform as a soft, orange-ish brown butter. Apply this very liberally at least once or twice an hour to your corn. Your guests will fall in love.

There are many non-traditional things that can be made in your smoker. Feel free to share ideas, and check back here for other smoking tips!

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on http://TheSmokeHouse.com and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Tips for Buying a Smoker

One of the most common questions that we’re asked at the Smoke House, besides how to get to the rest room, is for our recommendations on which smoker to purchase.  We’re glad to help, though it’s important to answer your question with a question:  “What are you planning to smoke?” If you are a resident of Colorado, this question may have an assortment of answers, just sayin’ . . .

While it’s true that you can make really good smoked meats using a charcoal or gas grill, some folks say that the ultimate results come from using a specialized smoker.  Remember, it’s not always how good the equipment is, it has a lot to do with the person a doin’ the cookin’; a good cook can take a piece of crap equipment and make some of the best tasting food or smoked meats that you’ll put in your mouth; just ask Betsy my sister, she’s been doing it for years.  With a little practice and the right smoker, you’ll get results better than some barbeque restaurants; but not better than the Smoke House!  In the past, backyard grillers would have to spend hours hovering over a smoker, fiddling with the temperature and dampers, shoveling coals into the smoker, adding wood, and the best part is basting your ribs, brisket, hams, chicken, and salmon with some almost famous “World Class” Jim Oliver’s Smoke House BBQ & Basting Sauces.

While we don’t have firsthand experience using one, we’ve heard from the majority of our customers that the “Green Egg” is their favorite cooker; if you’ve got the money for one of these little indulgences, then you might just get you one.  Better yet, if you have a friend with one of these rascals, you might ask them to let you test drive it and see how you like it before you buy it. Daddy always said, let’s learn how to do it before we spend a lot of money on something we don’t know anything about to start with.  You think Jimi Hendrix went out and bought the most expensive guitar before he learned how to play it? Get you a BBQ cook book and follow the instructions till you know more than they do, then you’ll be ready to up your game on the equipment you’re using for cooking it.

Price

You can find backyard smokers starting at under $100 on sale from time to time, though typically, they aren’t too well-built, and may need replacing after just a few uses; these are good for burgers & chicken, but not smoking meat per se.  Professional smokers like we use here at Jim Oliver’s Smoke House can cost $10,000 and up, which are good for restaurants and rib show veterans, but most folks will want something a little less than that.  You can find a good quality gas unit for around $200, and a charcoal unit for about $300.  A good quality pellet smoker will set you back between $900-$1000; but we don’t recommend pellets, real cooks use real wood.

Build Quality

You’ll want to find a smoker that is made with high quality and durable thick steel, which works to absorb and distribute heat evenly through the entire cooking chamber, then radiates it back towards your meat.  This keeps heat fluctuations in check.  Better quality smokers have doors that close and seal tightly, preventing smoke and heat from escaping; which make it hard to manage the flavor & moisture of your meats.

Thermometer

Having a high quality thermometer will prevent issues down the road.  Lower quality thermometers placed in the wrong section of a smoker can lead to temperature variance, which can cause inconsistent flavoring in your meat.  Always have a meat thermometer to actually temp what you’re cooking, this is the true temp you need to always monitor.

Accessories

Many smokers will come with cooking tools, hooks, and a high quality cover.  Higher quality units will include deflector plates, extra racks, and other add-ons such as cooking surfaces and storage, heck, some of ‘em even have directions on how to us it, (that’s what most people use to start the first fire, we don’t recommend that) to make smoking more fun and convenient.

It’s important to choose a smoker that works best for your budget and your skill at cooking, so sometimes the most attractive unit will not be the best for your backyard.  As with anything, if it looks too good to be true, chances are that you’re going to have low-quality results.

Be sure to see our YouTube channel for more information on http://TheSmokeHouse.com and if you are in the area be sure to stop by and see Smokin’ Man Mike to talk shop about smoking’ meats and to sample our large collection of sauces and smoking accessories.

Best Woods for Barbecuing

Smoking woodsDepending on where you’re located, the availability of certain types of barbecue woods can vary greatly.  In barbecue capitals like Oklahoma or Texas, the favorites are typically mesquite and hickory.

There are many other types of wood that can be used in smoking and barbecuing that can have significant impacts on the flavor of your meal.

We recommend that you spend some time experimenting with each of these types of wood, as they can expand your barbecue palette.

Apple Wood For Barbecuing

Apple wood is best for meats that will benefit from a sweeter, fruitier taste including poultry and ham.  Apple is a very good, solid, mild wood, and is the preferential choice for smoking salmon.  Apple smoked bacon is a popular choice for connoisseurs.

Alder Wood for Barbecuing

Typically found in the Pacific Northwest, Alder wood is perfect for seafood and poultry and generates a smoky flavor that enhances the flavors of meat, fish, and vegetables.

Cherry Wood for Smoking

Cherry wood is very similar to apple, though the flavor can change based on the age of the tree that it was procured from.  This wood is milder, and a favorite for ham, chicken, pork, and ham.

Hickory Wood for Smoking

While some people have described hickory as pungent, we disagree.  As one of the most well known woods for smoking, hickory is extremely useful for most red meats, including steaks, burgers, and especially ribs.  Hickory can also be used (though sparingly) on fish and poultry.

Maple Wood for Smoking

Maple is amazing for pork, ham, and especially bacon.  Providing a sweet, light taste, maple is becoming a popular choice for many breakfast meats.

Mesquite for Barbecuing and Smoking

Mesquite is one of the most popular woods for smoking, though the chef must take great care, or the smoky flavor can become somewhat overpowering.  Mesquite is best for smaller cuts, shorter cook times, and in conjunction with another type of wood.

Oak for Barbecuing

Oak is a great choice for larger cuts of meat, including brisket, pig roasts, and other cuts that require a long time in the smoker.  Oak can produce an extremely strong smoky flavor, though doesn’t tend to overpower the taste of your meet.

Pecan for Smoking Wood

Pecan can provide your meat with a fruity flavor.  Usually best used in tandem with another wood, pecan burns cooler than most other types of wood.  It’s best used for large cuts of meat, including pork roast, brisket, and large racks of rib.

Smoking meats is a hobby and an art.  By experimenting, you can discover some extremely tasty combinations, and impress your friends and family during your next backyard barbecue.

If you are in the Monteagle, Tennessee area stop by the SmokeHouse and talk to Smokin’ Man Mike about any of you barbecuing questions and see our large selection of barbecuing sauces and smoking supplies. You can visit is online at http://TheSmokeHouse.com and visit our online store for a huge selection of our SmokeHouse barbecuing sauces.

Smoking Meats – Using a Bullet Smoker

Smoked MeatsMany of our regular customers want to go above and beyond just enjoying our delicious smoked meat dishes. They want to learn how to create amazing smoked meat main courses for their home backyard barbecues. With spring quickly approaching, we thought that it’d be a great idea to show you the basics of how to smoke meat.

This article is designed for an absolute beginner. We all have to start somewhere. Today, we’ll focus on using a bullet smoker, the most commonly marketed smoker.

It is best to use smaller and more affordable cuts of meat in your first few tries, as you can make mistakes. I recommend chicken, pork chops, and cheaper steaks before moving on to briskets, fish, and higher quality cuts of steak.

How to Use a Bullet Smoker

One of the most common questions that we’re asked at the Smoke House is, “How do I use my smoker?” This can be confusing to many beginners, so it’s best load your smoker in the following manner, from bottom to top:

Charcoal Pan – Fill the charcoal pan with your preferred type of charcoal. Leave the door slightly open so that air can flow to your fire.

Smoke Pouch – You’ll want to make a pouch of aluminum foil, filling it with soaked chips of your favorite type of smoking wood, and place it atop your charcoal once it is glowing orange.

Water Pan – This is used to regulate the temperature inside your smoker using steam.

Racks – Once the smoker has reached 225 degrees, you’ll want to put your meat on your racks, starting from the bottom up.

Dome Lid – Once the meats are on your racks, quickly place your dome lid on top of your smoker, to let the smoking begin.

It is important to only remove the lid if you absolutely have to (for mid-cook seasoning or an emergency). Your smoker will maintain the temperature really well, so long as you do not tamper with the lid much. Remember that more air will create more fire, which could lead to grilling instead of smoking.

Smoke your meats for as long as your recipe requires as a beginner. As you become more experienced, you can tinker with the times, the types of wood that you’re using, and techniques. After just a few tries, you’ll be able to show off your techniques to your friends and neighbors. With spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to begin honing your skills!

If you have any questions and are in the Monteagle, Tennessee area be sure to stop by and talk to Smokin’ Man Mike! He will be glad to answer any question you have and show you our large selection of sauces and rubs. You can learn more about us at http://thesmokehouse.com and visit our online store at http://store.thesmokehouse.com/

Come and see us!

I Love It Every Time That I Come Into Your Restaurant

VideoOverlay01To J.D. Oliver and the Smoke House Staff,

I love it every time that I come into your restaurant. I live north of Atlanta, but since I’m the assistant organizer of the Chattanooga Hiking Meetup, our group is often out your way hiking.

Last weekend, some of us were out hiking the Grundy Forest Day Loop with Ranger Jason Reynolds. I was going to suggest everyone go to your restaurant for dinner, but as I was in the restroom, everyone left the park except the woman that I carpooled with. We were all so busy listening to Ranger Jason on the hike and taking pictures, that I forgot to discuss going out to eat afterward. Anyway, the woman that I rode with had never been to your restaurant before, but after that visit, she was completely sold.

Not only was your food exceptionally good as always, but the main reason that I am emailing you is to let you know the difference that your staff make. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted. Our waitress was excellent. She answered questions, explained things, checked on us, kept our drinks filled, etc. Sounds regular, but she was just super sweet. The part that made the difference with her is that she exhibited that she genuinely cared. A lot of times when you go to a restaurant, you are treated as a customer.

Then there was smokin mike. My friend started off by asking him if she was able to get some pulled pork for an event that she was doing at her home later that week. (That’s how much she liked it). Well, he didn’t just answer her questions and rush her off. Again, my friend was made to feel like she mattered, and he took as much time as she needed without making her feel rushed. He also took the time to explain about several different sauces. During this time, the ribeye steaks that he had been smoking were done. He gave her a sample, and I don’t think I’ve EVER seen her react that way. She kept saying oh my gosh, oh my gosh. She loved it. She bought pork and sauce, and has already said that she definitely wants to go back there the next time we’re out that way on a hike. I even texted a picture of your logo to a hiker that wasn’t on the hike that day, and he was jealous.

When smokin mike was sharing about the sauces, he pulled a piece of meat and dipped it into the sauce with peach and sriracha. It tasted really good, but he dipped a LOT of sauce on it, and sriracha is hot stuff, so it made me really thirsty. I went back to the counter where the servers were, and asked if I could get a to go cup of pepsi (I’d already just had some when eating my dinner). I told them about the hot sauce, and suddenly 3 staff quickly started running about to help me. I was impressed how genuinely helpful they were all trying to be. Even the ones that weren’t my servers.

When walking around the store, I was talking to one of the men in the shop area. I said that everything was so good, but that I was stuffed. He proceeded to tell me that if I ate a piece of the peppermint fudge, that it would help my tummy, as he put it. So, we walked to the fudge counter. As he was cutting a piece, he explained about the peppermint oil.

My friend even bought 6 fried pies after I kept telling her how good they are. Usually she watches her money, but she was just so happy with her visit, that she got the pork, the sauce, and the pies.

Your staff aren’t just waitresses, cashiers, meat smokers, and gift shop sales staff ….. they are people that know how to make a person (notice I didn’t use the word customer, but rather person) feel genuinely cared for. You’ve got the quality product to keep people coming back, but the way folks feel treated is what they often talk about when telling others about it as well, and makes you stand out even more.

Thank You !

Rhonda Bulman
Assistant Organizer, Chattanooga Hiking Meetup
Assistant Organizer, Outdoor Club South
Coach, Chattanooga Ultimate Hike Team

Live Music on the Mountain at Jim Oliver’s Smoke House!

What happens when unstoppable Nashville music talent runs smack Dab’ into the tallest Mountain between Chicago and Miami?…you get the best little Weekend anywhere south of the Mason/Dixon Line.  You say, “what’ja talkin’ ‘bout”.  I’m talkin’ ‘bout _Live Music on the Mountain at Jim Oliver’s Smoke House!  Every Friday and Saturday night, starting at 6:30 pm Central Time, Every Weekend on Monteagle Mountain, Tennessee, near Sewanee.

Marla Sitten, of Nashville Music Space and Radio Active Promotions, has put together a Legendary line up of “Singers and Songwriters” to perform “Acoustic style”, that’s unplugged to some of ya’ll, at the Smoke House Music Room on Monteagle Mountain, Tennessee; No Admission Charged.  Names like Alex Harvey, Dave Gibson, Wynn Varble, Chris Wallin, The Henningsens, Greg Crow, Ira Dean, Runaway Home, Flat River Band, Aaron Barker, Jason Link, Nolan Neil, Jason Lee Wilson, Clay Canfield, Jerry Sallie, Tawny River, Nicole Johnson, Devon O’Day, Kim McLean, Jason Lee Wilson, Lonnie Spiker, Shawn Mayer, Dave Pahanish, Stella Parton, Tommy Barnes, and many others play regularly at the Smoke House.

During the show, or before the show, sample some of Betsy Oliver’s fine Southern Cookin’!  She always prepares  a delicious Weekend menu that would make Paula Dean envious including Smoked Pork BBQ Ribs, Smoked Roast Beef, Southern Fried Chicken & Skillet Corn Bread. The Menu is Fabulous! Special Deep Fried Catfish Cookin’ for Friday Night, and Big Brunch Buffet on Sunday, Breakfast served all day long, and the regular daily menu offerings served 6:30 am to 10 pm. Smokin’ Man Mike will give you some samples of his nearly famous smoked BBQ Ribs-Brisket-Chicken, and then tell you how you can make it right at home with our 20 flavors of sauces and 10 flavors of meat rubs. The Smoke House…it’s a national treasure you’ve got to experience!

Come stay overnight at our Lodge in a King or Queen bedroom or retreat inside one of our 20 Family & Couple Get-A-Way Cabins and Cottages w/real wood burning fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, flat screen TVs, leather sofas, and full kitchens to “warm up your leftovers from the Smoke House”.

More Info

The Perfect Getaway: Jim Oliver’s Smoke House

1TyMomFosterFallsWhen it comes to getaways where the finest of foods, fun and recreation meet the best in Vintage old-fashioned simplicity and relaxation, Jim Oliver’s Smoke House is one of the most historic and celebrated hospitality resorts in the Southeast.

Since 1960, Jim Oliver has set the highest standard in country cooking and leisure living to suit everyone’s taste. Located on Old US 41A and Interstate 24 between Chattanooga and Nashville atop beautiful Monteagle Mountain, Jim Oliver’s Smoke House has a lot to offer; 85 over-sized beautiful lodge rooms and suites plus log and timber frame cabins for families and couples featuring large private Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces and front porches.

The 25-acre campus has plenty of room to spread out, everything from relaxing barbecues, bonfires, fishing, swimming and walking trails to the simple pleasures of watching nature and wild life on the pond and playing horseshoes. Also available, are volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts and shuffleboard courts as well as a children’s playground all on one property and at no extra cost.

The Smoke House is a truly great place for couples, families, group retreats, and family reunions.

The Smoke House added “Live Music on the Mountain – the Best of Nashville” a few years ago where Nashville music artists perform (no admission charge) to a family friendly audience every Friday & Saturday night at 6:30pm. “We want people to know there is another choice for vacations to go besides the Smokies, or Nashville,” said J.D. Oliver, Jim Oliver’s son. “Our cabins are far less expensive than those in Gatlinburg and we don’t have any of the traffic and congestion here; like they do in Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and Nashville.”

With the economy the way it is, this is a shorter trip with long-lasting memories for the whole family. There are lots of outdoor opportunities, historical sites, fishing, canoeing, hiking, waterfalls, antique & craft shops, and other fun activities around the area for couples and the whole family.

The most popular accommodations at the Smoke House are the hideaway cabins. Twenty one rustic, log and timber frame cabins are located on the spacious property and are secluded enough to offer privacy, but close enough to walk or ride your bike to and from the lodge and the restaurant with ease.

The aromas of country ham, sliced bacon, hickory smoked barbecue, fresh fried chicken and sizzling hot catfish are enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and head to the Smoke House dining room where everyone can enjoy full menu selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as their famous daily all-you-can-eat buffet. The country meals feature three generations of family recipes served 365 days a year.

Their nearly famous country fried fruit pies defies description. Don’t be surprised if you feel the need for a fried pie “crisis intervention” to help you wean off this delectable dessert which includes natural peach, apple, apple caramel, chocolate, coconut, strawberry, chocolate, and more.

The late Jim Oliver said he started the Monteagle restaurant with the idea of preserving his family’s distinctly Southern tradition of country cooking. His son and daughter, J.D. and Betsy Oliver, said they cherish their father’s legacy and are committed to the same Southern hospitality and high quality of food their father always extended to their customers.

“Betsy and I are here everyday,” said J.D; “We’re not absentee owners. We take pride in our food & service and we enjoy personally meeting our customers and offering the best locally grown fresh foods, family recipes handed down from generations, unique one of a kind nostalgic atmosphere, family fun experience, real Nashville live music, and antiques, Americana Southern memories that are hard to find anywhere else.”

The Smoke House also boasts an old-fashioned nostalgic gift shop from a bygone era with antique displays containing vintage candies, 16 varieties of homemade fudge, rustic antique furniture, leather hats, handmade crafts & trinkets, wind up toys, glass bottled soda pops along with an online store with national mail-order service featuring Smoke House meats and other homemade goods.

“We offer 20 flavors of our special barbecue sauce in three different size bottles. We have 39 flavors of soft drinks, 16 flavors of homemade fudge and 29 flavors of taffy,” said J.D. whose life has revolved around bringing wholesome family fun and recreation to the Monteagle area.

“I grew up working with my dad here everyday since I was five,” said J.D. Oliver, 55. “By the time I was big enough to walk around he had me doing something – cleaning, cooking, washing dishes – until I went to college and got a degree. When I got out of college, I came back here and helped dad with accounting and marketing; we also dabled into construction and real estate.”

The expansion to their business proved to be a boon for the community as wall as the family. In a town with a population fewer than 1,300 people, the Smoke House restaurant packs in close to 400,000 visitors annually. J.D. estimates more than 30 million people have visited their location over the past five decades.
Each cabin features a private Jacuzzi tub, real wood-burning fireplace, mini to full size kitchen, king or queen bed and front porch. One, two, and 6-bedroom cabins are available for sleeping two to 15 people.

The deck features rocking chairs, outdoor eating tables and great scenery as nature surrounds you here. “To me, this place is spectacular,” said Marla Sitten, director of RadioActive Promotions. “I’ve seen it all – been around the world and that’s why I’m here. It’s a family-friendly environment where kids are welcome. The Live Music show every Friday and Saturday night is a good experience as a date night, family night, or a weekend romantic getaway. The nearby _South Cumberland State Park features over 50,000 acres, with over 200 miles of hiking trails, beautiful bluff overlooks, waterfalls, swimming holes, historic attractions – it has it all.”

When asked about their commitment to offering people and experience they would never forget, J.D. said, “Our goal is for people to enjoy themselves and come back. We want every visit to be like coming back home again. It’s like wanting other families to have the best of everything and they’re part of our family, people say that the Smoke House is a National Treasure.”

For and unforgettable stay at the perfect getaway, Jim Oliver’s Best Western Smoke House is the most flavorful escape to family fun, down-home cooking and Southern comforts in the Southeast. For further information about availability, rates, and reservations call 1-800-489-2091, then zero for the operator or visit HYPERLINK “http://www.TheSmokeHouse.com” www.TheSmokeHouse.com . You can also “Like” them on Facebook for instant updates and specials.

The perfect getaway: Jim Oliver’s Smoke House revised April 17, 2012
By: William Wright Lifestyles Paper

The Great Outdoors

The Smoke House AreaWith cloudless blue skies, cool days and trees bourgeoning with bursts of deep red, sizzling orange and sunflower yellow, fabulous fall is here.  Perhaps no other time of year is as encouraging for getaways to the great outdoors.  But, while the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains call, oftentimes no one answers at inns, B&B’s or even sprawling, grand old hotels.  The last-minute leaf looker all too often can find no pillow to rest on, unless it’s packed along with a tent.  So, for the spur-of-the-moment decision to head for the fall-splashed hills, Monteagle Mountain, a little more than an hour southeast of Nashville, can be the perfect solution.

Perched at 2,000 feet, Monteagle wears Mother Nature’s artistry with casual grace.  A direct shot east out Interstate 24, the area is a very doable day trip.  For the hikers or the wannabes trails abound.  South Cumberland Recreation Area, which encompasses 16,000 acres across four countries, offers myriad trails, many of which are in the Monteagle area.

Perhaps the star is Fiery Gizzard, a 17-mile one-way trek that feels as though moccasins, rather than hiking boots, should adorn the sojourner’s feet.  From its north entrance in Grundy Forest State Natural Area near Monteagle, the rocky trail serves as companion to rushing creek spewing white foam over jagged rocks as it scampers, and then delves into deep crevices edged by mountain laurel and hemlock.  Past steep rock faces chimney stacks of stones and falls that crash into a swimming hole begging a summer swim.  Fiery Gizzard is easily one of the most beautiful and diverse trails in the state.

Its length prohibits completion in a day, but for day trippers, even a couple of hours on the trail serves as time travel back to distant days when Native Americans silently strode these dense woods.  For the less adventuresome, the 20-mile Perimeter Trail near Sewanee, just a hiking boot away from Monteagle, offers easy treks that allow you to do as little or as much as you like.  Route choices are marked by blue for basic enjoy-the-sunshine-dappled-trail and fall colors, white for those inclined to take the road less traveled.  For either, within easy distance is Greens View, a spectacular summit with a view akin to that from a plane.

For the day tripper who enjoys autumn from the comfort of a car, a spin through Monteagle’s Assembly is another nugget of time travel.  The gated community is a collection of about 165 century-old Victorian homes relaxed like old friends along the bumpy gravel roads that loop through the 96-acre enclave.

Monteagle Assembly was created in the late 1800s, both as a mountain escape from summer city heat and also as a Chautauqua.  This religious and educational movement begun in upstate New York by John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller was somewhere between revival meetings and country fairs.  Chautauqua’s were created as eight-week summer programs that offered secular and religious instruction.  Attended by thousands each year throughout America and Europe in the late 19th century, only 13 of the original exist today.  Monteagle Assembly is among them.

The Assembly, during “the season” that commences in June and ends in August, is a beehive if activity.  There are kids riding bikes or splashing barefoot in streams and families socializing on front porches of homes they’ve owned for generations. But out of season, the quiet is interrupted only by the splat of an occasional tennis ball in play or the crunch of gravel beneath sole or tire.

The Victorian “cottages” range from grand to humble, but all are home to maples, oaks and dogwoods ripe with fiery fall color and feathery hemlock green with envy.

For the day tripper who longs to stay, stroll or sit a spell in a rocker on one of the seemingly endless wraparound porches, Adams Edgeworth Inn is just the ticket, provided long-range planners have not beaten you to the hammock or porch swing.  The sprawling yellow Victorian dates back to 1896 and has 14 rooms and at least that many emerald green rockers on its porch.

As glorious as Mother Nature’s canvas is in Monteagle and Sewanee, it’s not the only art in town.  A smattering of shops and galleries exist.  In Monteagle, Mountain Outfitters offers outdoor wear at discount prices.  In Sewanee, a health food store and a couple of eclectic shops are chock-full of everything from Vera Bradley bags to soaps to lamps to table linens.

And just what would a day trip be without sustenance?  Several restaurants offer the chance to satisfy the hunger developed in the crisp mountain air.  Among them is Jim Oliver’s Smoke House Restaurant, Lodge and Trading Post.  Originally built by Jim Oliver and is now owned and operated by his son, JD Oliver, and daughter, Betsy Oliver.  The Smoke House offers great southern cookin’ either on their full menu or hot food buffet and salad bar with real bacon crumbles.

The Best Western Smoke House Lodge offers double queen or king rooms.  Nestled on over 25 acres are the 21 timber frame & log cabins. Each cabin features a real working fire place, a full kitchen and Jacuzzi. The Smoke House also has a five bed family cabin.

One can find treasures of all kinds at The Smoke House Trading Post.  Antiques, T-shirts, Sauces and Salad dressings, coffee and coffee cups, souvenirs and little gag gifts.  Road Kill in a Can and Moon Pies are just some of the great items found in The Trading Post.  The homemade fudge comes in 16 varieties is worth a sample or two along with a few homemade Fried Pies which come in Apple, Apple Cinnamon, Coconut, Pecan, Chocolate, and more.  Try a hot Fried Pie with a scoop of their homemade Ice Cream.

For the lunch bunch, Blue Chair Bakery sparkles like sapphire.  A gathering place for University of the South students and professors, locals and tourists, this little jewel offers salads, homemade soups and bakery goods well worth toting home.  Waffles on weekend mornings spur even late-night student revelers to crawl out of bed for breakfast.

Home to those students, the University of the South, is itself worth a visit.  With stone edifices that could as easily be in England as rural Tennessee, the campus is stunningly, hauntingly beautiful in any season.

Whether the magic of autumn stirs the soul toward romp and adventure or a leisurely soak in its glory, Monteagle Mountain offers a day trip or an overnighter, just 85 miles but light years away.

TRAVEL Sun., Oct. 26th

The mountain far away:  That’s the feel, but the distance to Monteagle is only an hour.

It’s Nature’s Way: The Sounds of the South Cumberland by Cathy Summerlin ~ The Tennessean

The Smoke HouseThe leaves rustle softly as you walk along one of the trails in the South Cumberland State Recreation Area, a group of eight separate park areas connected by highways and hiking trails. Totaling 12,000 acres, the Recreation Area is about 90 miles southeast of Nashville in the unspoiled country on the southern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, a broad flat-topped ridge 1,000 feet high and 40-55 miles wide that extends from Kentucky to Georgia.

Located in a 100-square-mile area roughly bounded by Altamont, Monteagle and Sewanee, the park headquarters and visitor center are on U.S. 41 between Monteagle and Tracy City; fewer than five miles from the Interstate 24 exit 134 at Monteagle.

There are picnic areas, ball fields, restrooms and a museum in addition to trail information, camping permits and, perhaps most important of all, directions, at the visitor center, which is open seven days a week.

Savage and Primitive

At the northern end of the recreation area, the Savage Gulf State Natural Area includes one of the last known stands of old growth forest in the Eastern United States. Named for an early settler Samuel Savage, this rugged setting contains scenic overlooks, cheer cliffs, three deep canyons or gulfs, waterfalls cascading into plunge basins that make great swimming holes, 55 miles of hiking trails, and 10 primitive campsites.

All hikers and campers should register before beginning one of the trails making up the system that range from short, rewarding and easy to long, challenging outdoor experiences.

The eastern access is the Savage Gulf Ranger Station northeast of the community of Grutli-Laager off state Route 399. The western access is the Stone Door Ranger Station off Highway 56 outside historic Beersheba Springs, a mineral springs resort from the 1800s and home of the Methodist Assembly since the 1940s. The area around the old hotel is the site of the Beersheba Arts and Crafts Show.

The Great Stone Door is the name given to a crevice in the bluff 100 feet deep and 10 feet wide that provides a natural passage into the gorge below that reaches depths of 800 feet in some areas. The sounds of rushing waters reward you after a three-mile round trip hike to Greeter Falls, a two-tiered fall plunging a total of 65 feet. A picnic area and parking are at the trailhead, which begins near Altamont on Highway 56. Other waterfall hikes include the difficult two-mile round-trip Seuter Falls walk and the five-mile Horsepound Falls hike.

Take a Walk

Monteagle is a good headquarters for visiting sites in the southern end of the recreation area including the Fiery Gizzard Trail, one of the most rugged and rewarding trails in Tennessee.

Beginning on the left side of the Grundy Forest Picnic Shelter about two miles north of the visitor center, the Fiery Gizzard Trail encounters a large rock shelter with a giant Hemlock tree outside it estimated to be more than 500 years old along with Blue Hole falls and swimming hole within the first half-mile. After about 3.5 miles, the trail becomes arduous on its way to Raven Point, the site of a spectacular over-look and a campsite.

From Raven Point to the terminus at Foster Falls eight miles away, most of the walking is relatively easy, “running the ridge” along the top of the Cumberland Plateau.

If something a little less challenging is more appealing, try the four-mile round trip Grundy Forest Day Trail. The trail begins to the right of the picnic shelter and passes School Branch waterfall, Hanes Hole Falls and plunge pool and the Cave Spring Rockhouse. For even less exertion, take the 375-foot walk from the Foster Falls parking area off U.S. 41 southwest of Tracy City to the 60-foot falls.

Historic Homes

Monteagle is the home of the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly, an inter-denominational church, founded in 1882 and modeled after the Chautauqua Institution at Lake Chautauqua, N.Y. Of hundreds of such assemblies founded in the late 1800s, less than a dozen remain active today.

The Assembly Grounds are on the National Register of Historic Places and most of the lovely old homes are private properties held by long-term leaseholders. Two notable exceptions are the Adams Edgeworth Inn and the North Gate Inn.

An 1896, National Register property, the Adams Edgeworth is a rambling antique-filled structure with 12 guest rooms with private baths. Some have double beds but most have queens and kings. The inn has been updates with central heat and air, but has lost none of its romantic charm.

A wide veranda with lots of wicker invites you to enjoy the sounds of a summer’s evening and the restful rhythms of the front porch swing. After a long day of hiking, a long soak in a clawfoot tub at the Adams Edgeworth turns fatigue into satisfaction. Dinner puts the icing on the cake, so to speak. Diners may enjoy freshly made soups, mixed greens, chicken, lamb, fish, and beef entrees. House guests are served breakfast.

The century-old North Gate Inn, also within the Assembly grounds, has been updated for the comfort of guests, as well. As with the rest of the Assembly, the feeling here is peaceful.

Owners Nancy & Henry Crais are year-round residents of the Assembly, succumbing to its charms more than a decade ago. Seven bright, comfortable guest rooms with queen beds and private baths invite you to leave your cares and city life far behind.

The Monteagle Assembly has an eight-week family-oriented summer session with activities for all ages ranging from playtime, movies and games to lectures, family excursions and concerts.

Daily admittance is charged for gate tickets that entitle one to use all Assembly facilities and attend all programs. Gate tickets are required for all who enter the 100-acre Assembly grounds, including visitors to bed and breakfasts, during the Assembly season, which runs June 9 – August 4 this year.

Across the street from the entrance to the Assembly, the Monteagle Inn Bed and Breakfast, owned by Bob and Carolyn Yates, is the result of significant reconstruction and expansion of a 1940s home. Its 16 suites all have queen or king-sized beds, individual climate controls and private baths. In addition to a living room, library, great room and sitting areas, a private pub is planned for the facility in the near future. Breakfast is served to guests.

Music and More

At Sewanee, the home of the University of the South, the air is filled with the sound of symphony orchestra, chamber music and solo concerts June 22 – July 21 during Sewanee Summer Music Festival, which offers training for musicians and concerts for their audiences.

Founded in 1857 by the Southeastern Episcopal Diocese, the 10,000-acre campus atop the Cumberland Plateau is filled with picturesque buildings of native stone.

A short distance from Sewanee, the southwestern portions of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area include the Natural Bridge State Natural Area, a 27-foot bridge carved by nature from sandstone that’s a short walk from the parking area, Hawkins Cove State Natural Area and Carter State Natural Area, which contains Lost Cove Cave, a cave with a stream running through it and a destination for experienced cavers.

Wonder Cave, a commercial cave on U.S. 41 north of Monteagle at the foot of Monteagle Mountain, still gives tours by lantern-light.

Regardless of what brings you to the South Cumberland, you’ll find it filled with sounds that are soothing and nourishing for the soul.

*Cathy Summerlain and her husband, Vernon, live in Leipers Fork and are the authors of Traveling the Southern Highlands published by Rutledge Hill Press.

The Oliver’s Are Celebrating 50+ Years

JD_BetsyOliverFor over 50 years, 20 million customers from all over the world have come & gone thru Jim Oliver’s doors, and sampled his delicious Southern Cookin inspired by generations of family cooks.

2010 marked the 50 anniversary for the Oliver family to be in business on Monteagle. Jim Oliver passed away in May 2007, and his adult children, James David and Betsy Oliver are now running the family business. Jim is also survived by daughter Nancy Oliver.

JIM OLIVER was born and raised in the hollows of the Tennessee Mountains, about 10 miles from the present location of the Smoke House in Monteagle. The community is known as ‘Payne’s Cove’, and everybody there in those days worked cutting timber, running saw mills, share cropping, or makin ‘white lightin’. Jim’s dad, Cheatum, had the finest matched set of mules in the cove which helped the Olivers drag the logs off of the mountain slopes and hollows down to the saw mill that his cousin Bayo Nunley ran. All the men in the Oliver family worked at timbering and sawmilling. During the winter months, when the weather was too bad to timber, cool temperatures made excellent time to start processing the hogs for meat and lard and to make a little ‘moonshine liker’. Jim took particular interest in the fine art of curing, smoking meats, and barbequing. From those early days of necessity on the farm, Jim Oliver has brought these time honored traditions and recipes to his business, that he started in 1960, to his Smoke House Restaurant on top of the mountain at Monteagle, Tennessee where today, over 300,000 customers every year stop by to sample the taste and smells of all those recipes that Jim has preserved for all these years; traditions handed down from generations of his family. So, when you are enjoying that delicious smoked meat, remember that you are sampling something that has been handed down thru several generations, and still as good today as it was yesterday.

In 1960, twenty one year old Jim Oliver, started building his reputation for cookin’ (and excitement) at an old “Honkey-Tonk” he rented, called the Bee Hive Drive-In, with 2 employees,(sister Joann and her daughter Shelia Fay) 6 counter stools, a juke box, a pin ball machine, and curb service to the parking lot; which served as the dining room and fist fight brawling area; there wasn’t a lot to do around town, so fightin’ was pretty popular entertainment for all the mountain and valley locals.

The Bee Hive thrived, and Jim made enough money there to buy another historic landmark restaurant just down the street. Jim and his brother Melvin purchased the Historic but fledging Monteagle Diner, and reclaimed its fame by re-making it one of the most well known restaurants between Chicago and Miami along the famous “Dixie Highway”. “Tennessee Country Ham & Hot Biscuits” was the catch phrase for the Diner on the billboards out on the highway, and travelers up and down the byway came in to sample the great cookin’ at the Diner.

In 1975, building it from the ground up, Jim opened up the Smoke House Restaurant with 14 employees, 80 seats in the restaurant, a general store, and a menu full of family recipes handed down from generations of Oliver cooks, featuring traditional old smoke house style meats.

Along about 1982, Jim put together his team, including son J. D. Oliver & Hank Landers, to expand and promote the Smoke House Restaurant into even a bigger attraction, by building the meeting & retreat center, the Mountain Lodge, and Log cabins for family and corporate retreats, meetings, and vacations. During this time, the Olivers expanded their advertising and marketing from the Interstate billboards, to include direct sales to corporate, association, and tour groups. The Smoke House also was successful in obtaining more free press about the business and its unique history. In the 90’s,
J. D. Oliver began to promote the Smoke House on the internet by starting the first Smoke House Web Page and on line mail order catalogue. Collecting names and addresses of customers coming thru the doors began to add up, and the mail order catalogue business quickly became an integral part of the overall business.

Jim passed away May 16, 2007, and has left a legacy to his children that they continue. Today Jim Oliver’s Smoke House is still operated by Jim’s children, serving the same family recipes, and a few of them with Betsy’s (Jim’s daughter) twist of her own. The Smoke House has over 70 employees, a 10,000sf General Store full of antiques and old fashioned goods, a Best Western 85 room Lodge, 21 Rustic Log Cabins featuring fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs, a 5000sf Conference Center accommodating meetings & reunions, and music shows on Friday & Saturday nights, and over 25 acres of campus for customers to have fun on. “Dad was never satisfied with standing still, he built and built and built until he created a business that could cater not only to local folks, but also to all the travelers up and down the highways” states James David Oliver, Jim’s son.

In conjunction with the 52nd Anniversary, Jim Oliver’s Smoke House is featuring “Music on the Mountain with The Best of Nashville”, singer/songwriter acoustic music shows, every Friday & Saturday night, starting at 6:30pm/cst, free to all Smoke House customers as a Thank You to all our loyal customers.

The future of the Smoke House holds much promise. This generation of Oliver’s are embracing the technologies such as developing social network sites and building an E-commerce On Line Store for marketing the over five hundred Smoke House Brands. It’s the Oliver’s goals to keep the old traditions alive and in place, but also remember where they came from and how, and use these new methods of internet business, just like Jim used the new Interstate in 1960’s and 70’s, to grow the Smoke House with the times, into new markets and new customers on the current “information highway”.

You can check out what the Oliver’s have going on by visiting their web site at www.TheSmokeHouse.com , or see videos at http://www.youtube.com/smokehousemonteagle or become a friend at http://www.facebook.com/thesmokehouseofficial

. . . Or, just drop by, and come-n-see what’s cookin’!

Jim Oliver’s Smoke House in Monteagle Draws Hungry Travelers – The Smoke House

August 9, 2010

By Jessica Mozo

You might say Jim Oliver’s Smoke House in Monteagle, Tennessee, is the quintessential American dream.

“My dad started in the restaurant industry in 1960 when he began operating a drive-in called The Beehive,” says James David “J.D.” Oliver, president of Jim Oliver’s Smoke House Restaurant & Lodge. “He had worked in the steel industry in Ohio and wanted to come back home. He couldn’t find a job, and he knew he could cook, so he borrowed some money to run The Beehive. He almost starved to death his first six months in business, but then it started to take off.”

Jim dreamed of creating a down-home, country-themed restaurant, and in 1975, he completed construction of the Smoke House. Using his mother’s recipes for favorites such as country ham, pit barbecue, fruit cobblers and buttermilk biscuits, he gained a substantial regional following.

Today, the Smoke House is still drawing hungry crowds for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers much more than dining. Situated on 20 acres, the Smoke House has become a cozy mountain retreat. It includes a lodge with 85 motel rooms, a large conference room, 20 fully-equipped cabins and a 10,000-square-foot gift shop filled to the brim with antiques, crafts, handmade fudge, old-fashioned candy, 20 flavors of barbecue sauce, jams and jellies, and an old 1920 player piano that’s a big hit with guests.

“We brand our own barbecue sauces, and make fresh fudge every day,” Oliver says. “The fudge has been really popular – we sold 18,000 pounds last year.”

Jim died in 2007, and now Oliver owns the business with his two sisters, Betsy and Nancy.

“Betsy runs the restaurant and has a lot of fun incorporating her own recipes with our old family recipes,” Oliver says. “We’re still serving dad’s pulled barbecue and ribs along with country ham, homemade biscuits, fried chicken and smoked roast beef, turkey and brisket. Betsy’s collard greens, turnip greens and cheese grits are always a hit, too.”

And save room for dessert – the Smoke House serves up six flavors of fried pies, including peach, apple, cherry, chocolate, pineapple and strawberry, topped with a scoop of homemade ice cream. “We make 10 flavors of ice cream, and we make some of these from melting the 16 flavors of homemade fudge we sell in our gift shop,” Oliver says. “We also make floats with our homemade ice cream, and we serve 39 different flavors of old-fashioned sodas in glass bottles.”

Guests often compare the restaurant’s atmosphere to Cracker Barrel, with its crackling fireplace, old pictures and mismatched décor.

“People always tell me, ‘Cracker Barrel stole your idea,’” Oliver says with a chuckle.

Every Friday and Saturday nights, the Smoke House hosts a family friendly singer/songwriter live music event featuring local and Nashville talent, no admission charged. Stella Parton, sister of Dolly Parton and Oliver family friend, has performed several times.

The Smoke House gift shop sells a cookbook of Oliver family recipes and arranges gift baskets stuffed with smoked meats, jams and jellies, pickles, and sauces that are also sold thru the Smoke House On Line Store; over 350 items featured on line.

Oliver says he loves carrying on his father’s tradition and the opportunity it gives him to meet passers-through. “Seeing people come back year after year makes them feel like friends,” he says. “It’s like inviting people into our own house – only bigger.” “The Smoke House offers a genuine and unique experience in food, shopping, and lodging that just can’t be found anywhere else.”

Open Everyday of the year, 6:30am to 9pm Sundays & weekdays, and till 10:30pm Friday and Saturday nights. 80 miles east of Nashville, 45 miles west of Chattanooga at Interstate 24 Exit 134 for Monteagle/Sewanee on old US 41A.

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What You Can Expect From The Smoke House Restaurant, Lodge & Trading Post in Monteagle, Tennessee

Jim Oliver

If you live near Franklin, Grundy, and Marion counties or are passing through Monteagle, Tennessee, then Jim Oliver’s Smoke House Restaurant, Lodge & Trading Post is a must visit destination, in my opinion.

I live in Nashville, Tennessee and the Smoke House is my favorite place to get away and relax to great food and entertainment.  I am going to give you my thoughts on The Smoke House with some interesting personal experiences thrown in for good measure.

First off lets start with the food.  The restaurant offers home-style cooking served by friendly folks with a full menu to choose from.  They offer some of the best smoked meats anywhere that are reason enough to visit and stay a while. They also have a self service food bar/buffet loaded with all the most popular food items like juicy fried chicken, catfish, greens, salad, homemade soups and more.  You better come hungry ’cause it’s all you can eat!

My last meal there was so wonderful with the best fried chicken (crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside), the best beef and vegetable soup I have ever had (I had 3 bowls), and their biscuits…which are the best I have tasted hands down!  Click here for more information and menus.

By the way, the prices are very reasonable for such high quality food.

The Smoke House lodge consists of over 85 newly remodeled over-sized rooms featuring either two queen beds or one king bed with amenities like free wireless Internet access.   Extra amenities such as hairdryers, iron & ironing boards, and coffee makers are featured in all of their room accommodations.  King rooms offer couches, sofa sleepers, business desk with office chair, and extra space for moving around.  Suites have living rooms, separate and private bedroom & bath, refrigerators and some have Jacuzzi Tubs and hard-wired Internet service.

Forty of the Lodge rooms open up onto the huge backside deck overlooking the pool, recreation area, Lake and cabins which makes for a great place to read, relax, or gather with friends and family.  The deck features rocking chairs, outdoor eating tables and great scenery.  It’s a great place to gather with family, friends or business associates to discuss the day’s activities or just chill out.

Ask for an Upgrade to the Lakeside Cabin Suites which all have Blue Limestone Slate over Mountain Stone Enclosed Jacuzzi Tubs, Refrigerator/Microwave/Sink Mini Bar, Rustic Antique Iron King Beds with Handcrafted Bed Quilts, Large Mountain Stone Wood Burning Fireplaces complete with a supply of firewood, Wood Plank Paneling Walls stained Milkweed, Old Pine Plank Floors, Leather Sofa, Dining Table, and Front Porches right on the Lake…complete with rockers!

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Music on the Mountain Rocks The Smoke House

HomeSlider_07If you’re in search of a great weekend time filled with entertaining live music in a mountainous setting, then look no further than The Smoke House located in Monteagle, Tennessee.

These weekend shows are Free of Charge and are always a lot of fun for the entire family.

The performers are different each show and offer up a unique style of songwriting and singing.  Most of our performers are some of the best singer/songwriters from Nashville, TN…Music City USA, while some are local area favorites.

If you’re hungry before the show you can enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal in our restaurant.  And if you’re looking for something unique to buy or just want to browse, you can journey through our trading post for some of the best goodies around…from a variety of food stuffs such as delectable barbecue sauces and homemade fudge to clothing and quilts, as well as other fun and innovative items & souvenirs.

You can catch a live performance of Music on the Mountain every Friday & Saturday night at Jim Oliver’s Smoke House.  Doors open at 6:30 pm and the show starts at 7 pm and lasts until 10 pm.

ALL SHOWS are FREE OF CHARGE and FAMILY FRIENDLY!

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