Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

Winter's Glow

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As we shift into Winter in the Smokies, it’s as if Mother Nature says, “It’s time to slow down.” Lights come on earlier, pots of soup simmer on stoves, and our family’s hearth roars to life as a reading nook, an indoor s’mores station or even a stage, depending on the night. We drink hot chocolate, play more card games and linger longer over dinner. Meanwhile, our team of elves quietly transforms the farm for the holidays, a wonderland of holly, evergreens and twinkle lights. It’s magic, this season—but not just the holidays. Winter at Blackberry Farm is something special.

One of the easiest ways to discover that for yourself is on a Winter hike. I always encourage guests to try something active or adventurous during a cold-weather stay with us, because the exhilaration is so gratifying. My husband Sam had perfected the art of layering for Winter hikes (if you do it properly, you won’t break a sweat!), and we’d set off for a climb that never failed to give us some of the most breathtaking mountain views of the year. We’d come home tired, but exhilarated, rosy-cheeked and ready to relax in a steamy bath or by the fire. Venturing out during Winter is like a much-needed reset for your soul.

Of course, this time of year, the kitchen is glowing with warm ovens and crowded stoves. We stay busy cooking as new ingredients arrive from the garden and the FarmStead artisans—check out our recently released FarmStead catalog to get a taste! In between all the holiday prep and family traditions, I love a good slow-cooked dish, like braised lamb neck. It will be a first for me this year, as Sam was always in charge of that one. But after seeing him make it a million times, I know I can do it. Braising is one of the most forgiving methods, anyway. If you want to try it along with me, find the recipe in “The Blackberry Farm Cookbook” and let me know how it goes!

The year ahead at Blackberry Farm promises to be thrilling, with big events, big names and big ideas already on the calendar. And yet, I’m just as excited for slow nights by the fire or around the table. For peaceful mornings in the yoga studio or quiet hikes through fresh snow, always with people I love by my side. That’s a glow that lasts long after the Christmas lights come down. I can’t wait to share it with you this Winter.

Mary Celeste Beall, Proprietor