Pigeon Forge Restaurants, What’s Up? And Poison Ivy Remedies in My Banana Bread

by Beth

Last night it started raining at 7, just as we finished hiking and headed into Pigeon Forge for dinner. In 24 hours, it hasn’t stopped raining. This post is a result of these 3 truths:

  1. Rainy days aren’t good for hiking trails or land work.
  2. Pigeon Forge restaurants are full of bad food.
  3. I have poison ivy.

Because of #1, today was all about laundry, coffee, writing, towel-drying dogs, and cooking. The cooking was because of truth #2: Pigeon Forge restaurants have been failing us.

elk in the Smokies
Elk watching the rain approach in Oconaluftee

Pigeon Forge Eats
We want to shop locally, but finding local restaurants is hard in places as commercial as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Last night’s restaurant had been on our list since before its sister steakhouse was destroyed in the Gatlinburg fires. The parking lot was full of cozy cooking smells, but the expensive food ended up falling flat.

In lieu of a gluten-free menu, they have a thorough allergen and food-preparation guide that’s surprisingly honest. Its section on steaks reads like this: Our steaks are marinated in a mixture of [normal ingredients like molasses and pepper; junky stuff like corn syrup and soybean oil], and, I quote,

“natural and artificial flavors and colors, and dimethylpolysiloxane (it’s an ingredient of an ingredient. We don’t even know what this is, but it’s something about anti-foaming).”

I’ll leave the dimethylpolysiloxane comment there, but what steak needs natural and artificial flavors and colors? According to the allergen guide, nothing on their menu is safe from chemical processing, from the sweet potatoes (sprayed with a chemical mix “to keep the skin from burning”) to the chicken breasts (“order without the teriyaki marinade, and your chicken will only be seasoned with salt and sodium phosphate”).

In our post-hike hunger, along with the fact that we haven’t found another restaurant that’s any better on the strip, we consciously forged ahead, but the food was bad. Salty, tangy where it shouldn’t have been, and unsatisfying.

Two takeaways:

  • Their honest allergen guide was highly educational about where stuff can sneak into restaurant food. It explains why some restaurants cause me trouble even if their menus seem clean. It’ll help me ask better questions in the future. Good food is how I feel good, so this is important.
  • Why is a place like Pigeon Forge, that’s surrounded by farms, using food that’s anything but farm fresh?

Because of how gross I felt this morning after sodium-phosphate chicken and who-on-earth-knows-what’s-happening-with-the salad and potato, today I wanted to cook real food (not food that isn’t food).

Wild turkey leg confit in mushroom soup
Wild turkey leg doing the confit thing

Gluten-free, whole-grain bread in the bread machine, with grass-fed butter and Fair Trade coffee with organic half-and-half.  Chicken jerky for the dogs. We put the wild turkey legs into the slowcooker with organic cream-of-mushroom soup and my homemade bone broth.

bread machine mix
Wholegrain and gluten free in the bread machine

Oh, and banana bread, which brings us in a roundabout way to truth #3. I’m suddenly sensitive to poison ivy. Two months ago, it was on my legs, and since “I don’t get poison ivy,” I scratched it. It turned into a bad scene. This time, I knew not to scratch, but what to do instead? It turns out that many of the ingredients in banana bread can be used for poison-ivy relief, from baking soda to banana peel.

poison ivy rash
Poison ivy is gross

5 Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy
Poison ivy has an oil called urushiol, which 50-85% of humans react to. Many remedies rely on neutralizing urushiol. Here’s what I’ve tried this week.

Lemon – Rub affected areas with a lemon wedge. The juice is supposed to cut through urushiol. It definitely stopped the itching for a while and left behind a nice lemon scent.

Baking Soda – With water, make a paste that’s thick enough to stick to and dry on your skin. I forgot about the itching but was covered in fine grit by the end of the day.

ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) – Pour a little in a bowl and dab on affected areas throughout the day. I forgot about the itching, partially because it stings! It stings more than the lemon and doesn’t smell as good.

Banana Peel – Rub the sticky side of a banana peel on your skin. This only resulted in mild relief, left white residue, and I smelled like old fruit.

Hot Shower – Some say hot water can spread urushiol and create more problem areas, but letting hot, hot water spray on my poison ivy is one of the finest feelings in the world, stops the itching for the rest of the night, and I haven’t had any new rashes start after doing this for the past 3 nights.

The verdict? All of these remedies need to be repeated throughout the day for ongoing relief. My favorites have been lemon and the hot showers because they’re the cleanest.

Search for “poison ivy natural remedies” for any number of other relief options hiding in your kitchen, from watermelon to oatmeal.

And if you know of farm-fresh restaurants in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Newport/Dandridge area, LET US KNOW and we’ll be there. We’re always hungry.

To close this article, here my swollen, poison ivy Popeye arm in action.

lap dog on couch
Ew, poison ivy
IMG_7836
Poison-ivy swollen arm
lap dog on couch
Poison-ivy arm, rarrr
lap dog head scratch
Scritches
lap dog on lap
I still love you so much I lick your face!

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