Mushroom Gravy With Foraged Bolete Mushrooms

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bolete Mushroom Gravy

2 cups of chopped mushrooms
1 medium onion
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon of ground celery
2 tablespoons of local butter
2 tablespoons of whole milk
2 cups of boiling water
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of sage
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour

This recipe calls for chopped mushrooms, but if you like your mushroom gravy lump-free, then you will either need to use minced mushrooms instead of chopped, whizz them in the blender or you will have to purée the gravy with a hand blender once it’s cooked.

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Foraging: Boletes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s mushroom season and while foraging I found a huge stand of bolete mushrooms growing under maple and oak trees on the edge of my forest. I’m a novice forager, so I had FOUR separate people confirm that what I had was edible. Before proceeding to eat any mushroom, you must first be certain of its identity. Seek the counsel of experts as it’s simply not worth making a mistake in this case. Even as my mushrooms are cooking, I’m still worried about eating them. A couple of neighbors have applauded my courage, so it’s safe to assume I will have what I cook all to myself. I will keep readers posted as to the state of my stomach. Over the next month or so, I will be taking some foraging classes, but in the meantime, I wanted to get started and make the most of what my garden had to offer.

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Harvest: Garlic

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

After picking, the garlic has to be hung out to dry for three weeks, which has been tricky during these past few weeks of heavy rainfall. A neighbor put his garlic in the wood-drying kiln because his property was so wet. Home grown garlic is so different from store bought garlic, but the main difference is that a clove of home grown garlic bursts with oil when you cut it.

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Mushrooms

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Due to the heavy rainfall, the mossy forest floor has sprung a vast city of fungus of all shapes, colors and sizes. We have purple, orange, yellow, red, brown, tall, short, tiny, thin, spindly, hand-sized and completely round like dense soap bubbles. All this has sprung up en masse within the space of about 24 hours in totally unprecedented quantities. Well – quantities not seen since the city girl went country. After just a half-hour walk with the dog, I’ll be lighting up Instagram for the rest of the afternoon. I believe the flat, white mushroom growing on the log is chicken mushroom, but would not dare eat it. Thanks to the humble acorn for it’s modeling stint.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

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Catskills Sandwich: Peekamoose Pastrami

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Anything at Peekamoose is delicious and well made, but the Pastrami is arguably the best pastrami in the Catskills. Thick and juicy, it arrives with a side of mustard and a handful of tangy caperberries. Exceptionally for last night, it came on this bun but you can also find grass-fed beef pastrami on the charcuterie plate with pork, cherry and pistachio terrine, chicken liver pate, pickled red onions and house made bread (which you can take home and use to make the world’s best leftover sandwich).

The Catskill 35: Twin Mountain

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Twin Mountain is so named because it has twin peaks, and they are twin pains in the backside on the final ascent from either direction. After almost two-month hiatus, Twin was my 29th Catskills peak and this one seemed liked the most challenging yet. Hikers say Sugarloaf is the most difficult, but not so, in my humble opinion. I ascended Sugarloaf in icy conditions in February and last week’s summer ascent of Twin was much worse. From Pecoy Notch, on the last 0.7 miles to the summit of Twin, the path turns into mostly sheer rock face like this below:

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Green Tea Iced Lollies

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If you’re hiding out in the mountains, with no desire to go any further than the hammock, but have a hankering for something sweet and icy…

My pal Esther De Jong from Green Label Home bought me some extremely cute iced lollipop moulds for my birthday and now I’m experimenting with yoghurt and cream. Sadly, vodka won’t freeze but tea will and we all know how I feel about tea. Organic Traveler’s Tea blends the best organic tea for hikers called Trekker’s Reprieve with gunpowder green tea, orange peel, cinnamon and blue vervain. It’s refreshing hot and spectacular cold: a gorgeous, healthful, cold hiking drink and now, an iced lolly. Here’s the recipe:

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Plein Air Painting in Denver, Upstate New York

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Expansive, dark clouds loomed over the area all day for the Plein Air Painters’ gathering this week, but we got lucky with a dry day. Not only was it dry, but inexplicably sunny despite those dark clouds that threatened continually. We were invited to paint on an exquisitely gorgeous property in the Denver with a stately house, multiple barns, old fences, plants, crops, illustrious stands of old trees and animals, all in plentiful supply. So plentiful in fact that it took some of us about an hour to choose a spot. The antique gas pump that most old farms still have made a stylish, historical accent. The chicken run had a remarkably glorious view overlooking the mountains – a better view than most living rooms. Quite possibly the best location on which we’ve painted so far this year and we had a decent turn-out despite the weather forecast having been rain. The owner kindly hosted our afternoon lunch on the veranda.

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Things To Do With the Humble Spud

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

One of the stars of the garden this year was the humble spud. To a British lass, there’s nothing more comforting than a roasted spud covered in butter, thyme and sage, evoking memories of lazy, English weekends. The erratic tones of English football commentary on the television was only interrupted by the occasional hissing and spitting of a Sunday roast in the oven, the smell of which saw us salivating slowly over the course or four of five hours. This year, we have more than we know what to do with, so will be trying to think up ways to cook this essential vegetable. As a much-maligned carbohydrate, the modern potato has a bad reputation and the term “couch potato” further conjures up negative connotations, but this vegetable is actually very nutritious. They have Vitamin B & C, thiamin, folate, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and small amounts of iron, calcium, zinc and copper. Potatoes are the easiest vegetables to cultivate, especially if you don’t have a lot of room to spare.

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Catskills Weekend: July 30th & 31st

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Saturday July 30th and Sunday 31st, Catskills artists will open their doors to the public, in a pre-arranged tour, so that you can take a peek behind the scenes in an artist’s studio. 20 artists are taking part in the tour, but four of us are without a studio. We’ll be showing in the Grange Hub in Halcotsville opposite the old Lake Wawaka Hose #1, a few steps downhill from the Holy Innocents’ Church. Artists are en route throughout the countryside between the villages of Arkville, Margaretville and Roxbury.

Interested visitors can plan their tour by going to the website and printing out the map. You can also visit the Facebook page here. Glossy, color pamphlets with all the details are also widely available locally. (See bottom of the post for artists’ work.)

The project is the brainchild of local Catskills artist Alix Travis, who was inspired to start the tour after having done similar tours herself in other communities. Studio tours are a glimpse behind the scenes to explore methods and process, swap notes and absorb the creative atmosphere. What’s special about art is that identical processes can result in wildly differing effects when they’re employed by different artists and that’s fun to watch for everyone. What’s a good process for one artist isn’t necessarily good for other artists, but it’s fun to push the envelope and experiment.

Saturday July 30th, The Oak Hill Preservation Society & Preserved Instincts presents the DOPE JAMS OAK HILL DAY Open Air Party from 4pm to 10pm. Buses will run from Brooklyn to the Catskills. 7892 Rt 81, Main St, Oak Hill, New York 12460: more details here.

Saturday July 30th an artists’ reception at Windham Fine Arts on 5380 Main Street
Windham, NY 12496. The show runs through September 7th.

Saturday July 30th: Manhattan in the Mountains continues with its faculty concert at 8pm. Manhattan in the Mountains on Route 23A, Hunter, NY 12442.

Friday July 29th, Saturday July 30th & Sunday July 31st: Drive-In Movie: Jaws at the Greenville Theatre, 10700 Route 32 Greenville, NY 12083.

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

© Lisbeth Firmin

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond

Barn Door by Oneida Hammond

Catskills Weekend: 7/23 & 24/16

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

The LongYear Gallery has been showing the works of Linda Lariar, Catskills artist, since July 16th. Linda is part of the East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group. Her opening will be July 23rd, 3pm to 6pm at LongYear Gallery, First Floor Rear, 785 Main Street, Margaretville NY 12455
Gallery Hours: Sat 10am-5pm.

Spillian, the inn and retreat in Fleischmanns is having a major party on Saturday July 23rd from 4pm to 10pm: a Cajun inspired feast of music and food with entertainment from Dylan Doyle, who will be recording live for his CD, with the entire show broadcast live on local radio. Entry is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children, in advance. Full cajun dinner: $18.00. Vegetarian dinner: $15. Drinks (beer, wine, cocktails): $5. Soft drinks: $1.00.

The Painter’s Gallery in Fleischmanns presents the opening reception for Luminance by Beth Caspar, Joan Grubin, Heather Hutchison, and Laura Sue King on Saturday July 23rd. This show brings together four artists experimenting with the perception of color and the play of natural light. The result is work that appears to glow or to be luminous, created with a variety of media but without the use of artificial sources of light. Luminance is up until August 20th.

Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville holds Saturday night Pizza Nights on Saturday July 23rd.

Manhattan in the Mountains the music school in Hunter, begins its Fifth Anniversary concerts in Hunter on Sunday July 24th and continues until August 24th. Manhattan in the Mountains is a program of The Catskill Mountain Foundation and all events take place at the Doctorow Center in Hunter. Established in 2012 as a summer music festival for violin, viola, cello, and piano students ages 13 and up, MinM offers a minimum of two private lessons per week, daily chamber music rehearsals, two chamber coachings per week, and three to five hours of scheduled practice time every day.

Bebert’s Cafe is hosting live music in their cafe garden at the weekends to complement their incredible food and tea on Sunday July 24th.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

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Farm Stands: Buy Local

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

For the first two years of my radio show, I ran a series called The Economy of Farming and interviewed local farmers and their advocates here in the Catskills. The subject has been dormant on this website for a while, but deserves some intensive focus because farmers of smallholdings are struggling. If you watch those videos circulating on social media depicting the deprivation of animals – and their hideous death – in industrialized meat production facilities, there’s something simple you can do about it. Buy locally raised meat that is ethically reared and humanely slaughtered.

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Exhibition: Linda Lariar at the Longyear Gallery

© Linda Lariar

© Linda Lariar

The LongYear Gallery has been showing the works of Linda Lariar, Catskills artist, since July 16th. Linda is part of the East Branch of the Delaware Plein Air Group. Her opening reception will be July 23rd, 3pm to 6pm.

LongYear Gallery
First Floor Rear, 785 Main Street, Margaretville NY 12455
Gallery Hours: Sat 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun-Mon 11am-4pm
845-576-3270

Catskills Conversations: Elaine Mayes

© Laura Sue King

© Laura Sue King

UD: What brought you to the Catskills?

EM: I had a friend called Helen Levitt, who was a wonderful, well-known photographer. I went on summer vacation with her almost every year beginning in 1980. We went to other places, like Cape Cod or New Hampshire and other spots and then in 1994, she came to Catskills. I didn’t come that year or the year after because I was working on a project in Hawai’i. In 1996, I started coming to stay with her in the summer time. That’s how I got introduced to the Catskills.

In 2005, I bought a house across the road from where we were staying every summer. It was a house I had been watching every year and nobody was in it and I used to wonder about it. Anyway, so I started looking for real estate and I looked for two years. The second year, this house was for sale and, almost as a lark, I made a low offer and got the house.

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