Monthly Archives: May 2015

Girls’ Night: Drinks at Phoenicia Diner

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

If the most excellent Phoenicia Diner gets any hotter it will start sizzling such is the expanse of its popularity, having been featured everywhere recently in publications like Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Elle and my country’s Daily Mail and Telegraph. I told Mike Cioffi, the Diner’s owner, that he could put ten diners up and down Route 28 and they would still be full to bursting every weekend. I’m sad to say that I’m severely behind in my New Year’s Resolution of eating my way through the outstanding menu and am usually banging my head against the desk on Mondays when I look at my watch and realize it has closed until Thursday.

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Catskills Conversations: Tim & Jess Luby

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm

© J.N. Urbanski

Tim and Jess Luby own the Storehouse in Phoenicia. Last year, they were married on Giant Ledge, having hiked two miles in wedding attire and hiking boots.

JN: What brought you to the Catskills?

TL: The mountains. When Jess and I started dating, we both enjoyed hiking, so we planned a trip up there.

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Wild Edibles: Spruce Tips

© J.N. Urbanski

I am told by my pal, Laura Silverman, that spruce tips are ready to go. They are the brilliant green shoots that unfold from growths at the ends of the spruce spindles in May. They are much a much brighter green than the needles on the spindle and stand out in stark contrast to the tree itself. Snip the green shoots off and eat raw; they are packed with chlorophyll and Vitamin C. The aroma of only one of these little shoots is sensational. Literally spruce up a living room, pocket, bag or underwear drawer. They freeze well, so you can get your Vitamin C in the winter too. You can make tea, use in soups and salads. You can also crush them and make a pesto like you can with the garlic mustard. Recipes will be forthcoming over the weekend.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

 

Farm to Belly: Asparagus & Sheep Sorrel

© J.N. Urbanski 5/21/15 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 5/21/15 1pm

Straight out of the ground and into the belly: a powerful organic, raw, vegan lunch and you don’t even need a plate much less a table. The tomatoes may have been endangered by last night’s frost, but the sheep sorrel which grows in the asparagus bed is a hardy little plant. Sheep sorrel is an edible weed that has the texture of spinach with the tasty tang of lemon, which makes it perfect for soups. It wilts quickly once picked, so it’s best just to eat it raw with some juicy asparagus. Sheep sorrel has an arrowhead leaf and grows in a rosette formation.

© J.N. Urbanski 5/21/15 1pm

© J.N. Urbanski 5/21/15 1pm

Catskills Conversations: Jeff Vincent

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Vincent

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Vincent

Jeff Vincent is proprietor of the new mountain guide business Catskill Mountain Wild, in Catskill, New York.

JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

JV: I was born in the town of Catskill 28 years ago.

So you’re a born and bred mountain man. You never wanted to leave? Usually young people leave here by the thousand every year.

I have left a few times and I came back. I lived in Denver for a year or so. I was in San Diego for a little while, but I really, really love this area, now that I’ve grown up and got all of that out of my system. I through-hiked the Appalachian Trail last year, so that got me away for six months.

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Daily Catskills: The Edits

© J.N. Urbanski 5/18/15 12.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 5/18/15 12.30pm

I’m eight months into my Daily Catskills project, in which I take one image a day and publish it on the day. There’s such an incredible abundance of life to record here though, that sometimes I spend all day deciding on one image. I take anywhere from one to 100 images a day on the days that I haven’t hired another photographer to do the job. A couple of weeks ago, I took 95 images of the same cherry tree stand at different angles and I didn’t like a single one of those images I took. I reluctantly published the image that I thought was the best, but changed my mind – and it – several times and eventually gave up and moved on. The whole process took four hours. Needless to say, I have thousands of unpublished images and there are plenty of vantage points in these mountains from which I’ve taken a picture many times, capturing snow, rain, mist and sun from the same location.

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En Plein Air

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/07/15

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/07/15

The summer comes alive for artists when the En Plein Air group reconvenes for the season. Gracious homeowners kindly let our group gather every week in some of the most picturesque spots across the mountains and it’s difficult not to be stunned by the extraordinary beauty of the countryside. This year, May 7th was the group’s earliest meeting on record because of the extraordinary high temperatures for the day, but the landscape was still bare and it seemed like we were able to watch the leaves pop before our eyes. The sun had become so strong by noon on May 7th, however, that whomever didn’t have an umbrella had to move to the shade. Taking part of the day out to paint really clears the mind. To focus closely and solely on the landscape for a few hours is much-needed therapy after the long, arduous winter. All worries dissipate into the air with the drying watercolour and if the homeowner is home, we make a new friend. Today, we had a gorgeous view of the mountains.

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/19/15

© J.N. Urbanski Noon 5/19/15

Weekend Links

© J.N. Urbanski 5/16/15 4pm

Seed Swap at local libraries from April 1st to June 1st in Delaware County, publicised by Transition Catskills.

If you didn’t have time nor space to nurture seedlings this past harsh winter, the Catskill Native Nursery will have it for you. They are hosting the Annual Seedling Sale at the Wildflower Festival this weekend.

For next weekend: get recycled furniture and doors for your new country digs at the Western Catskills Revitalization Council which “provides homeowners and builders with unique, affordable materials for home improvement projects”. The nonprofit organization is “dedicated to improving housing, community revitalization, and economic development in Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties”. Open to the public on Fridays (10-4pm) and Saturdays (10-3pm).

Catskills Conversations: Heather Rolland

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Jenny: How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Heather: I moved to the Catskills in 2007, so I’ve been here going on eight years.

Where did were you living before?

I was living in Dutchess County in Dover Plains and I had been there 17 years. I grew up in Nyack. I’ve actually never lived anywhere more urban than Nyack. It’s been a slow and steady march northward.

What started that slow march?

When I was in High School. I had a buddy who – and this is a crazy story – we both turned sixteen, got our driver’s licenses. She quit high school and moved all by herself as a sixteen year old to Woodstock.

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Spring Shoots Update

Green shoots are emerging from the raspberry sticks; the beetroot is flourishing; the cauliflower is shooting; the asparagus is prolific, as is the rhubarb; the hops are hopping, but the spuds and blackberries have yet to emerge. The dog is already too hot and has dug a mud hole under some equipment. His home for the summer.

© J.N. Urbanski 5/11/15

© J.N. Urbanski 5/11/15

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Asparagus Update

On May 1st, we planted a long bed of twenty new asparagus and in less than ten days we already had a six-inch tall shoot from one of the mounds (bottom middle of the picture). All the other roots planted have shoots of about an inch. The image of the “tall poppy” below was taken yesterday morning.

© J.N. Urbanski 5/11/15

© J.N. Urbanski 5/11/15

 

Eat Your Edible Weeds: From Pest to Pesto

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Many foragers, hikers, herbalists and conservationists consider it a travesty that instead of pulling and eating their edible weeds people throw chemical weed killer on them. It’s bad for the water table and our health. Dandelions that are so prevalent in our gardens now are fully edible raw and full of vitamin A. One cup of chopped dandelion is said to have 111% of your daily vitamin A intake, for example.

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Catskills Conversations: Peter DiSclafani

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Peter DiSclafani is proprietor and chef of the Catskill Rose Lodging and Dining in Mount Tremper, New York with his wife Rose Marie Dorn.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?

Rose and I moved here in 1987 after we got married. I was born and raised in Saugerties. I was out in Colorado in the seventies after high school just to check things out and that’s where I met Rose. She’s from Colorado.

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Catskills Conversations: Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Image courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Image courtesy of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower is a registered nurse, herbal educator and wild foods forager who conducts“weed walks” in which she teaches us how to forage for wild edibles.

How long have you lived in the Catskills?
Since 1980.

From NYC?
Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was born in Manhattan and spent part of my young life in Brooklyn. When I experienced the country when I was eleven, I knew that was where I was going when I got old enough.

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Spuds

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Back in England, I have a friend who has a spud bucket, a large metal rubbish bin filled with soil, into which she thrusts a needy hand and miraculously pulls out a spud or two for dinner. She keeps it in the backyard and, needless to say, does not need to buy spuds, ever. Potatoes need well-drained, loose soil, but lots of rain, so they are perfect for high elevations here in the Catskills. To have your own potato bucket simply:

1. Drill three or four holes in the bottom of a bucket, about half the size of a garbage pail;
2. Line the bottom of the bucket with a three-inch layer of rocks for drainage;
3. Add a six-inch layer of peat and compost on top of the rocks;
4. Throw in four seed potatoes;
5. Cover with a two-inch layer of peat/potting soil mix and pat down.

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Asparagus

Asparagus is going in at Upstate Dispatch HQ. A perennial, it takes a few years to get started with a low initial yield, but it’s a low maintenance crop that’s ideal for the novice gardener. Not only is it delicious, highly nutritious and otherwise quite expensive, it freezes well so you can eat it year-round. Let the asparagus grow to long ferns in the first year and the whole plant can last 20 years. Today, two beds (6-12 inches deep and 6 inches wide) were dug and a 2-3 inch layer of wet compost and peat mixed together was added. 10 asparagus roots went in each bed, 18 inches to 2 feet apart from each other. Soak the asparagus roots for a half hour before you plant. Spread the roots out like a flattened spider, lay crown-up, and cover with a 2-3 inch layer of dirt. Don’t fill in the trench with dirt until the shoots make it through their individual dirt pile. Keep adding dirt as the shoots grow over the forthcoming weeks. The weeds you see growing in the middle of the trenches are last year’s over-wintered parsnips. They were pulled.

© J.N. Urbanski 05/01/15 11.30cm

© J.N. Urbanski 05/01/15 11.30am

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Catskills Then and Now: The St Regis Hotel

Lake Switzerland was built in 1907 for boating and ice harvesting by damming the Bushkill stream. It was later removed and thereafter Lake Switzerland drained considerably. The St Regis, which was originally on the banks of Lake Switzerland, now faces a valley, the original stream, and houses that have since been built on the stream banks. Trees have since grown back and the same view as the old postcard is not really possible from Breezy Hill Road (bottom).

© J.N. Urbanski 4/30/15 2pm

© J.N. Urbanski 4/30/15 2pm

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