Monthly Archives: June 2015

More Tea in the Catskills: Pu-Erh

Photo courtesy of Nini Ordoubadi

Photo courtesy of Nini Ordoubadi

A new favourite tea to add to the list of delicious tea available here in the Catskills: Coffee Lover’s Tea from Tay Tea in Andes. It took me a long time to realize that I was not suited to coffee after adopting it as a breakfast beverage when I first moved to New York City in my twenties. Back in England, I had been raised in a tea family and the familiar refrain: “put the kettle on” still rings in my ears because English people drink tea continually all day. The kettle is always on and whoever gets up first, from couch or desk, must boil the next batch of water. The nice thing about tea is that it doesn’t make you suffer like coffee does. I’ve never ever said the words: I’ve drunk too much tea. It just doesn’t happen, whereas I’ve had fraught conversations and business meetings wherein I’m pretty sure the most anxious people in the room have drunk far too much coffee. I may have the odd cup of coffee when I need a jolt of energy, but for the most part, I’ve returned to my first love, tea. Preparing a pot of tea is a peacefully meditative ritual, and sharing a pot of tea is like breaking bread. At Tay Tea this past weekend, I interviewed owner Nini Ordoubadi, tried a range of tea and some stellar tea-infused biscuits, but came away feeling invigorated and refreshed. And I now know much more about tea.

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Outdoors: Equipment Bags

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

I went hiking and found myself. So every chance I get I like to climb a mountain with my laptop and do some work. I’m also a painter, photographer, writer, editor and often hike with a ridiculous amount of gear: easels, cameras, sketch pads, laptops, iPads, etc. I’m always stupidly overburdened. In fact, I go almost everywhere with my laptop. I’ve also mentioned that I’m aiming to complete the Catskills 35 in the next year and I’m totally unprepared.

For example, I was previously using this for day hikes:

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Pizza Night at Table on Ten

© J.N. Urbanski 6/19/15 8pm

© J.N. Urbanski 6/19/15 8pm

Two pals couldn’t have picked a more idyllic evening to attend Table on Ten’s pizza night: an early evening drive through the balmy, bucolic mountains of Roxbury so astonishingly beautiful in the waning light that we had to stop a couple of times to get out of the car and drink in the atmosphere. (“What’s that? Sheep. Let’s stop. Hey Ewe!”) Hay, barns, lush undulating ridges, rail trails, stone walls and bridges over roaring creeks: a gasp of admiration at every turn. A quick jaunt past the restaurant into the hamlet of Bloomville, New York, revealed a picturesque rural scene of tractors, antiques and a white-sided two hundred year old church atop a meadow.

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Outdoors: Ticks

© J.N. Urbanski 6/6/15 6pm

© J.N. Urbanski 6/6/15 6pm

When he finally dragged me out camping upstate for the first time, my husband tucked his socks into his trousers and his shirt into his Christmas tree pyjamas, because NOBODY wants Lyme disease. Consequently, I had never seen a tick on him before last week. It was a wood tick that I had not expected to be that large because local lore has it that they are everywhere and that the nymphs are about as visible as specks of dust.

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En Plein Air: Scene-Stealing Goats

When I lived in the city, I regret that I hardly ever took a lunch hour. I simply wanted blaze on through and get everything done. Now I realise that a two-hour break to focus on something completely different is as essential for the mind as water is for the body. Painting with watercolour is just difficult enough for me to get thoroughly absorbed in two hours and even if I don’t get it right, which is hardly ever, the accomplishment of having practiced is exhilarating in itself. I have one or maybe two watercolours that I’m exhibiting in our show this year. Plus, the weekly En Plein Air group takes me to various places and allows me to photograph some wildly gorgeous landscape. And goats. The anxious demands of work will always be there waiting for you until, in fact, you retire. Take a break.

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 12.39

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 12.39

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 6/16/15 11am

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Daily Catskills: 06/16/15

70F by 9am, misty clouds moving quickly over the mountains and the wind gently shaking last night’s rain out of the trees. Humid, with gunmetal skies issuing threatening sprinkles by noon. Stormy weather forecast. Update: Rain late afternoon and into the evening.

© J.N. Urbanski 11.39am

© J.N. Urbanski 11.39am

© J.N. Urbanski 9.37am

© J.N. Urbanski 9.37am

Date Night: Peekamoose

© J.N. Urbanski 6/13/15 6pm

© J.N. Urbanski 6/13/15 6pm

After we closed on our mountain homestead (“sign here, here and here, here, here and here and sign here, here and here… initial here, here and here…”) we wondered aloud where we should go to celebrate and without a moment’s hesitation, our realtor swung away from her conversation with our lawyer to respond: Peekamoose. That was eight years ago and there really wasn’t anything like it then and there really isn’t anything like it now. When we first went to Peekamoose I wanted to just hand the keys back to the bank and move in. The country farmhouse atmosphere is so cozy and relaxing and the food is phenomenal, end of story. The chef’s freshly made doughnuts feel like they could fly away if you don’t hold them down with a generous dollop of whipped cream. I could go on, and I will.

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Weekend Links: 06/13/15

© J.N. Urbanski 5/28/15 7.46am

© J.N. Urbanski 5/28/15 7.46am

Good news for Farm-to-Table in New York City. Lucky Dog in Hamden receives $40,000 in grant funding for its efforts. The link details some of the NYC restaurants that receive local produce. View the news release from the Delaware County Economic Development, a video by VeccVideography.

Farmers Almanac explains all those seed copters that are flying around this week.

Ever come to the country, been woken up by birdsong and wondered who was singing to you? Browse for birds by name and listen to their call from The Cornell Lab for Ornithology.

Travel the Milky Way on June 21st when Catskills Creameries open up their gates to the public.

The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown is due a visit.

Outdoor cinema in the Catskills looking for funding.

 

 

Farm Report 06/13/15

The old asparagus plant that was planted three years ago is now over six feet tall as is the rhubarb. Only a few spears were cut in its second year and this year we harvested over twenty spears. The point of letting the asparagus go wild in its third year is to allow the long stalks and buds to transfer nutrients to the roots which will improve yield for forthcoming years.

© J.N. Urbanski 6/13/15 2pm

© J.N. Urbanski 6/13/15 2pm

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Farm to Belly: Wild Strawberries

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm

In season now, are wild strawberries. That’s a teaspoon, so they’re tiny, but delicious. Look for the serrated-edged leaves and if the grass is low, just run your hands over it and you’ll reveal the berries lying against the ground. Notice that the tiny ones have just as many seeds. Don’t worry if you tread a patch into the ground. You should leave some behind to proliferate in the same place next year.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Hiker’s Tea: Trekker’s Reprieve

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Regular readers already know about my love of tea and my obsession with Earl in Paris from Organic Traveler’s Tea, which makes a delicious cold brew that I take on the road. Yes, I travel with the Traveler’s, which is an organic tea that’s blended and sold locally. Now that the weather’s good for hiking, I’ve found tea that’s perfect to take up a mountain: Trekker’s Reprieve. You can cold brew it or take bags up a mountain and make sun tea with it while you eat your lunch. It’s gunpowder green with orange peel, spearmint, cinnamon and blue vervain. Blue vervain is a native plant from the mint family that grows all over the American prairies, meadows and plains and allegedly revered as a herb of great healing powers by the ancient Greeks. According to the USDA, it’s used internally to treat depression, fevers, coughs, cramps, jaundice, and headaches. So it’s healing for the hiker, tasty and refreshing. The citrus element serves to repel insects although nothing will stop the flies from dive-bombing your eyeballs.

Outdoors: Summer Gear

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

I’m a born and bred Londoner, a city girl with city friends who have visited my house and come hiking in ballet flats and a boob tube. In their purse on hikes, you will find cash, lipstick and mini-bottles of vodka because they were only going for a walk, after all. A couple of months ago, after a particularly enormous meal at Arkville Bread Breakfast, home of the Catskills’ best fish and chips, I decided to hike to Giant Ledge with only two hours of daylight left. Wearing snowboarding boots unsuitable for the icy crust all the way up to the Ledge at 1500 feet, I passed embarrassingly efficient hikers on their descent with crampons and sticks. Miraculously, I made it back. I think I get this from my father whom I once took hiking in his wing-tipped, leather shoes. He was fine.

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