Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Fleeting Beauty of Wild Roses

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

They’re fleeting because once the deer find out they exist, they will eat them all. All the more arresting for being a complete surprise, all the roses bar two featured in this post disappeared suddenly overnight. I had never seen wild roses before in the Catskills but, as a wise neighbour said, that’s probably because the deer got to them first. It was a joy to have them in our road briefly.

IMG_9771.JPG

IMG_9771.JPG

Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Delaware Phoenix Distillery in Walton makes its own absinthe, the legendary botanical spirit, here in the Catskills.

Absinthe is seen as “other” in the world of booze; its consumption is exotic, ritualistic and accompanied by accessories but it began life as a medicinal tonic revered by ancient philosophers, doctors and scholars. The absinthe that we now drink for recreation is unlike the 2,000 year-old remedy that was chiefly wormwood, a preparation that was administered for labor, menstrual pain, rheumatism and a host of other ailments. The two main herbs in the modern-day absinthe are Grande Wormwood and Green Anise. The spirit gets its green color from chlorophyll.

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Alix Travis at The Commons Gallery

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis

The Barbershop Singers by Alix Travis in watercolor on handmade paper (top) and again, in block print (underneath) both at the Commons Gallery for the next couple of days.

Farm to Belly: Carrots & Beets

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The first harvest of beetroot and carrots has been pulled and there’s no end to the possibilities. You can eat the carrot straight out of the ground but some sources say that they have to be steamed to give you all their benefits. If you want a raw treat, grate them and mix with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese for a truly healthful side dish that I posted last year. Scroll down for the recipe.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Beetroot, Carrot & Feta Salad

3 medium-sized beetroot (with leaves)
4-5 medium-sized carrots
1.5 ounces of balsamic vinegar
3 ounces of goat’s milk feta

Grate the carrots and beetroot. Chop up the beetroot greens. Cut the feta cheese into cubes. Mix the grated vegetables, and cheese together in a bowl with the balsamic vinegar for a quick, easy, utterly delicious, juicy and crunchy salad.

Evening Catskills: 06/22/16

I rarely have the opportunity to present a good sunset because the sun sets behind my ridge and is obscured by an acre of trees, but occasionally I get a good shot of our peaceful evenings.

© J.N. Urbanski 6/22/16 8.40pm

© J.N. Urbanski 6/22/16 8.40pm

Farm to Belly: Garlic Scapes

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Garlic Scapes are the buds of the flower that garlic sends up in the spring. Farmers cut them off in order to encourage the plant to focus on the bulb. They have a much lighter, gentler garlic taste than bulb garlic and ever so slightly sweet. Delicious in omelettes, scrambled eggs, stir-fry dishes and roasted garlic potatoes, but they can get lost in soups unless you use a lot of them.

They also make a superb pesto. Eaten raw, garlic provides those infamous, extraordinary health benefits.

Garlic Pesto

10-12 large garlic scapes
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Mix in the oil when the other ingredients are blended well. If your pesto is too thick, add a drizzle of extra oil. Serve on bruschetta, toast points, crackers. Or add a dollop to soups, pasta and cheese plates. Delicious!

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Catskill 35: Southwest Hunter

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The hike to Southwest Hunter was beautifully serene until halfway up The Devil’s Path I suddenly found myself in the midst of what I thought might be – but was not – young Giant Hogweed patch and froze in terror with my elbows in. I avoided touching it, but the dog raced on ahead of me and brushed through all the leaves that obstructed the path. “Giant hogweed!” I shouted to my hiking mate, who happens to be my husband. “Don’t touch it! Don’t touch the dog!”

“OK,” he said, nonplussed and walked on, clearly not fussed at all. I shouted out the consequences of brushing past Giant Hogweed to his back as he retreated into the forest brushing it with his bare arm. I proceeded gingerly through the patch passing what looked like enormous coriander leaves on stalks topped with large, distinctive, white floral umbrells.

The plants were six feet high and far too big to be poison hemlock. Out came the mobile phone, which remained raised in the air for a while and – lo and behold – you can get a faint signal on certain spots on the Devil’s Path and the occasional strong one. Good news. A spousal debate over tiny Internet images of Giant Hogweed ensued that became more annoying than the prospect of being burned by a poison plant…

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Rhapsody in Hue

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Dotted around the Catskills through the warmer months this year, in leafy nooks and floral crannies, on (disused) train tracks and atop mountains, you’ll find Plein Air painters at their easels from dawn to dusk. The East Branch of the Delaware River Plein Air Group meet every Tuesday and yesterday they were painting on the curated grounds of The Blackbird Inn in Halcotsville, possible the most picturesque hamlet in the Catskills. There were patches of vivid red poppies; fresh mullein glistening with essential oils, getting ready to start their journey upwards like cornstalks from a double set of train tracks; kayaks laid out on the shore of Lake Wawaka were waiting for visitors from far and wide to Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm.

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June Events in the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Today Friday 10th through Sunday June 12th, the Catskill Center is hosting Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills.

Saturday June 11th, the Catskills own live radio event, Catskill Cabaradio will be hosted at the Pine Hill Center, in Pine Hill. Hosted by Elly Wininger, the event will be “an evening of music, drama, local lore, and laughs”, exploring the theme of “Food in the Catskills” with some of the region’s most celebrated and unique residents. In addition to growers, purveyors, chefs and food activists, there will be performances by a crop of regional talent including musician Chris Maxwell, poet and storyteller Margot Farrington, and young Maxwell Barnes, saxophonist. The potluck dishes are some of the best cooking in the Catskills.

Voices of Wisdom Gathering at the Blue Deer Center on June 11th and 12th. The gathering will start on Saturday at noon. People will sit by the fire and each of the two elders will speak in turn, offering the wisdom that they see is needed in that moment. The talks and conversations will be followed by a potluck dinner. The Blue Deer Center is

The 5th Annual Living History Cemetery Tour hosted by Middletown Historical Society will be held at Halcott Cemetery in Greene County near Fleischmanns on Saturday, June 18th. Tour goers will visit eight departed residents, portrayed by local actors, who will talk about their lives, loves and losses. Meet a fugitive “calico Indian;” a little girl remembering her Halcott childhood punctuated by tragedy; a farm couple whose long life together was ended by a charging bull; a young World War 1 soldier who fell to the Spanish flu. Tours begin every 20 minutes starting at 4pm. Reserve a tour time by calling 845-586-4736 by June 15th.

Straight Out Of The Ground Farm is hosting a farm dinner on Saturday June 25th for $55 a person. Make a reservation here.

Amy’s Takeaway in Lanesville is open all weekend this weekend from Friday, June 10th through Sunday, June 12th, 2016, 11am to 7pm with a special menu.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bebert’s Potato Cake

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Bebert’s Moroccan Cafe & Grocery opened in Fleischmanns last week. I wrote an article in the Watershed Post about it that you can find here. For the article, I had a tasting of Bebert’s condiments, and Bebert made a delicious Moroccan Potato Cake to go with some iced tea, which I mentioned in the article. The potato cake was delicious and included one of my favorites: peas. Here’s his recipe:

Boil 8 medium potatoes. Peel and mash coarsely. Beat 5 eggs, add to potatoes and mix well. Add 4 ounces of green peas (fresh or frozen). Add 2 slices of preserved lemons finely chopped. Season with 1 teaspoon of paprika, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into oiled, medium cast iron skillet. Cook in 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Invert skillet and serve hot or room temperature.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

 

Catskills Weekend: June 4th & 5th

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

On Saturday 4th June from 10am to 3pm, the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center hosts a book fair. 5096 Rte 28, Mt Tremper, NY, 12457.

On Saturday 4th, 11am to 1pm: National Trails Day, where Catskill Center and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference will be celebrating the grand opening of the newly constructed Nature Trail at the at the Maurice D Hinchey Catskills Interpretive Center.

On Saturday 4th June at 3pm, at the Erpf Gallery in the Catskills Center in Arkville, Robert and Johanna Titus, along with Art Murphy, will be speaking about the exhibit entitled The Geology of the Devonian: the Heart of the Catskills. After the talk there will be a reception to celebrate 25 years of the “Kaatskill Geologist” in Kaatskill Life Magazine.

Saturday & Sunday 4th & 5th June, Paint Main Street in Roxbury with Catskills artist Lisbeth Firmin. Tickets available at the Roxbury Arts Group.

Saturday Night: Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville.

Sunday 5th June: Washington Square at Opus 40, a sculpture park and museum in an abandoned bluestone quarry in the town of Saugerties, NY, in Ulster County, about 100 miles north of New York City created by Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department. It’s a stunning monument on 70 acres that you can walk around. Admission is free on Sunday morning to anyone bearing an acoustic instrument for the picking circle.

An article from the Wall Street Journal on how to treat tick-infested clothing.

Where to stay while enjoying these events: Spillian in Fleischmanns, Breezy Hill Inn, River Run, Foxfire Mountain House, or The Emerson.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski