Monthly Archives: August 2016

Catskills Weekend: Labor Day Edition

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Friday September 2nd 9 – 9.30pm: The 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers

From a high place in the Catskills, witness the 3rd Annual Lighting of the Fire Towers when from 9 – 9.30pm, we are invited to find a place with a view of a fire tower or towers on the horizon and watch their cabin light up the night sky.

Saturday September 3rd, 10am – 3pm: Tour of the Sculpture Garden at the Catskill Interpretive Center

The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center is the gateway to the Catskill Park. Located on a 60 acre site, the Catskill Interpretive Center includes sculpture installations which are chosen by jury and displayed for a year. Come and see the 2016/2017 installation and get a tour by the artists who created the sculptures (not suitable for children under 8 years of age).

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Catskills Weekend: 27th & 28th August

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

© J.N. Urbanski 11am

Saturday August 27th starting at 10am: Great Catskill Mountain BBQ Fest in Fleischmanns

A day-long Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned BBQ competition and festival for professional and amateur pitmasters. It promises to be an “exciting day of competition, fun, food, music, vendors galore and all things barbecue in Fleischmanns Park in Fleischmanns, NY”. Proceeds will benefit the Fleischmanns Community Pool Project. More details here.

Saturday August 27th 1.30pm to 4.30pm: Bees, Honey & You in Margaretville

Will “The Bee Man” will discuss the inside & outside workings of honey bee hives. Participants will gain a better understanding of the crucial relationship between human beings, nature and our environment. Learn why bees are vital beyond the production of honey. The program will end with a Q&A period and a jar of honey. Blue Deer Center, 1153 County Highway 6, Margaretville, NY 12455. More details here.

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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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