Tag Archives: Catskills NY

Fire Cider Making

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Fire cider is a traditional, ancient folk remedy and winter tonic in which curative roots, herbs and spices are steeped in apple cider vinegar. The basic ingredients of fire cider are garlic, horseradish root, jalapeños, habaneros, ginger and onion. Chop these ingredients finely, put them in a mason jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. To this mix you can add extras like grapefruit, rosemary, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper or really anything that takes your fancy, usually a root or herbs because they steep better than powders.  Continue reading

Local Maple Syrup CSA

It’s syrup time. Taps went into trees a little earlier this year. Tree Juice is now offering a CSA.

There are many maple syrup producers in the Catskills and some of them welcome visitors. It’s worth paying more for local sugar and seeing how it’s made. Some of the modern equipment is more complicated that customers realize. Farmers and producers use miles of tubing to collect the sap. Syrup is produced by condensing the sap and 50-60 gallons of maple sap yield one gallon of syrup. It’s completely organic. Continue reading

Mid-Winter Planting: Hickory Nuts

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Yesterday, the temperature inexplicably rose up into the sixties for a few hours, followed by rain and a severe flood watch. Since then it has plunged back into the teens after an overnight snow storm, during which I woke up to the sound of cracking trees and thundering wind rattling my drain pipes. Never a dull moment here in the mountains. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 01/12/18

Overnight, gusty, house-creaking, tree-waving winds continue into morning, with rain melting the last of the snow, and bright despite being overcast. A lush landscape of brunette tones is revealed, and the landscape welcomes a drenching before the ice storm. A balmy 61F. T-shirt weather. Flood warning. The carbon sink (compost piles) gets a thorough soaking.

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

© J.N. Urbanski 3pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Bear Cub Birthing Season

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

We have a large rocky outcropping on the edge of the forested part of our property that juts out sharply towards our neighbor’s ten-acre forest (pictured above). This rocky area, about an half an acre in size, is essentially a pile of assorted boulders that look like they’ve been tossed down the hill, but I suspect that this pile is home to various creatures great and small. Years ago, when I was brushing my teeth, casually looking out the bathroom window, I saw a fisher cat sneaking through the back of our woods behind the house towards this rocky outcropping. Continue reading

Hot Toddies, Seeds and Bee Bibles

© J.N. Urbanski

Cabin fever has you wondering if its possible to survive another six-month winter and why you would put yourself through another one, but there’s a reason we have winter in the Catskills. I like to think that it’s not because the earth suddenly tilts for no purpose whatsoever, as if holding its cold ass to the fire. No, winter’s for learning, seed planning, and drinking a lot of warming winter cocktails like hot toddies and mulled wine. If the earth must kick back, so can we. Continue reading

Happy New Year from Upstate Dispatch

© J.N. Urbanski

We enter the New Year 2018 with formidably low temperatures. Christmas was bitterly cold and New Year’s Eve’s overnight low is predicted to be -8F. I cannot remember it ever being much lower than zero in previous winters. It feels like a thorough cleansing, as if Mother Nature wants to properly destroy everything before she resuscitates the landscape next Spring. Previous milder Winters have been blamed for the prevalence in ticks, for example. This year – this past Fall – we had a record number of ticks on our ridge and extremely low winter temperatures do their part to kill the eggs and larvae hibernating in the soil. Continue reading

Grow Your Own Mushroom Kits

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

I know what you’re thinking. This looks hideous. Who would eat this? But, If you’re an avid mushroom hunter, a devotee of all things mycological, then you’ll miss the vast array of mushrooms that were available in the forest during the warmer seasons. Pictured above is a mushroom grow kit, specifically Lion’s Mane, a delicate, fragrant mushroom with a taste and texture that’s a cross between lobster and truffles. I found only one stash of Lion’s Mane back in August in the forest and it was delicious. I’m trying to recreate this mushroom in my kitchen with a grow kit purchased from Catskill Fungi, but I think the room is a bit too light and warm. Mushrooms are extraordinarily sensitive and I have not been able to encourage this packet to achieve its full potential. In the wild, it looks like this: Continue reading

Catskills Conservation: Where to Buy a Specially Grown, Local Christmas Tree

© J.N. Urbanski 9.40am – Usage prohibited without consent

Support a local farmer and cut a local, sustainably grown Christmas tree this year. Tree growing is one of the few ways farmers making a living in an area highly regulated against industry in order to keep New York City water pure for drinking. Continue reading

Catskills’ Local Holiday Gift Guide

© J.N. Urbanski

Food, booze and small favors like soaps and scented candles make great gifts without costing a fortune. Plus, they can be easily mailed to friends and family members across the country. The Catskills is filled to the brim with local producers, making it ever easier to shop locally for the holidays. The Catskills also have some of the best local artists selling everything from small works to large pieces in studios across the region. Watch this space for features on local artists selling their wares during the holiday season. We’re also compiling a list of places you can cut your own Christmas tree. It’s never been more important to shop locally. For every dollar you spend locally, the community will benefit to the value of five to seven dollars. Industry in the Catskills is strictly regulated because we have to protect New York City’s drinking water. Spending money on the Catskills’ small producers keeps our regional economy afloat. Shop Upstate for the holidays. Continue reading

Windowsill Celery

© J.N. Urbanski

During the winter, if you have a spot in the house that gets a great deal of sun, turn it into a hothouse for cultivation. It couldn’t be easier to grow your own celery. When you next use celery, chop off the entire root system in one slice. Place the celery, root pointing down, in a glass of water (pictures below) and then plant it once your get some new growth that looks like frilly lettuce (pictured above). Continue reading

The Anatomy of a Bird Box

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

A base layer of dirt, then grass, then a thick wedge of insulation and finally, twigs topped off with a small, vacated wasp’s nest and a large insect exoskeleton, probably a caterpillar/butterfly. A once crowded bird box now getting repaired and cleaned out for new tenants.

Monday’s Radio Show: Local Government & Conservation

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

After this week’s election victories, Monday’s radio show will feature two prominent guests: Jeff Senterman and Julia Reischel. From 9am to 9.30am, we will hear from Jeff who is Executive Director of the Catskill Center. Many people ask me what the Catskill Center does and now here is your chance to find out if you didn’t know. From 9.30am to 10am, we’ll hear from Julia Reischel, a former local journalist and co-founder of the now-retired Watershed Post, who is now going into politics.

You can stream the show online on WIOX on Monday November 13that 9am. Let’s hope it’s warmer than today’s 22F.

Women of the Catskills

© J.N. Urbanski

“There’s this thing happening… the women’s movement, and I want to cover it.”

Writer Nora Ephron uttered that sentence over 40 years ago and, as of last year, during the last election cycle, it seemed like our quest for equality hadn’t really advanced that far. Women still earned less than men for doing the same jobs, women’s rights were being eroded and sexual harassment in the workplace continued unabated. According to one New York City chef, writing in GQ Magazine, whole industries have been marginalizing the achievements of women in the restaurant business for decades. This year, though, we are experiencing a wholesale transformation in our zeitgeist. It’s a paradigm shift of epic proportions. Women are beginning to speak up, becoming more politically active and attempting to effect change by running for public office. “Women hold up half the sky,” the saying goes, and we should have half the representation.

Here in the Catskills, we have a remarkable abundance of female entrepreneurs: women blazing their own trail in this wilderness. The area is filled with strong, female icons, role models, influencers, artists, farmers, scientists and teachers. Last night, election night, saw a female entrepreneur, Julia Reischel, former journalist, take a seat on our local town council and all over the country democratic women won hard-earned seats in local office. Continue reading

Links: Food & Drink

© J.N. Urbanski

Despite wearing a watch, and having several electronic gadgets that will automatically tell me the time, I have been doing things an hour earlier since the clocks went back at the weekend. How long has it been? Only 48 hours you say? Feels like forever. Having been a city dweller for most of my life, it feels like city living forces the time on you where as country life coerces you into succumbing to nature’s rhythms (and the weather). I’ve hardly left the house in the past few weeks, but that’s about to change. Meanwhile, here are some links to past Upstate Dispatch posts to some recipes and food reviews to keep you occupied until I get back out into the Catskills.

Recipes:

Beberts Chicken Tagine

Jeanette Bronée’s Roasted Carrots & Prunes

The Bull & Garland Pub in Hobart.

Supper Club at Heather Ridge Farm in Schoharie County.

Fish & Chips in the Catskills.

The best burger in the Catskills (at the time of writing).

Oh, and by the way:

We already knew that temperatures were ten degrees warmer than last year, making fall a little disappointing, but here’s Bloomberg’s official report.

Upstate Dispatch Retrolinks

© J.N. Urbanski

As a friend pointed out, there’s a lot of content on Upstate Dispatch and, moreover, a great deal of content that doesn’t much get read, or hasn’t been read by regular readers.

So, as winter approaches and I scout around for ideas for winter content, I offer some links to past work that are first person articles that are desperately in need of a follow up.

Deer hunting season approaches: a link to a 2015 post I wrote about hunting.

Here’s the first post I wrote about our dog, Alfie and a post on the cost of food.

A guide to safe and considerate hiking in Upstate New York, that needs to be updated for winter. In fact, scroll through the entire hiking section of the site.

My first Catskills 3500 ascent: Balsam Mountain two years ago.

Eat Your Weeds, instead of throwing pesticide on them that ruins the water table.

Scroll through last year’s November. The gift guide still holds.

And finally, writing of gifts, here’s our donate page. UD takes thousands of hours a year to write and does not do paid or sponsored content or advertising.

Daily Catskills: 10/28/17

A 65F high and sunny with scudding cloud and gusty. The last of the diehard shades hold fast amidst the brush: russets, ambers, umbers and burnt orange shades lingering like the ghost of summer.

© J.N. Urbanski 4pm – Usage prohibited without consent

 

Daily Catskills: 10/26/17

Cold suddenly, like this autumn-summer thing has finally expired. Goosebumps for the first time walking the dog, as we’re showered with burnt orange leaves and a sturdy breeze. Chilly at 52F.

© J.N. Urbanski 3.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Cosmik Ice-Cream

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Innovation continues unabated here in the Catskills with the introduction of freeze-dried ice-cream. We’ve already recently heard about the new 100% electric vehicle designed and built here and now we have astronautical edibles. Continue reading

Fall Watch 2017: A Golden Autumn

© J.N. Urbanski 10/14/17 Noon – Usage prohibited without consent

This year, the vibrant, yellow fall hues stole the show very early on, at the end of September, and kept their lead throughout the month of October. Golden confetti lay strewn across roads and fields for weeks. The yellows were still in the lead until the reds popped into the mix, but they remain sparse, dull and muted. Some green, on mighty oak trees, still remained as of Monday, when our Daily Catskills coverage unexpectedly withered, shriveling up like our unpicked apples that hang forlornly in the bare trees like forgotten holiday decorations. Some tall oaks on the peaks are still hanging onto their vivid green, but they too are turning golden yellow.

The oranges came out in the last week or two, but they’re dusty and subdued; burnt orange, sienna and burnished copper tones linger amidst the brush.

Temperatures this fall have been about 10 degrees (fahrenheit) higher than last year. We were expecting a glorious, riotous autumn like the spectacular, fiery orange fall we had two years ago, but instead we had kind of warm, extended summer. Summer has stolen our autumn.

Go back in time through Upstate Dispatch’s archives from October 2015 and October 2016 so see just how different it is this year. After all, that’s why we take a picture a day.

© J.N. Urbanski 10/14/17 2.30pm – Usage prohibited without consent

© J.N. Urbanski 10/11/17 4.20pm – Usage prohibited without consent

Daily Catskills: 10/14/17

A high of 75F and humid with clear skies and the odd fluffy cloud. Fall is remarkably muted with none of the glorious, fiery colors of last year. This year’s temperatures are about ten degrees higher, which could be the reason for the dull color.

© J.N. Urbanski 1pm – Usage prohibited without consent

A Halloween Journey with Cara Cruickshank

© J.N. Urbanski 10/31/14 9am

“Security is mostly a superstition…Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -Helen Keller

I first heard a little bit about the artistic director Cara Cruickshank recently through a fellow board member at Woodchuck Lodge. Every year she creates a magical, dusk wonderland in Big Indian called The Halloween Journey that seems quite hard to resist: “a community event for young, old and everyone in between”, now in its eighth season. This year’s event will take place on October 27th and 28th beginning at 5pm in Big Indian, NY.

Sounding rather like a cultural treasure hunt designed “to promote wonder instead of fear on Halloween”, the journey features legendary characters of Catskill history and folklore. Rip van Winkle, Sojourner Truth, Catskill poet John Burroughs, “fairies, animal spirits and other fanciful creatures come to life, sharing their respect for nature, inspiring wonderment and appreciation for the treasured Catskill region”.

As night falls, the patron is welcomed with a bonfire, live folk music, hot apple cider, homemade chili and seasonal treats before the adventure begins.

Tickets range in price from an Early Bird Special that’s $15, to a VIP package for $150 that includes a “private tour, after-party pass, secret treasures and treats”, to a Deluxe VIP Package that includes hotel packages and much more. You can buy a ‘Wizard Pass” for $15 or example, that will allow you to skip the queue to the event.

Halloween Journey this year is non-profit, in partnership with the Pine Hill Community Center, The Catskill Center, and 100 Thousand Poets for Change. We are sponsored by Woodstock Healing Arts, Catskill Native Nursery and Manhattan Youth.

The New Hiking Trail at Woodchuck Lodge

© J.N. Urbanski

“A fawn is spotted, too, and ‘fawn-lily’ would be better than adder’s-tongue. Still better is the name ‘trout-lily,’ which has recently been proposed for this plant. It blooms along the trout streams, and its leaf is as mottled as a trout’s back’. – John Burroughs

I’m proud to serve on the Board of Trustees of John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge in Roxbury, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historic lodge, which was writer and naturalist John Burroughs’ last home. Burroughs was primarily an essayist, who wrote for the still-published Atlantic Monthly, born in 1837.

Country board meetings of our fabulously eclectic group are always a complete riot accompanied by homemade produce like goat’s milk cheese, cornbread and cake. We are an eccentric and creative bunch. It takes countless, volunteer man hours to maintain historic sites like this across the region and the Lodge is free to visit during the summer. Donations are welcome!

Please join us for what might be our final event of the season on October 29th: the unveiling of the first part of Woodchuck Lodge’s new Trout-Lily trail. This new trail is actually part of a partially restored footpath that was originally developed by Dr. John Lutz, great-grand nephew of John Burroughs and founder of Woodchuck Lodge, Inc.

The event entitled, A Celebration of Gratitude, will begin at 1pm at 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Children are welcome.

All are invited to take a stroll on the trail, say thanks to its builders, and enjoy local cider, doughnuts, and other refreshments.

Daily Catskills: 10/09/17

71F by mid-morning, humid, with patches of morning fog and occasional turbulent breeze scattering the leaves. Surly. Update: 77F high with a strong, leaf-churning wind and more rain.

© J.N. Urbanski 10.30am – Usage prohibited without consent

Planting Garlic

© J.N. Urbanski

Garlic goes in about a month before the first frost of the season. One clove, planted two inches deep (with four inches between cloves) will grow into one bulb of garlic by next spring. The garlic pictured above is German hard neck garlic and the cloves are huge and juicy. The reason farmed garlic is so much bigger than wild garlic is that every year the largest cloves are planted, yielding bigger and bigger produce. Go to our Instagram feed to see footage of the planting.