Tag Archives: Country Living

Weekend Links: 03/23/17

© J.N. Urbanski

Saturday March 25th, Trout Tales: All Things Fly Fishing at Spillian in Fleischmanns.

Saturday March 25th, The Tanning Industry and How It’s Changed at the Catskill Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper.

Saturday March 25th, Designing with Native Plants at the Phoenicia Library.

Saturday March 25th, Childrens’ Art Workshop at MURAL on Main, 631 Main Street in Hobart, NY. Students aged 6-12 will learn about using color in art and then create their own cray-pas on canvas painting. All necessary materials and instruction will be provided and creativity will be encouraged. The cost for this workshop is $5 and sign up is available through the workshop page on the MURAL website or by calling the gallery at (607) 538-3002.

If you’re a landowner and wish to lease your land to farmers, here’s a workshop running on April 1st in Delaware County and April 8th in Otsego County, that might be useful from CADE, the Center for Agricultural Development & Enterpreneurship.

Buses converted into mobile grocery stores for low income neighborhoods: a great idea for the Catskills.

Thirteen things I learnt as a market farmer, from Women Who Farm.

Old books converted into art and sculpture.

Catskills Sandwich: Mean Green Burger of Windham

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Half a pound of Angus beef served with either fries or salad; it’s the jalapeno mayonnaise sauce that gives this juicy burger a hearty kick to the palate with melted smoked gouda cheese, sliced dill pickles and lettuce. The bun is also up to the challenge, remaining steadfast despite the onslaught of sauce, which will run over and douse the perfectly cooked fries: crispy outer shell and fluffy potato within and possibly the best fries in the Catskills (along with the steak fries at Boiceville Inn). The Mean Green from Catskill Mountain Country Store and Restaurant is wholly delicious.

Food & Health Links

© J.N. Urbanski

Biodynamic farming is on the rise wherein farmers integrate their crops and animals. “I’m trying to feed my neighbors – and if everyone did that, we would be able to replicate this,” says one California Farmer.

The National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Mushrooms by Gary Lincoff, as recommended by writer Laura Silverman.

A brief article about Lyme from NPR. A local event focussing on Lyme at Table on Ten in Bloomville. Another good article about Lyme research from NPR here. Note that these experts say that most people are bitten while gardening because ticks lurk in their hedgerows.

Sound advice from the National Audubon Society on keeping ticks at bay.

Pure Catskills brochure is an excellent guide to farm stands, markets, farms, restaurants, stores, producers and much more in the Catskills: an invaluable resource.

It’s maple season: find our list of maple syrup sellers and producers here in the Catskills and some of the beautifully designed packaging makes these products excellent gifts. Maple syrup is vegan and packed full of vital nutrients.

Daily Catskills: 03/10/17

Gusty winds bringing isolated snow showers all night and into the morning, coating the landscape once again with fresh powder after a warm week. 25F by mid-afternoon with high winds and dappled grey sky. Dangerous wind chill warning for this evening.

© J.N. Urbanski 12.45pm

Weekend Links: 02/23/17

© J.N. Urbanski 1.50pm

Weekend camping resets the body clock, says the BBC.

Saturday February 25th: A group reading of Macbeth with beer at Reynolds & Reynolds in Woodstock.

Cosmik Ice Cream, maker of freeze-dried ice cream that will never melt, visits Woodchuck Lodge. In these temperatures, nothing is melting up here, but for us trustees of Woodchuck Lodge, this is lovely publicity.

Governor Cuomo pledges $8 million in state funds for Belleayre Ski Resort.

Woodstock Farm Festival looking for vendors.

The Catskills’ own Lisbeth Firmin’s talk “Painting and Prints” on March 17th at William & Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education in North Carolina.

Catskill Center is accepting applications for the Platte Clove Artist in Residence Program.

Honey-Glazed Beets at Peekamoose

© J.N. Urbanski

The warm honey-glazed beets at Peekamoose remind me of standing on the farm eating a beetroot, warm from the scorching August sun, straight out of the ground. In winter, when there’s a foot or two of snow on the doorstep, and you’ve braved piercing winds and roads covered in dry chalky snow on date night, beetroot warm from the oven, covered in honey and goat’s cheese creme is a mouthwatering treat. Rich, earthy and wholesome, these beets are almost like a dessert as the creme melts into the warm honey sauce, making a juice so luscious you’ll want to slurp it directly off the plate. Scrumptious.

The Catskill 35: Rusk Mountain, a first attempt

© J.N. Urbanski

It’s good to know when to give up and turn around and yesterday was one of those days. Rusk Mountain, a bushwhack that seemed easy on paper, was an almost vertical ascent the way we went, covered in a layer of thick snow, making it difficult to maintain traction even in snow shoes. After an hour of climbing, slipping, sliding and clinging to tree branches, the final straw was the formiddable rock ledge (pictured above) that greeted me about 20 minutes from the top. There were tracks up the side of this ledge from hikers that were ahead of us, but the snow was crumbly and there were no tree roots or rocks for support. Plus, I was cold, fatigued and we had started too late, so we were in a bit of a rush. Last time I ignored the conditions, I slid 30 feet down a mountain and slammed into a tree. I learned my lesson back then.

Continue reading

Weekend Links: Another January Closes

© J.N. Urbanski

Leave it to the inestimable Park Rangers to impress us with their louche cool and a rogue Twitter account – and those fantastic outfits. Get all the other hilarious rogue Twitter accounts here at CNN from NASA and other regional Park Service employees.

Tonight, a Scottish Weekend begins at the historical Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz.

Catskill Park Coalition Information Session at the Catskill Center tomorrow, Saturday January 28th.

Next Friday, February 3rd, The Annual Winter Hoot at the Ashokan Center.

For writers, a Museum of Linguistics is arriving in Washinton DC called “Planet Word”.

Upstate Dispatch Retro Links

© J.N. Urbanski

A local cocktail, Vly Creek Vodka Lemonade with local maple syrup and vodka.

My description of the most breathtakingly beautiful climb on the Catskills 35, Balsam Mountain. My first peak on my mission to hike the Catskills 35, Panther Mountain. By the way, don’t steal signs! Hikers rely on them.

My thoughts on being introduced to camping.

A spring day out to plan: a swim in Big Pond, then a visit to buy some local trout.


Daily Catskills: 01/24/17

34F by 2pm, overcast, gloomy, with mild overnight ice storm having left few inches of gravelly ice that were topped by six inches of afternoon snow on the peaks. Slushy, muddy valleys.

© J.N. Urbanski 2pm

Arts Update: Ted Sheridan

© J.N. Urbanski

Ted Sheridan is more architect that artist, having designed the cozy studio attached to the house that he and Amy Masters share. He went into architecture because of his love of drawing which he has done since he was young: technical drawing and line drawing in pencil. “Even though computers have taken over the traditional drawing and drafting, I still hand draw a lot of my projects,” he says. As far as his artwork is concerned: “architecture is so controlled and precise, I was looking for ways to work in a medium that would work against that and be unpredictable, not be in control all the time.”

Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 01/06/17

18F at 10am with a dusting of crunchy overnight snow and a very brief, early morning theatrical sky that looked like a rippling New England stormy sea when I went to the local farmer for a gallon of milk, and cleared up by the time I got home.

© J.N. Urbanski 9am

Arts Update: Lisbeth Firmin

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Lisbeth Firmin is a studio artist and the bitter Catskills winters present a chance to hole up and focus after a summer spent mostly teaching in upstate New York and New England. Although most of her subjects are in transit, either walking deeply in thought or musing by the window of a moving train, they are rendered indoors. “It’s cozy in the studio and there’s less demand on your time in the winter” she says, not to mention her steep driveway that becomes dangerous when it ices over, prohibiting visitors.

Being in the studio full-time is “like being in a monastery. It’s very ascetic: depriving yourself like a hermit, wearing same clothes every day and painting every day,” she says. “I think it was Milton Avery who said, in his work as an artist, if you just approach it like a job, even only just two or three hours a day every day, you’ll be surprised what you can get done”.

Continue reading

Bebert’s Chicken Tagine

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

We asked Bebert for one of his favorite recipes and he submitted a chicken tagine, which we tried for the first time by turning it vegan a few weeks ago and you can find our recipe here. Here’s the recipe for the original chicken dish, using Bebert’s own preserved lemons and spices.

Chicken, Preserved Lemons with Olives & Almonds

1 Chicken 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6-8 cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon pepper
(Or substitute 2 tablespoons of Bebert’s organic spice blend for the above spices)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced in half rounds
1-2 slices of preserved lemon including pulp and juice
(lemons are preserved in salt… not necessary to add more salt)
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
½ cup dried raisins
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

Put all ingredients together in a tagine, Dutch oven or casserole. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Cook on 350F oven for 2 hours.

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Marcey Brownstein’s Shepherd’s Pie

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Marcey Brownstein is the proprietor of Marcey Brownstein Catering serving the Hudson Valley, Catskills, NYC, the Tri-State area and beyond since 2001. She moved to the Catskills full-time in 2012, settling in Woodland Valley, one of the the most picturesque and historical valleys in the Catskills. Her favorite winter recipe is Shepherd’s Pie, a rib-sticking favorite.

Continue reading

Catskills Geology

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

All over the Catskills you can find ancient shells, clam-like fossils and other marine life partially buried in the sandstone because, during the Devonian period, the Catskills were at the bottom of the sea, somewhere around the Bahamas. The Devonian Period was 400 million years ago and since then the Americas have moved farther north to the position they are in today. On hikes to places like Slide, Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain, the rocks look like they had pebbles thrown at them while they were molten. According to Catskill Mountaineer, Panther Mountain sits on top of a meteorite hit that happened 375 million years ago. In the middle of the picture above, taken on Slide Mountain, you will see what looks like the remnants of a curling shell.

Johanna and Robert Titus, local Ice Age experts, have written a book on the subject and you can also find a podcast of an interview with them that is available at the Catskill Center.

December Events at the Catskill Center

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Saturday December 3rd 2pm

Function or Form: Utilitarian Art Exhibit, Erpf Gallery, Arkville, NY
The exhibit, Function or Form: Utilitarian Art, will be on display in the Erpf Gallery December 3rd, 2016 through January 21st, 2017. It features beautiful functional items by 17 local artists. An Artist’s Reception will be held on Saturday, December 3rd, from 2pm-4pm, at the Erpf Center in Arkville.

Continue reading

A Cozy Winter’s Evening in Hobart

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

As winter draws closer and dusk settles at 4.30pm, the tendency is to batten down the hatches, fire up the wood stove and curl up on the sofa with a book. This is also the perfect way to get cabin fever and it’s easy to go days or even weeks without socializing. The Brits handle their cabin fever by frequent attendance down the pub. A gloomy British winter – one that extends all the way from summer’s end to the following summer – would be unbearable without a local pub. Hobart now has one, The Bull & Garland and I think we’ve mentioned here how truly authentic and cozy it is. Hobart is called the Catskills’ “book village” and it’s modeled after another British tradition: Hay on Wye’s annual book festival.

Co-incidentally, Creative Corner Books in Hobart, a stone’s throw from the pub, is hosting a jewelry-making class on December 8th from 7pm to 8.30pm. It really couldn’t get any better: a few pints, a Scotch egg, books, more books and then some hilarious wrangling with a pair of tweezers and some tiny beads – or the other way around. Run by Heather Rolland, the class will teach the basics of earring making. The cost is $15 per pair of earrings inclusive of instruction and materials.

Creative Corner Books, 607 Main Street, Hobart, NY (607) 386-2525
The Bull & Garland, 760 Main St, Hobart, NY 13788 (607) 538-3006

Local Catskills Holiday Gift Guide


Support local producers and shop locally for your holiday gifts this year. Shopping locally benefits the local community in countless ways. Every dollar spent in your local community benefits that community by 5-7 dollars. Here’s a list of crafts, food and bodycare products from Christmas stocking stuffers and gifts for colleagues and friends, to more expensive gifts that go under the family tree. Below find our best picks for scrumptious local food, beautiful gifts and local crafts.


© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Everyone loves food. Bebert’s Moroccan Cafe in Fleischmanns has a wealth of beautifully packaged herbs, sweets, condiments and spices that make fabulous gifts for the home cook. Special items are the Spices Des Fes blend for making tagine, preserved lemons, fruit compotes and Casablanca chutney. Perfect stocking stuffers or make great gifts for friends and colleagues.

Grab a bottle or two of Wayside Cider when you’re next in Andes and, maybe stop awhile for a quick refreshing apertif on your way to a dinner party.

Enjoy their tap room and pick up a bottle of locally distilled vodka at Union Grove Distillery in Arkville.

If you’re in Margaretville and feel like something sweet or need a sweet gift, The Cheese Barrel stocks mouth-watering cookies like Bahlsen, Italian chocolate, nougat, jarred condiments, tea, coffee and jams that make great stocking stuffers or dinner party gifts. At Homegoods of Margaretville you’ll find everything the modern cook could want from cute salt and pepper shakers to Le Creusette pans and everything in between. They also stock tea, lotions, cookbooks and spices.

Tay Tea has a shop in Delhi selling all things tea: a large selection of house-blended tea, teapots, arts and crafts. Their tea is beautiful and stylishly packaged. If you’re looking to give up coffee, their Coffee Lover’s Tea is a wholesome, flavorful alternative with light caffeine content.

For authentic local maple syrup go here to read local guide published earlier in the year.


© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

The Catskills have the finest lotions, potions and unguents on offer made by hand by local artisans. Click here for our guide published earlier this year.

Catskills Northern Essentials
Northern Essentials products are fabulous. Yes, a single bar of soap can change your day! Perfect for small gifts and wedding favors, they are beautifully packaged, make a creamy lather and contain comforting essential oils like rose and invigorating lemongrass. There’s a wide range of soaps to choose from, using speciality ingredients like goat’s milk, sea buckthorn, pine tar and activated charcoal.

Lady Bug Soap, 42 Creamery Road, Greenville, NY
Lee Lewis started making her own lotions, soaps and potions to cope with eczema. She has over 80 products available including bug and tick repellents. Her hand soap is gentle on dry hands and lightly aromatic, a perfect foil for winter dryness. Store hours are Thursday & Friday 3pm – 7pm and Saturday 11am- 3pm. You can also shop online at Lady Bug Soap.


© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

Here are our three favorite general stores to support this holiday season, stocking all your essentials.

The Roxbury General Store, 53538 State Highway 30, Roxbury, NY 12474
The General Store has some seriously classy, high-quality local gifts for everyone your life, whether it’s a colleague, friend or family member. You also have the added bonus of perhaps catching a wine tasting on the opposite corner at Roxbury Wines & Spirits.

The Blue Barn, 7053 Route 28, Shandaken, NY 12480
The Blue Barn has always been reasonably priced and a great go-to for antiques and more modern items from local furniture dealers and craftspeople. A no-brainer if you’re passing through or for locals: an Upstate Dispatch favorite. Read our write-up of the Blue Barn here. Check their facebook page for their winter hours which are usually weekends only.

Lucky Dog Farm Store, 35796 State Highway 10 (Main Street), Hamden, NY 13782
This delightful general store is a one-stop shop for all manner of high-quality food, condiments, clothing, kitchenware, lotions, soaps, candles and wool products. They stock Jos Vulto’s delicious cheese, local honey and many, many other speciality local products. They also deliver and offer case orders at a 20% discount. Go here to see their extensive product list. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday.


Steve Burnett Metal Sculpture

Steve Burnett Metal Sculpture

Catskill Mountain Artisan’s Guild, Main Street, Margaretville, NY
The Artisan’s Guild offers an extensive range of high-quality arts and crafts like painted silk, leather goods and jewelry and has the benefit of being open all week long.

MURAL on Main, 631 Main Street, Hobart, NY 13788
The Gallery Gift Shop at MURAL began several years ago as a way to support their endeavours to promote art in the region. Proceeds from the gift shop keep the fine art gallery open to the public free of charge, keep the costs of their invaluable workshops and events low, and provide an additional revenue stream for local artisans. You can also find Solveig Comer’s Most Precious Pottery here.

Bovina Brown Bats, Bovina Center, NY
Bovina Brown Bats is run by owner John Virga, a graphic artist and carpenter who makes custom bat boxes in addition to other things. The best time to put up a bat box is in the Spring.

Arkville Bread Breakfast, 43285 State Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406
This legendary sandwich shop, beloved by all, run by Jack, is having a local, holiday market on Black Friday featuring a selection from the Upstate Dispatch Daily Catskills Collection, Steve Burnett’s metalworks (pictured above), Catskill Clothing Company and other local craftspeople. Steve Burnett makes striking metalwork sculptures (pictured above), watercolors and drawings. His last show was at Rachel’s Framing and Fine Art in Delhi.

2nd Annual Holiday Pop-Up Market, 778 Main Street, Margaretville, NY.
Last year’s market was a “phenomenal success”, so this year’s holiday market will be expanding into two days, November 25th and 26th, 10am – 5pm. Local crafts, clothing and jewelry including Halia Grace jewelry and more.

Catskills Holiday Gift Guide: The Arts

Robert Schneider, "All Hallow's Eve" Oil on Panel, $1200, photo courtesy of MURAL on Main

Robert Schneider, “All Hallow’s Eve” Oil on Panel, $1200, photo courtesy of MURAL on Main

Support local artists by shopping in the Catskills for holiday gifts. As the quote goes, “vote with your wallet for the kind of change you want to see in the world”. Consumer power is real. If you stop buying products produced overseas, fewer will be imported. The latest economic conversion metric for shopping locally is: every dollar spent locally benefits that community to the value of 5-7 dollars. Support your local artists.

Continue reading

Food & Farming Links

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

When farmers retire and sell, “typically it’s a large corporation that purchases that land”. American Farmers are rapidly retiring. Who will succeed them? From Modern Farmer. “The lack of replacements for aging farmers is a real concern. The average age of U.S. farmers is 58.3 years, and over the next 25 years, more than one-fourth of all farmers are expected to retire, which would require an additional 700,000 to replace them.”

The UK’s Guardian asks: “can we feed 10 billion people on organic farming alone?”

A brief history of farmed chickens, also from The Guardian.

“Scientists have turned the humble spinach plant into a bomb detector”. “Bionic” plants that can detect explosions from the BBC.

What the oldest woman in the world eats every day from Huffington Post.

Women Who Farm.