18F by 1pm with a foot-deep blanket of overnight snow and high winds kicking up the powder into a misty spray.
Yesterday was Imbolc, a Gaelic holiday, celebrated by Christians as St Brigid’s Day, marking the first day of Spring. If the snow is low enough, snowdrops traditionally have always appeared at this time. Also yesterday was the third annual World Fire Cider Day and Spillian held a class run by Liza Belle in the ancient tradition of making fire cider. Fire cider is an 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 all finely chopped and covered in apple cider vinegar. To this mix you can add extras like cinnamon, juniper berries, rosemary, thyme, cayenne pepper, blood orange and rose hips, burdock root and turmeric. Last night, we chopped and chatted and went home with a can of fire cider to steep for six weeks.
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.
29F at 10am, snow flurries, turbulent sky, with flashes of blue.
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
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.
Seven of the final nine peaks left on my list to be climbed to qualify for full membership in the Catskill 3500 Club are all bushwhacks and Halcott Mountain, which I climbed last week is the second lowest bushwhack in the Catskill 3500, but somehow felt like the steepest. From now until I finish my 39th climb, it’ll be mostly compass, map reading, being slapped in the eyeballs by saplings and tree branches, falling face first into slush, sliding backwards over ice into a tree, hauling oneself over giant ledges, and watching the summit move upwards as you climb towards it. (“That’s it! Wait…”) In fact, it’s all uphill from here.
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.
34F at 9am, overcast, recovering from overnight ice storm. Every leaf, branch, blade, needle trapped in a glassy prison. House covered in icy granola.
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.”
17F by noon and calm with the sun straining through another frosted sky.
9F at 9am, calm and quiet with the sun straining though a sky like gauze. 15F by mid-afternoon with light, glittering snowfall.
17F by noon with a sky made of gray-blue glass and crunchy snow underfoot like chopped meringue.
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.
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.
39F by noon with mostly clear skies.
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.
Still only 26F by 2pm, blustery with a glittering sky.
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.
Bread Alone’s warm cauliflower egg sandwich was on the specials’ menu on Monday in two thick slices of their delicious health bread. This time it has some sort of orange sauce plus cheese. The cheesy cauliflower goes well with the soft, slightly chewy wholewheat bread and the warm scrambled egg just melts in the mouth. Scrumptious.
37F at 1pm with a glassy sky and an overnight layer of snow.
39F by noon with mostly clear skies.
34F by noon, with a gunmetal grey sky and a fresh layer of snow.
47F by noon with continuous rain, grey and gloomy.
50F by mid-afternoon, raining and overcast.
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
45F by noon, overcast with receding snow.
35 by 2pm, overcast and snowing.
35F by noon with hazy cloud and bright sunshine.
30F by noon, overcast and windy.
27F by noon, light breeze and glassy, grey sky, snow for most of the afternoon.
30F by mid-afternoon, with thick, deep overnight snow. Overcast and blustery.
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.
62F by 2pm, with wispy cloud and warm in the sun.
50F by mid-afternoon, humid with a light breeze and overcast.
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.
60F by mid-afternoon, overcast, humid with rain for most of the day.
41F by mid-afternoon and windy with rolling cloud.
If you never truly appreciate something until it has gone, then I was really very much appreciating the Saturday Summer farmer’s market until I found out it was extending until the end of November. Owing to an Autumn that was warmer than usual, local farmers have more produce to sell. I haven’t been to the market as often as I have liked this summer and am grateful to have another three or four opportunities. On Saturday, in addition to kimchee and fresh ginger, I picked up a box of assorted root vegetables. Plus, I planted the rest of the fresh ginger as it had a couple of green shoots. There’s nothing like firing up the wood stove for the first time and watching a fresh, organic root soup simmering for the evening. Fall is almost finished and the landscape is swaddled in a thick blanket of caramel oak leaves, the last trees to turn.
The Pakatakan Farmers Market in Halcotsville on Route 30 is extending its Saturday market through the end of November. Today there was a limited edition of what you’ll normally find there, but if you’re looking to stock up on local vegetables, Lucky Dog and Straight Out Of The Ground were present. Madalyn Warren’s famous kimchee is delicious. She also had fresh ginger, heirloom tomatoes, pumpkins, Jerusalem artichokes and other greens. Lucky Dog had all its usual green vegetables and herbs. Owing to the late Summer/warm Autumn combination (yesterday it was 70F), there will be more to sell for the next month. Under the large awning there was local chicken for sale, more vegetables, a bakery, soups, coffee, tea, local cheese and Catskill Funghi. Open 10am-2pm every Saturday from now through November. The final market will be on November 19th but a special holiday market will take place on November 26th. Today was dismally freezing with a biting wind, but it’s worth braving the cold to get such excellent produce. Support your local farmers.
An overcast morning, with sunshine emerging midday. 70F by mid-afternoon with rolling cloud.
64F at 8.30am, warm, cloudy and wet after overnight rain.
57F at 8.30am and humid with moody skies. Update: 70F by mid-afternoon with periods of sunshine.
Wayside Cider is opening their new cidery and tap room opening in Andes this month. The tap room is based in a barn on Redden Lane, beautifully restored, with as much attention to detail paid to it as was to the cider, which is as light as a breeze. There is a courtyard with a firepit. Future plans for the adjacent carriage house include a banquet hall and store. They anticipate a soft opening on October 22nd.
34F at 8.30am rising to 64F by 2pm, with mostly clear skies and sunny.
61F by mid-morning, rising to 65 by 2pm, raining and misty.
55F by 3pm with clear skies and a cool breeze.
54F by 2pm and overcast with rippling clouds.
50F at 8.30am, nippy with thick fog steaming out of the valleys.
On Friday October 7th from 4pm to 7pm on Main Street in Margaretville, come and enjoy a harvest festival with a range of activities including pumpkin carving with the Catskill Mountain Artisans’ Guild; demonstration on how to press your own cider apples; a costume parade and contest for adults, kids and dogs.
Union Grove Distillery will be offering samples of their vodka. Stick in the Mud will have waffle dogs as well as their super fun Belgian waffles on a stick. There will be chili and cornbread for sale from local chefs. Catskill Candies and Confections will offer samples of their chocolates. The Margaretville Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop will be open late and running a special bag sale.
Plein Air painter Alix Travis will be creating artwork depicting the evening’s activities. Entertainment will be provided by Ben Rounds. Stores will be open late as part of this First Friday event sponsored by the Business Association of Margaretville. Admission is free.
The Catskill Center promises an evening of delicious local cuisine, libations and musical performance by Spirit of Thunderheart, five native American drummers, Donna Coane, Debbie Fichtner, Brenda Martin, JoJo Griffin and Wynona Decker. Spirit of Thunderheart are awardees of the 2014 Native American Music Awards’ Best Traditional, 1st place and the 2015 Best Group of the Year, 2nd place. There will also be music by Skye, which is Celtic cellist Abby Newton, guitarist Lynn Hrdy, and keyboardist Selma Kaplan.
70F, humid and cloudy by 2pm with late afternoon sunshine.
64F by mid-afternoon and gloomy. More explosions of red.
52F by 10am and overcast, rising to 61F by the afternoon with light rain for most of the day.
Saturday Cider Pressing: The Hubbell Family Cider Mill on Route 30 in Halcotsville, which has been pressing apples since 1878, opens its doors to the public on October 1st and every Saturday in October. The press will start promptly at **12.30pm***, so please be on time. I will be interviewing Burr Hubbell and Andrew on WIOX Radio on October 3rd at 9am to discuss the history of the Catskills apple and farming in the region. Hubbell Family Farm, 46124 State Highway 30, Margaretville, NY 12455.
***The time for the cider pressing has moved forward to 12.30pm from the originally stated 11am.***
Pony Palooza at Rosemary Farm: A pony party at the horse sanctuary with games, food, music, and ponys. There will be demonstrations with the horses; local vendors with special offerings, pumpkins and corn; horseshoes, coloring and a chance to meet, pet and maybe even hug your favorite RF horse. Tickets are $7.50 in advance, $10 at the door, with limited admission. (Note that the Tack Sale is outside the ticketed area, you may come and shop for free). Rosemary Farm Horse Sanctuary, 1646 Roses Brook Road, South Kortright, NY 13842.
The 13th Annual Lark in the Park run by the Catskill Center, a non-profit devoted to conservation and development in the Catskills, begins on October 1st and runs to October 10th. The event offers hiking, paddling, cycling, fishing, nature walks and lectures as well as cultural and educational events throughout the entire Catskill region.
And, finally, an artist’s reception on October 1st from 1pm to 3pm in Margaretville – see below for details: