A beautiful clear Autumn day: crisp, breezy and raining leaves. Copper, gold, sepia and umber tones shimmering in the sun. A high of 55F.
Enigmatic misty, rainy day, overcast, humid and moody. Warm despite a high of 55F. The incredible Fall of 2020 has not finished yet.
October 15th, 2020 was National Mushroom Day, but this passed by unnoticed around here because rest assured that every day here at Upstate Dispatch is mushroom day. The obsession is feverish around these parts for mushrooms of all kinds.
Mushrooms are one of the world’s most sustainably grown plant – they’ll even grow on coffee grounds – especially if they’re foraged. They’re part of nature’s fascinating underground network of information and nutrients passed between trees and other foliage called mycelium. Not only to do they give a superbly bold, earthy flavor to soups and sauces, but they’re also high in Vitamin D (unlike any other food) a notable mood-lifter in dark months. Mushrooms are a good flavorful substitute for meat and they’re high in soluble fiber. Other nutrients they provide are Vitamin C, B, potassium, copper and selenium. They’re also being used to make bio-degradable packaging and in cleaning up the environment. Here are some great resources, information and recipes on this astonishing organism.
A recipe for easy mushroom gravy.
The best book for the novice mushroom forager from Teresa Marrone and Walt Sturgeon, Mushrooms of the Northeast.
American-grown mushroom supplements and grow-your-own mushroom kits from Host Defense.
It’s raining today October 16th in the Catskills, so mushrooms should be popping up everywhere in the next 24 hours – this weekend should be a prime time for foraging.
Horseradish is a spicy root of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables (that includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, cabbage, and radish), that looks rather like a white, gnarled parsnip. The roots run deeply into the ground and the edible leaves that are bigger than rhubarb leaves, but long and thin instead of round, can grow to four or five feet in height. It’s easy to take credit for a huge horseradish crop, but the reality is that you can never really be rid of it. Once you try digging it up out of the ground, you realize that it’s tentacle-like roots travel far and wide around your garden, so you have to stop digging at some point. Whatever root is left is sure to pop out of the earth and produce leaves the following year. If you like spicy food, it’s a really easy crop to grow because of the low maintenance, frost resistance and it’s prolific growth rate. Hot peppers are much fussier than this hardy root.
Horseradish is most commonly found in a sauce with vinegar, but vinegar plus horseradish seems a little excessive: do we really need to suffer that much? I don’t. You can make it a little gentler on the palette by grating it into a condiment like mayonnaise or ketchup, or soups, or finely grating it into a hollandaise to put over eggs for a spicy benedict. It also goes well in a creamy butter sauce for venison or steak.
Store unwashed horseradish root in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Once washed and grated, it should be put into vinegar to preserve it, but it must be used within six weeks.
Horseradish root is high in fiber; said to improve digestion and metabolism and contains a variety of nutrients like calcium, potassium, folate and Vitamin C.
A perfect Fall day – still t-shirt weather. A high of 62F and warm in the sun. Breeze shaking the leaves out of the trees. Overcast with rolling, blue-gray clouds that cast a beautiful light over the mountains at dusk.
A dewy morning, humidity making it feel warm despite being only 45F at 9.30am. Hazy cloud and bright sunshine. A high of 60F. Leaves carpet the landscape.
A chilly morning, after an overnight low of 38F. A high of only 58F with billowing, plump clouds. A substantial amount of green remaining in the foliage despite the bare brushes becoming obvious. The range of Fall from start to finish is present in the landscape.
Fall turns crisp: a high of 57F and a distinct chill in the air despite the sunshine. Morning clouds dissipated slightly by the afternoon.
Overnight rain spills into the morning, then a slight break in the cloud cover with some sun and a high of 66F. Still humid, and bright despite thunderous looking clouds.
A high of 64F but still humid and warm in the frequent bursts of sun. Overcast with more swirling, grey-lined clouds and early morning fog. Soaked with overnight rain and a low of 52F. Schoharie County has more dazzling colors than its southern neighbors: vivid reds, plums, maroons and magentas join the oranges and yellow. A riot of color in the Catskills. A glorious Fall.
More cloud cover, mist on the peaks and a high of 71F. Humidity keeping us at t-shirt weather. Continual thick cloud cover hampers a chance at portraying the fall colors in all their glory. Early evening rain becomes more torrential overnight.
Overnight rain ends mid-morning making for another misty morning landscape and overnight high of 61F. An overcast and humid day rising to a high of 73F. We’re approaching peak fall as the oranges appear with the yellows and some sparse reds. Cloud cover dampens the colors.
Humid and overcast with thick rolling cloud and a high of 73F. Autumnal fireworks in full effect: approaching peak leaf peeping. Overnight lows have risen to the sixties.
Thick mist rising out of the valley in the morning. Humid and overcast. A high of 72F with a light breeze. T-shirt weather and almost peak fall season with overnight reds and oranges joining the yellows. Spectacular.
A high of 80F on the peaks by the afternoon with the fall colors popping in the brilliant sunshine and fat, billowing clouds. A glorious fall day.
Thick mist rising out of the valleys early morning and hanging in the air like fog until the afternoon. Humid with ominous, rolling cloud that dispersed at sunset and a high of 72F that continued to sunset. A steamy fall day. Some reds, but mostly yellows that are much more prominent in the midday sun.
A warm, sunny morning rising to 59F by 10.30am with a jumble of cloud under a glassy sky. A high of 70F and a warm evening with an overnight low of 53F. Landscape is fading to yellow a little further. T-shirt weather today.
Fall began at 9.30am this morning. A warm, cloudless day with a high of 67F. T-shirt weather in the sun and sweats in the shade. The landscape looks dark green with red patches in the bright sunshine, but the setting sun casts a yellow haze over the foliage that is gone by morning.
Hazy cloudless sky, bright sunshine, cool in the shade. A high of 63F. A chilly but bright evening, with the waning sunset making the landscape look much more yellow than it is on the last day of summer. Overnight low of 31F.
A chilly start to the day, but still sunny all day with blue glass sky with only a few slender clouds on the horizon like someone didn’t wipe it clean properly. Overnight low in the thirties again and a high of 59F.
A morning full of dew with frost receding into the shadows after the overnight low plunges to 32F. A day of full sun with a blue lightbox sky and a lazy breeze. A high of 59F but still warm in the sun. The red leaves become a bit more prominent against all the green, but no fall explosion yet.
Picnic dinners on East Branch Farm continue until October 11th, 2020 on Friday and Sunday nights at 5.30pm ($25-30 per head). Friday is meat based; last Friday’s was Korean BBQ. Sundays are vegetarian. Go online to www.eastbranchfarms.com to reserve a picnic spot. Picnics take place on the farm on tables and chairs made from tree stumps nestled under the apple trees and around the edge of a huge field of six-feet-tall goldenrod you could get lost in. Bring your own picnic blankets for chilly autumn evenings. The farm sits in a wide valley with panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains on Route 30 in Roxbury, Upstate New York, but the spots are pretty private. You really don’t see anyone while you’re eating and with those magnificent views, you can watch the sunset while wrapped up in a blanket: perfect for romantic date night.
A previous version of this post contained the incorrect link to East Branch Farms. Apologies to subscribers who have the incorrect link in their original email.
Chilly yet still humid and not quite sweater weather. Autumn is emerging as a general dulling of the green with some blotches of red. Breezy and warm in the sun, with only wispy, thin cloud. A high of 65F. A frigid but clear night full of stars.
Dina Falconi has written a color, hardback cookbook for foraged, wild food, beautifully illustrated by Wendy Hollender that makes a luscious, engaging read. Beginning this Fall, here at Upstate Dispatch you’ll see some of the recipes. For whatever ingredient is out of season, we’ll use a non-local ingredient to practice in the recipes in advance of foraging for the real thing next year. The author is based in Accord, NY, so this is a local book.
Fall might be a strange time to start, but we were somewhat distracted this Spring by Covid-19. We’ve all had a rough year and now we’re looking at a decidedly different winter in 2020. Cooking up a storm is a comforting way to make yourself feel better, warm up the house, feed family or friends, and also add some new recipes to your repertoire.
Foraging is a way to reduce your carbon footprint even further than avoiding red meat and air travel. By eating locally and seasonally, you’re saving the transportation costs of food that comes from far and wide, but learning the ropes of what grows in your local area takes study and dedication, especially if you’re mushroom hunting. Most mushrooms are not worth eating, or not worth the risk of poisoning, for example.
Dina’s book includes illustrated details of many local, wild edibles; plant habitat and growing conditions; seasonal harvest chart, and recipes for soups, desserts, condiments, beverages, dips, spreads, preserves and much more. This book is remarkable because of illustrations, and the way they are laid on on each page, that makes the information more easily remembered than any other foraging book. They are all color pencil sketches, and for each plant there are contrasting illustrations on the same page that simply makes it crystal clear to the reader. In some cases, there are cross sections of fruit that depict the seed inside. It’s just a noteworthy book for its clarity and ease of reference: a keeper. This copy’s going to get well-thumbed, dirty and handed down to the next generation.
There’s a page devoted to a “wild grilled cheese master recipe” using nettle and other raw greens and wildflowers. Because there are wild flowers still out there in these last days of summer, this recipe could be tried first, but we’ll see what’s at the farmers’ market tomorrow.
Warm and sunny with faint patches of pale red dotting the landscape. A light breeze blows handfuls of yellow leaves over the road. A high of 67F. Sunset over a cloudless, milk glass sky. Fall is on its way.
Humid and muggy with low-lying mist and a high of 73F. The last days of t-shirt weather. Weekend picnics continue at East Branch Farms.
Happy Birthday Upstate Dispatch! It’s been six years since the website begun and the birthday was spent filming the pilot of our local Catskills news broadcast. I’m one of the news anchors with Kent Garrett (pictured right), under my maiden name, Jenny Neal. The project is being developed for MTC Corporation, who are opening up their News Channel 10 for our weekly newscast; The MARK Project and apparently tireless producer Jessica Vecchione.
Kent Garrett and I were formerly colleagues at WIOX Radio and now we’re going to be colleagues on television.
Humid and misty with rain for most of the day. Muggy with a high of 79F and fog clinging to the landscape until late evening. A soggy day.
A warm start to the day, rising to 77F by 11.30am. Humid with shimmering cloud, brief periods of brilliant sun and a high of 81F. Sultry.
Dewy grass sparkles in the rising sun. A gorgeous, serene day with some clouds and a high of 81F. Lavender sky at sunset.
A cool, dewy morning with a stiff breeze. A cloudy day with a high of 73F and breezy with thin late-afternoon clouds dispersing towards dusk.
A cooler day with a high of 65F, but quite humid, with pre-dawn rain for an hour at 4am that broke the four day sun forecast and ruined the downed hay. Layers upon layers of tumultuous clouds that lighten up by dusk.
Bright and sunny for most of the day with distant armadas of plump clouds and a high of 74F. The orchard is ready for apple picking.
At last, some sun. Sunny for the most of the day with clear skies until late afternoon when wisps of cloud appeared and gradually got thicker. A high of 74F but cool in the shade. A slight, barely perceptible reddening of the landscape.
A dew-soaked morning full of mist, turning sunny for a brief while and then, in moved the clouds, light blue and creamy, like blueberry milkshake until they went all gray like dirty dishwater. Humid with a high of 75F. Dismally dull until late afternoon when the clouds dispersed into wisps until dusk.
Morning: more rain, heavy and wet, the kind of rain that you go out in for a few seconds and get totally soaked. The rest of the day: September’s pervasive mist and muggy with layers of impenetrable clouds and a high of 72F. Sultry.
A chilly morning. Overcast with misty rain for most of the day and a high of 70F. A moody day.
A cool but bright, sunny day with low clouds and a high of 71F. Perfect hazelnut drying weather.
A cool, breezy morning with scattered showers and piles of chunky, grey clouds looking like your comforter on a Sunday morning. The clouds clear to allow some afternoon sun and a high of 72F. The summer of 2020 winds to a close with some show-stopping weather.
Rain began just before dawn and continued until late morning. Muggy with moody, low lying cloud looking like rolling, grey waves. Late afternoon sun and a high of 79F. Early evening rain storm turns sunset into an extraordinary light show. An enigmatic day.
More rain in a week of continual rain, including Thursday’s afternoon tornado and surrounding storm. Humid with high of 77F with a thick blanket of cloud.
You can now order one of the Catskills’ best beauty products by phone or email from Northern Catskills Essentials and it’s worth it for the $4 delivery charge anywhere in New York State. This $7 soap is made by hand in Stamford, Upstate New York – just north of the Catskills State Park and it’s a gorgeous product. Reasonably priced in stylish packaging, the soap makes a superb gift in addition to the company’s creams and lotions. It’s beautifully light with a smooth creamy lather that doesn’t dry out the skin, which is a miracle as far as soap is concerned. The scents made with natural essential oils are robust, but not overwhelming. Finally, the packaging is sustainable paper and with each bar, you’ll be throwing out one less plastic bottle of shower gel. Treat yourself and you’ll never use another soap again.
A hot, humid and sunny morning and a high of 82F. Another gorgeous summer day.
A mix of sun and thick cloud with a high of 85F. 20 minutes of heavy, late afternoon, hay crushing rain.
Sunny and hot with a high of 81F and hazy cloud.
A chilly start to the day: 48F at 7am, rising to 75F by mid-afternoon by which time we had clear sky and only slivers of cloud remained.
A cloudy, humid morning but still cold at 49F, rising to 63F. Overcast with intense cloud cover for most of the day, with the sun coming out late afternoon. A high of 73F. Alfie guards the orchard.
A hot and hazy start to the day. A high of 76F with a cooling breeze and big billowing clouds. Gorgeous summer day.
A warm and sunny morning with an even hotter afternoon for a high of 76F until the rain at 4pm. All the clouds passed through today, like there was a cloud convention down the road and everyone was required to show up.
A much cooler morning, fresh and breezy with mist over the mountains. A mix of sun and clouds for most of the day with a high of 72F. Clouds clearing mid-afternoon. A beautiful summer day.
The wild goldenrod is in bloom and makes a tasty and healthful tea. It grows by rhizome and you’ll usually find whole fields of it. They are tall rods, about three to six feet high with hand-sized draping clusters of many tiny vivid yellow blossoms at the top of the rods. Thin leaves, two to six inches long, grow all the way down the stem alternately, and are hairy.
Put fresh blossoms into a mason jar of hot water (not boiling) to make a delicious fresh tea that tastes like a strong green tea. Sweeten with a dash of honey.
Goldenrod is said to have a number of health benefits. It soothes a sore throat, reduces pain and inflammation. It is also used for gout, joint pain (rheumatism), arthritis, as well as eczema and other skin conditions.
The flowers don’t freeze well, so if you want to save some tea for winter, make a condensed batch and freeze to dilute later with water. To make a condensed batch of tea, simply soak as much fresh goldenrod as you can fit in a mason jar of hot water. Strain through a sieve and freeze.
The last year has been quite an extraordinary one, maybe even the most extraordinary year of my life and quite an incredible experience. The upshot is that I quarantined alone on this hill for over three months without any human contact. I had split up with my husband last August and our farm lay abandoned as I considered my options: go back home to England? Move back to New York City? I tried both, then along came Covid-19.
We had made a mess of beekeeping too. Someone suggested that we smear honey on the outside of the hive, for some reason that I can’t remember, and the bees just kept getting robbed until they absconded for good.Continue reading
Halfway through August already. Dreamy morning sky with clouds just sparse enough for it to be bright and sunny. A high of 75F. Breezy and mild. Day 3 of hay making: baling.
A high of 81F yet cooler than yesterday because of a stronger breeze and plump, billowing clouds, some on the dark side. Tractor Lesson Day 2: fluffing up the downed hay like an eighties hair-do.
We had an extraordinary year for apples in 2017 and one of the guests on my radio show at the time gave me a fabulous recipe for a Heritage Apple Fruit Cake that is my one go-to cake. This is turning out to be a poor year for apples on our farm, so I’m using blueberries because I have so many of them. I’ve also modified this recipe even further because I like my cake really moist, chewy and fruity, so I bake it in a flatter pan, for less time and I’m using an extra half-cup of fruit. The special thing about this cake is that all the fruit sinks to the bottom and you get half-fruit, half-cake pudding with a slightly crispy topping that is really delicious. Needless to say, if you need to have your cake thoroughly cooked all the way through extend your cooking time to 40 minutes.
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar, plus one tablespoon for sprinkling
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp almond extract
2.5 cups blueberries
Soften the butter and whip it together with the sugar, vanilla, almond extract. Add the two eggs and beat them in. Mix the whole mixture well. Sift the flour and baking powder and add it into the butter/sugar mix gradually. Mix until you have a batter. The batter will be very stiff. Once you have a smooth batter, gently fold the blueberries into the batter but do so very gently – trying not to smash the fruit. You will end up smashing the fruit, but just try not to. Put the mixture into a square, flat, greased cake tin (9x9x2 inches). Flatten it into the pan gently and sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Or if you need your batter thoroughly cooked all the way through, do 40 minutes).