Daily Catskills: 10/05/22

A rainy morning walk through misty mountains. Another overcast day, with thick foggy cloud and a high of 61F. The sun making a brief appearance mid to late afternoon, brightening the gorgeous fall colors. A lovely half-moon rise though streaky cloud.

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Daily Catskills: 10/03/22

Cloud stretched taut over the sun like thick gauze, chilly with a high of 52F. Chronic overcast conditions are dulling these fall colors that are best experienced up close: oak on the right, maple on the left. The oak will be the last man standing.

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Daily Catskills: 09/28/22

More gloom. Overcast, with a slight chill taking the edge off the humidity and a high of 65F. Misty clouds sail through the valley towing their falling rain.

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Daily Catskills: 09/22/22 Autumnal Equinox

Loud overnight thunderstorms begin in the early hours of the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall. Intermittent rain, some afternoon sun, and a high of 69F. Humid with a chilly breeze.

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Daily Catskills: 09/20/22

A bright, crisp morning, but overcast. A high of 67F, and pockets of sunshine despite stormy cloud cover and afternoon sprinkles. A slight yellowing of the foliage and a few splashes of red.

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The Farm Stand

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I developed a curry sauce made from scratch during the pandemic. Curry is part of Ayurvedic diet in which you eat foods that protect your health, so this year I tried to grow some of the ingredients. There are plenty of foods in this diet that don’t grow well in this climate, but we do have some good replacements. For example, spice bush, native to the Catskills and Northeast America, is a good stand-in for spices because you can eat the leaves, twigs and berries. I’ve never found spice bush when foraging here, but I did buy a few seedlings from Barkaboom Native Plants based here in the Catskills.

Some of what I planted at Lazy Crazy Acres farm did not do well, or even grow at all, but what did grow really well were arugula, red bliss potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, and hot peppers. We have shishito, jalapeno, cayenne, anaheim and exactly one dark green poblano. We got at least 30 shishito peppers from one plant alone, although we had to get it under cover because the deer started to eat the plant. I also planted mint and lavender as companion plants. The mint has kept the tomatoes pest-free except for one lonely, recent hornworm. All these are on the farm stand, except the hornworm who was invited to move across the street. Considering that we’re on dead-end road, this little fledgling farm stand is not doing too badly. Visitors to Tree Juice Maple Syrup are the biggest customers, which is where the farm stand is, and some of the garlic will be going into the syrup.

Whatever does not get sold will get dried or preserved. We grew 300 heads of garlic and the cloves from the biggest bulbs will get planted in October.

The farm stand is open when it’s not raining. We’ve yet to add a roof, but we all have to start somewhere.

Farm Life in the Catskills

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I’ve recently been receiving a lot of kind feedback on the writing I do here, and some inquiries into what I’ve been up to since I last posted back in June. It’s the feedback – along with the helpful donations – that keeps me going, so here’s an update. Daily Catskills will resume in the next few days, from the September equinox until Winter solstice and all the snowbirds will shortly be seeing our Fall in all its glory from afar. Stay tuned!

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Aegean Flavor in Fleischmanns, New York

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The Catskills’ Village of Fleischmanns, has another new restaurant, offering a wide range of delicious and authentic Greek takeout food: Aegean Flavor.

The advantage of opening in Fleischmanns is that there is still a dearth of variety in the Catskills and residents are excited to have novel options. The restaurant opened last week, was immediately successful and busy without any advertising, and the food is exceptional, and reasonably priced. They do the staple lamb and beef gyro in pita bread ($8.95) that is tender, not too oily and not too dry, just perfect. The pita in which most sandwiches come is plump and fresh. Spanakopita, a spinach and cheese turnover in filo pastry, ($4.50 pictured below) is light and tasty, not too salty. For vegetarians, the falafel sandwich ($8.95 pictured above) is superb, stuffed into the pita with crisp cucumber and healthy tomato, all dressed in a lightly spicy sauce. There is also a cheese turnover called tiropita for $4.50.

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Wild Saturdays at John Burroughs’ Woodchuck Lodge: Saturday July 2nd, 2022 at 1pm

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This week’s Wild Saturday speaker is HEATHER BRUEGL, a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a first line descendant of the Stockbridge Munsee. Her remarks focus on generating awareness of ongoing racism, the fight for clean water, and other issues of the Native community.

Heather is a public historian, activist, and de-colonial education consultant who works with institutions and organizations for Indigenous sovereignty and collective liberation. She is the Director of Education at Forge Project, which supports indigenous artists and leaders through fellowships.

This presentation takes place on the lawn at 1pm at 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Bring blankets or a lawn chair.
 

Garlic

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Most of the scapes on the garlic have been removed and I have about 70 or 80 to use or sell. The scape is the developing garlic flower – the fully-blooming flower is pictured bottom right – and it’s removed in order to allow the plant to direct its energy to the bulb.

Pictured bottom left is the scape growing on the garlic stalk viewed from above. See our Instagram story for a video that gives you a much clearer picture.

Scapes have a much more delicate, subtle sweetness than bulb garlic. They are delicious chopped and added to omelettes, scrambled eggs and stir-fry dishes like you would spring onions or shallots. They’re a lovely addition to creamy, roasted potatoes.

They also make a superb pesto. Eaten raw, garlic provides those infamous, extraordinary health benefits in addition to flaming hot breath.

Garlic Scape Pesto

10-12 large garlic scapes
1/4 cup of grated or shredded parmesan
1/4 cup of pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Mix in the oil when the other ingredients are blended well. If your pesto is too thick, add a drizzle of extra oil. Serve on bruschetta, toast points, crackers. Or add a dollop to soups, pasta and cheese plates. Delicious!

Spring Haying at Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 3

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The rake (above) drags the freshly fluffed hay into windrows and then the baling machine is driven down those rows and presses the hay into a tight bale, while the clouds overhead look like they’re forming their own rows ready to rain on the hay. At least the rain waited until 3am, when all the hay had been baled, before it unleashed a clamoring thunderstorm, breaking the humidity and marking an end to a stressful three days.

Spring Haying at Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 2

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On Day 2 of haying, farmers fluff up the hay with a machine known as a “tedder”. Nobody knows why it’s called this. The tedder looks a little like a mower, but it has sets of long prongs mounted on revolving circular heads that twist the hay around and toss it like a giant salad. This helps it dry in the sun. Tedding takes place once in the morning and again, at least once, in the afternoon because the ground and the unmowed part of the hay is still damp.

Only ten acres were mowed because after the risk assessment of the weather, comes the hedging: if it rains, then only ten acres were lost.

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Spring Haying At Lazy Crazy Acres: Day 1

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To be a farmer is to engage in continual risk assessment. To live on a farm is to accept a high level of risk, to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, watching the weather forecast like a skittish doe with her new fawn in Spring. Small-scale farming is dependent on something more unpredictable than the economy and that’s the weather. It’s the boss here and it’s flighty, but the farmer needs at least three days of sunshine to make hay and here on June 13th, was our first window of opportunity. After a rainy Sunday and a colder June than 2021, the forecast predicted a low chance of rain, and on Monday Jake mowed under ominous clouds, some of them as dark as slate and I held my breath as they sailed overhead.

On Day 1 of haying at Lazy Crazy Acres, ten acres of lush, bushy, thickly fertile grasses were mowed.

Plein Air Painting Show in Fleischmanns

In addition to a gallery, new arts center, and two cafes, Fleischmanns has a pop-up plein air painters group that has temporarily moved into the empty shopfront that used to be the old bank on Main Street (with its magnificent safe still in place), evoking memories of Brooklyn in the nineties when artists would occupy abandoned commercial buildings. Tomorrow, Saturday June 4th 2022, they will host an artists reception from 2 – 4pm.

EBDRPAP: 1084 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.

Catskills Breakfast: Picnic’s Pot of Gold

If you’re going hiking any time soon eat this first. Arguably one of the most hearty and delicious breakfasts in the Catskills: one large runny egg over easy, smothered in Hollandaise sauce, over slices of pastrami, all on top of a large hash brown. A sensational Catskills breakfast.

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Daily Catskills: 05/16/22

A humid morning with mist rising off the mountains. Steamy with a high of 77F, and thunder storms moving through continually throughout the afternoon. During a quick break between storms, it looked like most of the green had suddenly filled in over the past few days.

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The Arts Inn, Fleischmanns, NY

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The Catskills village of Fleischmanns in Upstate New York is undergoing a very slow but sure renaissance, after a long period of quiet, under the influence of newcomers who remember when the village was bustling with locals and tourists fifty years ago. Main Street, which has been relatively sleepy in recent decades in comparison to neighboring towns and villages has sprung to life following the opening of its cafe, The Village East. In addition to the farm store run by Alan and Robin White of Two Stones Farm, and the Main Street art gallery, there is a keenly anticipated wine bar and Greek restaurant in the works.

Adding to this burgeoning roster is The Arts Inn on Main Street which will host arts workshops like poetry and plein air; meditation and dance classes; music evenings and movie nights. The Inn will open its doors on May 29th, 2022 from 5pm to 10pm for its first variety show that is free to the public and donation-based. There was a fundraiser online and all the performers will be paid.

Opening an arts and event space has been a lifelong dream for former dancer and teacher Heidi Stonier who owns the property with husband Randy Leer; they closed on the property two weeks before the pandemic hit and have spent the last two years renovating it. The Arts Inn is coming to an area that really needs and welcomes it. “I feel the love,” says Heidi who has been been conducting free meditation classes and has made deep and genuine connections with members of the community.

To fund their vision, three rooms are available for rent via AirBNB. The rooms are themed: guests can stay in the Jane Austen room, the Rumi Room or the Matisse Room. There are weekend packages available for guests who participate in the workshops. Art is for sale in the rooms, most noteworthy are exquisitely serene barn paintings by Carol C. Young in various striking turquoise hues, think Edward Hopper without the people. Downstairs in the common areas are a lounge, a game room, a dance studio and a music room gorgeously renovated.

Says Heidi: “We have to think about creating a world that’s based not on material things, but on love. The way that we can communicate love, aside from caring for those directly around us, is through art. It brings people together. This is how you can touch someone on the other side of the world in a different culture or set of circumstances. It’s a universal language that spreads love”.

The Arts Inn, 923 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.

Wild Edible Grilled Cheese

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Spring is here and the wild edibles are unfurling. This week, we have garlic mustard around the raised beds here at Lazy Crazy Acres, in their second year. Leaves, shoots, seeds and the unopened flowers of garlic mustard are edible at certain stages of growth, and if you don’t eat all of your crop it should be pulled because it’s an invasive weed that crowds out native plants.

Greens like garlic mustard can be introduced into your spring diet by packing them into a grilled cheese. I got this idea from Dina Falconi’s Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook – a must-have in every wild kitchen. In it, she details her “Wild Grilled Cheese Master Recipe”, but there are a variety of ways to make the classic American grilled cheese. Every American has their own method as I discovered when I first arrived in the States. In England, we fry everything, even chocolate, so even I’m surprised that we didn’t come up with the idea of frying a cheese sandwich in a pan. I was taught to cook a grilled cheese by my own American and that recipe is below.

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